Global plastic contamination is now a widely realized issue, with all four major subsystems of the Earth (i.e. hydrosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere) found to be contaminated with plastics. Despite this, the harm that plastics may cause to the environment is still unsettled, calling for continued research.


CMDR focuses on characterizing and quantifying marine plastic debris ingested by various marine fauna such as sea turtles, sea birds, and fish. A specific focus is on determining if the amount or chemical composition of plastic ingested is responsible for negative biological effects. CMDR also attempts to compare ingested quantities within species and across geographical locations to determine areas of the highest priority for focus and mitigation.    


Chemical analyses of the material can aid in understanding the potential effects of plastics on the environment. Thus, CMDR heavily focuses on identifying polymer composition, additives, and multi-layer vs mono-layer components of marine debris. Degradation products associated with reactions between marine debris polymers and the environment is also a focused area of research.


CMDR collaborates with physical oceanographers and incorporates physical global mechanisms (i.e. ocean currents, wind patterns, etc) to understand the sources, fate, and transport of marine debris. Geographical differences in accumulations and stratifications are examined to provide in-depth knowledge into how the environment affects the movement of marine debris.