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Earth Science and Geography
2018 Project Proposal

Investigation of Microplastics in Coastal Sands, Outer Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Jill Schneiderman (Earth Science and Geography)

Microplastics (plastic particles less than 5mm in diameter) have been found extensively in the marine environment but little attention has been paid to their presence in terrestrial sediments. For this project the student will process sand samples using gravity separation techniques, examine separates under a microscope, and count the number of plastic particles per sample. The data will be aggregated to determine where and how much plastic material is found.           

Prerequisites:  The student must be exacting and patient because of the duration of time it takes to separate plastics from sand, comfortable with the use of a microscope, and able to use Excel for compiling and graphing data.    

How should students express their interest in this project?  Students who are interested in this project should email Professor Schneiderman ( with a paragraph indicating why they are interested in the project and what past experiences and course work will enable them to pursue the research.