Rochester native is a scientific 'rock' star

A Rochester native has earned the highest honor the U.S. government bestows on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Dr. Joseph Colgan was born and raised here, graduated from Mayo High School in 1994, and still has family ties here — his mother is a native and his father and younger brother are both Mayo Clinic doctors.

Last month, President Obama gave Colgan and 95 others the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers .

Colgan is a research geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. He received the presidential award for his work on the geology of the northern Great Basin in Nevada and Utah. His goal is to figure out how this region's geology came to be. To do that, he focuses mostly on the history of faulting and volcanic activity in the area.

"This is a great honor and something I definitely never expected," Colgan said. "I'm very fortunate to have the support of some great colleagues, both at USGS and elsewhere. I couldn't have done most of this work without them.


"And speaking of support, I couldn't ask for a more supportive family," he said. "I know it's been hard for my mother to keep this news a secret for the past month."

The July 23 awards ceremony was held at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., after which Colgan and the other award-winners went to the White House to meet Obama, who spoke and posed with them for photos.

Colgan has been with the USGS since 2006. He received his bachelor's degree in geology from Carlton College in 1998 and his doctorate in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford University in 2005.

Memorial for fallen fire fighter

Last week Friday, the Rochester Fire Department Relief Association held a memorial service for Battalion Chief Chuck Hermann, a 30-plus-years department veteran who died last August after a logging accident on his property.

Hermann's name was recently added to the memorial bench at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial area on the north side of Silver Lake. The service was an informal gathering at the bench with the Hermann family and friends as a time to celebrate Chuck and share some stories.

If you're interested in helping remember Chuck Hermann, all memorials and donations should be made to, which will distribute the funds to KFSI Christian radio and Firefighters for Christ.

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