Nanophases in the Environment, Agriculture, and Technology

NEAT (Nanophases in the Environment, Agriculture, and Technology) is a multidisciplinary research and education program which links the fundamental physics, chemistry, and engineering of small particles and nanomaterials to several challenging areas of investigation:

  • applications in ceramic, chemical, electronic, environmental, and agricultural technology
  • environmental transport and transformation and resulting roles in environmental pollution and remediation
  • interactions with the biosphere, especially microorganisms
  • effects on health


William Casey portrait

William H. Casey
office: 1480 Chem Annex
phone: (530) 752-3211

William H. Casey. Interest in the reactions between water, rock and minerals. Many weathering phenomena involve reactions with water on mineral surfaces, something which can be mimicked in the laboratory by studying the aqueous chemistry of metal aquo clusters by heteronuclear NMR and MS. Other interests include crystal growth, general cluster chemistry, bio-inorganic chemistry, and chemistry from an environmental aspect.

Chip Lesher portrait

Charles E. Lesher
Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology; GeochemistryNEAT
office: 1127 Earth and Physical Sciences
phone: (530) 752-9779

Charles E. Lesher. Experimental igneous petrology and geochemistry; phase equilibria and kinetics of silicate systems at elevated pressure and temperature; physical, transport and thermodynamic properties of silicate melts. Recent projects include (a) Laboratory: low to high pressure phase equilibria studies of basaltic systems; trace element partitioning; chemical and self diffusion studies of silicate melts; solution properties of silicate liquids from thermal diffusion. (b) Field: magmatic evolution of the North Atlantic Ocean basin and the evolution of the Iceland hot spot; petrologic studies of early Tertiary volcanic and plutonic rocks of East Greenland.

Isabel Montanez portrait

Isabel P. Montañez
GeochemistryPaleoclimate and Paleoenvironmental ChangeNEAT; Earth-Surface Processes
office: 3117 Earth and Physical Sciences
phone: (530) 754-7823

Isabel Montañez. Research interests are in the sedimentary record of coupled physical and chemical variation in paleo-oceans, global biogeochemical cycling in marine and terrestrial records, and carbonate fluid-rock interaction in sedimentary basins using stratigraphy, petrography and geochemistry, including stable and radiogenic isotopes and trace elements.

Alexandra Navrotsky. Research interests have centered about relating microscopic features of structure and bonding to macroscopic thermodynamic behavior in minerals, ceramics, and other complex materials. She has made contributions to 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; and the general problem of structure-energy-property systematics. The main technical area of her laboratory is high temperature reaction calorimetry.

Dawn Sumner. My NEAT-related research focuses on the low-temperature behavior of iron in aqueous environments. Specifically, I am interested in the inhibitory effects of Fe(II) on calcite precipitation, the preservation of biosignatures in iron oxides, and iron redox processes in sedimentary rocks on Mars, specifically in Gale Crater.

Qing-zhu Yin portrait

Qing-zhu Yin
GeochemistryNEATPlanetary Science
office: 3129 Earth and Physical Sciences
phone: (530) 752-0934

Qing-zhu Yin. Using extinct radioactivity and general isotopic anomalies in the early solar system recorded in primitive meteorites as a tool to study the time scales and site of nucleosynthesis, the time of formation of the solar system and planetary differentiation. Isotope and trace element geochemistry with applications to crust-mantle evolution. Heavy metal stable isotope fractionation in low temperature environments on planetary surfaces or in biological systems using newly emerging high precision mass spectrometry techniques. The development of associated experimental techniques involving high precision mass spectrometry and ultra-clean sample processing in Class-100 clean laboratories for isotope analyses.

Faculty Emeriti

Peter Schiffman portrait

Peter Schiffman
GeochemistryIgneous and Metamorphic PetrologyNEAT
office: 1133 Earth and Physical Sciences
phone: (530) 752-3669

Research Scientists

Peter Thy portrait

Peter Thy
Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, NEAT
office: 1105 Earth and Physical Sciences
phone: (530) 752-1802

Peter Thy. Igneous petrology of gabbros and basalts. Detailed petrographic, mineralogical and chemical studies to understand petrogenesis and crystallization. Current research includes gabbroic intrusions and plateau basalts of the North Atlantic province (Skaergaard intrusion, East Greenland, Iceland). Ocean gabbros and crustal formation (Indian Ocean). Ophiolites (Cyprus and Turkey). Formation of ash and slag in biomass-fueled power plants.