My name is Róisín Coyle and I will be starting as a QUADRAT DTP student at Queen’s University Belfast. The project I will be working on is ‘Simulating the fate of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the Northwest European Shelf ecosystem with a suite of high-resolution numerical models’. The aim will be to extend the model described by O’Driscoll et al (2013) to show the POP exchange and accumulation processes in lower trophic levels (phytoplankton and zooplankton).

POPs, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lindane (γ-HCH), are manmade chemicals which occur universally at low concentrations in seawater, originating from sources including the outflow of industrial chemicals in wastewater, the surface run off of pesticides and insecticides and from riverine inputs (Andrady, A. L., 2011, O’Driscoll, K. et al., 2013, Rios, L. M. et al., 2007, Takada, H.,2013). They are also subject to air-sea exchange mechanisms including dry gas deposition, dry particle deposition and wet deposition (O’Driscoll,K. et al.,2013) and can accumulate in the food chain where they cause toxic effects to living organisms including endocrine disruption, carcinogenesis and reproductive impairment  (Jones, K. Voogt,P., 1999).

I became interested in the fate and cycling of POPs when I had the opportunity to undertake a research project on microplastics in the marine environment during my final year studying Civil Engineering at QUB.  I investigated the vertical distribution of microplastics and the processes which could lead to their sinking and the ability of microplastics to act as vectors for the uptake of POPs into the ecosystem. During this experience I developed an interest in the environmental and societal challenges caused by anthropogenic ocean pollution and so I am excited for the chance to begin research into this as a QUADAT DTP student. I am also looking forward to the experiences and opportunities I will have as a QUADRAT student.


Andrady, A.L. 2011, “Microplastics in the marine environment”, Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 62, no. 8, pp. 1596-1605.

Jones, K.C. & de Voogt, P. 1999, Persistent organic pollutants (POPs): state of the science.

O’Driscoll, K., Mayer, B., Ilyina, T. & Pohlmann, T. 2013, Modelling the cycling of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the North Sea system: Fluxes, loading, seasonality, trends.

Rios, L.M., Moore, C. & Jones, P.R. 2007, Persistent organic pollutants carried by synthetic polymers in the ocean environment.

Takada, H. 2013, May 10-last update, Microplastics and the Threat to Our Seafood. Available: [2019, Mar 4,].