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Ocean Plastic: A Scientist's Tale

21st Annual Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture with Dr. Chelsea Rochman

Tuesday, March 10, 2020, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

NAS Building, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Fred Kavli Auditorium

Free and open to the public. Registration and photo ID required.


As early as the 1970s, scientists began to notice that plastic waste was turning up in the ocean thousands of miles from land. Since that time, the problem has grown exponentially. News images of floating islands of debris, plastic-choked animals, and trashed beaches have spurred a flurry of research, and to a lesser degree, policy efforts to address the problem.

What are the sources of ocean plastic? What happens to plastic once it reaches the ocean, and what does it mean for marine life? Dr. Chelsea Rochman has been researching those questions for more than a decade. Join us as she describes the science behind plastic debris and explores some of the policies attempting to limit plastic pollution in our global oceans.

Dr. Chelsea Rochman is an Assistant Professor in Ecology at the University of Toronto and a scientific advisor to Ocean Conservancy. Chelsea received her PhD in Ecology from a joint program between University of California, Davis and San Diego State University in 2013. She then was a Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Biology. She was hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2016. Chelsea has been researching the sources, sinks and ecological implications of plastic debris in marine and freshwater habitats for more than a decade. She has published dozens of scientific papers in respected journals and has led international working groups about plastic pollution. In addition to her research, Chelsea works to translate her science beyond academia. For example, Chelsea presented her work to the United Nations General Assembly and at the US State Department. For more information visit www.rochmanlab.com.

This lecture is organized by the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It is part of The ETERNAL Experience series exploring issues related to plastic throughout spring 2020 at NAS. #nasETERNAL

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