Training the next generation of plastics pollution researchers: tools, skills and career perspectives in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary field

Mitrano, Denise M.; Bigalke, Moritz; Booth, Andy M.; Carteny, Camilla Catarci; Coffin, Scott; Egger, Matthias; Gondikas, Andreas; Hüffer, Thorsten; Koelmans, Albert A.; Lahive, Elma; Mattsson, Karin; Reynaud, Stephanie; Wagner, Stephan. 2023 Training the next generation of plastics pollution researchers: tools, skills and career perspectives in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary field. Microplastics and Nanoplastics, 3 (1), 24. 12, pp.

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Plastics pollution research attracts scientists from diverse disciplines. Many Early Career Researchers (ECRs) are drawn to this field to investigate and subsequently mitigate the negative impacts of plastics. Solving the multi-faceted plastic problem will always require breakthroughs across all levels of science disciplinarity, which supports interdisciplinary discoveries and underpins transdisciplinary solutions. In this context, ECRs have the opportunity to work across scientific discipline boundaries and connect with different stakeholders, including industry, policymakers and the public. To fully realize their potential, ECRs need to develop strong communication and project management skills to be able to effectively interface with academic peers and non-academic stakeholders. At the end of their formal education, many ECRs will choose to leave academia and pursue a career in private industry, government, research institutes or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Here we give perspectives on how ECRs can develop the skills to tackle the challenges and opportunities of this transdisciplinary research field and how these skills can be transferred to different working sectors. We also explore how advisors can support an ECRs’ growth through inclusive leadership and coaching. We further consider the roles each party may play in developing ECRs into mature scientists by helping them build a strong foundation, while also critically assessing problems in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary context. We hope these concepts can be useful in fostering the development of the next generation of plastics pollution researchers so they can address this global challenge more effectively.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2662-4966
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: plastic, student, early career, training, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 01 Dec 2023 13:36 +0 (UTC)

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