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The Franklin Institute Speaker Series: Preserve, Protect and Pollute

November 4, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Cheap, versatile, and effective plastics have become a leading material in the production and packaging of goods around the world. From food wrapping and storage containers, to spacecraft and 3D printing filament, synthetic and natural polymers have limitless applications allowing us to preserve, protect, prosper… and pollute. Plastic pollution is rapidly gaining global attention for its prevalence and negative environmental impacts, but turnkey alternatives have been slow to arrive.

Trained as a material scientist and engineer, Dr. Odile Madden is an expert in the composition, stability, and breakdown of polymeric materials, and has spent years exploring the effects of plastic breakdown on the planet’s oceans. Madden has used diverse approaches to studying the use of plastics, from sustainability concerns and plastic decomposition in the environment, to plastics preservation as it relates to historic artifacts, art, and cultural heritage.

Join Dr. Madden as she sits down with the Franklin Institute’s environmental scientist, Dr. Rachel Valletta, for a compelling dialogue on the past, present, and future of plastics and the science behind their breakdown, preservation, and potential for pollution. Dr. Madden currently serves as a senior researcher at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles where she researches polymeric breakdown and the perseveration of plastics in cultural heritage artifacts. She previously served as a materials scientist at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute. You can read more about Dr. Madden and some of her recent research into plastic preservation here and microplastic pollution here.


The Franklin Institute
222 N. 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103 United States
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