Bureau Announces 2010 Earth Science Awards

SOCORRO, N.M. February 3, 2010 – The Bureau of Geology at New Mexico Tech and the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department will honor a scientist and a public policy advocate with the New Mexico Earth Science Achievement Awards on February 4 in Santa Fe.

The annual achievement awards will be presented to N.M. Attorney General Dr. Gary King and to Dr. Bruce Thomson, professor of civil engineering at the University of New Mexico. King was nominated for advancing the role of earth science in areas of public service and public policy in New Mexico. Thomson was nominated for advancing the role of earth science in areas of applied science and education in New Mexico.

These awards are co-sponsored by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, a division of New Mexico Tech in Socorro, and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) in Santa Fe. The Bureau and the Department initiated the awards in 2003 to honor those often unrecognized champions of earth science issues vital to the future of New Mexico.

Gary King has long been a champion of natural resource protection and environmental issues. A native New Mexican from Stanley, Gary King holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Colorado and a law degree from the University of New Mexico. He worked in an environmental consulting firm, and was assistant secretary for environmental management at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Dr. King served 12 years in the New Mexico State Legislature. During this time, he sponsored a bill that would establish a mining reclamation law in New Mexico for the first time. Several bills had been introduced in previous legislative sessions to address this hotly debated issue, but all had failed. After much negotiation, Dr. King’s bill passed and became the 1993 New Mexico Mining Act. The Act established the New Mexico Mining Commission to adopt regulations and act as an appellate body for the mine permitting program. Dr. King served as a commissioner and chairman of the Mining Commission. In 2006, he was elected Attorney General of New Mexico, where he continues his tireless efforts.

Bruce Thomson is director of the University of New Mexico Water Resources program and a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, where he now serves as Regents Professor. He has served on the faculty since 1978. His research is focused on the chemistry and treatment of inorganic contaminants in ground water, especially arsenic and uranium. Recent research projects have been directed toward issues associated with reuse of treated waste water. He has served on several local, state, and national committees dealing with water issues, including 10 years of service on the Water Quality Protection Advisory Board, which reports to the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.  He is a licensed professional engineer in New Mexico.

The presentation will occur at noon in the rotunda of the state capitol building on Thursday, Feb. 4, during the legislative session, in conjunction with Earth Science Day. Several agencies will staff tables in the west wing of the Roundhouse from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on that day. The presentations will be made by Jon Goldstein, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, and by Dr. Peter Scholle, state geologist and director of the Bureau of Geology. The public is invited to visit the Roundhouse throughout the day and to attend the ceremony.

The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources is a non-regulatory research and service division of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. For 83 years the bureau has served as the geological survey for the state of New Mexico. The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department provides resource protection, recreation, and resource development services to the public and other state agencies. Nominations for next year’s awards are welcome from the general public and may be made directly to Peter Scholle at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources.

– NMT –

By L. Greer Price/Bureau of Geology