Microplastic Pollution in Our Oceans

Discarded plastic bottles floating in the water

Thursday, November 19, 2020
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)




A Speaker Series

Toxicology and Societies:
The Impacts of Chemicals in Our Lives

Check out this video to watch the Microplastic Pollution in Our Oceans.


Please join us for the next speaker in our series on Toxicology and Societies: The Impacts of Chemicals in our Lives. The event is brought to you by Huxley's Institute for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and the WWU Alumni Association.

Peter Ross, of the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, will talk about an environmental problem that has generated a lot of public interest. This interest in microplastic pollution is partially driven by the fact that we can see the problem, but there is more that we can't see.  Peter will describe what we know and what we are concerned about with respect to this common contaminant.

Our vision in developing this series was to support a better understanding of something that affects all of us. There are over 300,000 chemicals being produced and used in almost everything we wear, eat, and drink. How can you ever hope to understand when and where you or your family might be at risk from some of these chemicals? The short answer is, you can’t know everything about all of these substances, but you can learn more about how toxicology (the study of toxic substances) affects you and your society. 

This seminar series aims to help you better appreciate, understand, and evaluate the many ways that manufactured chemicals interact with all humans on Earth. 

More information about the speaker series is available here.

Peter Ross

Peter Ross


Dr. Peter S. Ross is the Vice-President of Research at Ocean Wise, a conservation organization based at the Vancouver Aquarium. He is an international authority in the area of ocean pollution, having published over 150 scientific articles and book chapters on the fate and effects of a variety of pollutants of concern in the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. He is a frequent advisor to conservation teams in different parts of the world, and has provided advice in support of chemical regulation, species at risk, ocean disposal and ocean health.

He founded the Ocean Pollution Research Program at the Vancouver Aquarium (Ocean Wise) in 2014 after 16 years as a federal Research Scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. He and his team launched PollutionTracker, the first comprehensive monitoring program for pollutants of concern in coastal British Columbia; Ocean Watch, a coast-wide ocean health report card; and the Plastics Lab, a dedicated high resolution facility working with industry, government agencies and academia on microplastic pollution sources, fate and effects.

His work with microplastics has led to numerous invitations to advise industry, government, the G7 and the OECD.

Ruth Sofield

Ruth Sofield


Ruth Sofield is a Professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry in the Huxley College of the Environment. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Ruth’s research group focuses on the effects of water and air pollution. Their current projects include the aquatic toxicity of microplastic and tire wear particles, and the use of moss as a biomonitoring tool for particulate matter. Ruth is a member of the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel and the President of the Pacific Northwest Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 

Tracy Collier

Tracy Collier


Tracy Collier received his Ph.D. in Fisheries Sciences from the University of Washington. He has worked for over 45 years as a toxicologist, with more than 35 of those years spent at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, where he served as the director of a science division that employed up to 100 people, covering several disciplines, including environmental toxicology, analytical chemistry, harmful algal blooms, and watershed processes. He has over 175 scientific publications, and currently is an affiliate faculty at Western.

Next Talk on December 3

Contaminants of Concern for Human and Environmental Health
With Speaker Nancy Denslow, University of Florida, Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology & Department of Physiological Sciences


Contact the WWU Alumni Association for this event. Feel free to call at 360.650.3353 or email at alumni@wwu.edu if you have any questions or comments. WWU is an equal opportunity institution. For disability accommodation, please contact the WWU Alumni Association.