UC Davis chemist Alexandra Navrotsky, a distinguished professor who holds the Edward Roessler Chair in Mathematical and Physical Sciences, has been appointed interim dean of the Division of Mathematics and Physical Sciences.
Navrotsky, Distinguished Interdisciplinary Professor of Ceramic, Earth and Environmental Materials Chemistry in the College of Letters and Science, and a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, will serve until the university appoints a successor to retiring Dean Winston Ko. An international search will be launched early in the 2014-15 academic year.
“We are extremely fortunate that Alexandra will be stepping in to lead the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences in this period of transition,” Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said. “Education and research in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — are critically important to UC Davis and the world. Alexandra’s rare talents as a teacher, researcher and campus leader, and her strong commitment to the university, will be invaluable resources as the division meets new challenges and continues to advance its all-around excellence.”
Navrotsky’s research interests have focused on relating microscopic features of structure and bonding to macroscopic thermodynamic behavior in minerals, ceramics and other complex materials. She has made contributions to many areas, including mineral thermodynamics; mantle mineralogy and high-pressure phase transitions; silicate melt and glass thermodynamics; oxide superconductors; nanomaterials; materials for energy and the general problem of structure-energy-property systematics. The main technical area of her laboratory is high-temperature reaction calorimetry.
In addition to her endowed chair, Navrotsky also directs the UC Davis Organized Research Unit on Nanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture and Technology (NEAT-ORU). A prolific researcher, she has published more than 700 scientific papers.
A member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1993, and former president of the Mineralogical Society of America (1992-93), Navrotsky has received many professional honors during her career, including, most recently: fellow of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain (2004); the Urey Medal, the highest career honor of the European Association of Geochemistry (2004); the Harry H. Hess Medal of the American Geophysical Union (2006); the Roebling Medal, the highest honor of the Mineralogical Society of America (2009); and membership in the American Philosophical Society (2011).
Navrotsky was educated at the Bronx High School of Science and the University of Chicago (B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in physical chemistry). After postdoctoral work in Germany and at Penn State University, she joined the faculty in chemistry at Arizona State University, where she remained until her move to the Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences at Princeton University in 1985. She chaired that department from 1988 to 1991 and has been active in the Princeton Materials Institute.
She came to UC Davis in 1997 as Interdisciplinary Professor of Ceramic, Earth and EnvironmentalMaterials Chemistry, and was appointed the Edward Roessler Chair in 2001.