Geological Science and Engineering

Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering

Our History


by W.A. Gorman

Although Queen's was founded in 1843, it appears that the first courses in Geology were not offered until 1863, in what was then called the Department of Natural Science. The emphasis in the department was on Zoology and Botany, and the earliest reference found that mentioned Geology in degrees awarded was in 1890.

Robert Bell was appointed Interim Professor of Chemistry and Natural History in 1863, and may have taught the first Geology course offered at Queen's. His father, the Reverent Andrew Bell of L'Orignal, Ontario, had a collection of Ottawa Valley fossils so extensive that it was mentioned in Logan's 1863 "Geology of Canada". In 1918, Ami remarked that this collection was "still in the museum of Queen's University, Kingston". Robert's training was unusual for a geologist, McGill awarded him a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering in 1861, and an M.D. in 1873.He also was awarded an LL.D by Queen's in 1883. Bell resigned from Queen's in 1867 because teaching "interfered with my own work". A large river in central Quebec bears his name.

The realization that mining was rapidly becoming one of the major industries in Canada was certainly a factor in the decision to set up a School of Mining at Queen's in 1893. Another factor was the existence of a core of courses in geology and mineralogy taught in the Department of Chemistry and Mineralogy certainly between 1887 and 1892 by James Fowler, Professor of Natural Sciences. One report implies that he taught geology for 13 years, presumably from 1879 till 1892. The School of Mines as established at Queen's included a Department of Geology and a Department of Mineralogy. In addition to courses commonly associated with geological engineering, students of that time were required to take Zoology, Botany and Astronomy, which probably reflects the fact that the geology program had it's roots in natural science. Assaying was a required subject from the start of the geology program, while physical drill and English remained in the program into the sixties. Professors marking essays have been heard to wonder if English should still be required today.

Willet G.Miller was appointed as the lecturer in the new Department of Geology. After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1890, he joined the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) While still with the GSC, he was offered and he accepted the position at Queen's. After eight years as head, he resigned to take up the position of Provincial Geologist for Ontario, but retained a strong interest in the progress of his old department, and left one sixth of his estate to Queen's. His contribution to Queen's is recognized in two ways, by the Miller Memorial Research Chair, first awarded in 1930, and by giving the name "Miller Hall" to the Geology building that was opened in 1931. The Miller Museum of Geology is also named after him.

William Nichol, a native of Cataraqui, a village on the outskirts of Kingston, graduated from Queen's with a degree in Chemistry in 1883, followed by degrees in Natural Science in 1885 and English Literature and History in 1886. In 1890, he received an M.A., and then obtained a position as Professor of Chemistry. With the opening of the new Department of Mineralogy, he transferred to become it's Head and only professor. He was to continue as Head and only professor for twenty-six years, until 1919, when he retired. He donated $40,000 of the $70,000 needed to construct the Mining Building, which today bears his name. Queen's awarded him an LL.D to add to his long list of honourary degrees.

Reginald W. Brock managed to become the first recipient of a degree, an M.A., from the Queen's Department of Geology in 1895, only two years after the department formed, by transferring from the University of Toronto with two years completed. The M.A. at that time was not considered a graduate degree. It would be best correlated with the Honours B.Sc. degree of today. R.W.Brock was known as an outstanding athlete while at Queen's, starring in both football and hockey. After graduating, he carried out field work in Southern British Columbia for the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), then served on a Royal Commission to study the disastrous rock slide at Frank, Alberta, in 1903. He returned to Queen's in 1903, having been offered the job of Acting Professor and Head of Geology, replacing Prof. Willet G.Miller, who had resigned to take up the position of Ontario's Provincial Geologist, after serving nine years as the department's first professor. In 1908, Brock resigned to become director of the GSC, then in 1914 went west to found the Faculty of Applied Science at the University of British Columbia. However, war broke out and he joined the Seaforth Highlanders, and served as an intelligence officer in Palestine under Allenby. He returned to U.B.C. in 1919 as Dean of Engineering, was awarded a Queen's LL.D. in 1921, and was killed in a plane crash in 1935.

The second degree, also an M.A., was awarded to J.M. Bell in 1899. He later went on to take a Ph.D. at Harvard. The year 1900 saw two degrees granted, one was to F.G. Stevens, the first geological engineer to graduate from Queen's. The second that year was to M.B.Baker, who went on to an engineering degree in 1902.

