All the GREATS with eXXpedition – 20th August 2016!
*GreatLakes 2016 is an independently organised eXXpedition event – see bottom of page for details
On the 20th August 2016, eXXpedition Great Lakes took on a mission to make the unseen seen by leading the world’s largest simultaneous water sampling project for microplastics!
This community-led initiative was open to everyone in the Great Lakes region of America – male and female, adult and child, solo or in groups – and they all took part to stand up for the health of your Lakes.
Thank you for signing up to be a Citizen Scientist and contributing to a Global Microplastic Study.
eXXpedition Great Lakes Volunteer Ambassadors took water samples for Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation Global Microplastic Project led by Dr Abby Barrows at the Marine & Environmental Research Institute in Maine.
See who signed up on this map!
In keeping with eXXpedition’s mission and vision, we put together Lead Boats on each of the Great Lakes, Lake St Clair and the St Lawrence River made up of female scientists, activists, artists, sailors and most importantly, residents of the Great Lakes. These boats led the day – conducting water sampling and manta trawling for microplastics.
But this problem, and it’s solution, is about all of us. Everyone who lives near or spends time in the Great Lakes have opportunities to play an active role in protecting them for future generations.
This is what will be happening on the day!
1. Sail & Motor
People took their own boat or joined a crew and sail/motor on their Great Lake. People went from their home port, or the marina nearest them and sailed in their Great Lake while conducting a water sample for Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation.
2. Canoe, Kayak & Stand Up Paddleboard
People went solo or in teams from their local beach, pier or marina and explore their coastline.
They will be conducting water sampling as you go for Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation.
3. Beach Clean Up & By Foot
Groups got together or do solo beach clean ups on their local shoreline. We partnered with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach Program.
People conducted water sampling for Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation too! Taking samples by wading into their lake or taking samples from their pier.
Meet the eXXpedition Great Lakes Mission Leaders
Jen Pate – Mission Leader
JEN is a geographer and filmmaker fascinated by human-environment interaction. With a BA in Geography (2:1) and an MSc in Environment, Science & Society (Distinction) from the University College of London, her research has explored environmental management and experience, film as an emancipatory tool for environmental education, as well as geographies of health and biological identity. She owns and operates a Community Interest Film company in the UK called Your Frontier, and has been involved in several research, filmmaking and sport expeditions in a diverse range of roles – from film crew, to marketing manager. She is a Global Biodiversity Ambassador for Ibex Earth, and co-owns/operates an environmentally sustainable outdoor recreation park in Canada called Windmill Lake (www.windmill-lake.ca).
She was a crewmember and filmmaker for eXXpedition Atlantic 2014, producing the documentary “eXXpedition: Making the Unseen Seen” which premiered at the Royal Geographical Society in March 2015. To learn more about future initiatives visit: www.loveyourgreats.com
Learn more about Jen: www.jenniferpate.com
Elaine McKinnon – Mission Leader
ELAINE is an avid sailing enthusiast who has always felt the call of the ocean. Living in the centre of a large continent, however, means that she currently sails in the freshwater lakes of Ontario, enjoying the incredibly unique and fragile ecosystem of Georgian Bay (a UNESCO biosphere reserve). As a clinical neuropsychologist, she is also well aware of the accumulating evidence of how much exposure to toxics is leading to a worrisome increase in health concerns in children and adults both. As a parent to three children, two of whom are young women, this concern is particularly focused on their risks for cancer and reproductive problems in the coming years. Elaine hopes that through this experience, she will be able to contribute to further discussion on these critical issues among children and adults in her community, to both heighten understanding and to bridge the gap between understanding and much needed action.
Contact Jen for more details or see our promotional materials linked below:
This world-first event would not have been the same if it weren’t for the support of our partners. For more information on each of these amazing organisations and companies, please visit their websites:
Lake Lead: Jennifer Pate
Jen is a geographer and filmmaker fascinated by human-environment interaction. She has a BA in Geography (2:1) and an MSc in Environment, Science & Society (Distinction) from the University College of London. She owns and operates a Community Interest Film company in the UK called Your Frontier, and has been involved in several research, filmmaking and sport expeditions in a diverse range of roles – from film crew, to marketing manager. She is a Global Biodiversity Ambassador for Ibex Earth, and co-owns/operates an environmentally sustainable outdoor recreation park in Canada called Windmill Lake (www.windmill-lake.ca).
Lake Lead: Patricia Corcoran
Dr. Patricia Corcoran is an Associate Professor and Undergraduate Chair in the Department of Earth Sciences, as well as the Director of the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at Western University in London, Ontario. Her research focuses on natural and anthropogenic sedimentary deposits in order to gain an understanding of Earth’s changing surface and atmospheric processes through time. One significant element of her research concerns the distribution, accumulation and degradation of plastic debris in shoreline and lake bottom sediments. Dr. Corcoran and her research group are investigating the potential for this plastic debris to become part of the future rock record, thereby representing a symbol of humankind’s global impact on Earth’s environment. Dr. Corcoran’s plastics research has resulted in extensive international coverage, including features in National Geographic Magazine, Science Magazine, Science et Vie, the New York Times and CBC’s The National.
