Imari Walker-Franklin is an Environmental Engineer Chasing the Serious Impact of Microplastics

In environment, Planet, Podcast, Publisher Channel by Blessing Enofe

Imari Walker-Franklin is a young chemist, environmental engineer, microplastics researcher, and most recently, an author. She is a smart and well-spoken activist for people and planet; a sort of watcher who understands how these tiny particles of plastic can impact so much of our lives.

Frontrunners Innovate host, Mary Kurek, caught up with Dr. Walker-Franklin as she was attending the NC Marine Debris Symposium at Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort NC, having been a featured speaker earlier in the week at the event. The conversation primarily focused on the concerns of microplastics and plastics in general in our environment and the surprising data that poses more questions and deep concern.

We also learned about Dr. Walker-Franklin’s new book, “Plastics,” an MIT Knowledge Series. Co-hosting the interview with Dr. Walker-Franklin is Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Special thanks for her contributions and data.

Meet Imari Walker-Franklin

Imari Walker-Franklin’s Bio

Dr. Imari Walker-Franklin is a research chemist at Research Triangle International that contributes research to determining human and environmental exposure to potentially harmful substances. One project includes working to understand the release and effect of microplastics and microplastic associated chemicals within simulated human fluids and tissues.

In 2021, Imari completed her PhD at Duke University investigating the release, transformation and effects of polymer associated chemicals within aquatic environments. Before Duke, Imari completed her Bachelors in Marine Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Alongside her work, Imari uses her science communication-based YouTube channel to share information about plastic pollution, microplastics, and potentially harmful chemicals associated with these consumer products. Imari Walker-Franklin and Jenna Jambeck are the co-authors of the book Plastics (2023), which is a part of the MIT Essential Knowledge Series.

Imari Walker-Franklin’s Contact and Resources

Imari Walker-Franklin’s site:


Plastics Book can be purchased online through Amazon and in person at Barnes Nobles.

Plastics (

Imari Walker – YouTube

Twitter Profiles: Imari Walker-Franklin | Microplastics Bae | PhD (@dr_imariwalker) / Twitter

Primer Article, Recently Released: The impacts of plastics’ life cycle (

Review Paper, Recently Released: Models of justice evoked in published scientific studies of plastic pollution (

Photos below:  NC Marine Debris Symposium, Duke Marine Lab, Beaufort, NC.

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Special Thanks to Our Co-Host: Dianna Cohen

Dianna Cohen

CEO and Co-Founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition

Dianna Cohen is Co-Founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) and a passionate advocate for a world free from plastic pollution. A Los Angeles-based visual artist, Dianna has shown her work internationally at galleries, foundations, and museums. She uses plastic in her artwork to make a visual and social impact. With plastic bags as her primary material for more than 30 years, Dianna is interested in exploring its materiality through modifications and the material’s relationship to culture, media, toxicity, and the world at large and shared this in her 2010 TED talk “Tough Truths About Plastic Pollution.”

Dianna is a frequent speaker and guest and has spoken at the UN and international conferences and symposia, and has been interviewed by Al Jazeera, NBC Nightly News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, and many others. She is the recipient of the Global Green Environment Award, the Snow Angel Award, and Environmentalist of the Year by SIMA, among others. Dianna studied Biology, Art, and Film at the University of California, Los Angeles and holds a BA in Fine Arts.