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The US coal industry has undergone some major transformations in the past half century. Each decade had its own issues varying from somewhat external concerns such as oil embargos and pollution control to very internal challenges such as the safety and productivity of the workforce. Through these transformations, the role of research has evolved from a proactive, industry-driven effort to a reactive, government-funded enterprise. The pros and cons of this evolution will be explored with an eye to the future and how research can best serve the industry.
Dr. Joseph Hirschi is a project manager for the Illinois Clean Coal Institute overseeing their sponsored research in the areas of coal miner health and safety, advanced coal mining technologies, and coal preparation. He graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in Mining Engineering in 1983 and two masters degrees, a MS in Mining Engineering and a MBA, in1985. After a 15-year career at the Galatia Mine in southern Illinois, he returned to school at Southern Illinois University and was awarded a PhD in Engineering Science in 2012.