Opening Lecture

OPENING LECTURE / 9th October 2023 / 10:00 - 10:30

Anthropogenic debris in the Arctic: Pollution in a region far, far away...

Mine Banu Tekman
Assistant Professor at Özyeğin University, Istanbul (TR)
Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremen (DE)

The Arctic is under spotlight because its physical and ecological processes are transforming fast as a reaction to climate forcing. Until recently, public perception was that plastic pollution is not an issue in polar regions, as these areas are not densely populated. This view highlights how the complexity of the problem can be underrated. A decade of research has established that polar regions are not immune to plastic pollution and this highlights that direct land-based inputs are only one part of the problem. The presence of anthropogenic debris in the Arctic highlighted the high contribution of sea-based inputs, long-distance transport and accumulation on the seafloor.

Dr. Mine Tekman began her professional career as a computer engineer in 2002 and spent 11 years working in multinational companies involved in software development, consultancy, sales, and business development. Her accomplishments in Information Technologies led her to the position at Hewlett-Packard as the Regional Business Development and Product Manager of the Application Lifecycle Management Software responsible for the Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa regions. Meanwhile, her passion for the oceans led her to scuba diving in 2006, which opened another world with unknown perspectives that gained strong personal importance. Hence, she decided to leave her successful career path to admit to the Erasmus Mundus M.Sc. in Marine Environment and Resources program, allowing her to live and study in a diverse and multinational environment in France, Spain, and Belgium. After she obtained her M.Sc. degree, she was excited to continue working as a scientist, software engineer and doctoral student at the AWI on marine debris pollution, with a focus on the FRAM Pollution Observatory in the Arctic and anthropogenic debris portal LITTERBASE (https://litterbase.awi.de ). The outputs of these projects have been published in high-ranking scientific journals and attracted broad attention in the scientific community and public. Moreover, she contributed to the MICRO-FATE project by sampling and analysis of the data on plastic pollution in the North Pacific Ocean. This journey led to her co-authorship in pivotal reviews published in Science and Nature Reviews Earth & Environment. Additionally, in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund Germany, they crafted an extensive report elucidating the impacts of plastic pollution on marine life. This initiative aligned with global efforts to establish a comprehensive treaty addressing plastic pollution within the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2). Further contributing to the marine conservation landscape, she collaborated with Mercator Ocean International as a consultant, spearheading the creation of a strategy and implementation plan for an Integrated Marine Debris Observing System (IMDOS). Recently, she earned her Ph.D. in Natural Sciences from the University of Bremen, marking the culmination of a transformative academic journey. This achievement has propelled her into her current position as an Assistant Professor at Özyeğin University in Istanbul, Türkiye.