Minerals Power the World

UArizona College of Science Dean Invites Public to Upcoming Lecture Series

By Tara Kirkpatrick

When the University of Arizona College of Science launches its 2022 lecture series on Minerals this spring, it’s fitting that the new dean is a distinguished earth scientist herself.

“Our goal is to help people understand how minerals not only tell us the story of the early solar system and evolution of earth, but the value of mineral resources to science and how we will rely on these in the future,” said Carmala Garzione, who earned her doctorate in geosciences at UArizona and took over as dean last year from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Carmala Garzione
University of Arizona 
College of Science

The 17th annual College of Science lecture series, Minerals, will kick off in March and April with five, free, one-hour talks at Centennial Hall. The lectures are: Minerals: The Building Blocks of The Solar System, Earth & Civilization; Our Place in Time: The Stories That Minerals Tell; All That Glitters – Gems & Planetary Evolution; Arizona, Copper & The Future of Critical Minerals; and Mining in a Greener Future.

Truly, the series couldn’t be more important or timely, especially on the heels of the opening of the new Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum at the Pima County Courthouse and the region’s prowess in mining and mining technology. UArizona just created a new School of Mining and Mineral Resources – a collaboration between the colleges of Science and Engineering.

Minerals not only help power the technology that runs our daily lives, they will be in even greater demand as the world attempts to transition off fossil fuels, Garzione emphasized. Manganese, cobalt, lithium are all examples of minerals that power our cell phones and rechargeable batteries. Copper, which Arizona leads the country in mining, is a crucial element in wiring multiple electronics and the driving force of the electric vehicle infrastructure.

“Everything that we build, all of the infrastructure … making sure we can build for decades and even centuries safely – all of that comes fundamentally down to mining and mineral resources,” Garzione said.

The first lecture, Minerals: Building Blocks of The Solar System, Earth & Civilization by Bob Downs, will really set the tone, history and background for the entire series, Garzione said. The remaining lectures highlight some of the college’s young, dynamic faculty, including Isabel Barton, Ananya Mallik, Mauricio Ibañez-Mejia and Raina Maier.

“When you think about the future of science, it’s really set by those in their early to middle careers,” Garzione said. “They are setting the trends for the next wave of research. We have a particularly strong group of early career faculty who are doing exciting work. We are excited to bring these new perspectives to the audience.” 

The UArizona College of Science launched its first public lecture in spring 2006 on evolution, bringing together educators and college researchers. That inaugural series has since fostered audiences that have grown over the years in size and passion. The annual series has addressed topics such as cosmology, neuroscience, transformative science, life science, evolution and climate change. 

Though COVID-19 forced last year’s lecture series to go virtual, it significantly expanded the audience so this year’s in-person talks will continue to have a link online. “We posted those lectures and got thousands of viewers. It eclipsed what we anticipated,” said Garzione. “So, while we are going back to Centennial Hall, our goal is really to reach a broad audience.”

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