Distinguished Lecture Series

The Colorado School of Mines Faculty Senate Distinguished Lecturer Award was established in 1990 as a means for the Mines faculty to annually honor one of their outstanding colleagues.

Nominations for the award are solicited from all faculty members. Nominees, who may be either active or retired members of the faculty or administration, represent people who are admired and respected by their peers in their role as educators and for their reputation for having stimulating ideas to convey and ability to communicate those ideas effectively.

The recipient, selected from the nominations by a committee of past honorees, and approved by the Mines Faculty Senate, is invited to make a presentation on a topic of his or her choice.

The honorees are further awarded a commemorative plaque and a monetary gift to their discretionary account by the Mines Provost and Executive Vice President.

Contact us

Brandon dugan

Faculty Senate President
Associate Department Head/Professor, Geophysics
Baker Hughes Chair in Petrophysics and Borehole Geophysics

(303) 273-3512

2023 Distinguished Lecturer: Ryan Richards

Perspectives in Chemistry and Community

Mines is a unique university in a particularly rich collaborative ecosystem with numerous partners in national labs, education (preschool to higher ed), industry and a broader community embracing sustainability and knowledge. Here, I will discuss perspectives on the multiple roles of chemistry (research, teaching, mentoring, and service) in this ecosystem and beyond.

Addressing grand challenges in energy and sustainability requires scientists to work closely with researchers across all disciplines to consider and develop a fundamental understanding of multiple and new perspectives. From chemistry, we need new materials with new properties composed of non-toxic and abundantly available resources (earth abundant elements). The toolbox to imparting new properties to matter includes our ability to synthesize new compositions of matter with controlled size, morphology (shape) and surfaces. Breakthroughs from our group have demonstrated earth abundant materials tailored on the nanoscale possess unique properties for carbon capture, batteries and catalysis including electrocatalytic water splitting that will be highlighted.

Finally, as thought leaders in our community, it is our role to engage broadly and foster the passion for a new generation to bring their diverse perspectives to our global challenges. All of this is built “on the shoulders of giants,” whereby the body of knowledge we have learned from our predecessors allows us to see farther than they, and will allow those we educate and mentor to have new perspectives and see even farther.


Ryan RichardsRyan M. Richards is a Professor of Chemistry at the Colorado School of Mines (Mines) and holds a joint appointment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) both in Golden, Colorado USA. Additionally, Dr. Richards is the Mines lead for the Mines/NREL Nexus which coordinates, facilitates and promotes all joint activities and appointments. Prof. Richards received his BS from Michigan State University, BS Central Michigan University and Phd from Kansas State University. During his Phd studies he was a visiting scientist at the Boreskov Institute of Catalysis in Novosibirsk, Russia.  From 2000-2002 he was a Max Planck Fellow at the Max Planck Institute für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim, Germany. In 2002 Ryan joined the International University of Bremen where he was promoted to associate professor before moving to Mines in 2007. Prof. Richards has published more than 160 papers, 7 patents and has served as editor/co-editor of 3 nanoscience books. He has received numerous awards throughout his career including being selected as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (<0.5% members) and 2016 ACS Colorado Section Award. Prof. Richards has been elected by his peers into numerous positions including: Co-Chair of 2017 NAM of the North American Catalysis Society (the largest catalysis conference in North America); 2011 ACS Chair of Nanoscience; 2012 Chair Colorado Section of ACS; ACS Nanoscience Programming Chair 2011-2015; ACS International Affairs Committee 2021-present (ACS liason to Nigeria and South Africa); VIPEr Fellow (inorganic chemistry pedagogy) 2020-present.