University Research Professor

Dec 4th, 2020

Kelly Foss

University research professor

Dr. Stephen Piercey has been named University Research Professor in recognition of his seminal scientific contributions as an economic geologist, groundbreaking research discoveries and raising Memorial’s worldwide reputation for visionary earth sciences research.

A Memorial alumnus, Dr. Piercey, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, is recognized as one of the top researchers in Canada and internationally for the study of volcanogenic massive sulphide mineral deposits.

“Dr. Piercey has been instrumental in establishing the reputation of the Department of Earth Sciences as a world class research institute for economic geology,” said Prof. Murray W. Hitzman, SFI professor, School of Earth Sciences, University College Dublin. “Stephen probably has his best work still ahead of him and will certainly continue to enhance Memorial University’s global reputation.”

Dr. Piercey’s exceptional research has led to a better understanding of the tectonic setting, style of mineralization and genesis of these deposits. A leading authority in his field, his research contributions have a direct bearing on other types of mineralization including orogenic gold and magmatic nickel-copper deposits.

An extraordinarily productive researcher, he has secured more than $9 million in funding for more than 50 projects. He has also authored or co-authored more than 55 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, more than 40 government articles and open file reports and more than 165 conference proceedings and abstracts presented at national and international conferences. Dr. Piercey has published six geological maps and field trip guidebooks and mentored more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. From 2010-16, he also held the NSERC-Altius Industrial Research Chair in Mineral Deposits at Memorial.

Dr. Piercey has received the Waldemar Lindgren Medal of the Society of Economic Geologists, Fellowship in the Geological Society of America and is Fellow of Geoscientists Canada. He has also received Memorial’s President’s Award for Outstanding Research.

“I was pretty stoked to receive the notification that I’d be appointed to University Research Professor,” said Dr. Piercey. “It gives me some freedom to expand my existing research program and explore new areas of research in the coming few years, such as micro-analysis and mineral scale understanding of ore forming processes, machine learning applications in economic geology and metals for the emerging green economy. 

“I have to thank my colleagues who spearheaded the nomination - John Hanchar, Greg Dunning, Aphrodite Indares, Graham Layne, and Luke Beranek. They are great colleagues and collaborators and that they took the time to put forward the nomination is very much appreciated.”

Research is not a solitary endeavour and requires teams of talented people to lead to breakthroughs, so Dr. Piercey says that while he may be receiving the URP, many of his research successes are due in part to the outstanding research contributions his graduate students and post-docs have made, as much of the incremental steps and research advancements a research group makes comes from the individual contributions of each MSc, PhD, and post-doc project.

“I also have outstanding colleagues at Memorial and other institutions in Canada and globally, in the minerals industry both in Newfoundland and Labrador and internationally, and in the provincial and federal geological surveys,” said Dr. Piercey. “These colleagues have freely contributed their ideas and time; contributed to student training, mentorship, and supervision; and provided funding for collaborative research projects – they have done this repeatedly over my career thus far and I’m extremely thankful for this.

“NSERC has also been a cornerstone of my basic and applied research programs for more than 20 years and without that funding I wouldn’t be have been able to undertake the both the curiosity-driven and applied research I’ve done and continue to do.”