Laurel Schafer

Canada Research Chair in Catalyst Development

Tier 1 - 2017-11-01
Renewed: 2016-05-01
The University of British Columbia
Natural Sciences and Engineering


Research involves

Developing catalysts for a variety of applications that are safe and use less energy, ranging from compostable plastics to medical treatments.

Research relevance

This research will help deliver new approaches for sustainable chemistry and for reducing chemical waste.

A Catalyst to Develop Safe, Waste-free Chemical Syntheses

There is growing demand for energy-efficient approaches in the preparation of chemicals. Demand is also increasing for developing new methods that employ metals that are so safe they can be used in medical implants and result in waste-free transformations.

Achieving these goals requires the development of catalysts (which promote chemical reactions, but are chemically unchanged at the end of the reactions). In addition, atoms have to remain in materials from start to finish, meaning there is no waste.

Dr. Laurel Schafer, Canada Research Chair in Catalyst Development, is aiming for these goals by working with metals with low toxicity that are easily modified and rapidly assembled. This makes them ideal for the fine chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.

She is exploring new catalysts and synthetic approaches for a variety of applications, including the preparation of compostable plastics and potential treatments for chronic pain.

Schafer’s sustainable solutions show promise for changing the way chemicals are made and could lead to waste reductions and energy savings, as well as in more environmentally friendly methods for industry to work with chemicals.