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Spiro Alexandratos, Ph.D.

Professor - Polymer & Environmental Chemistry // Fellow of the American Chemical Society (inaugural class) // Fulbright Scholar


Contact Information:

office 1504N


Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley

View the latest research from the Alexandratos group.

Research Summary: 

The preparation of polymers modified with ion-selective ligands allows for their utilization in areas where toxic metal ions must be removed from water in the environment in order to be rendered safe.  The modification of polystyrene beads with glucamine ligands has led to an arsenic-selective resin, modification with phosphonic acid ligands has led to an actinide-selective resin, and modification with phosphonate ligands has led to a lead-selective resin.  The ability of auxiliary groups to modify the ionic selectivity of a primary ligand is the subject of current research.

Recent Professional Activities

Invited Lecture: American Chemical Society (2012), Symposium on the Fundamentals and Applications in Hydrometallurgy (March 2012)

Invited Lecture: 1st International Conference on Separations Science, Ion-Selective Polymer-Supported Complexants, Poland (June 2011)

Visiting Professor (Fulbright Research Scholar): L'Ecole des Mines d'Albi (France), 2011

Invited Lecture: Pacifichem 2010, Polymer-Supported Reagents for Detection of Metal Ions by Ionic Recognition, Honolulu (December 2010)

Plenary Lecture: Polymer-Supported Reagents and their Application to Environmental Remediation, 45th National Meeting of the Sociedad Química de México, (September 2010)

Symposium co-organizer: Environmental Remediation by Valorization Methods, American Chemical Society, San Francisco (March 2010)

Plenary Lecture: IUPAC International Symposium on MacroMolecular Complexes, Chile (November 2009)

Invited Lecture: Materials Research Society, Symposium on Materials Science of Water Purification, San Francisco (April 2009)

Invited Lecture: University of Colorado at Boulder (April 2009)

Invited Lecture: International Congress on the Production of Safe Water, Izmir, Turkey (January 2009)

Invited Lecture: Conference on the Role of Structure in Biological, Chemical and Environmental Separations (Engineering Conferences International), Costa Rica (January 2008)

Invited Lecture: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, The Earth in Crisis: Pollution of Water in the Biosphere - Current Status and Steps Toward Renewal, (September 2007)

Plenary Lecture: XXII International Symposium on Physicochemical Methods of Separations, Poland (June 2007)

American Chemical Society, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division Councilor, 2008-2013 Executive Committee, 2008-2013

American Chemical Society, member, Committee on Science, 2009-2011

American Chemical Society, chair, Committee on Chemical Abstracts Service, 2010-2012

Gordon Research Conference on Reactive Polymers, Ion Exchangers & Adsorbents, Chairman, 1997

American Chemical Society, Associate Editor, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 1996-present

Selected Publications


Zhu, Xiaoping; Alexandratos, Spiro D. Functionalization of Polymer-Bound Pentaerythritol as a General Synthesis for the Preparation of Ion-Binding Polymers, Journal of  Applied Polymer Science, in press (2012)

Yang, Yijia; Alexandratos, Spiro D. Lanthanide Complexation by Polymer-Bound Urea, Inorganica Chimica Acta, in press (2012)

Zhu, Xiaoping; Alexandratos, Spiro D. Effect of Hydrogen Bonding: Polymer-Bound Phosphorylated Cyclodextrin, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, (2011) 121, 1137-1142

Daniels, Yasmine; Alexandratos, Spiro D. Design and Synthesis of Hydroxyapatite with Organic Modifiers for Environmental Remediation, Waste and Biomass Valorization, (2010), 1, 157-162

Yang, Yijia; Alexandratos, Spiro D. Mechanism of Ionic Recognition by Polymer-Supported Reagents: Immobilized Tetramethylmalonamide and the Complexation of Lanthanide Ions, Inorganic Chemistry, (2010), 49, 1008-1016

Alexandratos, Spiro D., Li, Ying; Salinaro, Richard. Design and development of ion-selective polymer-supported reagents: The immobilization of heptamolybdate anions for the complexation of silicate through Keggin structure formation, Polymer, (2010) 51, 383-389

Yang, Yijia; Alexandratos, Spiro D. Affinity of polymer-supported reagents for lanthanides as a function of donor atom polarizability, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, (2009) 48, 6173-6187