Dr. Chelsea Rochman is an Aquatic Ecologist with emphases in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Chemistry. Her research interests cover the ecological effects of anthropogenic contaminants on wildlife and our resources (e.g. water, seafood). More specifically, her current focus is the implications of the infiltration of plastic debris into aquatic habitats. Chelsea is currently a David H. Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Biology working with Dr. Swee Teh in the Aquatic Health Program at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and in the lab of Dr. Miriam Diamond at the University of Toronto, St. George campus.
“My mother told me: “always leave the world a better place than the way you found it”…the law has allowed me do that in some small measure.”
If you ask any lawyer at The Ross Firm ‘who’s the best lawyer in the shop’, the answer is Heather Joy Ross. Disciplined, ethically rigorous and highly intelligent, she is the definition of the consummate advocate. Throughout her career Heather has been prepared, knowledgeable and determined. This approach earned her the reputation as a “go to” lawyer in the Region for men and women alike. Spouses often raced to retain Heather after their relationship broke down. Whether this was because they wanted her on their side or to avoid having her against them, is a matter of some debate. It is this reputation and approach that forms the foundation of The Ross Firm today.
Heather has been a leader in her profession virtually from her first day at law school: she was a mentor to fellow students, and the recipient of three academic awards. As a practicing lawyer, Heather tackled issues of domestic abuse and gender inequality and broke new ground when both subjects were not in the forefront of legal and judicial thinking. Heather describes herself as a warrior, and says that being a lawyer gave her the tools to help make change, particularly for women and girls in our society. However, her passion and big-picture thinking are larger than her legal practice. The original work she did to help establish safe houses for women in Huron County led to the creation of the Huron Women’s Shelter in Goderich.
She’s a founder and active member of South West Region Women’s Law Association. Throughout her career Heather has given tirelessly and behind the scenes of her time, passion and experience to law students, young lawyers and lawyer colleagues helping them realize their professional and personal aspirations. She serves as a volunteer on the Members Assistance Program, providing help and peer support to lawyers and judges who are experiencing stress, mental health or addiction issues in their lives.
As an academic, Heather was an adjunct professor of law, designing and teaching courses in ethics and family law practice and procedure at her alma mater, the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario. She served as Head of Section in the Law Society of Upper Canada Bar Admission Course in Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
Heather was elected as a Bencher or governor of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1995. She has contributed significantly to the regulation of the legal profession in Ontario in particular in her work at the Law Society on the redrafting of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the creation of the standing committee on Equity and Aboriginal Issues, and serving on the Human Rights Monitoring Group. Three subsequent re-elections resulted in her being granted the honour of ‘life bencher’, a position she holds today. She is a very experienced adjudicator in lawyer and paralegal disciplinary hearings.
An engaged and insightful jurist, Heather shares her skill sitting as a Superior Court of Justice Deputy Judge of the Small Claims Court.
Her most recent role at The Ross Firm is that of General Counsel. She provides sage and cogent advice to the firm and its lawyers on matters of ethics, professional responsibility and practice management. There is no one better for the task. When she’s not working, mentoring or leading, Heather finds satisfaction in creative outlets like interior design, painting or gardening. She also donates her time extensively in her community most recently serving on a private non profit association that provides a park for the enjoyment of the public in Bayfield, Ontario.
In many ways, both personally and professionally, Heather has made the whole world her canvas.
Theresa Hamilton graduated from UWO with a degree in First Nations Studies and Thanatology and is currently pursuing a career in death care as an End-of-life guide. She is passionate about recycling, waste reduction and an advocate for food sovereignty and seed sharing. For the past two decades Theresa has been enchanted by Grand Bend’s magic and is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Huron crew for this eXXpedition.
Kelly Jazvac is a Visual Artist and Associate Professor of Visual Art at Western University. Through sculpture, collage and installation, her artworks explore the permanence of disposable plastics.
B.Sc.(Food Science) McGill University, Registered Massage Therapist (CMTO, Canada), Fitness Instructor (land & water), Lifeguard (NLS), CPR & First Aid. Interests: Sailing, kayaking, swimming, water skiing, fitness, triathlons, tennis, biking, running, skeet, trap & sporting clay shooting.
Long term sailor living in Bayfield Ontario. Co-owner of Sail Huron with her partner Christ Thatcher. Donated and skippered their boat Stir Crazy for the day.
Lake Lead: Elaine McKinnon
Elaine is an avid sailing enthusiast who has always felt the call of the ocean. Living in the centre of a large continent, however, means that she currently sails in the freshwater lakes of Ontario, enjoying the incredibly unique and fragile ecosystem of Georgian Bay (a UNESCO biosphere reserve). As a clinical neuropsychologist, she is also well aware of the accumulating evidence of how much exposure to toxics is leading to a worrisome increase in health concerns in children and adults both. As a parent to three children, two of whom are young women, this concern is particularly focused on their risks for cancer and reproductive problems in the coming years. Elaine hopes that through this experience, she will be able to contribute to further discussion on these critical issues among children and adults in her community, to both heighten understanding and to bridge the gap between understanding and much needed action.
