Nicholas Shapiro was a Matter, Materials and Culture Fellow at the Science History Institute. His work tracked the way that industrialized nations attempt to evacuate common toxins from the atmosphere. He grounded this topic in formaldehyde, the most common indoor air toxicant, and its precursor methane, a hyperpotent greenhouse gas. For his doctoral work he tracked the quasi-legal resale of 150,000 former emergency housing units (FEMA trailers) as they were resold across the country using a medley of ethnography, analytical chemistry, and GIS mapping. During a postdoctorate at Goldsmiths, University of London, he helped develop a participatory design project aimed at monitoring the air-quality impacts of unconventional natural gas extraction in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Shapiro was also an Open Air fellow at the environmental monitoring nonprofit Public Lab and a collaborator on Tomas Saraceno’s utopic art project called the Aerocene.