Frank E. Kottlowski
Since 2001, the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources has supported a graduate student, working on research within New Mexico, under a fellowship program named for Frank Kottlowski, who was the director of the Bureau of Geology from 1974 to 1991. Students to receive the fellowship are selected from amongst the applicants to the New Mexico Tech Earth and Environmental Science program. The purpose of the fellowship support is to attract high-quality students to work with bureau researchers, and to match good students with geological or hydrological research projects within New Mexico.
As mentioned above, this fellowship is named in honor of Frank Edward Kottlowski, who was a much-loved and well-respected New Mexico geologist who worked at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology, then called the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, from 1951 until his death in 2001. During this time, he was Director and State Geologist from 1974 to 1991.
Frank was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He began college as an accounting and business administration major, but interrupted his formal education to serve in World War II as a B-17 navigator and photo interpreter. In this role, he flew 22 combat missions at a time when the survival rate for B-17 crew members was between 15 and 20%. Some people who knew Frank attribute his positive perspective on life, and his calm, gentle demeanor to these early war experiences.
Following his return to the U.S. after World War II, Frank continued his education, but this time at Indiana University where he studied geology and received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. He was hired as an economic geologist at the New Mexico Bureau of Mines in 1951. During his professional career, he contributed greatly to the understanding of a wide range of aspects of New Mexico geology, ranging from economic geology to stratigraphy and structural geology, producing classic papers that are still relevant today. He was described by one of his colleagues as “the single most knowledgeable person of the geology of New Mexico”. He authored more than 200 papers, and served on many state, national and international geological associations.
As impressive as were Frank’s war record and his professional accomplishments, an outstanding aspect of Frank’s character was his patient, calm, easygoing, polite and supportive personality. As one of his colleagues said- “Frank recognized that different people have different approaches to problems, and he emphasized the good in people without dwelling on their shortcomings”. This outlook made him a perfect mentor and supporter of students, and he valued students, and students’ education very highly. Through his years as director, he placed a strong emphasis on supporting students, and involved many students in New Mexico geological research, launching a new generation of geologists who are contributing to the field today. Although Frank is no longer with us, his spirit lives on in many ways, including in the fellowship named in his honor.