Manly Benson Baker was appointed to the position of demonstrator in 1900, and continued to hold that position in the Department of Geology till 1909, when he was given the rank of Professor. From 1905 to 1908, he held the additional position of lecturer in the Department of Mineralogy. During this period, he also worked as a geologist and mines inspector in the Cobalt area, and spent the summer of 1907 studying at Heidelburg, in Germany. The start of the association of hockey with the Geology Department began with Baker. Eight years of coaching the Queen's Hockey Team climaxed in 1909, when Baker's team won the Canadian Championship, then went on to beat Yale, the American champions. Also in 1909, he became Head of the School of Mining, and Head of the Department of Geology, a position he held for thirty-five years. In 1945, he became Emeritus Professor, and the following year, appointed Curator of the Museum. He held this position until 1953, according to Downing, but continued to work in the museum, perhaps unofficially, until 1958, when he died. Queen's awarded him an LL.D. in 1949. He may hold the record for the longest association with Queen's, spending over sixty years as student, professor and curator. A Queen's Scholarship carries his name.

Between 1900 and 1908, thirteen B.Sc.'s and two M.A.'s were awarded, one of the B.Sc.'s going to S. J. Schofield, who took his Ph.D. at M.I.T., then worked for the GSC till 1920, (with time out for military service in France), before returning to M.I.T. for a long career as a professor of structural geology.

The year 1909 had the biggest graduating class to date, five engineers, E.L.Bruce, N.L.Bowen, J.A.S. King, B. Rose, and H.T.White. This one class provided sixty-five years of instruction at Queen's. White alone did not contribute to this total. King was a fellow for one year only in the Department of Mineralogy, and Bowen taught two years. {Note: two yrs according to Who's Who, but really closer to eighteen months.} Bruce served for thirty years, and Rose for thirty-two.

Norman Levi Bowen, born and raised in Kingston, obtained his M.A. in 1907, then continued on to his 1909 B.Sc. He then went to M.I.T., where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1912. While at M.I.T., he worked with the famous "American " geologist, R.A.Daly, who was born and raised in Napanee, Ontario. In the summers between 1907 and 1912, he worked on field parties for the Ontario Department of Mines (ODM) and the GSC. He next joined the Carnegie Institute of Petrology before returning to Queen's as Professor of Mineralogy from 1918 to 1920. He then joined the Carnegie Institute of Scientific Research where he spent seventeen years studying the order in which minerals crystallize in molten rock. The sequence he discovered, known as Bowen's Reaction Series, is so fundamental to the study of rocks that it appears in almost every basic geology text. In 1937, Bowen took up the position of Distinguished Professor of Petrology at the University of Chicago, where he stayed until he retired in 1953. Queen's awarded him an LL.D. in 1941.

Everend Lester (Louie) Bruce, Sc.'09, continued at Queen's, obtaining his B.A. in 1911. He then went to Columbia University where he received an A.M. in 1912 and a Ph.D. in 1915. He taught briefly at the University of Wisconsin before joining Queen's as the Professor of Mineralogy in 1920, replacing Bowen. He became the Miller Memorial Research Professor of Geology in 1930, and continued in that position until he died in 1949. Like most geology professors, he had a long record of field experience, working for the GSC from 1914-19, Whitehall Petroleum in 1919, the ODM in the periods 1919-26, 1929-31, and 1932-35, the CNR in 1927, Ventures in 1928 and the Quebec Department of Mines in 1932. His contribution to the department was recognized when the addition to Miller Hall was named the Bruce Wing.

Bruce Rose was a lecturer at Queen's in 1910-11, but then moved on to Yale, where he received his Ph.D. in 1913. He worked for the GSC until 1920, then went into consulting. He rejoined Queen's in 1923, and continued to teach until his retirement in 1954. During much of his career, he was a consultant to the oil and gas industry, mainly in Alberta.

Alan Mara Bateman, Sc.'10, worked summers with the GSC while completing his Ph.D. at Yale (1913). He stayed on at Yale to do research, then joined the teaching staff in 1916. During a long career at Yale, he wrote a landmark text on Economic Geology, served as editor for the journal "Economic Geology" and, during the Second World War, became head of the Metals and Minerals Development and Procurement Directorate of the United States.

