Anja Malawi Brandon is a Ph.D. candidate in Civil & Environmental Engineering at Stanford University researching sustainable solutions to help rid the oceans of plastic pollution. Anja is studying the mechanism by which mealworms can degrade common plastics such as polystyrene and polyethylene. She is working to understand how plastic degrades in these insects to help design future waste management systems that can both eliminate plastic waste before it becomes an environmental pollutant and recover value from these waste products.
Anja grew up on the coast in Seattle, Washington, where she fell in love with the oceans. Committed to sharing this love, Anja started volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium, where she first learned of the overwhelming problems facing the oceans and developed her passion for saving them. Anja took this passion to Stanford where she earned both a B.S. in Environmental Systems Engineering with a focus on coastal systems and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Science in four years. During her time in undergrad, she completed a variety of research projects focused on problems facing the ocean including sea temperature rise, ocean acidification, and marine debris. Anja was most interested in studying marine debris and during her Master's began working with Professor Craig Criddle on ways to address plastic pollution. At Stanford, Anja is supported by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship program.