Harry (Hap) McSween is a planetary petrologist/cosmochemist recognized for his work on meteorites and solar system exploration via spacecraft missions. His research has focused primarily on understanding the formation of the solar system and the geologic histories of Mars and asteroids. He was born in Charlotte, NC, and grew up in Clinton, SC. He graduated with a B.S. in chemistry from The Citadel, M.S. in geology from the University of Georgia, and, following service as a U.S. Air Force pilot during the Viet Nam era, received a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Harvard University. He joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee in 1977, where he was head of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He has been the elected president of the Meteoritical Society and of the Geological Society of America, and is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Interests

Unlike most geologists, Harry McSween's attention has been drawn to rocks falling from the heavens rather than to those already underfoot. He has studied stony meteorites -primarily chondrites and achondrites, and especially meteorites from Mars - using the tools of petrology and cosmochemistry. He has also been involved with planetary exploration as a co-investigator for Mars rover missions and for spacecraft missions that have analyzed Mars and asteroids from orbit. He is particularly interested in communicating the excitement of planetary science, and is the author of three popular science books and three widely used textbooks.

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Primary Section

Section 15: Geology

Secondary Section

Section 16: Geophysics