Meet the Current CREG-Funded Students

Daniel ChafetzDaniel Chafetz

My geology career began in 2011 with Lithium One, Inc. exploring on the Salar del Hombre Muerto in the Andes of Argentina on a program drilling for lithium brines. Immediately falling in love with the adventurous nature of the work, I applied to study geological engineering at the Colorado School of Mines from the camp at an elevation of 14,000 feet. I continued exploration work in the summers, engaged in enriching field trips (i.e., New Zealand Geology) and graduated from the rigorous program in 2016 with a BS. To resume my career hunting for lithium, I moved to Nevada to work for Pure Energy Minerals in Clayton Valley on an exploration project during the recent lithium boom. During this period, I explored for lithium through drilling, sampling and geophysics, worked with some graduate students taking an interest in lithium and contributed to the development of Tenova Advanced Technologies’ novel process that extracts lithium directly from brine. I also enjoyed a 5-month exploration program in the Salar de Pocitos, Argentina, with Pure Energy. Since May 2019, I have been working on ioneer USA Corp’s Rhyolite Ridge Li-B project and have explored it extensively. The unique nature of this deposit and its unconventional mineralogy inspire many questions that I hope to answer through my MS research with UNR. Hopefully, with support from CREG and a plethora of existing data from ioneer, a new conceptual model for this type of lithium-boron deposit can be developed and will lead to additional successful exploration. My free time, when I have any, is spent entirely in the mountains.

Nick HillemeyerNick Hillemeyer

I spent my younger days in the small town of Kingman, AZ exploring the hills and mountains as much as I could. As the product of a geologist, I had the passion for rocks and minerals imparted to me at a young age. When I ventured to get my Bachelor’s degree I decided that following in my father’s footsteps seemed like a good start and I had no other good ideas. As the story goes, the passion was confirmed. I graduated in 2017 from the University of Arizona and received my B.S. in Geosciences. In the same year, I began pursuit of a graduate degree and found my way to my northerly neighbor, Nevada. I am currently working on my M.S. in economic geology with Dr. John Muntean on a new low-sulfidation epithermal discovery called Gravel Creek within the northern portion of the Independence Range, Elko County. My project’s focus is to further characterize the alteration, mineralization, and structural controls of the extraordinarily preserved deposit utilizing field mapping, core and chip logging, petrography, and geochemistry. Outside of the realm of geology I enjoy hiking, fishing, hunting, exploring the lands with my wife and not-so outdoorsy mutt, Marvin, and eating as much food from as many places as possible!

Sara HoldenSara Holden

I spent the majority of my younger life in Colorado, where I spent my childhood on the rural plains southeast of Denver in a tiny town called Kiowa. After initially thinking I wanted to program video games in college, I quickly changed my focus to geology after one intro class (who wants to live in a cubicle anyway?). My first exposure to the mining industry was as an intern for Newmont at their Gold Quarry and North Area surface operations during my undergrad in 2013. After graduating in 2015 from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, I spent the next four years as the ore control geologist of a newly-opened small gold-silver mine Mojave, California (the Soledad Mountain Project owned by Golden Queen Mining Company). This fortuitous experience proved incredibly valuable, and I learned a great deal about the challenges, rewards, and camaraderie of working in the mining industry. In the fall of 2019, I joined the CREG program to pursue my M.S. under the guidance of Dr. Lisa Stillings investigating potential concentration mechanisms for lithium-bearing sediments in the McDermitt caldera located on the Oregon/Nevada border. Aside from geology, I enjoy running, cooking all manner of Asian cuisines, attending metal/rock shows, and reading too much political news.

Elizabeth HollingsworthElizabeth Hollingsworth

Following completion of my Bachelor’s in 2003 at the University of the South, Sewanee, TN, I immediately began a Master’s under the direction of Dr. Doug Crowe at the University of Georgia, Athens.  My M.S. thesis was part of a larger NSF-funded, multidisciplinary study to evaluate the relationships between hydrothermal fluid flow and microbiological communities living in an active hydrothermal system within the Uzon caldera, Kamchatka, Russia.  Using both isotope and elemental chemistry, I attempted to trace the evolution of thermal waters, gas, and mineral precipitation to ultimately form a model of fluid flow for the caldera.  In 2006, I moved to Alaska to work on a polymetallic massive sulfide deposit near Juneau known as Greens Creek.  I spent nine years working primarily in a helicopter-supported surface exploration program, with some time spent in underground exploration and the on-site assay lab.  I enjoyed my time in industry, but decided it was time to pursue a PhD.  I subsequently found a perfect match at the University of Nevada, Reno under the direction of Dr. Mike Ressel.  I started January of 2015 and will soon begin my first field season exploring the relationship between Carlin-type and intrusion-related gold deposits as well as the Carlin-type to epithermal transition in the Carlin Trend, Nevada.   The photo is proof for the next time I tell my ‘Big Alaskan Fish’ story.