Lake Lead: Rowshyra Castaneda
Rowshyra is a biologist broadly interested in applied ecology and conservation of aquatic ecosystems. Specifically, she studies ways in which we can conserve fishes at risk of extinction and predict the spread of invasive species in Canada and South Africa. She is currently a PhD student in the Mandrak Lab at the University of Toronto and co-supervised by Dr. Olaf Weyl at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity. She holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from McGill University, which has enabled her to work on numerous research projects around the world including the United States, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Panama.
Outside of the academic world, Rowshyra volunteers her time to science outreach.She is the coordinator for the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Association for Girls in Science, which is a group to help empower and build confidence for girls interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. She’s also an executive on two student graduate student associations, where she coordinates seminar series, journal clubs, and social activities. She mentors incoming graduate students to ease their way into a new learning environment. Outside of science, she loves travelling and exploring new places: from mountaintops to ocean beds and everything in between.
Learn more about Rowshyra: rowshyracastaneda.wordpress.com
Katherine is the editor of Water Canada magazine and an impassioned champion of water resources and citizen science. She has over ten years’ experience working on water issues as a policy advisor, communications expert, and journalist, including work with Environment Canada, the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, and the Grand River Conservation Authority. Katherine enjoys paddleboarding and surfing Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Katherine said, “I am positively stoked to be part of this all-female eXXpedition adventure and to write about the experience for Water Canada.”
Susan Debreceni is the Outreach Specialist for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and has proudly supported a national network of volunteers for 10 years. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is one of the largest cleanups in Canada and raises awareness of shoreline litter by encouraging Canadians to coordinate annual cleanups in their local communities. Susan holds a BSc in Zoology from the University of Guelph and diploma in Ecosystem Management from Sir Sandford Fleming College. Environmental stewardship has always been an important part her life and it is a true pleasure to empower such dedicated volunteers from coast to coast to coast. Start a shoreline cleanup today at www.shorelinecleanup.ca.
I have been passionate about aquatic and marine science since I was a child. During my undergraduate degree at Queen’s University, I researched methods for preventing invasive species spread in the Great Lakes, and completed half of my thesis at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island. I am currently completing my Master’s degree at Columbia University, using passive acoustic monitoring to determine the distribution of arctic marine mammal in the face of an ever-changing climate. I aspire to bridge the gap between our communities and science by working alongside policy makers to protect our lakes and oceans.
Diane is a professional skipper, racer and instructor. She is Royal Yachting Association accredited as an Ocean Yachtmaster commercially endorsed, and a Sail Canada Instructor in Cruising, Racing, VHF / ROC and Navigation. Diane’s career has seen over 50,000 miles under her keel throughout the Atlantic and Southern Ocean. She has taught Intermediate and Advanced Cruising throughout the Virgin Islands, the east coast of the United States and Lake Ontario. Her racing career and coaching have included nothing less than Lake Ontario, the Atlantic ocean, the irish Sea, Bay of Biscay and Southern ocean, all in the capacity of single and double handed and fully crewed race teams. She has taught on anything that floats starting with Albacores and lasers right up to Clipper 70s in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race.
Ann Fitzhenry Bedard
Ann is excited to be joining eXXpedition Great Lakes 2016. She has been inspired by Elaine McKinnon’s stories of her Atlantic crossing and commitment to issues of plastics in our waters. As a health care professional and advocate of a positive lifestyle, the impact of environment on our well-being is a topic of interest. Ann spent 37 years working as an occupational therapist in brain injury rehabilitation, retiring in 2015. She is an avid walker, having powerwalked nine marathons and 15 half marathons. In 2014, she completed the Camino de Santiago, an 800-kilometer trek across northern Spain.
Christina DiCecco is an Environmental Consultant and new filmmaker from Toronto, Canada who has a personal passion for sailing, scuba diving and exploring the world. She is the President of the NGO – SUDA – Sustainable Urban Development Association, with a mandate to affect urban policy in regards to transportation, land use planning and Smart City developments. As an advanced diver, decreasing plastic pollution is not only a personal goal, but also considers it a necessary step in society today. She has been involved with Pangaea Explorations in researching the degradation of coral reefs in Cayman Islands. Land explorations to the Mindo Cloud Forest, in Ecuador has lead to a current film being produced regarding the connection we have with the rainforest, the oceans and the hydrological cycle. Hopefully, by exploring and communicating as much as possible, we can further decrease our negative impacts and conversely, increase our positive impacts on this world.
Lake Lead: Kellen Marshall
Kellen Marshall is a native Chicagoan and an alumna of Chicago State University who earned her BS degree in environmental biology with dual minors in chemistry and geography in 2009. Currently a doctoral candidate studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), she focuses her research on the intersection between nature in cities and equitable distribution of nature’s benefits. From 2010 to 2012, Kellen was an IGERT recipient and National Sciences Foundation Fellow at UIC. Kellen has used her passion for the field of ecology to connect communities of color to conversations surrounding urban ecosystems. She was the host of the first environmental show on WVON 1690 AM titled “Living Healthy, Living Green” and is the current host and creator of an urban nature web series titled “Living Chicago.” At Eden Place Nature Center (EPNC) located in Chicago’s Fuller Park community, Kellen founded and directs the George Washington Carver Research Station and educates youth and adults on the importance of taking care of the environment. She has been integral in supporting EPNC with its STEM initiatives. She is also one of the founding committee members of the URBAANE (Urban Resolutions for Bridging African Americans to Natural Environments) Conference and served as the 2014 chair of the conference committee. Kellen is an active member of the Ecological Society of America and current policy liaison for the Student Section and served in a leadership role on the Environmental Justice Section. An expert on the cultural and social dimensions of urban environments, Kellen is a seed of change for growing sustainable, urban communities.
