Research Interests

Dr. Scerri is an author, chemist and a leading philosopher of science specializing in the history and philosophy of the periodic table. He is founder and editor-in-chief of the international journal Foundations of Chemistry. A full-time lecturer at UCLA, Dr. Scerri regularly teaches classes of 350 chemistry students and classes in history and philosophy of science.

Dr. Scerri's research includes chemical education and historical-philosophical questions such as the reduction of chemistry to quantum mechanics. He seeks to clarify the notion of a chemical ‘element’ arising from the writing of Fritz Paneth and others. He continues to work on the foundations of the periodic table, including whether it makes sense to speak of an ‘optimal’ table and the form such a table might take.

An underlying research area that has driven much of Eric Scerri's work has been an interest in the electronic structure of atoms. He was initially inspired by the educational conundrum whereby 4s orbitals are supposed to be occupied before the 3d orbitals in transition metals and yet also preferentially ionized. This has led to sustained work on attempts to understand this and similar issues concerning electronic configuration and its educational ramifications. Dr. Scerri has been one of very few advocates of the view that in fact the 3d atomic orbitals are preferentially occupied, contrary to what is stated in the vast majority of textbooks and research articles and in attempting to make the more accurate account better known.