Alexander George ("Alex") Schauss was born in Hamburg, Germany, on July 20, 1948, the son of Anna and Frank A. Schauss, a concert pianist; Frank was the son of Willy Schauss, the renowned Concertmaster of the Leipiz Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1928-1962. Alex and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1953 and settled New York City. Alex inherited the family musical tendencies, and studied the flute and piccolo at the Julliard School.
Alex's life-long interest in minerals (leading later to work on the effects of minerals and trace elements on brain function and behavior) began in 1957 when he and his family lived on 89th Street on the Westside of Manhattan, close to the American Museum of Natural History. He and his friend Sammy Lopez found a rock in Central Park that they thought contained gold or silver, and took it to the museum where they met Dr. Frederick Pough, the Head of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy. He gently informed them that it was a "nice" metamorphic rock, explaining that "nice" was spelled gneiss, which puzzled both of them.
Pough encouraged them to return to the museum and learn more about minerals and minerology, which Alex did for the next nine years, until Dr. Pough retired from the museum in 1966. Under Pough's supervision Alex learned curatorial skills and an appreciation for the potential health benefits and risks associated with the elements found in mineral specimens. Many years later, while studying history at the University of New Mexico, and later earning a doctorate in psychology, Alex wrote a book on the subject: Minerals, Trace Elements and Human Health (4th edition, 1999). He carried out significant research on zinc and other trace elements, including the discovery of an association between the ingestion of organic germanium compounds and renal toxicity.
During his first year of college in Albuquerque (1967), Alex began attending the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. He also spent many days collecting (with permission of the mine owners) exceptional smithsonite specimens at the famous Kelly mine near Magdelena, New Mexico.
At the Tucson Show, Alex met numerous prominent and noted mineralogists and dealers, including Ed McDole (and won the Tucson Show's prestigious McDole Trophy in 1999 for his display of thumbnail minerals, an achievement he repeated in 2010 when he won the Paul Desautels Award for his display of thumbnail minerals). These awards in addition to ten American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS) Master's Trophies for his thumbnails, the Richard Pearl Trophy for Best Mineral at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show, as well as numerous regional AFMS master's trophies earned over four decades, established him as an accomplished collector and connoisseur of thumbnail minerals. Along with Jim Houran, another accomplished thumbnail collector, they brought five cases of African thumbnails to the 2012 Munich Gem and Mineral Show, the first-time thumbnail minerals were featured in the show's 50-year history.
Alex has served as a quality judge at the Tucson Show for over two decades. He is a Trustee of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, and a board member and past-President and twice-elected Vice President of the national non-profit, Friends of Mineralogy, founded in Tucson in 1970. He is a Life Member of the Mineralogical Society of Arizona, Senior Fellow (along with his wife, Laura) of The Mineralogical Record, and a member of the Mineralogical Society of America, Arizona Geological Society, Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, Pinal Gem and Mineral Society, and the Flagg Mineral Foundation. From 2013 to 2020, Alex was a member of the University of Arizona Gem and Mineral Museum Advisory Board, and served as the board's Vice President from 2017 to 2020.
In 2017, Alex successfully headed a lobbying drive to have Wulfenite declared the official state mineral of Arizona.
Professionally, Dr. Schauss is the President and CEO of AIBMR Life Sciences, a scientific and regulatory consulting company he founded in 1978. He is a Certified Food Scientist, a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, and a member of the American College of Toxicology, the American College of Nutrition, the American Chemical Society, the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, and the American Society of Nutrition. He has authored 23 books, 40 book chapters, and 185 papers in the scientific literature. One of his most recent co-authored papers is on the morphology of an unusual African diamond discussed in Diamond: The Ultimate Gemstone.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2020)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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