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Innovation and evaluation of interventions to reduce marine plastic pollution (BEAUMONTUPML21ARIES)

School of Environmental Sciences

About the Project

The impact of marine plastic pollution on UK society, economy and environment is poorly understood but likely to be substantial. Extensive research is underway into the sources, distribution and impacts of plastic, but the transference of this research into meaningful governance recommendations remains sporadic. To address this issue this studentship will draw on the wealth of current research, and collaborating with natural and social scientists at PML, UEA, CEFAS, and Defra, will innovate and evaluate a range of intervention strategies to reduce marine plastic pollution.
Research Methodology:
This PhD will be primarily based at PML, but with research stays as required at UEA, CEFAS(CCSUS) and Defra. The research is focussed around 3 objectives: i. Review existing policy interventions in the UK and internationally, including an assessment of barriers to, and the social and economic implications of, their implementation; ii. Quantify sources, types and amounts of plastic in UK waters using both data collection and modelling; iii. Systematically assess the effectiveness of different interventions to reduce marine plastic pollution, utilising modelling, interview and survey techniques. The research will directly inform Defra’s 25 year plan, and contribute to future policies and management plans.

This PhD includes training in interdisciplinary research, ecological modelling, scientific data analysis, survey design and stakeholder engagement. The candidate will receive scientific writing mentoring to lead their own publications. They will be supported to present their work at national and international conferences. The candidate will be embedded in the PML community, ensuring regular contact with modellers, remote sensing scientists, marine ecologists, social scientists, biogeochemists in addition to the PML communications and impact teams. PML is certified to ISO9001 and ISO45001, and the candidate will receive training in health and safety processes and in mental health awareness.

This studentship will be hosted at PML

Person Specification:
The project will suit an exceptional, highly motivated candidate with a background and skills in environmental science coupled with an interest in governance, or alternatively with a social or political science background with an interest in environment.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here
Type of Programme: PhD
Start Date: 1st October 2021
Mode of Study: Full or part time (visa restrictions may apply)
Studentship length: 3.5 years
Location: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Acceptable first degree in environmental science, geography, sociology, ecology & conservation or marine sciences.

Funding Notes

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP.

Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria are awarded a NERC studentship covering fees, stipend (£15,285 p.a., 2020-21) and research funding. International applicants (EU/non-EU) are eligible for fully-funded studentships.

ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion in all areas of its operation. We encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation and transgender status. Academic qualifications are considered alongside significant relevant non-academic experience.
For further information, please visit View Website


1. Beaumont N.J., Aanesen M, M. Austen, T. Börger, J. Clark, M. Cole, T. Hooper, P. K. Lindeque, C. Pascoe, K. Wyles (2019) Global ecological, social and economic impacts of marine plastic. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 142, May 2019, Pages 189-195
2. Clark JR M Cole, PK Lindeque, E Fileman, J Blackford, C Lewis et al. (2016) Marine microplastic debris: a targeted plan for understanding and quantifying interactions with marine life Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14 (6), 317-324
3. Walkinshaw, C., Lindeque, P. K., Thompson, R., Tolhurst, T. & Cole, M., 1 Mar (2020), Microplastics and seafood: lower trophic organisms at highest risk of contamination
Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. 190, 14 p., 110066.
4. Martínez-Vicente V., JR Clark, P Corradi, S Aliani, M Arias, M Bochow et al. (2019) Measuring marine plastic debris from space: initial assessment of observation requirements Remote Sensing 11 (20), 2443
5. Abate T., T. Borger, M. Aanesen, J. Falk-Andersson, K. Wyles, N. Beaumont (2019) Valuation of Marine Plastic Pollution in the European Arctic. Ecological Economics. In press.

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