Project Overview

Biominerals: exploring composition, structure, and function

Faculty Sponsor

Rebecca Metzler (


Physics and Astronomy


Biominerals are a set of biological materials that consist of organic and inorganic components intricately combined into a composite material. In humans, biomineral examples range from bones and teeth to kidney stones. Other organisms use biominerals for protection with snails, mussels, oysters, and barnacles all producing a hard exoskeleton or shell to protect the organism within. Our research focuses on the biominerals produced by snails, mussels, oysters, and barnacles with the goal of connecting the micro-structure and chemical composition to the function of the biomineral within the organism. Each of the projects have unique goals with the work being done on the mussels and oysters focusing on the mineralized adhesive they make to adhere to one another underwater and the work on the barnacles focusing on the exoskeleton and its formation. Students working on these interdisciplinary projects will use a variety of techniques (scanning electron microscopy, hardness testing, infrared spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, electron backscatter diffraction, and synchrotron techniques) with the exact techniques depending on the project. Each project is anticipated to result in a conference presentation and an article.

Student Qualifications


Number of Student Researchers

4 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2020 and close on 03/11/2020

<< Back to List

If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (