About the Award

The Mines Medal, initiated in 2009 by President Robert A. Wharton, Ph.D., is a national award presented by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to honor engineers and scientists who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation. The annual award highlights the significant role these individuals play to ensure the United States' global preeminence in engineering and science.

Past award recipients include:

  • 2013 Mines Medalist:  Dr. Anna C. Balazs,
    Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering, University of Pittsburgh
  •  2012 Mines Medalist:  Dr. Diana Wall,
    University Distinguished Professor, professor of biology, and director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University
  • 2011 Mines Medalist:  Dr. Lee Rybeck Lynd,
    Professor of engineering and adjunct professor of biology and earth science at Dartmouth College
  • 2010 Mines Medalist:  Dr. Steven Squyres,
    Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, and principal investigator for NASA's Mars Rover Project
  • 2009 Mines Medalist:  Dr. Cindy Van Dover,
    Chair and professor of Duke University's Division of Marine Sciences and Conservation and director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory

Mines Medal - Medal

The Medallion

The Mines Medal medallion includes images of the Homestake Gold Mine, a Black Hills grape leaf, and rays of sun emanating from a silhouette of the Black Hills. These traditional symbols of the Black Hills reflect the School of Mines' longstanding connections to the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota, including the university's current leadership role in the Sanford Underground Laboratory at Homestake, and the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota that the School of Mines has called home for 127 years.

Materials used in the medallion include 10kt gold and 12kt Black Hills gold in total amount equivalent to one ounce of 24kt gold, and copper and silver. The distinctive whorled pattern of the copper and silver of the outer ring of the medal is created using a historic Japanese welding technique called "mokume gane." The medallion's mokume gane was crafted by Philip Baldwin of Shining Wave Metals Ltd., Snohomish, Washington. Baldwin was a part of the Mokume Research Group at Southern Illinois University that decoded the historic technique in the late 1970s and adapted it to contemporary materials and aesthetics.

The School of Mines would like to extend its special thanks to the team from Landstrom's Original Black Hills Gold Creations of Rapid City for its artisan expertise in fabricating the medallions.

The display case base for the medallion is manufactured by L.G. Everist of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from Pink Sioux Quartzite mined in eastern South Dakota. Pink Sioux Quartzite originated as loose sand covering an ancient sea floor more than 1.7 million years ago. Each stone has a unique color and grain structure. Perfectly formed "moons" occasionally appear in the stone, as is the case with the Mines Medal display base. According to legend, these moons appear where spirits have touched the stone.