Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands
Tentative title: You can’t manage what you can’t measure: from microplastic transport to representative monitoring
I studied civil engineering at RWTH Aachen University in Germany and my interest for microplastics was sparked during my MSc thesis, in which I modeled marine microplastic transport influenced by a functional architecture. During this process, I realised that we still know far too little about the fundamental transport processes of microplastics, which are important basics to understand the distribution and accumulation of microplastics in the environment and to take measures to reduce environmental plastic pollution. I therefore decided to do a PhD on this topic, in which I compared the behaviour of microplastics in the fluvial environment with theoretical calculations from classical sediment transport using physical model experiments. The transport process was divided into resuspension, sedimentation and rising as well as infiltration into the river bed. Special attention was paid to the effects of microplastic particle properties such as density, diameter and shape on the transport mechanisms. After finishing my PhD in December 2020, I was appointed as an assistant professor for fluid mechanics at the Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands where I continue my work on the transport of microplastics in the aquatic environment. Together with my research group, I am focusing in particular on the vertical distribution of microplastics in the water column and the influence of turbulence, biofouling and particle aggregation of microplastics and sediments on the transport behaviour. I enjoy interdisciplinary discussions and projects, and believe that those are indispensable when tackling the plastic pollution of our environment.