Margo Witters

PhD student

Master in Biology: molecular biology and physiology
Teacher education

Joined the group in October 2019

Research project: Nano- and microplastics and the human intestinal barrier: the role of shape, size and chemical composition.

I am currently working on unravelling the possible health effects of nano- and microplastic (NMP) pollution in our environment. I investigate these very small plastics (below 5 mm in size), because their small size implies that organisms, among which humans, can take them up. Uptake mainly occurs via inhalation or via food products or drinks such as seafood, beer, salt… The very small NMPs can even be taken up by the cells of e.g. our intestinal system. Knowledge on health effects of this uptake is limited and mostly based on research on spherical polystyrene NMPs. NMPs found in the environment, however, have other shapes (e.g. fibers, fragments) and are often composed of a mixture of polymers and additives. My goal therefore is to find out which effect(s) the shape, size and chemical composition (i.e. combinations of polymer types and additives) have on the toxic effects NMPs might exert in our intestinal cells.

My favorite quote: “The earth is all we have in common.”

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