Martha Richmond, PhD

Professor Emerita, Chemistry & Biochemistry

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  • PhD, Tufts University
  • MPH, Harvard School of Public Health
  • BA, Wellesley College

Teaching and Administration at Suffolk

At Suffolk, I have taught biochemistry and advanced biochemistry (which covers many topics in molecular biology), toxicology, and several environmental courses, and chaired the committee charged with developing the Environmental Studies program which began in the academic year 2007-2008. I directed the Environmental Studies and Environmental Sciences programs.

Research Interests

Following graduate school, I completed four years of post-doctoral research, including work on regulation of glucose metabolism in microorganisms and the research on the biochemistry involved in assembly of complex carbohydrates that make up the ground substance for collagen fibers in connective tissue. Peer reviewed journal articles in Biochemistry and Biochemical Journal summarize some of this work. I also have published abstracts for FASEB and international meetings and gave presentations at conferences on my work.

At Suffolk I have directed a number of undergraduate research projects, including those that looking at the ways that certain antipsychotic drugs might affect the metabolism of biogenic amines. As a result of this work, I became interested in the toxicology and pharmacology of xenobiotics, developed a toxicology course, and used a sabbatical year to enroll at Harvard University and complete work for a MPH (Master of Public Health) degree. My MPH program focused primarily on the toxicology and epidemiology of occupational and environmental health.

For a number of years, I worked as a consulting staff scientist at the Health Effects Institute, developing and managing research programs that looked at the health effects of air pollutants associated with mobile source emissions (cars, buses, trucks). In that capacity, I helped to develop RFPs, coordinated peer review of contract applications and managed approximately twenty studies, the results of which were published in peer review articles. This included investigations that looked at health effects from exposure to high levels of trophospheric ozone, nitrogen oxides, and sulfates, and other mobile-source air pollutants. Two studies were multicenter international studies. One involved coordination of research in Mexico City and various laboratories in the U.S. examining the effects of ambient Mexico City air (a heavily polluted environment) on the respiratory system of rats. The other study examined blood and urine samples obtained from workers in several factories in China for biomarkers of benzene exposure. The workers were part of a larger cohort of Chinese workers originally established by the National Cancer Institute. Research institutions in China, the Chinese Ministry of Occupational Health, and several universities in the U.S. participated in the study. A publication in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health describes this work. Martha E. Richmond (2000). “The Health Effects Institute’s Biomarker Research in China.” J Toxicol and Environ Health 61 (5-6): 445-456.

More recently, I have been interested in ways that the scientific community can better work with the regulatory community and lay public to develop informed approaches addressing environmental problems. I am especially interested in addressing issues that affect the larger ecosystem or issues that disproportionately affect under-served communities. Publications related to this work include Martha E. Richmond, “Exacerbation of Childhood Asthma among Children Living in Highly - Trafficked Areas: An Unintended Public Health Consequence of Diesel-Emission Control Technology.” E-book, 6th Global Conference, Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship, 2008.

In 2009, I was sponsored by the University of the Free State, South Africa to lecture on food production policies. The focus of my lectures was on establishing food production policies that will help ensure sustainable agriculture practices among emerging farmers in South Africa. I have also been involved in a relationship with the Mass Audubon Society Boston Nature Center looking at pollutants in an inner city nature sanctuary.

I am an associate editor of the Journal of Environmental Studies and Science.