Meet Our Team

Lana Van Note

FOUNDER

Hi! My name is Lana Van Note, and I am currently a senior at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science. Growing up on the Jersey Shore, my fond summer beach memories are intertwined with issues from white (plastic) pollution. Too frequently I’ve found myself picking up a bottle cap instead of a clam shell.

Enjoying participating in my school science fair since first grade, I decided at the age of eleven that I wanted my future science projects to do more than just fill the slot on my report card. I wanted them to mean something. 

 

To have worth. 

 

To make an impact within the scientific community. 

 

To better the world we live in.

What better way than to tackle an issue I’ve been encountering for over a decade? I started off by examining the rate at which mealworms are able to digest different types of plastics. Six abstracts later, I'd studied soil and water microorganisms and their ability to biodegrade plastics (hello Pseudomonas putida!), the effects of bisphenol A (BPA) degradation on brine shrimp in a simulated ocean setting, and the consequences of generational polyethylene biodegradation on microorganisms. I’ve participated in over 25 science competitions, winning over 20 awards and honors and sharing research on a national level. 

 

This past year, I invented a novel bioplastic formula including bamboo and cricket, a variation of which is the tannin-based BioBead. Following my eleven-year-old self's promise, I chose to do more with my developed bioplastic than simply report the facts and figures.

Hence, the Ersatz Project was born.

 

Now, instead of dreading the annual presentations to various experts in the fields of microbiology and chemistry like some of my classmates, I embrace them as opportunities to affect someone. Would I make the judges think twice before they choose to carry their items with a single-use bag on their way home from the fair? Would they retrieve that empty water bottle that blew away from them on a windy day instead of letting it roll down the storm drain? While I can’t say for sure, I hope that by the end of this paragraph,

I’ve left that impact upon you!

Below: My research evolution began in 7th grade.

7th Grade - Examining Mealworms and how well they could chew through polystyrene really sparked my interest.

Ersatz Team Members

   Hello there! I'm Samantha Brink and I'm currently a senior at Newman International Academy in Dallas, Texas. Growing up in an urban city, I've seen too many people carelessly litter single-use plastics. Some cannot afford the high price of reusable plastics but most single-use plastics have become normalized and "convenient." Sadly, this pollutes the already dirty earth. The pollution does not stay in Dallas either—it can flow into the Gulf of Mexico via the Trinity River.

   In the future, I plan on creating new forms of renewable energy sources to help combat climate change. Currently, we only have one planet to live on, so we should treat it with love and care. Earth has given us with everything we have ever asked for. Let's do something for Earth in return. Buy a water thermos, repurpose old plastic containers instead of throwing them away, support organizations such as the Ersatz Project by donating, and remember to recycle. Your small actions will build into a big impact, especially if you inspire others.

SAMANTHA

BRINK

Social Media

Officer

   Hello there! I'm Samantha Brink and I'm currently a senior at Newman International Academy in Dallas, Texas. Growing up in an urban city, I've seen too many people carelessly litter single-use plastics. Some cannot afford the high price of reusable plastics but most single-use plastics have become normalized and "convenient." Sadly, this pollutes the already dirty earth. The pollution does not stay in Dallas either—it can flow into the Gulf of Mexico via the Trinity River.

FIONA CHENG

Writer, 

Digital Media

Illustrator

DEVON BAKER

Digital Media

Illustrator,

Animation

   Hello there! I'm Samantha Brink and I'm currently a senior at Newman International Academy in Dallas, Texas. Growing up in an urban city, I've seen too many people carelessly litter single-use plastics. Some cannot afford the high price of reusable plastics but most single-use plastics have become normalized and "convenient." Sadly, this pollutes the already dirty earth. The pollution does not stay in Dallas either—it can flow into the Gulf of Mexico via the Trinity River.