History of microplastics in freshwater species

To prove that fish ingestion of microplastics is more than just an ocean story and more than just a modern story, Loren Hou used an unusual technique.

Transporting the digestive tracts of four freshwater fish species she was studying from the Field Museum, where she dissected specimens dating back to the 1900s, up the Lakefront to Loyola University Chicago, where she would analyze what was in the fishes’ guts, Hou sometimes took the Red Line.

So if at some point you noticed a young woman whose Trader Joe’s bags seemed to jangle a bit as the train rounded corners — as if full of Mason jars — that might have been Hou, en route to earning a master’s degree in biology and proving something valuable to the increasing concern about what plastic is doing to our environment and the organisms in it.