Colorado School of Mines
Nicole Fitzgerald is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Colorado School of Mines working with Dr. Chris Higgins. She obtained her PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2017 under Dr. Paige Novak and Dr. Matt Simcik. Her research interests include emerging contaminants, their treatment, and biologic effects. Her PhD was focused on the effects of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on microbial community function and cellular membranes. At Colorado School of Mines she is studying the fate of trace organic compounds in stormwater bioretention systems.
The Removal of Trace Organic Contaminants (TOrCs) in Urban Stormwater by Bioretention Processes
Stormwater contains contaminants including nutrients, heavy metals, and trace organics (e.g. pesticides, fuel components). Bioretention removes contaminants through the processes of filtration, sorption, and microbial transformations. Little work has been completed to study the fate of soluble trace organics (TrOCs) within bioretention treatment systems, however, these contaminants are of particular concern because they are less likely to sorb to conventional bioretention geomedia and more likely to contaminate receiving waters. To improve performance, amendments can be made to bioretention geomedia. One emerging amendment is biochar, pyrolyzed biomass similar to activated carbon. In addition to the removal of TOrCs in existing conventional bioretention systems, this study also examined the removal of TOrCs in pilot scale bioretention systems amended with biochar. Attendees will gain insight to contaminants found in urban runoff and their fate and transport within the environment. Listeners will also learn about a novel treatment strategy (biochar amendments).