Kathy Willis

Kathy Willis

Postdoctoral Fellow

CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere


Kathy is from the small town of Yolla on the north-west coast of Tasmania. During her studies at UTAS and travels in-between semesters she witnessed the large amount of plastic waste entering the marine environment and the lack of appropriate waste management to control it. This sparked her passion to understand waste management in both developed and developing nations and strategies reducing the amount of waste entering the marine environment.

Kathy joined the CSIRO Marine Debris team in 2016 as a PhD candidate. Her research investigated Australian local government waste abatement policies, outreach programs and infrastructure and their effectiveness at reducing waste in the marine environment.

Kathy left Tasmania in 2021 for the sunny beaches of the USA. She is on a Fullbright scholarship experience and will spend time working with Professor Julia Parrish and the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) at the University of Washington. Kathy will examine the COASST marine debris dataset to find patterns in human activities along the coastline that match patterns in marine debris deposition rates. She then plans to apply her previous work investigating Australian local government waste abatement policies to understand the impacts of infrastructure, policies, and outreach efforts addressing those issues in the United States. Kathy’s goal is to then apply this knowledge to establish best-practice waste management strategies in communities around the world and reduce the harms of plastic pollution.