meet Our team of change makers

Reducing the scale of plastic leaking into the oceans requires a systematic and innovative approach capable of offer viable solutions based on understanding the cycle of plastic production, consumption and waste. With a grant from the UK Research and Innovation’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), a network of world-class scientists, led by the University of Exeter in collaboration with NGOs and Governmental agencies, are working together to provide the means of freeing the Eastern Pacific from marine plastics. 

Principal Investigators

Professor Tamara Galloway
University of Exeter, UK

Project leader, Tamara’s research focus is in studying the environmental and human health effects of pollutants. She has led many large-scale international grants covering subjects including oil spills, food packaging, nanomaterials, microplastics and the design of safer, greener alternatives for problematic substances. She advises governments, the United Nations, European Union, and OECD on environmental policy worldwide. Clarivate lists her as one of the World’s Most Highly Cited Researchers.

Dr Ceri Lewis
University of Exeter, UK

Ceri is an Associate Professor in Marine Biology and has led high-profile field-based campaigns to study the distribution and impacts of plastic pollution, establishing international projects in the Arctic, the Azores and the Galapagos Islands. Her current research focuses on 2 main areas; 1) biological impacts of microplastics on marine invertebrates 2) the interactions between chronic pollution and ocean acidification on fitness and function in adult and larval marine invertebrates.

Our Network

Dr Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto
Universidad Cientifica del Sur, Peru

Marine conservation biologist with expertise in marine vertebrates and small-scale fisheries. She is a previous Global fellow at the Duke Marine Laboratory and member of the Marine Turtle Specialist Group of the IUCN, and recipient of the Marsh Award for Marine Conservation Leadership in Latin America (2015). She has > 80 publications.

Dr Nicola Beaumont
Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK

Nicola leads the Sea and Society team at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and is an internationally established expert in the assessment and valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. She specialises in quantifying and evaluating marine and coastal ecosystem services and translating complex natural science into meaningful terms in a social and economic context.

Dr Susana Cardenas
Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

Specialist in natural resource economics, valuation of ecosystem services and biodiversity, strategic planning for conservation and analysis of environmental policies.

Dr Fiona Charnley
University of Exeter, UK

Associate Professor in Circular Innovation and has extensive experience working with organisations from across sectors to identify new approaches to design, innovation, manufacture and business modelling to transform resource use and value creation.

Dr Matthew Cole
Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK

Marine ecologist and ecotoxicologist based at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. His research centres on how human activity and pollution can impact upon the natural environment, specifically investigating the impacts of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems. He has Official Development Assistance project experience running a Newton-Paulet funded microplastics workshop in Peru, and training in Vietnam for NERC’s National Capability ‘ACCORD’ programme.


Dr Gustavo A. Dominguez
Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral, Ecuador

Professor of Biology and heads the macro and microplastic research group (MAMP) at ESPOL. He participated in the first national sampling of macroplastic on Ecuadorian beaches in 2018, working with citizen scientists to assess the sources and seasonal trends of marine litter abundance on sandy beaches. Gustavo has also undertaken pilot sampling in mangrove habitats.

Andy Donnelly
Galapagos Conservation Trust, UK

Director of Enviropartner UK Ltd and the Flagship Programmes lead for Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT). He has a long history of guiding projects from pilot to international scale. He has led the Plastic Pollution Free Galapagos programme for GCT since 2017. 

Dr Augustin Espinosa
Pontifica Universidad Catolica del Peru , Peru

Associate Professor in Social Psychology and has >90 publications.

Sol Espinosa
Galapagos Conservation Trust, UK

Sol is a Social Scientist with a specialisation in Society and Culture and in Environmental Project Management. Experienced project manager and researcher, working closely with governmental institutions such as the Galapagos National Park Directorate.

Dr Alysia Garmulewicz
Materiom, Industry Partner

Circular economy specialist and co-founder of Materiom. She will provide open access to materials libraries and databases to valorise circular regional biomass resources flows relevant to partner countries and regional need.

Professor Brendan Godley
University of Exeter, UK

Conservation biologist with significant experience of plastic pollution research, particularly understanding the impacts of plastic pollution on marine vertebrates and using citizen science data to assess the abundance and distribution of plastic pollution in aquatic environments.

