Geosciences at Virginia Tech

Faculty and Instructors

Patricia M. Dove
University Distinguished Professor and C.P. Miles Professor of Science

5109 Derring Hall
+1.540.231.2444 (Phone)
+1.540.231.3386 (FAX)

Mailing Address:
4044 Derring Hall (0420)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Ph.D., Geochemistry, Princeton University, 1991


Biogeochemistry of Earth Processes: bgep

Research in our interdisciplinary group of geoscientists, chemists, and biologists investigates the biogeochemistry of earth processes.  We use experimental and theoretical methods to study mineral nucleation, growth and demineralization in a wide variety of systems. Most studies are based upon model systems that are designed to measure the thermodynamics and kinetics of mineral-water reactions and determine the interplay of factors that control the behavior that is observed in biological and geological systems. 

Much of their work is directed at experimental and theoretical studies of biomineralization- the processes by which organisms nucleate and grow minerals into skeletons and functional biomaterials.   Findings from these studies have significant cross-disciplinary interest with applications to diverse problems in science and engineering that include biomedical calcification, cementation, sedimentation and engineering ground improvement.  Publications by bgep are found in high profile journals that include Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

Presently, we are working to understand how the chemistry and structure of proteins and polysaccharides regulate the spatial and temporal patterns of mineral deposition in organisms.  We are also interested in the factors that regulate the chemical signatures of amorphous calcium carbonate, a reactive intermediate that is accumulated at sites of calcification and subsequently transformed to the crystalline-organic composite that we know as bones, teeth and shells.

Research and Recognitions

2013    Outstanding Virginia Scientist
2012    Elected to the National Academy of Sciences
2010    Fellow of European Association of Geochemistry    
2008    Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
2005    Department of Energy, Best University Research Award 
1999    Department of Energy, Best University Research Award 

Mineralogical Society of America:
2013    Dana Medal (San Francisco, California)
2000    Fellow of the MSA

Geochemical Society:
2010    Fellow of Geochemical Society
2010    Ingerson Lecture (Denver, Colorado) 
2002    Gast Lecture (Davos, Switzerland)
1996    F.W. Clarke Medal (Heidelberg, Germany)


In addition to an active research program, Dove brings energy to undergraduate and graduate classrooms.  She received the 1996 Amoco CETL Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award and was a Georgia Tech Teaching Fellow.  At Virginia Tech, she teaches Oceanography (GEOS 3034), Environmental Geochemistry (GEOS 4634) and Advanced Environmental Geochemistry (GEOS 5634).

Graduate Studies in bgep

The graduate students in bgep have been recognized for their creativity and innovative findings with a number of awards that include the NSF Graduate Fellowship, Mineralogical Society of America Best Paper Award, Materials Research Society Gold Award, and AGU Outstanding Student Paper.  Ph.D. students and postdocs continue on become university professors, senior scientists at National Laboratories, postdoctoral Fellows and exciting positions in industry.

The bgep group has openings for two new PhD students.  To learn more, visit bgep at  or contact

News Links

Dove Appointed University Distinguished Professor

Into the Academy

Geochemist's pioneering work earns top honor

Patricia M. Dove elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Geoscientist named international fellow

New insights to demineralization: Scientists demonstrate amorphous silica dissolves by pathway similar to crystals

Bare bones of crystal growth: Biomolecules enhance metal contents in calcite

Geoscientists resolve inconsistent data on crystal growth and dissolution

NSF Graduate Fellow aims to decipher how animals form complex skeletons

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