Nice to meet you!
I am a Master's student in Physical Geography at Masaryk University (Czech Republic). I focus on microplastics in soils and recently in rivers.
I earned Bachelor's degree in 2021 with my thesis on Microplastics in soils of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, where I examined the factors influencing the quantity of plastic microfibres in soils and the processes influencing their distribution in the Isle of South Uist.
For my Master's thesis, I am looking for factors in the abundance of microplastics in the surface water of up-river Svratka in the Czech Republic, a drinking water source. How do land use and land cover influence the quantity of microplastics? Does the surrounding topography have a significant impact? And what about the riverbed sediments?
How I got into microplastics
I started my university studies back in 2017. Very excited about all the course opportunities my university offered, I decided to take not just my core courses but also some extracurricular ones. One of them, Sustainable Development I – Introduction and global challenges, literally changed my life as I heard about microplastics for the first time. The lecturer talked about microplastics in the ocean and the danger of plastics to sea animals. With all the first-year knowledge of general physical geography, I immediately thought microplastics couldn't stay only in the ocean; they must also be transported into terrestrial ecosystems and soils.
When I got home from the lecture, I searched for some papers about microplastics in soils. I found the first-ever paper about the topic by Matthias C. Rillig from 2012. Since then, my head has been full of (micro)plastics (probably not just figuratively speaking).
A half year later, in the summer of 2018, I joined John Muir Trust for their work parties in two places in Scotland – one of them being the Outer Hebrides. Among other tasks, we cleaned beaches from plastics. Plastics were entangled and incorporated into beach sediment and washed-up seaweed. What flashed through my mind was that there's no way microplastics aren't in the adjacent soils.
In the second year of my Bachelor's degree, I was in pursuit of someone who would supervise my thesis about microplastics in Hebridean soils. It wasn't an easy task, as nobody in my department did anything with microplastics. Although I had almost everything planned, including the identification method by Zhang et al. (2018), I was about to give up. But finally, Daniel Nývlt agreed to be my supervisor.
Throughout the years, I have enjoyed studying more and more about microplastics in any environment, and more and more research questions have been popping into my mind. I want to help to understand what influences the abundance of microplastics not only in soils and what we can do about the contamination. I find it very unfair that the ones not responsible for any of this (yes, I mean animals and plants) must deal with the consequences. Because what I haven't said yet is what motivated me to deal with microplastics in the first place. The lecturer in the first semester played us a trailer for the Albatross movie, and the impact of plastics on these birds affected me deeply and permanently.