Research Interests

My research interests lie in developing a fundamental understanding of molecular interactions that occur at complex surfaces. In recent years we have focused on measuring the hydrogen bonding characteristics of water surfaces in contact with a variety of media. Using a combination of surface nonlinear spectroscopy and computational methods we have shown how this bonding varies as molecules move from the topmost surface layer to the bulk aqueous phase. In studies of water in contact with a variety of hydrophobic liquids we have shown how weak bonding interactions between water and the oil create a highly structured interface that greatly influences the adsorption and assembly of surfactants, polymers, nanoparticles, and even the transport and ions across the interface. A variety of new findings have resulted from our continuing studies of environmentally important processes at vapor/water interfaces. For example we have made the first detailed measurements of a gas (SO2) forming a reversible complex with surface water molecules and have shown that nitric acid at the surface of water acts as a weak acid, in contrast to its highly acidic behavior in bulk water. These and other ongoing studies in our laboratory provide continued surprises and challenges in our quest to understand the fundamental characteristics of aqueous surfaces that underlie some of the most important environmental, biological, chemical and technological processes on the planet.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 14: Chemistry

Secondary Section

Section 13: Physics