Hon doc - Dr Brian Mason

Doctor of Science 2002

Dr Brian Mason is known world-wide as a geochemist, mineralogist and specialist in the study of meteorites.

Born in Port Chalmers, he was educated at Christchurch Boys’ High School and (the then) Canterbury University College where he received Masters degrees in chemistry and geology with first class honours in 1939. He went on to obtain a PhD at the University of Stockholm in 1943 and returned to Canterbury where he lectured in Geology from 1944 to 1947.

He then began an illustrious career in the United States, initially as Professor of Mineralogy at Indiana University, then Professor of Mineralogy at Columbia University. At the same time he was chairman of the Department of Mineralogy at the American Museum of Natural History. In 1965 he became curator in the Department of Mineral Sciences at the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, retiring in 1984, but still active as Curator Emeritus today.

Dr Mason has examined, classified and described more meteorites than any other human being to date. One of these, he positively identified, in 1982, as the first lunar meteorite – a fragment of the Moon found on Earth. He had been fortunate to work on the collections of the Apollo missions some years later. In his career he has discovered seven minerals new to science. Two new minerals are named after him and an asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter has been named 12926 Brianmason.

A prolific publisher, he has published seven books, many of which are recognised texts worldwide, and more than 230 papers.

He has been a major benefactor of the Canterbury/Westland region, establishing the Canterbury/Westland Science and Technology Trust, the Robin Allen Memorial Fund, and the Mason Trust, which allow research to be carried out on a wide range of topics.

He is considered one of Canterbury University’s most famous earth science graduates.

Citation authorised as true and correct at April 2002.