Isabel Barton, assistant professor of mining and geological engineering, is the 2021 recipient of an Academic Career Development Grant from the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration. SME provides career development funding to tenure-track assistant or associate professors to support their research, publication and professional efforts.
This comes on the heels of Barton’s CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, the foundation’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty, which recognizes excellence in both research and teaching.
Barton plans to use her SME Career Award to advance hyperspectral imaging, which collects information from across the electromagnetic spectrum to help technicians identify materials. The human eye, or a normal camera, can only detect limited portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Hyperspectral imaging can perceive and measure a wider range of wavelengths, providing technicians with much more information about the sample being imaged. It is often used in fields such as astronomy and biomedical imaging, but Barton plans to adapt it to the mining environment.
“Hyperspectral imaging is one of the best ways that we have to map the distribution of minerals that interfere with extractive operations, such as clays and talc,” she said. “Eventually, I anticipate that this will help reduce waste and improve metal recovery at many different types of mines and metallurgical operations.”