Laurel Schaider, PhD

Dr. Laurel Schaider is a Research Scientist at Silent Spring Institute, where she leads the Institute’s Cape Cod water quality research on PFASs and other contaminants of emerging concern. Her areas of expertise include environmental chemistry, environmental engineering, and exposure assessment. She is a leader in characterizing sources and exposures related to highly fluorinated chemicals (PFASs), pharmaceuticals, and other unregulated emerging contaminants. Her current research focuses on: PFASs in drinking water and consumer products, including fast food packaging; septic systems as sources of unregulated drinking water contaminants; and disparities in drinking water quality in relation to socioeconomic status of communities across the U.S. Her research aims to identify drinking water supplies that are impacted by emerging contaminants from septic systems and other sources and to work with communities in identifying and addressing local drinking water contamination. She is a technical advisor to ATSDR’s Community Assistance Panel at the Pease Tradeport, a site of PFAS drinking water contamination. 

Prior to joining Silent Spring, she worked as a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health in the Center for Children’s Environmental Health project at the Tar Creek Superfund Site in Oklahoma, an abandoned mining area heavily contaminated by mixtures of metals near a community with many residents of Native American descent. As part of this research, she investigated sources of heavy metals into Tar Creek and subsequent fate and transport of these metals. She also studied concentrations and chemical forms of metals in mine waste material that is stored in large piles throughout the site, focusing on size fractions most relevant for transport and exposure. She worked with several Native American tribes to measure metal accumulation in plants associated with subsistence practices. In addition, Dr. Schaider participated in a study of mercury biogeochemical cycling in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.

Dr. Schaider earned her PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied with David Sedlak, and an SB in Environmental Engineering Science from MIT. She has taught ecology and environmental engineering courses at MIT and Northeastern University.