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Geosciences professor is following in steps of Thomas Jefferson

Patricia M. Dove of the Virginia Tech College of Science has been awarded the Thomas Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Natural Science by the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

The C.P. Miles Professor of Science in the Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences, Dove is considered an international leader in the field of biomineralization, the processes by which animals grow skeletons and other functional structures.

Her research provides insights into the design of new advanced materials by investigating how animals make the complex crystal-organic materials we know as skeletons. This knowledge also shows how changes in fossil skeletons throughout geologic time can record changes in environmental conditions.

“There has never been a more urgent time to study the Earth,” Dove said after hearing of her award. “As a scientist at Virginia Tech, I’m proud of the teaching and research that we do to understand the world around us and solve problems facing mankind. As a teacher and a mother, I hope to inspire the same passion for science and natural history in the next generation.”

The honor is part of the 30th annual Thomas Jefferson Awards, announced today by the museum’s foundation in Martinsville. An awards ceremony will be held March 16, 2017, at the museum.

“Dove is a leader of science and discovery,” said Sally C. Morton, dean of the College of Science. “Her research work has made Virginia Tech world famous in the field of biomineralization, and her honors and awards from industry, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the National Academy of Sciences shows how lucky we are at the Virginia Tech College of Science to have her on faculty and part of our alumni and community.”

Dove’s awards and honors are numerous. She is a Virginia Tech University Distinguished Professor, was honored with the Dana Medal from the Mineralogical Society of America in 2014, named as the Virginia Scientist of the Year in 2013, and was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society, and the European Association of Geochemistry.

This past June, Dove was named as president of the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (VASEM). The nonpartisan academy was established in 2013 under the vision of Sen. Mark Warner, of Virginia, as an independent forum to assist Virginia elected leaders with science issues facing the commonwealth and the nation. VASEM is composed of approximately 150 Virginia-based members from across the state who are members of the national academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

The group also serves as advisors to help boost jobs for Virginia citizens in economic fields that tie directly to the sciences, including the aerospace industry, big data and cyber security, advanced manufacturing, and transportation and autonomous systems. The president serves a three-year term.

“Dr. Dove’s leadership has been a driving force of the academy since she chaired the 2014 summit,” said Andrew Densmore, executive director of the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. “As president of the academy, she has volunteered her time to grow both the programs VASEM offers as well as VASEM’s annual summit. When Dr. Dove takes charge, she makes it perfect.”

Dove is the director of the Biogeochemistry of Earth Processes research group at Virginia Tech. Her research has brought in more than $7 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. Her publications have been cited almost 8,000 times.

Dove earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at Virginia Tech and her Ph.D. from Princeton University. She joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2000, coming from Georgia Tech, where she served for seven years. Before that, she was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University.

The Thomas Jefferson Awards ceremony is a statewide event that honors individuals, companies, and organizations for outstanding contributions to natural science and natural science education in Virginia.

The Virginia Museum of Natural History seeks to increase understanding of and appreciation for the natural history of the commonwealth through education, research, collections, publications, and exhibits. The museum – an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution – is accredited by the American Association of Museums, a distinction earned by less than 10 percent of museums in the United States.

Additional information:

Professor Profile: Patricia M. Dove: Into the Academy

Patricia M. Dove selected as 2013 Virginia Scientist of the Year