Holly Nel

After obtaining her PhD at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa she was awarded a 3-year National Research Foundation Scarce Skills Scholarship from 2014 to 2017. During her three years, she identified key data gaps in the field of environmental microplastic contamination both nationally and internationally, specifically investigating the distribution of particles across marine and freshwater compartments. In mid-2018, after a short period working for the African Marine Waste Network, Holly was hired as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Birmingham (UoB) where she currently leads the Leverhulme-funded “100 Plastic Rivers” Project (PI: Prof. Stefan Krause). The project investigates the distribution of microplastics in rivers globally, in particular, how their physical and chemical properties differ, and how plastic particles may propagate through freshwater food-webs. She also studies mechanistic transport and accumulation patterns of microplastic fragments and fibres under variable hydrodynamic and sediment conditions using artificial flumes. With such a rapidly evolving field of science, she spends a lot of her time working across disciplines to co-develop or improve analytical techniques used in microplastic detection and is particularly interested in developing low-cost screening tools for microplastic monitoring.

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