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Mark Benfield, PhD / LSU Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences

Mark Benfield, PhD

LSU Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences

Mark Benfield is a Professor in the College of the Coast and Environment, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University. He is also an Guest Investigator in the Biology Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He recently decided to launch a global research project to map the amount and types of a new class of trash he calls waste PPE, or personal protective equipment. This includes disposable masks, gloves and disinfecting wipes, used prevalently since the COVID-19 pandemic.

He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto, Master’s degree from the University of Kwazulu-Natal, and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.

His research examines marine zooplankton and macro- and microplastic pollution in coastal waters. Most recently he has been monitoring the 2020 spill of plastic pellets in the Mississippi River in New Orleans. He coordinates a Community Science project to map waste PPE litter during the pandemic. His drone surveys of plastic debris on barrier islands was a finalist in the National Geographic Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge. He received the Golden Can Award from Keep Louisiana Beautiful in 2020.