Lake Lead: Kristen Mitchell
Kristen Mitchell, Ph.D. has worked on ocean issues for more than 10 years, first as a scientist, and now in policy. As an AAAS Congressional fellow she helped write legislation aimed at reducing pollution in the ocean. Twice, Kristen has sailed the Pacific Ocean with Sea Education Association, first as a student then as a guest scientist aboard the Plastics at SEA: North Pacific Expedition in 2012 where she investigated the relationship between plastic and marine chemistry. At Eckerd College, Kristen was a member of the sailing team and graduated with a degree in marine chemistry. After graduation she moved to Denmark as a Fulbright scholar. She earned her Ph.D. from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, but worked on her dissertation at Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Waterloo, with extensive collaboration at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Kristen did postdoctoral research into using remote sensing techniques to map and quantify marine debris at the University of Waterloo. Kristen has authored several peer reviewed scientific articles.
Dr. Mitchell is currently working as Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary of Research, Education and Economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kristen can be found regularly in the Sant Ocean Hall at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where she is a volunteer.
Chicago Native,Carina Ruiz, has 16 years of Youth Development experience through museum, formal, and informal education. She’s the Community Program Manager with TheSCA were she collaborates with high school youth and young adults to complete various ecological restoration service projects that will expose and engage the participants with the field of Conservation. Carina has led multiple projects with a focus on Diversity and Inclusion with partners such as the National Park Service, Chicago Park District and the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Before joining TheSCA’s team, she worked as a Program Coordinator for the Chicago Academy of Sciences, in conjunction with the US Forest Service International Programs. She has been awarded the “Urban Communities in Conservation Award” by the US Department of Agriculture for work using cultural symbols to introduce monarch conservation through nature-based activities. Carina is exited to weave the experience gained through Great Lakes, eXXpedition into her current work with diverse groups of young people.
Elaina is an OB / GYN Nurse Practitioner whose clinical focus included reproductive health and the social determinates of health. Her career has spanned private practice in Alaska, academic research in preventing preterm births and the clinical management of birth defects. She currently conducts non-financial data audits and analysis of how health insurance companies provide health care services for their enrolled members. As an avid sailor and life-long outdoors woman, she is concerned about the impact of chemical toxins on food supplies. Elaina hopes through the eXXpedition experience to have a greater understanding of the potential solutions to toxin exposure and the challenges to their implementation.
My name is Andrea McGee, I have recently finished my Honours Bachelor in Science from the University of Toronto in Canada, majoring in biological anthropology with a double minor in biology and French. Throughout my years as an undergrad I have discovered an interest in biological conservation and the environment, which is why I took various classes in biodiversity, conservation and environmental law. Marine ecosystems are very important for understanding biodiversity and conservation. I look forward to “Exxpedition Great Lakes” because I feel it will allow me to discover first hand the state of our ecosystems and the challenges we face moving forward.
Tiffany Poole is currently an Environmental Chemist for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. She manages the Nutrient lab for the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, the world’s largest wastewater treatment plant. The Nutrient lab is responsible for monitoring the release of nutrients such as, phosphorous, ammonia, nitrate and nitrite into the area waterways, in addition to determining the concentrations of said nutrients in aqueous, sludge and soil samples. Before joining MWRD, Ms Poole was a biologist as well as a quality assurance auditor in the private sector. Ms Poole has always had an interest in science and the environment. She enjoys exposing underserved communities to opportunities and careers within the S.T.E.M. fields. She understands that we have one environment and we all must do our part to care for it.
Lisa De Santis
Lisa is an avid sailor! She kindly donated and skipper her own boat, Irie, to allow the Lake Michigan crew to conduct their sampling from Chicago’s Columbia Yacht Club.
Lake Lead: Sherri Mason
Lake Lead: Melanie Smith
Melanie time spent ample time outdoors growing up, and this nurtured a strong appreciation for the natural world and cultivated her curiosity about biological processes. Driven by her realization that human activities were having devastating effects on our living planet, she pursued an education in the natural sciences. Melanie earned a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the State University of New York in Fredonia and a Master’s degree in Biological Oceanography from North Carolina State University. Melanie is the Communications Coordinator for Roger Tory Peterson Institute, and an adjunct science professor at SUNY colleges.
As Senior Coastal Outreach Specialist for Pennsylvania Sea Grant Marti works with several audiences around the Great Lakes basin, and beyond, to provide science-based information on a multitude of topics to a wide variety of audiences including legislators, community stakeholders, federal, state and local agency staff, educators, students of all ages, and the public. Areas of expertise include the impacts of emerging contaminants such as PPCPs and marine debris on water quality and aquatic life; Great Lakes Literacy; shoreline erosion; invasive species control and rare plant propagation.
