Professor’s Gifts Advance Thermodynamic Research at WSU and UC Davis

Alexandra Navrotsky

September 25, 2017 — A generous gift from Alexandra Navrotsky, Interdisciplinary Professor of Ceramic, Earth, and Environmental Materials Chemistry at UC Davis, will endow a new research institute, the AlexInstitute, at Washington State University’s Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering and Department of Chemistry.

The endowment will support experimental thermodynamics research and advance the careers of aspiring scientists, including two of Navrotsky’s former Ph.D. students who recently joined the WSU chemical engineering and chemistry faculty. The gift can also fund research, the purchase of new equipment, and provide supplemental funding to help attract and retain outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, with preference given to women.

In recent years, Navrotsky has also provided transformative gifts to UC Davis in support of the College of Letters and Science, the College of Engineering and the Peter A. Rock Thermochemistry Laboratory. In addition, she significantly supported the Winston Ko Professorship in Science Leadership and has loaned Native American artwork to the C.N. Gorman Museum. In total, Navrotsky has established endowments totaling close to $1 million at UC Davis to support the thermodynamics of solid materials.  “Her history of generous leadership and investments in her field, in Native American art, and in her colleagues is inspiring,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

Navrotsky’s gifts to WSU and UC Davis will sustain her legacy in advancing experimental thermodynamics through research and teaching. Using high-temperature reaction calorimetry as a foundational tool, Navrotsky has contributed to areas ranging from mineral thermodynamics to ceramic processing to zeolites. Her honors include the V. M. Goldschmidt Award from the Geochemical Society, the Ross Coffin Purdy Award from the American Ceramic Society, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth Science, the Urey Medal of the European Association of Geochemistry, the Harry H. Hess Medal of the American Geophysical Union, and the Roebling Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.


The College of Letters and Science provides the foundation of a liberal arts education at UC Davis, teaching virtually all 28,000 undergraduate students to think and learn broadly and deeply. The largest of the schools and colleges at UC Davis, we teach and conduct multidisciplinary research in over 50 fields of study in the humanities, arts, cultural studies, social sciences, and math and physical sciences. We are home to nearly half of all undergraduate students at UC Davis, and our faculty mentor more than 1,500 graduate students. The college is consistently recognized for its excellence in research, teaching and public service — the hallmarks of a leading land-grant university.


By Becky Oskin, UC Davis College of Letters and Science