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Geology is a proud tradition in Brian's family. Two of his uncles distinguished themselves during their careers: Willis L. Burnham, who was a prominent groundwater geologist with the USGS, and C. Wayne Burnham, who won the Roebling Medal in 1998 for his contributions to the field of geochemistry. His father George founded Burminco (the Burnham Mineral Company) in 1946, and supplied high-quality earth science materials to schools and mineral collectors for 62 years from his home in Monrovia, California. As a kid helping his dad, Brian developed a profound appreciation for the inherent beauty of the rocks and minerals collected and shipped to classrooms all over the country. But his love affair with optical mineralogy and petrography began when he saw his first thin section photomicrographs in an article in the January 1966 issue of National Geographic Magazine entitled "Finding Rare Beauty in Common Rocks". This love eventually blossomed in the late 1970's when soon after he left UCLA as a disillusioned art student, he obtained his first petrographic microscope and began studying optical mineralogy on his own. His passion for the subject led him in 1981 to pursue a B.S. degree in geology at Cal State L.A., which he earned in 1984 along with the Geology Department's Aaron Waters and Alumni Association Awards.
He worked his way through college as a technician with one of the oldest and most respected thin section labs in the country, the Rudolph von Huene Laboratory in Pasadena, California. There he discovered the perfect way to blend his talents as an artist with his love of petrography. After Mr. von Huene passed away and his business sold, Brian, with the help of his brother, started his own lab, and on February 1, 1987 Burnham Petrographics was born. It quickly established a reputation for high quality and service, and grew rapidly by word of mouth.
A few years later Brian met Kandi, who worked as a secretary/typesetter for a company next door to his lab in Monrovia. She was immediately intrigued by Brian and what he did for a living. They became the best of friends and ultimately married in 1999. Kandi has become a skilled petrographic technician in her own right, and has helped immeasurably in the growth and nurturing of what has become just as much her business as Brian's. In 2001 they were able to fulfill a dream to live in a cooler, more rural setting and moved north to Rathdrum, Idaho. Here, Burnham Petrographics shares two acres with a lovely home surrounded by evergreen trees, lakes and wildlife--truly one of the most beautiful places in the country.