Dr. Dunphy-Daly’s research focuses on the role of policy and technology in reducing marine plastic pollution. She is interested in how regulations for other pollutants have led to improved technology and how we can apply these frameworks to the plastic pollution pandemic. Dr. Dunphy-Daly co-lead a Bass Connections team on the bioremediation of plastic pollution to conserve marine biodiversity, and she works to engage students in research aimed at ways to reduce the human impact on our marine environment.
Rachel joined the Nicholas Institute as a Policy Associate in January 2019 and works for both Oceans and Coastal Policy and Ecosystem Services Programs. Rachel’s work focuses on the global plastics policy landscape, socioeconomic outcomes of coastal restoration, equity in environmental management, and STEM outreach. Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute, she worked for the Environmental Defense Fund and the Nicholas School of the Environment, focusing on fisheries management. Rachel received her Master’s degree in Environmental Management from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and her Bachelor’s degree from New York University. Her Master’s research was on seafood access in food deserts in North Carolina.
Zoie Diana, Ph.D., is an interdisciplinary scholar and sustainability scientist interested in environmental risks posed by marine plastic pollution and societal responses to this global conservation issue. Zoie recently earned her Ph.D. in multisector mitigation of plastic pollution in the Marine Science and Conservation Division and Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program at Duke University. During this time, she conducted research with colleagues at the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability and the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. She is a Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto with partners at Ocean Conservancy and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Before earning her Ph.D., Zoie earned her Master of Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University and her Bachelor of Science with a double major in Environmental Science and Philosophy from Allegheny College. Her research has been published in journals like One Earth, Environment International, and Environmental Science & Policy and featured in media outlets such as The Hill, The Guardian, and Popular Science.
Michelle’s research is focused on understanding the sources and impacts of plastic debris on aquatic and marine environments and human health, and developing policies and regulatory mechanisms to address and reduce those impacts. Much of her client-based work focuses on mechanisms for upstream communities that reduce waste at the source.
Dr. Rittschof’s research is focused on the toxicology and physiological impacts on marine animals of molecules leaching from plastics, the flavors of plastics that cause plastics to be consumed, the impacts of consumption on animals eating plastic and the role of plastics as platforms for delivery of biologically active molecules to animals and for removal of biologically active molecules from animals. The lab’s goal is to inform policy and manufacturing processes.
Dr. Somarelli’s team is trying tackle the plastic waste pandemic in the following ways: 1) developing new enzymes and microbial systems to biodegrade plastic, 2) using bioinformatics to identify enzymes with plastic degrading capability, 3) understanding the influence of plastic ingestion as a carrier of environmental toxins, and 4) engaging students in research aimed at improving societal understanding of humanity's negative impacts on the environment and human health.
Amy Pickle, J.D. and Dr. John Virdin are interested in studying how governments have or can design effective public policy responses to the problem, including:
- Empirical analysis of public policy responses in different contexts
- Global monitoring and tracking of public policy responses and evidence for their effects
- Translating public policy responses into projected reductions in mismanaged plastic waste
Additionally, they are interested in the role that large corporations can play in governance of plastics use, including:
- Empirical analysis of large corporate responses to the plastic pollution problem and evidence for effects
- How large corporations are organizing to address the problem