Plastic Pollution Working Group Members
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.
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.
Our lab is interested in exploring the microbial ecological impacts of emerging contaminants and specifically the biodegradation of plastics in aquatic environments.
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.
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.
I am interested in the degeneration of plastics in the environment and continuing to investigate the effects of microplastic particles and their transport.
Dr. Imari Walker-Franklin is currently a Research Scientist in RTI International’s Discovery Sciences (DS) Division. In this capacity, she contributes to the development of suspect screening and non-targeted chemical analysis. Prior to RTI, Dr. Walker-Franklin completed her PhD in Environmental Engineering, investigating the fate, occurrence, and transformation of polymer associated chemicals within aqueous environments. In particular, her dissertation work focuses on endocrine disrupting chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA) that are of concern to human health and the environment. Some of her current work looks to investigate the human health and environmental effects of potentially harmful chemicals released from microplastic inhalation and ingestion.