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Founder Bios

Anna Cummins, Executive Director, Co-founder

Photo Credit: Peter Hellberg

Anna has over 15 years of experience in environmental non-profit work, education, writing, and campaign development. She has worked in marine conservation, coastal watershed management, sustainability education, and high school ecology instruction. Anna received her undergraduate in History from Stanford University, and her Masters in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute for International Studies. 

In 2008, Anna completed a month long, 4,000-mile research expedition studying plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre. The journey inspired the launch of 5 Gyres. Anna was elected a fellow of the Wings World Quest in 2011, and received a Golden Goody Award in 2013.


Marcus Eriksen, Director of Research, Co-founder 

Photo Credit: Mitya Ku

Marcus Eriksen received his Ph.D. in Science Education from University of Southern California in 2003, months before embarking on a 2000-mile, 5-month journey down the Mississippi River on a homemade raft. His experience on the river led to a career studying the ecological impacts of plastic marine pollution, which has included expeditions sailing 35,000 miles through all 5 subtropical gyres to discover new garbage patches of plastic pollution in the Southern Hemisphere.

His first book, titled “My River Home” (Beacon Press, 2007) chronicled his Mississippi River experience paralleled with his tour as a Marine in the 1991 Gulf War. The experience of war, sailing across the gyres with diverse crews, and long rafting voyages, have led to a strong conservation ethic worth fighting for.

“We must understand and define conservation as self-preservation – a rationale that crosses all boundaries between all people.”