Interim Dean Alexandra Navrotsky
A Message from Dean Navrotsky
I look forward to my time as Interim Dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) for approximately a two year period starting July 1, 2013. I am honored at the trust the faculty and administration have placed on me and approach the task with enthusiasm and commitment.
The goal of this interim period is to plan the future of MPS and position it to attract a permanent dean of international stature. In addition, I see urgent needs for more interdisciplinary interactions, especially between MPS and the College of Engineering, with the Nanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture and Technology Organized Research Unit (NEAT-ORU) uniquely positioned to act as catalyst.
While serving as dean, I will continue full speed ahead in research with my large group and in local, national, and international collaborations. The joy of scientific discovery is the touchstone of being a professor, and being available to my colleagues and postdocs and students in the Davis community is a high priority.
Although the financial situation of the state, the university, and the division is improving, we remain in a climate that forces us to carefully choose our priorities. The new budget model gives us more transparency and local responsibility but, as with any major change, it also presents challenges, some anticipated, some unexpected. We must continue to attract and retain the best faculty. We must respond to increasing enrollments and provide a modern, exciting, and intellectually rigorous experience for our students. We must continue to improve our accomplishments and reputation in research. A high priority is planning and fundraising for the new building that will house laboratories for Chemistry and for Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.
It is time to energetically and optimistically pursue our hopes and goals. I look forward to working with the broad and diverse university community and thank you for the support and encouragement you have already given me. Without it, I would not have considered the deanship. “Interim” is a wonderful word – it focuses me and the university on goals and issues that can be addressed on a two-year time scale. It is a step in the progression to “2020.”
Alexandra Navrotsky holds the Edward Roessler Chair in Mathematical and Physical Sciences and is a Distinguished Professor of Ceramic, Earth, and Environmental Materials Chemistry at UC Davis, where she is the director of the Nanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture and Technology Organized Research Unit (NEAT-ORU) and the Peter A. Rock Thermochemistry Laboratory. Her research relates microscopic features of structure and bonding to macroscopic thermodynamic behavior in minerals, ceramics, and other complex materials. She has published over 700 scientific papers.
Professor Navrotsky attended the Bronx High School of Science and the University of Chicago (B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in physical chemistry). After completing 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. In 1997, she became an Interdisciplinary Professor of Ceramic, Earth, and Environmental Materials Chemistry at the University of California at Davis and in 2001 was appointed Edward Roessler Chair in Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
She has made significant contributions to research on mineral thermodynamics; mantle mineralogy and high pressure phase transitions; silicate melt and glass thermodynamics; order-disorder in spinels; framework silicates; and other oxides; ceramic processing; oxide superconductors; nanophase oxides, zeolites, nitrides, perovskites; and the general problem of structure-energy-property systematics. The main technical focus of her laboratory is high temperature reaction calorimetry.
Honors include an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (1973); Mineralogical Society of America Award (1981); American Geophysical Union Fellow (1988); Vice-President, Mineralogical Society of America (1991-1992), President (1992-1993); Geochemical Society Fellow (1997). She spent five years (1986-1991) as Editor, Physics and Chemistry of Minerals, and serves on numerous advisory committees and panels in both government and academe. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993. In 1995 she received the Ross Coffin Purdy Award from the American Ceramic Society and was awarded the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from Uppsala University, Sweden. In 2002 she was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth Science. In 2004, she was elected a Fellow of The Mineralogical Society (Great Britain) and awarded the Urey Medal (the highest career honor of the European Association of Geochemistry). In 2005, she was bestowed with the Spriggs Phase Equilibria award for her collaboration with Dr. Masao Morishita on the paper "Calorimetric Study of Nickel Molybdate: Heat Capacity, Enthalpy, and Gibbs Energy of Formation". In October 2009, she received the Roebling Medal, the highest honor of the Mineralogical Society of America. In 2011, she was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society. In 2012, she was awarded the position of Honorary Professor Three Gorges University, Yichang, China. She was chosen for the 2012 Cecil and Ida Green Senior Fellowship at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institute of Washington. In 2016, she received the Goldschmidt Medal from the Geochemical Society and the Kingery Award from the American Ceramic Society.