No bones about it: How are shells and skeletons formed from crystals?
January 26, 2013
An interactive session led by Dr. Patricia Dove
C.P. Miles Professor of Science in the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech. Head of the Biogeochemistry of Earth Processes research group within the Department of Geosciences, which is part of the College of Science. Member of the National Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, Geochemical Society, European Union of Geochemists, and Mineralogical Society of America.
From beautiful snowflakes to diamonds, crystals are everywhere. Crystals also make up the hard tissues of animals that we know as bones, teeth and shells. We call these ‘biominerals’. In this presentation, I will be talking about the many kinds of biominerals that animals (and plants!) make to serve an amazing variety of purposes. The best known biominerals are our bones that enable us to stand and move around. But did you know that biominerals can also become structures that filter light and food? Act as sensors for sight and shadows? Provide a compass?
We will also talk about fossils and how what they tell us about how animals and plants have made biominerals for more than 500 million years. Geobiologists work as modern-day detectives to study evidence from these fossils to learn how their sizes and shapes have changed through ice ages, meteor impacts, and volcanic eruptions.
Most of our discussion, however, will be about crystals. We will see videos of actual crystals growing from atoms and talk about how they are shaped into beautiful patterns.
Dr. Patricia Dove is the C.P. Miles Professor of Science in the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech. She heads the Biogeochemistry of Earth Processes research group within the Department of Geosciences, which is part of the College of Science. She and her students conduct careful experiments to shed new light on the chemical processes that enable organisms to develop skeletons. Dr. Dove is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, Geochemical Society, European Union of Geochemists, and Mineralogical Society of America. Her publications have been cited more than 3,500 times, and her research group has received two Best University Research Awards from the U.S. Department of Energy.
January 26, 2013 - Hands-On Exhibits
After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Virginia Tech community.