Award-winning coal geologist Maria Mastalerz has found many new ways to use coal. Mastalerz is a research scientist and coal geologist at Indiana University in Bloomington. The Geological Society of America named her the winner of the 2008 Gilbert H. Cady Award at the age of 51, making her the youngest person ever to receive the award, and only the second woman to be so honored. The award is presented to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of coal geology.
Mastalerz’s area of expertise is coal petrology, the science that deals with the origin, history, occurrence, structure, chemical composition, and classification of coal. She has conducted research in the sedimentary basins of Poland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Her work on Indiana coals has increased the marketability of some coals for specific purposes, such as using Indiana’s high-volatile bituminous coals for firing coking furnaces in the steel-making process.
“Dr. Mastalerz’s recognition by this prestigious award is a proud moment not only for her, but also for the Indiana Geological Survey and Indiana University,” said John C. Steinmetz, the director of the Indiana Geological Survey. “Her work is critical to the development of cleaner coal technology, which has both economic and environmental benefits for Indiana.”