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Home > Current Use of Plastics in Organic and Future Directions | Speakers

Current Use of Plastics in Organic and Future Directions | Speakers

Amber Sciligo, PhD | Director of Science Program The Organic Center (discussion leader)

Dr. Amber Sciligo is the director of science programs at The Organic Center where she directs projects associated with communicating and conducting research related to organic agriculture. During her tenure at The Organic Center, Dr. Sciligo has worked closely with researchers, industry, farmers, and policymakers to identify organic research needs, and she has collaborated on a diverse range of research programs.

Dr. Sciligo heads The Organic Center’s grant writing program and FFAR funding partnership which offers organic research funding and prizes for outstanding organic extension efforts. She also leads the center’s signature conference event, Organic Confluences, which brings together policy makers, researchers, farmers, industry members, and other non-profits to address and overcome challenges faced by the organic sector. Dr. Sciligo brings the organic voice to communities at international, national, and local levels by serving on boards and advisory committees for ISOFAR, FFAR and the Organic Association of Kentucky, the state in which she resides.

Dr. Sciligo received her PhD at Lincoln University, New Zealand in ecology and evolution with a specialty in plant/insect interactions, specifically pollination services to plants. Her extensive postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley included several interdisciplinary projects related to  the impacts of farm diversification within the organic system on a range of ecosystem services from biodiversity, pollination, natural pest control,  soil health, and climate change mitigation, as well as the livelihoods of farmers. The main goals of her work have been to inform research and policies to include the needs of agroecological farmers so that their businesses can thrive, while preserving the land for future farming.



Cynthia Barstow | Founder/Executive Director of Protect Our Breasts and Professor at UMass Amherst

Cynthia Barstow is a marketing faculty member for the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst where she teaches Sustainability Marketing, Sustainable Product Innovation (Biomimicry and Systems Thinking), Influencer Marketing and other courses. She is also the Founder/Executive Director of Protect Our Breasts, an interdisciplinary peer-to-peer influencer group dedicated to sharing about chemicals of concern in products and packaging for a safer marketplace. The business school-based organization is run by an executive board of college-aged women and serves students online and throughout its community of approximately 50 campuses and cities in the US, England, India and Taiwan. Over 60 brand partnerships exist with certified organic companies dedicated to improving the safety of their packaging. Professor Barstow also served as a marketing consultant for companies in the natural and organic industry including herbs/supplements and natural/organic foods for many years. She is the author of The Eco-Foods Guide (2002 New Society) and a frequent industry speaker. She has been speaking on packaging additives at Expo East & West since 2016. Her career has been dedicated to a safe and sustainable marketplace.



Dr. Lisa Erdle | Director of Science & Innovation at 5 Gyres Institute 

Lisa is the Director of Science & Innovation at the 5 Gyres Institute. She is a microplastics researcher and uses science to inform effective solutions at different scales, from local to global. Lisa completed her PhD at the University of Toronto, where her research focused on microfiber sources, fate, effects, and solutions. Currently, Lisa lives in California and her research focuses on different sectors of plastic use in society – predominantly plastic pollution solutions for textiles and agriculture. In the agricultural sector, Lisa’s work investigates the fate of biodegradable plastics in realistic environmental conditions, informing policy in the US. Lisa is also an active member of GESAMP, a global group of independent scientific experts that provides advice to the United Nations on scientific aspects of marine environmental protection.




Alejandra Warren | Co-founder of Plastic Free Future

Alejandra Warren is a sustainability consultant and intersectional environmentalist working on diverse zero waste, resource conservation and intersectional justice projects. She co-founded Plastic Free Future in 2020, a non-profit organization dedicated to the reduction and elimination of plastic pollution through promoting reusable alternatives and focusing on outreach to systemically excluded communities. Alejandra is currently involved in local, national and global policy efforts to address the environmental injustices caused by the toxic life cycle of plastics.  

From soil to humans, Alejandra strongly believes in the interconnectedness of all organisms and that working to heal our relationship with the environment will lead to happier, healthier and more resilient communities. 



Dr. Dana Nettles | Owner of Dr. Nettles Natural Beauty

Dr. Dana Nettles, PharmD is a licensed pharmacist who graduated from The University of Alabama with a degree in Biology, then continued her studies at Samford University’s McWhorter College of Pharmacy earning a Doctorate of Pharmacy with a minor in herbal medicine. She has been practicing pharmacy for over 30 years and has a passion for holistic medicine, organic teas and herbal products.  Dr. Nettles is a yoga, spinning and Zumba instructor and an avid runner. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority which is an organization of college educated women that are dedicated to public service. She is a healthcare professional with a dedicated history of service before herself, working to create a world without disease.  Dana is a life long farmer that uses nature as a model to produce nutrient dense medicinal herbs, vegetables and fruit. She and her husband Dr. Joseph Nettles own a 3 acre farm in Mobile, Alabama and a commercial hoop house. They grow and sell family curated medicinal teas at local produce markets and at farmer's markets. They also educate the youth at elementary schools about permaculture farming and sustainability for a healthy food system. Dr. Nettles Farms is a member of Black Farmers Index and on the board of Women Who Look Ahead Mentoring. Health and wellness is their business. 


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