Surfrider Foundation Georgia Chapter is proud to sponsor founding member Pam Longobardi’s 2015 Welch Symposium: “Plastic GYRE: Artists, Scientists and Activists Respond”

In an effort to raise awareness and discourse on the global crisis of plastic pollution, the Welch Foundation at Georgia State University (GSU), David J. Sencer Museum of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) jointly host the 2015 Welch Symposium, The Plastic GYRE: Artists, Scientists and Activists Respond on March 26-27.

Plastic GYRE symposium events are FREE and open to the public, but seating is limited and you “must” register for each day:

Thursday, March 26, Georgia State University Student Center Ballrooms Register Here 

Friday March 27, David J. Sencer CDC Museum Register Here 

Important: Non-U.S. citizens who wish to attend the keynote address and other presentations at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum must submit passport information no later than Thursday, March 12, 2015. Please contact for further information.


The two-day symposium is part of the Atlanta Science Festival and will feature a wide array of experts discussing the most current research, creative response, activism mobilization and industry best practices in a quest to address runaway global plastic pollution. In conjunction with the conference, several events are planned including a partnership with a major international art exhibition, Gyre: The Plastic Ocean at The David J. Sencer CDC Museum, film screenings, pop-up exhibition, press junket and a cocktail reception at the CDC Museum (see below for details).

The Plastic GYRE: Artists, Scientists and Activists Respond symposium is conceived by Pam Longobardi, GSU Distinguished University Professor, Professor of Art and founder of the Drifters Project. “The Gyre is the scientific term for the ocean currents that propel plastic pollution around the world,” states Ms. Longobardi. “This is a unique conference that brings together top scientists, artists, activists and industry leaders as partners in exposing the environmental and public health issues and collaboratively working to offer solutions.”

A signature symposium component is the current art exhibit Gyre: The Plastic Ocean at The David J. Sencer CDC Museum. The exhibit explores the relationship between modern-day consumption culture, the environment and their joint impact upon communities around the world. Featured artists include Mark Dion (NY), Alexis Rockman (NY), Susan Middleton (CA), Dianna Cohen (CA), Pam Longobardi (GA), Stephen McPherson (UK), Sue Ryan (AU), Andy Hughes (UK), Max Liboiron (NF), and many more.

To date, the symposium schedule includes:

Thursday, March 26 – Sessions/Events

GSU Salon Ballrooms, Student Center
44 Courtland St. SE, Atlanta, GA 30303 Link

8:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.  –  Coffee Mingle

9:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.  –  Welcoming Remarks and Scope of Problem

10:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Communicating the Issue: Science and Art

1:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.  –  Beyond Greenwashing: Extended Producer Responsibility

3:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.  –  Mobilization from the Ground Up: Activism

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.  –  State of the GYRE – Good News Blitz

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Film Screening: National Geographic’s
“Gyre: Creating Art from the Plastic  Ocean”

Friday, March 27 – Sessions/Events

David J. Sencer CDC Museum and CDC Auditorium
1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329 Link

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Press Junket and Announcement

11:00 p.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Exhibition Viewing with Curators and Artists Present

1:30p.m. – 1:45 p.m. – Welcome Remarks / CDC + Sustainability

1:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. – Social Justice

3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Keynote Address
Charles Moore, Algalita Research Foundation, Discover of Great
Pacific Garbage Patch

4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Cocktail Reception and Exhibition Viewing

Confirmed Speakers as of 2/25/15

* Charles Moore – (Keynote) scientist, founder Algalita Marine Research /Education, Discover of Great Pacific Garbage Patch
* Rachelle Carson – (MC) Actress, activist, sustainable living expert with Ed Begley ‘Living with Ed’
* Abby Barrow – Scientist, Marine Environmental Research Institute, Maine
* Lisa Boyles – Environmental Lawyer, Writer, Editor, Tulane Law Journal ‘Plastics’ issue
* Antonia Calafat – Analytical Toxicology of plastic, CDC National Center for Environmental Health
* Ellen Caldwell – Art Historian at Otis, Pepperdine University, researches Balinese artist/activists
* Dianna Cohen – Artist, Activist, Co-founder, CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition
* Steve Combs – Activist, Surfer, Lawyer, Surfrider Foundation National Board of Directors
* Julie Decker – Artist, Director, Anchorage Museum and Curator of GYRE Exhibition
* Barbara DeVries – Artist, Designer, Bahamas project
* Marcus Eriksen – Scientist, Explorer, Director of Research and Co-founder of 5 Gyres Institute
* Howard Ferren – Former Director of Conservation, Alaska SeaLIfe Center, Founder of GYRE Project
* Jeff Gold – Engineer and Inventor of plastics-to-oil company Nexus Fuels
* Cyrill Gutsch – Founder of Parley for the Oceans
* Jenna Jambeck – UGA scientist, developer of app ‘Marine Debris Tracker’
* Asher Jay, Artist – Designer, National Geographic Young Explorer
* Sonya Kelliher-Combs – Artist, Native Alaskan, exhibitor in GYRE exhibition
* J.J. Kelley – National Geographic Producer and award-winning filmmaker
* Arielle Kilroy – Digital Product Director, SIERRA Club, Washington DC
* Rick Kuykendall – Lawyer, Surfrider Foundation National Board Member, Key Litigator, BP Deep Horizon Disaster Class Action Suit
* John Lanier – Executive Director, Ray Anderson Foundation
* Pam Longobardi – Artist, Activist, GSU Distinguished University Professor, Drifters Project
* Rod Mast – President/CEO, Oceanic Society and former VP of Conservation International
* Susan Middleton – Guggenheim Fellow, Artist/Scholar/Author, Nat’l Geographic Photographer
* Rashid Nuri – Director, Truly Living Well, Urban Gardener, former Clinton advisor on Agriculture
* Jane Patton – Education Pioneer and Director of Data, Algiers Charter Schools Association
* Olivia and Carter Ries – Activists, Co-founders, One More Generation
* Chelsea Rochman – Ecotoxicologist, UC Davis, Plastic As Hazardous Waste
* Scott Seydel – President and CEO, The Seydel Companies Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Chair Advisory Board of Elemental Impact
* Laura Turner Seydel – Chair, Captain Planet Foundation, Co-founder Chattahoochee RiverKeeper, Board, Environmental Working Group
* Robert Simmons – Artist, Scientist, Director of GSU Micro Imaging Lab
* Stephanie Stuckey Benfield – Lawyer, Director of GreenLaw
* Heather White – Executive Director of Environmental Working Group
* Liz York – CDC Director of Sustainability

