Founders of 5 Gyres Institute to give Earth Week keynote at SUNY Fredonia

Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, whose extensive survey of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans was expanded to include the Great Lakes, will deliver the SUNY Fredonia Earth Week keynote address, “The Perils of Plastic: Notes from the Oceans and the Great Lakes,” on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Rosch Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

5 Gyres Institute, which the couple founded, conducts research and communicates about the global impact of plastic pollution in oceans and employs strategies to eliminate the accumulation of plastic pollution in the five subtropical gyres.

Working in collaboration with SUNY Fredonia last year, 5 Gyres Institute conducted the first survey of plastic pollution within the open waters of the Great Lakes. The pair will discuss their results and experiences.

Eriksen, an advocate for ocean conservation, earned a doctorate in science education from the University of Southern California. As director of project development for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Eriksen studies and gives lectures about the plague of plastic debris in oceans.

He called attention to the plastic debris problem by mounting a 2,600-mile journey across the Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to California, on a raft floating on 15,000 plastic bottles, with 30 sailboat masts lashed to form a deck and a Cessna airplane fuselage as a cabin.

Cummins, who has more than 10 years of experience in environmental non-profit work, education, writing and campaign development, has a master’s degree in international environmental policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She joined Algalita as an education adviser, giving public presentations on plastic marine pollution.

She has worked in marine conservation, coastal watershed management, sustainability education and high school ecology instruction and was elected a National Fellow of the Explorers Club in 2010.

The husband-and-wife team has also completed a month-long, 4,000-mile research expedition studying plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre, and a 2,000-mile cycling/speaking tour, from Vancouver to Mexico, speaking about plastic pollution.