Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Mines Faculty Instills Real-World Field Survival Skills Following State Department Fellowship

Students in Dr. Timothy Masterlark’s physical geology class take safety training to practice situational awareness and tourniquet application. The course helps students be prepared for emergency situations they could encounter in the field.

In 2021, Timothy Masterlark, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering at South Dakota Mines, became the first professor from a South Dakota university to be selected for the prestigious Jefferson Science Fellowship at U.S. State Department.

During his year-long fellowship, Masterlark worked with the Special Programs team attached to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, High Threat Programs Directorate. He assisted in developing policy and planning to enhance, enact and enforce security standards that protect U.S. diplomatic operations. He also spent time working on emergency preparedness and crisis response with the Department of Defense and the interagency community. “My experience was an immersion in planning and operations for conducting diplomatic relations and activities in some of the most lawless places on Earth,” says Masterlark.

Masterlark is bringing what he learned firsthand back to campus. As a geophysicist, his research includes understanding the causes of natural disasters, like volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes. In the classroom, he teaches Mines geology and geological engineering students how to survive in the field, whether they are investigating an active volcano, an earthquake zone or working in remote location with long distances to emergency care.

“What happens when students face challenges outside of the controlled conditions of the university? I provide personal responsibility, mental toughness and situational awareness training that prepares students to be functional with — or without — modern conveniences and comforts,” says Masterlark.

Masterlark 2022 training 2Masterlark’s physical geology course includes hands-on first-aid training employing moulage techniques with wound simulators, simulated blood and a life-size medical mannequin for student training.  The media are invited to view the situational awareness and tourniquet and safety training course Masterlark teaches in his Physical Geology Laboratory class on Sept. 8 from 8:30-10:50 a.m. on the Mines campus.

These and other skills culminate in a day-long field training exercise in the Badlands in the middle of September. “Students will learn how to dismantle the comfort mindset and embrace the discomfort of wet and dirty conditions. Students will then use their primal skills to mitigate fieldcraft challenges to safely and effectively achieve a scientific mission,” says Masterlark. “It will be unlike any other college experience,” he adds.

Masterlark is also a veteran who served four years in the United States Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. His military background was valuable during his service in the State Department as a Jefferson Science Fellow. As a Jefferson Science Fellow, he was awarded a Certificate of Commendation from the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) for his work during a joint Department of Defense and State Department exercise. He was also awarded the Meritorious Honor Award from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security for his efforts.

Following his work in supporting USMC training exercises, the commanding general of the USMC’s Training and Education Command also sent Masterlark a letter stating, “Your experience as a Jefferson Science Fellow and science advisor for the Bureau Diplomatic Security’s Operations Planning and Innovation Team were integral in providing 1st Marine Regiment with a challenging and realistic scenario. The guidance you conveyed throughout his training evolution will enhance the quality of future iterations and will ultimately contribute to the regiment’s real-world mission success.”


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-721-7865, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu