Burns named scientist of the year
The Geological Society of America recently named Peter Burns, associate professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at Notre Dame, its 1999 young scientist of the year.
This award is given annually to someone 35 years of age or younger for achievements in geological knowledge through original research that makes a major advance in the earth sciences.
"I was very excited when I won," Burns said. "There is only one award given by the society in the world per year. I felt shocked and pleased at winning the unexpected honor."
The award, also named the Donath medal for its donors, is a $15,000 cash prize and a gold medal. Burns's work on mineral structures near the surface of the earth led to the discovery of the complex details associated with the atomic arrangements of crystals. This intricate research led a colleague to nominate Burns for the award.
Students of Burns said his recognition is well deserved.
"His excellent qualities as a teacher were displayed for me in mineralogy class," said Jennifer Ryan, a senior in Welsh Family Hall. "His fascination with minerals, knowledge regarding the newest research in the field, and dry humor contributed to a lively class dynamic."
Burns's research in uranium mineralogy also gained him international recognition. His study will research ways to safely dispose nuclear waste.
Burns wishes to maintain both the research and teaching aspects of his academic career.
"My goal for the future is to continue building the program here at Notre Dame," Burns said. "I want to carry on strengthening the undergraduate, graduate and post doctorate programs, hoping to build the programs as we go."
Future students are lucky to have Burns's enthusiasm leading their way, Ryan said.
"I can say that I am indebted to him more than once for setting aside his own projects in order to happily and cheerfully help me to complete mine," she added.
Burns, a native of New Brunswick, Canada, received a B.S. from the University of Brunswick in 1988, a M.S. in geology from the University of Western Ontario in 1990 and a Ph.D. also in geology from the University of Manitoba in 1994. He conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Cambridge in England and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque before joining the Notre Dame faculty in 1997.
All News Stories for Friday, September 17, 1999