Prof. dr. Erik van Sebille

Prof. dr. Erik van Sebille

Physical Oceanography
+31 30 253 5441

"Whose plastic is that? I want to attribute the source of plastic items found in the ocean"

Research focus: ocean circulation, marine plastic pollution and public engagement

Erik van Sebille is an oceanographer and climate scientist. His research focuses on how ocean currents transport heat, nutrients, marine organisms and plastic litter. He builds computer models to simulate the transport of this ‘stuff’ in the ocean. He is also affiliated with the Freudenthal Institute, where he leads research into the effectivity of Public Engagement activities and the role of academics in society, within the context of Open Science.

In 2023, Erik started the NWO Vici project "Tracing Marine Macroplastics by Unraveling the Ocean’s Multiscale Transport Processes". Previously, he led the "Tracking Of Plastic In Our Seas" (TOPIOS) project, funded by a 5-year (2017-2022) ERC Starting Grant. He is also lead developer of the OceanParcels code, an open-source framework to simulate how ocean currents transport 'stuff' around. Between 2019 and 2024, Erik was member of The Young Academy of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW). In 2024, he was appointed member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW).

Areas of interest:

  • Global ocean currents circulation (heat, nutrients, plankton, plastic)
  • Ocean plastic pollution
  • Climate change and marine ecosystems
  • Public Engagement and the role of academics in society

Group pages can be found at and


Video of prof. Van Sebille's Inaugural lecture ("oratie") on 16 May 2023

The text of the oratie can be accessed via this news article.


Video by the European Research Council on the project


Public lecture for Universiteit van Nederland


Public presentation at the 2018 Betweter Festival in Utrecht, Netherlands


Keynote presentation at the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, CA



Oceanography & Public Engagement