January 14, 2021

James Joseph Papike, known as “Jim” or “JJP” to his friends and colleagues, passed away on December 21st, 2020 at the age of 83, just two days after the loss of his wife and life-long partner, Pauline. A long-time member of the Society, Jim’s many research interests included work on howardites, eucrites and diogenites, lunar meteorites, and martian meteorites and what they could tell us about martian mineralogy and petrology.To his many students, friends and acquaintances, Jim was a mineralogist, crystallographer, petrologist, geochemist, geological engineer, promoter of planetary sample return, a meteoriticist, a Lunatic, a hockey player, an ice fisherman extraordinaire, dog lover, or a Ranger to name a few. Take your pick or take them all. Jim was born and raised in the iron range of northern Minnesota. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Geological Engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He then returned to Minnesota, where he received his doctorate in Geology from the University of Minnesota.

A natural leader, in the course of his long career Jim was a major presence at six institutions (United States Geological Survey, Stony Brook University, Arizona State University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, University of Tsukuba, and the University of New Mexico). He was Director of the Institute for the Study of Mineral Deposits at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and later the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico. During his tenures as Director he expanded the analytical facilities of both Institutes. He influenced the research community through his mentoring of many undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral research associates and early career professionals, and through his participation and leadership in over 40 national committees, spanning everything from Apollo Site Selection and Continental Scientific Drilling to Department of Energy working groups on geologic disposal of nuclear waste. He was active in and had been an officer or councilor in the Mineralogical Society of America (president), the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society (president), the Society of Economic Geologists, the National Academy of Sciences, the Universities Space Research Association, and numerous other professional organizations. He was a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society.

He was always ahead of the curve in anticipating new questions worthy of major initiatives as well as innovative analytical approaches to reexamine science problems. His thorough review papers are classics that will continue to be cited for many years to come. In sum, he had been a presence at institutions of amazing diversity across the breadth and depth of this country and overseas. More than this, Jim had a prominent physical and intellectual presence that left an impression not just on the scientists he interacted with, but also the public. There is much more to Jim than you will find in this short remembrance. For additional career details and photos, see “Preface to the Jim Papike special issue” by Shearer et al. (2006) Am Min. 91, 1459-1460.

Trade stories with his many friends, colleagues, and students to get a real appreciation of our loss. Thanks Jim, for everything. Jim and Pauline are survived by three daughters, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.


Charles K. “Chip” Shearer
Steven B. Simon

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Categories: In Memoriam

Tags: Obituary