Headshot of Ronald Oremland

Ronald Oremland

Adjunct Faculty
Department(s): Life Sciences
Phone: 650-329-4482
Email: roremlan@usgs.gov


Professor Oremland studies hypersaline/alkaline soda lakes located in western Nevada and eastern California along with their attendant hot springs. These “extreme” environments, because of their proximity to volcanic activity, are also rich in toxic elements like arsenic, antimony, selenium, and tellurium. The microorganisms that live in these locations are not only adapted to tolerate high concentrations of these toxicants, but they can also exploit the chemical redox reactions displayed by these substances to gain energy for growth. The work has relevance towards understanding the hydrologic mobility of these substances in nature, their potential use in environmental bioremediation, and exploitation in nano-technological photonic applications. Aspects of this research are particularly relevant with regard to astrobiology and the search for life’s origins on Earth and elsewhere in our Solar System. He has also worked throughout his career on microbial metabolism of gases, including hydrocarbon formation, methyl halide oxidation, and acetylene fermentation.

Dr. Oremland has adjunct professor appointments at UNLV, University of Miami, Florida, and University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a fellow of the American Society for Microbiology, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Society for Environmental Biogeochemistry.


  • B.S., Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1968.
  • Ph.D., Marine Sciences, Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, 1976.
    Dissertation: Studies on the Methane Cycle in Tropical Marine Sediments. FGW Smith Prize for outstanding dissertation, RSMAS, 1976. University of Miami Fellowship, 1972 - 1974.

Professional Experience

February, 2019 to present: Emeritus (retired) senior scientist, USGS.

1977 to February, 2019: Project Chief (grade: Senior Research Scientist, ST-00, March, 1999). "Microbial Biogeochemistry," United States Geological Survey, Water Resources Division, Menlo Park, CA.

1976 to 1977: National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA (mentor: Dr. M.P. Silverman; deceased)

1974 to 1976: Graduate Research Assistant, RSMAS, University of Miami (mentor: Prof. Barrie F. Taylor).

1972 to 1974: Graduate Student, RSMAS, University of Miami.

1969 to 1971: Active Duty, U.S. Navy; Commissioned 11/1969; Graduated Naval School of Diving and Salvage, Wash. D.C., 4/1970; Active Duty Station: Diving and Salvage Officer, Executive Officer, USS Utina (ATF - 163). Released from active duty, 9/1971. Naval Reserve (drilling), Miami, Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 1108, First Lieutenant and Diving Officer, 1974 - 1976; honorable discharge, 8/1982, final rank = Lieutenant.

1968 to 1969: Graduate Student, RSMAS, University of Miami (studies interrupted by military service).