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Alexandra Navrotsky Colloquium Abstract (Mar 16, 2016)

A Lifetime in Thermodynamics

I remember a fellow graduate student asking, “what is a bright young thing like you doing in a dead field like thermodynamics?” That was 1964. I have had an exciting and successful career; he disappeared. I have always regarded thermodynamics as a tool for understanding chemical bonding and reactivity, not just an exercise to produce numbers in tables. I have chased timely and interesting topics over the years – ceramics and mineral oxides, high pressure phases, melts and glasses, superconductors, nitrides, environmental materials, zeolites and porous materials, nanomaterials. Such topics have both fundamental interest and practical relevance. They attract students. In this lecture I will trace the development of my career from Arizona State to Princeton to UC Davis and I will make some guesses for the future, mine and that of experimental thermochemistry. I also put my work in the context of events in science and the world at different times.