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Julie Masura, M.S.

Teaching Professor
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Washington State University
Washington State University


Julie Masura is a lecturer of Geoscience in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at University of Washington Tacoma (UW Tacoma). As a lecturer, she teaches in the freshman core and several environmental science and studies courses for the Division of Science and Math. Her graduate work as a sedimentologist has led her to work as a research assistant studying harmful algal blooms in Puget Sound and estuarine processes in Barkley and Clayoquot Sounds on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Her field work has expanded to determining the concentrations of microplastics in the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Julie involves several students in her research work as well as partners with many environmental education groups throughout the region.     

Current Research

  • 2011-present. Standardization of Methods to Quantify Marine Microdebris: Laboratory intercomparison and the development of polymer composition, size and shape as indicators of sources of marine microplastics.
  • 2010-present. Habitat modeling of Puget Sound for Alexandrium catenella cysts and motile cells to inform harmful algal bloom risk assessments now and in a future warmer climate: Identify and map the distribution of Alexamdrium catenella throughout the Puget Sound. Collect sediment cores after bloom seasons. Characterize the sediment via grain-size and total organic content of environmental samples. Prepare samples for identification of A. catanella cysts. Create map illustrating -presence of cysts.
  • 2009-present. Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Microplastics and Puget Sound and Surrounding Waters: Characterize microplastics in surface water and sediment along likely gradients in coastal waters.
  • 2009-present. Development and Application of Methods to Quantify Marine Microplastics: Develop and validate field and laboratory procedures to collect and quantify microplastic particles in marine surface waters, sediments and consumer products. Characterize microplastics in surface water and sediment along likely gradients in coastal waters. Extend these techniques to consumer products, and survey the types and amounts of microplastics in representative consumer products.
  • 2006-present. Physical Oceanographic Conditions in Barkley and Clayoquot Sounds, B.C., Canada: Determine physical and biological conditions of the water column at several locations by performing CTD casts, collecting water and plankton samples, as well as performing laboratory experiments. Temperature, salinity, density, oxygen and fluorescence are used to propose the forcing conditions which cause anoxic conditions in these fjords. Additional work includes collecting sediment samples to compare with those collected in Puget Sound. 

Scholarly Interests

  • Distance Learning     


  • TCORE 102 Introduction to Science: Introduces students to university work by focusing on a core curriculum from multiple and interdisciplinary perspectives. Emphasizes learning in the sciences, including biology, health, computer science, geology, physics, chemistry and ecology.
  • TESC 101 Introduction to Environmental Science: Provides an overview of physical and biological processes affecting the environment and exploration of current environmental issues. Topics include environmental health, air pollution, water pollution, energy, waste, urbanization and sustainability.
  • TESC 107 Geohazards and Natural Disasters: Provides a scientific foundation and understanding of the basic natural and physical processes driving what we perceive as geohazards and natural disasters.
  • TESC 117 Physical Geology: Examines the fundamental geological processes that govern how the earth works. Includes plate tectonics, the rock cycle, volcanism, seismicity, surface processes and earth resources.
  • TESC 141 General Chemistry I: Provides a basic background in the structure of matter, stoichiometry, chemical reactions, gases, chemical equilibrium, acids and bases and aqueous equilibria, as well as how these chemical processes affect biological mechanism. First in a series of general chemistry courses for science majors.
  • TESC 215 Meteorology: Introduces the processes that determine weather and climate. Provides an overview of basic meteorological principles and explore the cause of extreme weather conditions and air pollution problems locally and globally.
  • TESC 239 Energy and the Environment: Provides an overview of various renewable and non-renewable energy resources, their distribution, availability, patterns of use and impact on the environment. Evaluates relative energy efficiencies, as well as political and economic impacts on energy.
  • TESC 241 Oceanography: Examines evolution, composition, structure, behavior and residents of the world's oceans, and geological characteristics of their residential basins. Covers all aspects of oceanography. Required lab section includes hands-on activities, computer simulations, discussion, student presentations and field trips.
  • TESC 243 Geography of the Physical Environment: Investigates the physical and chemical processes that lead to Earth's diverse, dynamic landscapes. Introduces a geographic perspective on topics including climate and climate change, plate tectonics, mountain building, soils, hydrology and coastlines, with a focus on the relationship between natural landscapes and habitats of living things, including humans.
  • TESC 316 Pacific Northwest Geology: Explores the rocks, plate tectonics, and other geologic features and evolution of the Pacific Northwest, including the Cascades, Columbia Plateau, Olympic Mountains and Yellowstone. Laboratory includes rock identification, and interpretation of topographic and geologic maps of the Northwest.
  • TESC 326 Pacific Northwest Geology Field Trip: One week field trip exploring rocks, plate tectonics and evolution of the region, to include the Puget Sound, Cascades, Columbia Plateau, the Olympic Mountains. Includes rock identification, application of tectonic principles and interpretation of geologic maps.
  • TESC 337 Environmental Geology: Investigates the complex interactions between humans and their geologic environment. Examines environmental aspects of natural hazards, surface processes, geologic resources and local geology.
  • TESC 343 The Atmosphere and Air Pollution: Explores processes determining weather and climate and investigates how these phenomena relate to air pollution. Presents and applies meteorological principles to understanding global/local air pollution issues.
  • TESC 345 Pollution and Public Policy: Examines issues in environmental contamination using case studies from the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Addresses relevant scientific information as well as public perception and policy aspects. Through written and oral assignments students gain the knowledge necessary to act as informed public stakeholders.
  • TESC 415 Sedimentology: Detailed and comprehensive analysis of the field of sedimentology including surface processes, sedimentary petrology, sedimentary environments and stratigraphy.
  • TESC 445 Estuarine Field Studies: Investigates saltwater estuarine systems with a focus on Pacific Northwest water-related issues. Uses intensive field studies to explore various aspects of the physical, chemical, biological and geologic conditions in a range of local saltwater environments in Puget Sound.
  • TESC 496 Internship: Environmental science or studies internship in the public or private sector, supervised by a faculty member.
  • TESC 498 Directed Readings: Individual advanced research projects with an environmental emphasis carried out under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • TESC 499 Undergraduate Research: Individual advanced environmental science or studies research projects carried out under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • TINTL 300 Foreign Study: Estuarine Field Studies: The Natural and Cultural History of Clayoquot Sound, Canada.

