Mavrik Zavarin

Director, Glenn T. Seaborg Institute
Physical and Life Sciences Directorate
Phone: +19254246491


  • Ph.D., Soil Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley, 1999
  • B.S., Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley, 1992

Research Interests

Environmental radiochemistry, Actinide chemistry, Surface complexation modeling of contaminant-mineral interactions, and Reactive transport modeling.

Professional Experience

Adjunct Professor, Clemson University, Clemson, SC

Adjunct Professor, Las Positas Community College, Livermore, CA

Visiting Scientist, Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf, Dresden, Germany

Project Manager, Underground Test Area (UGTA) project, Chemical Sciences Division, LLNL, Radiochemical and reactive transport modeling investigations of contaminant transport at the Nevada Test Site

Geochemist, Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Laboratory investigations of sorption and mineral dissolution, and development of surface complexation/ion exchange and reactive transport models


Member: Department of Energy, Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee

Lecturer, Nuclear Forensics Undergraduate Summer School, Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Member: Technical Working Group, UGTA project (scientific project oversight)


  • American Chemical Society
  • The Glenn T. Seaborg Institute, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA
  • Sigma Xi, Livermore Chapter, Livermore, CA (Treasurer)

Recent Students and Postdocs

Corey Pilgrim (Graduate Student NEUP fellow, U.C. Davis, 2014-present); Jennifer Wong (Graduate Student, Clemson University, 2012-present); Chad Durrant (Graduate Student, Penn State, 2013-present); Adele Panasci (Lawrence Scholar, UC Davis, 2013-present); Claudia Joseph (post-doc, 2013-present); Mark Boggs (post-doc, 2012-present); James Begg (post-doc, 2010-2013); Ruth M. Tinnacher (post-doc, 2008-2011); Brian A. Powell (post-doc, 2006-2008); Jennifer Wong (summer intern, PhD student, Clemson University, 2011); Sandra Fernando (summer intern, University of Michigan, 2011); Ana Benedicto (intern, CIEMAT, Madrid, Spain, 2011); Mathew Snow (summer intern, Washington state University, 2010); Mathilde Bourbin (intern, Ecole Nationale Superieure de Chimie de Paris, France, 2007, 2008)


Tinnacher, R.M., Begg, J.D., Mason, H., Ranville, J., Powell, B.A., Wong, J.C., Kersting, A.B., and Zavarin, M. (2015) Effect of Fulvic Acid Surface Coatings on Plutonium Sorption and Desorption Kinetics on Goethite. Environ. Sci. Technol., in press. doi: 10.1021/es505120s

Begg, J.D., Zavarin, M., Tumey, S.J., and Kersting, A.B. (2015) Plutonium Sorption and Desorption Behavior on Bentonite. J. Environ. Radioact., 141:106-114. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2014.12.002

Boggs, M.A., Dai, Z., Zavarin, M., and Kersting, A.B. (2015) Plutonium(IV) Sorption to Montmorillonite in the Presence of Organic Matter. J. Environ. Radioact., 141:90-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2014.12.005

Shusterman, J., Mason, H., Bruchet, A., Zavarin, M., Kersting, A.B., and Nitsche, H. (2014) Analysis of Trivalent Cation Complexation to Functionalized Mesoporous Silica Using Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy. Dalton Trans., 43:16649-16658. doi: 10.1039/c4dt02380c.

Panasci, A.F., Harley, S.J., Zavarin, M., and Casey, W.H. (2014) Kinetic Studies of the [NpO2(CO3)3]4− Ion at Alkaline Conditions Using 13C NMR. Inorg. Chem., 53:4202−4208. doi: 10.1021/ic500314v (cover)

Boggs, M.A., Mason, H.E., Arai, Y., Powell,A., Kersting, A.B., and Zavarin, M. (2014) Determination of Plutonium (IV) Desferroxamine B Structures in Aqueous Solution by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. Eur. J. Inorg. Chem., 21:3312-3321. doi: 10.1002/ejic.201402105

Begg, J.D., Zavarin, M., and Kersting, A.B. (2014) Plutonium Desorption From Mineral Surfaces at Environmental Concentrations of Hydrogen Peroxide. Environ. Sci. Technol., 48:6201–6210. doi: 10.1021/es500984w

Zhao, P., Tinnacher, R. M., Zavarin, M., and Kersting, A. B. (2014). Neptunium Transport Behavior in the Vicinity of Underground Nuclear Tests at the Nevada National Security Site. J. Environ. Radioact., 137:163-172. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2014.07.011

Benedicto, A., Begg, J.D., Zhao, P., Kersting, A.B., Missana, T., and Zavarin, M. (2014) Effect of Major Cation Water Composition on the Ion Exchange of Np(V) on Montmorillonite: NpO2+-Na+-K+-Ca2+-Mg2+ Selectivity Coefficients. Appl. Geochem., 47:177-185. doi: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2014.06.003

Zavarin, M., Zhao, P., Dai, Z.R., and Kersting, A.B. (2014) Plutonium Sorption and Precipitation in the Presence of Goethite at 25 and 80°C. Radiochim. Acta, 102:983-997.

