Research Leadership Team
Walter Copan, PhD
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer
A physical chemist by training, Copan began his career in R&D, business leadership and biotech ventures at The Lubrizol Corporation. Over the years, he has held a variety of roles in the private and public sectors, including the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, where he served from 2003 to 2005 as principal licensing executive for technology transfer, focused on increasing NREL’s effectiveness in developing and commercializing clean energy technologies. Copan then served as executive vice president and chief technology officer at Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc., helping to lead the company’s transformation from research focus to a successful commercial enterprise. He returned to the public sector in 2010, when he was named managing director for technology commercialization and partnerships at the DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory.
In October 2017, Copan was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director of NIST. At NIST, he spearheaded streamlining and modernization of U.S. policies and practices for innovation and technology transfer arising from federally funded research. Since January 2021, Copan has served as Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, co-founding the Renewing American Innovation project to advance U.S. innovation, standards and intellectual property policy.
Copan holds a PhD in physical chemistry and a B.S./B.A. dual degree in chemistry and music, all from Case Western Reserve University. He was recognized by the university as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2008. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and was named the 2020 Laboratory Director of the Year by the Federal Laboratory Consortium. AUTM, a leading association in technology transfer, recognized Copan with its 2021 Bayh-Dole Award for his contributions to innovation and technology transfer.
Michael Kaufman, PhD
Director of Materials and Energy Initiatives
Dr. Michael Kaufman is currently the Director of Materials and Energy Initiatives at the Colorado School of Mines. Prior to taking this position, he served in various capacities at Mines starting in 2007 when he joined the Metallurgical and Materials Engineering as Professor and Director of the Electron Microscopy Laboratory. From 2010 to 2014, he served as the department head of MME before becoming the Dean of the College of Applied Science and Engineering where he served from 2014-2018. Upon a reorganization in Academic Affairs, he became the Dean of Energy and Materials Programs and Vice Provost for Graduate and Research Initiatives where he served from 2018-2021. In 2021, he joined the Office of Research and Technology Transfer in his current role.
Prior to his time at Mines, Dr. Kaufman served on the faculty at the University of North Texas, the University of Florida, and the University of Washington and as a staff member at the National Institute of Science and Technology. His research focus has been in using advanced characterization techniques to study materials with a focus on alloys for structural applications. He is the founding director of the Center for Advanced Non-Ferrous Structural Alloys (CANFSA), which is an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC), that started in 2011 and is now a Phase III I/UCRC. He has served as advisor or co-advisor of over 65 graduate students and has published over 160 papers in archival journals.
Director, Research Development
Lisa has been with Colorado School of Mines and the office of Research and Technology Transfer since 2006. As director of research development, she creates and implements strategies that help increase institutional competitiveness and raise awareness of our research strengths. She also develops strategies that support our faculty, providing them with funding opportunities and facilitating research events that promote collaboration and foster team connections.
In her role in the Office of Industry Relations Lisa works directly with the Colorado School of Mines Foundation as a liaison to initiate and nurture relationships between faculty and industry partners.
Will Vaughan, PhD
Director, Technology Transfer
Dr. Will Vaughan is the director of technology transfer at Colorado School of Mines. He coordinates partnerships between Mines and business, venture capital and governmental communities to commercialize Mines technology and provide greater visibility for Mines’ world-class research. Will was the business development manager for the technology transfer office at The Ohio State University where he coordinated Ohio State’s innovation agenda with the local, state and federal government, licensed inventions, and worked with the start-up community.
Will previously served in the Ohio Governor’s Office of Science and Technology where he helped develop Ohio’s Third Frontier program, which invested $1.6 billion over ten years in Ohio’s technology-based economic development community. He also served as the interface between state government and the public on science and technology issues.
Will serves on the boards of the Colorado Bioscience Association, Colorado Cleantech Industry Association, Innosphere and CO-Labs. He received his BS from Marietta College, his MS from Ohio University and his PhD from The Ohio State University.
Scot Allen, PhD
Director, Research Integrity and Security
Dr. Scot Allen is the director, research integrity and security, for Colorado School of Mines. His primary strengths are in program development, international relations, and national security.
Scot served for more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force in roles ranging from site engineer to senior military faculty for the Air Force Academy. Following military service and before Mines, he played leading roles in global initiatives and secure and global research for Colorado State University.
Scot deployed overseas in times of conflict on several occasions: as an engineer in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War; as an interpreter during NATO air operations over Bosnia; and leading reconstruction efforts across Iraq, in 2008–2009.