Sarah Marshall, ND, is a naturopathic doctor, intuitive health coach, and co-author of Food That Grows: A Practical Guide to Health and Healing. A visionary and pioneer in the transformation of Health Care, Dr. Marshall is the founder of JourneyLust, a health coaching and consulting business designed to empower doctors, healers, business owners and organization leaders to heal their bodies and Master their Health so they can get back to transforming their communities and the world. Dr. Marshall works with clients worldwide to breakthrough their constraints in their health and healing to live a fulfilled, peaceful powerful life through her online coaching programs.
Christina Jarvis is Professor of English at SUNY Fredonia, where she teaches courses in environmental literature and sustainability. Christina is a founding member of her campus’s Sustainability Committee, and has been organizing beach cleanups and other community environmental projects since 2009. She earned her Ph.D. in English with a minor in Women’s Studies from Penn State University and holds a B.A. in English and history from Rutgers University. After publishing extensively in the field of war and gender studies for more than a decade, she is currently working on a new book project on environmental aspects of Kurt Vonnegut’s writings.
An avid water sport enthusiast since childhood, Carol has enjoyed scuba diving, windsurfing and sailing. She has more than 30 years of sailing/racing experience on Lake Erie. A diverse and successful career that has encompassed the Canadian Embassy in Washington plus more than 20 years as a healthcare fundraising professional, Carol is now enjoying retirement. She has the ability to put her many skills to use as she pursues other interests such as participating in activities to protect the health of our Great Lakes for future generations to enjoy.
Medical Geologist and mother, child and reproductive health and water chemistry specialist. Decolonizing Water Governance practitioner, treaty renewal agent and Science and Technology advisor to Indigenous and settler community-driven science initiatives in the Lake Erie basin since 1971. Two-legged partner of Chestnut, the groundwater pollution tracking dog (a.k.a. the Furry Gas Chromatograph on Four Paws).
My primary interests are in understanding how environmental change influences organisms that live in lakes. This includes different aspects of plankton ecology, lake response to climate change and anthropogenic effects, regional synchrony of such responses, and the influence of physical lake characteristics in shaping food web interactions. I am interested in different spatial and temporal scales across these topics, and am especially excited about using a combination of contemporary ecological and paleoecological approaches to pursue these questions.
Tracy Marafiote joined the department in 2007. She teaches in the communication studies area, including classes in intercultural, interpersonal, and organizational communication, and conflict and negotiation. Dr. Marafiote earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Florida, and received her doctorate from the University of Utah, where she taught courses in communication and gender studies, and in the university’s David Eccles School of Business. Motivated to bridge her environmental activism and academic work, her current research focuses on the impact of cultural forces and identities on social change in general and, specifically, on the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. As a scholar of critical/cultural studies and environmental communication, her future goals include examining the intersections of gender, race, class, and nature with sustainability and environmental justice. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoor activities of backpacking, mountain biking, and hiking, and the indoor pastimes of cooking-and eating diverse foods.
Lake Lead: Lorena Rios Mendoza
Dr. Lorena M. Rios Mendoza is an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Sciences, UW-Superior. Dr. Rios expertise is in environmental chemistry pollution. She has been researching plastic pollution since 2003 on marine plastic debris analyzing persistent organic pollutants in California beaches and Pacific Ocean. She moved from California to Wisconsin and she started to study plastic debris contamination on the Great Lakes. Dr. Rios participated in the first-time collection of plastic debris samples in the Great Lakes in 2012 and second time in 2013. She went to the North Pacific Gyre, summer 2014, to collect samples for 7 weeks in the “Eastern Garbage Patch.” She has been presenting her research results at ACS National Conferences (2012-2015). Based on her research results on microplastic from 2012 in the Great Lakes presented at ACS National Conference, plastic pollution has been noticed by the public and the lawmakers in Wisconsin and Minnesota and many other states. Dr. Rios participated in the bill to prohibit the use of microbeads (PE-polyethylene) in cosmetic products. In December 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation that will ban the use of small plastic beads in soaps, scrubs, toothpaste and other healthcare products that were found to be damaging the Great Lakes and other water ways. She was invited in National and International research projects in plastic pollution as Pellet Watch in Tokyo, Japan and with University of Michigan.
Shawna Weaver, PhD, studies sustainability and teaches at the College of St. Scholastica. She also serves as the humane education manager at Animal Allies Humane Society. In both roles, she works to help people understand the connections within social and environmental justice issues, and empowers students to become engaged citizens.On August 22nd, she will embark on a 310 mile journey of the entire Superior Hiking Trail. She aims to run the whole trail in 9 days. The run is part of a film about the North Shore culture of individual, community, and environmental resiliency. Information can be found at 310film.com.
Sophia is a third year Mechanical Engineering student at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. She is a sailing instructor and has taught on the Pacific Ocean in Southern California and on the lakes in her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. After living in Brazil on a year-long exchange with Rotary, Sophia realized the importance of protecting and conserving our waterways and natural resources. She loves to be on the water and share her passion for sailing and the outdoors with others.
