21st Annual Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture

Ocean Plastic: A Scientist’s Tale

With opening remarks from Senator Tom Udall (NM)

As early as the 1970s, scientists began to notice that plastic waste was turning up in the ocean thousands of miles from land.   Since that time, the problem has grown exponentially.  News images of floating islands of debris, plastic-choked animals, and trashed beaches have spurred a flurry of research, and to a lesser degree, policy efforts to address the problem. 

What are the sources of ocean plastic?  What happens to plastic once it reaches the ocean, and what does it mean for marine life?  Dr. Chelsea Rochman has been researching those questions for more than a decade. Join us as she describes the science behind plastic debris and explores some of the policies attempting to limit plastic pollution in our global oceans.

This event is free and open to the public. Register today!

March 10, 2020
Doors will open at 6 pm and the lecture will run from 6:15 to 7:15 pm
National Academy of Sciences
2101 Constitution Ave.
Washington, DC 20001

Dr. Chelsea Rochman, Assistant Professor in Ecology, University of Toronto

Chelsea Rochman is an Assistant Professor in Ecology at the University of Toronto and a scientific advisor to Ocean Conservancy. Chelsea received her PhD in Ecology from a joint program between University of California, Davis and San Diego State University in 2013. She then was a Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Biology. She was hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2016. Chelsea has been researching the sources, sinks and ecological implications of plastic debris in marine and freshwater habitats for more than a decade. She has published dozens of scientific papers in respected journals and has led international working groups about plastic pollution. In addition to her research, Chelsea works to translate her science beyond academia. For example, Chelsea presented her work to the United Nations General Assembly and at the US State Department. For more information visit www.rochmanlab.com


In 1999, the Ocean Studies Board (OSB) launched the Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture to highlight the important links between ocean science and public policy. The series was named in honor of the late Roger Revelle, a leader in the field of oceanography for over 50 years who spearheaded efforts to investigate the mechanisms and consequences of climate change. In recognition of the critical importance of education in linking science and public policy, the OSB has partnered with the Smithsonian Science Education Center and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History to bring the Revelle Lecture to a broader audience. The lecture is held annually in conjunction with the OSB meeting in Washington, DC.


  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • The Office of Naval Research (ONR)
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • The Smithsonian Science Education Center
  • The National Museum of Natural History
  • The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation


For more information, please contact:

Kenza Sidi-Ali-Cherif
Program Assistant
Ocean Studies Board
(202) 334-3361