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
Scot served over 20 years in the Air Force in roles ranging from site engineer to hazardous waste manager, and from infrastructure branch chief to professor and deputy director of international programs at the Air Force Academy. In academia, he worked in international programs and secure and global research for Colorado State University.
Scot served in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, where he was deployed as an interpreter during NATO air operations over Bosnia. He led rebuilding 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.