On May 11th, 2022, Valentina Pauna successfully defended her PhD thesis “ADDRESSING NEW GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS: An interdisciplinary approach to assess the impacts of microplastics on marine ecosystems” at the Department of Science and Technology at the “Parthenope” University of Naples.
This thesis focused on developing a framework aimed at maximizing, combining, and innovating the strengths of existing environmental assessment methods. Given the current EU interest in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), Valentina’s work aimed to identify and fill critical knowledge and data gaps related to SDG 14: Life Below Water. In particular, she addressed data gaps that have caused uncertainty regarding the impacts of microplastic pollution on marine ecosystems. As a result, Valentina created a new methodology called Information Flow Analysis (IFA) which acts as a map for displaying the fields of study relevant for the characterization of microplastics in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). IFA also highlights which areas of study should receive more focus to move microplastics research in a direction such that LCA can be carried out. Valentina hopes that the IFA approach will be applied to other emerging, or misunderstood, global environmental problems. Her defence was online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professor Pier Paolo Franzese was Valentina’s main supervisor and her co-supervisor was Professor Giulio Giunta. Professor Monia Renzi and Dr. Elvira Buonocore were tutors for Valentina in her PhD in Italy and Dr. Cecilia Askham supervised Valentina’s remote period abroad at NORSUS.