Vicki Grassian

Chemistry and Biochemistry


Research Focus
Chemistry and impacts of environmental interfaces including geochemical and engineered nanomaterials; atmospheric aerosols and indoor surfaces

Research Summary

The Grassian group is interested in molecular-based laboratory studies that provide a better understanding of the chemistry of complex environmental interfaces. Several ongoing projects include understanding the molecular level details of the heterogeneous chemistry of trace gases, including organic and inorganic compounds, with particulate matter such as mineral dust and sea spray in the atmosphere; aqueous interfacial chemistry within microdroplets and water thin films; dissolution, mobilization and multiphase chemistry of Fe-containing particles and transition metal ions; geochemical nanoparticle surface chemistry and their interactions with biological molecules (environmental DNA, eDNA, and proteins) under different conditions and; applications and implications of nanoscience and nanotechnology in environmental processes and human health.  

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Lab Website


Vicki Grassian is currently a Distinguished Professor at the University of California San Diego and holds the role of Distinguished Chair in Physical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her research including the 2021 American Chemical Society Award in Surface Chemistry, the Sustainability Nanotechnology Award in 2020, the IUPAC Distinguished Woman in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering Award in 2019, the William H. Nichols Medal, the New York Section of the American Chemical Society in 2019, the American Institute of Chemists Chemical Pioneer Award in 2018, the Royal Society of Chemistry John Jeyes Award, and the American Chemical Society Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology National Award in 2012. She is a fellow of several societies including the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and she was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020. She has given many talks throughout her career; most notably she was an NSF Distinguished Lecturer in Mathematical and Physical Sciences, a Presidential Plenary Lecturer at the 2019 American Chemical Society National Meeting, and a 2018 TEDx talk in Copley Auditorium in downtown San Diego in 2018. Her research has been supported by different federal funding agencies as well as private foundations. Throughout Professor Grassian’s career, she has been an advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM. She received an Inclusive Excellence Award at UC San Diego in 2018 for her efforts.