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Publications and Themes of Research

1. Biogeochemistry and impact of anthropogenic activities on global cycles

I study how plastic pollution moves carbon. A main narrative throughout my research is that plastic is an unknown branch of the global carbon cycle, and that both plastic pollution and climate change are consequences of human interference to carbon cycling.​

Select publications:

Zhu, X. (2021) The Plastic Cycle - an unknown branch of the Carbon Cycle. Frontiers in Marine Science. 

Zhu, X. (2021) Plastic is part of the carbon cycle and needs to be included in climate calculations. The Conversation.

2. Monitoring of environmental contaminants 

I quantify and characterize plastic pollution in the environment using analytical chemistry instrumentation and best practices. I also investigate their sources and fate to help inform policy, and develop novel methods for the quantification and identification of plastic in environmental samples.​

Select publications:

Zhu, X. et al. (2021) Holistic assessment of microplastics and other anthropogenic microdebris in an urban bay sheds light on their sources and fate. Environmental Science & Technology Water. 

Zhu, X., Nguyen, B., You, J.B., Karakolis, E., Sinton, D., and Rochman, C. (2019). Identification of microfibers in the environment using multiple lines of evidence. Environmental Science & Technology.

Zhu, X. (2015). Optimization of an elutriation device for the filtration of microplastic particles from sediment. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 

Werbowski, L.; Gilbreath, A.; Munno, K.; Zhu, X.; Grbic, J.; Wu, T.; Sutton, R.; Sedlak, M.; Deshpande, A.; Rochman, C. (2021) Urban stormwater runoff: a major pathway for anthropogenic particles, black rubbery fragments, and other types of microplastics to urban receiving waters. Environmental Science & Technology Water.

Hung, C., Klasios, N., Zhu, X., Sedlak, M., Sutton, B., and Rochman, C. (2020). Methods Matter: Methods for Sampling Microplastic and other Anthropogenic Particles and Their Implications for Monitoring and Ecological Risk Assessment. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management.

3. The Global Plastic Cycle: reservoirs, fluxes, and rates

In my research, I aim to fill in the unknowns in the global cycling of plastic pollution. I combine knowledge from the fields of statistical sciences, hydrodynamics, watershed sciences, and oceanography to answers questions pertaining to the transport and fate of plastic pollution in the environment.​

Select publications:

Zhu, X., Rochman, C., Hardesty, B.D., and Wilcox, C. (2023). Plastics in the deep sea - a global estimate of the ocean floor reservoir. EarthArXiv

Zhu, X. (2021) The Plastic Cycle - an unknown branch of the Carbon Cycle. Frontiers in Marine Science.

4. Environmental policy

One of my key research goals is to inform policy on environmental pollutants, including microplastic particles, anthropogenic debris, litter, and derelict fishing gear. I connect science to management actions and propose policy tools to help tackle global environmental issues.​

Select publications:

Zhu, X. and Rochman, C. (2022). Emissions inventories of plastic pollution: a critical foundation of an International Agreement to inform targets and quantify progress. Environmental Science & Technology

Zhu, X. (2021) "Polluter Pays Principle": Stopping fishing gear loss to our oceans requires greater accountability from fishers. The Starfish.

Zhu, X. (2021) The social, environmental, and economic impacts of space colonization. The Starfish.

Rochman, C., Munno, K., Box, C., Cummins, A., Zhu, X., and Sutton, R. (2020) Think global, act local: local knowledge is critical to inform positive change when it comes to microplastics. Environmental Science & Technology.

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