Paula Polasky lives in Duluth, Minnesota and is thrilled to be a part of the Great Lakes eXXpedition crew. An attorney by day, but passionate about the zero-waste movement, she started the country’s first zero-waste subscription and gift box company called MiNNBOX ( “Minnesota Box”). Each business must make a Green Commitment for their month and nothing goes to the landfill. Paula has spoken on plastic pollution at the University of Wisconsin Superior and looks forward to seeing a cleaner, greener world in the years to come.
Dr. Erika Washburn is the Manager of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve in Superior, Wisconsin. An environmental anthropologist specializing in the application of social science to challenges at the intersection of society, water and coastal systems, Erika has worked in not for profits, academia and government at multiple levels both in the US and abroad. Erika’s professional experience is at multiple scales in natural and cultural resource management, climate adaptation, planning and policy. Prior work experience includes the US EPA, the Great Lakes Historical Society and The Nature Conservancy. She holds degrees in marine biology and archaeology from Boston University, a Master’s in Anthropology from Texas A&M, specializing in maritime archeology, and a Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire’s Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science program. The recipient of a Fulbright and a NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve Social Science Fellowship, Erika’s dissertation focused on land use decision making and participatory action research in coastal watersheds, and led to a NOAA 2010 Walter B. Jones Award for Excellence. A 2010 NOAA Sea Grant Knauss Fellow with strong coastal science and management ties in the Great Lakes, Erika returned to the region to work for NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab before taking the position with the Reserve.
Paul Baines is the outreach and education animator for Great Lakes Commons — a bioregional initiative to protect the waters as a shared and sacred commons. He is curious about how water can re-connect us to place and each other.
Lake St Clair & Detroit River
Lake Lead: Melissa Duhaime
Melissa is a lifelong adventure seeker inspired by the beautiful and intricate workings of Planet Earth, especially the invisible-to-us lives of the microbes that rule our world. She has studied the oceans on research vessels from Iceland to Easter Island, met her partner at the South Pole— they have since mountain biked the Rockies from Canada to Mexico and embarked on the adventure of raising three daughters. Melissa will join the faculty at University of Michigan as an assistant professor in the fall, where she leads a group of inspiring researchers that are contributing to our understanding of the ecosystem-level impacts of plastic debris in the Great Lakes through field surveys, hydrodynamic modeling, chemical analyses of plastic-bound toxins, and characterization of the microbes that call plastic debris home. The Duhaime Lab studies the microbes and viruses of many aquatic systems, including the bloom-forming harmful algae in Lake Erie and tiny organisms that live on, eat, and produce “marine snow”—particles that rain down through the world’s oceans and are important to how our planet balances its carbon budget, such as moving carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the deep sea. The Great Lakes eXXpedition is a beautiful model for how we can embrace the power of people diversity to protect and heal our planet! I am so honored to be involved in this mission. Having been a woman in science for over ten years now, I’ve witnessed first hand the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the ways scientists of different genders and groups approach problems, ask questions, and interact. These differences are an amazing and powerful tool we need to embrace as we create solutions for the critical environmental challenges of our planet.
Lake Lead: Laura Alford
Laura is a researcher and lecturer in the Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. She grew up in Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, MI, on the shores of Lake Michigan, and has always loved the uniqueness of the Great Lakes. No salt in the water! No sharks! But they are so big, you can sit and stare out at them for hours, listening to the waves crash against the shore. One of her favorite things in the whole world is a sunset over Lake Michigan. Laura strongly feels that, as an engineer and naval architect residing in Michigan, she has a responsibility towards the Great Lakes to help protect them from pollution. Her interest in microplastics started with an idea for a ship that could trawl for marine plastic pollution and remove it for recycling. This led to learning about microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes, which then led to meeting a phenomenal group of women all doing research on microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Laura’s research includes investigating new technology to prevent future microplastic pollution.
I am a research technician in an aquatic disease ecology lab at the University of Michigan. We sample 15 inland lakes around Ann Arbor searching for our favorite zooplankter, Daphnia. They are an important piece in the aquatic food chain, as well as terrific study organisms. When not playing with Daphnia, I enjoy playing soccer, gardening, and cooking. I am a lover of the Great Lakes!
I’m a professor at Washtenaw Community College and I teach classes in biology, genetics and environmental science. I’ve served four years on the WCC sustainability literacy committee (two years as chair) and I’ve served one year on the Michigan Water Collaboration Committee, whose goal was to facilitate collaboration among water researchers in Michigan. I’m interested to learn more about plastic microbeads and microfibers in our beautiful Great Lakes and I’m thrilled to take part in eXXpedition research!
I’m a freshman at the University of Michigan planning to study environmental science. I’m interested in water quality and I’ve worked a little on remote detection of suspended sediments in water. I’m curious about the prevalence of human-made plastics in ecosystems and I’m extremely excited to be participating in the eXXpedition research team!
St Lawrence River
Lake Lead: Monica Granados
When Monica isn’t being a total nerd completing her PhD as a food web ecologist at McGill University, she’s probably making balloon animals or playing with the latest addition to her extensive lego collection. A true scientist and perpetual do-gooder, Monica has been known to write articles for the fact-filled magazine Mental Floss, as well as do volunteer work for science outreach programs. As if all that weren’t enough, she’s also a part-time DJ, occasional sock-puppet engineer, and an improvisor. You can follow her science and design blog here: http://descienceblog.tumblr.com/
Lake Lead: Rachel Labbe-Bellas
Rachel is from Montreal, Canada. She has a BS in Biology from McGill University (2008) and a MS in Ecology from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) (2013) in Brazil. She moved to California to work at marine conservation non-profit Sylvia Earle Alliance Mission Blue. She now works at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. Last December 2015, she was a crew member for eXXpedition Amazon. Today, she continues to share her passion of raising awareness about marine debris and solutions to reduce single-use plastics in our society.
