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.

Gloria Gao – Research Assistant

Gloria is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto and holds an Honours BSc, with a specialist in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is currently tackling polystyrene foam as a source of microplastic pollution, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). Her primary research goal is to determine how much foam litter in Lake Ontario originates from construction activities. She also assists with the pELAstics project, quantifying microplastics.

Jacob Haney – MSc Student

Jacob received his Honours BSc in Environmental Science from Carleton University and is currently a MSc student in the Rochman Lab at the University of Toronto. He is studying the transport and fate of micro-and macro-plastics in urban stream environments in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire and Loyola University Chicago. Additionally, he will be conducting microcosm experiments that will study the effect of microplastics on freshwater benthic invertebrates. Jacob is also taking part in the pELAstics project by identifying and quantifying microplastics. 

Alice (Xia) Zhu – PhD Candidate

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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 Candidate

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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.

Bonnie Hamilton – PhD Candidate

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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.

Eden Hataley – PhD Student

Eden is a PhD student in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough studying plastic pollution policy and management. She is also a member of the pELAstics Project. Eden received her undergraduate degree in environmental chemistry and master’s degree in environmental studies from Queen’s University where she investigated the potential role of microplastics in influencing the environmental fate of waterborne toxins produced by cyanobacteria.    

Samantha Athey – PhD Candidate (Rochman and Diamond Group)

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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.

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 U of T, 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. Garth Covernton – Postdoctoral Fellow

Garth is postdoctoral fellow working in the Rochman lab and the McMeans lab at U of T Mississauga as part of the pELAstics project. He studies how microplastic exposure affects the structure and energy flow within lake food webs using stable isotopes and fatty acids analyses. Garth is broadly interested in how potentially non-lethal contaminant stressors, such as microplastics, interact with aquatic ecology. He is especially intrigued by how stochastic statistical models can be used to characterize complex systems, such as food webs, to track how they respond to perturbations.

Dr. Wilson Ramirez-Duarte – Postdoctoral Fellow

Wilson worked as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Aquatic Health Program at the University of California-Davis, where he also completed his PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology as a Fulbright Scholar, mentored by Dr. Swee Teh. He is also a Diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology. He is currently investigating the role environmental changes (pollution, climate change, water quality) have on fish hybridization by studying the effects of multiple stressors on different levels of biological organization in parentals and hybrids in two populations of sympatric species in Mexico and Portugal. This research project is conducted in collaboration with the University of Lisbon, the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência and Stanford University, and sponsored by the Human Frontier Science Program.

Dr. Leah Chibwe Visiting Research 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 – Postdoctoral Fellow

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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.

Madeline Milne – Undergraduate Researcher

Madeleine is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and minoring in English and Art History. She is currently working on her fourth-year thesis project in the lab, after beginning it as a NSERC USRA student over the summer. Her research is in collaboration with the provincial Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP), and is examining microplastic contamination in sport fish from Lake Ontario to help better understand consumption risks to human health.

Alishba Afaq – Undergraduate Researcher

Alishba is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Neuroscience, Immunology, and Biology. She is interested in how microplastics can affect ecosystems and humans. Last summer, she worked with PhD candidate Bonnie Hamilton to identify and characterize the presence of microplastics in Arctic char and their summer feeding habitats. She is currently helping Bonnie characterize microplastics temporally in Arctic ice cores.

Elli Hung – Undergraduate Researcher

Elli is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto working with the Rochman Lab as part of an ROP299 project. She’s studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and Environmental Science. She’s currently helping out with research on the effects of road runoff on freshwater mussels. She’s very excited to study aquatic organisms and ecosystems and is on the verge of suffering from multiple tank syndrome with her home aquariums. 

Emilie Nero – Undergraduate Researcher

Emilie is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Health and Disease and Environmental Science. As a ROP299 student, she is currently working with Bonnie Hamilton researching the effects of microplastics in Arctic char. Emilie is passionate about investigating the effects of anthropogenic stressors on both ecosystems and humans. She looks forward to learning more about aquatic and Arctic ecosystems. 

Ariba Afaq – Undergraduate Researcher

Ariba is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto doing a double-major in Industrial Relations & Human Resources and Criminology & Sociolegal studies, along with a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. She is interested in how scientific research is involved in implementing new policies that could lessen plastic pollution, and is part of the lab’s Fighting Floatables project. In the summer, she characterized and quantified microplastics found in Toronto’s macrophytes through Seabin usage. Ariba is currently helping analyze the data found in the summer by helping create a policy brief.

Mira Ghosh – Undergraduate Researcher

Mira is a third-year undergraduate majoring in biodiversity and conservation biology and minoring in forest conservation science and biology. She’s currently helping with the pELAstics project with Gloria. She’s particularly excited about learning more about plastics and getting involved at the lab. In her free time, Mira loves long walks, ice skating, crochet, and journaling.

Johny Wang – Undergraduate Researcher

Johny is a third-year undergraduate student studying at the University of Toronto, currently working on a systematic review assessing different pathways for microplastics to enter aquatic ecosystems. Johny also helps out with different projects in the lab – such as analytical chemistry and fish rearing. In addition to his academic interests, Johny loves traveling, swimming, and trying out new things. 

Past Lab Members:

Lisa Erdle – PhD

Dr. Anna O’Brien – Postdoctoral Fellow

Hannah De Frond – Research Assistant (Currently with the U of T Trash Team!)

Hayley McIlwraith – Undergraduate Researcher and Research Assistant

Cassandra Sherlock – Undergraduate Researcher

Lauren Ead – Undergraduate Researcher

Arielle Earn – Undergraduate Researcher

Dorsa Nora-Parto – Undergraduate Researcher

Anthony Carrozzi – Undergraduate Researcher

Dr. Stephanie Borrelle – Postdoctoral Fellow

Lingyun Li – Visiting PhD Student

Clara Thaysen – MSc Student

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

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