Dr. Heather Leslie is a leading expert in international microplastics research with an interest in studying how marine litter, and certain plastics and industrial chemicals can impact our ecosystems, health and society and what can be done about it through technology, eco-design, the circular economy etc. With a background in environmental analytical chemistry and ecotoxicology, she joined IMARES (WUR) in 2003 and later the VU in 2006. Since then she’s been responsible for the supervision of grad students, technicians and the research execution and acquisition of research funding from inter alia UNEP, European Commission, Dutch ministries, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development, chemicals, oil and gas and water sectors, and NGOs. She coordinated the first European FP7 research project on marine litter, the CleanSea project. She co-chaired WG40 of Gesamp Joint Group of Experts for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Pollution and co-led the writing of the first global assessment report on marine microplastic pollution.
Prof. Dr. Dick Vethaak is an expert on ecotoxicological assessment of water quality and ecosystem health. In the past few decades, he was heavily involved in research on endocrine disrupting chemicals including bioassay development, toxicity testing and integrated risk assessments. His current research interests include fate and effects of emerging contaminants, chemical mixtures, and plastic debris of all sizes. He was involved in various national and EU-funded projects on marine and riverine litter and microplastics. He is a member of GESAMP WG 40 on microplastics and assists the UN in their Second World Ocean Assessment on marine litter. Currently, he supervises several PhD students on microplastic research and works in projects funded by ZonMw on Microplastics and Health. He is advising and briefing on risks of plastic pollution for national governments, NGOs, and international organisations. Dick’s work is frequently mentioned in national and international media.