The decade 1911-20 was a low period in the development of the Geology Department. The decade started with a curriculum that had evolved considerably from that of 1893. Zoology, Botany and Astronomy were gone, courses in Mining, Economics and German had been introduced, and the number of required Chemistry courses had jumped from four to nine. Mineralogy courses had also increased, from three to five. In four years during this decade, there were no geology graduates, and in the ten years only thirteen degrees were granted, ten B.Sc.'s, one B.A., one M.A., and one M.Sc. Both Arts degrees went to J.E. Hawley.

James Edwin Hawley was born and raised in Kingston. He obtained his B.A. in 1918 and his M.A., awarded in 1920, was the first that would be equivalent to the modern M.Sc.Honours. In 1917, he started working in petroleum geology during the summers, and joined Whitehall Petroleum in 1920, working in Asia, South America, and Canada. He then went to the University of Wisconsin, obtaining his Ph.D. in 1926. After two years teaching at the University of Wisconsin, he returned to Queen's in 1930 as Professor of Mineralogy. In 1950, the Departments of Geology and Mineralogy joined to become the Department of Geological Sciences, with Hawley as Head. He held that position until he retired in 1962. Ed Hawley was thought of as a demanding professor. The hardness scale for minerals runs from one to ten, and he was known as number eleven. A long career in analytical geochemistry was suitably recognized when the research area in the Bruce Wing was named The Hawley Laboratories. In addition there is a mineral named after him.

The decade 1921-30 started with a curriculum that had evolved in the direction of the earlier geology programs. The number of Chemistry courses had dropped to three, and more courses were required in Maths, Physics and Drawing. New courses were in Metallurgy, Ore Dressing and Reports and Essays, the latter course persisting into the late sixties. In the decade, nineteen geology degrees were granted, twelve B.Sc.'s, four M.Sc.'s and three B.A.'s. Seven of the B.Sc.'s went on to graduate work.

Joseph W. Greig, Sc.'21, received his Ph.D. from Harvard. He worked at the Carnegie Institute for thirty-eight years, and on his retirement in 1960, became Visiting Professor at Pennsylvania State University. He also served in the First World War with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and in the second with the United States Bomber Command in the Pacific Theatre.

G.G. Suffel, Sc.'25, received a Queen's M.Sc. in 1927, and after completing a Ph.D., at Stanford, went on to teach at the University of Western Ontario. N.S. Beaton, Sc.'27, after three years in Rhodesia, returned to North America to obtain a Queen's M.Sc., and a Ph.D. at MIT. He was a well-known Canadian consulting geologist.

L.D Clark, Sc.'29, obtained a Masters at Queen's the following year, and then worked in Africa for several years.He later became a Professor of Mining Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. A classmate, J.F. Henderson, Sc.'29 (Mining), took a Queen's Geology M.Sc. and a Wisconsin Ph.D. before beginning a long career with the GSC.

Another member of the engineering class of '29, Harold Williams Fairbairn, obtained his A.M. and Ph.D. at Harvard. He worked in Canada with various government surveys between 1926 and 1942, and between 1936 and 1938 was an instructor in the Department of Mineralogy at Queen's. He then taught at M.I.T. for thirty-four years, and during that period wrote a well-received text on structural geology, and worked on the Manhatten (atomic bomb) Project.

Two of the three Arts graduates of the "Roaring Twenties" also went onto graduate work, both completing an M.A. at Queen's before moving elsewhere for a Ph.D. E.D.Kindle, B.A.'30, M.A.'31, took his Doctorate at Wisconsin before joining the GSC as a research scientist. Fred Jolliffe, B.A., '29, M.A., '31, returned to teach at Queen's after an absense of nearly 20 years.

Alfred Walton (Fred) Jolliffe, like Nichol, Bowen and Hawley before him, went to K.C.I (now Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute) before moving on to Queen's. He then went to Princeton for a Ph.D. He next joined the GSC, and carried out mapping in the Northwest Territories that was later to prove extremely important when uranium supplies were needed for atomic research. An island in Yellowknife Bay bears his name. In 1945, he turned to teaching, first at McGill, then in 1950 at Queen's, where he gained nation-wide recognition as an outstanding teacher, for his work with about six thousand first year engineers. In his earlier years at Queen's, students had to attend a certain percent of lectures or they would not be permitted to write examinations. Each of the 197 seats in his Geology I engineering class was numbered, and the number could not be seen if someone occupied the seat, so Fred took attendance by writing down the numbers he could see. The engineers soon figured out they could hire someone to fill their seat for the 8.00 A.M. Saturday morning lecture. The going rate was fifty cents an hour. The story goes that one replacement got interested enough to attend whether he was paid or not, always occupying the aisle seat assigned to one of twins who were on the football team, and away a lot. April arrived, and the twin with the aisle seat was allowed to write, the other was not. Geology graduate students have named their student organization The Jolliffe Club to recognize his contribution to the department. There is also a mineral named after him.

