The University of Plymouth has a long and world-renowned reputation in marine science and microplastic pollution, with excellent facilities in analytical and environmental chemistry. You will receive academic supervision and support from a dedicated, high profile, international network of interdisciplinary scientists from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, SINTEF Ocean and Fugro Marine GB.
How the project will be structured
You will develop a multi-modal approach towards studying chemical additives leaching from microplastics under environmentally relevant conditions.
Year 1 will focus on the chemical characterisation of environmentally relevant microplastic materials using a suite of instrumentation including comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC), mass spectrometry (MS), Raman and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Sampling and analysis plan will be co-developed with Fugro Marine GB.
In year 2, you will apply your optimised methods for studying chemical transformations during controlled photodegradation and leaching experiments, with the opportunity to validate these findings during a research visit to SINTEF Ocean, Norway.
Year 3 will focus on assessing the biological risk of degraded microplastics and microplastic leachate using recently developed standardised toxicity tests on marine copepods, generating ecotoxicological data within a dedicated microplastics facility at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.