Richard P. Nickelsen (1925-2014)
With profound sadness, we share that Professor Emeritus Richard P. Nickelsen passed away on November 23, 2014 at the age of 89. It is impossible to capture all that he meant to the students and faculty of the geology department, the Bucknell and Lewisburg communities, as well as the international science community.
Please find links to his
- a synthesis of his scientific contributions published in a special issue of the Journal of Structural Geology, Volume 31, Issue 9, Pages 861-1058 (September 2009), and
- a brief pictorial tribute in his memory.
Dick ('Dr. Nick") was the founder of the Bucknell Geology Department 55 years ago. Over the years he cultivated a strong program and profoundly impacted the lives of many, many students. His boundless energy, deeply held convictions about the importance of geology and the environment, and dedication to his students are legendary. Dr. Nick was an incredibly knowledgeable and versatile geologist. Over the years, he taught nearly all of the courses offered by our department at least once. As a field geologist, he led the way in establishing many of the field lab exercises our students still enjoy today. Dr. Nick led many formal and countless informal field trips for visiting geology groups. His efforts have helped to draw attention to the fabulous geology that surrounds Bucknell. His guidebooks, maps, and other publications are widely used by others who visit the region today.
Dr. Nick was an internationally recognized structural geologist. He made many major contributions to science and was recognized by the scientific community in multiple ways including the Career Contribution Award by the Structural Geology and Tectonics Division of the Geological Society of America, a special session in his honor at the NE/SE combined meeting of the Geological Society of America, and a special issue of the Journal of Structural Geology in honor of Dr. Nick and former student, Rick Groshong, '65.
His passion for science rubbed off on many students who went on to rewarding careers in the geosciences. Those of us who were lucky enough to have taken classes remember high-paced lectures, chock full of detail and precise descriptions. Dr. Nick asked a lot of his students yet he was supportive, kind, and patient. He was enormously generous with his time and energy. Simply put, he believed in his students.
Anyone who spent time with Dr. Nick in the field knows that while he adored geology, he was at least equally interested in birds, wildflowers, butterflies, and ecology in general. He devoted a great deal of effort in preserving natural areas in the surrounding community and was a founding member of the Linn Conservancy, selected the site of Bucknell's Natural Area, and sat on the advisory board of the Union County Conservation District. Dr. Nick was a strident proponent of land conservation and using land to its best and highest purpose.
Let us assure you that Dr. Nick's presence is still strongly felt in our department. His legacy lives on in the rock collections, detailed maps of our local area, field and lab exercises, student theses he supervised and perhaps most importantly, a well-honed sense of mission as a department.