Martina Capriotti
Martina coming back from sea water sampling in the Gulf of Aqaba Author: Gitai Yahel
2024

Martina Capriotti

Marine Biologist

taking a microscopic look at microplastics

meet martina

Martina Capriotti is an Italian marine biology researcher. Martina started to study marine pollution while writing her bachelor’s thesis. She later moved to Norway to work on her thesis, which was on the toxic effects of endocrine disruptors in salmon. She got her PhD at the University of Camerino, where she continued working on endocrine disruptors. She received a grant from the National Geographic Society for investigating the dangerous effects of chemicals carried by microplastics and received an award from the SKY Ocean Rescue initiative. Before becoming a postdoc at the University of Camerine and a lecturer at Zhengzhou University in China, she worked at University of Connecticut on the eco-physiology of suspension feeders. She is deeply engaged in science communication and education, aiming to increase ocean pollution awareness.

taking a microscopic look at microplastics
Nominated by: Joe Grabowski, FI'18
Class of 2024 Location Italy
Follow martina's work:
Field laboratory with primary school students in Porto San Giorgio (FM, Italy)
Field laboratory with primary school students in Porto San Giorgio (FM, Italy) Author: Flavia Capra

Studying pollution means understanding the deep connection between humans and nature. When I was working on my master’s thesis at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, I became particularly interested in the ability of some anthropogenic toxic substances to disturb the hormonal system of an organism that absorbs them. These substances are called endocrine disruptors. However, I like to call them “molecular impostors” as they often act on behalf of the actual hormones. Endocrine disruptors may be the cause of illnesses, and it is hard to believe that we as humans introduce these kinds of compounds into an environment that might return their toxicity to us. Not only are we hurting the ocean, marine ecosystems, but also ourselves. Chemical contaminants can accumulate inside the tissues of animals and get transferred along the food web, via a mechanism called biomagnification, as the chemical concentration increases exponentially with every transfer. 

“Bringing science to the broader public is a fundamental step to reduce the introduction of contaminants into the ocean. Only by increasing awareness can we work on protecting nature.”

- Martina Capriotti
Diving in the Gulf of Aqaba for studying the eco-physiology of marine suspension feeders
Diving in the Gulf of Aqaba for studying the eco-physiology of marine suspension feeders Author: Yuval Jacobi

Endocrine disruptors can be found associated with microplastics, tiny pieces of plastic (<5mm) nowadays ubiquitous in the marine environment, coming from the breakdown of larger plastic objects or intentionally produced of these small dimensions. Chemical contaminants can be found inside the plastic as plasticizers or attached to their surface and travel with them. 

Bringing science to the broader public is a fundamental step to reduce the introduction of contaminants into the ocean. Only by increasing awareness we can work on protecting nature. I set up an educational field lab aiming to engage young students in macroplastic and microplastic sampling along the beach because I believe that the younger generations have the power to safeguard our planet.

never stop exploring

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CLASS OF 2024

VIEW THE EC50 2024 PRINT PUBLICATION