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Reynolds M. Denning
LSA Minutes


The news of the unexpected death of Reynolds McConnell Denning on November 1, 1967, came as a great and distressing shock to his friends and colleagues.

Professor Denning was born on September 3, 1916, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. When he was a child his family moved to Rochester, New York, where he completed his secondary education and graduated from West Madison High School. He continued his education at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology, graduating in 1939. He then was employed in Arkansas, first with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and afterward by the Arkansas Geological Survey. In 19L1 he accepted a teaching fellowship in mineralogy at Stanford. The next year he went to Bolivia to work for the remainder of World War II on deposits of the strategic metal, tin. In speaks well for Professor Denning's abilities that he was able to contribute significantly to the discovery of new ore reserves in spite of the paucity of previous geologic study.

After three years in Bolivia Professor Denning returned to Michigan in 1945, as a field geologist and instructor in mineralogy at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology. After completing further studies at this institution, he received his Master of Science degree in 1949. During the summer of that year he attended The University of Michigan to work toward his Ph.D. under the direction of Professors Chester B. Slawson, Lewis S. Ransdell, and E. Wm. Heinrich. After teaching the following academic year at Houghton, he returned to Ann Arbor for the fall semester, 1950, as a visiting lecturer substitution for Professor Slawson who was on leave. The experimental work for his doctoral dissertation was completed in absentia at Houghton. His career at The University of Michigan was resumed with his appointment as assistant professor in the fall of 1952. He received his Ph.D. from this University in June, 1953, and continued on the faculty in the same capacity the following year.

Professor Denning's doctoral dissertation marked the beginning of his long association with diamond research. Much of his research dealt with the physical properties of crystals and gems other than diamond; his interest in the properties of this last mineral continued until the end. In 1956, the same year that he was promoted to associate professor, he was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences - National Research Council Panel on Industrial Diamonds. From January to June, 1957, he was acting chairman of this panel during Professor Slawson's absense abroad. In 1961 Professor Denning was advanced to full professor. At about the same time, in keeping with his growing reputation, he became an adviser to the Gemological Institute of America. At the time of his death he was known internationally in the field of diamond research, and had served as a consultant to several diamond tool companies.

Professor Denning was also outstanding in the field of optics, having a penetrating knowledge of the properties of lenses, microscopes, cameras, and other devices. Much of his research dealt with the optical properties of crystals.