OHSU research paper wins 2011 AEESP Outstanding Publication Award

Tratnyek with AAESP award


Portland, Ore.—A journal article by Oregon Health & Science University professor Paul G. Tratnyek and then Ph.D. student Leah Matheson has received the 2011 Outstanding Publication Award from the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP).

The award "recognizes landmark environmental engineering papers that have withstood the test of time and significantly influenced the practice of environmental engineering," said Linda Weavers, 2011 Awards Chair for AEESP.

The research paper titled "Reductive dehalogenation of chlorinated methanes by iron metal" is currently among the five mostly highly cited among all papers published by the journal.

The paper was published in 1994 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the most prestigious journal in its field. The research findings were the first to explain the chemistry of how metallic iron can serve to degrade chlorinated organic pollutants.

The paper also had a large practical impact by providing the chemical justification for remediation of groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents, like carbon tetrachloride or trichloroethylene. The process is now the basis for a wide range of technologies used for cleaning up contaminated sites.

Matheson did the experimental work and it formed the core of her Ph.D. dissertation. The research was performed in what was then called the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering at the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology. Matheson went on to work as an environmental engineer, sometimes utilizing the remediation technology that she helped to develop.

Tratnyek continues to do related research, mostly recently on the use of nano particles of metallic iron for contaminant degradation. This application of metallic iron is currently one of the most prominent environmental nanotechnologies.

A research grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supported the majority of the work, with additional funding from the University of Waterloo Solvents-In-Groundwater Research Consortium.

In honor of the achievement, Tratnyek was presented with a plaque at the 2011 AEESP Education & Research Conference in Tampa, Florida.

The paper is available online at ACS Publications.