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Barry Bickmore


Office: S-321 ESC

Meet Professor Barry Bickmore


  • 8/88 to 4/89, 8/91 to 8/94 BS Geology (minors in Chemistry and Philosophy), Magna Cum Laude, Brigham Young University
  • 8/94 to 12/99 Ph.D. Geological Sciences, specializing in mineral surface geochemistry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Ph.D. advisor – Michael F. Hochella. Dissertation title: “Atomic Force Microscopy Study of Clay Mineral Dissolution”.


  • Physical Science 110B: Earth Science for El. Ed.
  • Physical Science 100
  • Geology 351: Mineralogy
  • Geology 445: Geochemistry
  • Geology 446: Applied Geochemistry
  • Geology 550: Environmental Soil Chemistry Geology
  • Geology 531: Geoscience Data Analysis


  • 1991-1999: Various Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant jobs in the Geology, Chemistry, and Honors departments of Brigham Young University and the Geological Sciences department of Virginia Tech.
  • 1/00 to 7/01: Postdoctoral Research Associate for Prof. Kathryn L. Nagy, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder.
  • 8/01 to 8/07: Assistant Professor, Department of Geology, Brigham Young University.
  • 9/07 to 8/13: Associate Professor, Department of Geology, Brigham Young University.
  • 9/13 to present: Professor, Department of Geology, Brigham Young University.

Professional Activities

  • Associate Editor, American Mineralogist (2009-2012)
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Geoscience Education (2009-2012)
  • Co-chair, Arts and Sciences Editorial Board, BYU Studies Quarterly (2012-present)


  • National Association of Geoscience Teachers
  • Geochemical Society
  • Mineralogical Society of America
  • Clay Minerals Society
  • American Chemical Society


I have focused my research in three areas: geochemistry, mineralogy/structural chemistry, and geoscience education.

Geochemistry: Chemical reactions between minerals and aqueous solutions happen at the mineral-fluid interface, a tiny region where solution properties are quite different than in the bulk fluid, and solid properties are quite different than in the bulk mineral structure. However, although this interface is where all the action is, chemically speaking, prior to the last two decades the tools to study such surface processes were comparatively primitive. In most cases chemists were limited to examining changes in solution chemistry and explaining these changes in terms of some assumed surface process (e.g. adsorption, precipitation, etc.) Recent advances in theory and instrumentation are now allowing researchers to more directly probe mineral surfaces, allowing us to gain a more complete and accurate picture of mineral-fluid interactions. In my case, I am interested in studying how mineral surface atomic structure and composition affect reactivity. I use Atomic Force Microscopy, Force Spectroscopy, and other surface sensitive techniques to achieve this goal, as well as more traditional wet-chemical methods. I also use ab initio molecular structure calculations to help explain experimental results.

Mineralogy/Structural Chemistry: My group is currently involved in a multi-year project to expand the bond-valence model (BVM) into something that can predict full structures, and be easily transferable to a molecular mechanics framework. The molecular mechanics force fields we are designing should be fully reactive, and involve a minimal number of adjustable parameters. My group is working on a wiki training website that explains the rationale for the work.

Geoscience Education: I used to teach an Earth Science class for Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education majors, and I feel it is imperative that these students learn to love and have an adequate knowledge of science, so that they can pass these on to young children. My research in this area has focused on accomplishing these goals using innovative methods such as service-learning and creative writing projects, as well as experimenting with methods for teaching the nature of science.

In addition, I sometimes dabble in some other kinds of research. For instance, I have published a couple papers on measuring microfriction on clays and slickensides using AFM force spectroscopy. I also have a couple papers in press that have to do with climate and climate change.



How are local dry lakes impacting air quality and human health?

January 06, 2022 02:34 PM
New study reveals that 90 percent of urban dust comes from dry lakebeds
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Grants & Awards


  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1994-1999 
  • American Federation of Mineralogical Societies Scholarship, 1996-1998 
  • Outstanding Dissertation Award, Virginia Tech, 2001 (one of two awarded per year in the University) 
  • J. Keith Rigby Research Award, BYU Department of Geological Sciences, 2005-2006.
  • Myron G. Best Teaching Award, BYU Department of Geological Sciences, 2010-2011.

