About William Casey

William Casey, Recipient of the 2010 Science Innovation Award, named after Werner Stumm

The Casey laboratory specializes broadly in aqueous chemistry related to the environmental and geological sciences. We employ model systems to approximate processes that occur in the natural environment.
Recently, we have been using NMR spectroscopy and ESI-MS to study the interaction of inorganic clusters with water to obtain information about transport and weathering phenomena. In addition we look at such diverse systems as isotopic systematics in chlorophyll and the novel aqueous molecules potentially present in weathering radioactive waste. And importantly, we have fun while doing it!
Professor Casey is interested 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.


Department of Chemistry; Department of Geology;

University of California, Davis


Ph.D.: The Pennsylvania State University (1985)

M.Sc.: University of California (1980)

Employment History:

  • 1976-1978 Graduate Student, University of California
  • 1979-1980 Unocal Geothermal Division, isotope geochemist
  • 1981-1985 Graduate Student, Pennsylvania State University
  • 1986-1991 Sandia National Laboratories, geochemist
  • 1991-present Professor, University of California
  • 1991-2005 Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, College of Agriculture
  • 1991-present Department of Geology, College of Math and Physical Sciences
  • 2005-present Department of Chemistry, College of Math and Physical Sciences

 Professional Details:

    Fellow, Geochemical Society; Fellow, European Association of Geochemistry
    Associate Editor:  American Journal of Science
    Associate Editor: Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta
    Joint Publications Committee, Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta 2010-
    Life Member, American Geophysical Union
    Awards Committee: ACS, Geochemistry Division (2000-2002)
    National Chair: American Chemical Society Geochemistry Division (1999)Program Chair: American Chemical Society Geochemistry Division (1998)

Selected Professional Services:

    Site Visitor to ORNL for the US DOE Basic Energy Sciences Directorate (2009)Member of the DOE Committee of Visitors for OBES/Chemical Sciences (2007).Review Committee, Environmental Molecular Science Institution, Stanford University (2007)Tenure and Promotion Advice to Yale University, Princeton University, Stanford University, the University of Nebraska, Ben Gurion University

Recent University-wide Academic Service

    2008-2009 Chair, UCD Academic Senate – Committee on Academic PersonnelUCD Academic Senate Executive Council; UCD NMR Usage Committee2007-2008 Vice-Chair, UCD Academic Senate Committee on Academic PersonnelUCD Academic Senate Executive Council; 2007-2008 UC Systemwide Committee on Academic Personnel; UCD NMR Usage Committee2006-2007 member, UCD Academic Senate Committee on Academic Personnel; this committee handles faculty appointments, tenures and various promotion actions for UCD.2005-2006 UC Systemwide Representative Assembly. UCD Chemical Safety Committee.Executive Committee, Agricultural Chemistry Graduate Group

Recent Departmental Service

    2008-2009; Chemistry Department: Curriculum Committee; NMR Facility; Space & Facilities; Technical Support (chair)2007-2008; Chemistry Department: Curriculum Committee; NMR Facility; Space & Facilities.

Recent Invited Lectures

    2010- Keynote address at the Goldschmidt Conference in Geochemistry (host=Prof. Rustad); invited lecture to Institute for Advanced Studies at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, July, 2010 (hosts=Profs. Ira A. Weinstock and Ronny Neumann).  Invited lecture to the Geosciences Division, LBNL (host=Prof. DePaolo).2009- Keynote addresses- Molecular Computational Geochemistry, National ACS Meeting, Salt Lake City (host=K. Rosso, B. Bickmore); Crystal Growth and Co-precipitation, National ACS Meeting, Salt Lake City (host=A. KapplerY. Fujita); NSF-Oregon Green Chemistry Institute (a joint University of Oregon/Oregon State Institute), Belknap Springs, Oregon (host=Darren Johnson). LBNL Molecular Foundry ((host=Dr. DeYoreo); Dept. of Geology and Environmental Engineering; Notre Dame University (host=Prof. Burns).2008- Keynote address: Advanced Approaches to Investigating Adsorption at the Solid-Water Interface” National ACS Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana (host=L. Criscenti; L. Katz; H. Allen); Emory University Dept. of Chemistry (host=Prof. Hill); Sandia National Laboratory (host=M. Nyman). Keynote address: Minerals as Molecules; Goldschmidt Conference in Geochemistry, in Cologne, Germany. NSF-Oregon Green Chemistry Institute ( (a joint University of Oregon/Oregon State Institute), Belknap Springs, Oregon (host=Doug McKay).

