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The Story of Gems and Minerals at NHM

How did the Museum acquire all of its gem and mineral specimens over time?

Download "95 Years of Gems & Minerals at NHM" (PDF) to read all about how this popular department has grown. Learn more >

What's a Meteorite?

Is that rock in your backyard really from outer space?

Find out how to identify meteorites and much more info on our Mineral Science FAQs page.
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Staff Biographies

Aaron Celestian

Aaron Celestian, Ph.D., Associate Curator

Dr. Celestian joined the NHM in January 2016 as Associate Curator after being an Associate Professor of Geology at Western Kentucky University for 8 years.  He received his Bachelor's of Science in Geology (emphasis in Mineralogy) from the University of Arizona (1999), and both Master's (2002) and Ph.D. (2006) from Stony Brook University.  Dr. Celestian is also an Associate Editor for the American Mineralogist.

His main research goals as a mineralogist and geochemist are to probe the secrets of how Earth materials grow and react in their environments, and to take that understanding to predict and design new materials for environmental and industrial applications.  To better model how these important porous minerals grow and behave, Dr. Celestian focuses on using in situ and time-resolved techniques to measure atomic positions and molecular motions in operando.  Dr. Celestian commonly travels to national and international synchrotron and neutron facilities that enable to him to perform these experiments.

Anthony R. Kampf, Ph.D., Curator Emeritus

Dr. Kampf joined the Natural History Museum staff in January 1977, immediately after earning his Ph.D. in mineralogy and crystallography from the University of Chicago. He was instrumental in the creation of the Museum’s world-renowned Hall of Gems and Minerals, which opened in 1978, and through the years he has implemented many additions and improvements to the gallery. Since 1980, Dr. Kampf had been Curator of the Mineral Sciences Department and has overseen the growth of the Museum's mineral and gem collections, from about 20,000 to more than 150,000 specimens. He conducts research principally in the areas of descriptive mineralogy, crystal chemistry, and structural crystallography — focusing on the characterization of new or inadequately described minerals and is the U.S. delegate to the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature, and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association.

Alyssa R. Morgan, M.S., Collections Manager

In September 2007, Alyssa Morgan joined the Mineral Sciences Department as Collections Manager. Alyssa began collecting rocks and meteorites as a child, which was the beginning of a life-long passion for science. She received her bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences from the University of Washington and her master’s degree in Geological Sciences from Brown University. Her specialties were experimental igneous petrology and planetary geology. Her research focused on the petrogenesis of lunar volcanic rocks and the composition and evolution of the lunar mantle.