Ms Bella Charlesworth
Research Assistant

Ms Bella Charlesworth

Bachelor of Arts (English) / Bachelor of Science (Immunology, Biology) from the University of Sydney

Bachelor of Science (Hons) Class I from the University of New South Wales

Co-host of environmental podcast Life on Planet A

Co-founder and secretary of non-for-profit Sustainable Ocean Alliance Australia

Science
School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences

Research Centres: Centre for Marine Science & Innovation (CMSI), Evolution & Ecology Research Centre (E&ERC)

I work on understanding and reducing the environmental and social impacts of textiles by (1) investigating their fragmentation over time, (2) measuring their emissions during household laundering and (3) investigating the toxicological effects these fibres have on the health and survival of wildlife.  I am particularly interested in understanding the detrimental effects plastics may have on the health and survival of wildlife and communicating these findings to policy-makers, businesses, designers and the public. 

Biological and immunological skills from my undergraduate degree led to a strong interest in marine ecology, with a focus on plastic pollution.  Through a series of internships, I learnt how to do marine surveys, use molecular and microscopy techniques and plan, design and run large-scale experiments.  Communication skills from my undergraduate degree in English as well as my elected role as social media and PR executive of the University of Sydney’s Sustainable Ocean Alliance, taught me how to effectively break-down and communicate scientific research and discoveries.  I continued to grow these skills by co-founding and leading the non-for-profit, Sustainable Ocean Alliance Australia and co-hosting the environmental podcast ‘Life on Planet A’.    I use these platforms to break-down key issues (e.g.  plastic pollution, renewable energy, environmental policy, etc.) by interviewing academics, scientists and industry and government experts.  In these roles I have built a network of connections with researchers, academics and business-owners.

During my Honours year (University of New South Wales, Australia) I investigated the fragmentation of natural and plastic clothing fibres in the environment.  During this time, I learnt how to design and lead manipulative experiments in the field and in the laboratory.  Because of my reputation investigating the fragmentation of textiles in the environment, I was invited to join Team Plastic (University of New South Wales, Australia) on an ARC Linkage grant about mitigating pollution from clothing fibres (University of New South Wales).   Here I collaborate with scientists and engineers in academia (University of Sydney), industry (Icebreaker, WexCo) and government (NSW EPA, Victorian EPA, Melbourne Water, South Australia Water Corporation) to quantify the extent of the plastic problem and the potential toxicological effects of plastics to marine organisms. 

Denison Research Scholarship University of Sydney 
with Professor Ashley Ward

Presenter at the  Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) Conference 2021

Presenter at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 42nd Annual North American Conference 2021