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


Dr. Don Baer is a Laboratory Fellow emeritus working in PNNL’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Division and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) user program. Currently, Baer is focusing his attention on encouraging young scientists and addressing the new generation of reproducibility and replication issues that have been getting increased attention. Recent publications have involved issues associated with the importance and challenges associated with surface analysis of nanoparticles and helping the growing community of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy users to perform reliable and reproducible analyses. He is a guest editor for a collection of papers on reproducibility challenges and solutions for the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A

With more than 300 peer-reviewed journal articles, Baer is internationally known for the application of surface analysis methods to examine corrosion processes and the reactive properties of oxide and mineral surfaces. These particles hold significant promise for cleaning up contaminants in groundwater, soil, and sediments. Since joining PNNL, he specialized in the use of surface sensitive techniques to study surface and interphase reactions and material surface chemistry. He is 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; his recent research also involves atomic force to examine and create nanoscale features on surfaces.  

Since 2001, Baer has been a PNNL Laboratory Fellow, the most senior scientific position. He has also served as a group lead, interim chief science officer, and EMSL science theme lead for Molecular Transformations. From 2001 – 2005, Baer was the deputy director of PNNL’s Nanotechnology Laboratory-Directed Research and Development Initiative, and co-director of the PNNL-University of Washington Joint Institute for Nanotechnology. During the 1980's, he participated on 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. In addition, between 1984 – 1985, Baer was a visiting research fellow in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Surrey, Guildford UK. 


Research Interest

  • Solid/solution interface properties 

  • Oxide and mineral surfaces 

  • Corrosion and stress corrosion 

  • Material-environment interactions 

  • Surface and interface analysis methods 

  • Scanning probe methods 

  • Characterization and reactivity of nanoparticles.  


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Materials Research Center and Department of Physics University of Illinois (1974 – 1976). 

  • PhD in Experimental Physics, Cornell University, 1974 

  • BS in Physics, Carnegie Mellon University, 1969 

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • Board of Directors, AVS (2019 – 2020) 

  • Chairman, Trustee Awards Committee, AVS (2017) 

  • Awards Committee, Trustee Awards Committee, AVS (2015 – 2017) 

  • Secretary, Washington State Academy of Science (2016 – Present)  

  • Reviews Editor and Editorial Board, Surface and Interface Analysis, (2006 – Present)  

  • Associate Editor, Surface Science Spectra (1991 – Present)  

Awards and Recognitions

  • Excellence Award, ISO (2019) 

  • Elected Washington State Academy of Sciences (2014) 

  • Fellow, American Physical Society (2014) 

  • Award of Merit, ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (2014) 

  • 2012 Innovation Award, Microscopy Today (2013) 

  • John Rivière Prize, United Kingdom Surface Analysis Forum (2011) 

  • Albert Nerken Award, AVS (2009) 

  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2008)