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Current Winner - 2023

Arthur B. McDonald Fellowships

Chelsea Rochman

Arthur B. McDonald Fellowships

Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

University of Toronto

In 1997, a sailor discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—a floating pile of plastic debris reported to be twice the size of Texas—uncovering irrefutable evidence that plastic litter is contaminating our oceans far from human populations. Dr. Chelsea Rochman is a pioneer in the research on plastic pollution in aquatic habitats. Her work aims to understand how microplastics move through organisms and within food webs. Rochman’s team has achieved groundbreaking work identifying the sources, fate and impacts of microplastics and their associated chemicals in aquatic ecosystems. She was among the first to conduct ecotoxicological research on microplastic contaminants and has demonstrated that particles can move from an animal’s gut to its tissues, and from one organism to another. Now, she is exploring the processes by which microplastics move through food webs and their ultimate impacts on populations, habitats, and ecosystems.

Rochman is the author of influential papers that guide current microplastics research and has led an international initiative with governmental and municipal laboratories with the aim of standardizing training and techniques for microplastics monitoring programs. She regularly provides her expertise to governments and policymakers to help inform positive change and is the co-founder and director of the University of Toronto Trash Team, working with local stakeholders to increase waste literacy, lead community cleanups, and have a measurable impact reducing litter in the city.

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