Fred A. Donath


Frederick Arthur Donath (born 1931) is an American geologist who specialized in research on nuclear waste disposal. He was the founding editor of the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Fred A. Donath
BornJuly 11, 1931
DiedJanuary 26, 2024 (age 92)
Tucson, AZ
PartnerMavis née Hagen
Scientific career

Early life and education


Frederick Arthur Donath was born to Arthur C. Donath and Elizabeth née Crary[1] in 1931 at St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota.[2] Arthur Donath was an educator and a principal.[1] Fred Donath grew up in Winona, Minnesota, attending Winona Senior High School where he participated in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and traveled to Switzerland for ten days as part of a cadet exchange.[3] He moved to Texas to attend Rice University, though returned to Minnesota to finish his undergraduate at the University of Minnesota in 1954.[4] He then attended Stanford University for his Master of Science in 1956 and PhD in 1958.[5]



After graduating from Stanford, he worked at San Jose State University as an assistant professor of geology. In 1958 he accepted a position as an assistant professor of geology with an emphasis in structural geology at Columbia University to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Walter Hermann Bucher.[6] In 1962, Donath received a research grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a geophysics lab at Columbia University; he was also promoted to associate professor.[7] He left Columbia later in the 1960s to accept a position as head of the Department of Geology at the University of Illinois; he was head of the department for eleven years until 1977, after which he remained a professor of geology. In 1978 he testified before the US Congress regarding geologic considerations in radioactive waste.[8]

He was the founding editor of the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, which was established in 1973. He was succeeded as editor by George Wetherill in 1981.[9] In 1980, he left the University of Illinois to form his own consulting firm, CGS Inc.[10] Later in the 1980s, he sold CGS to a California-based company, Earthtec, and started working for them as vice president for research.[11] He then created an endowed award for young scientists with the Geological Society of America known as the Donath Medal.[12]

Personal life


Donath married Mavis née Hagen in 1952.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Elizabeth H. Crary becomes bride of Arnold C. Donath". St. Cloud Times. St. Cloud, Minnesota. 20 September 1930. p. 6.
  2. ^ "Births". The Winona Daily News. Winona, Minnesota. 18 July 1931. p. 3.
  3. ^ "2 state CAP youths honored: Cadets get 'foreign' duty".
  4. ^ a b "Mavis E. Hagen, Fred A. Donath Wed at Belgrade". The Winona Daily News. Winona, Minnesota. 29 July 1952. p. 8.
  5. ^ Stanford University (2006). "Founding Grant Society" (PDF). Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Donath appointed to Columbia 'U'". The Winona Daily News. Winona, Minnesota. 6 August 1958.
  7. ^ "Dr. Donath named associate at Columbia University". St. Cloud Times. St. Cloud, Minnesota. 27 September 1962. p. 16.
  8. ^ Review of geologic considerations in radioactive waste disposal. 1978. p. 270.
  9. ^ "Preface". Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. 24. 1996. doi:10.1146/annurev.ea.24.092506.100001.
  10. ^ Nuclear Power, Both Sides. Norton. 1982. p. 115. ISBN 9780393301281.
  11. ^ deVries Klein, George (18 July 2012). Rocknocker: A Geologist's Memoir. CCB Publishing. pp. 273–274. ISBN 9781927360910.
  12. ^ "Geological Society of America honors Sterling Nesbitt with Young Scientist Award". Virginia Tech Daily. 17 July 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2020.