- Advisor: Patricia Holden
- Department: Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
- Campus: UCSB
- BioPACIFIC MIP Research: SET 4 - Degradation-optimized Materials
What is your research focus?
My research examines the sources, transport, fates, and impacts of plastic and microplastic pollution in natural and built environments. Using an interdisciplinary approach with an emphasis on microbiology and analytical chemistry, my research entails extracting, quantifying, characterizing, and chemically analyzing (micro)plastics present in environmental matrices to (1) determine the magnitude of (micro)plastic emissions from various sources and pathways into soils and sediments, surface waters, and municipal organic waste, and (2) to understand microbially-driven transformation and degradation of (micro)plastics within the aforementioned matrices. My ultimate goal is to engage stakeholders in the design of inclusive, data-driven, and scalable source-control and bioremediation solutions that maximize the benefits of plastics while minimizing environmental trade-offs. At the core of my research lies my determination to serve frontline communities disproportionately impacted by pollution emitted throughout a plastic’s cradle-to-grave or cradle-to-cradle life cycle. In these ways, my research interest directly overlaps with SET 4: Degradation-optimized materials, and is well-aligned with the broader BioPACIFIC MIP Mission to convert bio-derived monomers and polymers into sustainably produced materials with properties and performance that surpass those currently available through traditional petrochemical-based methods. My research overlap with SET 4 and the broader Mission is directly demonstrated by my contributions to several transdisciplinary research studies including, but not limited to: BASF - Biodegradable Polymers, Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials - Bioremediation of Environmental Plastics, City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division - Keeping Microplastics Out of Santa Barbara’s Ocean, and Southern California Coastal Water Research Project - Microplastics Methods Evaluation Study.
What excites you about NSF BioPACIFIC MIP?
With 3 years of interdisciplinary graduate-level research focused on microplastic and plastic pollution, 8 years of professional experience in science communication and outreach, and a demonstrated interest in creating just and sustainable waste prevention, diversion, and management solutions through collaboration and stakeholder engagement, I bring strong skill sets to help drive forward BioPACIFIC MIP’s Mission as a Graduate Student Fellow. Through BioPACIFIC MIP mentorship and networking opportunities, I’ll benefit in several key growth areas. Specifically, through research training with an emphasis on the Materials Genome Initiative approach I hope to gain expertise in using instruments designed for more rapid and precise characterization of material structure and properties. Leveraging high-throughput instruments with these capabilities is critical to designing timely and effective environmental and health risk assessment and management frameworks for innovative emerging materials. Through the lens of environmental justice, the EPA states that “fair treatment means no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.” I hope that as a BioPACIFIC MIP Fellow I can contribute to a future in which no group of people needs to bear negative environmental consequences resulting from these operations or policies.