Dr Inty Gronneberg
Ichthion, Industry Partner

CEO and Managing Director of Ichthion, a British-Ecuadorian start-up awarded for developing disruptive technologies to extract plastics and synthetic waste from rivers and oceans. He has a PhD in Engineering  Design from the Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London. He is interested in the structure of Innovation and Entrepreneurial  Ecosystems (IEEs), with a special focus on the scalability of technology companies and business innovation models. Inty has more than a decade of experience developing projects to improve SME’s and large organisations worldwide.

Dr Alex Hearn
Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

Marine fisheries ecologist with a PhD from Heriot-Watt University in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and has worked as a Professor and Researcher at USFQ and the Galapagos Science Center since 2015. Since 2002, he has worked on fisheries research and management, and in the development of the Shark Research Program in the Galapagos Islands.  His current projects include using acoustic and satellite telemetry to establish the migratory pathways of sharks, evaluating the movement ecology of the pelagic assemblage around oceanic islets, and monitoring shark nursery grounds in the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR). As part of the PPSS project, he will contribute samples and data related to plastic content in commercial and endangered fish, including sharks, in and around the GMR.

Dr Mario Hidalgo
Fundación Circular, Ecuador

Director of FC, an NGO seeking to implement technical, innovative and sustainable solutions based on the Circular Economy to improve the living standards of Ecuadorians and the environment.

Jess Howard
Galapagos Conservation Trust, UK

Jess is a marine biologist and science communicator with a background in marine plastic research in Galapagos, and is now the Project Officer for the PPSS network. She is working on project management, and both internal and public communication for the research network.

Dr Jen Jones
Galapagos Conservation Trust, UK

Jen is a marine biologist and experienced NGO project manager working closely with the Galapagos National Park Directorate to develop scientific and educational programmes addressing conservation priorities. 

Dr Ramzy Kahhat
Pontifica Universidad Catolica del Peru

Principal Professor in Engineering with expertise in Material Flow Analysis, Life Cycle Assessments, sustainable waste management, civil infrastructure and energy systems, including methodologies to map and quantify the Peruvian flow of plastics into the ocean. 

Professor Pennie Lindeque
Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK

Head of the Plymouth Marine Laboratoty microplastics research team with >18 years of expertise in the development and trophic interactions of zooplankton. Her current focus includes investigating the bioavailability and impact of microplastics on marine biota. She has 34 publications and >1600 citations.

Dr Jeffrey C. Mangel
ProDelphinus, Peru

Conservation biologist focussing on understanding the interactions of Peruvian small-scale fisheries with threatened and endangered marine fauna, including sea turtles, seabirds, marine mammals and sharks. He also monitors and investigates solutions to the prevalence of plastics and debris in the marine environment and coastal communities. ProDelphinus in the PPSS Project will examine the impacts of plastics on marine megafauna, waste production by Peru’s small-scale fishing fleets, and promote community involvement in monitoring and implementing solutions to plastics pollution.

Max Martin
Orcatec, Ecuador

M.Sc. Maximilian Martin is founder of Orcatec with experience in environmental solutions in Europe and Latin America. Since 2011 working on the Galapagos Islands creating economically viable solutions to reduce environmental contamination and raise environmental consciousness among the local residents and tourists. Solutions include solar energy, sewage water purification and circular economy.

Dr Carlos Mena
Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

Professor of Geography studying the issues that emerge from the interaction between social and natural systems, with expertise in the socioeconomics of tourism and fisheries industries for the South American region.

Juan Pablo Munoz, PhD
Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

Professor and Research Scientist UNC-Chapel Hill & Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) Galapagos Science Center (GSC).  Co-founder of the EquilibrioAzul Sea Turtle Conservation Program; The GSC Sea Turtle Conservation Program “TortugaNegra-Galápagos”;  GSC Plastic Pollution Research Program; The Galapagos DPNG-GSC Annual Research and Conservation Symposium; And the twice a year music festival to raise awareness on ocean conservation IslaViva.

Dr Sarah Nelms
University of Exeter, UK

Postdoctoral Research Associate within the University of Exeter’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation.  Her research focuses on the issue of plastic pollution within marine and coastal environments, and its impacts on marine vertebrates such as turtles, seabirds and marine mammals. 

