RVA Environmental Film Festival Awards UR Biology Professor 'Best Short Film' for Work Exploring Ocean Pollution through Art

'Plastic Oceans' Brings Issues of Plastic Pollution in Oceanic Environments to Forefront
January 19, 2021

Eugene Maurakis HeadshotUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Eugene Maurakis, a University of Richmond research scientist and adjunct professor, has been awarded “Best Short Film” in the RVA Environmental Film Festival for “Plastic Oceans,” which explores plastic pollution in oceanic environments through art.

Maurakis, alongside his collaborator Tyler Rhodes, an animator, was one of six winners in this year’s festival, and his film will be shown during the festival as part of the 2021 Film Contest section Feb. 14 at 4:25 p.m. 

Maurakis, who also serves as science advisor for Virginia Public Media and Chief Scientist Emeritus of the Science Museum of Virginia, is an evolutionary biologist who specializes in environmental sciences. Also an accomplished artist, he works to combine the arts and sciences to communicate science-related topics and issues in a way the general public can understand. “Plastic Oceans” is his latest example of this type of project.

“The inspiration for ‘Plastic Oceans’ came from my encounters with green sea turtles, which grabbed my attention while spending four summers researching distributions of coral reef fishes in rocky and sandy beach habitats in the Caribbean,” said Maurakis. “This marine research, coupled with my experiences in creating interactive exhibitions, laboratory experiences, and using art to share science, combined for this film.”

Maurakis is also directing a National Science Foundation-funded documentary film on breeding behaviors and selfish herd theory of nest-building fishes. He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Richmond and completed his Ph.D. at The George Washington University.