Plastic Pollution Working Group Members

Marc Deshusses

Marc Deshusses

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pratt School of Engineering
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The Deshusses lab works on the development and optimization of novel processes for waste treatment and conversion of waste to energy. We are interested in the treatment of microplastics (e.g., in sludges or biosolids) or the conversion of non-recyclable plastics wastes to energy in sustainable and high intensity processes.

Lee Ferguson

Lee Ferguson

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Pratt School of Engineering
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Dr. Ferguson’s laboratory focuses on assessing release of polymer additives such as dyes, antioxidants, ultraviolet (UV) inhibitors, vulcanizing agents, and plasticizers from plastics and microplastics after release into the aquatic environment.  They are particularly interested in the chemical transformation and potential toxic effects of these additives in aquatic ecosystems.  The lab employs high-resolution mass spectrometry and optical spectroscopy methods to identify, quantify, and characterize both polymers and their component additives in the environment.

Claudia Gunsch

Claudia Gunsch

Theodore Kennedy Professor
Pratt School; Civil and Environmental Engineering
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Our lab is interested in exploring the microbial ecological impacts of emerging contaminants and specifically the biodegradation of plastics in aquatic environments.

Heileen Hsu-Kim

Heileen Hsu-Kim

Sternberg Family Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Pratt School of Engineering
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Dr. Hsu-Kim’s team studies biogeochemical processes that affect the fate of trace metals in natural and engineered systems. A central theme to their work is the utilization of chemical speciation for understanding and predicting the persistence, mobility and bioavailability of metals and minerals in the aquatic environment. The team helps other researchers to look at trace metals associated with microplastics in plastic and animals that have consumed plastic.

Daniel Vallero

Daniel Vallero

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pratt School of Engineering
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Dr. Vallero’s research involves the development of modules to be part of models needed to conduct chemical exposure and risk assessments. These assessments are especially related to consumer products, articles and building materials. This includes classes of chemicals used to manufacture plastic products, including solvents and plasticizers. He also continues to conduct research on so-called "far-field models", i.e., environmental transport, transformation and fate models that estimate concentrations of chemical compounds after release into the environment. At Duke, Dr. Vallero is part of a team developing curriculum and research in engineering economics and ethics. His most recent contribution in this venue is a recent article in the American Society of Civil Engineering's Journal of Environmental Engineering: https://ascelibrary.org/doi/10.1061/%28ASCE%29EE.1943-7870.0001676

Mark Wiesner

Mark Wiesner

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pratt School of Engineering
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The Wiesner plastic group focuses on how polymers break down via mechanical abrasion, nano-fillers in plastics (nanocomposites) and the physico-chemical properties of these abraded microplastics. These studies will help combat microplastic pollution in aquatic systems by quantifying plastic degeneration rates of larger persistent plastics into smaller microplastics and assess the environmental impact of microplastics.