Sean IngersollSean Ingersoll

I grew up in the foothills of the Wasatch front in Northern Utah. I spent most of my recreational time four wheeling in the hills, looking for old abandoned mines. Not the safest recreational activity for a teenager but it sparked my interests in geology. I earned my Bachelors degree in geology from Utah State University. I traveled abroad looking at geology in Brazil after graduating. After I came back to the US, I received a job with the Jr. mineral exploration company, National Gold Mining Co. I worked for them exploring the old National Mining District in northern Humboldt county in Nevada. My time spent at National was amazing trying to discover the details and secrets of the deposit. So, when National Gold decided to sponsor a student at UNR I was more than happy to take the chance to look in greater detail at the National district. My research is being guided by Dr. John Muntean in the CREG program and is focused on the paragenesis and characterization of mineralization and alteration at the National District. Hopefully resulting in helping to find the next big gold vein deposit in Nevada. The time I am not doing research and studying, I enjoy spending with my wife and kids playing hide and seek at home or out exploring the hills here in Nevada.

Curtis JohnsonCurtis Johnson

I was raised in the foothills of the North Cascades in western Washington and developed an early love for the outdoors. This led me to pursue a B.S. in geology at the University of Idaho, which I completed in 2013, and my love for the outdoors grew into a passion for geology. During this time, I was fortunate to be picked up as a summer intern with Newmont at the Leeville mine, northern Carlin Trend. It was here, working underground ore control and learning about Carlin-type genetic models, that I began to develop an interest in Eocene magmatism and gold mineralization in the Great Basin. I completed a senior thesis on the relationship of Eocene dikes at Leeville to gold mineralization, which only piqued my interest further in the subject. After a second summer underground, I began an M.S. at Oregon State University working to understand the relationship of the Eocene Emigrant Pass volcanic field to the Carlin Trend through igneous petrology and geochemistry. After completing this in 2015, I landed a production geology position back in Nevada at Newmont’s Phoenix mine, an Eocene porphyry-skarn system. With an interest in the interplay between Eocene magmatism and gold-rich mineralization, there was not a better place to be, and having the opportunity to map miles of highwall to learn the inner details of a porphyry-skarn system was an incredible experience. However, my interest in Eocene magmatism got the best of me, and in fall, 2017 I joined the CREG program as a PhD student working to understand the magmatic roots of gold-rich mineralization at Phoenix and how igneous petrogenesis is linked to metallogenic variation in the Great Basin.

Robert JohnsonRobert Johnson

I grew up north of Chicago and completed my B.S. in Geology at Indiana University in 2010. After graduation, I joined Barrick and Newmont’s Turquoise Ridge Joint Venture mine as a summer intern. After the internship, I was hired as a mine geologist working primarily with the production drilling group. In 2014, I moved to a project geologist role overseeing the production and near-mine exploration drill programs where I focused on enhancing near-term LOM production. While I enjoyed working at TRJV, and more importantly the people I worked with, I decided that I wanted to expand in a more technical direction and attend graduate school to obtain a M.S. in Economic Geology. I am working with Dr. John Muntean investigating Turquoise Ridge’s hydrothermal features in the siliciclastic and volcanic rock packages overlying the buried TR deposit. The ultimate goal of my thesis is to define a hydrothermal footprint of exhausted Carlin fluids within the overlying siliciclastic and volcanic rocks that indicates Carlin-type mineralization at depth. Beyond geology, I like snowboarding, fishing, exploring Nevada, giving my dog belly rubs, and reading probably too much science fiction.

