Mary Kobor 2014 spent much of her free time this year hunched over rocks and minerals. She helped to organize the expansive and beautiful collection housed in Pfahler Hall.
“I did a lot of research, looking up information to fill out the mineral data spreadsheet (compositions, chemical formulas and mineral systems) to ensure that each sample was identified and numbered correctly,” says Kobor, who graduated last week with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in English. This information eventually will be included on the new information cards associated with each mineral specimen making them neat and uniform. Kobor replaced some of the worn-out and illegible cards and added ID numbers to samples. She also photographed parts of the collection, cleaned the cases and helped organize the displays.
More than 500 of the samples belonged to Dr. E. Lee Porter 1935 and consist of rocks, minerals, fossils and artifacts that Porter had gathered or purchased throughout his life. Over the course of several years Ursinus Environmental Studies Department faculty members, with the help of many students, have inventoried, transported, cleaned and labeled the collection. In addition to Porter’s specimens, Lee Tori 1948, with his wife, Marilyn, helped coordinate the mineral donation of over 1,100 samples from the Paul J. Lazar estate. The Toris were close with Lazar, who joined the Philadelphia Mineralogical Society in the early 1980’s after moving east from Minnesota. The displayed collection is vast and vibrant.
“My experience researching and working with the mineral collection was rewarding because I got to learn about mineral systems and varieties,” says Kobor. “And I also got a lot of valuable experience building up my skills in organization and Microsoft Excel.” She hopes to go into a field relating to sustainability or waste management.
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Leah Joseph worked for months over the past year to expand the display to include the Lazar collection. Joseph, Tristan Ashcroft, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies, and Kobor spent many long hours unpacking and cataloging the minerals and organizing them into the new display cases. Sally Willig, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies, did the bulk of the work in obtaining the original Porter collection years ago after the original connection was made with Professor Jim Sidie and Andrew Price.
“Mary did a really great job in helping to make the collection look even more professional by obtaining consistent data for the information cards to standardize both collections,” says Joseph. “I’ve been lucky to have had a number of students work with me on the collection throughout the years, most of whom are now Ursinus alumni; Jesse Jones, Rebecca Jones nee Lamhut, Sara Lee, Jessie Mack, Maryanne Berthel and Brendon Satmary. Most of them were working their way through boxes of rocks, typing in the data from the information cards, correlating samples and numbers, and putting I.D. numbers on the Lazar minerals. A few of them helped clean the Porter/Lazar collection that was already on display and ensured that the information cards didn’t fade beyond recognition.” A formal opening of the newly-expanded collection is planned for later this summer.