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Exploring the Art in Science
Bridging the connection between Beauty and Knowledge

Microplastic detection (PhD work)

As a Ph.D. candidate in Biological Systems Engineering at UW-Madison, Derek Ho has been dedicated to enhancing our microplastic (plastics <5mm) detection and classification capabilities.

His primary research centers on utilizing Nile Red staining, a fluorescent dye that reacts under specific lighting conditions. Harnessing these distinctive fluorescence patterns, which are dependent on plastic-type and excitation wavelength, enables the possibility for accurate detection and classification of microplastics.

Learn more about Derek Ho as a researcher at Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI), Madison WI.


Photo Essay  - Whispering Waste: A trip to the landfill

Microplastics are EVERYWHERE. Most of these plastics come from our disposed plastic waste which degrade over time. In this photo-essay, "Whispering Waste", we shall explore where our trash disappears off to, where they will start their journey to become microplastics.

Photo essay + Narration of "Whispering Waste"

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Kohler Fellows: Art & Science 2022 Submission 

Since both Art and Science can be used to explain and understand the world. How shall we explore the parts where art and science intersect?

Let's Go!

[Official Koher Fellow Book Publication - Pg 13]

Art & Science 2022 submission - HoDerek_

Paradoxically Plastic

Through dedicated research in microplastic detection and their undeniable detrimental impact on our environment, I've ventured into a unique perspective. It might seem paradoxical, but this journey has led me to discover an unexpected appreciation for the beauty of these pollutants.


As I delve deeper into their complexities, join me in unraveling the enigma of microplastics, exploring their hidden facets, and gaining a newfound understanding of their coexistence with the natural world. Together, we'll navigate the delicate balance between concern and curiosity, fostering a broader conversation about the profound influence of these tiny, seemingly paradoxical beautiful materials.

Visit Paradoxically Plastic


Science Outreach: Plastic Panic

Ever wonder how microplastics enter the environment? One major point source of pollution is surprisingly - Wastewater Treatment plants (WWTPs)!


To illustrate the transport and fate of these pollutants, I partnered with the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) and SEAgrant to develop an interactive table-top activity simulating the processes of WWTPs. In this activity, children and adults alike can become scientists and simulate how most plastics are filtered out of the water and (unfortunately) reintroduced into the soil environment.

Want to know more about "Plastic Panic" or interested in renting a kit within the Great Lakes Basin? Contact - SEAGrant 


Science Outreach: 7Rs of Renewability

Ever Wonder what you can do to help solve this plastic problem? Here's the 7Rs of renewability:  Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, Rot & Rethink.

Learn More

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