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Written by Prof. Baher El- Kaliouby (Ain Shams Univ., Egypt)

 

By the death of Prof. Mohamed Ezz El Din Hilmy on October 11, 2008, the scientific community lost a valuable member of its staff, an energetic investigator with unusual splendid achievement. Prof. Mohamed Ezz El Din Hilmy (85) passed away peacefully at his home in Heliopolis, Cairo. He will be greatly missed by his friends, colleagues and everyone interested in the Earth science throughout the civilized world.

Professor Dr. Mohamed Ezz El-Din Mahmoud Hilmy had a career that spanned 65 years with the Geological Sciences. He is one of the most striking pioneers in mineralogy. He is widely recognized for his contributions in the field of mineralogy and economic geology in Egypt and abroad.

Prof. Mohamed Ezz El Din Hilmy (Ezz as he preferred to be known to his many friends and colleagues) was born on March 5, 1924 in Quissena, Monoufia Governorate; He grew up and lived there until his high- school graduation in 1940 at the age of 16.

He began college at Ibrahim Bascha (Cairo) University in 1940, where he enrolled as a student of Geology. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) in special Geology with highest honors in 1944.

After graduation, perhaps his best good fortune came on August 1944 when he started the first phase of his scientific career as instructor in mineralogy in Farouk Al- Awal (Alexandria) University. He moved to U.S.A in 1946 to begin his graduate studies at the University of Chicago, U.S.A. He received his Master's degree (M. Sc.) in 1949. Thereafter, he started his Ph. D. at the University of Michigan where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1952.

After finishing his studies in the U.S.A. Prof. Hilmy was employed as a member of the teaching staff at Alexandria University from 1952 to 1960. During this period, he played a major role in the establishment of earth sciences laboratory at the National Research Center in Cairo. In the early 1960s he was transferred to the Faculty of Sciences, Ain Shams University as assistant professor until he promoted to professor of Mineralogy and economic geology in January 1966.

From September 1966 to August 1970, he founded the Geology Department at Kuwait University and witnessed its first graduation ceremony.

Professor Hilmy held many executive positions. He was elected chairman of the Geology Department at the Faculty of Science of Ain-Shams University in 1970, and remained at this position until 1972. He was also appointed as a Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Science for Graduate Studies and Research (1972-1975) and later in 1978-1980 as Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Science for Education and Students Affairs.

In 1982 he was elected again as Chairman of the Geology Department.  In 1984 he retired from active Administration but remained involved in national and international professional affairs. Prof. Hilmy was invited as a visiting Professor at the Institute of Applied Geology (currently, the Faculty of Earth Sciences) of the University of King Abdul Aziz, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; at Qatar University; at the University of the United Arab Emirates; at the University of Mustansseria, Iraq; at Southampton University, England; Tubingen and Heidelberg universities in Germany and at Boston University, U. S. A., where he taught graduate courses in Mineralogy and economic geology.

The school of scientific research of Prof. Hilmy dates back to 1951 when he published a paper in the American Journal of Sedimentary Rocks about the properties and types of the Mediterranean beach sands in Egypt and the economic minerals in what is known as the black sands. He also discussed the origin of calcareous sands and dunes extending along the western coastal plain.

Economic mineral deposits were his lifelong major subject of investigation. His scientific career is documented in almost 70 original papers in periodicals. Prof. Hilmy has supervised more than 60 M. Sc. and 40 Ph. D. theses. The results of these studies and investigations were numerous and important.

Prof. Mohamed Ezz El Din Hilmy was highly engaged in many Egyptian and international scientific societies and professional organizations of numerous national earth science projects. He was serving as: Councilor of the Mineralogical Society of Egypt (1964–1966); and of the Geological Society of Egypt (1967–1984) and Chairman (1976–1984) of the Subcommission on Precambrian Stratigraphy of the International Union of Geological Sciences; National Program Chairman (1961–1962), Councilor (1962–1965), and President (1970–1971) of the Society of Economic Geologists.

Because of his scientific authority in mineralogy, Professor Hilmy was elected from 1984 until his death as the president of the Mineralogical Society of Egypt. Prof. Hilmy has been decorated with many high awards. He was awarded the State Prize in Geology, the Order of Science and Arts of the First Class in 1961and Ain Shams Discretion Prize in basic Sciences in 1994. He also received El Kholy Gold Medal for a pioneer in Science in 1988.

Prof. Hilmy was a life fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America (MSA), which he joined in 1948. He is also member in the International Mineralogy Association (IMA), the International Association for the Genesis of Ore Deposits (IAGOD) (representative of Africa in the Council) and the Egyptian National Committee for Geologic Sciences (for more than 15 years). Prof. Hilmy has been the General Secretary of the Egyptian Academy of Science for more than 5 years. He is also the Chairman of both the Egyptian Geologic Society and the Mineralogical Society of Egypt.

Prof. Hilmy has been sacrifying much of his effort to arabicize geologic nomenclature and to provide the Arabic library with many valuable in-Arabic textbooks. He authored several textbooks in Arabic including the first Arabic reference in the principles of mineralogy, issued at 1956 (1st ed) to 5th Edition at 1984; Principles of Optical Mineralogy, 1977; (in collaboration with Prof. Zaghloul, Z. M.); and Geology of Economic Minerals (in 2004). He also collaborated with other authors in writing textbooks of modern geology for secondary schools.