Geologist and Curator-in-Charge, Meteorite Collection

Geologist Dr. Tim McCoy in a red T-shirt holding a Mars meteorite in his left hand. The backdrop is of a brown desert.
Dr. Tim McCoy showing a Mars meteorite. Smithsonian image by Jennifer Renteria.

Dr. Timothy McCoy is chair of the Department of Mineral Sciences and Curator-in-Charge of the Meteorite Collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. He earned his Ph.D. in Geology at the University of Hawaii and now researches how to use meteorites as a tool to understand the origin and evolution of their parent bodies, namely asteroids and Mars. His major focus has been to understand the detailed melting and differentiation of asteroids in the early history of the Solar System, in order to ultimately unravel the origin of differentiated worlds like Earth.

After an initial desire to be an astronomer, Tim took a geology course in college and loved the idea that you could actually hold a rock in your hand and learn its story. With the knowledge he accumulated on Moon rocks and meteorites, he then went on to specialize in geology. Now, 30 years later, Tim still gets to work with many different rocks; some he says, "are far too valuable to actually break with a hammer!”