Alice collecting samples of surface water in San Francisco Bay in 2017 to study microplastics pollution in collaboration with San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) for her Master's research.
Research Areas of Interest
I am interested in better understanding the sources and fate of plastic pollution in the marine environment. My Master's research was focused on source apportioning microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay. In collaboration with the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), we found high concentrations of microplastic contamination in the Bay and proposed mitigation strategies to reduce the inputs of plastics into the Bay.
My PhD research aims to determine the sources, distribution, and transport mechanisms of plastic pollution on a broader scale - the oceans. I will collaborate with researchers from both academia and the non-profit sector to put a number to important entities of the Global Plastic Cycle in order to better understand the behaviour of plastic pollution in the marine environment. This research is crucial to help researchers determine exposure concentrations of plastic to animals in the environment and thus inform risk, and also help pinpoint areas to target for mitigation strategies of plastic.
I have an Environmental Chemistry background, and thus I am familiar with instrumentation for measuring gases and ions including AIM-IC, greenhouse gas analyzers, CRDS analyzer as well as software such as Geochemist's Workbench, Igor, R, and ArcGIS. Throughout my Master's and PhD I've also become adept at using Raman and IR Spectroscopy instrumentation for the identification of plastic polymers, and I have solidified my proficiency with R and ArcGIS.
Overall my fields of expertise are analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, oceanography, climate science, environmental field methods, plastic pollution/marine debris science, and contaminant science.
Themes of research (for PhD and postdocs)
Chapter 1. Distribution of Plastic Pollution in the Marine Environment
Chapter 2. Transport Mechanisms of Plastic Pollution in the Marine Environment
Chapter 3. Sources and Pathways of Plastic to the Environment
Other research I conduct:
The interconnections between plastic pollution and carbon cycling.
The interconnections between plastic pollution and climate change.
My Story and Motivation
In my final year of high school in 2013 I remember hearing on the news about Captain Charles Moore's study of plastic pollution in the "North Pacific Garbage Patch". Specifically, the study found that the mass of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre outweighed the mass of plankton. I was very upset at the news of plastic contamination in the environment and it really motivated me to become more interested in marine debris research. Around that time, I watched TEDx talks by Professor Sam Mason of SUNY and Boyan Slat, founder of The Ocean Cleanup, as well and became even more engaged in the issue. The reason why I am so interested in marine debris research is because my idols - the founders of the field of plastic pollution research - are all oceanographers or marine scientists. And I was truly honoured to meet almost all of them at the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference (6IMDC) in March of 2018. *I was ecstatic!!*