Skip to main content

The PFAS Speakers Bureau is available for participating teachers on the IDEA Learners Design Team. 

Click here to request a speaker


Jacqueline Bangma is a researcher at the US EPA in Research Triangle Park, NC. She investigates the impact of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in both wildlife and the placenta. Dr. Bangma has studied bioaccumulation of PFAS in alligators, fish, and human tissues. She received her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from The University of Georgia and a PhD from the Medical University of South Carolina.


Nick Chew is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Dr. Orlando Coronell’s lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Chew designs and studies improved materials (e.g., membranes and granular sorbents) for alternative processes to remove PFAS from drinking-water sources toward providing underserved communities with an effective and affordable way to treat their contaminated water. The technologies that he studies can be used both at the municipal and point-of-use (POU) level, which is particularly impactful for under-bounded communities that rely on POU systems to purify water. He received his bachelor’s and PhD degrees in Engineering from the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore.

Ashley Connors is a PhD student in Dr. Jeffrey Yoder’s lab at North Carolina State University. She studies how PFAS affects the innate immune system. Specifically, she focuses on macrophages, which engulf and neutralize pathogens like bacteria and viruses. To do this, her lab uses use cell culture and zebrafish models.


Caroline Coxwell Mohler is a PhD student in Dr. Frank Leibfarth’s lab who conducts research that focuses on making new materials to remove PFAS from water sources. Her lab creates these polymeric materials from small molecules that incorporate ion exchange and fluorophilicity and tests those materials for PFAS removal from water in her experiments.


Michael Davern is a PhD student in Dr. Jason Surratt’s lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He works in developing analytical methods for aerosol PFAS detection. His research aim is to use mass spectrometry to detect and quantify an array of PFAS.



Haley Macdonald is a PhD student and NSF-GRFP Fellow in Dr. Orlando Coronell’s lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who works with novel sorbents for PFAS remediation from drinking water. Haley looks at current best technologies for PFAS remediation from drinking water and tests these materials to determine their limitations. Additionally, she works to create a novel sorbent that is able to overcome the deficits that current granular technologies may have.


Nnamdi Osakwe is a PhD student in Dr. David Reif’s lab at North Carolina State University. His PFAS-related research focuses on combining environmental monitoring and toxicity data to generate relevant, summarized scores of environmental quality for underserved communities. The goal is to create dynamic models of environmental health that are accessible and understandable to diverse audiences. Part of his recently-funded grant under the Superfund “Center for Environmental and Health Effects of PFAS” is to develop outreach and educational materials.

Brittany Rickard is a PhD student in Dr. Imran Rizvi and Dr. Sue Fenton’s labs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She studies how PFAS affect therapy response in ovarian cancer. Resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy is one of the main contributors to ovarian cancer’s ~65% mortality rate. Brittany’s lab recently published a study reporting that 3 North Carolina relevant PFAS induce platinum resistance in ovarian cancer cells. She also examines how light-based treatment can overcome PFAS-induced resistance in ovarian cancer.

Krystal Taylor is currently a fourth-year PhD candidate at Brody School of Medicine in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at East Carolina University in Dr. Jamie DeWitt’s lab. Krystal was born and raised near the birthplace of the environmental justice movement in North Carolina, so there is no surprise that her upbringing drives her current project. Krystal’s research involves looking at the impact of PFAS exposure on B cell development and immunometabolism. She hopes to develop a novel protocol to identify key players in adverse outcome pathways with PFAS and the immune system. Krystal believes the results from her research will continue to build the weight of evidence that will allow laws and regulations to be implemented to ensure that impacted communities receive the proper diagnosis, treatment, and access to services.

Tracey Woodlief is a research faculty at East Carolina University. Her research program explores the impact of exposure to environmental contaminants on bioenergetics at the whole-body level, as well as within the immune system, liver, and skeletal muscle. In her work, she seeks to uncover novel mechanisms within metabolism, fuel utilization, inflammation, and immunology as they relate to public health. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biology from East Carolina University and PhD also from East Carolina University.