Dr Sara Purca
Instituto del Mar del Peru (IMARPE)

Fishing engineer with a Ph.D. in Oceanography from The University of Concepcion-Chile. She has worked as a Researcher at Instituto del Mar del Peru (IMARPE) and Professor at Federico Villarreal National University from 2003 and has participated in oceanography, biodiversity, and pollution research groups. Her current research focuses on the baseline of biological and fisheries impacts by microplastic presence in the Peruvian Upwelling System and Titicaca Lake, supported by the Ministry of the Production project. For her contribution to science in Peru, she won the “For Women in Science” L’Oreal/UNESCO award in 2017. She brings expertise in access to fisheries resources data, studies sites, and synergy between Peruvian governmental projects.

Dr Erik Van Sebille
University of Utrecht, Netherlands

Associate Professor in oceanography and climate change at Utrecht University, with expertise in Lagrangian Ocean Analysis. He investigates how ocean currents transport plastic and plankton across the globe. With his team, he builds computer models to simulate the transport of this ‘stuff’ in the ocean. He has been awarded the 2016 European Geosciences Union Ocean Science’s Division Outstanding Young Scientist Award and a 2019 James B Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union.  He has a strong record in Public Engagement and has been awarded the first ERC Public Engagement.

Dr Joanne Smith
University of Exeter, UK

Chair in Psychology and Director of Research for psychology researching social identity factors and norms on the attitude-behaviour relationship, including how such attitudes influence littering and the acceptance of circular economy thinking.

Luis Suárez
Conservation International, Ecuador

Luis Suárez has designed and implemented several projects and participated actively in the environmentalist movement to promote biodiversity conservation in Ecuador. Luis has written several scientific papers and books on biodiversity, threatened species, protected areas and conservation incentives, and has represented Ecuador in multiple forums, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, and international congresses.

Dr Martin Thiel
Universidad Catolica del Norte, Chile

Professor of Marine Biology. He has spearheaded marine plastic pollution in South America, specialising in citizen science and pedagogy. He leads the ‘Cientificos de Basura’ (Litter Scientists) programme. His awards include a UNESCO award in 2014 for Innovation in Scientific Education. He has >220 publications.

Dr Ian Vazquez-Rowe
Pontifica Universidad Catolica del Peru

Biologist and Environmental Engineering with a PhD in Chemical Engineering.  In 2013, he was appointed Environmental Evaluation & Management R&D Engineer at Centre de Recherche Public Henri Tudor (now LIST, in Luxembourg). Currently, he is an Associate Professor at the Department of Engineering at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. He has participated in numerous research projects in Europe and South America with over 100 publications in international journals. He is currently the editor for Ocean Resources and Marine Conservation at the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment and the Journal of Environmental Management.

Mariana Vera-Zambrano
Conservation International, Ecuador

As the Galapagos Program Manager for Conservation International, Mariana manages the Galapagos Coastal Cleanup initiative, a joint venture between Conservation International Ecuador, the Ministry of Environment, the Galápagos National Park and the Coca-Cola Foundation. The project has been very successful so far, and has resulted in the removal of 7.6 tons of garbage and 39,105 plastic bottles in 2019 alone. The project also aims to tackle how people think about, use and dispose of plastics at the local level. 

Dr Stefanie Ypma
University of Utrecht, Netherlands

Physical Oceanographer at Utrecht University studying where and when plastic washes ashore to support efficient and strategic clean-up activities.

Professor John Schofield
University of York, UK

John is a contemporary archaeologist whose work is focused on the application of archaeological approaches to contemporary global challenges. His particular interest is plastic pollution, using the idea of object itineraries from material culture research and applying it to plastics in Galapagos. Archaeology concerns the study of past human behaviours through the material culture people have left behind. John's argument is that this same principle applies to recent and contemporary behaviours, as much as those from the deeper past. 

Estelle Praet
University of York, UK

Estelle is an archaeologist passionate about Latin America. After working on excavations in Mexico and Peru, she is now doing her PhD on Galapagos marine plastics bringing her archaeological lens to address the issue of plastic pollution. She loves to combine her interest in material culture and people to find concrete solutions. 

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