John Rakovan, geology professor at Miami University, was recently given the honor of having a newly discovered mineral named after him.
Rakovanite is a new mineral which was recently discovered and named in honor of Rakovan. Rakovan, himself, however, was not a part of the team of researchers who discovered the mineral. Tony Kampf from the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, Barbara Nash of the University of Utah, Mickey Gunter of the University of Idaho, Joe Marty of Salt Lake City, Utah and John Hughes of the University of Vermont, are responsible for discovering rakovanite.
The mineral was discovered in West Sunday Mine, Solid Rock Mining District, in San Miguel County, Colo., according to Rakovan. It was found in 2009 but was not approved by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) until 2010. The team had been working at the site for over a year before the discovery.
“When someone discovers a mineral he cannot name it after himself,” Rakovan said. “It was named in honor of me because I had worked with the mineralogists in the past and with minerals from similar deposits, but not this exact mineral.”
According to Rakovan, the process of naming a mineral is more complicated than just coming up with a clever name.
“The Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) reviewed the name after it was suggested to the IMA by the scientists who discovered and did the scientific work to characterize it’s structure, chemistry and properties,” Rakovan said. “The IMA approved.”
Although the mineral itself does not have a specific use, its group, the Pascoite Group, does, Rakovan said.
“Every mineral has two unique properties that make it different from any other mineral, they are the crystalline structure and the mineral composition,” Rakovan said.
According to Rakovan, the mineral has a unique arrangement.
“The structure is the arrangement of these atoms in space,” Rakovan said.
“It was a unique discovery, not many people have their name associated with a mineral,” said Professor of Geology, Hailiang Dong. “The department is strong, especially in this specific sub-discipline. The facilities and people are top notch.”
Dong went on to say this discovery could be beneficial to the geology department in the future.
“The discovery brings honor to the department as a whole and to John himself,” Dong said. “It is important for the department because they could possibly get commission based on how common the mineral is.”
According to Dong, any commission or money the mineral gains could lead to more great things for the geology department.
First-year Liesl Carney was also impressed by and shocked to hear about the discovery.
“I think it’s awesome that a Miami professor has a mineral named after him,” Carney said. “It is a great honor for the university and not something you hear about every day.”