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Postdoctoral appointment, North Carolina State University

PhD, Chemistry, Duke University

BS, Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

James Harrington, PhD, contributes to the development of environmental justice research and other strategic areas of interest to RTI’s Analytical Science Division (ASD), particularly related to clean drinking water availability. He has supported bioanalytical research projects for the National Toxicology Program (NTP) on metallomics, as well as the development of the pharmaceutical heavy metals testing program at RTI. His research focuses on bioinorganic chemistry, environmental justice, community-engaged scientific research, environmental exposure analysis, chemical method development, and bio analysis.

Currently, Dr. Harrington serves as the Co-Director of the EPA Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center for Region 4 (EJ TCTAC) – REACT4EJ. In this role, he coordinates the strategy and activities of the network as they provide training and technical assistance to communities across the southeast to secure finding for environmental justice challenges. He also supports laboratory analysis tasks for the PreDICT Healthy Home Study, which aims to develop a machine learned model to predict risk of exposure to lead in the home. This supports the direction of housing remediation resources. 

Dr. Harrington has previously performed research with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on trace metal bioavailability in contaminated soils and on small molecule–metal interactions during his postdoctoral and doctoral studies. He has over 50 publications on the development of analytical methods for metals and on the biogeochemistry of toxic metals. He has also worked with educators to develop curricula on the areas of trace metal biogeochemistry and toxic metal pollution, among other topics.

In addition to his work at RTI, Dr. Harrington is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at NC State University. He is also a Metallomics Navigator for the Center for Human Health and the Environment at NC State University. 

Dr. Harrington is an active member of the North Carolina Section of the American Chemical Society, receiving the Chair's Award in 2012 and the Marcus Hobbes Service Award in 2019 and serving as the outreach coordinator from 2013 to 2018 and as a counselor from 2016-2018. He is also a member of the Society of Toxicology.

In 2022, Dr. Harrington received a professional certification for completing Columbia University’s Environmental Justice Boot Camp, part of the Mailman School of Public Health’s Skills for Health and Research Professionals (SHARP) Program. He also attended their Exposome Boot Camp in 2020.

Get To Know James Harrington

Dr. Harrington shared his experience at his first job, why he enjoys working at RTI, and a book that everyone should read. 

My first job was at an old retailer, Toys R Us in Greensboro, NC. I was an avid video gamer, and so I worked in the electronics section over the summer and winter breaks and managed the collectible card game league they hosted on the weekends. Although it didn’t have the technical depth of my eventual career, it did help me to develop the soft skills that I use for relationship management in my current job, through interacting with customers and helping them get the toys they needed for their kids to have happy holidays.

One of the best things about working at RTI is the breadth of topics we work on and the variety of collaborators we can work with. Our partnerships allow us to do innovative, impactful research that can impact the lives of people across the world, from our own city all the way across the globe.

A book that everyone should read is A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. While Bryson established himself as a travel writer, he has a passion for nature and science that becomes obvious in this book, where he explores the major fields of science and discusses their history and unique and interesting stories in an approachable manner, even for non-scientists.

James Harrington in bee suit with the RTI bees

Outside the Office

Dr. Harrington is an avid aquarist and has several small freshwater tanks. His favorite fish right now is the cory catfish. Eventually he hopes to graduate to a saltwater aquarium. 

He also loves bees and other pollinators and collects regional monofloral honeys whenever he travels. His second photo is from the RTI Apiary Hive Tour that he attended in 2022. 

Get in Touch

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