Polluted water kills more people per year than war and other types of violence combined. Efforts to address this issue are key, and one individual with local ties is playing a big role in one such endeavor.
Bradford native Nicole Richards is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Allonnia, a company working on the creation of microbes to eliminate pollutants in wastewater and in soil.
Richards credits her career path to her roots in Bradford and the values her parents instilled.
“I was fortunate to have amazing parents that were both educators in the Bradford school system who enforced the importance of education, hard work and the excitement of traveling the world. My teachers at Bradford Central Christian always pushed me to want to succeed in school and provided a great foundation,” Richards said. “I chose Chemical Engineering at Villanova University and was excited by the chance to bring application to the sciences. Since then, I have always been fascinated by manufacturing processes whether it be in Mining, Paper, Aerospace or Water Purification.
“I have pursued a career, similar to my upbringing, to continuously learn new skills, challenge myself and find ways to bring whatever skills and talents I may have to help make improvements.”
Richards was featured in an October 2020 article in Forbes magazine.
The article discussed Allonnia’s launch, with $40 million in funding from the Ferment Consortium.
“The Ferment Consortium are financial investors comprised of Cascade, Viking and General Atlantic. They have a passion for investing in areas where they align with the vision and purpose and saw the potential for Allonnia before the company was even officially formed,” Richards explained via email.
The company’s goals include the creation of microbes that can break down man-made pollutants and also bind metals and other valuable materials found in waste streams.
Previously, Richards worked for Dupont. Her move to Allonnia was based on the unique future it presented.
“Allonnia offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to progress technology using biology beyond the limits that exist in other chemical or mechanical processes,” Richards explained. “Leveraging the power of Ginkgo Bioworks synthetic biology platform, strategic partners (Battelle and Evok) and generous Series A funding of $60M, is an incredible combination that can lead to developments in bioremediation beyond those that exist today.”
Richards received her Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from Villanova University and an MBA from the State University of New York. Since then, her career has covered many miles and even sent her abroad.
“I have followed where the jobs have taken me geographically living in PA, VA, WI, NJ, Singapore (for a short assignment) and now MA,” she said.
Richards is married and has three children: Parker (20) attending Northeastern University, Addison (18) at Virginia Tech and Quinn (14) attending Our Lady of Mount Carmel Middle School.
The new position has meant some adjustment for Richards and her family, but it has been well-received.
“We are splitting our time between NJ and Boston with my new role and loving every minute,” Richards said.