Sergey KoneyshevSergey Koneyshev

I graduated in 2011 with a B.S. in Geology and Natural Sciences from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Upon graduation, I spent two years working in the mineral industry, including the Whistler deposit, an exploration project in south-central Alaska, and at Greens Creek Mine, a VMS deposit in Southeast Alaska. Subsequently, I started my M.S. in Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno with Dr. Tommy Thompson. My thesis focused on the geochemistry and petrography of the Beartrack Mine, in Lemhi County, Idaho. Presently, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Geology under the guidance of Dr. John Muntean. My project focuses on characterizing the Carlin-style gold mineralization in the Yellow Pine-Stibnite mining district in central Idaho and comparing it to the Carlin-type gold deposits in Nevada. In my spare time I enjoy watching and playing sports, including football and baseball. I also like camping, hiking, fishing, and spending time with my wife and four-legged pal, Samwise.

Neal MankinsNeal Mankins

Growing up in the hustle and bustle of California sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the outdoors let alone geology. Wanting to get out of the urban spread I moved up to Corvallis, OR where I worked toward a B.S. in Geology at Oregon State University (OSU). During my 4 years at OSU I was fortunate enough to travel the world in pursuit of my passion for geology. This included taking field mapping courses in New Zealand, short courses in Nevada, and developing a senior thesis regarding veins and structures of the Mt. Thompson Quadrangle in southwestern Montana. After graduating in 2017 I worked as a consulting geologist for a number of Canadian exploration companies including VR Resources, Victory Metals, and Casino Gold. In these roles I progressed early stage exploration projects by field mapping, logging drill core and RC chips, conducting IP geophysical surveys, soil sampling, and staking claims. These projects have introduced to me to geologically unique locations in the far reaches of Nevada spanning porphyry, epithermal, and carlin-type deposits in search for gold, copper, and even vanadium. At UNR I will be working on my M.S. thesis focused on the characterization of an Eocene Intrusion-Hosted Gold Deposit in the Shoshone Range just north of the Cortez Pipeline complex. Aside of ore deposits I enjoy snowboarding, mountaineering, scuba diving, and travelling.

Ajeet MilliardAjeet Milliard

As is true for almost any PhD student, my path to pursue such a degree is a long and winding one.  I received a BS in Geology from Oregon State University in 2008 where I continued on to do a MS project focusing on structural geology and fault processes.  My master’s research project focused on the transition zone between continental contraction and extension, from north to south, respectively, east of the flanks of Mt Hood.  The proximity to the Cascade Mountains was a well-executed plan to feed the ski-bum that dwells in me.   During the revision portion of thesis writing, I began working on oil and gas wells as a mud-logger in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and California. Shortly after defending my thesis in January of 2011 and a dip in petroleum drilling activity, I acquired a full time position in Exploration Geology with Newmont Mining Corporation.   During my tenure with Newmont I worked on the Long Canyon project in both an exploration and development geology capacity, until deciding to return to school for a doctorate in January 2014.  My current project is not far flung from my position at Newmont, continuing work on the gold mineralization occurrence in the Pequop Mountains.  I will be evaluating time-space relationships between mineralization and igneous activity, structures and hydrothermal activity that formed the deposit(s).

Jutin MillliardJustin Milliard

I earned my B.S. in professional geology from the University of Montana and my M.S. in structural geology from Oregon State University.  In between degrees I worked as both an intern at the Greens Creek Mine in Alaska and as a drill site geologist in the oil patch of western Colorado and eastern Utah.  My M.S. thesis focused on the tectono-volcanic development of a series of mid-Miocene basins in southeastern Oregon.  Next, I spent two years on active duty as an officer in the United States Navy before transitioning to reserve status while working in mineral exploration.  I was first employed searching for IOCG, epithermal and porphyry deposits in Chile, South America followed by exhalative deposits in Montana.  Most recently I have worked for Klondex Gold and Silver at the Fire Creek Exploration Project, a low-sulfidation epithermal deposit in mid-Miocene volcanics, which has many things in common with my the field area for my M.S.  While at Fire Creek an idea for a research project was hatched that, with strong support from Klondex and the CREG program, would eventually develop into my PhD thesis.  The project will be focused on the development of the northern Nevada rift and understanding the links between tectonism, volcanism and epithermal deposit formation in both time and space.

