SUPERIOR, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin-Superior will welcome Senator Janet Bewley to campus on Monday, July 31, at 11 a.m. During her time on campus, Senator Bewley will meet with Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza and student researchers, and will also tour multiple laboratories used in the study of environmental chemistry pollution, specifically microplastics in our oceans and Great Lakes.
“We are delighted to have Senator Bewley on campus to learn about the important work Dr. Mendoza and her student team are doing for our oceans and Great Lakes,” said Chancellor Renée Wachter. “Dr. Mendoza’s lab is one of the few in the United States that studies the chemistry of the plastics found in our water sources.”
Mendoza has gained national and international attention for the unique work she and her team at UW-Superior are doing to understand the sources, impacts and solutions to increased plastics in oceans and the Great Lakes. Microplastics, microbeads and plastic fibers, are being found in water worldwide. These tiny plastics attract toxins, are eaten by aquatic bugs and fish and make their way up the food web to human consumption.
In June, the university became the recipient of an Enbridge $42,330 Ecofootprint Grant. These funds support Mendoza and her team’s efforts to continue studying the microplastic sources to Lake Superior in the Superior and Duluth area.
Mendoza was the first to discover microplastic beads in the Great Lakes, which she presented on at the 2012 American Chemical Society Conference. Data and research findings from the lab helped the State of Wisconsin become a frontrunner in banning the manufacturing and sale of personal care products containing microbeads, which have since been banned nationwide through the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015.