Parsons-Moss, T., Wang, J., Jones, S., May, E. Olive, D., Dai, Z., Zavarin, M., Kersting, A.B., Zhao, D., and Nitsche, H. (2014) Sorption Interactions of Plutonium and Europium with Ordered Mesoporous Carbon. J. Mater. Chem. A, 2:11209-11221. doi: 10.1039/C4TA01740D

Zimmerman, T., Zavarin, M., and Powell, B. A., (2014) Influence of Humic Acid on Plutonium Sorption to Gibbsite: Determination of Pu-Humic Acid Complexation Constants and Ternary Sorption Studies. Radiochim. Acta, 102:629-643. doi: 10.1515/ract-2014-2163

Begg, J.D., Zavarin, M., Zhao, P., Tumey, S.J., Powell, B.A. and Kersting, A.B. (2013). Pu(V) and Pu(IV) sorption to montmorillonite Env. Sci. Tech. 47:5146-5153. DOI: 10.1021/es305257s

Snow, M.S., Zhao, P., Dai, Z., Kersting, A.B., and Zavarin, M. (2013) Neptunium(V) sorption to goethite at attomolar to micromolar concentrations using radiometric methods. Colloid and Interface Science. 390(1):176-182. DOI: 10.1061/j.jcis.2012.08.058.

Birkholzer, J., Asahina, D.,, Chen, F., Gardner, P., Houseworth, J., Jove-Colon, C., Kersting, A.B., Nair, P., Li, L., Liu, H., Painter, S., Reimus, P., Rutqvist, J., Steefel, C., Tynan, M., Wang, Y., Zavarin, M. (2013) An overview of US disposal research activities linked to international URLs, Proceedings of the IHLRWMC 2013, American Nuclear Society, Albuquerque, NM, April 28-May 2, 2013, 1047-1054.

Huang, P., Zavarin, M., Kersting, A.B. (2012) Ab initio structure and energetics of Pu(OH)4 and Pu(OH)4(H2O)n clusters: Comparison between density functional and multi-reference theories, Chemical Physics Letters, 543, 193–198.

Zavarin, M., Powell, B.A., Bourbin, M. Zhao, P. and Kersting, A.B. Np(V) and Pu(V) (2012) Ion Exchange and Surface-Mediated Reduction Mechanisms on Montmorillonite, Environ. Sci. Technol., 46 (5): 2692–2698.

Tinnacher, R. M.; Zavarin, M.; Powell, B. A.; Kersting, A. B. (2011) Kinetics of Neptunium(V) Sorption and Desorption on Goethite: An Experimental and Modeling Study, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75:1 6584–6599.

Kersting, A.B. and Zavarin, M. (2011) Colloid Facilitated Transport of Plutonium at the Nevada Test Site, NV, USA Actinide Nanoparticles Research. Eds. Kalmykov, S. and Denecke, M. . Springer-Verlag DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-11432-8_15 p:399-412

Powell, B.A. Dai, Z., Zavarin, M., Zhao, P., Kersting, A.B. (2011). Stabilization of Plutonium Nano-Colloids by Epitaxial Distortion on Mineral Surfaces, Environ. Sci. Technol 45 (7), pp 2698–2703.

Zhao P., Zavarin M., Leif R., Powell B., Singleton M., Lindvall R., and Kersting, AB. (2011). Mobilization of actinides by dissolved organic compounds at the Nevada Test Site, Applied Geochemistry. 26:3 308-318.

Hu, Q. and Zavarin, M. and Rose, T.P. (2008) Effect of reducing groundwater on the retardation of redox-sensitive radionuclides, Geochemical Transactions, 9, 12.

Hu, Q., Rose, T.P., Zavarin, M., Smith, D.K., Moran, J.E., Zhao, P. (2008) Assisting field-scale migration of radionuclides at the Nevada Test Site: "Mobile" species, J. Environ. Radioactivity, 99, 1617-1630.

Zhao, P., Q. Hu, T.P. Rose, G.J. Nimz, M. Zavarin. (2008) Distribution of 99Tc and 129I in the vicinity of underground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site, Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 276(3): 755-761.

Zavarin, M., and H.E. Doner (2005) Effect of P and Se(IV) on calcite precipitation inhibition, Soil Science, 170(8): 612-623.

Zavarin, M., S. K. Roberts, N. Hakem, A. Kersting, and A. M. Sawvel (2005) Eu(III), Sm(III), Np(V), Pu(V), and Pu(IV) sorption to calcite, Radiochimica Acta, 93: 93-102.

Strawn, D., H. Doner, M. Zavarin, and S. McHugo (2002) Microscale investigation into the geochemistry of arsenic, selenium, and iron in soil developed in pyritic shale materials, Geoderma, 108(3-4): 237-257.

Zavarin, M. and H.E. Doner (2002) Interpretation of heterogeneity effects in synchrotron x-ray fluorescence microprobe data, Geochemical Transactions, 3(7):51-55.

Dubbin, W., G. Sposito, and M. Zavarin (2000) X-ray absorption spectroscopic study of Cu-glyphosate adsorbed by microcrystalline gibbsite. Soil Science, 165:699-707.

Sun, X., H.E. Doner, and M. Zavarin (1999) Spectroscopy investigation of arsenite (As(III)) oxidation on Mn-substituted goethite, Clays and Clay Mins., 47(4): 474-480.

Zawislanski, P. T. and M. Zavarin (1996) Nature and rates of selenium transformations: A laboratory study of Kesterson Reservoir soils, Soil Science Society of America Journal, 60(3): 791-800.