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Win Colton Cowger

Win Colton Cowger
Moore Institute for Plastic Pollution Research

PhD Environmental Science; Soil and Water
Studying Plastic Pollution to find solutions.

About

27
Publications
13,772
Reads
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558
Citations
Citations since 2016
27 Research Items
553 Citations
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Introduction
Researching the fate and transport of anthropogenic litter (including nanoplastic, microplastic, macroplastic, trash) in the ocean and rivers. Conducting collaborative interdisciplinary research where I develop data science resources, websites, and analytical techniques to support critical needs within my field. Advancing fundamental research on watershed transport processes. Chat on Mastodon: Mastodon
Additional affiliations
September 2021 - present
University of California, Riverside
Position
  • Visiting Scholar

Publications

Publications (27)
Preprint
Full-text available
Microplastic research is a rapidly developing field, with urgent needs for high throughput and automated analysis techniques. We conducted a review covering image analysis from optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and spectral analysis from Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, py...
Article
Full-text available
River flow is a major conveyance of microplastic (1−5000 μm) pollution from land to marine systems. However, the current approaches to monitoring and modeling fluvial transport of microplastic pollution have primarily relied on sampling the surface of flow and assumptions about microplastic concentration depth profiles to estimate the depth-average...
Article
Full-text available
Microplastic pollution research has suffered from inadequate data and tools for spectral (Raman and infrared) classification. Spectral matching tools often are not accurate for microplastics identification and are cost-prohibitive. Lack of accuracy stems from the diversity of microplastic pollutants, which are not represented in spectral libraries....
Article
Full-text available
Urban areas are the primary source of human-made litter globally, and roadsides are a primary accumulation location. This study aimed to investigate how litter arrives at roadsides and determine the accumulation rate and composition of roadside litter. We monitored select roadsides in the Inland Empire, California, for litter abundance (count) and...
Article
Full-text available
Despite global efforts to monitor, mitigate against, and prevent trash (mismanaged solid waste) pollution, no harmonized trash typology system has been widely adopted worldwide. This impedes the merging of datasets and comparative analyses. We addressed this problem by 1) assessing the state of trash typology and comparability, 2) developing a stan...
Article
Full-text available
Study region The Santa Ana River middle reach, a small coastal urban catchment in Southern California, USA experiences a Mediterranean climate and lowflows dominated by wastewater effluent. Study focus River macroplastic flux can inform watershed management of plastic pollution. However, continuous macroplastic monitoring is not possible, so conce...
Article
Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and Raman microspectroscopy are methods applied in microplastics research to determine the chemical identity of microplastics. These techniques enable quantification of microplastic particles across various matrices. Previous work has highlighted the benefits and limitations of each method and found these to be com...
Article
Full-text available
Microscopy is often the first step in microplastic analysis and is generally followed by spectroscopy to confirm material type. The value of microscopy lies in its ability to provide count, size, color, and morphological information to inform toxicity and source apportionment. To assess the accuracy and precision of microscopy, we conducted a metho...
Article
Children spend many hours in urban parks and playgrounds, where the tree canopy could filter microplastics released from the surrounding urban hotspots. However, the majority of children's playgrounds also contain plastic structures that could potentially release microplastics in situ. Yet, no study to date has quantified microplastic concentration...
Article
Stormwater treatment systems remove and accumulate microplastics from surface runoff, but some of them can be moved downward to groundwater by natural freeze-thaw cycles. Yet, it is unclear whether or how microplastic properties such as density could affect the extent to which freeze-thaw cycles would move microplastics in the subsurface. To examin...
Article
Full-text available
The rapid growth in microplastic pollution research is influencing funding priorities, environmental policy, and public perceptions of risks to water quality and environmental and human health. Ensuring that environmental microplastics research data are findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) is essential to inform policy and mitig...
Article
Full-text available
Region Ventura River watershed, California, USA Focus After wildfire, small mountainous watersheds can produce dramatic increases in fluvial sediment transport, but these changes are often evaluated under the assumption of stationary pre-fire sediment dynamics. The objectives of this study were to investigate temporal dependence in the fine (silt...
Article
Full-text available
Although the study of microplastics in the aquatic environment incorporates a diversity of research fields, it is still in its infancy in many aspects while comparable topics have been studied in other disciplines for decades. In particular, extensive research in sedimentology can provide valuable insights to guide future microplastics research. To...
Presentation
Full-text available
Urban areas are the primary source of human-made litter to the global environment, and roadsides are a primary accumulation location in urban areas. The goal of this study was to investigate how litter arrives at roadsides and what can be done to prevent it. We monitored roadsides in the Inland Empire, California for litter abundance (count) and co...
Presentation
Full-text available
Presentation video: https://youtu.be/ymPMYkcmgDg Microplastics are one of the most diverse and complicated classes of environmental contaminants. The Microplastics contaminant suite includes particles with thousands of unique polymer types, ranging in size from nanometers to millimeters, a continuum of shapes, densities, known and unknown associat...
Presentation
Full-text available
Microplastics is one of the most diverse and complicated contaminant suites- encompassing 6 orders of magnitude in size (nanometer to millimeter), hundreds of unique polymer types, a continuum of shapes, densities, associated contaminants, and more. Despite there being >200 independent toxicity studies on >150 unique species, many fundamental quest...
Article
Microplastic is exposed to numerous weathering processes in the environment, which change particle properties and thus influence transport behaviors, including settling and rising velocities in aquatic environments. However, the extent to which particles in the environment differ from virgin particles in their transport behaviors has not yet been i...
Article
Full-text available
The ubiquitous pollution of the environment with microplastics, a diverse suite of contaminants, is of growing concern for science and currently receives considerable public, political, and academic attention. The potential impact of microplastics in the environment has prompted a great deal of research in recent years. Many diverse methods have be...
Article
Full-text available
Microplastics (MP) are of major concerns for the society and currently in the focus of legislators and administrations. A small number of measures to reduce or remove primary sources of MP to the environment are currently coming into effect. At the moment, they have not yet tackled important topics such as food safety. However, recent developments...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper demonstrates CleanUpOurWorld; a research spatial database that is designed and deployed to collect, process, query, and visualize anthropogenic litter data. Such data has a significant importance in the field of environmental sciences due to its important use cases. We make a major on-going effort to collect and maintain such data worldw...
Chapter
Full-text available
Wastewater effluent is a prevalent source of contaminants of emerging concern in aquatic environments, including plastic pollution. A wide range of monitoring and analytical techniques to assess the contribution of wastewater derived microplastic pollution have been employed over the past two decades. The goal of this report is to critically evalua...

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Projects

Projects (4)
Project
Anthropogenic litter methods are diverse and it seems like everyone has their own method these days. These methods are not comparable without developing harmonization tools. I am working to increase the comparability of research on anthropogenic litter in this project by harmonizing techniques.
Project
Open Specy was developed to be an online hub for analyzing, sharing, and identifying Raman and FTIR spectra. For now the tool has been designed to suit the needs of microplastic researchers. In the future, we would like to expand it's utility to other fields using spectroscopy. You can find the current tool at www.openspecy.org
Project
To apply our science we need accessible software tools.