Walter Ruggeri Waldman, a professor of chemistry at Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR, Brazil), has received a Capes-Humboldt Research Fellowship. With this funding, Professor Waldman will study the effects of microplastics in soil during his stay at Freie Universität Berlin. He will be conducting his research in the Institute of Biology through July 2020. Professor Matthias Rillig from the Department of Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy is Professor Waldman’s institutional host during his stay at Freie Universität.
Waldman studied chemical technology at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil, where he also completed his doctorate on polymer chemistry in 2006. He is an associate professor at UFSCAR in Brazil. This fellowship will allow him to investigate the effects of different microplastics on soil biota and processes while at Freie Universität. He plans to work together with soil ecologists, contributing his expertise in the area of polymer chemistry to the project. Their primary object of study are so-called oxo-degradable plastics, i.e. materials that fragment under certain conditions after they have been used. According to researchers, the degree to which oxo-degradable plastics actually break down is unclear; the substances could increase the amount of microplastics in the environment.
The Capes-Humboldt Research Fellowship is a joint fellowship program of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Brazilian research funding organization Capes (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior). Capes and the Humboldt Foundation both contribute financially to the fellowship. The Humboldt Foundation attends to research fellows during their stay in Germany.