Our Science Programme

Round the World

*** The eXXpedition science programme was most recently updated for our Round the World sailing voyage that has been cut short at sea due to COVID-19. We have a number of exciting opportunities to adjust our science programme accordingly and are reviewing the opportunities with our partners and will update this page accordingly. ***

The research conducted during our missions has been designed to advance a better understanding of the plastics issue as a whole and to work with industry to pinpoint solutions and policy at a global level by addressing knowledge-gaps and delivering evidence to inform effective solutions.

The science programme is led by Dr. Winnie Courtene-Jones, eXXpedition Science Lead, University of Plymouth. It has been developed  with ocean plastic experts Professor Richard Thompson OBE Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University of Plymouth, and Professor Jenna Jambeck, Associate Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia, and is supported by the eXXpedition Science Advisory Board which includes a mix of leading academics and industry representatives including Dr Daniel Schwaab TOMRA Senior Vice-President for Circular Economy Strategy.


Science at Sea

Three focus areas

understanding our marine ecosystem

Science on Land

Promoting citizen science

upstream waste management

Uncovering Solutions

“In recent years, tackling the plastics in our oceans has become one of our most high-profile environmental challenges. It is crucial that we use innovative and informed means to develop a greater understanding of the issue’s global scale, and to identify ways to address it.” – Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit



95 SURFACE MANTA TRAWLS to examine the abundance, distribution and polymer composition of plastics in surface waters.

60 COASTAL SEDIMENT SAMPLES testing the hypothesis that sediments are a ‘sink’ for microplastics and to determine the abundance and polymer composition.

96 SUBSURFACE NISKIN to study the composition and distribution of different plastic polymer types within the upper ocean, which is currently a data deficient topic. 

10 AIR SAMPLES to determine the threats of airborne microplastics in remote oceanic locations and the potential of wind as a vector for microplastic contamination.

72 CAPLITE WASTE MANAGEMENT STREET SURVEYS conducted in 8 different locations around the world. 

Our Science Collaborators

what we want to uncover

Our local science sponsors

Contributing to studies worldwide