Blue Charter Fellows

Between January and March 2019, 38 Blue Charter Fellows from 12 countries travelled to ACU member universities overseas for collaborative research work focused on marine plastic pollution. Here, some of the fellows share their experiences.

Dr Paul Bankole – Nigeria

Dr Paul Bankole

Dr Paul Bankole from Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta travelled to Lancaster University, UK, for his Blue Charter Fellowship. Paul’s research focused on the screening of plastic substrates from wastewater. Paul talks about the multiple ways he feels the fellowship has enhanced his career and the possibilities for his home university to make a significant contribution to work on marine plastic pollution:

'The research fellowship has been of immense benefit to advancing my research and teaching experience. I was mentored by different academics at the Lancaster Environment Centre and attended seminars and workshops on Environmental and Pollution Management.

I also participated in the ACU Blue Charter Fellows’ Seminar, where I learned about what other fellows are up to in their research, and marine plastics capacity audit interview which took place at Woburn House, London.

I had hands on experience on the use of a respirometer and scanning electron microscope which were not readily available in my home institution. With the help and exposure I got from this fellowship, I am highly motivated at establishing microplastics research group which, prior to now, is non-existent in my home institution.'

Dr Ana Catrino – Scotland

Dr Ana Catarino

Dr Ana Catarino is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Life and Earth Sciences at Heriot Watt University, Scotland, UK. For her Blue Charter Fellowship, she travelled to Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, to investigate the effects of ingested micro- and nanoplastics on the digestive system of fish.

Ana took the opportunity to get involved in community outreach activities while in Singapore; she participated in a beach clean-up organised by Seven Clean Seas during which 2,400 kg of litter was collected. She also says that one highlight of her fellowship was:

'The opportunity to collaborate on a science outreach activity on plastic pollution with researchers from the St John’s Marine Lab at the National University of Singapore. Together we developed a workshop for high school pupils of the School of Science and Technology, Singapore. We had a fantastic feedback from both teachers and students. The St John’s lab was invited to repeat the activities we developed for a new science fair at the same high school.'

Omowunmi Fred-Ahmadu – Nigeria

Omowunmi Fred-AhmaduOmowunmi Fred-Ahmadu – a PhD candidate from Covenant University, Nigeria – spent her fellowship at University of Newcastle, Australia. Prior to her ACU Blue Charter Fellowship, Oriyomi was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship in 2013 to complete her PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Wolverhampton, UK.

Her research focuses on microplastics contamination in the tropical Atlantic ecosystem, and the assessment of the potential risk of microplastics as vectors of organic pollutants. Here she talks about some of the knowledge she gained while under the supervision of Dr Thava Palanisami at University of Newcastle:

'The fellowship has provided a sound leverage for the furtherance of my PhD degree. It has helped me to build confidence that I can contribute to knowledge to change the world for the better.

The fellowship helped me to build a new line of professional network and to interact with other scientists and faculty. It has exposed me to new ways of doing quality research. I learned how to do a comprehensive research plan ahead of my experiments to manage time and consumables, reduce waste, and focus on important aspects of the work. I intend to apply this to my future work and in teaching my students.

I saw how laboratory health and safety was a vital requirement that would not be compromised. I have begun to communicate this and recommend its application to my home institution.'

Dr Nigel Jalsa – West Indies

Dr Nigel Jalsa

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, hosted the fellowship of Dr Nigel Jalsa, a lecturer in Biological Chemistry from University of the West Indies. Nigel describes the ongoing work with his host, Dr Francesca Kerton, which was established thanks to his Blue Charter Fellowship:

'We are currently writing four manuscripts, based on the research I undertook during the fellowship, for submission to peer-reviewed publications. Based on our discussions, we have initiated additional joint projects that have already commenced - (a) studying the extraction and utility of fish oil from fish waste, using environmentally benign solvents and (b) studying the preparation, characterisation, and application, of biochar from various sources available in Trinidad and Tobago.

Professor Francesca Kerton and Professor Christopher Kozak are visiting my university for a period of 4 weeks in October-November 2019. During their time here, they will be facilitating a week-long workshop on Green Chemistry targeted to senior undergraduates and interested postgraduate students. In addition, they will be discussing opportunities and avenues for research collaborations and student exchanges with other members of staff in various disciplines.'

