Nikki Bugher

MIT SRP in the News | Nicolette Bugher: The toxic chemicals all around us

MIT SRP in the News | Nicolette Bugher: The toxic chemicals all around us

MIT SRP in the News | Nicolette Bugher: The toxic chemicals all around us

By Emma Foehringer Merchant
Dec 19, 2022

Struck at a young age of how lake water quality can negatively impact fish population, that experience shaped Nicolette Bugher’s educational goals. As a Ph.D. candidate conducting research at the Plata Lab, Nicolette’s work is to find and identify harmful chemicals in the environment. Also, as a part of the MIT SRP, Nicolette is investigating potentially carcinogenic chemicals found at unregulated hazardous waste sites, known as Superfund sites. A particular chemical of concern in Nicolette’s research is N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a contaminant found in the groundwater at Wilmington, MA where the Olin Superfund site is also located. Working on this compound has significance for her and in her research, because this compound is a potential carcinogen at low levels according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Yet, typical analytical laboratory instruments cannot detect this chemical at these low exposure levels to be protective of public health.

“Cancer—it’s unplanned, it’s unexpected. You’re never prepared for it—you don’t know where it comes from,” Nicolette says. “The work that we do is really important, because we’re trying to help toxicologists figure out where cancer is coming from and how to solve it.” As such, the research and discoveries by Nicolette will have broader public health implications beyond Wilmington, MA. It can offer more insights to help other communities that are dealing with similar contamination problems.

Read the article at MIT Technology Review