UH Researcher to be Honored by University of New Mexico

World-renowned scientist Dr. Klaus Keil to receive honorary degree from UNM

University of Hawaiʻi
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer
Posted: May 13, 2003

Dr. Klaus Keil, director of the Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, has been selected by the faculty and Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico (UNM) to be conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the university. Keil will be awarded with the degree at UNM‘s 2003 Spring Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 17.

Keil arrived at UH Mānoa in 1990 and has held the position of director of HIGP since 1995. Before that, Keil was at the University of New Mexico for 22 years where he served as professor and later chairman of the Department of Geology as well as director of the University‘s Institute of Meteoritics. He also served as a researcher for NASA‘s Space Sciences Division at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

According to Dr. Stephen Preskill of UNM, a member of the honorary degree committee, Dr. Keil was selected by the committee because "While at UNM, Dr. Keil was the recipient of almost every conceivable honor that can be bestowed upon a professor. He played a key role in elevating UNM‘s Institute of Meteoritics to a national and even international stature. He has been called by a current university leader ʻone of the half dozen most distinguished scholars ever to reside at UNM.‘"

Keil‘s most recent recognition was having a mineral discovered in extraterrestrial fragments of asteroids named in his honor — keilite. The name was submitted to the Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names of the International Mineralogical Association in recognition of Keil‘s "outstanding research on the mineralogy and petrography of chondritic meteorites."

Keil‘s expertise encompasses the areas of meteoritics, cosmochemistry, planetary science and the evolution of asteroids. The aim of his research is to understand the processes that took place in the solar nebula and the origin of solid materials in the solar nebula early in the history of the solar system. A large area of his research is aimed at understanding the evolution of crusts, mantles and cores of differentiated asteroids and the vast array of igneous processes that may have taken place on these asteroids.

Keil is a member and fellow of the Meteoritical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Mineralogical Society of America, and the American Institute of Chemists. He has received numerous honors and awards for his work and research, including the Leonard Medal of the Meteoritical Society, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award, the US National Academy of Sciences G.P. Merrill Award, and having an asteroid named for him. Asteroid 5054, a minor planet orbiting the Sun, was named Asteroid Keil by the International Astronomical Union in 1993.