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Nicole Dennis

Assistant Research Professor

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My Story

Dr. Dennis is a research assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida where she uses her multidisciplinary academic training in chemistry, biology, and toxicology to investigate adverse health outcomes from real world toxicant exposures. Her research experience began in 2016 as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar at Central Michigan University. There she developed nonlethal techniques for assessing the health of threatened or endangered freshwater mussels inhabiting contaminated river basins. In 2018, she earned a dual-major bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Biology: Natural Resources. Dr. Dennis then entered a master’s program that evolved into a Ph.D. program under the guidance of Dr. Todd Anderson at Texas Tech University and earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology in 2021. Her dissertation was the first to show that carboxylated and short-chain PFAS were more toxic to birds than sulfonated PFAS regardless of chain length even though sulfonated PFAS were more bioaccumulative. This outcome helped to characterize the chronic toxicity of select PFAS and their binary mixtures to birds, spurring regulatory action and providing the toxicological reference values necessary for completing comprehensive PFAS risk assessments for environments where birds reside.

 

In 2021, Dr. Dennis competed successfully for a NIEHS T32 postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Riverside under the mentorship of Dr. Jay Gan, where she led a three-year EPA-funded biosolids land-application study. The NIEHS T32 fellowship was renewed through 2024 allowing her to develop analytical methods for examining a complex chemical mixture through a biosolids-soil-crop continuum. There she completed two large-scale field studies using several Class A biosolids treatments to grow food crops for chemical residue analysis. Her analytical methods were the first developed to accommodate quantification of a mixture of endocrine disrupting chemicals from more than three major chemical classes using a single extraction and instrument analysis. Additionally, her analytical methods were the first to detect the highly toxic tire wear particle (6PPD-q), lidocaine, and 11 other chemicals in US biosolids.

 

Dr. Dennis is broadly interested in how low-dose chronic environmental exposures to complex chemical mixtures affect ecosystem and human health. Her key focuses are on analytical method development as well as understanding the occurrence, fate, transport, and risk of emerging and legacy contaminant mixtures within both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. After gaining zebrafish exposure and transcriptomics experience with Dr. Tracie Baker, she aims to establish her own research lab in hopes that she can also provide research support to others from similar disadvantaged backgrounds.

Contact

n.dennis@phhp.ufl.edu

 

University of Florida
2033 Mowry Road, Room 207

Gainesville, FL, 32610

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