Erik is a microbial ecologist who was a member of the scientific community in Woods Hole, USA from 1985 till 2017 when he joined the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. From 1985-1994 he was a member of the Biology Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where he worked primarily on open ocean picoplankton using flow cytometry. From 1994-2016 he taught and did research at SEA Education Association, as Science Coordinator, Professor, and Associate Dean. It was during research cruises with undergraduate students on the SEA sailing research vessels that he first became interested in plastic marine debris, and particularly the role of microbial biofilms on the fate of plastic in aquatic systems. Erik has participated on over 60 research cruises collecting oceanographic data including plastic marine debris in the Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean. His research for the last 20 years has been facilitated by students and citizen scientists, and whenever possible, he escapes from his computer to work and teach in the field. Most recently he has taught summer courses in oceanography at Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine, USA, and island ecology at University of the Azores, on the island of São Miguel.