Chelsea Rochman – Assistant Professor and Co-Founder of the U of T Trash Team

Chelsea Rochman; University of Toronto

I am currently on the faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Toronto. I am also a scientific advisor to the Ocean Conservancy and a National Geographic Explorer.

Previously, I was a David H. Smith Postdoctoral Fellow at the Aquatic Health Program at the University of California, Davis. I received my PhD in a joint program with San Diego State University and UC Davis in Ecology and was advised primarily by Swee Teh and Eunha Hoh. For more about me, please download my CV.

Current Members:

Keenan Munno – Lab Manager & Research Assistant


Keenan is a recent M.Sc. Ecology graduate from the University of Toronto with a particular interest in the fate and effects of microplastics in fish. Her work focused on method development, as well as microplastic ingestion and retention in freshwater fish from the Great Lakes. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Queen’s University in Biology, with a thesis in freshwater oil spill toxicology. She is continuing to pursue her interests in identifying and quantifying microplastics through her work as a Research Associate and Lab Manager in the Rochman lab.

Susan Debreceni – Co-founder of the U of T Trash Team and Outreach Lead 


Susan is passionate about connecting individuals with meaningful opportunities and spent the last decade supporting a national network of community volunteers through the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. She is now thrilled to lend her outreach expertise locally with the U of T Trash team. She will be guiding and mentoring our student team as we continue to bring waste literacy to local schools and the general public.

Hannah De Frond – Research Assistant


Hannah received her M.Sc. in Marine Environmental Management from the University of York, England, where she conducted research on the mass of chemical additives leaching into the oceans from common plastic debris items. She is currently working in the Rochman Lab as a Laboratory Technician, assisting in the management of a microplastics methods evaluation study, in partnership with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP). She also assists with research in the lab conducting chemical analysis of microplastics via FTIR and Raman spectroscopy.

Clara Thaysen – MSc Student


Clara was an undergraduate student in our lab who majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Earth Sciences. She is now a MSc student researching the fate of microplastics in aquatic food webs. Her past research in our lab has investigated the potential leaching and toxicity of styrenes and other volatile chemicals from food packaging into food products. This project was in collaboration with 5 Gyres and MOECC. Clara is also continuing and finishing a project investigating plastic ingestion in seagulls and examining the fate of flame retardants to and from plastic debris in the gulls. This project is in collaboration with Miriam Diamond and Jonathan Verreault.

Alice (Xia) Zhu – PhD Student

Rochman Website Photo.jpg

Alice (Xia) Zhu is a PhD student in the Rochman Lab studying the fate of plastic pollution in the marine environment. Alice is working in collaboration with researchers at CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research flagship and scientists at Acadia University to quantify plastic masses in global marine reservoirs. Alice will also be determining the transport mechanisms of plastic pollution throughout the ocean using a combination of field campaigns and oceanographic modelling in collaboration with various partners in research institutions and academia. Alice is excited about all things environmental and food-related.

Rachel Giles – PhD Student

RAchel Field Varsity

Rachel uses field and laboratory approaches to understand how mixtures of anthropogenic contaminants impact wildlife in urban streams in two urban areas: the Greater Toronto Area and Northern Vietnam. She collaborates locally with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Sinton Lab to understand how benthic macroinvertebrate communities respond to salt-laden urban runoff during the winter months. Internationally, she collaborates with Ocean Conservancy (US) and The Center for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (Vietnam) to investigate how litter and inorganic contaminants impact invertebrate communities. This multi-stressor, community-focused approach complements current research that recognizes the aforementioned contaminants that have harmful ecological effects.

Kennedy Bucci – PhD Candidate

Kennedy’s research focusses on the biological and ecological effects of microplastic pollution in freshwater environments. She is currently collaborating with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), studying the chemical and physical effects of various microplastics on freshwater fish. Her research goals include investigating the ecosystem-level effects of microplastic pollution using experimental mesocosms. Learn more on her website.

Lisa Erdle – PhD Candidate

LIsa Erdle.jpg

Lisa researches the effects of microplastics on animals that are part of a Great Lakes food web. In her work, Lisa collaborates with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) as well as Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to better understand how microfibers – one of the most common types of microplastics – impact fish and invertebrates through physical and chemical processes.

Bonnie Hamilton – PhD Student

Bonnie headshot.jpg

Bonnie received her B.S. with honors in Environmental Health Science from Alma College (Michigan). She is currently a PhD student researching the ecotoxicity of microplastics and their relationship with other anthropogenic stressors in Arctic ecosystems. Her work is in collaboration with local communities, Environment and Climate Change Canada and NGOs.  Additionally, she is working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute on a collaborative project evaluating the movement of microplastic and chemical pollutants in the Monterey Bay pelagic food web.

Samantha Athey – PhD Candidate (Rochman and Diamond Group)

Sam Headshot.jpg

Sam received her B.S. with honors and M.Sc. in Marine Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she conducted research on microplastic ingestion in marine species. She is currently completing her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, studying microfiber and chemical loss from clothing in the context of Great Lake ecosystems. ​Learn more about microfiber pollution and her research through Sam’s website and blog.

Lingyun Li – Visiting PhD Student

lingyun picture

Lingyun is a visiting student in the Rochman Lab. She comes from East China Normal University as a PhD student working with Huahong Shi. Lingyun focuses on the unique physical and chemical properties of microplastics and the effects of various microplastics on fish and shellfish in laboratory experiments under environmentally relevant exposure scenarios.

