Interview with Dr. Imogen Napper

  • June 27, 2022

Please introduce yourself, and tell us a bit more about your work and how you protect the oceans? 

I’m a marine scientist based at the University of Plymouth. My whole research invetigates the sources of plastic into the marine environment, and most importantly how we can stop it. We found that 3 million microbeads can be in a bottle of face scrub, which led to international legislation banning them worldwide. We then looked at other sources of plastic such as washing our clothes all the way to plastics on Mt. Everest!

What are some of the most interesting / shocking things you’ve learnt since studying your PhD in Marine Pollution? 
Nearly every single environmental sample I’ve ever taken has had microplastic in - normally microfibres from our clothes. We found plastic microfibres near the top of Mt. Everest and got a Guiness World Record for this finding. Although this result isn’t worth celebrating and a lot of damage as been done, we are at a really important time where we can turn the tide on plastic pollution. 
We are developing a map called ‘Beach Action’, in which anyone, anywhere can earn $BEACH for picking up litter, taking a photo or a video and then posting about it. How do you think this could be useful for mapping plastic waste in the oceans? 
Citizen science is so important - it means we can have an army of people helping to gain as much information as possible about litter! We can then use the results to tracks trends and make informed decisions for solutions!

Tell us more about your current research and how other people can get involved in protecting the oceans? 
My currently research is investigating how one person can make a substantial difference by doing litter picks. By going out once a month to clean your local community, a huge amount of litter can be collected and stopped from going further into the environment. Additionally, it makes you feel more connected to your area and the outside! I’m always open to research ideas, so please do reach out!
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