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Heather M. Stapleton


Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson Distinguished Professor

Dr. Stapleton's research focuses on understanding the fate and transformation of organic contaminants in aquatic systems and in indoor environments. Her main focus has been on the bioaccumulation and biotransformation of brominated flame retardants, and specifically polybrominated diphenyl ethers,(PBDEs). Her current research projects explore the routes of human exposure to flame retardant chemicals and examine the way these compounds are photodegraded and metabolized using mass spectrometry to identify breakdown products/metabolites. She uses both in vivo techniques with fish, and in vitro techniques with cell cultures to examine metabolism of this varied class of chemicals. Also of interest to Dr. Stapleton is the study of the fate of PBDEs in the environment which may lead to bioaccumulation in aquatic systems and examining their bioavailability under different environmental conditions.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson Distinguished Professor
  • Professor
  • Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 9 Circuit Drive, Box 90328, LSRC Room A207, Durham, NC 27710
  • Office Phone: (919) 613-8717
  • Email Address:
  • Websites:


  • Ph.D. University of Maryland, College Park, 2003
  • M.S. University of Maryland, College Park, 2000
  • B.S. Long Island University, Southhampton College, 1997

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Highly Cited Researcher. Thomson Reuters. 2014

Courses Taught

  • CEE 563: Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds
  • CEE 563D: Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds
  • ENVIRON 360: Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
  • ENVIRON 393: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 394: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 540: Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds
  • ENVIRON 540D: Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds
  • ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 780: Environmental Exposure Analysis
  • ENVIRON 898: Program Area Seminar
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Hammel, SC; Zhang, S; Lorenzo, AM; Eichner, B; Stapleton, HM; Hoffman, K, Young infants' exposure to organophosphate esters: Breast milk as a potential source of exposure., Environ Int, vol 143 (2020) [10.1016/j.envint.2020.106009] [abs].
  • Rock, KD; St Armour, G; Horman, B; Phillips, A; Ruis, M; Stewart, AK; Jima, D; Muddiman, DC; Stapleton, HM; Patisaul, HB, Effects of Prenatal Exposure to a Mixture of Organophosphate Flame Retardants on Placental Gene Expression and Serotonergic Innervation in the Fetal Rat Brain., Toxicological Sciences, vol 176 no. 1 (2020), pp. 203-223 [10.1093/toxsci/kfaa046] [abs].
  • Hoffman, K; Stapleton, HM, Papillary thyroid cancer clusters in North Carolina 1997-2017, Cancer Prevention Research, vol 13 no. 7 (2020), pp. 36-36 [abs].
  • Phillips, AL; Herkert, NJ; Ulrich, JC; Hartman, JH; Ruis, MT; Cooper, EM; Ferguson, PL; Stapleton, HM, In Vitro Metabolism of Isopropylated and tert-Butylated Triarylphosphate Esters Using Human Liver Subcellular Fractions., Chemical Research in Toxicology, vol 33 no. 6 (2020), pp. 1428-1441 [10.1021/acs.chemrestox.0c00002] [abs].
  • Wise, CF; Hammel, SC; Herkert, N; Ma, J; Motsinger-Reif, A; Stapleton, HM; Breen, M, Comparative Exposure Assessment Using Silicone Passive Samplers Indicates That Domestic Dogs Are Sentinels To Support Human Health Research., Environmental Science & Technology, vol 54 no. 12 (2020), pp. 7409-7419 [10.1021/acs.est.9b06605] [abs].

Affiliate Topics in Materials Research