What are you working on now? …sitesALIVE!

“In my lab at SEA we are doing detective work on the thousands of tiny plastic pieces that have been collected by SEA Semester students since the 1980s. We are carefully examining their surface features under the microscope for signs of weathering and weakening due to sunlight. We use chemical analysis to determine what type of plastic each piece is made of (mostly the #2, #4 and #5 “recycling codes” stamped on many household plastic products), and we are measuring the size of these pieces to try to understand how they fragment from big items into tiny pieces, and how long this takes. Ultimately we want to know where did these plastics come from, how long have they been in the ocean, and what ultimately happens to them?”