25 Days of CoDI: Day 19

On the nineteenth day of CoDI a crazy Canadian said to me “More Plastics = A Better World”

Mike Shaver: More Plastics = A Better World

More plastic?! Is he from Mars? Actually no he’s not…


Introduce yourself Mikemichael shaver

I’m Mike.

Okay very funny, now seriously, tell us a bit about yourself…

Well I’m certainly not from Mars… I’m a Canadian, first and foremost. I studied inorganic chemistry in Canada at Mount Allison University and the University of British Columbia. At the end of my PhD, I decided I wanted to develop chemistry with real global impact, so when I was awarded an NSERC Post-doctoral Fellowship, I made a big career change into polymer chemistry at (and my first trans-Atlantic journey to) Imperial College London.

Mike Map

From there, I moved back to Canada and started an independent career working in “green” polymer chemistry. In short this involved improving the sustainability of polymers (plastics, coatings, adhesives, materials). It was at this stage of my career that I also started to care passionately about public understanding of science. I began participating in a number of public engagement events, including multiple appearances on CBC Radio and Television (the Canadian equivalent of the BBC).

Mike CR LogoMike UOE Logo





In an effort to increase the impact of my research (and public engagement, of course), I took up the opportunity to move to the University of Edinburgh almost 4 years ago. This has been a big boost, as our group has been able to work with a diverse array of industrial partners to develop new products and explore improving different processes through designing new catalysts and new polymers. In addition, I’ve  expanded the scope of my public engagement events. I did a TEDx talk, numerous stand-up comedy shows through Bright Club, and lots of other talks and events. Much of this has been focused on demystifying what the word plastics means to the general public – taking what is a negative opinion and getting people to think a bit deeper about these essential materials.

Mike @ TEDOkay, so now that we have your life history, tell us where does CoDI fit into all of this? 

I think CODI is the perfect way to reach such an interested audience and build a conversation around plastics – the contentious statement of needing more plastics, not less, seems flawed at its core, but that’s why I chose it! Hopefully people come along with both a strong opinion AND an open mind!

Mike’s show takes place on Tuesday 23rd August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at: http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/97/performance/1532/book-tickets

Michael Plastic