Roderick Heelis

Robert Finkelman


  • coal chemistry
  • lunar regolith
  • medical geology
  • micromineralogy


Katherine Morales

Expert at a Glance

Robert Finkelman, Ph.D. School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Dr. Finkelman is an expert on the chemistry of coal and how its makeup affects its performance as an energy source and its impact on human health and the environment.  His research has received widespread attention for revealing how tainted coal in southeast China led to the highest known rates of lung cancer among non-smoking women who live in a particular village.

He is an expert at evaluating the complex interactions of chemicals and potential pollutants that come in contact with coal as it forms over millions of years. He has authored more than 600 articles and has spoken around the world on the emerging topic of medical Geology.

He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and was the first person to have written a dissertation on the Returned Lunar Samples. His current research focuses on the health impacts of geologic materials and processes in Texas and around the world. He was co-editor of the book “Essentials of Medical Geology.”

In 2005 he retired from the U.S. Geological Survey as a research chemist.  He has served on the U.S. National Research Council committee tasked with studying the future of coal in the U.S.

He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Maryland.

Updated: July 6, 2010