Want to Understand Microplastics in Puerto Rico? Start in Belize.

Congratulations, Ashley Little!

Ashley collecting marine debris data in Hopkins Village, Belize.

We are very proud of 2017 REU Scholar Ashley Little, now a graduate student in the M.S. in Geosciences program at Georgia State University (GSU).  Ashley was awarded a grant in the amount of $2500 by the Geological Society of America in support of her master’s thesis research at GSU with Dr. Christy Visaggi (REU Co-PI), titled The Evaluation of Composition and Abundance of Microplastics in Caribbean Mangrove Sediments. The award will enable her to travel to Puerto Rico to study patterns and geographic variation of microplastics in mangrove sediments across localities in Puerto Rico that might be impacted by varying degrees of human influence. Upon her return, Ashley will analyze collected samples in the laboratory to characterize the type of plastic using FTIR (Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy). Additionally, Ashley will utilize GIS to understand the geospatial distribution to further our understanding of pollution in tropical ecosystems.

We asked Ashley how she thinks the Citizen Science GIS REU prepared her for her Master’s research and for this impressive grant: “The Belize REU helped me prepare for this next step in my journey by giving me a first-hand look at marine debris in another country. Working with community members and listening to their concerns about coastal pollution really ignited my passion to study this global issue. For me, the experience reinforced the need to develop interdisciplinary methods to study plastic pollution. My introduction to GIS through participating in the REU helped me to realize there are numerous ways in which communities can combat pollution if empowered to take action. Marine debris is not unique to a single group or a community and mitigation efforts do not happen in a vacuum. This REU empowered me to see the ‘why’ behind the science: the passion of a small group can bring about BIG change.”

Congratulations, Ashley!!  #citizensciencegis #ucfreu #gsugeosciences #georgiastate #microplastics #puertorico #belize #nsf

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