The scope of the microplastic pollution problem is astonishing. While nations need to slow the rate of plastics entering Earth’s waters, discovering what the density of it is, and where it is, is critical to know especially where such areas overlap with large populations of filter feeding organisms, for example. Traditional testing via tow nets and lab analysis is slow and expensive, but a new generation of sensors is being developed that can measure microplastics much faster and at various depths. Sheila Hemami, Director of Strategic Technical Opportunities for Massachusetts-based R&D engineering firm Draper, directs the company’s Global Challenges initiative where the microplastics project is managed. She answered some questions for Mongabay ahead of Jackson Wild, a conservation event focused on films and ocean health from September 21-27 in Jackson Hole, where she’ll be speaking. Sheila Hemami: Our initial systems target microplastic in 1 micron to 1 mm range, a size range which includes several classes of plankton. There is evidence that microplastics in this range are ingested by plankton and organisms that feed on plankton, thereby entering the food web. The first gene...