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
  • 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: heather.stapleton@duke.edu
  • 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

  • Gillera, SEA; Marinello, WP; Cao, KT; Horman, BM; Stapleton, HM; Patisaul, HB, Sex-specific Disruption of the Prairie Vole Hypothalamus by Developmental Exposure to a Flame Retardant Mixture., Endocrinology, vol 162 no. 8 (2021) [10.1210/endocr/bqab100] [abs].
  • Wang, Z; Coyte, RM; Cowan, EA; Stapleton, HM; Dwyer, GS; Vengosh, A, Evaluation and Integration of Geochemical Indicators for Detecting Trace Levels of Coal Fly Ash in Soils., Environmental Science & Technology (2021) [10.1021/acs.est.1c01215] [abs].
  • Overdahl, KE; Gooden, D; Bobay, B; Getzinger, GJ; Stapleton, HM; Ferguson, PL, Characterizing azobenzene disperse dyes in commercial mixtures and children's polyester clothing., Environmental Pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987), vol 287 (2021) [10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117299] [abs].
  • Kassotis, CD; Hoffman, K; Phillips, AL; Zhang, S; Cooper, EM; Webster, TF; Stapleton, HM, Characterization of adipogenic, PPARγ, and TRβ activities in house dust extracts and their associations with organic contaminants., The Science of the Total Environment, vol 758 (2021) [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143707] [abs].
  • Levasseur, JL; Hammel, SC; Hoffman, K; Phillips, AL; Zhang, S; Ye, X; Calafat, AM; Webster, TF; Stapleton, HM, Young children's exposure to phenols in the home: Associations between house dust, hand wipes, silicone wristbands, and urinary biomarkers., Environment International, vol 147 (2021) [10.1016/j.envint.2020.106317] [abs].