School of Geography
 

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Tom Stanton

Assistant Professor in Freshwater Science, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Biography

Tom is a freshwater scientist with working on the the prevalence of pollution in freshwater environments, the pathways of pollution to these environments, and the communication of freshwater pollution to different stakeholders. His research has a particular focus on anthropogenic materials in contemporary freshwater environments including plastics, microplastics, textile fibres, and the accumulation of these materials in freshwater sediments.

An avid science communicator, Tom has written for The Conversation and regularly presents his research to public, industry and policy stakeholders.

Expertise Summary

Tom is experienced in the sampling of freshwater environments to monitor pollution and water chemistry. This field expertise is complemented by a variety of analytical techniques including FTIR spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy. Tom is the lead researcher for international citizen science organisation Planet Patrol and has advised The Microfibre Consortium.

Teaching Summary

Tom teaches across the School of Geography Undergraduate and Masters degrees. His teaching includes methods used to survey and monitor the environment, water quality, science communication, and… read more

Research Summary

Tom's current research focus is on the prevalence of plastic materials in the environment relative to their non-plastic alternatives, and the interactions of these materials with environmental… read more

Recent Publications

Tom teaches across the School of Geography Undergraduate and Masters degrees. His teaching includes methods used to survey and monitor the environment, water quality, science communication, and research techniques.

Tom is convenor for GEOG2030 Research Tutorial, and contributes to GEOG2003 Techniques in Physical Geography and GEOG3015 Freshwater Management

Current Research

Tom's current research focus is on the prevalence of plastic materials in the environment relative to their non-plastic alternatives, and the interactions of these materials with environmental processes. Current research projects include .

1) Planet Patrolling

Citizen scientists are key contributors in the acquisition of environmental data at high spatial scales. Working with Planet Patrol, Tom is interested in how the prevalence of anthropogenic litter of different materials varies through space and across different environments, using data collected by Planet Patrols citizen scientists. This data not only characterises litter by material, but also application and brand, enabling this research to identify key industries and organisations associated with the anthropogenic litter found in different environments. Planet Patrol's data is generated by independent citizen scientists across every continent except Antarctica, and the organisation facilitates coordinated clean up events across the UK and Germany. It is currently in the process of expanding its data collection to include water chemistry alongside it's litter records.

2) Plastic habitats

Plastic pollution in the environment represents a novel substrate with which organisms can interact. With a focus on freshwater anthropogenic litter, Tom is working with colleagues at Keele University to investigate the influence of different anthropogenic materials on the composition of algal biofilms on litter surfaces, litter breakdown, and potential impacts on food webs and chemical cycling.

3) The unnatural natural

Plastic and microplastics ubiquitous and pose a variety of threats to the environments they pollute. In an effort to minimise plastic and microplastic pollution, some discourses of plastic pollution encourage a move to plastic alternatives. With a particular focus on natural textile fibres (e.g. cotton and wool) as alternatives to plastic fibres (e.g. polyester and nylon), Tom is interested in the relative prevalence and impacts of these non-plastic materials. Tom's work was the first to quantify the dominance of natural fibres over plastic fibres in the environment across the Trent catchment, UK. This observation has subsequently been repeated worldwide.

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