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Dr Matthew Cole

Marine Ecologist and Ecotoxicologist

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)


Dr Matthew Cole is a marine ecologist and ecotoxicologist based at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Matthew’s research centres upon how human activity and pollution can impact upon the natural environment. Over the past ten years, Matthew’s research has propelled our understanding of the risks microplastic pollution poses to marine life. Matthew is currently leading projects investigating the effects of antifouling paint particles on coastal and estuarine ecosystems, the risks microplastics pose to marine food security, and ecological solutions to plastic pollution.

Matthew conducted his PhD on the ‘Impact of microplastics on zooplankton’ at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the University of Exeter from 2010-2014. Subsequently, Matthew undertook a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Exeter, investigating the impact of microplastics on marine ecological processes. Matthew returned to Plymouth Marine Laboratory in October 2017 as a Lord Kingsland Fellow. 

Matthew has received funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Newton-Paulet foundation, Royal Society and the Waitrose Plastic Plan Fund. Matthew currently supervises postdoctoral (PhD and Masters) students in collaboration with the University of East Anglia, University of Plymouth and the University of Exeter.

Matthew’s research has been featured in various television, print and digital platforms, including Blue Planet II, InsideOut Southwest, BBC News, The One Show and Food Unwrapped. In 2018, Matthew and colleagues from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the University of Plymouth and the University of Exeter were celebrated as the overall winners of the NERC impact awards, and winner of the NERC societal impact award, for uncovering the devastating impacts of microplastics in our oceans, raising global awareness of the this pressing environmental issue and directly influencing policy around the world.


Removing marine microplastics with mussel power
Removing marine microplastics with mussel power

Contact: Dr Matthew Cole

Removing marine microplastics with mussel power is a one-year feasibility study funded by Waitrose Plan Plastic to develop an ecological solution...

Other key projects

  • Research Fellow · University of Exeter · June 2014 - August 2017. Bioavailability and biological effects of microscopic plastic debris in the ocean (NERC).
  • Research Scientist · Plymouth Marine Laboratory · April 2014 - June 2014.  Investigating microplastic contamination in coastal waters.
  • PhD · Plymouth Marine Laboratory & University of Exeter · October 2010 - March 2014. Impact of microplastics on zooplankton (NERC).