Research Projects

Metal and Organic Pollutants in Aquatic Resources

Our lab team conducts ecological risk assessments and environmental impact assessments to estimate the effects of a variety of pollutants (metals, pesticides, petrochemicals, flame retardants, plastics, etc.) on freshwater and marine environments. We detect and measure environmental concentrations of organic or metal pollutants in waters, sediments and organisms. We then estimate the toxicological or other adverse impacts on species, populations and ecosystems in order to calculate and model the level of risk. We currently have active projects in American Samoa, Colombia, the Philippines, the Gulf of Mexico, and metro-Phoenix. An important part of our research involves the design of new field sampling equipment for use in remote locations, as well as citizen science training events and workshops to return data to local stakeholders.

Learn more about our work funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) to create a Petrochemical Vulnerability Index for more than 2,000 marine species present in the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem!

Marine Biodiversity Vulnerability Indices and Risk Assessments

In collaboration with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the PLuSAlliance, our Marine Biodiversity team conducts biodiversity and conservation research on the world’s marine species and ecosystems. In this global research project, species-specific data, including measurements of ecosystem decline, are collected in collaboration with hundreds of international scientific partners around the world, and then used to develop quantitative assessments and trait-based vulnerability indices to estimate the impact of threats on species’ populations and marine habitats. We also use the data to conduct comprehensive biodiversity risk assessments for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, as well as to create customized decision-tools for various stakeholders around the globe.

Microplastics in Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

Our lab develops cutting-edge technologies and methods to detect and measure microplastics in marine and fresh waters, sediments and organisms. We are also working to develop a plastic vulnerability ranking for marine populations and ecosystems around the globe. This method relies on quantifying both individual and population-level exposure to marine debris and/or microplastics, in combination with estimated vulnerabilty based on species’ life history and other traits. We are a part of the Global Plastics Emissions Working Group, and have active projects in American Samoa, the Philippines and with Phoenix College in metro-Phoenix.

Impacts of Contaminants on Public Health

We are particularly interested in emphasizing the connection between environmental quality and human health. In all of our projects, we aim to include a component that is directly related to human well-being, such as estimating the potental for adverse health impacts from consumption of contaminants in seafood or from hazadous pesticide application methods. This connection is reinforced in our many citizen science programs, community workshops and drafting of both local and international legislation for improved policy. For example, we are working with the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency to develop fish consumption advisories based on estimated contaminant levels in locally-consumed seafood. We have also partnered with the Arizona Cactus-Pine Girl Scouts to produce the first ASU-STEM fun badge for scouts to get hands-on water quality and wildlife monitoring experience, while also learning about the importance of local water resources for environmental and human health.


Beth Polidoro
Arizona State University, West Campus

Address: 4701 W Thunderbird Road
Glendale, AZ 85306-4908 

Office: 602-543-5686