Three Cheers for Dom!

January 22, 2024

We’d like to wish a fond farewell to Dominic Nicholas, a HEET team member for the past five years, who is pursuing other opportunities.

During his time at HEET, Dom led the work on our 5-year commitment to the Shared Action Plan (SAP), providing independent verification of gas utilities’ progress in finding and fixing super-emitting gas leaks. He led the SAP studies in the trial year and years 1–4. In the Know Your System project Dom went beyond the requirements of the SAP to answer additional research questions about the evolution of leaks over time. Dom secured funding for the project from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which was HEET’s first federal grant. 

Dom’s other accomplishments at HEET include the new and improved HEET gas leaks mapping process, which enables the sharing of geocoded gas leaks and pipeline replacement plans, and the creative commons HEET library. Dom also worked with municipalities and researchers to increase the public visibility and environmental benefits of the data. He is a co-author of several peer-reviewed publications, including An Environmental Justice Analysis of Distribution-Level Natural Gas Leaks in Massachusetts and Repair Failures Call for New Policies to Tackle Leaky Natural Gas Distribution Systems. His most recent paper on a missing piece of the gas leaks puzzle, A Simple Method to Measure Methane Emissions from Indoor Gas Leaks, was published this month. 

During his time at HEET, Dom was also a visiting researcher at Boston University, studying leaked methane diffusion in soils. He has years of experience surveying gas leaks using the leak extent method, cavity ring down spectrometer (CRDS), and chambering methods.

The HEET team has particularly appreciated Dom’s rigorous approach and his thorough documentation and explanations. His impressive technical abilities enabled him to make many improvements and innovations, including writing an algorithm for finding leaks from CRDS survey data and assembling and improving equipment for precise measurement of gas leaks by chambering. His creative problem solving and innovative thinking enabled HEET’s gas leaks work to go in new directions, including analysis through an environmental justice lens and new research on indoor gas leaks. 

The HEET team is grateful for Dom’s many contributions to the HEET team during his five years of work on methane emissions. We will miss him—and his perfectly executed deadpan jokes during team meetings—and we wish him well in his next chapter!