Virginia Tech professor of geological sciences Michael Hochella Jr. and his former doctoral student Steven Lower, now a faculty member at the University of Maryland, received an award for Most Outstanding Research from a University at a Department of Energy Symposium on Geosciences at Argonne National Labs.

The award is given every two or three years, at the meetings of the groups from across the United States which are doing geosciences research funded by the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

The award recognized work by Lower, Hochella, and the other students and post docs in the Nanogeoscience and Technology Laboratory at Virginia Tech on bacteria-mineral interactions. Discoveries were published in Science two years ago. Potential applications, such as measurement and control of various metals in soil and water, are being reported by Hochella's students at such meetings as the American Chemical Society, Geological Society of America, and the American Geophysical Union.

Robert Bodnar, university distinguished professor of geological sciences, told the Mineralogical Society of America when Hochella received the Dana Medal last year, "Mike and his students have become the world leaders in scanning force microscopy studies of mineral surface geochemistry. (Their) first principle quantum chemical calculations are providing valuable and unexpected insights into fluid-mineral interactions at the molecular scale."

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