Practices a Japanese battle sport and guides Italian tourists in summer

Ásta Margrét Ásmundsdóttir is the scientist of the month
Practices a Japanese battle sport and guides Italian tourists in summer

Ásta Margrét Ásmundsdóttir is a chemist in the Faculty of Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Akureyri. Ásta teaches chemistry at the faculty as well as conducting research in the field of environmental issues. During the past few years she has been researching microplastics in the Icelandic natural environment. These are plastic particles less than 5 mm in diameter. Microplastics are formed, inter alia, by the breakdown of plastic waste abandoned in the natural environment. For several decades microplastics have been accumulating, both in the ocean and on dry land and by now they occur in remote locations such as the poles. For example, Ásta and her colleagues have identified considerable quantities of microplastics on glaciers, in lake sediments and various other locations in Iceland. In addition, Ásta has supervised environmental watch in Eyjafjörður, in co-operation with Norðurorka, monitoring conditions in the fjord and observing how sewage from the town affects the sea and its biosphere.

Investigates mussels growing near sewage outlets

During the past six months Ásta has been on a research sabbatical at NORCE (Norwegian Research Centre) in Stavanger where she has conducted research on the condition of mussels cultivated near sewage outlets in the Reykjavík area. This research aims to determine whether microplastics, medical waste and other pollutants accumulate in mussels cultivated in the vicinity of sewage outlets and investigate the potential impact of pollution on the growth and well-being of the shellfish.

Doctoral studies along with work at the University

Ásta comes from Akureyri. After matriculation from Akureyri Upper Secondary School she studied chemistry at the University of Iceland, graduating with the degree of B.Sc. Then she embarked on a master’s programme in chemical analysis in Bologna. She spent six years in Italy and after returning home Ásta has, among other things, worked as a chemist in the hide industry, Matís and Becromal as well as graduating from an MBA programme at the University of Reykjavík and pedagogy at the University of Akureyri. Ásta has worked at the University of Akureyri since 2013 and is now enrolled in a doctoral programme at the University of Iceland along with her academic position in Akureyri.
Ásta is fond of nature and the open air; she takes a strong interest in horse trekking, skiing and walks in her leisure time. Few people know that she also practises a Japanese battle sport. Ásta is a qualified guide and she enjoys showing Italian tourists around Iceland in the summertime.