Over the two year milestone in my PhD, and progress is gradual but thankfully still in the right direction.
The past year has been exceptionally challenging, juggling workloads (i.e. sampling & processing), such is the case for any PhD student, engaging in outreach activities and disseminating my findings and results to my peers and the public at Environ 2018, the Irish Ecological Association (IEA) conference here in Galway and MICRO 2018 in Lanzarote. The latter of which proving particularly nerve-racking, despite the much needed sunshine, it being it my first major international conference and all.
The world of microplastics is rapidly evolving, and so too are methodologies, protocols and standards, so finding the time to get in some reading is always a must. Compiling our recent publication entitled “Microplastics in freshwater biota: a critical review of isolation, characterization and assessment methods” was a great incentive to catch up with the goings on within the freshwater microplastics field, while the collaboration with Wageningen University and Research as well as the University of Bayreuth, allowed us to gain valuable insights from our colleagues on the continent.
For the moment, I’m still working my way up that food web, leaning over trays of benthic macroinvertebrates, filtering water samples and picking my way through filter papers, a precious commodity in the microplastics world it would seem. All the above made easier with the valuable assistance of one of our undergraduate placement students, Danny.
Until my next update, Slán go fóill ..!