PhD student at National University of Ireland, Galway – Thesis Title: Microplastic Pathways in Marine Pelagic Systems
I am a marine biologist with strong interest in ecology and environmental protection. Currently I am completing my PhD research on Microplastic Pathways in Marine Pelagic Systems at the National University of Ireland, Galway under supervision of Prof. Peter Croot and Dr. Tom Doyle.
The project aims to investigate abundances and effects of microplastics on organisms and ecological processes within the pelagic realm. Specifically, I investigate the abundances and effects of microplastics at four distinct trophic levels, each represented by a key ecological player. The organisms I am working on include heterotrophic nanoflagellates, zooplankton, mesopelagic fish and sea turtles. Furthermore, we seek to quantify and qualify microplastics in surface waters across the North Atlantic and the South Pacific to identify hot spot areas of microplastics and factors governing microplastic accumulations.
For me it is particularly important to make my research findings accessible and understandable not only to the academic society via peer reviewed publishing but also through outreach activities for society.
Other interests of mine are
Save Our Seas Project: Microplastic a Macro-Disaster: A threat to the Largest Fish of our Seas?
I am currently leading a project investigating microplastic ingestion by whale sharks in the Maldives. The scientific goals of the project are to extract and identify microplastics from whale shark faeces and to look at routes of exposure. This involves looking at microplastic abundances in seawater, plankton and particulate organic matter sampled at whale shark hotspots. Very importantly this project also has a strong outreach component. We are trying to bring our research findings forward to stakeholders and assist in problem framing and solution finding. To read more about the project follow us here: or on twitter/instagram: @mpwhalesharks
Food Web Dynamics and Stable Isotopes
During my Bachelors in Marine Science at the National University Galway I was lucky to be awarded a summer scholarship and assist in the collection of stable isotope samples for diet evaluation of Nephrops norvegicus. For my Bachelors thesis I then applied stable isotope analysis to look at the diet of lesser spotted dogfish and their impact on Nephrops norvegicus fisheries.
While taking part in two month survey aboard the FS Sonne crossing the South Pacific I carried out nutrient analysis and flow cytometry analysis, which will help gain insights into biogeochemical processes in one of the most remote areas of our planet.
I participated in several research surveys to quantify gelatinous zooplankton abundances in the Atlantic Ocean via visual surveys, Neuston and ring net sampling. Under a changing climate and fishing activities gelatinous zooplankton communities are likely to be strongly affected and it is of great importance to monitor any shifts in abundances and distribution.
I took part in several fisheries surveys and was lucky to be awarded a bursary from the Marine Institute. During this time I learned how to take fish biometrics, otoliths, prepare otoliths for ageing and also partook in a shellfish survey. To collect this data is of major importance to assess fish stocks and give recommendations on total allowable catch.
Chair of EuroMarine Early Career Researcher network OYSTER
Save Our Seas Project Leader (Funded by Keystone Grant 2019)
Funded under JPI Oceans PLASTOX Project