The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Research Infrastructure in Science and Engineering (HBCU-RISE) program supports the development of STEM research capability at HBCUs that offer doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. With National Science Foundation support, Morgan State University will form an interdisciplinary faculty team to: (1) establish a core research laboratory of marine microplastics and upgrade infrastructure for faculty research and student training; (2) develop and offer new courses and curriculum modules in bioenvironmental science; and (3) recruit students and provide them with effective program activities to complete doctoral degrees.

Using the Chesapeake Bay as a model estuarine system, this project explores the source, transport, fate, and impact of microplastics in the aquatic environment. Research objectives are to (1) identify the composition, size fraction, and abundance of microplastics in the estuarine ecosystem; (2) explore and characterize the processes and mechanisms driving the transport/degradation of microplastics in the marine environment; and (3) use Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) as a model species to examine the potential impact of microplastics on the marine ecosystem.

Microplastics are recognized as a ubiquitous environmental contaminant. Given their small size, microplastics pose a threat to the entire marine ecosystem via processes such as inadvertent ingestion and bioaccumulation through the marine food web. This study will develop strategies to prevent the entry of microplastics into the oceans and mitigate their negative impacts on the marine environment.

This project leverages existing resources to provide new pathways for Morgan State University students to participate in high impact research. The project will broaden the scope of the existing doctoral program, making it accessible to students from a wider range of disciplines, and transform the program into a more comprehensive multidisciplinary research program that prepares students for an increasingly competitive research environment. This project will have significant impact on the research and education infrastructure at Morgan State University through support for faculty and student researchers and extensive curriculum development.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
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Victor Santiago
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Morgan State University
United States
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