Campus News

Workshop will address plastic waste and marine debris

“Plastic: Land to Sea Connections,” a workshop on the problem of plastic waste in oceans and what can be done about it, will take place Nov. 15 at 4 p.m. in the Odum School of Ecology auditorium.

Open free to the public, the event will include a panel discussion featuring experts from UGA and the University of Florida followed by a poster session and reception. It is sponsored by UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, UGA River Basin Center, UGA marine sciences department, UGA New Materials Institute and University of Florida Sea Grant.

“Marine debris is a critical issue that is dramatically impacting our oceans and the organisms that inhabit them,” said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “Solutions to this issue will involve all changing the way we do things in the upland watersheds.”

Panelists include Maia McGuire, Sea Grant extension agent at the University of Florida, who will discuss research and outreach efforts focused on microplastics; Jenna Jambeck, associate professor in the College of Engineering, who will talk about her Marine Debris Tracker mobile app that allows the public to report the location of litter and marine debris anywhere in the world; Branson Ritchie, research professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and New Materials Institute, who will discuss the impacts of plastics on marine systems; and Katy Smith, water quality program coordinator for Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, who will cover effective outreach and education about plastic waste and marine debris.

The event was organized by Rebecca Atkins, a doctoral candidate studying marine and coastal ecology, in partnership with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant as part of a community engagement course offered through the UGA Office of Service-Learning.

The poster session and reception will take place in the ecology lobby from 5:30-7:30 p.m. It will feature posters by individuals and organizations including the UGA Office of Sustainability, Watershed UGA, UGA EcoReach, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, the Upper Oconee Watershed Network and the Atlamaha Riverkeeper. Anyone interested in contributing a poster should contact Atkins at by Nov. 10.