Department: Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science (IGPMS)
BioPACIFIC MIP Research: SET 4 - Degradation-Optimized Materials
What is your research focus?
Many plastics that are considerable biodegradable require high temperatures to break down, meaning they will not readily degrade in cold environments like the ocean. Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) – PHB – is a biopolymer that can be broken down by marine microbes, making it a strong candidate for a new generation of plastic products that are truly marine degradable. We are characterizing the biodegradation of PHB in the ocean via field deployments in the Santa Barbara Channel, laboratory respirometry experiments, and cultivation of PHB-degrading microbes. Because many marine microbes are adapted to survive in low-nutrient conditions and respond quickly to sporadic pulses of essential nutrients, we are also testing whether supplementing PHB-based materials with various additives can further accelerate rates of marine bioplastic degradation. This work is aligned with BioPACIFIC MIP SET 4: Degradation – Optimized Materials.
What excites you about NSF BioPACIFIC MIP?
I have enjoyed connecting with other graduate students & faculty from different departments across campus in my BioPACIFIC MIP cohort over the last year. I hope to continue fostering those relationships and build new connections with other scientists who are approaching polymer degradation from perspectives and fields outside my own. I also am interested in furthering my knowledge of academic / industry partnerships and hope to participate in the BioPACIFIC MIP Innovation 360 workshop and other professional development opportunities through the program.