ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Tentative title: Going beyond microplastics: biodegradation of synthetic polyesters in soils
Michael Sander is a senior scientist and research group leader in Environmental Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. Michael received his M.S. degree in Geoökologie from the University of Bayreuth (Germany) in 2000, and his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Yale University (USA) in 2005. Following postdoctoral research at ETH Zurich, Michael holds the positions of research group leader since 2008 and senior scientist since 2017. A core research area in Michael’s group is the environmental chemistry of (bio)macromolecules. Within this area and in close collaboration with Hans-Peter Kohler (Eawag) and Kris McNeill (ETHZ), Michael’s research group is investigating the key steps involved in the biodegradation of synthetic polyesters in natural and engineered systems, including agricultural soils. The goal of the work is to develop a fundamental, mechanistic understanding of these steps and, thereby, to help advance the replacement of persistent polymers that accumulate in the environment by biodegradable polyesters in suitable application areas, such as agriculture.