With more than 25 years of experience, Dr. Nichols has led and managed microbiological research in academic, clinical, and government laboratories. Since joining EPA, Dr. Nichols has held several positions to include senior research microbiologist, team lead for biothreat assessments, and Director for the Threat and Consequence Assessment Division. In these positions, Dr. Nichols managed research programs to assess the risks and impacts of exposure to biological agents that have been accidentally or deliberately released into the environment that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to respond. Primary research projects included dose-response studies, indoor exposure assessment of aerosolized bioagent, and quantification of endemic background biothreat agents for deriving risk-based clean-up goals for biothreat agents. Additional research efforts focused on recovery and detection of pathogens from environmental matrices (air, soil and water).
Currently, Dr. Nichols serves as a Senior Science Advisor in EPA’s Center for Environmental Solutions and Emergency Response. In this role, she focuses on building interagency collaborations and biodefense policy development efforts in the White House Office of Science ,Technology and Policy and the National Security Council. She represents the EPA on the Biodefense Coordination Team supporting the implementation of the National Biodefense Strategy that addresses preparing for, responding to, and recovering from pandemics, bioterrorism, biosafety and biosecurity incidents, and other emerging biothreats.
During her free time before COVID-19, she volunteered in the Smithsonian’s Outbreak Exhibit at the National Natural History Museum.