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Exploring the miniscule wins global award for Curtin researcher

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Investigating how the very small can have a very big impact on the planet has seen Curtin University research fellow Dr Denis Fougerouse from the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences awarded the prestigious Mineralogical Society of America (MSA) Award.

First presented in 1951, the MSA Award recognises one emerging researcher each year for their outstanding contribution to the field, with Dr Fougerouse named the 2024 recipient.

Faculty of Science and Engineering Dean of Research Professor Steven Reddy nominated Dr Fougerouse for the award in recognition of his contributions across a wide range of geological disciplines, his impressive number of peer-reviewed publications, his supervision of post-graduate students, and his passionate outreach work.

Dr Fougerouse’s work is in nanogeoscience, which involves investigating tiny materials to reveal new details about the Earth.

His recent research has included identifying new areas to find pink diamond deposits, establishing a new framework for dating the formation of the Earth’s continents, how the Sun is a likely source of the Earth’s water — and why ‘Fool’s Gold’ isn’t so foolish.

He is currently investigating better ways to locate and extract critical minerals such as germanium and cobalt, which are essential in the shift to clean energy.

He is also heavily involved with several outreach programs, teaching geology to people living in remote areas and to children of all ages, sharing his passion for STEM and encouraging students to take up further STEM-related education.

MSA Award Committee Chair Professor Astrid Holzheid said Dr Fougerouse’s diverse work has seen him emerge as a global leader in the field.

“Denis Fougerouse impressed by the originality and high quality of his research, the broad area of geological disciplines covered by him, and the multiple techniques he is applying,” Professor Holzheid said.

“Even more, his activities regarding communication to the general public, from kindergarten to grade 12, are outstanding.”

Dr Fougerouse will receive the award in person at the Geological Society of America’s Connects 2024 conference in California next year and will also be made an MSA Life Fellow and publish a scientific presentation in the MSA’s flagship journal, American Mineralogist.

“It’s so exciting and rewarding being recognised internationally by my peers with this prestigious accolade,” Dr Fougerouse said.

“Receiving personal notes from collaborators across the world gave me a new sense of recognition which will stay with me for some time and I am immensely grateful to Professor Reddy for nominating me.”

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