John Rakovan receives 2019 Carnegie Mineralogical Award


John Rakovan (center) with presenters of the Carnegie Mineralogical Award (photo courtesy CMNH).

Miami University mineralogist John Rakovan received the 2019 Carnegie Mineralogical Award in recognition of outstanding contributions in mineralogical preservation, conservation and education.

The award is presented by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which is among the top natural history museums in the country.

Regarded as one of the "most prominent mineralogists in the country," according to Travis Olds, assistant curator of minerals at the museum, Rakovan is "beloved by students and colleagues for his celebrated generosity of time and expertise.”

Rakovan, professor of geology and environmental earth science, was presented with the award earlier this month at the Tuscon Gem and Mineral Show.

His research involves some recent “firsts” in mineralogy. He was recently part of a team that for the first time “looked inside” the Ram’s Horn, the world’s finest known specimen of wire gold.


Rakovan examines the world's largest single crystal of gold, from his 2014 study (photo by Scott Kissell).

Almost nothing other than the existence of the specimen had been known about wire gold, said the researchers. They collaborated with scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory's neutron science center (LANSCE). 

With the help of one of the world’s most powerful linear accelerators, the team was able to study the interior of the gold wire specimen without having to cut into it. 

Rakovan was also the first scientist to examine the world's largest single crystals of gold for authenticity

On accepting the Carnegie award,  Rakovan — who has a mineral named after him (Rakovanite) — said that mineral collecting at a young age led to an interest in science, "and science education opened doors that I never thought possible.”