Dr Imogen Napper

Dr Imogen Napper

Visiting Research Fellow

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)



Imogen is a Post Doctoral Researcher at The University of Plymouth. Her research investigates the sources of plastic pollution into the environment.

In 2018, Imogen became a National Geographic Explorer and Sky Ocean Rescue Scholar. This funded her ongoing research to investigate different inventions which aim to capture fibres in the washing machine cycle, to stop them potentially entering the environment.


2013 - BSc (hons) Biomedical Science, University of Lincoln (2:1)

2014 - MSc Biotechnology, University of Lincoln (Distinction)

2019 - PhD Marine Science (Sources of Plastic into the Marine Environment)   

Professional membership

Marine Biological Association

Roles on external bodies

Reviewer for research publications for:

  • Science of the Total Environment
  • Environmental Science and Technology 
  • Marine Pollution Bulletin 
  • Scientific Reports
  • Environmental Pollution



Research interests

1. Imogen did the first research piece that specifically analysed different fabric types (such as polyester) to further understand how many plastic fibres come off during clothes washing. Her research found that up to 700,000 fibres could potentially come off from a single wash of acrylic clothing. Following this research, Imogen is now working to identify the most effective technology for capturing the tiny microplastic fibres that are released when modern clothes are washed.

2. Her work also recently helped influence the ban of microbeads in cosmetics internationally, where she found over 3 million plastic particles could be in one bottle of main brand facial scrub.

3. Imogen's most recent research found that biodegradable bags can still hold a full load of shopping after being submerged in the ocean, or buried in soil, after 3 years and is using this research to push for clearer labelling and improved standards for such materials.

4. Additionally, Imogen is an expedition scientist on the National Geographic ‘Sea to Source; Ganges Expedition’. As the microplastic lead, Imogen is investigating microplastics in a major river system. The data collected will help us to better understand the movement of plastic through a river and the repercussions it can have.

International Marine Litter Research Unit



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Napper IE, Baroth A, Barrett AC, Bhola S, Chowdhury GW, Davies BFR, Duncan EM, Kumar S, Nelms SE & Niloy MNH (2023) 'The distribution and characterisation of microplastics in air, surface water and sediment within a major river system' Science of The Total Environment 901, , DOI Open access
Napper IE, Wright LS, Barrett AC, Parker-Jurd FNF & Thompson RC (2021) 'Potential microplastic release from the maritime industry: Abrasion of rope' Science of the Total Environment 804, , DOI Open access
Napper IE, Baroth A, Barrett AC, Bhola S, Chowdhury GW, Davies BFR, Duncan EM, Kumar S, Nelms SE & Hasan Niloy MN (2021) 'The abundance and characteristics of microplastics in surface water in the transboundary Ganges River' Environmental Pollution 274, 116348-116348 , DOI Open access