Barbara Balko

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Olin 225, MSC: 55

I have been at Lewis & Clark College since Fall 1993.


Courses I have taught include Physical Chemistry (Thermodynamics & Kinetics; Statistical Mechanics & Quantum Chemistry), Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Perspectives in Environmental Chemistry, General Chemistry I and II, Aquatic Chemistry, and Exploration & Discovery.

Recent Research

Research in my group focuses on environmentally relevant electrochemical reactions; currently we are examining the effect that clay has on the oxidation of iron metal.  This work has applications to the improvement of iron permeable reactive barriers used for the degradation of groundwater contaminants as well as the corrosion of iron structures in soils (e.g. nuclear waste containers).  In our research, we coat iron electrodes with a clay suspension.  We then use electrochemical techniques (linear sweep voltammatry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy) to determine how the presence of the clay affects the iron oxide film on the iron and the corrosion of the underlying iron metal. My first student to work on this project was profiled in an article in the “Lewis & Clark Chronicle”, An Electrochemical Investigation of the Enhanced Reactivity of Clays in Contact with Iron Metal.

Recent Theses

Sally Chaffee (2019) “Electron Doping of Hematite in Natural Systems”

Eric Sauer (2018) “Toward the Prediction of Reactivity of Doped Mixed-Valent Iron Oxide Semiconductors”

Hanna Varga (2018) “Investigating the Kinetics of Photocatalysis by Titanium Dioxide Under Natural Conditions” (co-advised with Prof. Julio de Paula)

Keira Roberts (2015) “Electrochemical Characterization of Iron Nanoparticle-Clay Interaction for Groundwater Remediation”

Sarah Sandholtz (2013) “The Effect of the Properties of Clay Minerals on the Corrosion of Zero Valent Iron”

Recent Publications

The Effect of Smectite on the Corrosion of Iron Metal, BA Balko, S.A. Bosse*, A.E. Cade*, E.F. Jones-Landry*, J.E. Amonette, J.L. Daschbach, Clays and Clay Minerals, 60(2), 136-152, 2012

* indicates Lewis & Clark undergraduates

Group News

Summer 2019: Sally Chaffee began work as a Registered Behavior Technician at BlueSprig Pediatrics as she applies to medical schools.

Summer 2019: Camille Wong entered the University of Oregon Master’s Industrial Internship Program (Polymer Science Track)

Summer 2019: Keldy Mason began research with Professor Louis Kuo on a summer project as part of Lewis & Clark’s Rogers Science Program

Spring 2019: Sally Chaffee successfully defended her thesis and graduated with Chemistry Department honors!

Spring 2019: Camille Wong graduated with a chemistry major and art minor. 

Fall 2018 - Spring 2019: Dylan Ramsden worked with Camille Wong and Keldy Mason in our lab as part of the Early Research program.

Spring 2019: Keldy Mason worked on an independent research project to develop a project-based lab in which the fluorescence of carbon quantum dots is used to follow the corrosion of iron.

Fall 2018 - Spring 2019: Camille Wong worked on an independent research project to develop a project-based lab using 1,10 phenanthroline to follow the corrosion of iron under various environmental conditions.

Fall 2018: Eric Sauer started a position as an Applications Engineering Technician at ElectroScientific Industries.

Fall 2018: Hanna Varga entered the PhD program in Environmental Engineering at Duke.

Spring 2018: Eric Sauer and Hanna Varga (co-mentored with Julio de Paula) successfully defended their chemistry theses and graduated with Chemistry Department honors!   

Summer 2017:  Eric Sauer worked as a summer intern in Professor Paul Tratnyek’s lab at OHSU

Spring 2017:  Eric Sauer gave a talk on his work as part of the Festival of Scholars

Spring 2017: Riley Coulthard (nee Keira Roberts) was awarded an NSF graduate research fellowship

Fall 2016 - Spring 2017: Eric Sauer worked on an independent research project on iron corrosion

Fall 2015: Keira Roberts began graduate school in the School of Chemical & Environmental Engineering at Yale University in Desiree Plata’s group

Spring 2015: Keira Roberts successfully defended her thesis and received Chemistry Department honors

Spring 2015: Sarah Sandholtz was awarded an NSF graduate research fellowship

Spring 2015: Keira Roberts attended the ACS National Meeting in Denver, CO where she presented a poster describing her thesis research

Fall 2014: Keira Roberts began senior thesis research

Fall 2014: Sarah Sandholtz began graduate school in the Chemical Engineering program at Stanford University in Andrew Spakowitz’s group

Spring 2013: Sarah Sandholtz successfully defended her thesis and received Chemistry Department honors

Fall 2012: Sarah Sandholtz began senior thesis research


Academic Credentials

PhD 1991 University of California at Berkeley, AB 1984 Bryn Mawr College

Location: Olin Hall