Neuer Lab graduate students Kassandra Dudek and Bianca Cruz have recently taken off to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Bocas Del Toro, Panama to conduct research on microplastics — a category of anthropogenic pollutants of ever-increasing concern. The focus of the research is to study the influence that marine microbial communities may have on the removal of these particles, how they may contribute to the settling of phyto- and bacterioplankton to depth, as well as microbial and UV degradation of plastics. In collaboration with Dr. Beth Polidoro, an Environmental Chemist at the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, they will also study the potential chemical pollutants adsorbed by these particles, which pose threats to the local marine food web and human societies. This research is being funded by ASU’s Global Development Research Program in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Want to learn more? Follow their research and adventures through Kassandra’s blog.