Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Rebecca Metcalf

Research interests:

I am interested in the impact’s humans have on the environment, such as plastic pollution and how best to increase awareness and reduce the effect of these impacts. I am keen to use my skills to make a change and carry out cutting-edge research.

Career history:

MSc Applied Marine Science, University of Plymouth
BSc Marine Biology, University of Plymouth

Active research projects:

Title: The survival, persistence and ecology of microbial pathogens on the surfaces of environmental plastic pollution

The aim of this studentship is to, (i) quantify the survival dynamics of pathogenic bacteria on plastics in freshwater, marine and soil environments, and (ii) determine the potential for plastic debris to disperse potentially pathogenic microorganisms within the environment.
This project combines ecology & microbiology with public health, and provides an opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research at the interface of Environmental Pathogen Ecology and Waste & Pollution Management. The student will work in a vibrant, collaborative research environment and join an ambitious team that focuses on a number of sustainability and disease-related topics. Supervision and training will be tailored to the individual needs of the student and internationally- transferrable analytical, field-based and project management skills will be a major element of the students’ training.

Recent publications:

o Metcalf, R., Oliver, D.M., Moresco, V. and Quilliam, R.S., 2022. Quantifying the importance of plastic pollution for the dissemination of human pathogens: The challenges of choosing an appropriate ‘control’ material. Science of the Total Environment, p.152292.
o Metcalf, R., White, H.L., Moresco, V., Ormsby, M.J., Oliver, D.M. and Quilliam, R.S., 2022. Sewage-associated plastic waste washed up on beaches can act as a reservoir for faecal bacteria, potential human pathogens, and genes for antimicrobial resistance. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 180, p.113766.
o Metcalf, R., White, H.L., Ormsby, M.J., Oliver, D.M. and Quilliam, R.S., 2023. From wastewater discharge to the beach: Survival of human pathogens bound to microplastics during transfer through the freshwater-marine continuum. Environmental Pollution, 319, p.120955.

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