Dr. Harry Y. McSween ("Hap" to those who know him) is a professor and former head of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He holds degrees from The Citadel, the University of Georgia, and Harvard University (Ph.D. awarded in 1977), and has been a member of the UT faculty for twenty years. He has recently served as President of the Meteoritical Society and Chair of the Planetary Division of the Geological Society of America, and serves on numerous advisory committees for NASA and the National Academy of Sciences.
Unlike most geologists, Dr. McSween's attention is drawn to rocks falling from the heavens rather than to those already underfoot. For the past two decades NASA has funded his research on meteorites, and he has published approximately 100 scientific papers dealing with meteorites and their implications for understanding how the solar system formed and evolved. He was also one of the original proponents of the idea that a handful of unusual meteorites came from Mars. He has been an often-quoted voice of caution in interpreting reported evidence for fossilized Martian life in one of these meteorites, a controversy that has placed him on the front pages of major newspapers during the past year.
He is particularly interested in communicating the excitement of science to the public, and he is the author of several recently published popular books introducing planetary science:
Stardust to Planets: A Geological Tour of
the Solar System,
St. Martin's Press, 1993
Fanfare for Earth: The Origin of Our Planet
St. Martin's Press, 1997
Dr. McSween's responsibilities as member of
the science team for Mars Pathfinder include participation in
the selection of the rocks to be analyzed by the Sojourner rover
and mineralogic and petrologic interpretation of APXS data for
rocks and soils. He also serves on the science team for the Mars
Global Surveyor spacecraft, which will begin mapping the Martian
surface from orbit in early 1998.