U of S : Communications : OCN : Sep 5, 1997
Dr. Derek Wyman, a research associate in Geological Sciences, U of S, from 1994 to 1997, is the 1997 recipient of the Geological Association of Canada's prestigious William Harvey Gross Medal. The medal is awarded, in national peer -reviewed competition, to a young geoscientist with an exceptional track record of scientific publications.
Wyman started a masters degree at the University of Western Ontario, transferring to a PhD program in the Department of Geological Sciences at the U of S in 1986.
Professor Robert Kerrich, of Geological Sciences, says even prior to completing his PhD, Wyman had published many landmark papers in prestigious geoscience journals.
"What sets his science apart is his talent for thinking over multiple processes and multidimensions of space and time. His research embraces all of field, analytical, and theoretical work."
Gold -producing 'dance'
One of Wyman's pioneering studies, in northern Quebec, overturned the longstanding hypothesis of sedimentary gold deposits in the Canadian Shield, with a brilliant new hypothesis that's now accepted internationally as the standard model.
In another study, he was the first to propose an overarching, synthetic model for world gold deposits in the framework of the supercontinent cycle -an extension of plate tectonic theory in which our planet's continents engage in a slow 'dance' of embracing, parting, then uniting again. The embrace produces gold.
In yet another study, he demonstrated that the Earth's plate tectonics extend back some two and a half billion years, rather than 500 million years, as was previously believed.
For these accomplishments Wyman was awarded, in national competition, one of NSERC's few and highly acclaimed postdoctoral scholarships. He took the scholarship to the Lamont Doherty Geological Observatory in the States, where he was involved in advanced isotopic analysis of meteorites and other exotic rocks.
In national competition in 1994, Geological Sciences at the U of S was awarded $960,000 by a consortium of 14 mining companies to develop high tech solutions to the declining reserves of gold and base metals in Canada -products vital for modern technological society. Wyman returned to the U of S in 1994 as a research associate to head up a team on this project with Professor Kerrich (George McLeod Chair) and two PhD candidates, Ali Polat and Pete Hollings. This project is near completion and has been successful on all counts.
Earlier this year, Wyman accepted an invitation for a research position with a team led by Professor David Groves, at the University of Western Australia. He is returning to the U of S in October.
"Rarely," says Kerrich, "has a geoscientist so early in his career overturned so much conventional wisdom, with penetrating insights, to create new scientific paradigms."