Andrea M. Lehn
Andrea M. Lehn is a PhD candidate whose research integrates analytical science, solid mechanics, and environmental chemistry to investigate microplastics (MP), which pose a serious and growing threat to the health of living things and our planet. With the support of a MathWorks Fellowship, Andrea will continue to refine and evaluate her novel physical model for predicting the generation of MP pollution from the fragmentation of plastic debris; this model accounts for environmental conditions, including UV exposure and changes in material properties to the generation of MP-sized particles, not addressed by current studies. Andrea is also exploring new mechanisms connecting UV exposure and fracture mechanics that may deepen our understanding of MP formation. MathWorks tools have enabled the development of analytical techniques and experimental protocols underlying this work. Andrea’s research has the potential to greatly improve our ability to predict the fate of plastics in the environment, guide product design to mitigate MP pollution, and inspire further interdisciplinary research.