The Forensic Fibres Microplastic Research Group, here at Staffordshire University, are currently undertaking projects in a variety of areas surrounding microplastics and plastic pollution.
Currently, they are working collaboratively with the University of Palermo, University of Malta and AquaBioTech on the ‘SeaSweep’ project, to monitor marine litter in European seas using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Another collaborative project they are contributing to is ‘Marine Microplastics: a Multidisciplinary Study Quantifying Sources, rates and sinks’ with the University of Bristol. This project aims to gain a further understanding of the sources, transport and fate of marine microplastics, to assess the risks associated with microplastics in the oceans.
On Wednesday 7th March 2018, the team attended the ‘Plastics in the Ocean: Challenges and Solutions’ conference in Cambridge hosted by the British Antarctic Survey. During the event they disseminated information about two other projects they are undertaking at Staffordshire University.
“We are conducting research into the level of microplastic pollution in freshwater, specifically the River Trent, by collecting sediment and water samples from multiple different locations. We will be collecting these samples along its duration from where it begins in Biddulph Moor, Staffordshire, to where it meets the River Ouse and forms the Humber Estuary in Lincolnshire. This is to ensure that microplastic pollution can be more accurately quantified. Additionally, we are aiming to combine forensic techniques of fibre analysis, contamination prevention, evidence tracking and evaluation with machine learning and computer vision to create a fully automated method for quantifying and characterising macro and micro plastic pollution. “
On the 23rd May 2018, Dr Claire Gwinnett also delivered a presentation on the comparison of analytical techniques for microplastic analysis at the Royal Society of Chemistry Microplastic workshop.
Finally, we can now announce that our very own Dr Claire Gwinnet has been recognised with a prestigious scholarship for her research into the global problem of microplastics. She is the second person from the School Law, Policing and Forensics to receive this award and is among only 150 people to receive the Winston Churchill Traveling Fellowship this year.
This funding will allow Dr Gwinnett to build on this research by travelling across the USA and Australasia, visiting fellow scientists who also partake in the analysis of microplastics and the education around plastic pollution. She will be working with the Rozalia Project joining them on their 2018 expedition along the Hudson River, sampling microplastics from the river and the air from onboard what is recognised as the greenest sailing research vessel in the world, the famous American Promise.
You can keep update with their research news on Twitter and their Blog.