State legislators traveled to Virginia Tech in April to present House and Senate resolutions commending Mining Engineering Professor Emeritus Michael Karmis for 40 years of research, education, and economic development benefitting the commonwealth.

Mining Department Head Kray Luxbacher — herself a former student of Karmis' — hosted the ceremony in the newly remodeled and expanded Holden Hall.

Del. Jason Ballard, R-Pearisburg, and Sen. Travis Hackworth, R-Richlands, presented the resolutions, which covered Karmis' 40 years of work, partnerships, and acheivements.

Overall, the resolutions noted, Karmis "contributed to the environmental and economic well-being of the Commonwealth and the Appalachian region, both personally and through the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, by providing unbiased information to businesses, legislators, federal, state, and local agencies, and the general public."

Virginia Del. Jason Ballard and Michael Karmis
Virginia Del. Jason Ballard, R-Pearisburg (left), was part of a General Assembly delegation that visited Virginia Tech on April 14, 2022, to present a legislative resolution commending Mining Engineering Professor Emeritus Michael Karmis for his work in support of the Central Appalachian coal region. Karmis retired in December 2021. Photo by Tonia Moxley for Virginia Tech

Karmis, who retired in December 2021, came to Virginia Tech in 1978 as a young professor in the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering and during his career went on to author or co-author more than 180 scientific papers and direct more than 60 major research projects valued at more than $60 million. He also served as department chair for 12 years and took leadership roles in national and international professional associations.

He became executive director of VCCER in 1998, where he was an early proponent of carbon sequestration and other sustainability and mine safety technologies and facilitated research on them through VCCER. Eventually the center became home to the Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science, dubbed ARIES. Established in 2011, ARIES used more than $11 million in industry funding to support independent academic research into the impacts of mining on Appalachian ecosystems. 

Karmis said those projects have produced more than 100 peer-reviewed publications by dozens of researchers at several universities. Their findings help inform policymakers, industry leaders, and the public on sustainable energy development.