External Funding

  • $59,876, National Science Foundation, “The Earth Science Storybook Project,” 2002-2004.
  • $35,000, Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society, 2003-2005.
  • $217,602, National Science Foundation, “The Earth Science Storybook Project: An Intervention Strategy for Teaching Science to Pre-service Elementary Teachers,” 2005-2008.
  • $169,182, National Science Foundation, “Collaborative Research: Unravelling the Bacterium-Mineral Interface,” 2005-2008. (The lead P.I. for this proposal is Steven Lower of Ohio State University. BRB is the lead P.I. for the BYU team, and the dollar amount listed reflects only the BYU budget.)
  • $70,671, NASA, “Pathways to Mars Analogue Hematite through Nanoparticle Aggregation,” 2011-2014.  (The lead P.I. for this proposal is Andrew Madden at the U. of Oklahoma, and the dollar amount listed is the BYU budget.)
  • $215,489, National Science Foundation, “Structure and Reactivity at the Mineral-Water Interface,” 2012-2015.
  • $433,818, National Science Foundation, "The Valence Multipole Model:  Linking Structure and Reactivity," 2014-2017.

Total External Funding: $1,201,638

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Sexton MR, Elwood Madden ME, Swindle AL, Hamilton VE, Bickmore BR, Elwood Madden AS (2017) Considering the formation of hematite spherules on Mars by freezing aqueous hematite nanoparticle suspensionsIcarus, 286, 202-211, DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2016.10.014.
  • Bickmore BR, Craven O, Wander MCF, Checketts H, Whitmer J, Shurtleff C, Yeates D, Ernstrom K, Andros C, Thompson H (2017) Bond valence and bond energyAmerican Mineralogist, 102, 804-812.
  • Bickmore BR, Wander MCF (2016) Electronegativity.  In Encyclopedia of Geochemistry (Ed. White WH), Switzerland, Springer, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-39193-9_222-1.
  • Bickmore BR, Wander MCF (2016) Chemical bonds.  In Encyclopedia of Geochemistry (Ed. White WH), Switzerland, Springer, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-39193-9_4-1.
  • Wander MCF and Bickmore BR (2016) A preliminary valence multipole force field:  Al-Si-H-O systemAmerican Mineralogist, 101, 1862-1872.
    • This paper was featured in a "Highlights and Breakthroughs" note in the same issue.  See Brown ID (2017) A new approach to the ionic modelAmerican Mineralogist, 101, 1717.
  • Shepherd K, Wander MCF, Bickmore BR, Johansen WJ, Goodell T, Davis M, Andros C, Lind L, Robertson K (2016) The valence quadrupole momentAmerican Mineralogist, 101, 362-370. 
  • Rupper S, Christensen WF, Bickmore BR, Burgener L, Koenig LS, Koutnik MR, Miege C, Forster RR (2015) The effects of dating uncertainties on net accumulation estimates from firn cores, Journal of Glaciology, 61, 163-172, doi: 10.3189/2015JoG14J042.
  • Wander MCF, Bickmore BR, Lind L, Andros C, Hunt J, Checketts H, and Goodell T (2015) AIM analysis and the form of the bond-valence equationAmerican Mineralogist., 100, 160-171.
  • Wander MCF, Bickmore BR, Davis M, Johansen WJ, Andros C, Lind L (2015) The use of cation-cation and anion-anion bonds to augment the bond-valence modelAmerican Mineralogist, 100, 148-159.
  • Bickmore BR and Grandy DA (2014) Science as storytellingBYU Studies Quarterly, 53, 37-60.
  • Abraham JP, Sameer K, Bickmore BR, Fasullo JT (2014) Issues related to the use of one-dimensional ocean-diffusion models for determining climate sensitivityJournal of Earth Science & Climatic Change, 5, 220.  DOI:10.4172/2157-7617.1000220.
  • Bickmore BR (2014) Structure and acidity in aqueous solutions and oxide-water interfaces, Structure and Bonding, 158, 191-204.  DOI:  10.1007/430_2012_84.
  • Chen X, Madden AS, Bickmore BR, and Reches Z (2013) Dynamic weakening by nanoscale smoothing during high velocity fault slipGeology, 41, 739-742.
  • Bickmore BR, Wander MFC, Edwards J, Maurer J, Shepherd K, Meyer E, Johansen WJ, Frank RA, Andros C, and Davis M (2013) Electronic structure effects in the vectorial bond-valence model, American Mineralogist, 98, 340-349.
  • Kosoglu LM, Bickmore BR, Filz GM, Madden AS (2010) Atomic force microscopy method for measuring smectite coefficients of frictionClays and Clay Minerals, 58, 813-820. 
  • Bickmore BR (2010) Creativity in science: How scientists decide what to studyVisionlearning, SCIRE-1 (3).
  • Bickmore BR, Thompson KR, Grandy DA, Tomlin T (2009) On teaching the nature of science and the science-religion interfaceJournal of Geoscience Education, 57, 168-177.
