Dr Merve TUNALI (Turkey)

Merve covers two different topics in her current research: First, she is working on sustainability assessment of microplastics. With her research, it will be possible to incorporate microplastics into sustainability assessment tools (especially Life Cycle Assessment tools). Second, she is working on Zika virus prevention with a special focus on water sanitation.

PhD in Environmental Technology

Current position: Post-doctoral Researcher at Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Switzerland

Research focus: sustainability assessment of microplastics in soil systems and integrated water management

Even though the effects of microplastics on organisms have been extensively studied, there is still a crucial gap in quantifying their impact on ecosystems. Because of this gap, it is not yet possible to consider microplastics in sustainability studies. For instance, when assessing the sustainability of a plastic product, the impact emanating from the plastic itself would be counted as ‘zero’. Merve aims at finding a solution to this problem. She is developing a characterisation factor for soil ecosystems by considering toxicity on the one hand and the fate of microplastics in soil systems on the other. She also evaluates case studies from three main industries: textile, transportation, and construction. Including microplastics in the sustainability assessment will provide quantified data and reveal its impact on ecosystems. This can be used for policy-making and decision-making mechanisms at the government or corporate level. This part of Merve’s research is supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 (Life on Land).

Merve’s second research topic aims to prevent Zika virus transmission in collaboration with Bogazici University, Turkey. Since water bodies and poor sanitation conditions are conducive to mosquito breeding, appropriate water management is vital for public health in the context of Zika virus transmission by mosquitoes. She aims to investigate the intersection between mosquito surveillance and water bodies at the municipal level and establish a sustainable integrated water management model that supports increased system resilience. Her findings will contribute to the development of an early warning system with project partners from Brazil and the United Kingdom. This part of her research supports SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being) and SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation).

An excellent and very dedicated scientist, Merve was recognised by the jury for her studies on the inclusion of microplastics in life cycle assessment and the prevention of Zika virus transmission. The jury was also impressed by her commitment to bringing more sustainability to sports.

The research of Merve mainly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals 3, 6, 11, 12, 15:

Take a look at this video that briefly introduces Merve and her research: