Geochemist Hugh P. Taylor, Jr. (BS '54, PhD '59), the Robert P. Sharp Professor of Geology, Emeritus, passed away on October 27. He was 88 years old.
Taylor was born on December 27, 1932, in Holbrook, Arizona. He earned his bachelor's degree from Caltech in 1954, a master's degree from Harvard in 1955, and a PhD from Caltech in 1959. Upon graduation, Taylor worked as an assistant professor at Caltech, then worked at Penn State for a year and a half, before returning to the Institute as assistant professor in 1962. He was named associate professor in 1964, professor in 1969, and Sharp Professor in 1981. From 1987 to 1994, he served as executive officer for geology. Taylor retired in 2002.
Taylor was one of a half dozen scientists from Caltech who were selected by NASA to receive samples of lunar materials collected by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Along with geochemist Samuel Epstein, his graduate adviser, Taylor searched the samples for isotopes of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and other elements to determine the temperatures at which moon minerals were formed as well as any possible interactions between the rocks and water that might exist on the moon. Later isotope research by Taylor led to a new understanding of hydrothermal convection on Earth and the effects of rainwater on basaltic intrusions.
A full memorial story will be posted at a later date.