What degree are you pursuing?
I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering. I am following both the Estuary and Ocean Systems and Environmental Science and Engineering tracks, although eventually I will have to pick one. My work primarily involves electrochemistry, which is a new field for me. I graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Physics and a Minor in Mathematics.
Who is your advisor?
My advisor is Paul G. Tratnyek.
What is the focus of your research?
I study the electrochemical process of oxidation and reduction reactions using potentiometry and electrical impedance spectroscopy. By placing electrodes in an electrolyte solution and manipulating or observing the potential between them, I am able to discern information about the electrode material. We work with a lot of fine iron powders in our lab, and have developed a process for packing this powder into the form of an electrode so that an experiment may be run directly on it.
How will your research benefit the general public?
Iron is a powerful reducing agent, and is already being used in water filtration devices for its ability to sequester contaminants like arsenic, nitrate, or carbon tetrachloride. I am working to develop a quantitative performance assessment of various iron-oxide and iron-metal combinations to predict their reducing properties on contaminants, ultimately leading to the rational design of water treatment materials. The development of our ability to directly test the electrochemical properties of materials could also be an important addition to quality assurance testing for a variety of applications from pharmacology to industrial manufacturing.
How have you taken advantage of professional development opportunities through OHSU and the Institute of Environmental Health?
I am just getting started, but I have already participated in the Institute of Environmental Health's own research symposium, and plan to be involved in the upcoming OHSU Research Week as well. This summer I will be mentoring a high school student through the Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering program.
What do you plan to do with your degree?
I love research, and I love being near the ocean. My dream is to find a career that allows me to do both.