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 Emily Stevenson

Emily Stevenson

PhD student

 Environment and Sustainability Institute 


Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK


Emily Stevenson has recently started a PhD investigating microplastics as vectors for antimicrobial resistance in aquatic systems, under the supervision of Dr Aimee Murray and Professor Angus Buckling at the University of Exeter, and Professor Pennie Lindeque and Dr Matthew Cole at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Emily’s research aims to investigate whether microplastics are important platforms for the growth, enrichment and dissemination of AMR biofilms, and whether there are associated ecological implications of microplastics, antimicrobials and AMR on the gut microbiota of marine organisms. This builds on research Emily carried out during her Masters degree in 2019/20 in which she researched the role of microplastics in the dissemination of potentially pathogenic or antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Between completing her Masters and beginning her PhD, Emily worked on a project with the University of Exeter’s Medical School, MRC Centre for Medical Mycology and the Environment Agency, investigating antifungal resistance in the environment, and she has also continued to research antimicrobial resistance in the environment as a research technician for Dr Aimee Murray, working on Dr Murray’s ‘SELECT method’.

Emily is also actively engaged in public engagement and policy-influencing: in 2021, she joined the official youth engagement group of the G7 on the ‘climate and environment policy track’, ensuring that the environmental policy priorities of the youth (those aged 18-30) are heard and considered at the highest level of international decision making. 

She is also now working part time as a senior intern with Baroness Natalie Bennett (Green Party Peer in the House of Lords), the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics.


  • BSc Hons Marine Biology – University of Plymouth
  • MSc Conservation Science and Policy – University of Exeter

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Research interests

  • Antimicrobial resistance, the Plastisphere and microplastics
  • Environmental risk assessment of antimicrobial resistance
  • Plastic pollution and citizen science

Research projects

Stevenson, E.M., Gaze, W.H., Gow, N.A.R., Hart, A., Schmidt, W., Usher, J., et al. (2022). Antifungal Exposure and Resistance Development: Defining Minimal Selective Antifungal Concentrations and Testing Methodologies. Frontiers in Fungal Biology 3. 

Environment Agency (2022) Scoping review into environmental selection for antifungal resistance and testing methodology. Environment Agency, Bristol. 

Alejandre, J.C., Stevenson, E.M., Fady, P-E., and Bennett, N. 2023. Eco-directed and Sustainable Prescribing of Pharmaceuticals in the United Kingdom. Policy Brief. Prepared by the Office of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, House of Lords, Parliament of the United Kingdom.

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Journal articles

Stevenson E, Cole M, Lindeque P, Buckling A, Murray AK (In Press). Culturing the Plastisphere: comparing methods to isolate culturable bacteria colonising microplastics. Frontiers in Microbiology
Stevenson EM, Buckling A, Cole M, Lindeque PK, Murray AK (2024). Selection for antimicrobial resistance in the plastisphere. Sci Total Environ, 908 Abstract.  Author URL.
Stevenson EM, Gaze WH, Gow NAR, Hart A, Schmidt W, Usher J, Warris A, Wilkinson H, Murray AK (2022). Antifungal Exposure and Resistance Development: Defining Minimal Selective Antifungal Concentrations and Testing Methodologies. Frontiers in Fungal Biology, 3

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External Engagement and Impact


  • ‘Community Volunteer of the Year 2018’ (University of Plymouth)
  • ‘Point of Light Award’ (British Prime Minister)
  • Diana Award Recipient 2020 (The Diana Award)

External positions

Emily is also the co-founder of Cornwall based conservation NGO, Beach Guardian. Beach Guardian aims to empower communities to tackle plastic waste, and addresses critical environmental issues across community, industry and policy levels. Since 2017, Beach Guardian has engaged with every primary & secondary school and college in Cornwall, and worked with some of the world’s largest corporations, to help them reduce their reliance on plastics, such as PepsiCo and Nissan.  

Media Coverage

  • BBC Spotlight series presenter – ‘Emily Explores’ (June-Sept 2019)
  • BBC Radio Cornwall ‘Coast Watch’ fortnightly feature
  • Plastic pollution media coverage (2017-ongoing) including BBC News, Sky News, ITV News, Al Jazeera, CBS This Morning, BBC The One Show, BBC Countryfile, Channel 5 Jeremy Vine Show, New Zealand’s 1News, BBC Radio 4, Metro, Daily Mail, LADbible, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, New York Post, The Independent, The Sun.

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Supervision / Group


  • Owen Rushby-Jones MSci Research Project

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