Dr. Tonya Nichols
Microbiologist and Biodefense Expert
Environmental Protection Agency


Biodefense Expert Dr. Tonya Nichols

With more than 25 years of experience, Dr. Nichols has led and managed microbiological research in academic, clinical, and government laboratories.  Since joining EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center, 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 the Associate Director for Strategic Operations in the National Homeland Security Research Center.  In this role, she focuses on building interagency collaborations and coordination with OSTP and NSC workgroups related to biodefense.  She represents the EPA on the Biodefense Coordination Team supporting the implementation of the National Biodefense Strategy.

Dr. Nichols co-sponsors the One Health Academy in Washington, DC.  On a monthly basis, the One Health Academy brings together health professionals, industry, and policy makers to discuss emerging issues at the intersection of human, animal, plant, and environmental health.  During her free time, she volunteers in the Smithsonian’s Outbreak Exhibit at the National Natural History Museum.