The Virginia Tech College of Science’s Robert J. Bodnar has been awarded the Thomas Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Natural Science by the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Bodnar is the C.C. Garvin Professor of Geochemistry in the Department of Geosciences and a University Distinguished Professor and serves as the director of the Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. Bodnar is being honored for making outstanding contributions to natural history.

“His work on fluid chemistry has provided the basis for much of the modern understanding of the hydrothermal (hot, water-rich) systems central to many ore deposits, including most of the world’s copper and other base metals. He has pioneered numerous new techniques for studying in situ fluids and melts associated with ores and with rocks ranging from granites to meteorites,” the museum stated.

“The award reflects the tremendous support I have received from my department, college, and the university during the past 33 years, as well as the fantastic group of graduate students I have had the opportunity to work with,” Bodnar said after learning of the award.

Added Steve Holbrook, professor and head of the Department of Geosciences, “This is a well-deserved and fitting award for Bob, who has had a highly distinguished career improving our understanding of fundamental Earth processes by deciphering the clues locked up in tiny fluid inclusions in rocks. Bob has also had a huge positive impact on student success, through his teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students and through his passionate advancement of study-abroad opportunities as coordinator of the Department of Geosciences study-abroad program and in his role as director of the Steger Center for International Scholarship.”

Bodnar will receive the medal at a Feb. 15 ceremony at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Bodnar is the second geosciences faculty member to receive the honor in as many years. In 2017, Patricia Dove, the C.P. Miles Professor of Science, was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Medal.

Bodnar has been a geosciences faculty member since his arrival at Virginia Tech in 1985. He was named C.C. Garvin Professor of Geochemistry in 1997 and University Distinguished Professor in 1999.

Among his numerous honors are being named an Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of India in 2015 and as Virginia’s Outstanding Scientist in 2010. He has been elected to fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, Mineralogical Society of America, Society of Economic Geologists, and the Geological Society (London), and he received the Laurea Honoris Causa from the University of Naples Italy in 2010.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 1975, a master’s degree in geology from the University of Arizona in 1978, and a Ph.D. in geochemistry and mineralogy from Pennsylvania State University in 1985. Before coming to Virginia Tech, he worked in Chevron’s research lab in La Habra, California.

The Thomas Jefferson Awards ceremony honors individuals, companies, and organizations for outstanding contributions to natural science and natural science education in Virginia. The Virginia Museum of Natural History — an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution — is accredited by the American Association of Museums, a distinction earned by less than 10 percent of museums in the United States.

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