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Youth march at the COP21 Negotiations in Paris, 2015.
Alice with CP24 at Queen's Park - March
Alice speaking to Citytv at the March for Jobs, Justice, and Climate in Toronto in summer of 2015 about the importance of youth in fighting for climate-friendly policies.
Session at the Paris Climate Summit (COP21) in 2015!
Screenshot - Alice Talk at MOCA.png
Alice speaking at the Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA) in 2019 about microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay (her Master's research) and the Arctic. 
Alice at a local beach clean-up in 2019 as part of the International Coastline Cleanup (ICC) initiative.

A Bit About Me

Hi! I am a PhD student in the Rochman Lab at the University of Toronto studying the sources, transport, and fate of plastic pollution in the environment as my main thesis. On the side, I also investigate the interconnections between plastic pollution, carbon cycling, and climate change. 


I believe that every individual has the power to change the world. Specifically, I focus on environmental advocacy and empowering youth. 

To date, I have initiated and been involved in numerous research endeavours, leadership roles, technological projects, and social initiatives. I also love cooking and travelling, and I play a lot of badminton!


For more information about my career and various projects, please see the left-hand side menu.


Thank you for visiting this site.

My EDI Statement 


I am a cis-gendered woman of East-Asian descent. My parents and I immigrated to Canada when I was six for my education, and I realize that I am very privileged to be able to pursue an education here in this country. I currently conduct research on the land of the Anishinabewaki, Haudenosaunee, Mississauga, and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Land. Our family has faced financial hardships, which instilled in me the values of education, hard work, and respect for others. I am a woman in science from a minority group, I am aware that social justice issues exist in the workplace. My awareness of social justice issues is compounded by my heavy involvement in climate advocacy, for which I have drafted anti-oppression statements, spoken at public rallies, and written op-eds about the intersectionality between climate justice and other social justice issues including decent pay, worker's rights, respect for Indigenous sovereignty, colonialism, and feminism. In my research and beyond, I strive to foster a culture of inclusion. This means I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind, including but not limited to racism, ableism, homophobia, sexism, and ageism.

News and Media about Me:

Bioplastics alone won't save the planet because they reinforce the take-make-waste mindset of a linear economy: interview for UofT Arts & Sci and Bloomberg Opinion

Speaker at Nov 6 Rally in Toronto during COP26 urging world leaders to: respect Indigenous sovereignty, phase out fossil fuels, support workers and communities during a just transition, and promote climate justice globally

Co-organizer of "Toronto On Fire" climate rally leading up to the Federal Snap Election of September 2021 & demanded a just transition away from fossil fuels and for politicians to treat the climate crisis like a real emergency

Alumni feature in the School of Environment's news digest ("ENVision") in May of 2020

The complete list of 2020 Vanier Scholars can be found here (see 'NSERC' tab for Xia Zhu, Oceanography)

Public Talk at the Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA), From the Bay Area to the Arctic: Shezad Dawood and Alice Xia Zhu, September 2019


Leading a cleanup as part of the "Clean up the Don River" event, 2018

Hosted the Annual InnovaMasters Design Competition 2014-2015: "How might we harness human motion to generate clean energy?"


UofT Students at COP21 Assess new Paris Agreement (UofT News), 2015

UofT Students head to COP21 & UofT Students evaluate COP21 Agreement, Varsity News, 2015

Shad Valley alumni bringing change to the world, top alumni stories of 2015


A Youth Campaigner's Thoughts on Local Climate Action and their Impact (begins at 2:15)


School of Environment Scholarship Winners 2014-2015 (begins on page 17)


Schulich Leader Nominee Profiles 2012-2013


OFSAA 2012 Year in Recap: Toronto City Single's Winner and OFSAA B-Flight Finalist



"Plastic in the deep sea - the ocean floor reservoir", Ocean Sciences Meeting, Hawaii, 2022
Coming Soon!
The plastic cycle - an unknown branch of the carbon cycle (PhD work), Interdisciplinary Graduate Research and Discovery (IGRAD) Symposium @ UTSC, May 2021
Microplastic Pollution in San Francisco Bay: A Collaborative Effort involving The Moore Foundation, San Francisco Estuary Institute, 5 Gyres, and University of Toronto
Individual Actions Against Waste: sustainability workshop hosted by Global Leadership Organization (GLO), November 7th, 2020
Toronto on Fire Climate Rally @ Queen's Park on Sept 8th 2021, CBC Instagram Story - Alice states the demands of the rally
Interview by CTV News Toronto at Queen's Park climate rally on the role of youth in climate activism as student delegate to the Paris Climate Summit, Oct 2015
"A city-wide emissions inventory of plastic pollution", Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting, Michigan, 2022
Coming Soon!
Microplastic pollution from the Bay Area to the Arctic: a conversation with Shezad Dawood and Alice (Xia) Zhu, Museum of Contemporary Arts, September 23rd, 2019
Contamination, sources, and fate of microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay: oral presentation at MICRO2020 research conference, November 23-27th, 2020
Toronto On Fire Climate Rally @ Queen's Park on Sept 8th 2021 leading up to the federal snap election, CBC Toronto Livestream - Alice says recovery from COVID is futile in a world made unlivable by climate change
Alice's remarks on plastic pollution and climate change at Toronto on Fire climate rally @ Queen's Park, Sept 8th 2021
Have you checked out the UofT Trash Team's "Let's Break Down Plastic!" educational series on plastic pollution? If not, do it today! Link here: 
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