Peter C. Burns, the Henry J. Massman Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences and director of the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame, has been selected by the Mineralogical Association of Canada as the recipient of the 2016 Peacock Medal. He will receive the medal at the association's annual meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, in June. Established in 1982, the medal recognizes a scientist who has made outstanding contributions to the mineral sciences in Canada.
Best known for his efforts in actinide materials, including uranium and thorium mineralogy and geochemistry, actinide environmental chemistry, actinide solid-state chemistry (especially of uranium and neptunium), and the nanoscale control of actinides, Burns has developed a family of more than 100 nanoscale uranium oxygen cage clusters that self-assemble in water. A continuation of this work, which began in 2005, he is now developing applications for these clusters that will take advantage of their unique properties. His research has produced more than 360 published archival journal contributions, as well as three books.
A faculty member since 1997, Burns also serves as concurrent professor of chemistry and biochemistry and as the director of the Materials Science of Actinides-Energy Frontier Research Center, a center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy since 2009.
He earned an undergraduate degree in geology from the University of New Brunswick (Canada), an M.Sc. in geology from the University of Western Ontario (Canada), and a Ph.D. in mineralogy from the University of Manitoba (Canada). Following postdoctoral appointments at University of Cambridge (UK) and the University of New Mexico (USA), Burns joined the faculty of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
He has been associated with the Mineralogy Association of Canada since 1986.
The Mineralogical Association of Canada was formed in 1955 as a non-profit scientific organization to promote and advance the knowledge of mineralogy and the allied disciplines of crystallography, petrology, geochemistry and mineral deposits.
The Peacock Medal, formerly the Past-Presidents' Medal, has been awarded annually since 1982 to a scientist who has made significant contributions to the mineral sciences in Canada and is recognized for the breadth and universality of their contributions.