Lab Fellow, Team Lead, Chemist
Interfacial Sciences & Simulation
Lab Fellow, Team Lead, Chemist
Interfacial Sciences & Simulation

Dr. Baer is EMSL's science theme lead for Molecular Transformations. As lead he implements the vision for development and implementation of scientific leadership within that area of emphasis, including objectives, targets and assembling the necessary team and resources.

He is internationally known for the application of surface analysis methods to examine corrosion processes and the reactive properties of oxide and mineral surfaces. Since joining PNNL, he has specialized in the use of surface sensitive techniques to study surface and interphase reactions and material surface chemistry. Experienced in using Auger electron spectroscopy, x-ray and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy, secondary ion mass spectrometry, Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy, nuclear reaction analysis, and particle induced x-ray emission, recent research also involves atomic force to examine and create nanoscale features on surfaces.


  • 2002- present: Laboratory Fellow, PNNL. PNNL's most senior scientific position. Combined experience in corrosion and mineral reactivity with the use of advanced surface-sensitive tools to characterize structure and reaction properties of iron nanoparticles (iron-metal core with an iron-oxide shell). These particles hold significant promise for cleaning up contaminants in groundwater, soil, and sediments. Scientific and leadership positions of increasing recognition and responsibility, including research scientist, group lead, interim Chief Science Officer, and EMSL Science Theme Lead for Molecular Transformations, EMSL and PNNL.
  • 2001-2005: Deputy Director of PNNL Nanotechnology Laboratory-Directed Research and Development Initiative and Co-Director PNNL-University of Washington Joint Institute for Nanotechnology.
  • 1980's: member of a team responsible for developing the research program and equipment needs for EMSL, specifically leading development of materials and interfaces capabilities to establish oxide surface chemistry as a scientific focus area. Most research focused on the impact of the local environment on materials properties including chemical reactivity and material dissolution and growth. Surface-science lead on a research team investigating fundamental causes of stress-corrosion cracking. In particular, this work sought a mechanistic understanding of surface, grain-boundary, and element diffusion, including the roles of sulfur, phosphorus, and metallic impurities on environmentally or stress-induced cracking relevant to pipelines and nuclear reactor component materials.
  • 1984-1985: Visiting Research Fellow; Materials Science and Engineering University of Surrey, Guildford UK.


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Materials Research Center and Department of Physics University of Illinois (1974-1976).
  • Ph.D., Experimental Physics, Cornell University (1974).
  • B.S., Physics, Carnegie Mellon University (1969). 

Awards & Honors

  • 2014: Award of Merit, ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials)
  • 2011: John Rivière Prize, United Kingdom Surface Analysis Forum.
  • 2009: Albert Nerken Award, American Vacuum Society.
  • 2008: Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • 2001: Fellow, American Vacuum Society.

Research Highlights

  • Solid/solution interface
  • Oxide and mineral surfaces
  • Corrosion and stress corrosion
  • Material-environment interactions
  • Surface and interface analysis methods
  • Scanning probe methods

Dr. Baer's interest in nanoscience and nanotechnology extends to the characterization and reactivity of nanoparticles. He has published more than 260 peer-reviewed journal articles and is internationally recognized for using a wide range of surface sensitive and other methods to understand behaviors of nanoparticles (e.g. ceria, silver and iron core-shell), corrosion processes, and the reactive properties of oxide and mineral surfaces in aqaueous environments.