Dr Alicia Mateos Cárdenas

Dr Alicia Mateos Cárdenas

Position: Postdoctoral Fellow

Twitter: @AliciaMateos_ | Email: alicia.mateoscardenas@ucc.ie


Alicia is an Environmental Scientist with an expertise and passion for plastic pollution. She graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Sciences from the University of Salamanca (Spain) in 2014. That summer she travelled to Cape Verde (West Africa) to volunteer at a loggerhead turtle conservation project placed on a very remote location. Right there she experienced for the first time how a heavy storm polluted an otherwise spotless beach. Later in 2014, she moved to England to complete a MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation and graduated from Reading University in 2015. Her master’s thesis was on the topic of microplastics and the transfer of plastics in the marine food chain. In 2015, she started the website The Problem with Plastic to communicate in simple words the consequences of this environmental issue. In 2016, Alicia travelled to the Galapagos Islands to volunteer for Ecology Project International in their Green turtle and Plastic Pollution projects.

In 2017, Alicia moved to Cork to start her EPA-funded PhD in Environmental Sciences at the School of BEES, supervised by Prof. Marcel Jansen, Prof. John O’Halloran and Dr. Frank van Pelt. This PhD project focussed on the impacts of microplastics in the freshwater environment. During her PhD, Alicia was invited as a guest lecturer at University Politécnica of Madrid, MSc in Chemical Engineering (2019) and University of Salamanca, BSc(Hons) in Biology (2018). She also mentored a winning BT Young Scientist microplastic project entitled in the Category Junior Individual, Biological and Ecological (2018). Alicia was awarded First Prize for Best Oral Presentation at School of Engineering, Aalto University Finland in 2019 during the International Summer School “Emerging Micropollutants Removal from Wastewater”. Her final PhD thesis entitled “Impacts, Fate and Trophic Transfer of Microplastics in the Freshwater Environment” was submitted to UCC in September 2020.

Research project

Alicia currently (2020 – 2023) works as a Postdoctoral Fellow on the microplastics project funded by the Marine Institute under the research theme “Pollution and Litter, Contaminants of Emerging Concern”. Her fellowship is titled “Monitoring Microplastics and their Associated Chemicals in Irish Deep Water Coral Habitats”. This project integrates a large spatial range and temporal resolution in an area of economic and conservation interest with a wealth of background data and novel  equipment. Main outcomes of the project will be to (1) accurately quantify the abundance of microplastics and their associated chemicals in deep sea Irish canyons, (2) the interactions and impacts to the health of cold-water corals present in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and (3) the potential cause for observed variability throughout time.


Mateos-Cárdenas, A., O’Halloran, J., van Pelt, F. N., & Jansen, M. A. (2020). Beyond plastic microbeads–Short-term feeding of cellulose and polyester microfibers to the freshwater amphipod Gammarus duebeni. Science of The Total Environment, 141859. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141859

Mateos-Cárdenas, A., O’Halloran, J., van Pelt, F. N., & Jansen, M. A. (2020). Rapid fragmentation of microplastics by the freshwater amphipod Gammarus duebeni (Lillj.). Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69635-2

Mateos-Cárdenas, A., Scott, D. T., Seitmaganbetova, G., van Pelt Frank, N. A. M., & AK, J. M. (2019). Polyethylene microplastics adhere to Lemna minor (L.), yet have no effects on plant growth or feeding by Gammarus duebeni (Lillj.). Science of the Total Environment689, 413-421. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.06.359


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