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Internship Opportunity

Partitioning of microplastic particles (MPs) into estuarine systems

Posted on: 03/04/2024
Research Area(s): Internships / Research

Summary / Description

Coastal marsh lands are ecologically critical areas that provide essential food, refuge and nursery habitat. They are also highly sensitive to pollution and can serve as sinks for dissolved and particulate contamination. While the fate and transport of many contaminants have been highly documented in estuarine systems, there is much less information available about microplastic contamination. Microplastics are gaining increasing recognition as one of the foremost and concerning classes of contaminants in the environment. Microplastic contaminants found in aquatic systems come in various forms, including primary microplastics, which are manufactured as small particles for various purposes such as exfoliants in personal care products or pellets used in industrial processes. Secondary microplastics result from the breakdown of larger plastic items due to environmental factors like UV radiation and mechanical abrasion. These secondary microplastics can include fragments, fibers, and microbeads, contributing to the widespread pollution of marine and freshwater environments, posing threats to aquatic ecosystems and potentially entering the food chain. 

Overall Objective: This project will seek to understand how various types of microplastic particles (MPs) partition into different components of estuarine systems. Microcosms containing seawater, sediments, intertidal vegetation, and estuarine fauna will be used to simulate estuarine conditions in a controlled manner.

Skills Required

Applicants should possess coursework in biology, environmental studies, or related fields. A strong work ethic, the ability to work both independently and as part of a team, attention to detail, experience in basic laboratory techniques, and the capability to conduct field or outdoor work are essential skills for this position.

Type of Opportunity



Remote or In-person:



NOAA NOS NCCOS, Hollings Marine Laboratory, Charleston, SC

Other Information

Intern Supervisor:

Dr. Paul Pennington

Number of Slots Available:



NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

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