Dr Oriyomi Modupe Okeyinka – Nigeria

Dr Oriyomi Modupe Okeyinka

Dr Oriyomi Modupe Okeyinka, a lecturer in Civil Engineering at University of Ibadan, Nigeria, spent her Fellowship at University of Wolverhampton, UK. Oriyomi’s research investigates the applicability of recycled polythene wastes such as carrier bags for use as a binder in the production of low-cost polymer-based paving blocks. She talks about how the fellowship has benefitted her:

'The fellowship provided me the opportunity to acquire interdisciplinary research knowledge and relevant skills in recycled use of polymer wastes for production of innovative building materials.

In terms of networking and professional development, the fellowship has helped me to establish useful collaborations beyond my Civil Engineering discipline and to undertake trainings for additional research skill acquisition. For example, during the fellowship I undertook training on how to develop and execute research impact activities for expert and non-expert audience.

In terms of publication, the findings from the research activities provided me publishable technical information that will improve my research profile and open me up for further future research funding. Also, the impact activities that I am hoping to implement based on the findings from the research will boost the research excellence of my home university.'


The first round of ACU Blue Charter Fellowship scheme supported 38 fellows from 31 institutions in 12 countries to travel to an overseas ACU member institution, or other research institute, for a 2-3 month period of collaborative research focused on marine plastics.

Fellows conducted research in a wide range of topics connected to marine plastics, from sustainable design and developing alternatives to plastics, to the effects of plastics on marine life and contamination of the food chain, to waste management and behavioural change.

These fellowships were funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.

Blue Charter fellows at City University

Cohort 1 Fellows

Dr Issahaku Adam, University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Research area: Behavioural change
Host: Dr Tony Walker at Dalhousie University, Canada

Steve Allen, University of Strathclyde, UK
Research area: Development and testing of low cost, environmental plastics pollution monitoring programme to quantify river plastic pollution entering the South African marine environment
Host: Dr Tony Ribbink, Sustainable Seas Trust, South Africa

Dr Gideon Bamigboye, Covenant University Nigeria
Research area: Developing floor tiles using recycled plastic bottles
Host: Professor Karnik Tarverdi, Brunel University London, UK

Dr Paul Olusegun Bankole, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria
Research area: Microbes, bio-degradation, microplastic pollution in Lagos lagoon
Host: Professor Kirk Taylor Semple, Lancaster University, UK

James Beament, University of Bath, UK
Research area: Degradation, designing degradable plastics
Host: Professor Francesca Kerton and Dr Christopher Kozak at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Maurice Beseng, Coventry University, UK
Research area: Ghost gear (fishing nets). Childhood experiences of farming and fishing. Planned workshop in Cameroonian coastal community location
Host: Dr Lotsmart Fonjong at University of Buea, Cameroon

Dr Joana Carlos Bezerra, Rhodes University, South Africa
Research area: Impact of plastic on marine life
Host: Tony Walker at Dalhousie University, Canada

Dr Ana Catarino, Heriot-Watt University, UK
Research area: Digestive systems of fish: ingestation
Host: Dr Stephen Summers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Dr Emmanuel Chukwuma, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Nigeria
Research area: Land-based plastic leakage into ocean, GIS environmental engineer
Host: Professor Abdul Rashid Mohamed Shariff at Universiti Putra Malaysia

Dr Caula (Andrea) Clayton, Caribbean Maritime University, Jamaica
Research area: Cruise tourism, minimising impact, research capacity at CMU
Host: Dr Tony Walker at Dalhousie University, Canada

Dr Omotola Dada, Elizade University, Nigeria
Research area: biodegradation of bioplastics
Host: Dr Sudhakar Muniyasamy at Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Port Elizabeth 6001, South Africa

Dr Emeka Dumbili, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria
Research area: media communication - behavioural change lack of awareness of recycling & waste disposal in Nigerian students
Host: Dr Lesley Henderson at Brunel University London, UK

Dr Eman ElSayed, University of Guelph, Canada
Research area: tracking plastics from land to sea
Host: Professor Andy Cundy at University of Southampton, UK

Omowunmi Fred-Ahmadu, Covenant University, Nigeria
Research area: Microplastics, plankton. Community outreach - women & children in coastal communities
Host: Dr Thava Palanisami at University of Newcastle, Australia

