Oral Histories in Meteoritics and Planetary Science – XVII: Joseph Goldstein


E-mail: derek.sears@nasa.gov


Abstract– In this interview, Joseph Goldstein (Fig. 1) recounts how he became interested in meteorites during his graduate studies working with Robert Ogilvie at MIT. By matching the Ni profiles observed across taenite fields in the Widmanstätten structure of iron meteorites with profiles he computed numerically he was able to determine cooling rates as the meteorites cooled through 650–400 °C. Upon graduating, he worked with a team of meteorite researchers led by Lou Walter at Goddard Space Flight Center where for 4 years he attempted to understand metallographic structures by reproducing them in the laboratory. Preferring an academic environment, Joe accepted a faculty position in the rapidly expanding metallurgy department at Lehigh University where he was responsible for their new electron microprobe. He soon became involved in studying the metal from lunar soils and identifying the metallic component from its characteristic iron and nickel compositions. Over the next two decades he refined these studies of Ni diffusion in iron meteorites, particularly the effect of phosphorus in the process, which resulted in superior Fe-Ni-P phase diagrams and improved cooling rates for the iron meteorites. After a period as vice president for research at Lehigh, in 1993 he moved to the University of Massachusetts to serve as dean of engineering, but during these administrative appointments Joe produced a steady stream of scientific results. Joe has served as Councilor, Treasurer, Vice President, and President of the Meteoritical Society. He received the Leonard Medal in 2005, the Sorby Award in 1999, and the Dumcumb Award for in 2008.

Figure 1.

Figure 1.

 Joseph Goldstein.