Tanja Srebotnjak, a statistician with an interest in protecting the natural environment and in improving people’s health and well-being, has been appointed as the first Hixon Professor of Sustainable Environmental Design. She will help the College expand student and faculty experiences in sustainability and will promote cutting-edge environmental science and design within the Claremont University Consortium. Harvey Mudd’s first “all-college” faculty position, the Hixon Professorship initially will be affiliated with the Department of Engineering.
Srebotnjak will work with the Harvey Mudd community and with external organizations on initiatives related to course development, student and faculty research, and experiential learning. In addition to teaching and research, Srebotnjak will build momentum around sustainable environmental design through campus-wide support initiatives.
“I’m looking to build on existing sustainability initiatives and use the new college-wide position to better connect people and create new opportunities for innovative projects and research that reflect Harvey Mudd’s unique reputation in combining rigorous STEM and liberal arts education,” says Srebotnjak. A program manager will join her office this fall to help with the many tasks on her plate, which include a website, blog, sustainability conference and new internship offerings in the environmental and sustainability domains.
Srebotnjak is also developing the Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design (SED), which will expand student and faculty opportunities and will invite external interest in education, research and problem-solving.
Goals include expanding student and faculty experiences in sustainability and promoting cutting-edge environmental science and design within the Claremont University Consortium.
“The College seeks to create sustainable design initiatives with lasting impact,” says Jeff Groves, vice president for academic affairs and R. Michael Shanahan Dean of the Faculty. “As a forerunner in the field, Tanja brings a unique opportunity to educate and invigorate the Harvey Mudd student body on the importance of sustainable design. We believe that she can increase the College’s presence in this area and enable broad collaborations that differentiate the College.”
Srebotnjak, hired at the associate level in recognition of her extensive experience, worked previously as a public health research fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco and as a senior fellow at the Ecologic Institute in San Mateo, California, and Berlin, Germany. She also worked for the United Nations and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. Trained as both an environmental statistician and a biostatistician, she uses her statistical and analytical skills to address a broad range of environmental and public health policy questions. Her research interests focus on the development and application of statistical methods for assessing environmental performance, benchmarking environmental and public health objectives, and more recently the health risks of unconventional energy development.
A native speaker of German, Srebotnjak is fluent in English and has the United Nations certificate of proficiency in Russian. She earned degrees in environmental statistics and policy (PhD, Yale) and statistics (MSc and Diploma, University of Auckland, New Zealand, and Dortmund Technical University, Germany).