Remembering Rand


Memories of Rand Schaal

From Philippe Claeys

I first met Rand in the late 80ties during the then traditional Friday afternoon beer-tasting hour. Back then, his office on the lower floor of the old geology building was known, among starting graduate students, as the best place to get advices and learn a trick or two on how to survive graduate school in Davis. Rand enjoyed organizing activities bringing together students and faculty members; I recall a couple of memorable Geology potluck parties that took place in his house.

Rand was a kind and cheerful person, always ready to help on many different topics, ranging on how to behave like a real Californian all the way to shock metamorphism. While working at NASA – Lockheed Co in the 70ties, he collaborated to some of the first high-pressure gun experiments and co-authored key papers on shock effects in terrestrial and lunar basalts with Fred Hörz, one of the top brass in the field. In 1990, we obtained some the first samples recovered from the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary Chicxulub crater. Rand was enthusiastic about this research and willing to share his experience on planar deformation features and how to best analyze impact-melt rock, using the good-old Cameca SX50.

As the department initiated several large-scale general education classes, I had the chance to be a TA for Rand's famous Solar System class, which attracted a very large crowd of students and made the department chair very happy... Rand had amazing didactic skills. I remember him throwing basket- and tennis-balls around the class to teach students about the relative sizes of planets and satellites. He was a fantastic teacher capable to motivate economy and literature majors about lunar stratigraphy and its cratering record… 

Thanks to Rand, I followed the evolution of the Geology dept. though the alumni newsletter. Unfortunately, I had not seen Rand for many years but I know what he did for our University. Simply put it, he was a great guy; he left too soon.