[meteorite-list] Mayeda, Expert in Isotopic Measurements, Dies At 81

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:32:46 2004
Message-ID: <200403042046.MAA17294_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Mayeda, expert in isotopic measurements, dies at 81
The Univerity of Chicago Chronicle
Vol. 23. No. 11
March 4, 2004

Toshiko K. Mayeda, who conducted research on
climate, meteorites and lunar rocks in a research
career that spanned more than 50 years, died
Friday, Feb. 13, at the University's Bernard
Mitchell Hospital following a bout with cancer. She
was 81.

Mayeda, a Senior Research Associate in the Enrico
Fermi Institute, received her B.S. in Chemistry
from the University in 1950. She then became a
laboratory technician for Nobel laureate Harold
Urey. One of her first papers, co-written with Sam
Epstein, a research associate in Urey's laboratory,
remains an influential work today.

"This was the beginning of the use of stable
isotope measurements of rain and snow in climate
studies, especially important today for global
warming studies," said Robert Clayton, the Enrico
Fermi Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry
and Geophysical Sciences and the College. Isotopes,
which are varieties of a common element that differ
only in their atomic weight and mass, can be used
to reconstruct a variety of physical phenomena,
including the temperatures at which the rocks
containing them were formed.

Another important paper, co-authored with Urey in
1959, became a seminal study in the constituents of
primitive meteorites, which are the most pristine
materials left over from the formation of the solar

A third paper, which Mayeda co-authored with
another Urey associate, Cesare Emiliani, in 1961,
helped establish firm dates for the ice age using
isotopic measurements. And in 1983, she co-authored
a paper with Clayton that established the
relationship between various types of Martian

Since 1958, Mayeda had worked with Clayton full
time until she became ill in early January. Her
services were much in demand from scientists around
the world who needed oxygen isotopic measurements
in order to properly classify their meteorite
specimens. "She's been the one who did all the
work," Clayton said.

Mayeda's daughter, Sibyl Yau, Clinical Director of
the Gastrointestinal Procedure Unit at the
University Hospitals, said her mother's passions
were her scientific work and her long-time
collaboration with Clayton. "Very far down in the
deepest part of her, that's who she was," Yau said.

Mayeda was the recipient of the Society Merit Prize
from the Geochemical Society of Japan in 2002. That
year, an asteroid also was named in her honor.

She mentored many Chicago graduate students who
went on to start their own laboratories in the
United States and abroad. Many of them came to know
her as "mom."

Mayeda loved to travel with her husband, daughter
and son-in-law, Yau said. She had visited nearly
every state in the country, took annual trips to
Florida and often returned to Japan.

Born to Matsusaburo and Haruko (Okada) Kuki in
Tacoma, Wash., on Feb. 7, 1923, Mayeda spent most
of her childhood in Japan, living first in
Yokkaichi, where her mother died, and then in
Osaka. She returned to Tacoma after graduating from
high school. She and her father were sent to the
Tule Lake Internment Camp in California after the
United States entered World War II.

The residents of the camp lived in corrugated tin
barracks with tarpaper floors, but they brightened
their lives by organizing dances and practicing
ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.
"They tried to have a quasi-normal life," Yau said.

At Tule Lake, Mayeda met her husband, Harry, whom
she married on Feb. 10, 1952. Harry Mayeda died
last year.

Mayeda is survived by her daughter, Sibyl Yau of
Skokie, Ill.; her son-in-law, Jack Yau; three
sisters-in-law, Yoko Kuki, Pearl Zarilla and Helen
Saiki; and many nieces and nephews.
Received on Thu 04 Mar 2004 03:46:07 PM PST

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