  • Bickmore BR, Thompson KR, Grandy DA, Tomlin T (2009) Science as storytelling for teaching the nature of science and the science-seligion interfaceJournal of Geoscience Education, 57, 178-190.
  • Bickmore BR, Rosso KM, Brown ID, Kerisit S. (2009) Bond-valence constraints on liquid water structure, Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 113, 1847-1857.
  • Huittinen N, Rabung T, Lützenkirchen, J., Mitchell SC, Bickmore BR, Lehto J., Geckeis, H. (2009) Sorption of Cm(III) and Gd(III) on gibbsite, α-Al(OH)3:  A batch and TRLFS study, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 332, 158-164.
  • Bickmore BR, Wheeler JC, Bates B, Nagy KL, Eggett DL (2008) Reaction pathways for quartz dissolution determined by statistical and graphical analysis of macroscopic experimental data, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 72, 4521-4536.
  • Thompson KR, Bickmore BR, Graham CR, Yanchar SC (2007)  A service-learning strategy for improving attitudes toward science of pre-service elementary teachers.  Journal of Geoscience Education, 55, 228-234.
  • Bickmore BR, Rosso KM, and Mitchell SC (2006) Is there hope for multisite complexation modelling? In Surface Complexation Modelling (ed. Lützenkirchen J). Amsterdam, Elsevier, 269-283.
  • Bickmore BR, Rosso KM, Tadanier CJ, Bylaska EJ, and Doud D. (2006) Bond-valence methods for pKa prediction. II. Bond-valence, electrostatic, molecular geometry, and solvation effects. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 70, 4057-4071.
  • Bickmore BR, Nagy KL, Gray AK, and Brinkerhoff AR (2006) The influence of Al(OH)4- on the dissolution rate of quartz. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 70, 290-305.
  • Lusk MG, Bickmore BR, Sudweeks R, Bothell T, and Christensen E. (2006) Use of a mentored creative writing project to improve the geology education of preservice elementary teachers. Journal of Geoscience Education, 54, 31-40.
  • Thompson KR, Graham CR, and Bickmore BR (2005) Earth science storybook projects for preservice elementary education majors: Improving attitudes toward science. Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2005, 3761-3766.
  • Bickmore BR, Tadanier CJ, Rosso KM Monn WD, and Eggett DL. (2004) Bond-valence methods for pKa prediction: Critical reanalysis and a new approach. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 68, 2025-2042.
  • Bickmore BR, Rosso KM, Cygan RT, Nagy KL, and Tadanier CJ. (2003) Ab initio determination of edge surface structures for dioctahedral 2:1 phyllosilicates: Implications for acid-base reactivity. Clays and Clay Minerals, 51, 359-371.
  • Bickmore, BR, Nagy, KL, Sandlin, PE, and Crater, TS. (2002) Quantifying surface areas of clays by atomic force microscopy. American Mineralogist, 87, 780-783.
  • Bickmore, BR, Nagy, KL, Young, JS, and Drexler, JW. (2001) Nitrate-cancrinite precipitation on quartz sand in simulated Hanford tank solutions. Environmental Science and Technology, 35, 4481-4486.
  • Bickmore BR, Bosbach D, Hochella MF, Jr., and Charlet L. (2001) In situ Atomic Force Microscopy study of Hectorite and Nontronite dissolution: Implications for phyllosilicate edge structures and dissolution mechanisms. American Mineralogist, 86, 411-423.
  • Bosbach D, Charlet L, Bickmore BR, Hochella, MF, Jr. (2000) The dissolution of hectorite: In-situ, real-time observations using Atomic Force Microscopy. American Mineralogist, 85, 1209-1216.
  • Bickmore BR, Hochella MF Jr., Bosbach D, and Charlet L. (1999). Methods for Performing Atomic Force Microscopy Imaging of Clay Minerals in Aqueous Solutions. Clays and Clay Minerals, 47, 573-581.
  • Bickmore BR, Hochella MF Jr., Bosbach D, and Charlet L. (1999) Atomic Force Microscopy Imaging of Minute Particles in Aqueous Solutions. Microscopy Today, 99-9, 14-18.
  • Bickmore BR, Rufe E, Barrett SD, and Hochella MF, Jr. (1999) Measuring discrete feature dimensions in Atomic Force Microscopy Images with Image SXM. Geological Materials Research, 1, no. 5.
  • Barrett SD, Bickmore BR, Rufe E, Hochella MF Jr., Torzo G, and Cerolini D. (1998) The use of macros in AFM image analysis and image processing. Journal of Computer Assisted Microscopy, 10, 77-82.
  • Hochella MF Jr., Rakovan J, Rosso K, Bickmore B, Rufe E. (1998) New directions in mineral surface geochemical research using scanning probe microscopy. In Mineral-Water Interfacial Reactions: Kinetics and Mechanisms, ACS Symposium Series Vol. 715 (ed. Sparks DL, Grundl TJ). Washington, DC, 37-56.