Montana Tech Doctoral Student Receives Ph.D. Fellowship Grant

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, Inc (SME) and the SME Foundation announced the recipients of the 2016 Ph.D. Fellowship and Academic Career Development Grants. Montana Tech Materials Science doctoral candidate Richard M. LaDouceur is the recipient of a $60,000 Ph.D. Fellowship grant.

The program focuses on rebuilding the U.S. mining school faculty pipeline at universities offering degrees in mining engineering, mineral processing or extractive metallurgy.

Richard graduated with a B.S. in General Engineering – Mechanical Option from Montana Tech in 2014 and started pursuing his Ph.D. that summer in Materials Science. Richard is currently developing advanced models for the separation of rare earth minerals by froth flotation working under Dr. Courtney Young. He will be giving a presentation on his research at the International Mineral Processing Congress 2016 conference in Quebec City, Quebec in September. As part of the fellowship requirements, Mr. LaDouceur will also present at the SME Annual Meetings held in late February of every year until he completes his degree.

Dr. Young emphatically notes, “I am very excited for Rick. He works extremely hard and is so dedicated. This opportunity would not happen without the Materials Science PhD program as well as the support of the Army Research Lab (ARL) funding that we are getting through CAMP. It also shows that we can be and are competitive with the larger research campuses.” After a brief pause, Courtney wipes a tear from his eye and adds, “When he graduated in 2014, the Montana Standard did a wonderful story on this gentleman. I am blessed to have him as my student. He is so very deserving!”

“The challenges associated with faculty scarcity extend from the ability of students with industry experience to successfully complete a Ph.D. degree, to newly employed faculty who are facing the difficult process of achieving tenure,” stated SME Executive Director David L. Kanagy. “To address these challenges, SME and the SME Foundation are proud to award Ph.D. Fellowship and Career Development Grants to ensure the future viability of U.S. mining schools.”

Recipients of the 2016 mining academic grants are:

$100,000 Freeport-McMoRan Career Development Grants:
Dr. Andrea J. Brickey
Associate Professor, Mining Engineering & Management, South Dakota School of Mines
Dr. Charles K. Kocsis
Associate Professor, Mining & Metallurgical Engineering, University of Nevada-Reno
$60,000 Robert S. Shoemaker Ph.D. Fellowship Grant:
Gail L. Heath – Mining Engineering, University of Arizona

$60,000 Ph.D. Fellowship Grants funded from other sources:
Richard M. LaDouceur – Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, Montana Tech
Penny L. Padgett – Mining Engineering, University of Kentucky

For more information on the SME mining academic grant programs, please visit