Ronald Oremland, Ph.D.

U.S. Geological Survey

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Ron attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and received his B.S. in Biology in 1968. At RPI he was influenced by the geomicrobiology course given by Professor H.L. Ehrlich and aspired to pursue that interest in graduate school within the context of oceanography. He was accepted at the University of Miami, but his education was interrupted by active duty in the U.S. Navy, where he served as the diving and salvage officer aboard a fleet tug. Returning to Miami, Ron delved into the methane cycle in tropical marine sediments for his dissertation under the mentorship of Professor Barrie F. Taylor, receiving his Ph.D. in 1976. From there he went to California and for a postdoc at the NASA Ames Research Center, working with the late Melvin P. Silverman on sulfate-reducing bacteria. In 1977 he joined the U.S. Geological Survey in nearby Menlo Park and remained there for the next 42 years, conducting basic research on the microbial metabolism of gases (e.g., methane, ethane, acetylene, methyl halides), toxic elements (selenium, tellurium, mercury and arsenic) and the geomicrobiology of extreme environments like the halo-alkaline, arsenic-rich Mono Lake, authoring some 200 papers on these topics. Ron is currently an emeritus senior scientist at the USGS. He also holds adjunct professorships at UC Santa Cruz and the University of Miami and is a fellow of ASM, AGU, ISEB and AAAS.