He succeeds Joe Merola who held the position for the past six years and recently returned to full-time teaching and research.
Tanko came to the university as an assistant professor in 1986 and was promoted to full professor in 1998. He has served on numerous educational and administrative committees in the department and received the department’s Faculty Teaching Award as well as the Alan F. Clifford Faculty Service Award in 2004. He served as chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Radicals and Radical Ions in Chemistry and Biology in 2007.
Tanko says his research interests include kinetics and mechanism, electron transfer reactions, free radicals, and radical ions. He has been a principal or co-principal investigator on $3 million in funded research projects. He has authored dozens of journal articles, has been an invited presenter at professional lectures and conferences around the world. Tanko has also served as thesis advisor to more than a dozen graduate students.
“Jim brings a background to this position that augurs well for the discipline,” said Lay Nam Chang, dean of the College of Science.“He has a strong record in funded research in organic and physical chemistry and has served as the chair of the executive committee for many years. He understands the challenges facing one of the strongest programs at the university. I feel very fortunate that we were able to persuade him to take on this demanding role.”
Tanko earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Iowa State University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Pennsylvania State University.
The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biological sciences, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college offers programs in cutting-edge areas including, among others, those in energy and the environment, developmental science across the lifespan, infectious diseases, computational science, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The College of Science is dedicated to fostering a research-intensive environment that promotes scientific inquiry and outreach.