Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Implications of Microplastic Consumption in Larval Fish"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2015 - DURI
Research area(s):
ecology; environment
Project Description:
Microplastics are a growing source of pollution within marine and freshwater systems. This has raised concern about the implications this plastic pollution will have on the environment. Several Midwest states have already begun legislative processes to regulate and ban the use microplastics in an effort to address this issue. Currently, little is known about the physiological and ecological implications of these plastic pollutants on aquatic life within freshwater systems. One area of concern is how larval fish will interact with these particles. This project will explore the impacts on larval fat head minnow growth and consumption of microplastic beads.
Expected Student Contributions:
The intern will conduct a controlled laboratory experiment designed to examine impacts on larval fish growth. This will involve the hatching and raising of fathead minnow larvae to be exposed to several treatments of plastic particle densities. At the conclusion of the experiment, the intern will analyze the larval fish for differences in growth and development, while also examining the stomach contents of the larvae. Working closely with a graduate student, the intern will learn how to analyze the results of their experiment, and put together a final presentation and paper that outlines the results of their research.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
The intern should have an interest in biology, environmental, or other related sciences. Experience working with microscopes is desired.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 3 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Hook, Tomas
Forestry and Natural Resources

Student Supervisor

Tim Malinich
PhD Student

Cooperating Faculty

Marisol Sepulveda
CE and FNR