MERIT Center

Mine Escape Research, Innovation and Technology Center


The MERIT Center conducts basic and applied research on mine safety and miner self-escape during mine emergencies. The Center also provides training to industry using best-practices derived from its research efforts. It also engages stakeholders through its advisory board to achieve its goals.


Research thrust areas

  • Intelligent Communications for Efficient Self Escape
  • Self-Escape and Human Factors
  • Refuge Alternatives in Self-Escape
  • Underground Mine Fire Emergency Evacuation Optimization
  • Impact of Explosions on Self-Escape Strategies
  • Technology transfer and training.

MERIT Center Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Samuel Frimpong

Director, MERIT Center

Professor and Robert H. Quenon Endowed Chair of Mining Engineering, and Interim Chair, Department of Computer Science

  • Surface mining
  • Mine automation and intelligent mining systems
  • Formation excavation engineering
  • Machine dynamics and fatigue modeling
  • Mine safety, health and hazards
  • Synthetic and renewable energy
  • Minerals and energy economics
Dr. Kwame Awuah-Offei

Dr. Kwame Awuah-Offei

Deputy Director, MERIT Center

Professor and Union Pacific-Rocky Mountain Energy Professor & Interim Director, Mining and Explosives Engineering 

  • Sustainability
  • Mine Reclamation
  • Modeling, simulation and optimization
Sanjay Madria

Dr. Sanjay Madria

Curator's Distinguished Professor, Computer Science 

  • Cloud computing
  • Security
  • Wireless computing
  • Mobile data management

Dr. Guang Xu

Associate Professor, Mining and Explosives Engineering 

  • Mine ventilation, health and safety
  • Mining-induced particulate matter (PM) monitor and control
  • Underground fire and safety
  • Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
  • Enhanced coalbed methane recovery using microwave technology
Kyle Perry

Dr. Kyle Perry

Associate Professor, Mining and Explosives Engineering 

  • Dust explosions
  • Refuge alternatives
  • Mine seals
  • Health and safety training

Dr. Catherine Johnson

Assistant Professor, Mining and Explosives Engineering 

  • Environmental considerations of blasting
  • Fragmentation prediction
  • Biological effects of shock pressure
  • Explosibility of dusts
Taghi Sherizadeh

Dr. Taghi Sherizadeh

Assistant Professor, Mining and Explosives Engineering 

  • Computational mechanics
  • Numerical, statistical, and probabilistic modeling in rock mechanics
  • Rock slope stability of underground excavations
  • Application of numerical modeling in underground and surface mining
  • Reservoir geomechanics (wellbore stability, hydraulic fracturing, and sand production)
  • Geomechanical aspects of CO2 sequestration
  • Geothermal energy recovery
  • Assessment of nuclear waste disposal sites
  • Pore pressure in-situ stress analysis
  • Compaction and subsidence modeling
  • Artificial intelligence (artificial neural networks, fuzzy logic and genetic algorithms) 
Lana Alagha

Dr. Lana Alagha

Associate Professor, Mining and Explosives Engineering 

  • Mineral processing
  • Surface chemistry
  • Water management
  • Nanotechnology
  • Rare earth minerals
  • Liquid membranes
  • Separation Science
  • Oil sand processing
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools
Denise Baker

Dr. Denise Baker

Assistant Professor of Psychology 

  • Human factors
  • Experimental psychology
  • Decision making attitudes and formation
  • Lay-perceptions of scientific information
Venkata Nadendla

Dr. Venkata (Sid) Nadendla

Assistant Professor, Computer Science 

  • Cyber-physical-human systems for smart living
  • Human-system interaction
  • Statistical inference and machine learning
  • Communications and information theory
  • Multiagent systems
  • Behavioral decision theory
Doug Bristow

Dr. Douglas Bristow

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director, Center for Aerospace Manufacturing Technologies 

  • Dynamic modeling and control of micro and nano-positioning systems
  • Atomic force microscopes and additive manufacturing systems
  • Volumetric error compensation for machine tools and robotics
  • Precision motion control
  • Iterative learning control
  • Multi-dimensional control
  • Signal processing

Dr. Jhon Silva- Castro

Associate Professor, University of Kentucky, Mining Engineering Department 

  • Explosives and explosions
  • Airblast, ground vibrations
  • Numerical modeling
  • Rock dynamics, rock fragmentation, fractures propagation
  • Mine Safety

MERIT Center Advisory Board


Paul A. Lang, PE, President and Chief Executive Officer



Tom Barnes, Senior Manager - Global Service Excellence



Justin Higginbotham, PE, General Manager, Operations and Projects



Bryan Galli, PE, Group Executive and Chief Marketing Officer



Lane Hendricks, Safety Manager



Tom Michaud, Chief Technical Officer



Luke Mahony, Global Head of Geology, Mine Engineering, Geotechnical and Technology & Innovation



David Weaver, Regional Administrator Mine Safety and Health Enforcement