Alexandratos, Spiro D., Ion Exchange Resins: A Retrospective, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, (2009), 48, 386-398

Alexandratos, Spiro D.; Zhu, Xiaoping. Polyols as Scaffolds in the Development of Ion-Selective Polymer-Supported Reagents: The Effect of Auxiliary Groups on the Mechanism of Metal Ion Complexation. Inorganic Chemistry, (2008), 47, 2831-2836

Alexandratos, Spiro, D.; Zhu, Xiaoping. Immobilized phosphate ligands with enhanced ionic affinity through supported ligand synergistic interaction. Separation Science and Technology, (2008) 43, 1296-1309

Alexandratos, Spiro D.; Zhu, Xiaoping. Immobilized Tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane as a Scaffold for Ion-Selective Ligands: The Auxiliary Group Effect on Metal Ion Binding at the Phosphate Ligand, Inorganic Chemistry, (2007), 46, 2139-2147

Alexandratos, Spiro D. and Zhu, Xiaoping. High-Affinity Ion-Complexing Polymer-Supported Reagents: Immobilized Phosphate Ligands and their
Affinity for the Uranyl Ion, React. Funct. Polym. (2007), 67, 375-382




Chemists whose research focuses on the environment have an obligation to speak out on issues that are relevant to the quality of life on this planet. With that in mind, we are constructing a web page to deal with these issues:

The following is an editorial from that web site.

Environmental Change: A Matter of Justice

Dr. Spiro D. Alexandratos, Professor of Chemistry

A glance at any given day’s headlines is enough to tell you that the environment is in crisis. Global warming gets most of the attention, and deservedly so: we throw 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, much of it from the burning of fossil fuels. Anyone who thinks you can throw 30 billion tons of anything anywhere and not have an effect is sadly mistaken. The effect of global warming on the glaciers and the Arctic / Antarctic ecosystems is well known. Perhaps less well known is that the oceans absorb about 22 million tons of CO2 each day. This causes a change in the acidity of the oceans and since marine ecosystems have adapted to a particular acidity over the millennia, any change that occurs over the space of a few decades can be catastrophic to their existence. In early 2009, 155 ocean scientists from 26 countries issued the Monaco Declaration which said, in part: “We are deeply concerned by recent, rapid changes in ocean chemistry and their potential, within decades, to severely affect marine organisms. … Increasing acidity and related changes in seawater chemistry also affect reproduction, behavior, and general physiological function of some marine organisms, such as oysters, sea urchin, and squid.”

This is only one of the numerous environmental issues that need to be addressed. Also important are the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico (currently at 8800 square miles), desertification due to the destruction of forests (worldwide, expanding deserts make approximately 30 million acres useless for cultivation every year), the deforestation of the Amazon, the pollution of Rio de Janeiro and its bay, overfishing in the world’s oceans, and the problem of garbage (in 2004, American households generated 236 million tons of garbage of which 164 million tons were simply thrown away – but thrown away where?).

These issues raise ethical questions about who we are and how we should interact with the environment. It is simply not sustainable for us to pollute the environment as we continue to consume a huge proportion of the Earth’s resources. There is a need for a change in our basic values; one set of values are summarized by the moral imperatives put forth by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess under the heading “Deep Ecology.”

The purpose of this website is to bring these issues to light for education and discussion. It is only by educating ourselves that we can hope to change our behavior in a way that recognizes our role in the survival of the Earth and, not coincidentally, ourselves. The issues are not new. Earth Day began in the 1970’s, which is as distant to us today as World War II was to the generation of young people that took part in the first Earth Day. Yet what is different now is that the time for talk is past. We either work to change how we interact with the environment or there will be nothing left with which to interact. The changes we will have made will be irreversible and we will have no hope of adapting.

There are signs of progress: plaNYC is a good beginning for New York City; a Zero Waste Policy is receiving serious attention, especially in San Francisco; socially responsible investing sends the message that while profits matter, they are not all that matter.

We mustn’t be so comfortable with how things are that we find no incentive to change: the long term consequences are real and they are dire. Now is the time to change. Now is the time to implement a new set of values. Be informed, understand the options, then act.

Complexity is not an excuse for inaction.