University of California, Santa Barbara
Nicol’s doctoral research focuses on predictive modeling of contaminants in the environment. Using these models, she seeks to investigate potential for localized contaminant hotspots and to determine regional characteristics that increase the accumulation and risk associated with pollutants. Nicol seeks to explore improved methods to account for variability in the distribution of contaminants as related to the physiochemical properties of pollutants, environmental characteristics, waste management practices, and climate. She has previously worked as a water analyst for Spicer Group, a Civil Engineering Firm, to monitor urban runoff pollution and provide recommendations as related to the construction of improved stormwater infrastructure. At Spicer Group, she also worked with lake owners and organizations to implement practices for reducing algal blooms associated with excess nutrient runoff. Prior to her work with Spicer Group, Nicol was awarded with a research fellowship at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where she worked with real-time monitoring efforts for the detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in aquatic and sediment compartments utilizing bioassays.
Regional Variability in the Fate and Transport of Engineered Nanomaterials
The use of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) has rapidly expanded in recent decades. Predicting the impacts of these materials to human health and the environment is inhibited by limited data for their production, transport, fate, and toxicological effects. One of the primary pathways of the release of ENMs is via wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), thus WWTP effluent and biosolids have the potential to create localized hotspots of ENMs. Here, we predict the variability in the distribution and probable environmental concentration of TiO2 ENMs in six regions as effected by regional wastewater treatment connectivity, the level of treatment, sludge disposal routes, biosolid application rates, sewage sludge content, region specific environmental compartment data, dynamic release, and daily meteorological and hydrological variability. We have projected the fate and transport of TiO2 ENMs using the nanoFate, a dynamic multimedia fate and transport module of which is a rapid, spatially-explicit risk assessment tool. Regions investigated within Europe include Rome, London, and Zurich, in the United States, within Los Angeles, New York, and Des Moines.