About Heidi Auman, Ph.D.

Dr. Heidi Auman has studied human effects on seabirds for much of the past twenty-five years. A pioneer on the research of plastic ingestion, she lived on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in 1993–2000, studying the effects of marine debris and contaminants on Laysan albatross. Heidi has also explored plastic ingestion in subantarctic and Tasmanian seabirds, chemical pollutants in Great Lakes birds, and the effects of junk food on urban gulls. She has demonstrated that our ecological footprint has reached the farthest corners of the earth, often with disturbing consequences.

For several years, Heidi lived on an enchanting atoll called Midway, one of the most remote points on the planet—an idyllic speck of sand in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean—but an appalling contradiction confronted her: Its beaches were littered with the spew of collective human consumerism from the far corners of the globe. Upon the powdery soft white sand, the wind and waves offered up derelict fishing buoys, lines, nets and floats, disposable lighters, toothbrushes, shoes, bottles, and even the occasional television and bloody syringe.

Heidi lived cheek-to-beak with Midway’s albatrosses, studying the amounts and effects of our garbage in their guts. Sadly, she found that over 97% of the birds contained marine debris (mainly plastic) and most of it could be measured by multiple handfuls.

Heidi is passionate about sharing her research discoveries from remote islands. Although she has published numerous scientific articles, she feels that few people other than academics will ever read these. As a world trailblazer on plastic ingestion in seabirds, she was compelled to write a book for a wider audience. Heidi hopes to send a compelling message aimed at younger readers, who can champion solutions to this serious global ecological issue.

Heidi grew up in Michigan in the United States, lived as a nomad for many years, studying birds around the world, and eventually settled in Australia. She now holds both American and Australian citizenship. Heidi lives with her husband, James. They have created their nest on a verdant mountainside in Tasmania, surrounded by native birds.