Dr. Ludovic Hermabessiere – Postdoctoral Fellow


Ludovic recently received his PhD from the University of Littoral Côte d’Opale (France). His PhD focused on developing methods to study microplastics and their plastic additives in seafood products. Here at UofT, Ludovic will work in collaboration with the Drinking Research Water Group and the Ministry of Environment to develop Pyrolysis-GC/MS and Raman methods to analyze microplastics in drinking water and other matrices.

Dr. Stephanie Borrelle – David H. Smith Postdoctoral Fellow


Stephanie is a conservation ecologist from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her PhD was on the impact of marine threats (plastic, climate, fisheries) to the world’s highly threatened seabirds. Her passion for seabirds, which are disproportionately affected by marine plastic, led her to research focussed on effective solutions to this intensifying issue. In our lab, Stephanie is working to quantify the impacts of intervention strategies (e.g. single-use plastic bans, container deposit schemes, clean-ups, plastic cap & trade…etc) on reducing the flow of plastic pollution into the environment, which will inform governments and NGOs about what are the most effective strategies to reduce plastic pollution. Stephanie is collaborating with us, the Ocean Conservancy, and the Jambeck Research Group at the University of Georgia. To learn more about this work, visit:

Dr. Anna O’Brien – Postdoctoral Fellow

Anna is currently a post doc in the Frederickson, Rochman, and Sinton labs at University of Toronto, working on duckweeds, microbes, urban contaminants, and phenotypes.  Lemna minor (duckweed) is a tiny, fast-growing, floating aquatic plant that reproduces clonally, yet colonizes ponds across diverse regions of temperate North America, including both rural sites and sites highly impacted by urban runoff.  She seeks to understand how microbes may alter tolerance of runoff contaminants (e.g. salt, tire wear particles) in urban duckweed through ecological or evolutionary factors. Her PhD work was at UC Davis, with thesis advisors Dr. Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra and Dr. Sharon Strauss on the role of microbes in environmental adaptation in teosinte, a wild relative of maize. She also collaborated closely with Dr. Ruairidh Sawers at LANGEBIO-CINVESTAV in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Dr. Leah Chibwe Postdoctoral Fellow

Leah is a postdoctoral researcher using targeted and non-targeted high resolution methods to assess the links between anthropogenic contaminants in leached tire materials and their observed toxic effects. She gained her doctorate at Oregon State University with Dr. Staci Simonich, where her thesis in environmental analytical chemistry was studying and identifying the formation of toxic by-products following the bioremerediation of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) contaminated soils. Prior to joining the Rochman Lab, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Environment and Climate Change Canada with Dr. Derek Muir where her research included identifying non-routinely monitored heterocyclic PACs, and understanding their trends and sources in the Athabasca oil sands region. She has also worked with various other researchers in studying/characterizing complex halogenated mixtures.

Dr. Rafaela F. Gutierrez – Co-founder of the U of T Trash Team and Postdoctoral Fellow

Rafa Pic website

Rafaela is a social scientist with expertise in waste policy. She has a keen interest in up- and downstream processes for plastic recycling. Over the past decade she has studied, advocated and worked with low-income communities in Brazil focusing on how to improve socio-productive integration into formal recycling streams. She is currently a research fellow at U of T, working on food waste awareness and reduction. She is excited to be part of the U of T Trash team and to develop strategies about how to deal with plastic waste and to increase waste literacy.

Hayley McIlwraith – Undergraduate Researcher

Haley Photo

Hayley is an undergraduate student double majoring in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Cell & Systems Biology. Previously, Hayley has done work on microfiber release from laundry and has assisted with various projects in the lab. This summer she will be beginning microplastic sampling work across boreal lakes at the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area.

Arielle Earn – NSERC Undergraduate Research Fellow

Arielle Headshot
Arielle is an undergraduate student double majoring in Biodiversity & Conservation Biology and Political Science. She spent the summer working as an intern for the Center for Global Change Science to research the current state of knowledge on plastic pollution in the Laurentian Great Lakes. She is now helping out with a project to study the chemical and physical effects of microplastics on freshwater fish.

Anthony Carrozzi – Undergraduate Researcher

Anthony Carrozzi headshot

Anthony is an undergraduate Life Sciences student at the University of Toronto, on track to complete a double major in Human Biology and Biology, as well as a minor in Immunology. Anthony is working with Bonnie Hamilton to examine the impact of microplastics on Arctic ecosystems, with a specific focus how seabirds may be vectors for transmission to Arctic air and blue mussels.

Dorsa Nouri Parto – NSERC Undergraduate Research Fellow

Dorsa Headshot

Dorsa is an undergraduate student double majoring in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Molecular Genetics. Last summer, she worked as an intern for the Centre for Global Change Science to study the effects of microfibers on chironomids. This year, she will be working on quantifying microfiber emissions in wastewater treatment plants.

Lauren Ead – Undergraduate Researcher

Lauren Ead Headshot.jpg

Lauren is an undergraduate student double majoring in Biology and Geography. She is currently assisting in the analysis of microplastic debris in the San Francisco Bay, and wishes to pursue future research concerning ecotoxicology.

Past Lab Members:

Jan Bikker – Undergraduate Research Student

Cole Brookson – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Antonino Calarco – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Monina Cepeda – 299 Undergraduate Student

Miguel Felismino – NSERC Undergraduate Research Fellow

Jelena Grbic – Research Assistant

Aimee Huntington – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Joel Kim – MSc Student

Natasha Klasios – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Dr. Anna Kolomijeca – Postdoc (Rochman and Sinton Group)

Anna Lisa – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nicholas Tsui – MSc Student at UTM

Matthew Tulio – work study student

Lara Werbowski – NSERC Undergraduate Research Fellow

Tina Wu – Undergraduate Researcher