The "Dirty Thirties"

Steady growth marked the thirties. While the number of professors only increased from 3 to 5, the number of undergraduate degrees awarded more than quadrupled to 46, while the total graduate degrees increased twelve-fold to thirty-six.

M.L. Keith, M.Sc. '36, returned in 1940 to teach for ten years, before moving to Penn. State. He claims he taught the first geophysics course at Queen's.

The Forties -The War Years and the Vets come back

Between 1941 and 1950, the number of faculty increased from five to six. In the first five years of the decade, undergraduate enrolment declined to levels lower than the twenties, and graduate enrolment also declined, but to a lesser extent. That all changed when the vets arrived. Undergraduate degrees completed jumped from averages of two a year to fourteen a year. The number of graduate degrees increased at a much slower rate.

The Fifties

Departmental faculty increased from six to eight. There was a fifty percent increase in the number of Bachelors degrees awarded, and Masters degrees went up twenty percent. The most significant change, however, was in doctorates awarded. By 1953, three Doctorates had been awarded. By 1960, the total had reached twelve.

The Sixties

The number of undergraduate degrees awarded jumped from an average of 12 a year in the fifties to 15 a year in the sixties. Masters degrees awarded remained steady at about 4 a year, but the last half of the sixties saw Ph.D.'s rise from one to three a year. The number of faculty also doubled, from eight to sixteen. In 1962, Ed Hawley retired after over thirty years as head, and Willis Ambrose took over.

J.Willis Ambrose was teaching school in southwestern Alberta when he met a young man strolling along in the bright sunlight. "What are you doing?" said Willis. "I'm a geologist, I go around looking at rocks. " said the young man. "That's for me!" said Willis, and he enrolled at Stanford, obtaining his B.A. in 1932. This was followed by a Ph.D. from Yale in 1935, and a career in exploration geology in Canada. Between 1945 and 1948, he lived in Toronto, but was a Special Lecturer at Queen's. Weary of travel, he joined Queen's full-time in 1948. He served as head from 1962 till 1968, and retired in 1973. He was replaced as head by Hugh Wynne-Edwards.

Hugh R. Wynne-Edwards obtained a B.Sc. at Aberdeen before coming to Queen's, where he was awarded an M.A. in 1957 and a Ph.D. in 1959. He immediately joined the faculty as the most potent environmental polluter on staff. To illustrate flow folding, he poured oil on slowly flowing water, and had his students watch refolded folds develop. He resigned in 1972 to take up the position of Head of the Geology Department at U.B.C.

The Seventies

Despite the addition of the Bruce Wing in 1971, Miller Hall was bulging at the seams. The average number of undergrads reached 40 for the decade, Masters awarded rose from 4 to 10, and Ph.D.'s doubled to six a year. The number of faculty rose from 16 to 20, hardly enough to cope with the hordes. Most courses had multiple lab sections, and the beginning of tighter finances meant that new equipment was harder to obtain.

Raymond A. Price followed his Manitoba B.Sc. in 1955 with an M.A. in 1957 and a Ph.D. in 1958 from Princeton. He joined Queen's in 1968, and took over as head in 1972. His work and faculty appointments moved Queen's to the top of the heap in the field of structural geology. He stepped down as head in 1977, and the following year was awarded a Killam Fellowship. He resigned in 1981 to go to the GSC, and the following year began a five year stint as director-general. Maybe Brian was too much for him, he returned to Queen's in 1988. He recently completed a term as president of the Geological Society of America.

Peter L. Roeder, B.S., Tufts, 1954, Ph.D., Penn. State, 1960, arrived at Queen's in 1963, and took over as head from 1977 till 1981. In 1988, his excellence as a teacher was recognized when he was awarded a Golden Apple, and his excellence as a researcher when the Mineralogical Association of Canada awarded him the Past Presidents Medal. A symposium was held in his honour at the Geological Association of Canada meeting in Sudbury in 1999.