Marika has 5 years of experience in public affairs, working for a communication consulting firm as well as in both Quebec provincial politics and Canadian federal politics. In the past years, Marika has become very interested in environmental issues and has taken steps to gain more knowledge and insight into them. A few months ago, she went diving for the first time (not the last!) in Thailand and it absolutely changed her whole world view forever. She gained a sense of how beautiful and important our underwater ecosystems are, and now feels a responsibility to do something to protect them. She’s had the chance since then to attend a conference by Sylvia Earle and her inspirational message has convinced her further that making conservation a central part of her life is something she needs to do.
Katie is currently an FQRNT Postdoctoral Fellow at the Université du Québec à Montréal working under the supervision of Dr. Beatrix Beisner. Formerly, Katie was an NSERC Canada Graduate Scholar and PhD student working under the supervision of Dr. Anthony Ricciardi at McGill University. Katie’s main research interests are in aquatic community ecology and invasion ecology. Specifically, Katie is interested in how multiple anthropogenic disturbances interact to cause changes to freshwater community structure and function. Previously, Katie completed an MSc. at the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 2010, and a BSc. at Western University in London in 2007.
graduated in Biological Science, has a Masters in Bio-Medicine, a PhD in Microbial Ecology and I she is currently a research fellow at HIE. HIE’s diverse portfolio of research is renowned to bring excellence to decision-making in natural and managed ecosystems centring on ecosystem functioning in Australia and internationally. In a changing world, Barbara aims to understand the effects of rapid change in altered ecosystems and on the communities of living organisms ranging from the smallest microbes to the tallest forest trees. On the Sea Dragon research vessel, she will use an automated microbial sampling and communication device (OSMO) developed by Indigo V Expeditions. The Indigo V Expeditions is a multi-national scientific and sailing initiative based that aims to gauge the health of the worlds’ oceans by taking water samples and looking at the relative health of the microbial communities in that sample. Since 2013, Indigo V Expedition is effectively crowd-sourcing the collection of oceanographic data by harnessing the existing fleet of private sailing yachts. Their work has been awarded by the UNESCO, NBC news, Australian Research Council and presented in the most prestigious venues around the world. The data collected by Barbara in the Amazon eXXpedition will be coupled with the ones collected by Indigo V Expeditions across the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean and the Amazonian terrestrial ecosystems.
Canadian Student Boat: Toronto Brigantine
Lake Lead: Lisa Erdle
My fields of interest are forest ecology, urban re-greening, riparian rehabilitation, natural heritage, and community engagement in environmental stewardship. With a background in Natural Resources Conservation and Forestry, I hold a deep care for rehabilitating natural areas, especially in diverse urban environments. Toronto Brigantine & Microplastics – Leading a citizen science project aboard the tallships TS Playfair and STV Pathfinder. Interested in networking with teachers in the Greater Toronto Area to help process these samples collected in 2015, and continue with sampling efforts using surface trawls with Toronto Brigantine in 2016.
Kezia was fortunate enough to grow up close to Lake Ontario and began sailing on the Great Lakes as a young teenager. They have played a key role in her life in every way from days spent swimming at Toronto beaches to her time as a ship’s captain. As program coordinator for Toronto Brigantine, Kezia is able to pass along her love for the Lakes and sailing to the next generation. She is proud to be a part of eXXpedition Great Lakes to raise awareness about the threats to the Lakes and help people understand what they can do to help.
Alex is the co-host, writer and co-director of the eco-adventure documentary TV series The Water Brothers that airs on TVO in Canada, PIVOT TV in the United States and 35 other countries around the world. The idea to embark on The Water Brothers project first arose in 2009, when Alex started working alongside his brother at SK Films, conducting research for IMAX ® films in development. After receiving a degree in International Development and Environmental Studies from Dalhousie, the decision to join the family business and begin the Water Brothers series was an easy one. The series has allowed him to combine his interest in science, the environment and film to explain how humans can harmonize our relationship with water and the natural world. Alex’s interest in studying and raising awareness about the global problem of marine plastic pollution evolved from his journey to the western Pacific Garbage Patch with the organization 5 Gyres in 2012. On that journey the research team sailed from the Marshall Islands in the south Pacific all the way to Tokyo, measuring plastic abundance, type and distribution all along the way.
Karissa Hurl has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Geography from The University of Western Ontario, where she focused on conservation, land use and development. In the past, she has worked with Innovolve Group as a researcher, helping to write documents used by the CCME on groundwater sustainability, nutrient management, water scarcity and flood management. She is currently attending school for Interactive Media Management, and hopes to travel the world while working remotely, allowing her to scuba dive and swim in the ocean whenever she wants.
