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Professor Shares History of Geology
Professor Shares History of Geology

Last fall, the Rensselaer Research Libraries honored Gerald Friedman, professor emeritus of sedimentology and geohistory, for his long-standing support and interest at a ceremony outside the Institute Archives and Special Collection’s Fixman Room.

Since his arrival at Rensselaer in 1964, Friedman has been an intensive user of the Folsom Library and has donated many items to its collections. His most recent and important gift includes nearly 250 rare history of geology volumes collected during his career. The Friedman volumes, which will be named the Gerald M. Friedman History of Geology Collection, build on the department’s strength in natural history and the history of geology. The collection will be a major research resource for Rensselaer students and faculty and history of science scholars throughout the world.

The collection contains many icons of the history of geology, including William Smith’s famous map, A delineation of the strata of England and Wales, with part of Scotland, and James Hutton’s Abstract of a dissertation read in the Royal Society of Edinburgh, upon the seventh of March, and fourth of April, M,DCC,LXXXV, concerning the system of the earth, its duration and stability.

Friedman earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He earned a doctorate of science from the University of London and received an honorary doctorate of natural science from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He taught at Rensselaer from 1964 to 1984 when he was appointed professor emeritus of sedimentology and geohistory.

He is the founder and director of the Northeastern Science Foundation in Troy, which hosts symposia and publishes several journals. He has served as an officer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Geological Society of America, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, and the New York State Geological Association. He is the author or co-author of more than 500 publications, including the classic textbook Principles of Sedimentology, co-authored with J.E. Sanders.

Friedman has won a number of important awards for his work, including the American Geological Institute’s 2005 Legendary Geoscientist Award.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.