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Nicole Fitzgerald
Nicole Fitzgerald

Environmental Engineer

Nicole Fitzgerald is an Environmental Engineer at Jacobs. She has previously completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Colorado School of Mines under Dr. Chris Higgins and a PhD at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2017 under Dr. Paige Novak and Dr. Matt Simcik. Her interests include the prevalence of emerging contaminants and their treatment. Her PhD was focused on the effects of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on microbial community function and cellular membranes. At Colorado School of Mines, she studied the fate of trace organic compounds in stormwater bioretention systems.


The Removal of Trace Organic Contaminants (TOrCs) by Bioretention Processes

Stormwater accumulates contaminants that deposit on-site such as automobile-related constituents, flame retardants, deicers, and pesticides. Bioretention removes contaminants through the processes of filtration, sorption, and microbial transformation. These processes have been proven effective at removing hydrophobic contaminants (ex. PAHs), though little work has been completed to study the fate of soluble trace organics (TrOCs), such as pesticides and deicers. These contaminants are of particular concern because they are less likely to sorb to conventional filter geomedia and more likely to contaminate receiving waters. To improve performance, amendments can be made to bioretention geomedia. One such amendment is biochar. This study used suspect screening methods to identify TOrCs found in urban stormwater and characterize their removal in a conventional bioretention system. This study also examined the removal of TOrCs in pilot scale bioretention systems amended with biochar. The study concluded that biochar amendments increase removal of most TOrCs.

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