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‘World leader’

Earth Sciences professor receives highest Canadian geology award

Research

By Kelly Foss

A University Research Professor has received national recognition from the Mineral Deposits Division of the Geological Association of Canada.

A man with his hand on a rail with glass windows and railings behind him.
Dr. Steve Piercey says you don’t get awards like the Duncan R. Derry Medal “without your mentors, the collaborators you work with and your students and post-doctoral scholars.”
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Steve Piercey, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, has been named the 2023 winner of the Duncan R. Derry Medal.

It is the highest award bestowed by the Mineral Deposits Division to an outstanding economic geologist who has made significant contributions to the science of economic geology in Canada.

The award was presented at the 2023 Mineral Deposits Division of the Geological Association of Canada meeting in Sudbury, Ont., last month

‘Seminal contributions’

He was nominated by Dr. Michael Lesher, Laurentian University, with supporting letters from Dr. Alan Galley, a consulting geologist, formerly of the Geological Survey of Canada; Dr. Sarah Gleeson, GFZ Postdam and Free University of Berlin, formerly of the University of Alberta; and Dr. Maurice Colpron, Yukon Geological Survey.

His nomination notes that “Dr. Piercey is a world leader in multidisciplinary studies of hydrothermal ore deposits, in particular volcanic-hosted copper-zinc-lead deposits and orogenic gold deposits, where he has made seminal contributions to understanding their lithostratigraphy, mineralogy, geochemistry and genesis through careful, meticulous, integrated field and laboratory studies.”

“People in Newfoundland and Labrador get what you do and are generally supportive . . . Not a lot of provinces have that.” — Dr. Steve Piercey

Dr. Piercey says a significant portion of his research is done in Newfoundland and Labrador and that he feels lucky to have excellent local geology and mineral deposits where he can answer fundamental global questions about ore-forming processes and economic geology.

He also says a fundamental aspect of his success is a supportive “ecosystem” in this province, whether it be human resources, financial resources or the geological framework.

“People in Newfoundland and Labrador get what you do and are generally supportive of geological research, including the industry and government. Not a lot of provinces have that.”

Coming home

Dr. Piercey says Dr. Lesher has been a lifelong mentor and that it was extra meaningful to receive the award in Sudbury.

Three men with lanyards stand in a row, the middle man holds open a case with a medal inside.
From left to right are Dr. Michael Lesher, Laurentian University; Dr. Steve Piercey; and Dr. Dan Gregory, University of Toronto, and Mineral Deposits Division, Geological Association of Canada.
Photo: Taus Jorgensen

“I began my career at Laurentian University,” he said. “They took a chance on me with a faculty position right out of my PhD. So, it was fun to go back and be recognized in front of the people who helped me start my career as a researcher. It was kind of like coming home.”

Awards and honours

Dr. Piercey is a fellow of the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG), the Association of Applied Geochemists, the Geological Survey of America and Geoscientists Canada.

Memorial University recognized him with the President’s Award for Outstanding Research and in 2010 he was named the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council-Altius Industrial Research Chair.

“It is nice to know a younger generation finds your research relevant.” — Dr. Steve Piercey

He also received the Waldemar Lindgren Medal of the SEG and the Early Achievement Award and the Teaching Award from the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He was named Geoscientist of the Year in 2017 by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum and received its Past President’s Memorial Award.

The Geological Association of Canada presented him with the W.W. Hutchinson Medal and the Mineral Deposits Division previously awarded him the William Harvey Gross Medal and the Howard Street Robinson Medal.

Dr. Piercey served as president of the Mineral Deposits Division about 20 years ago; he says he appreciates how the organization has been at the forefront of involving early career researchers in the organization and allowing them to steer the organization’s direction.

“It’s great to be recognized by that group of people because they are also your successors and it is nice to know a younger generation finds your research relevant.”

Dr. Piercey has published 71 peer-reviewed papers, 15 book chapters, 45 government reports, six geological maps and field guidebooks, 22 short course notes and 186 abstracts.

He has also trained eight post-doctoral fellows, 11 PhD students, 34 master of science students, seven bachelor of science students and five research assistants.


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