Xavier University of Louisiana and Keep Louisiana Beautiful Welcome Dr. Mark Benfield of Louisiana State University to Give a Lecture on Plastic Pollution and Microplastics

NEW ORLEANS, La. – On March 29 at 6 p.m., Xavier University of Louisiana, a Keep Louisiana Beautiful (KLB) University Affiliate, will welcome Dr. Mark Benfield of the Louisiana State University Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science to present his lecture, “A Closer Look at Plastic Pollution and Microplastics in the Gulf of Mexico.” This lecture is made possible through an EPA Gulf of Mexico Trash-Free Waters Grant awarded to KLB and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to create and launch the University Affiliate program, develop a litter assessment app, develop educational training videos for campus communities, and fund grant opportunities for University Affiliates.


“At least 8 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year, and it’s time we do something about it to avoid further detriment to the Gulf of Mexico and connecting waterways,” says Susan Russell, KLB Executive Director. “Through this educational opportunity, we hope attendees opt to avoid single-use plastics to help prevent plastic pollution.”


“New Orleans is surrounded by water and residents, businesses, and students must learn the importance of taking care of nature, especially our waterways,” says Helena Robinson, Director of Sustainability and Quality Control at Xavier University of Louisiana. “We hope this lecture will help enlighten listeners to the plight of keeping water clean and safe and will take action.”


Plastics take tens to hundreds of thousands of years to break down. As plastics break down, they become toxic microplastics, travel into waterways, and affect marine organisms.


During Dr. Benfield’s lecture, students will observe microplastics and other pollutants in local water samples with a projector microscope donated by KLB.


Prior to Dr. Benfield’s lecture, The Water Collaborative will present on water quality and Restore the Mississippi River Delta will give an update on the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan.


This event is free and open to the public in the Xavier College of Pharmacy auditorium at 1 Drexel Drive. Light refreshments will be provided. Seating is limited.


Dr. Benfield will be holding his lecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in October. Additional lecture dates and information will be announced soon. For more information, please contact




Keep Louisiana Beautiful is an anti‐litter and community improvement non-profit organization focused on achieving a clean and beautiful Louisiana through education, enforcement, public awareness, and community engagement. Keep Louisiana Beautiful is affiliated with Keep America Beautiful and is comprised of a statewide network of 40 Community Affiliates and seven University Affiliates. Learn more at


Dr. Mark Benfield is a biological oceanographer and Professor at the College of the Coast and Environment at Louisiana State University. He received his B.Sc. from the University of Toronto, M.Sc. from the University of Kwazulu-Natal, Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, and was a Postdoctoral Investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Mark’s research includes zooplankton ecology, deep-sea biology, and micro- and microplastic pollution.


The KLB University Affiliate program was developed in 2021 in response to a growing interest in sustainability, waste reduction, and litter prevention at the university level. University of Louisiana at Lafayette, with Keep Louisiana Beautiful as a sub-recipient, secured a $500,000 five-year EPA Gulf of Mexico Trash-Free Waters Grant to create and launch the program, develop a litter assessment app, develop educational training videos for campus communities, and fund grant opportunities for University Affiliates.


KLB University Affiliates include Grambling State University, Louisiana State University, Nicholls State University, Tulane University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana. Joining the University Affiliate network are Loyola University in New Orleans, University of Louisiana at Monroe, and Southeastern Louisiana University.