The Eighties

When the prices of oil and metals drop, so does the enrolment in geology programs. Most Canadian universities saw their class sized decimated, but Queen's rode out the storm fairly well. This decade, the average undergraduate class dropped from 40 to 35 and Ph.D.'s dropped from 6 to 3, but M.Sc. awarded actually rose from 10 to 14, possibly because of the dictum "If you can't get a job, do grad work". The number of faculty rose slightly, from 20 to 26, as the number of geophysics professors finally grew past two.

Edward Farrar, with a collection of physics degrees from the University of Toronto, arrived at Queen's in 1966 to help out with the geophysics program. On becoming head in 1981, he was able to add Paul Young, Alf Dyck and Colin Thomson, creating a critical geophysical mass that could blow up any time. Ed helped bring staff and students closer together with sporting and social events. Everyone could be counted on to turn up at his fall barbecue and bonfire, including the township fire department. He retired in 1998.

John Dixon, after obtaining degrees at McGill and the University of Connecticut, arrived at Queen's in 1974. He took over as Head in 1986, and was appointed for a second term in 1991. John took a well-deserved Sabbatical in the first year of his second term, while Ed Farrar sat in for him, and then started his second term as Head. He realized the error of his ways almost immediately and, casting about for an acceptable way of ducking out, chose the easy road, by being appointed Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science. In 1999, he was appointed Associate Vice-Principal (Academic) at Queen's.

The Naughty Nineties

With John Dixon defecting to the Dean's Office, a new Head had to be found, and Herb Helmstaedt found he had few friends in the Department, as he was selected to lead the department up to the turn of the century.

Herb Helmstaedt obtained his first degree in Munich, then after some world travel, got his Ph.D. at the University of New Brunswick. He arrived at Queen's in 1974, and soon had a large stable of graduate thoroughbreds eager to solve the problems of the structural world. He served for many years as Chair, Graduate Studies, before becoming Head in January, 1994.

In 1999, Kathy Scales, B.Sc., '78, became the second woman elected President of the Canadian Society Of Petroleum Geologists.

Other Long Service Faculty

Five professors are not chronicled in the above text as they were not graduates of Queen's, and were never Department Head. They are mentioned here, however, because all taught at Queen's for over thirty years.

Leonard G. Berry arrived at Queen's in 1944 after obtaining his doctorate from the University of Toronto. A world renounced mineralogist, he was probably best known for the two mineralogy texts he co-authored with Brian Mason. A mineral has been named after him. He retired in 1977.

W. Alan Gorman, a McGill graduate, arrived at Queens in 1955, and is still here. With 57 years teaching, he is the longest-serving professor in the Department of Geology at Queen's. He has won three awards for teaching, and his contributions have been recognized with the naming of the W.A. Gorman Student Lounge, the undergraduate student room on the 2nd floor of Miller Hall.

Leigh Smith, with a B.Sc. from U.N.B., an M.Sc. from Manitoba, and a Ph.D. from Washington, joined the department in 1966 to expand the offerings in the soft rock field. He is the only Geology professor to teach at Queen's very own castle near Eastbourne in Sussex, Hearstmonceux.

Alan Clark, a graduate of Imperial College, London, joined the department in 1967, and quickly developed a reputation for Queen's in Economic Geology. As he is an expert on economic and petrologic geology of the Andes, a large number of his graduate students have written theses related to this area.

Dugald Carmichael is so totally committed to his research in metamorphic petrology that he has at times been known to forget other tasks needing his attention. Dugald graduated from Queen's in 1962 and, after obtaining a Ph.D. at Berkeley, returned to Queen's to become one of the department's most popular professors. No departmental social evening would be complete without the voice, the foot and the guitar of "Stompin' Tom Carmichael".

Teaching Honours

The Department has a long history of excellence in teaching. Over the last 25 years, Queen's has been presenting awards for teaching skills, and this department has earned more than its share. Each year, engineering students select professors who they regard as good teachers and reward them with a "Golden Apple". Departmental winners of Golden Apples include Doug Van Dine, Al Gorman (twice), John Hanes, Heather Jamieson, Bob Mason, Sandra McBride, Vicky Remenda, Pete Roeder, Marc St. Onge, Bob Uffen and Paul Young. In the last 25 years, the campus-wide Alumni Teaching Award has gone to only two professors teaching in the ten engineering departments at Queen's, and both of them, Sandra McBride in 1988 and Alan Gorman in 1996, are in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering. For the last three years, professors have been recognized for their skill in teaching first year engineers. John "Hockey Stick" Hanes has twice been chosen, despite his problem of not being able to get to know all of his 600 or so students. Another campus-wide honour for teaching excellence, the Frank Knox Award, went to Jim Lee in 1999.


