Major Recognition for Theanne Schiros’s Bioleather Research

20 different colored squares, sneakers and wallet
An illustration from Environmental Science Advances shows bio-leather dyed with various natural substances and two applications of the material.

Theanne Schiros’s research into microbial leather is finding broad recognition in the academic and popular press.

Schiros, associate professor of Science and Math, was the lead author of an academic article, “Microbial nanocellulose biotextiles for a circular materials economy,” that was featured as the cover article in the July edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science Advances.

The article describes a new process of creating bio-leather using nanocellulose processed by microbes and treated to be compostable and flame-resistant. This bioleather “has up to an order of magnitude lower carbon footprint than conventional textiles, and a thousandfold reduction in the carcinogenic impact of leather production,” the article says.

In September, the article was featured as a research highlight in  Nature Communications Engineering that explored the implications of Schiros’ findings, and declared, “The textile industry is due for a green overhaul.”

Schiros was also interviewed as an expert in two recent documentaries. The first, Curb Your Carbon from Discovery+, looked at 10 simple changes humans can make to fight climate change. It was released in April. The second, Netflix’s The Future of Fashion, from the 12-episode “The Future of” series, tackled the ecological impact of the industry and proposed more sustainable materials. It was released in June.

“Fashion creates culture, and culture creates change!” Schiros said. “Educational outreach is critical to broader impacts of both teaching and research—so these docuseries were wonderful opportunities to reach a larger group, and share what many people find to be an unexpected career or application of STEM and scientific research.”


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