Mercyhurst professor to assist with Jamestown space exhibit

Creative minds at Mercyhurst spread far beyond the college community and use their skills to enhance many projects in the tri-state area.

Assistant Professor of the Geology Department Scott McKenzie is helping the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History create an exhibit called “Here Comes the Sun.”

The exhibit is located in Jamestown, N.Y. and will display photos of the sun and other objects from space as well as meteorites.

Two predominant astrophotographers in the Jamestown area took the photographs used in the exhibit.

Mercyhurst College got involved because of its Sincak Natural History Museum display cases and its access to an extensive private meteorite collection.

“I helped organize the meteorite display partly to educate the public but also to provide a way for people that have found meteorites to have them verified,” said McKenzie, who is curator of the Sincak collection. “Mercyhurst is one of the only places in our entire region that can do this (and we) thank the private collection that loaned the materials.”

Jeff Illingworth, Mercyhurst Archaeological Center lab supervisor, and Annie Marjenin, Mercyhurst Archaeological Center lab director, along with five students helped set up the many cases of space rocks at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI).

McKenzie explained that the items on display will include a “small piece of Mars verified by NASA, a 30-pound stony meteorite from Africa, a 29-pound chunk of an iron meteorite that fell in Siberia in 1947 as well as samples from Australia, Indochina and Texas. “Another case holds a rare meteorological rocket that crashed to Earth in the 1960s. Some samples of shattered or melted Earth rocks from known asteroid craters are (also) included in the display.”

The exhibit begins this week and will run through April. More than 75,000 people visited the exhibits last year.

“RTPI is a great venue for displaying natural history material, and they are a great group with which to work,” said Illingworth. “These exhibits are a great experience for Mercyhurst students, especially those interested in presenting things to the public as they get to help with the packing, shipping, set-up, tear-down and storage of the material.”

“These exhibits are a great way for the College to reach (out) and teach our community,” McKenzie said.

For more information about the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and the exhibit, visit