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Internship - Ground-truthing

The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup

Rotterdam, Netherlands
Posted on Friday, November 10, 2023
In our mission to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, we rely on a thorough understanding of the ocean plastic pollution problem. The research team at The Ocean Cleanup aims to refine our understanding of the sources, transport, and fate of ocean and ocean-bound plastics. An important aspect of our research is investigating emerging techniques used in the field to monitor plastic pollution. We use remote sensing to quickly and efficiently estimate floating plastic concentrations in both oceans and rivers. The resulting datasets require physical validation, or “ground truthing”, to ensure our advancements in plastic detection techniques are accurate and reliable. 

You will be responsible for analyzing various surface trawl samples collected from the North Atlantic Ocean and the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok to be processed in our laboratory in the Rotterdam Zoo. Upon completing this analysis, you will populate our ground-truthing datasets and work with us to refine our methods for verifying the camera data. Ultimately, your results will be applied to increase the accuracy of our monitoring systems and to target our cleanup operations better.

Taking on the responsibility of the sample analysis and working independently in the laboratory is an important part of this internship. The success of this project relies on delivering quality-controlled data to optimize the quantification and characterization ​of floating plastic debris accumulating in aquatic environments.

"As a scientist at The Ocean Cleanup, you will be able to perform cutting-edge research on ocean and river plastic pollution. Your findings will directly be used to optimize our cleanup efforts. Come join our diverse team of scientists and help us understand and solve this pressing environmental issue.", Dr Peter Puskic, Lead Ocean Field ​Scientist. 

  • Responsible for analysis of Manta and Mega trawl samples in our laboratory in Rotterdam and delivering high-quality data on the amount and type of plastics present in these samples.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the different techniques used to extract, analyze, and characterize plastics from trawl samples
  • Building cross-referenced datasets by adding and improving our ground-truthing data from various methodologies deployed in parallel, including imaging techniques
  • Contribute to the validation of our remote sensing methods
  • Conducting data analysis, interpretation, presentation, and documenting your work in a report.
  • Bachelor's degree, pursuing post-graduate science education
  • Successful completion of marine science courses
  • Experience with laboratory protocols, procedures, and safety measures
  • Experience with plastic pollution research
  • Demonstrated experience in science communication, addressing both researchers and a wider audience
  • Fluent in spoken and written English

  • Be able to get to the essence of a technical challenge quickly, and investigate the most relevant/important aspects to get to a solution direction
  • Able to perform well in a fast-paced and challenging environment
  • Comfortable with the demands of laboratory work 
  • Ability to work independently
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Intrinsic motivation to work towards our ambitious and meaningful goal

  • Starting from : February 2024
  • Duration: 6 months

Note that the candidate needs to be enrolled at a University (MSc program) during the internship. If applicable, the internship can be combined with a MSc thesis project. Please mention your possible start date and duration in the application and the assignment requirements for your specific track.