Robert J. Tracy

Professor & Director of the Museum of Geosciences

Robert Tracy is a Professor of Geosciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Director of the Electron Beam Laboratories in the Geosciences Department at Virginia Tech, and Adjunct Professor of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University. He was born in Washington DC and raised in northern Virginia. Before coming to Virginia Tech he was a Research Fellow at Harvard University (from 1975 to 1978) and an Assistant and Associate Professor at Yale University (from 1978 to 1986).

Current teaching at Virginia Tech includes undergraduate courses in petrology, volcanology and environmental geoscience, and graduate courses in Advanced Mineralogy, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, and Electron Microprobe and SEM Techniques. Tracy is the co-author with Harvey Blatt of a widely used petrology textbook that is in final stages of revision; the Third Edition appeared in early 2006, and author or co-author of roughly 50 published papers in refereed journals. He is currently chair of several committees in the College of Science at Virginia Tech and active in university governance.


Ph.D., 1975, University of Massachusetts
M.S., 1970, Brown University
B.A., 1967, Amherst College

  • Techniques for, and systematics of, electron microprobe chemical dating of monazites (Ce, REE phosphates), especially targeted dating of thermal pulses and shearing events and tectonic interpretation of monazite dating.
  • Ultra-High Temperature processes in contact metamorphism, particularly of aluminous xenoliths.
  • Metamorphic and tectonic relationships of terranes in the Appalachians.
  • Models for evolution of the alkaline volcanic magmatic system at Tahiti.
  • Petrologic relationships of unusual manganese minerals and ore-country rock interactions at a metamorphosed manganese-carbonate ore deposit in the Virginia piedmont.
Robert Bodnar