Tratnyek Appointed Associate EBS Department Head

Paul Tratnyek

09/18/07 Portland, Ore. 

The Department of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems has announced the appointment of professor Paul Tratnyek, Ph.D., as Associate Department Head.

Department Head Brad Tebo, Ph.D., made the appointment effective July 1, 2007, in order to bolster the department's focus on academics. Tratnyek will be the primary departmental contact for academic issues, and will be charged with developing new policies and ushering in some long-planned degree programs designed to meet evolving student needs, among other projects. In addition, Tratnyek will fill in when the Department Head is traveling or conducting research at sea.

Regarding the appointment, Tebo said that Tratnyek was particularly well-suited for the position "because he cares so deeply about the School of Science & Engineering and the department." In addition, Tratnyek--who has been affiliated with the school since 1991--has a long institutional memory that provides an ideal complement to Tebo, who joined the school in 2005.

One legacy of the department's past is the continuing evolution of the merger between the Department of Environmental Science & Engineering and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. That merger, which took place in 2001, created a unique department with research across the spectrum of environmental systems--from proteomics and genomics all the way to observations and predictions about entire ecosystems.

That breadth is one of the things that attracted Tebo to the Department of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems. It's also one of the areas he plans to have Tratnyek highlight in his new role. "One of the defining characteristics of the educational experience here," said Tebo, "is exposure to a variety of scales--particles, cells, molecules, microbes, ecosystems. Students graduate equipped not only with a deep understanding of their chosen discipline, but also with a powerful sense of how that knowledge fits into other systems."

As Associate Department Head, Tratnyek will be able to further elaborate the academic opportunities derived from the merger that created the department. He will also build the policy infrastructure necessary to support those opportunities. Finally, with several new degrees under consideration by the department--including environmental information technology, environmental observation and prediction, and environmental and biomolecular systems--Tratnyek will play a key role in helping shape what options will be available for future students.

Tratnyek became a full professor in the department in 2005, after having served as assistant professor ('91-'97) and associate professor ('97-'05). He is an affiliate scientist with the Center for Groundwater Research and the Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction, both based at OHSU.

As an environmental chemist, Tratnyek is perhaps best-known for his research describing the chemistry of zero-valent iron (ZVI) remediation, an approach that uses granular iron particles to clean up polluted groundwater. More recently, working with colleagues at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, he has examined the efficacy of iron nano-particles in environmental remediation. He received the OHSU Faculty Senate Award for Collaboration, in recognition of his efforts to spur interdisciplinary education as well as his focus on building collaborative research programs in nanobiotechnology.