Megan Grant, University of Tasmania, Australia
Research area: Seabirds, plastic debris in nests
Host: Elizabeth Masden at University of Highlands and Islands, UK

Oladimeji Ayo Iwalaye, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Research area: Microplastics, sediments, beaches citizen science methods of microplastics monitoring
Host: Dr Max Liboiron at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Dr Nigel Jalsa, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago
Research area: Degradation of marine-exposed polymers
Host: Professor Francesca Kerton at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Parul Johar, University of York, UK
Research area: green chemistry
Host: Professor Amanda Ellis at University of Melbourne, Australia

Liberty Lawson, University of Sydney, Australia; Global Oceans Ambassador for Australian NGO - Positive Change for Marine Life
Research area: media communication - behavioural change
Host: Dr Sabine Pahl at University of Plymouth, UK

Refilwe Mofokeng, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Research area: toxicity of microplastics; behaviour change e.g. beach clean ups, changing attitudes to plastic pollution
Host: Dr Holly Nel at University of Birmingham, UK

Dr Trishan Naidoo, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Research area: Microplastics – fish ingestion
Host: Professor Richard Thompson at University of Plymouth, UK

Dr Oriyomi Modupe Okeyinka, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Research area: Reusing plastic waste to create low-cost paving tiles
Host: Dr David A. Oloke at University of Wolverhampton, UK

Niyi Olaiya, Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria
Research area: green chemistry, sustainable packaging
Host: Professor Ester T. Akinlabi at University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Dr Martins O. Omorogie, Redeemer's University, Ede, Nigeria
Research area: solar catalysts to degrade microplastics
Host: Professor Moritz F. Kuehnel at Swansea University UK

Dr Olayinka Osuolale, Elizade University, Nigeria
Research area: education and behavioural change, planned student exchange, behavioural change in students
Host: Dr Daniel Shilla at University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Professor Rupika Rajakaruna, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Research area: sea turtles awareness workshops for sea turtle hatchery keepers
Host: Dr Lesley Henderson at Brunel University London, UK

Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose Raju, University of Newcastle, Australia
Research area: wastewater treatment plants, microfibres
Host: Professor Richard Thompson at University of Plymouth, UK

Isabell Richter, University of Plymouth, UK
Research area: tourism, behavioural change
Host: Professor Hong Ching Goh at University of Malaya Malaysia

Rajkumar Sahoo, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
Research area: tourism, behavioural change workshop; reducing single use plastics
Host: Professor Wouter Poortinga at Cardiff University, UK

Dr Dativa Joseph Shilla, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Research area: mapping plastic routes from land to sea
Host: Professor Mohammad Shoeb at University of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Thikshani Somarathna, University of Sri Jayawardhanapura, Sri Lanka
Research area: biodegradable rice bran plates and edible cutlery
Host: Dr Sharon George at Keele University, UK

Dr Elyse Stanes, University of Wollongong, Australia
Research area: synthetic fibres from clothing leeching into oceans; behavioural change – planned podcast series, exhibition & toolkit
Host: Dr Deirdre McKay at Keele University and University of Exeter, UK

Rufino Varea University of the South Pacific, Fiji
Research area: microplastics, organisms; lack of current knowledge on microplastics in marine invertebrate in Pacific
Host: Professor Bronwyn Gillanders at University of Adelaide, Australia

Dr Scott Wilson, Macquarie University, Australia
Research area: toxicity of microplastics - Asia-Pacific
Host: Dr Serena Teo at National University of Singapore, Singapore

Nina Wootton, University of Adelaide, Australia
Microplastics in the food chain; focus on science communication
Host: Research area: Dr Marta Ferreira at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji

Lei Xiaoyu, Keele University, UK
Research area: behavioural change, art; Planned e-conference, 'Play with plastics' outreach event at Keele
Host: Dr Trisia Farrelly at Massey University, New Zealand

Dr Sheng Yang, McGill University, Canada
Research area: plastic waste management in advanced manufacturing; reducing waste in 3D printing
Host: Dr Geoff Rodgers at Brunel University London, UK

Yi Zhang, McGill University, Canada
Research area: edible packaging; biodegradable packages using edible films from fish gelatin
Host: Professor William Otoo Ellis at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Ghana