I’ve been exploring the diverse biology of Lake Ontario since I was three years of age. Unfortunately, the ‘lake of shining waters’ has become polluted and is causing severe health conditions. My mother, and just recently my father, have both been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. MS has been linked to pesticides that were sprayed at a series of farms near where my parents grew up leeching into our lakes and creeks. Exxpedition has granted me the opportunity to start fulfilling my life’s hopes and dreams for a healthier world for all species and for this I am forever grateful. Ruthie is 14 years old.
Anika works with the team of scientists and educators at Algalita Marine Research and Education to teach the local community and youth about the plague of plastic debris and what to do about it. Most recently, she has been investigating microplastics pollution in the sediments of the Great Lakes through a Master’s program at Western. Her passion is inspiring people to live in balance with nature and she takes each day as an opportunity to contribute to the plastic pollution solution – one which will require teamwork, understanding, innovation, patience, optimism and dedication from all.
A big part of my cultural identity is shaped by water: I grew up in Toronto on the shores of Lake Ontario, spent my summers on a lake in North Kawartha, and, as a Canadian, my blood is 20% freshwater. I have a background in ecology and earth systems science and have been working as a summer student at the University of Toronto investigating the presence of ingested plastic debris in gulls from the St Lawrence River area. I feel that it is important to promote environmental stewardship and citizen science and I’m excited to do this through the Great Lakes Exxpedition as well as learn about microplastics in an aquatic system closer to home.
Emma is a grade 6 student from Gravenhurst, ON. She is a girl who seeks out opportunity and involves herself in non-traditional sports for girls. Her love is clearly for the outdoors. From a young age she has spent her time outside, especially in or near water. In loving nature, Emma has always shown an interest in animal and environmental initiatives. She is thrilled with the opportunity to be part of this eXXpedition and will work hard to make sure everyone understands that no matter how small or young you are we can all have a positive impact on our waters, environment and planet. 10 years old.
I’m Emily Krampien and I’m a student at the University of Waterloo. I am currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies, Honours International Development with an Environment and Resource Studies minor and a specialization in Environmental Assessment. My love for the water started 22 years ago, and I’m only 21. Both my parents are avid boaters with a passion for the water, diving and learning from experience. Through this I gained a pair of sea legs and an appreciation for the natural world at a very young age. I am excited as to what the future has in store for me as far as being an advocate for change.
My name is Jade Bassler and I’m currently working towards a major in environment and business at the university of Waterloo with a specialization in ecological restoration. I’ve been a lover of the outdoors since I can remember. That love turned into a desire and passion for conserving our planet! I’m a firm believer that small acts multiplied by millions can transform the world, so I try my best to live my life with as small of a footprint as possible and inspire others to do the same!
USA Student Boat: Inland Seas Education Association
Lake Lead: Jeanie Williams
Jeanie has been teaching science in the outdoors since 1999. She began by teaching marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecology in environmental education settings, and then became a teacher in secondary and college classrooms. Jeanie has a BA in biology from Kalamazoo College and an MS in environmental science and secondary education from Antioch University New England. Today she manages the research and education programs at Inland Seas Education Association.
Jamie Cross is the manager of Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach Project!
I am a postdoctoral research fellow in John Kelly’s and Timothy Hoellein’s research labs at Loyola University Chicago, IL. I received my Bachelors Degree (2009) in Biology from Millersville University, PA where I studied the invasion and behavioral ecology of crayfish. I received my Masters (2011) and PhD (2016) degrees in Biology from the University of Dayton, OH where my work focused on understanding terrestrial-aquatic connections that influence stream ecosystems and aquatic communities. My postdoctoral work focuses on quantifying and characterizing microplastic inputs to Lake Michigan from its eight major tributaries and assessing microplastic interactions with biota in these tributaries.
Vedant is a communicator who has placed high in some speech competitions despite going into 5th grade this year and competing against kids twice his age. He has taken leadership by speaking at his high school on an announcement to rally against teen depression via an inspirational poem. He is trying to spread a youth reverse mentoring initiative. Vedant is also active in year round sports and currently on his lego robotics team. He is 10 years old.
Ishika is a young ambitious civic minded leader. She serves as the youngest member of her local community foundation on the youth advisory board. She is in the process of joining the SeaWorld youth team on another project. She also is working on a project to rally kids in Japan to help stop the brutal whale hunt and raise their voice. In addition she is working 3 to 4 years ahead in math and science. Though she is only going into 7th grade, she is also into year round sports and working beyond her years to become a doer. She is 12 years old.
I grew up all over the world, moving countries every three years. Yet, each summer my family and I would come back to Michigan to swim and sail the beautiful waters of Lake Charlevoix. I recently graduated from the University of Michigan where I discovered my passion for two fields: women’s health and our planet’s health. I have worked as a birth doula for the last two years which has been an amazing experience. Now, I am eager to learn more about microplastics and other ocean pollutants. As a lay person in this subject, I am enthusiastic to apply all that I learn through this experience to living a more conscious, planet-friendly lifestyle. I am 22 years old.
- eXXpedition Great Lakes Poster (English)
- eXXpedition Great Lakes Poster (French)
- eXXpedition Great Lakes Press Release (English)
- eXXpedition Great Lakes Press Release (French)
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