Science for the Public 2/04/14. Javier Fernandez, PhD, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Dr. Fernández explains the urgent need to replace plastic, the challenge of developing innovative materials like shrilk, and the great many uses for this new material. Shrilk, which is modeled on natural compounds found in crustacean shells, insect bodies, and silk, is biodegradable and also biocompatible., Shrilk can be produced inexpensively and it can be molded into complex shapes varying in stiffness and elasticity. It can be produced cheaply and can be used in many products. Shrilk is also a good replacement for plastics used in surgery.