Dr. George Rossman, professor of mineralogy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif., has been named this year’s recipient of the Feynman Prize, Caltech’s most prestigious teaching honor. The award recognizes “exceptional ability, creativity, and innovation in both laboratory and classroom instruction.”
Rossman was tapped by GIA in Santa Monica for help in its research department some 30 years ago and has been a longtime supporter of GIA and the jewelry industry ever since. Over the past two decades, Rossman also has helped JCK‘s gemstone editors understand how gemstones occur in meteorites and has explained the mechanics of gemstone color, most recently for black diamond. Rossman is able to help us relay such complicated gemological topics—in an easily understood and practical manner—to the retail jeweler.
Rossman has served on the editorial review board of GIA’s Gems & Gemology since 1981 and has authored several articles for the publication to help jewelers understand the complicated identifications of gemstones and their treatments.
In 1998, Rossman received one of the mineralogical community’s greatest honors when a newly discovered species of tourmaline was named rossmanite in his honor. He has served on GIA’s board of governors since 1995.
At Caltech, Rossman studies the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with minerals. His work focuses on the visible and infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, but past studies have involved every other region as well. It was Rossman’s probe into how visible light interacts with minerals that prompted him to channel his work into the gemological world.
“It was a natural extension to involve myself with the fundamental science and research issues that are also of concern to GIA,” Rossman says. “The results of our studies, after all, apply equally well to gem minerals as they do to common rock- forming minerals.” His work with infrared radiation has resulted in the development of principles that are particularly important for the characterization of gem materials.
“Over the years, Dr. Rossman has assisted GIA with many of our key research projects, and he has been instrumental in helping us successfully work through some of the most significant gemological challenges,” said GIA president Bill Boyajian. “His dedicated support has been invaluable in our ongoing efforts to ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry, and this most recent award clearly shows his integrity as a teacher, too.”