With special musical guest, Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls

Symposium schedule and participants updates are forthcoming.


The Plastic GYRE: Artists, Scientists and Activists Respond Welch Symposium is sponsored by the Welch Foundation at Georgia State University • Center for Disease Control David J. Sencer Museum • Plastic Pollution Coalition • Drifters Project and the following generous supporters:

Algalita Marine Research Foundation • Amalee Kuykendall, ABK litigation, LLC • Art Papers • Au Bon Climat Wines • Benziger Family Winery • Bib & Sola Glassware • Briarwillow LLC Scientific Imaging • Chirping Bird Society + Sullie the Seagull • ECOLunchBoxes • Effie Abrahamsen • Einstein’s Bagels • Emory Goizueta Business School Social Enterprise Club • Farmers to Forty Coffee • Fire the Rice Caterers • Georgia Department of Economic Development, Center of Innovation Energy • GSU College of Arts & Sciences Deans Office • GSU Department of Geosciences • Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design • GSU Imaging Core Facility • GSU Office of Sustainability • GSU Office of the Provost • GreenLaw • Highland Bakery • Imagery Estate Winery • Lala Productions • Lois Robbins • Oceanic Society • Parley for the Oceans • Qupé Winery • SIERRA Club Georgia Chapter • Steelys Drinkware • Stella Artois • Surfrider Foundation • Surfrider Foundation Georgia Chapter • To-Go Ware • Trader Joe’s • Verdad Wines • Whole Foods

The Welch Foundation
The Welch Foundation is a cross-disciplinary cooperation by the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design and supports the graduate program by sponsoring the Welch Visiting Artist and Scholar Lecture series, a biannual Artist in Residence program and the Welch Symposium. Past symposia included Creativity and Imagination (2013) and the Welch Symposium on Death (2012).

Center for Disease Control David J. Sencer Museum
The David J. Sencer CDC Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, uses award-winning exhibits and innovative programming to educate visitors about the value of public health, and presents the rich heritage and vast accomplishments of CDC. The museum hosts about 90,000 visitors each year, and provides popular educational programs for students and teachers. Originally called the Global Health Odyssey Museum, the facility was established in 1996 in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 50th anniversary and to coincide with the Centennial Olympic Games. In 2011, the museum was re-named the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, in honor of the longest serving director of CDC.

Plastic Pollution Coalition
Plastic Pollution Coalition is a global alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals, the ocean and the environment. With its work, Plastic Pollution Coalition seeks to put plastic pollution at the forefront of global social, environmental and political discourse.

Pam Longobardi Bio
Pam Longobardi’s parents, an ocean lifeguard and Delaware state diving champion, connected her from an early age to water. She moved to Atlanta in 1970 and saw her neighborhood pond drained to build the high school she attended. Since then, she lived for varying time periods in Wyoming, Montana, California, and Tennessee, and worked as a firefighter, tree planter, scientific illustrator, aerial mapmaker, waitress, bartender, collaborative printer and color mixer. Her artwork involves painting, photography, and installation and addresses the psychological relationship of humans to the natural world. Her art has been shown extensively across the US and internationally. In 2006, she founded the Drifters Project, a conceptually-based artistic research project focusing on global ocean plastic. In 2013, she won the prestigious Hudgens Prize and has an ongoing collaboration supported by the Ionion Center for Art and Culture in Metaxata, Kefalonia, Greece. In 2014, Longobardi was awarded the title of Distinguished University Professor at Georgia State University, and has been named Oceanic Society’s Artist-In-Residence. and


Pam Longobardi
Voicemail: (404) 413-5246

Paulita Bennett-Martin
Cell: (404) 825-5176