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Tuesday, 14 August 2018 00:38

Flip-flops and Surfboards made from Algae? Renewable algae-derived biomaterials with Steve Mayfield

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Dr. Steve Mayfield is a professor at the University of California San Diego and the Director of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology. Algae are amazing microorganisms, and Dr. Mayfield says that the more you know about algae, the more you like them.  

Algae are extremely important to life on earth: they changed the atmosphere of the planet to contain oxygen and allow everything else to live here, they still do the bulk of photosynthesis on earth, converting sunlight and CO2 into biological material, and they are the basis of the petroleum we use. 

Dr. Mayfield also sees them as a means to improve the future of mankind:  he is exploiting algae as nutraceuticals to improve human health, and as workhorses to create renewable bioproducts.  He is extracting polymers from algae to make biodegradable flip-flops, the most common shoe on earth and one of the most common pollutants in the ocean. 

Dr. Mayfield talks about the importance of algae, the complicated process of making and scaling-up production of biodegradable flip-flops and surfboards, and how a student’s idea about racing a motorcycle in the Mexican desert led to his interest in production of algae-based products.   

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Grainy Polaroid, a freelance photographer who gets a strange infection in his foot while working at a destination wedding in Mexico.


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Stephen Mayfield, Ph.D. (University of California San Diego)
  • Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Jesus Romo (UTSA)

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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 August 2018 01:25
Karl Klose

Karl Klose, Ph.D. is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Texas San Antonio, the Director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID), and host of microTalk. He oversees the research on infectious diseases that is carried out in his laboratory by undergraduate, Masters’, and Ph.D. students, as well as research staff. He also teaches microbiology to undergraduate and graduate students.

Karl is enthusiastic about enlightening people to the fascinating world of microbes.  He has given two TED talks on antibiotic resistance. He has been a visiting professor in Kolkata India and Valparaiso Chile.  He has spent the past two years visiting ASM branch meetings through the Distinguished Lecturer program.  You can find Karl on Twitter and you can find STCEID on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.