Research Profile

    My goal is a set of fundamental principles explaining how rapidly individual structural sites on metal oxides react in water.  These are ligand-exchange reactions and the targets are Earth materials. An example of one such principle is a correlation between rates of ligand exchange for aqueous complexes, oxide nanoparticles and minerals that I published in 1991.  This simple idea has extended to chemistry and through geochemistry.To achieve this goal, my research interests vary from field to laboratory to theory, but always with focus on aqueous solutions (see attached list of publications) and among my greatest pleasures is to collaborate with others.A molecular view of reactions is not traditional within geochemistry.  Traditionally, this field has been dominated by estimates of element fluxes and large multicomponent thermodynamic calculations.  I want to see this field evolve to the stage where reaction pathways can be confidently predicted and I now believe that isotope-exchange pathways in nanometer-size aqueous ions are at the appropriate scale to build this framework.

Evidence of Research Impact

    Textbooks incorporating Casey’s research include Sposito’s (The Surface Chemistry of Natural Particles, Oxford, 2004; pg. 115-121; Chemical Equilibria and Kinetics in Soils, Oxford, 1994; p.100), and McBride’s (Environmental Chemistry of Soils, Oxford, 1994; p. 217-220), as well as textbooks within geochemistry (Lasaga, Kinetic Theory in the Earth Sciences, Princeton Press, p. 725) and chemistry (Richens, The Chemistry of Aqua Ions, Wiley, p. 165). This research was cited as particularly promising in the National Research Council Report Basic Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences (National Academy Press; 2001, see p. 60) and is widely cited in chemistry, for such disparate subjects as catalysis and environmental chemistry (e.g., Kanan and Nocera, Science 321, 1071-).


    Electrochemical Decomposition of Soil and Water Contaminants In Situ‘ W. H. Casey, B. Miller, P. A. Rock.  U.S. Patent #09,031,218. UC Case No.  95-002-1‘NDTB-1: A Supertetrahedral cationic framework that solves the TcO4 problem’ Albrecht-Schmitt, T. Alekseev, E. V., Casey, W. H., Depmeier, W, Phillips, B. L., and Wang, E. S. (2009; application pending).


Former and Current Postdoctoral Scholars:Dr. Mathew Wander (now Post-Doc at Drexel University); Dr. Andy Ohlin (Currently at UCD), Dr. Edina Balogh (Post-Doc at Touro University), Dr. Jay Black (Post-Doc at UCLA), Dr. Jorgen Rosenqvist (Post-Doc; University of Leeds), Prof. Andrew Stack (faculty of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Georgia Tech), Dr. John Loring (Research Professor, University of Umea), Dr. Jan Nordin (Eka Chemicals, Sweden), Dr. David Sullivan (Solvay Corporation, USA), Prof. Susan Neugebauer-Crawford (chair of the Department of Chemistry, California State University-Sacramento), Dr. Ping Yu (Research Staff, UCD), Dr. Alasdair Lee (faculty of Chemistry, Curtin University, Australia), Dr. Magnus Karlsson (Industrial Research, Sweden), Dr. Ryoji Shiraki (Research Staff, UCD), Dr. Christian Ludwig (Professor at University of Lausanne and Permanent Scientist at the Paul-Scherrer Institute), Dr. J.-L. Devidal (Industrial Research, France), Dr. David Levy (Shepard-Miller Company), Prof. Britt Holmén (faculty of the Dept. of Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut),

Former and Current Graduate Students: Rene Johnson (now at UCD); Greg McAlpine (now at UCD); Eric Villa (now at UCD), Hege Indresand (Research Staff, UCD); Fiona Lau (Toxicologist at Pfizer Corporation), Jackie Houston (Visiting Professor, California State University, Sacramento), Tiffany Thomas (Tetra Tech Corporation, Adjunct Faculty), Matt Weaver (industrial research, Pace Corporation), Alex Chow (Industrial Research), Jeff Warner (formerly LBNL), JoAnn Holloway (USGS), John Loring (Research Professor, University of Umea), Giulio Ferruzzi (USDA), Greg Mandell (Law School, University of California),  Molly McBeath (formerly USGS), Maria Kelly, Colette Zemitis (California EPA).

Undergraduate Students: Alia Lateef (now applying to graduate school in Chemistry at USC), Nathan Andrews (applying to Medical Schools), Christian Lawler (currently a PhD candidate in Chemistry, Stanford University), Rebecca Sutton (PhD and staff scientist, The Environmental Working Group), Jeanette Sison (UCB School of Public Health), Ricki Villarreal (applying to graduate school in Geology), Erin Walling (Surgeon), Ursula Kubacki-Beard (Medical School), Anye Mercy (former graduate student, Yale University).

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