Samuel A. Bowring, 1953–2019

Samuel A. BowringSamuel Bowring, the Robert R. Schrock Professor Emeritus of Geology in the Earth and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has passed away.

Bowring was a legend in geochronology (pushing the limits of geochronologic techniques to unprecedented analytical precision and accuracy) and a world expert in constraining rates of geologic processes and the timing of significant events in the geologic record. He investigated the explosion of multi-cellular life in the Early Cambrian as well as the end-Permian and the end-Cretaceous mass extinctions. He is also highly regarded for his work on the origin and evolution of continental crust, showing, for instance, that that the Acasta Gneisses in the Northwest Territories of Canada were 4 billion years old.

Bowring was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and raised in Durham, New Hampshire. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Geology in 1976, from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology with an M.S. in 1980, and from the University of Kansas with a Ph.D. in Geology in 1985. He was an Assistant Professor at Washington University from 1984 to 1990. In 1991, he joined the faculty of MIT.

Bowring’s major contributions were recognized by many organizations and institutions, including the National Academy of Sciences (Member, 2015), the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (Member, 2013), the American Geophysical Union (Fellow, 2008; Norman L. Bowen Award, 2010; Walter H. Bucher Medal, 2016), the Geochemical Society (Fellow, 2011), the Geological Society of America (Fellow, 1999), and MIT (Breene M. Kerr Professorship, 2002–2007; Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow, 2006 to 2019). Bowring was a dedicated teacher and mentor and made many contributions to EAPS, including serving the first-year learning community Terrascope (2006–2014) as associate director and then director, and chairing the (former) Undergraduate Committee (2002–2016). While he will be missed by friends, family, colleagues, and students, his enormous impact on MIT and Earth science will endure.

— Text courtesy of Rob van der Hilst, Massachusetts Institute of Technology