Osian Walton


Microplastics: Small pieces, big problems

I'm from: United Kingdom
Current Location: Fern Tree, Tasmania
Position: PhD candidate, School of Medicine (Medical Studies), College of Health and Medicine, University of Tasmania
Field of research/work: Neuroscience and immunology
YTS Years: 2024

Osian's Notable career moments

  • Started learning about science & biology and loved it

  • Finished with school finally! Didn’t know what to do now

  • Took a gap year, figured out I wanted to go to University

  • Started studying Medical Research

  • Graduated but wanted to learn more

  • Started a year long project looking at microplastics & inflammation (Honours)

  • Started a far larger project looking at microplastics in the brain (PhD)

About Osian Walton

When I was younger, I thought I would be a rescue pilot flying a helicopter to save people. I never thought that I would grow up to find myself admiring a plastic bag. Well, maybe not admire, but at least be impressed by what a plastic bag can do if you dunk it into liquid nitrogen at -200°C, toss it into a blender, strain it through a micro-meter accurate sieve, and then sprinkle it on brains. Spoiler alert: brain cells are not fans of getting a microplastic makeover.

You might be asking “But why are you doing this?”. Plastics are found everywhere. If you look around yourself chances are you will be able to spot 5 different things made of plastic. But what about the plastics you can’t see? What mischievous mayhem are these microplastics making? That is where my work comes in! I study how tiny plastics mess with our bodies.

Interestingly, your body reacts to microplastics just like it does to the flu — by flipping the switch on our incredible immune system! Normally the immune system is your body’s defence system against outside injury and diseases. However when these pesky plastics invade the brain, the immune system throws a bit of a tantrum trying to get rid of them. Sadly, the immune system’s overreaction can cause some collateral damage to the brain. My job is to figure out why this happens and how we can stop the brain from getting caught in the crossfire.

Osian's Photo Gallery