engineering

Alexandra Navrotsky Receives Prestigious Geochemical Award

DAVIS, CA; FEBRUARY 12, 2016 — The Geochemical Society has awarded its 2016 Victor Moritz Goldschmidt Award to Alexandra Navrotsky, an interdisciplinary UC Davis Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering, and ceramic, earth and environmental materials.

Alexandra Navrotsky, an interdisciplinary UC Davis Distinguished Professor of ceramic, earth and environmental materials.

Alexandra Navrotsky, an interdisciplinary UC Davis Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering and ceramic, earth and environmental materials.

The Goldschmidt Award is the Society’s highest honor, and is given annually for major achievements in geochemistry or cosmochemistry. The award will be presented formally at this year’s Goldschmidt Conference, taking place June 26-July 1 in Yokohama, Japan.

Navrotsky has concurrent appointments in the UC Davis Departments of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (her home department); Chemistry; Land, Air and Water Resources; and Geology. Since 2013, she also has served as Interim Dean of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

She earned her undergraduate degree, master’s and doctorate at the University of Chicago, and then completed postdoctoral work in Germany and at Penn State University. Faculty terms at Arizona State University and Princeton eventually led to her 1997 move to UC Davis.

Her research has focused on relating microscopic features of structure and bonding to macroscopic thermodynamic behavior in minerals, ceramics and other complex materials. Her laboratory’s primary technical area is high-temperature reaction calorimetry.

Although Navrotsky could fill a tall bookshelf with her many other awards — including the 2002 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth Science; and the 2009 Roebling Medal, the highest honor of the Mineralogical Society of America — she’s equally pleased by her recent election to the American Philosophical Society. This group of roughly 1,000 scientists, academics and thinkers in all fields includes, among many others, documentarian Ken Burns, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, filmmaker Woody Allen and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

It’s therefore no surprise that Navrotsky’s web site greets visitors with the phrase “In science as in life, every day is a new adventure.” She also has been quite active with Central California Labrador Retriever Rescue, an organization through which she has fostered and adopted numerous dogs.

The nonprofit Geochemical Society was founded to encourage the application of geochemistry as a means to improve our understanding of the Earth and solar system. Membership is international and diverse, encompassing fields such as organic geochemistry, high- and low-temperature geochemistry, petrology, meteoritics, fluid-rock interaction, and isotope geochemistry.

V.M. Goldschmidt, a chemist who died in 1947, is regarded as the founder of modern geochemistry and crystal chemistry. He also developed what became known as the Goldschmidt Classification of elements.