Dr. Marcus Eriksen & Anna Cummins
"The Perils of Plastic: Notes from the Oceans and the Great Lakes"
Thursday, April 18 7pm Rosch Recital Hall, SUNY Fredonia
Since meeting at the Algalita Research Insitute where they worked with Captain Charles Moore, who has been credited with the 'discovery' of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Anna and Marcus have ventured off to start their own organization, 5 Gyres. The mission of the 5 Gyres Institute is to conduct research and communicate about the global impact of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and employ strategies to eliminate the accumulation of plastic pollution in the 5 subtropical gyres. Immediately upstream from one of the 5 oceanic gyres, the North Atlantic Gyre, are the Great Lakes. The 5 Gyres Institute has sailed and surveyed all 5 of the oceanic gyres and in the summer of 2012, in collaboration with SUNY Fredonia, they also worked to conduct the first survey for plastic pollution within the open-waters of the Great Lakes. Marcus and Anna will discuss their results and experiences.
Marcus Eriksen received his Ph.D. in Science Education from University of Southern California in 2003, months before embarking on a 2000-mile journey down the Mississippi River on a raft made from plastic bottles. Years earlier, Marcus had worked for several zoos and museums, founding his own company, Mission Science in 1997, a traveling natural history museum with school programs in geology and paleontology, an annual dinosaur expedition and field course in Wyoming for teachers, and a dinosaur exhibit traveling to other museums and science centers. He also hosted “Commando Weather,” a series of public service announcements about the science of weather, for the Weather Channel.
Marcus is an advocate for ocean conservation, as the Director of Project Development for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, studying and lecturing about the plague of plastic debris in the world’s oceans (www.algalita.org). In 2006, he won the H. David Nahai Water Quality Award in Education, presented by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board for his conservation work with inner-city students. In 2005, Marcus created Watershed Wonders, an educational video series packaged with curriculum materials for junior and senior high schools. Episodes include “Bottle Rocket down the Mississippi River”, “Coastal Wetlands and the Journey of Fluke”, and “Cola Kayak and the Los Angeles River.” And in 2008, he won the Menzie Education Award from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry for marine education.
In 2008, Marcus rafted across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii on JUNK, a raft floating on 15,000 plastic bottles, 30 sailboat masts lashed to form a deck, and a Cessna airplane fuselage as a cabin (junkraft.com). The journey, 2,600 miles in 88 days, brought attention to the issue of plastic trash filling the world’s oceans and solutions. JUNKraft was followed by a 2000-mile speaking tour from Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico with his wife, Anna Cummins. Recently, Marcus and Anna co-founded “5 Gyres Institute”, to study and communicate plastic pollution in the 5 large ocean gyres in the world. Marcus was elected a National Fellow of the Explorers Club in 2010.
Anna Cummins has over 10 years of experience in environmental non-profit work, education, writing, and campaign development. She has worked in marine conservation, coastal watershed management, sustainability education, and high school ecology instruction. Anna received her undergraduate in History from Stanford University, and her Masters in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute for International Studies. In 2001, Anna received a fellowship from the Sustainable Communities Leadership Program, to work with Santa Cruz based non-profit Save Our Shores, coordinating bilingual outreach education and community relations.
In 2007 Anna joined the Algalita Marine Research Foundation as education adviser, conducting school outreach and giving public presentations on plastic marine pollution. With Algalita, Anna completed a month long, 4,000-mile research expedition studying plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre, and a 2,000 mile cycling/speaking tour from Vancouver to Mexico, giving talks about plastic pollution. Anna and her husband Marcus Eriksen recently co-founded 5 Gyres, in collaboration with Algalita and Pangaea Explorations, to research and communicate plastic pollution in the worlds oceans. Anna was elected a National Fellow of the Explorers Club in 2010.