Dr Jennifer Lavers
Young Tall Poppy TAS Scientist of the Year
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery / University of Tasmania
Research Area: Marine Biology
Plastic is now an integral part of human society. Despite better legislation and recycling to deal with its non-biodegradable nature, more than 20 million plastic items enter the ocean each day. Seabirds foraging over the ocean frequently mistake this for food. On Lord Howe Island, 96% of shearwater chicks (muttonbirds) contain plastic which can block or rupture the digestrive tract and also contains toxic chemicals.
Dr Laver’s research is focused on determining whether the removal of plastic from seabird stomachs results in healthier chicks and increased survival. She hopes the results of this research will contribute significantly to the responsible use of plastic products as well as the management of wildlife at risk from plastic ingestion across the globe.
Jennifer is passionate about communicating science to the public. She writes for non-technical magazines and bulletins, maintains a professional website, coordinates community environmental activities for school groups and hosts dozens of science workshops and seminars every year. Jeniffer has also helped develop interactive community education programs for the Tasmanian Mountain Festival, Young Tassie Scientists, Kids for Kids and Science at Sea, National Science Week
programs and is partnering with the Bookend Trust and Southern Waste. Her research has been featured recently in numerous national television and radio media.