Steve O'ConnellSteve O'Connell

In 2012, I left the University of Georgia with a BS in Geology on my way to Alaska to work as a contract geologist at Greens Creek Mine, a polymetallic VMS deposit off the coast of Juneau. I spent several years contracting intermittently by working summers in surface exploration and winters logging the underground drill core. From 2017 until the beginning of 2020 I worked full-time at Greens Creek with the Underground Drilling Program as well as spending the better part of a year working as a Production Geologist. In January 2020, I was given the opportunity to return for a masters at UNR under the direction of Dr. John Muntean where my research will explore the spatial and temporal relationship between dike complexes and gold mineralization in the Bare Mountain district. Outside of geology I can be found enjoying the craggy mountains of the American west by climbing, snowboarding, mountain biking, or fishing.

Rob SelwoodRob Selwood

I received my BSc in applied geology from the University of Exeter (UK) in 2011. After graduating I was employed as an exploration geologist on an epithermal project in south east Ecuador. I have since worked on Sediment-hosted copper projects in Zambia and Namibia as both a mine and exploration project geologist for First Quantum Minerals Ltd. As an exploration geologist I focused on green fields exploration and regional generative work, employing project and district scale mapping and large scale geochemical data sets. My graduate work at UNR will continue in that generative vein, focusing on the analysis of regional stream sediment geochemistry from northern Nye County, Nevada, with an emphasis on assessing the potential for Carlin-type gold deposits.

Luke SchranzLuke Schranz

I was born and raised in Clarendon Hills, IL, a western suburb of Chicago. While this is not a premier destination for outdoor activities, my parents instilled a love for the outdoors in me by taking my brother and I on many hiking, camping, and fishing trips. This passion for the outdoors quickly grew into a curiosity about how the natural world around me came to look as it does today. This curiosity led me to take an earth science class my freshman year in high school which ended with a life changing geology field trip to the Grand Canyon and northern Arizona. I was hooked and decided to pursue a dual degree in geology and geological engineering at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Here I had the privilege to learn from some of the best and attend field trips all over the country. The culmination of my education in Madison was attending the Wasatch-Unita Field Camp based in Park City, UT. Here I visited Carlin, NV and toured some of the local gold mines. After interacting with some geologists there, I became fascinated with ore deposits and knew that I needed to put my geology skills to work in the mining and mineral exploration industry. When I graduated from UW-Madison in the spring of 2017 I had landed a job at Klondex’s (now Hecla Nevada’s) Fire Creek Mine. I moved to Elko and began work as an underground production geologist. Working underground allowed me to observe this high grade low sulfidation epithermal vein deposit from three dimensions, but also raised a lot of questions about the geological setting and how the veins formed there. Hecla Mining Company offered me the opportunity to study the Fire Creek deposit in detail as a M.S. student in the CREG program where I have been since the fall of 2019. Here I am researching the paragenesis and geologic setting of the Fire Creek deposit in order to determine the relationship between the high grade veins and disseminated refractory mineralization present and also to compare Fire Creek to other known deposits such as Mule Canyon.

Sarah ShapleySarah Shapley

I completed my B.S. in 2019 from Northern Illinois University. As an undergraduate researcher I completed a senior thesis under Dr. Mark Frank looking the precipitation mechanisms of copper and gold in porphyry systems. After graduation, I spent the summer as a geology intern at Bingham Canyon with Rio Tinto and started graduate school here at UNR in fall of 2019. I am working on my M.S. with Dr. John Muntean. My thesis project is working with Premier Gold on the Cove Deposit in Lander County. I am conducting a fluid inclusion study to examine potential geneses for Carlin deposits, specifically the possible relationship between base metal vein type ore and Carlin style ore located at Cove. Outside of geology I enjoy hiking, Jiu-Jitsu, and reading.


Sarah ShapleyChristian Thomas

I grew up in Athens, Ohio, a town in southeastern Ohio with no shortage of places to hike and see the finest flat-lying sedimentary rock that unglaciated Appalachia has to offer. I earned my B.S. in Geological Sciences at Ohio University in Athens, where I did undergraduate thesis work on the petrology of a dacite from Augustine Volcano in Alaska. Inspired to dig deeper into economic geology by an ore geology undergraduate class and a Field Camp excursion to the Stillwater mine, I joined the CREG program at UNR in 2018 as a Master’s student. My general research interests are in igneous petrology, alteration processes, and broader economic geology. I am especially interested in gold deposits, and as such am working on the Buffalo Canyon gold prospect in south-central Nevada, specifically the formational conditions of the mesothermal gold-bearing quartz veins of the area as revealed by fluid inclusion geochemistry. The photo shows me atop one of the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains in Montana, mapping between the clouds.