|ABOUT PEOPLE||October 1997|
GORDON EATON resigned as director of the U.S. Geological
Survey (USGS) at the end of September. Eaton, who served in that
position since 1994, led the agency through a period in which it
staved off threats of abolishment, underwent significant
downsizing and restructuring, and took on new responsibilities in
the areas of biological research and mineral information.
In announcing his decision to retire, Eaton noted that his goal had been to "ensure that the USGS provides relevant science to the American people" and that his "job of transforming the USGS into a streamlined, cohesive agency ... has been accomplished." Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt praised Eaton for guiding the survey through "a dramatic sea-change" during which it became "the preeminent science bureau for the department."
JOHN C. PHILLEY completed a 37-year career at Morehead State University in June. He will teach part-time as emeritus professor of geology. Philley had served as dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs since 1990.
WILLIAM E. HARRISON, previously of Lockheed-Martin Idaho Technology Company, is now deputy director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas.
PETER HOWD has joined the faculty of the marine science department at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, as an assistant professor.
DONALD A. O'NESKY has been named executive director of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Foundation. O'Nesky joined AAPG as business director in 1978 and was named deputy executive director in 1986. He will remain with the association as special projects administrator.
The Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES) Foundation has awarded seven $1,000 scholarships to outstanding earth science students. Scholarship recipients are YAN CHEN, University of Oklahoma doctoral candidate; CHRISTIANNE M. GELL, University of Houston master's student; FIONA E. KILBRIDE, University of Texas-El Paso Ph.D. candidate; AARON J. KULLMAN, Colorado School of Mines master's student; ERIC S. LEUENBERGER, University of Texas-Austin undergraduate; ROBERT J. MURPHY, University of Texas-Arlington undergraduate; and RICHARD L. PARKES, Colorado School of Mines undergraduate.
University of Melbourne Professor of Geology IAN RUTHERFORD PLIMER has been made an Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society (London); the society saluted his courage for taking a stand against "creation science."
Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, the U.S. Geological Survey geologist- astronomer who created the discipline of planetary geology and helped discover the giant comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, died July 18 in an automobile accident in Alice Springs, Australia. He and his wife Carolyn were conducting fieldwork on impact structures in that country as they had in previous years.
Known to many in the profession as "SuperGene," Shoemaker was passionate about his work, whether studying geology and astrogeology, searching for evidence of meteorite and comet impacts, exploring new craters, or discovering new comets. Early in his career, he dreamed of being the first geologist on the moon. Prevented from meeting this goal by a health problem, he nevertheless remained intricately involved with the space program, helping to train Apollo astronauts, studying the composition of moon rocks,working on the Lunar Ranger and Surveyor programs, and finally acting as science-team leader for Project Clementine.
Shoemaker is known for his discovery of coesite, a high- pressure form of silica, and the use of it in studying impact cratering. He was a member of the team (which included his wife Carolyn and David Levy) that discovered the Shoemaker-Levy comet and predicted the awesome spectacle that occurred when it collided with Jupiter in 1994.
Shoemaker worked at U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for more than 40 years, joining that agency in 1948 after receiving his bachelor's degree from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He earned his doctorate from Princeton in 1960; from 1962 to 1985, he taught at Caltech while continuing his research for the survey.
In 1965, Shoemaker founded the USGS Astrogeology Center in Flagstaff, Ariz., and served as its chief scientist. Since his 1993 retirement, he had been a staff member at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
Much of Shoemaker's research on asteroid and comet studies was conducted with his wife Carolyn, a planetary astronomer. Together they discovered numerous comets and initiated the Palomar Asteroid and Comet Survey.
President Bush awarded Shoemaker the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1992. His many honors include medals from the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, NASA, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
In a series of tributes published by Lowell Observatory on the World Wide Web, Shoemaker was called "one of the giants of earth and planetary science" and a "great scientist" who "left glowing lights behind him." Carolyn Shoemaker, recovering from the accident in Alice Springs, wrote in a letter to the public that her husband would have said, "Don't grieve for me. Get on with life and work at the things that make you happy." Shoemaker pursued that ideal throughout his own life.