Introducing Phil De Luna
Green Party of Canada Candidate, 2023
"We need science-driven, diverse, and modern leaders to build a more just and sustainable Canada."
I grew up in Windsor after immigrating from the Philippines at the age of five. Dad was an autoworker and Mom worked in customer service. From an early age, my parents taught me the value of hard work and education. The Magic School Bus was my favourite TV show. I always wanted to be a scientist.
After high school, where I was valedictorian, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Windsor. I worked multiple part-time jobs as a cashier, banquet server, photo-lab technician, and customer service rep to get through school. After my bachelors, I moved to Ottawa for my Masters of Science in Chemistry, where I met my fiancée, a frontline worker who now works as a nurse at Sick Kids Hospital.
After my MSc, I pursued a Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto. I discovered new technology to convert waste carbon dioxide emissions into useful products like fuel. My work was published in high-impact journals like Science and Nature and covered in mainstream media like Forbes, VICE, Globe & Mail, Newseek, and more. During my PhD, I spent summer internships and exchanges at IBM in New York, the University of California-Berkeley, and the Toyota Research Institute in San Francisco.
I was a Junior Fellow at Massey College and graduated with a Governor General Gold Medal for my PhD work. I attribute much of this success to the mentorship of my PhD supervisor and the loving patience of my fiancée.
During my PhD, I competed in the Carbon XPRIZE, a $20M competition to capture and convert the most carbon dioxide into a useful good. I helped raise over $2M in funding to scale up technology that I was developing at the University of Toronto. Because of this work, I was named a Forbes Top 30 Under 30.
In the last year of graduate school, I wanted to start a cleantech company but my mentor and supervisor thought the technology was too early for commercialization. Instead, I found a job posting for a director position at the National Research Council in Toronto to develop new disruptive technologies to help decarbonize Canada. I applied, interviewed, and was offered the job.
For the last two years, I was leading a $57M collaborative research program at the National Research Council on new clean energy technology. I serve on the board of the carbontech non-profit Carbon Management Canada, worked with the OECD on collaborative platforms for materials discovery, with the Creative Destruction Lab as a mentor to help science-based startups scale, with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO on artificial intelligence to advance sustainable development, and as an Action Canada Fellow where I co-wrote a report with recommendations to lower barriers of entry for new farmers – especially women, visible minorities, immigrants, and indigenous peoples.
In my spare time, I co-host and executive produce a podcast, “What’s Next In…” about the rapidly changing world and how we can get ahead of it. I am also a two-time TEDx speaker, a Mission Innovation Champion for Canada, a Clean50 Emerging leader, a GreenBiz Top 30 Under 30, and a Bay St. Bull 30×30.