  • In 1885, William Nichol, (B.A., '83) was awarded the medal in Natural Science. This might be the first Geology degree awarded by Queen's, although the word geology does not appear in the degree description.
  • In 1890, A.M. Fenwick of Kingston, Ont., was awarded an M.A., First Class, in Botany, Zoology and Geology. This appears to be the first degree at Queen's where the word "Geology" is mentioned. It is equivalent to a modern B.Sc. Honours, and was not a graduate degree, as it was one year beyond a General B.A.
  • In 1892, Hattie Mary Baker was awarded the same degree as A.M. Fenwick, and appears to be the first woman awarded a geology degree at Queen's.
  • In 1901, Frank G. Stevens became the first geological engineer to graduate from Queen's. His grandson, Douglas Stevens, graduated in geological engineering 57 years later.
  • In 1912, W. Lawrence Uglow (M.A. '06, B.Sc., '11, Queen's) earned the first M.Sc. degree awarded in Geological Engineering.
  • In 1943, James M. Harrison (M.A., '41, Queen's) was awarded the first Ph.D. in Geology at Queen's. He later became the Head of the GSC.
  • In 1947, Steven Clive Robinson earned the first and only Ph.D. in Mineralogy, in part because the Mineralogy Department disappeared in 1950. Following graduation, he joined the GSC, where he stayed for 25 years. Robinsonite, a lead antimony sulphide, is named after him.
  • H.D.Carlson (B.Sc., Eng.,1949) became the third Ph.D. and first engineering Ph.D. in geology in 1953.
  • In 1953, Jadvyga Hetty Rimsaite became the first woman to earn a true graduate geology degree, an M.A., at Queen's followed by a Ph.D. at Gottingen. She went to work for the GSC.
  • In 1954, Ann Muirhead was the first woman to obtain an Honours Geology degree at Queen's.
  • In 1957, David M. Nowlan became the first Geological Engineer to win a Rhodes Scholarship. After obtaining his Doctorate, he became a Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto.
  • In 1960, Mabel Corlett became the first woman to obtain a B.Sc. in geology. After obtaining her Ph.D. at Chicago, she returned to Queen's to teach Mineralogy. In doing so, she also became the first female professor in the department. She resigned in 1986.
  • In 1960, David W. Devenny, Noel Journeaux and Douglas Martin became the first to graduate in the new geotechnical engineering program. David went on to a Ph.D. at Purdue, then moved to Calgary, where he joined a consulting firm. Noel formed his own consulting firm in Montreal after obtaining an M.Sc. at Purdue. Douglas became a high school teacher.
  • In 1965, W.E.(Ted) Glenn became the first graduate from the new Applied Geophysics program. He went on to a Ph.D. at Utah, and worked in the American Southwest before returning to work out of Toronto.
  • In 1970, Sue (Low) Roddick (B.A., B.Sc., Queen's), became the first woman to obtain an M.Sc. degree in geology at Queen's. She presently resides in Ottawa.
  • In 1974, Sue Lorimer became the first woman to be awarded a Geological Engineering degree at Queen's. She went on to an M.Sc. in the Civil Engineering Department.
  • In 1977, Sandra L. McBride, (B.Sc., Brown, M.Sc., Queen's) became the first woman to be granted a Ph.D. in Geology. She started teaching at Queen's the following year, and is recognized as an excellent instructor.
  • In 1977, Jessie Sloan became the first Honours Geology student and the first Canadian woman to win a Rhodes Scholarship. She also won the departmental medal that year.
  • In 1992, Jane Rae was the first woman to be awarded an M.Sc. in Geological Engineering. Her area of interest was in Applied Geophysics.
  • A new option in Environmental Engineering was introduced in 1989. In 1992, a total of nine students were awarded degrees in this option. Since degrees are awarded first to students with first class honours, in alphatical order, the first degree technically went to Jennifer Chown, but the department is equally pleased with the success of all members of this option.
  • In 1994, Noel James became the first Canadian to be elected President of the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists.