Meet our team!

contact us

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Have questions about the program? Email us at, or, if you’re on campus, swing by the Honors House located on 1704 Illinois St. (Please note – the Honors House is undergoing repairs and is temporarily closed for visitors. We hope to welcome you with the start of classes in Fall 2021!)


Melanie Brandt | 303-273-3753 | Honors House

I have spent a significant portion of my adult life searching for the interdisciplinary pathways that enhance our experiences of the world. I like to think that my background and teaching experience is a lovely-smelling potpourri with overtones of writing, literature, ethics, and design. I am passionate about challenging students to think critically, explore creatively, and communicate eloquently. I am personally invested in the happy success of students and I am (almost) always available to talk about anything related to our class (and life). My scholarship in humor mirrors my approach to the classroom where learning is encouraged to be interdisciplinary, meaningful, and fun. I appreciate random, unexpected, inspired, and daring approaches to assignments (and life). I prefer coffee to tea, beer to wine, and the beach to the mountains. While I am a Colorado native, I see the world as my oyster and I love to travel. My chess board will be taken out of hibernation, dusted off, and ready if anyone is up for a rather rusty challenge…

Terry Bridgman | 303-384-2447 | Stratton Hall 208

Mines is my second career.  Though I come from a family (and extended family, and extended, extended family) of educators, most of the advice I got was “don’t go into teaching!”, so I didn’t.  I took my mathematics degree and became a software developer. I’ve worked developing engineering software (surveying eng., road design, railway design, terrain modeling, etc) even though I’m not an engineer and in satellite imagery even though I’m not a rocket scientist.  However, throughout that entire career, I pursued even more interests — drawing classes, music classes, teaching a few math classes, etc. Industry events (long story) and my educational experience and pursuits brought me to Mines as an Associate Teaching Professor and a consolidation of all my educational pursuits and activities.  I am still pursuing more than education than just that required by my role as a math professor including recently completing my PhD, learning guitar, attempting to tie together my math and art or experimenting with some cool new vegetables in my garden. This is my first year with Thorson and look forward to the challenges that it brings.

Allison Caster

Allison Caster joined Mines as a Teaching Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Allison earned her BS in Chemistry at the University of South Dakota (2004), and her Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of California – Berkeley, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. This was followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Bioengineering. Allison has developed non-invasive, laser and X-ray based microscopy techniques for probing the chemistry of both natural and man-made structures. The applications of these techniques are, for example, to improve the production of smaller integrated circuits, or to identify and sort cancerous from non-cancerous cells in human blood. With a shift in focus to undergraduate eduction, Allison strives to highlight the applications of modern, interdisciplinary research in the classroom and laboratory, and to implement more active-learning strategies which improve student engagement, excitement, and retention.

Justin Latici | 603-520-5415 | Stratton Hall 401

For me, IDEAS feels like home. I have a background in environmental science and creative writing, two interests that don’t immediately have a linear connection for most people. I have at times struggled, as you all no doubt will, to articulate exactly what that relationship is, and why it is important. For me, though, one hand has always washed the other and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the insights I’ve gleaned about the importance of that relationship with you. I’ve been an educator at Mines for close to a decade now. In addition to IDEAS, I teach Nature and Human Values, and run the Practicum experience for McBride students. I’m always happy to meet and chat in person, so please take advantage of office hours! Finally, as a new faculty member this year, I’m looking forward to learning and growing with you.

Carrie McClelland | 303-273-3367 | Engineering Annex 132

I am a Mines and McBride Honors Program alum from the dark ages of last century, so I am extra proud to be a part of Mines and the honors programs here. I love trying to figure out the big picture from lots of little details. I am a professional engineer and  have done many things from cleaning hotel rooms, tending golf course gardens, re-tracing land surveys from the 1800’s, creating ways to restore rivers, designing storm drainage installations, building designing and re-designing petrochemical plants, constructing a bridge with a Haitian community, and of course teaching Mines students. I am passionate about helping students learn in meaningful, fun, impactful ways. It is my hope that I can help future engineers to be well-rounded thinkers who contribute positively to society in ways that they find fulfilling. In my life outside of work, I love books, music, crafts, cinnamon rolls, tea, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and getting out in nature.

Josh Ramey | 303-273-3063 | Alderson Hall 247

I have been at Mines since 2013 and I am excited for my new adventure with IDEAS. I’m an associate teaching professor in the department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and I am interested in improving undergraduate biology education with research interests in synthetic biology and genetic engineering. I grew up in New Mexico and obtained my PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, where I also explored DNA replication and cell-cycle regulation as a post-doc. I also have a background in industry where I worked as a scientist at OPX Biotechnologies, focused on the genetic engineering of E.coli to produce a precursor to acrylic acid. 

It is important to me to be a proud and visible member of the LGBTQ+ community at Mines. As an advisor with oSTEM, I am continuously inspired by young queer scientists and engineers as we work together to foster an environment of inclusivity at Mines. I am also an advisor for the International Genetic Engineering Machine (iGEM) team, that focuses on using genetic engineering and synthetic biology to solve problems.

Outside the classroom, I love hiking in the mountains of Colorado and traveling with Justin, my wonderful husband of 6 years. I also have a wonderful golden-doodle that looks like a muppet named Chloe.

Toni Lefton | 303-384-2332 | Stratton Hall 413

As a little girl my favorite place to sit and imagine was an airport. I calculated the uncertainty of all the lives rushing past me and invented what those stories could be. I loved to listen to the unmistakable language of hurried heels, a dialect of suitcase wheels, and snippets of multilingual conversations. Growing up in West Africa I moved through a lot of airports where the transect of departures and arrivals became the calculus for my creativity and the origin of my wanderlust to see the world through as many lenses as I could. I started my academic life as a biologist and then a medical student. I turned to studying comparative literature and philosophy, often hinged to a scientific lens so I could understand more of the complexities as my life as a poet began to thrive. At Mines, I have taught creative writing, literature, philosophy and ethics, while expanding my interdisciplinary experience and collaborating with a physicist, a neurologist, a biomechanical engineer, and this amazing multi-disciplinary, IDEAS teaching team. Although I will not be formally teaching IDEAS this year, I will actively support this first-year honors community and hope to get to know each of you. I always have a cup of tea, a comfortable couch, and a T-Rex cookie jar waiting in my office. Stop by sometime and share your story with me.

Lauren Shumaker | 303-273-3103 | Honors House

I went to college with sights set on literature and creative writing, but unexpectedly fell in love with geology and human evolution studies. Between classes on primate behavior and human adaptability, sedimentology and tectonics, I also discovered a passion for teaching. Field mapping skills can’t be learned in a classroom, so from my early days of teaching I saw the value of active, hands-on learning. Geologists are master arm-wavers, so I saw too how a lively discussion that leaves no idea unexplored can lead to intriguing and unexpected results. I eventually made my way to a PhD in sedimentary geology, focused on submarine channels (aka underwater rivers!). I came to Mines in 2016 for a post-doctoral research fellowship and joined the Thorson team in 2018. I am now the Associate Director for Thorson and a teaching assistant professor, and I am thrilled to be focused 100% on this program and the IDEAS class. In my off time, you might find me hiking in the mountains, throwing clay on the wheel, or curled up all day with a good book.