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Jaeheon Lee, left, stands with his graduate students – from left: Betty Rathbone, Alex Nathe, Jiajia Wu and Junmo Ahn -- in the UA Department of Mining and Geological Engineering.

SME Awards Jaeheon Lee $300K to Support Tenure and Promotion

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SME Awards Jaeheon Lee $300K to Support Tenure and Promotion

Sept. 27, 2018
Funding helps MGE professor support students and work toward tenure.

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, or SME, has awarded Jaeheon Lee, an associate professor in the UA Department of Mining and Geological Engineering, a $300,000 Freeport-McMoRan Career Development Grant.

The grant -- $100,000 a year for three years -- is intended to provide newly employed, nontenured assistant or associate professors the support to achieve tenure and promotion.

Lee, who earned his PhD in materials science and engineering at the University of Arizona in 2003, said he was honored by the news, and is already making plans for what he’d like to do with the money.

“I can replace old equipment in my lab, some of which I used when I was a student at the UA,” he said. “Also, I can take my students to international conferences so they can experience what’s going on in industry or academia.”

Lee, an expert in extractive metallurgy, was selected from among 18 applicants after a committee review of his application and a formal interview.

“The committee was in total agreement that Dr. Lee’s qualifications made him the perfect candidate for the grant, and felt that he would be able to fulfill the intent of the grant, which is to achieve tenure and promotion,” said Jackie Dorr, communications manager and staff liaison for the academic grants program at SME.

After earning his degree and working as a research engineer at the UA, Lee spent nearly a decade working as an engineer at Newmont Mining Corp. and Barrick Gold Corp. He credits his experience in industry as a reason he’s up to date on what mining companies are looking for in engineering graduates.

“Mining companies hire a lot of the students coming out of university mining programs, so they want to support universities’ efforts to produce new graduates,” he said.