Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) is pleased to announce William B. “Skip” Simmons, Jr. as winner of the 2022 Carnegie Mineralogical Award. The award honors outstanding contributions in mineralogical preservation, conservation, and education.
Simmons taught mineralogy at the University of New Orleans for more than 42 years, where he formed the Mineralogy, Petrology, Pegmatology (MP2) research group. Following his retirement from the University of New Orleans, Simmons relocated the MP2 research group and laboratory to the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, where he currently serves as the research director.
Simmons’ research primarily focuses on pegmatite mineralogy and petrogenesis. A pegmatite is a type of igneous rock that contains technologically and economically important minerals mined for rare-earth elements such as lithium, beryllium, and tantalum. His lifelong passion for pegmatite mineralogy began in middle school when his mother took him to collect at the McKinney pegmatite in Spruce Pine, NC, and he shared that passion with others throughout his career.
“I prioritized visiting and collecting at pegmatites worldwide and involved students and colleagues whenever possible,” says Simmons of his teaching career. “I have taken students to study pegmatites in Brazil, Namibia, and Madagascar, as well as in the US, and have involved students in research projects whenever possible. Many of the students presented this research at the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium.”
“Dr. Simmons is an extraordinarily accomplished mineralogist, who for decades has been a leading authority on pegmatology, a specialized field of study focused on the mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry of pegmatites,” says Travis Olds, Assistant Curator of Minerals, Section of Minerals and Earth Sciences at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “His research regarding pegmatite formation has revealed some groundbreaking results, including the modeling of near-surface pegmatites that indicates that some of the world’s largest crystals have a much shorter growing time than previously thought – just a few months or years, rather than millions of years. During his more than 45-year career, Skip has influenced thousands, engaging professionals, students, mineral enthusiasts, and people from all walks of life through seminars, distinguished lectures, and publications that explore and expand our understanding of pegmatites.”
Simmons has more than 500 research publications to his name, including 21 new mineral descriptions and five mineral discreditations, and he recently co-authored the paper, “A Proposed New Mineralogical Classification System for Granitic Pegmatites.”
Simmons’ research includes extensive geochemical analyses of pegmatitic tourmaline and other associated gem minerals. He co-edited the “Tourmaline” issue of Lithographie and served as lead editor and author of the “Rubellite” issue. Additionally, he developed a week-long Pegmatite Workshop in Maine that has run for 21 years; the second edition of the textbook he co-authored for the workshop, Pegmatology, was published in 2022.
“Skip shares his love of minerals and pegmatites with anyone who shows interest,” says Carl Francis, Curator of the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum and the 1992 Carnegie Mineralogical Award winner.
Olds presented the award to Simmons on February 11, 2023, at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History established the Carnegie Mineralogical Award, funded by the Hillman Foundation, in 1987.
Nominations are now being accepted for the 2023 Carnegie Mineralogical Award, and the deadline is November 15, 2023. Eligible candidates include educators, private mineral enthusiasts and collectors, curators, museums, mineral clubs and societies, mineral symposiums, universities, and publications. For information, contact Travis Olds, Assistant Curator, Section of Minerals & Earth Sciences, at 412-622-6568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Past recipients include:
2021 Barbara Lee Dutrow, PhD.
2020 John C. Medici, PhD.
2019 John F. Rakovan, PhD.
2018 Dudley P. Blauwet
2017 W. Lesley Presmyk
2016 Anthony R. Kampf, PhD.
2015 George Harlow, PhD.
2014 Bryon N. Brookmyer
2013 Gloria A. Staebler
2012 George W. Robinson, PhD.
2011 Jeffrey E. Post, PhD.
2010 The Rochester Mineralogical Symposium
2009 Peter K.M. Megaw, PhD.
2008 Frank C. Hawthorne, PhD.
2007 Jeffrey A. Scovil
2006 Richard C. Whiteman
2005 June Culp Zeitner
2004 Joel A. Bartsch, PhD.
2003 Eugene S. Meieran, Sc.D.
2002 Terry C. Wallace, Jr., PhD.
2001 Wendell E. Wilson, PhD.
2000 F. John Barlow, Sc.D. (honorary)
1999 Sterling Hill Mining Museum
1998 Robert W. Jones
1997 Bryan K. Lees
1996 Cornelis (Kase) Klein, PhD.
1995 Marie E. Huizing
1994 The Mineralogical Record
1993 Cornelius S. Hurlbut, Jr., PhD.
1992 Carl A. Francis, PhD.
1991 Miguel A. Romero Sanchez, PhD.
1990 Paul E. Desautels
1989 Frederick H. Pough, PhD.
1988 John Sinkankas, DHL. (honorary)
1987 The Tucson Gem & Mineral Society