Montana Tech Undergraduates Honored by the Council on Undergraduate Research

Montana Tech Petroleum Engineering majors Alicia Kastelitz and Rachael Wilford along with their faculty mentor, John Getty of the Geophysical Engineering Department, have earned the honor of participating in the 20th annual Posters on the Hill event, a selective poster session sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), based in Washington, DC. After reviewing several hundred highly competitive applications from undergraduate students from colleges and universities nationwide, only 60 projects were selected for this year’s undergraduate research showcase.

Alicia’s and Rachael’s winning submission is titled SNaP: Survey of Native Proppants. “The recognition provided these two women highlights the fact that undergraduates at Montana Tech can and do make significant contributions to major research efforts,” said Getty. “I am particularly grateful for their eagerness to contribute to the SNaP project.” Getty, an Instructor in the Geophysical Engineering Department, teaches physics and electronics. Katie McDonald, an Associate Research Geologist with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, was co-PI on the project.

“By doing undergraduate research, I have found true passion for the oil and gas industry that I will be a part of. My favorite thing about working on this project was being able to work in the laboratory, but also being able to go out into the field to collect samples from the different formations. The skills that I have learned will not only help me with getting into the field, but also network, communicate, and learn new techniques,” said Kastelitz, who is from Butte, Montana.

“Being part of undergraduate research has been a very rewarding opportunity. I have been able to gain hands-on experience regarding the mechanics of proppant materials that I have been able to apply to my classes. The laboratory process has helped me further understand how hydraulic fracturing is used throughout the oil and gas industry. Additionally, presenting and promoting the research project has been invaluable with further developing my interpersonal skills,” noted Wilford, who is from Great Falls, Montana.

The annual two-day CUR event affords an elite group of students the opportunity to share their undergraduate research with Members of Congress, congressional staff, federal government officials, academics and other researchers. The Posters on the Hill presentation is an important opportunity for lawmakers to see how federal programs and dollars impact students and faculty, and to learn about the value of undergraduate research. A reception, co-hosted by the American Chemical Society, will take place on April 20, 2016 on Capitol Hill.


The Council on Undergraduate Research ( supports faculty development for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. Over 800 institutions and more than 11,000 individuals belong to CUR. CUR believes that the best way to capture student interest and create enthusiasm for a discipline is through research in close collaboration with faculty members.