Vivian Sim
PhD Candidate
Field of Research: 
Sediments, Microplastics, Contaminants, Polychaetes
Contact details:
Level 4 East
Biological Sciences South (E26)

UNSW, Kensington 2052

Member of the Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology Lab (AMEE)

Potential Influences of Anthropogenic Boating Structures on Estuarine Health

Estuaries are subjected to intensive anthropogenic modification, yet we still have limited understanding of the potential ecological consequences. Shorelines are commonly modified with a variety of artificial structures that support boating activities, but can result in changes to the physical environment including reduced flow and increased contamination. My research compares the signatures and health of ‘impacted’ boating sites to ‘clean’ reference sites within a relatively unmodified marine park. The identification of this signature will assist future management tools in regards to building boating structures and how best to minimise the impacts associated with these structures.

Microplastics in Sydney Harbour

Plastics have existed for over a century and are an extremely important aspect of everyday life. During the last 50 years, the world’s production of plastics and their associated materials have increased by a minimum of 25-fold worldwide. This growing trend is problematic due to lengthy degradation times of most plastic compounds.

Plastic materials make up approximately 90 % of global floating debris that has accumulated since its discovery. To date the focus has often been on large pieces of plastics (referred ‘macroplastics’ in the literature), which are visible to the eye.  My research aims to investigate the threats posed by the presence of microplastics (smaller pieces of plastics ranging from 1mm to 360μm). As this is the first study of it’s kind in our region I aim to lay the foundations for future studies. My project aims:

  1. To investigate protocols for extracting microplastics from sediment samples and optimise the procedure
  2. Determine concentrations and distributions of various microplastics within Sydney Harboour
  3. Measure microplastic toxicity using lab-based toxicity experiments
  4. Investigate potential impacts of microplastic contamination using relevant lab and field experiments

See also:


Professor Emma Johnston

Dr Katherine Dafforn


Dr Stuart Simpson (CSIRO Land and Water)