By Constanze Ditterich
Materials science and engineering distinguished professor emerita Alexandra Navrotsky is now a Distinguished Life Member of The American Ceramic Society (ACerS). Becoming a Distinguished Life Member is ACerS’ highest honor. Since 1931, the award is presented annually to three members in recognition of their seminal contributions to the ceramics profession. She will receive the award at the ACerS annual meeting from October 4-8 in Pittsburgh, PA.
Navrotsky has been one of UC Davis’ most distinguished professors since she joined the university in 1997. She held faculty appointments in the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Earth and Planetary Sciences and Land, Air and Water Resources and was interim dean of the College of Letters and Science’s division of mathematical and physical sciences from 2013-2017. She also directed the Nanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture and Technology (NEAT) program and the Peter A. Rock Thermochemistry Laboratory, and served as the Edward Roessler Chair in Mathematical and Physical Sciences before retiring from UC Davis in 2019.
Navrotsky is renowned for her research in solid state chemistry and ceramics, as well as physics and chemistry of minerals. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences, has published over 1,000 papers and had a uranium-bearing mineral found underground in Utah’s Blue Lizard mine, the Navrotskyite, named after her.
When asked about how her research career began, she fondly recalled the mentorship of professor Hermann Schmalzried, her former advisor when she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Technische Universität Clausthal, Germany.
”He always accepted that I had talent and desire for a career in ceramics/thermodynamics and embodied the best of the German scientific and humanistic tradition, making my time in Clausthal very rewarding scientifically and personally,” she said. “So, I would say ‘Vielen Dank’ (thank you very much).”
The American Ceramic Society has over 11,000 members from more than 70 countries, and its core mission is to advance the study, understanding, and use of ceramic and related materials for the benefit of its members and society.