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Internship - Plastic Ingestion Research

The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup

Rotterdam, Netherlands
Posted on Friday, November 10, 2023
In our mission to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, we rely on a thorough understanding of the global plastic pollution problem and its impact on marine life. The Environmental and Social Affairs team at The Ocean Cleanup aims to ensure the net positive environmental and social impact of The Ocean Cleanup's operations by investigating the risks and benefits of cleaning up plastic pollution in rivers and on the high seas. An important research aspect is to investigate how marine life in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is affected by plastic accumulating in these offshore waters. To this end, the team is researching plastic ingestion by fish and other marine life in the GPGP. You will be responsible for analyzing the plastic ingestion by fish collected from the GPGP in our laboratory in Rotterdam. Taking on the responsibility for the sample analysis and working independently in the laboratory is an important part of this internship. The success of the project relies on delivering high-quality data to achieve the objective of determining the extent, impact, and sources of plastic ingestion in the GPGP.

"Come join our diverse team and help us better understand the impacts of plastic pollution on marine life in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Your findings are crucial to quantify the net environmental benefit of our offshore cleanup operations.”, Matthias Egger, Head of Environmental and Social Affairs. 

Responsible for analysis of plastic ingestion in fish in our laboratory in Rotterdam and delivering high-quality data on the amount and type of plastics present in these samples.  
Other responsibilities include: 
  • Collecting quantitative data on the fish characteristics (morphometrics)  
  • Fish dissections to extract the complete gastrointestinal tract
  • Familiarizing yourself with the different techniques used to extract and analyze plastics from fish and other marine species
  • Using Raman and FTIR spectroscopy to identify the polymer types of the extracted plastics
  • Conducting data analysis, interpretation, presentation, and documenting everything in a report
  • Bachelor's degree in (marine) biology or a related field, with preferably post-graduate science education 
  • Successful completion of marine science courses is a plus
  • Experience with laboratory protocols, procedures, and safety measures 
  • Experience with biological research in the laboratory 
  • Ability to clearly present and explain the results of complex research to scientists is a plus 
  • Fluent in English 
  • Able to quickly get the essence of a technical challenge and investigate the most relevant/important aspects to get to a solution. 
  • Able to perform well in a fast-paced and challenging environment
  • Comfortable with the demands of laboratory work 
  • Ability to work independently
  • Curious, creative, and determined to deliver
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Intrinsic motivation to work on our ambitious and meaningful goal
  • Starting from January/February 2024
  • Duration: 6 months

Note that the candidate needs to be enrolled at a University (MSc program) during the internship. If applicable, the internship can be combined with a MSc thesis project.