Academic Service

  • 2014-present Board Member, Ocean Garbage Patch, Seattle, WA
  • 2011-present Science Adviser, Sound Experience, Port Townsend, WA
  • 2012-present Science Adviser, Citizen for a Healthy Bay, Tacoma, WA
  • 2012 Past-President, Northwest Geological Society, Seattle, WA
  • 2011-present Science Advisor, Service Education Adventure, Oak Harbor, WA
  • 2011 President, Northwest Geological Society, Seattle, WA
  • 2009-present Web Coordinator Northwest Geological Society, Seattle, WA
  • 2009-2012 Board Member, Northwest Geological Society, Seattle, WA 

Honors and Awards

External Grants (Contributing Research Associate)

  • 2014 NOAA: Quantification of Marine Microplastics in the Surface Waters of the Gulf of Alaska with NOAA [$57,809]
  • 2012-2014 NSF: Physical and Chemical Degradation of Plastics in the Marine Environment with Sea Education Association [$97,346]
  • 2012-2014 SEAGRANT: Understanding dormancy requirements and germination of Alexandrium cysts and evaluating cyst mapping as a tool for early warning of harmful algal blooms with NOAA/NMFS [$99,366]
  • 2010-2012 NOAA/ECOHAB: Modeling favorable habitat areas for Alexandrium catenella in Puget Sound and evaluating the effects of climate change with NOAA/NWFS, APL and UWS Climate Group [$741,779]
  • 2009-2012 JISAO: Development and Application of Methods to Quantify Marine Microplastics [$255,405]
  • 2009-2012 EPA: Quartermaster Harbor Nitrogen Management Study with King County and Department of Ecology [$625,000]
  • 2008-2009 Russell Family Foundation Grant: Monitoring Water Properties in Quartermaster Harbor [$15,000]
  • 2006-2007 Russell Family Foundation Grant: Monitoring Water Properties in Quartermaster Harbor [$15,000]
  • 2004-2008 NOAA/ECOHAB: The Relationship between Paralytic Shellfish Toxins and Alexandrium catenella Cysts in Puget Sound, WA with partners in UW Seattle Oceanography [$449,977]

Internal UW Tacoma Grants

  • 2014 IAS Support Research, Teaching and/or Teaching Improvement Fund: Salish Sea Conference [$475]
  • 2013-2014 UW Tacoma Chancellors Research Grant: Plastics in the Puget Sound [$3000]
  • 2013-2014 UW Tacoma Chancellors Research Grant: Reconstruction of Palynomorph Assemblages in Puget Sound Sediments [$4500]
  • 2012 UW Tacoma Instructional Technology Fellows Initiative Grant for redesigning Environmental Geology course with Sian Davies-Vollum, Peter Selkin and Cheryl Greengrove [$5,000]
  • 2010-2011 UW Tacoma Chancellors Research Grant: Establishing historical baseline environmental conditions in South Puget Sound using sediment cores [$4,969] contributing faculty
  • 2008-2009 UW Tacoma Founders Endowment Grant for Quartermaster Harbor Water Property Survey [$6,500] contributing Faculty
  • 2008 UW Tacoma Vice Chancellor’s Hybrid Course Development Fund, [$1000] 
Selected Publications

Masura, J.E., J. Baker, G. Foster, C. Arthur. 2015. Laboratory methods for the analysis of microplastics in the marine environment. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOW-OR&R-48.

Greengrove, C., J. Masura, S. Moore, B. Bill, L. Hay*, N. Banas, E. Salathe Jr., N. Mantua, D. Anderson, V. Trainer, J. Stein. 2014. Alexandrium catenella cyst distribution and germination in Puget Sound, WA USA. In: Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Harmful Algae. International Society for the Study of Harmful Algae and Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, Korea.

King County. 2014. Quartermaster Harbor Marine Water Quality Data Report 2007-2011. Prepared by Kimberle Stark (King County Water and Land Resources Division), C. Greengrove, N. Schlafer, N. Huber, and J. Masura (University of Washington-Tacoma). Submitted by King County Dept. of Nat. Resources & Parks, Seattle, Washington.