He earned a BS from Carnegie Mellon University, MS in Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and PhD from the University of Virginia.
His awards and honors include the Bronze Star Medal, Outstanding Academy Educator, Presidential Ram Service Award, and Young Engineer of the Year. He holds a professional engineering license and has led students to Belgium, Cambodia, El Salvador, France, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal and Vietnam.
Shared Intrumentation Facility Director
Dr. Diercks is Director of the Shared Instrumentation Facility, a Research Associate Professor in the George S. Ansell Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines, and holds an affiliate research appointment at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Prior to Mines, Diercks was Manager of the Center for Advanced Research and Technology at the University of North Texas (UNT). He earned his Ph.D in Materials Science and Engineering from UNT, an MS in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign (UIUC), and a BS in Ceramic Engineering from UIUC.
His research interests involve using correlated micro- and nano-scale materials characterization techniques for the determination of composition and structure and relating those to performance. This includes work on photovoltaics, ceramic fuel cell and battery materials, nanowires, nanoparticles, and metal alloys.
In 2018, he was awarded an NSF MRI grant for the acquisition of a Raman imaging – Scanning Electron Microscope / Focused Ion Beam Instrument. He has more than 100 archival publications, has 2 issued patents, and has given over 10 invited talks.
Director of Federal Relations
Andrew leads efforts to advance awareness of the university’s world-leading research and supports productive relationships with the U.S. government and federal agencies. Prior to joining Mines, Andrew served as the Director of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Training Center, an innovative, industry-driven workforce training initiative. In addition, Andrew served in senior leadership positions for a U.S. Senator and several U.S. Representatives in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, where he earned a Masters of Public Administration. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Mount Union. Andrew enjoys hiking and cycling and lives in Lakewood, Colorado, with his wife and daughter.
Alyssa Von Lehman Lopez
Research & Proposal Development Manager
Alyssa supports proposal development for the Mines research community. In this role, she provides proposal project management and writing support, analyzes and communicates funding opportunities, arranges professional learning for faculty, and manages the internal competition process. Prior to joining the RTT team at Mines in 2022, Alyssa worked for nearly a decade as a grants officer at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and in the office of sponsored research and programs at Metropolitan State University of Denver prior to that. She received an MA in English and Communication Development from Colorado State University and a BA in English from Western Washington University.
Research Grant Developer
Jenny is the Research Grant Developer for the Office of Research and Technology Transfer. She leverages her background in social science research and writing, the arts, and education to support faculty members in pursuing research development excellence. A diverse range of experiences allows her to approach proposal support with a creative and inclusive perspective. Her commitment to academia is evident in her pursuit of continuous learning.
She is an Educational Doctorate Candidate at the University of Denver, conducting educational research through a critical arts-based research method. Before joining RTT, Jenny was the Associate Director of Communications for Mines Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She holds an MA in Art & Design and MA in Education Leadership & Policy Studies from the University of Northern Colorado.
Jennifer Nekuda Malik, PHD
Associate Director of Research Communications
Dr. Jennifer Nekuda Malik is the associate director of research communications. A Mines alum (PhD ‘08), Jen joined the Office of Research and Technology Transfer in 2023 to elevate Mines’ research endeavor through strategic communications and messaging. With an insider’s knowledge of Mines, and a background that spans research, academia, policy, science writing, and advocacy, Jen is uniquely positioned to lead this effort.
Jen’s background in science communication began in 2008 when she served as the head writer and first editor of the inaugural issue of the Mines Research Magazine. While completing her PhD, she worked alongside Mines administration to develop a strategy to showcase some of Mines leading research efforts, which led to the creation of the tagline, “Earth, Energy, Environment.”
Focused on new methods and materials for making solar cells, Jen conducted research at Mines, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Imperial College London. Her research was awarded both an R&D 100 award and recognition for excellence in technology transfer.
In 2011, Jen transitioned into the science-policy arena and moved to Washington DC to serve as a Science Fellow on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the U.S. Senate. There she advised the Committee Chairman, Senator Bingaman, on a range of science- and energy-related issues.
When Senator Bingaman retired in 2013, Jen established herself as an independent consultant with expertise across science, policy, and strategic communications. She relocated to Colorado where she continued to write and consult, authoring articles for various journals and magazines as well as developing content for a textbook, numerous websites, and science advocacy campaigns.