management require attention, coordination, collaboration, and the development of meaningful and effective solutions. The University of Rhode Island (URI) is launching an institution-wide signature research initiative to align capacity and capabilities across all of URI’s colleges to address the environmental, societal and health impacts of land-to-sea plastics pollutants. This initiative will support bold new research and creative activities that draw on the diverse array of specialties and expertise, and encourage collaboration with non-profit, corporate, government and academic peers. URI aims to establish these collaborations to address this complex and global issue with the goal of accelerating the development of scalable and innovative solutions. APPROACH: Building on strengths as a land- and sea-grant research university in the Ocean State, URI is positioned to build a global network relying on the University’s mission and its breadth of disciplines, expertise and collaborations. URI’s collaborative teams from civil engineering to chemistry to oceanography to fisheries, animal and veterinary sciences are contributing to the growing body of research focused on the occurrence, fate, transport and impact of plastics. URI’s teams also leverage Rhode Island’s scale, diverse physical landscape, engaged population, and collaborative public-private efforts to provide URI and its partners access and resources to support field studies, testing centers and experiments that lead to new ideas, policies, approaches and innovations. The initiative’s approach has four core goals. Convene: Increase connectivity.

Photo by Melissa McCarthy

Harnessing the convening power of a public research land- and sea-grant institution, URI will bring together stakeholders from governments, academia, philanthropic organizations, business and civil society to build meaningful relationships and shared agendas at local-to-global levels. Communicate: Expand reach. Working with the public, scientists, journalists and other science communicators, the URI teams will translate plastics research and make it accessible with research-based communication strategies and educational techniques to inform and engage diverse audiences for individual and collective action. Collaborate: Strengthen capacity and capabilities. Leveraging and connecting URI’s diverse expertise and resources and connecting with companies, communities, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, as well as academia, URI will create a diversified, inclusive and creative research network to attract competitive funding and partnerships. Accelerate: Advancing strategies and solutions. Advancing research, strategies and commercializable solutions to address problems associated with current plastic production, use, end-of-life disposal and the development of alternative materials.

URI Initiative Plastics: Land to Sea SPRING | 2021 Page 9

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