BiRNET Theme Lead Bios

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Dr. Lindsay Eltis is Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at UBC and a Tier 1 CRC in Microbial Catabolism and Biocatalysis. Lindsay’s research interests span enzymology, biocatalysis and bacterial catabolism, particularly of steroids and aromatic compounds, such as lignin. He has graduated 15 PhDs, 6 MScs, and worked with >16 post-docs and >60 undergraduates / visiting students. Lindsay has published 175 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 US patents. He has given over 100 invited presentations around the world. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and received the Norgen Biotek Canadian Society of Microbiologists Award (2010).



Dr. Emma Master is Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at University of Toronto (UofT) and Adjunct Professor in the Dept. of Bioproducts and Biosystems at Aalto U. (Finland). Emma is also Associate Director of the BioZone Centre for Applied Bioengineering Research at UofT. Emma’s research spans functional genomics, carbohydrate-active enzymes, and chemo-enzymatic pathways to new bio-based materials. Emma has published 75 peer-reviewed papers, graduated 10 PhDs, 18 MScs, and worked with over 15 post-docs and 35 undergraduate students. She was awarded an ERC Consolidator grant (2015-2020) to pursue an international research program focused on harnessing biocatalyst selectivity to upgrade plant polysaccharides. This ERC program builds upon the Finnish Distinguished Professor fellowship that she was awarded from 2011-2015.  Emma was co-recipient of the Inaugural Faculty Research Leader Award (UofT, 2013) for leadership in interdisciplinary initiatives, and recipient of an Early Researcher Award (2009) by the Government of Ontario. During her 12 years at Toronto, Emma has led two international projects, an ORF-RE project, and was lead or theme lead for four national research networks. She currently co-leads the Genome Canada project ‘Synbiomics’.

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Dr. Tom Baker is professor of Chemistry at the University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair in Catalysis Science for Energy Applications. He obtained his BSc. in Chemistry (1975) from UBC and PhD. in Inorganic Chemistry (1980) from UCLA with Fred Hawthorne. After a postdoctoral stint with Philip Skell at Penn State working on metal atom chemistry and EPR spectroscopy, Tom spent fifteen years at DuPont CR&D in Delaware developing applications of homogeneous catalysis to fluorochemicals, titanium dioxide, and nylon intermediates. In 1996 he joined the Chemistry division at Los Alamos National Laboratory where he led projects in bifunctional and multiphasic catalysis approaches for alkane functionalization and chemical hydrogen storage and production. In 2008 Baker joined the Chemistry Department at uOttawa as Director of the Centre for Catalysis Research and Innovation. He has mentored >90 students and postdocs, published >130 papers and 21 patents and given >320 invited talks. He was a founding member of the US NSF-funded Center for Enabling New Technology through Catalysis (CENTC) and a theme leader of the Lignoworks Biomaterials and Chemicals network. Distinctions include AAAS fellow (2009), CIC Green Chemistry and Engineering award (2011), the Kalev Pugi award from the Society of Chemical Industry (2013), CIC fellow (2017) and fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK; 2018) and the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society (2019). Current research interests include catalysis for conversion of renewable resources to value-added chemicals and materials, new tandem catalysis processes and green routes to hydrofluorocarbons.

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Dr. Emily D. Cranston is an Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering at McMaster University and holds the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Bio-Based Nanomaterials. Her research focuses on sustainable nanocomposites and hybrid materials from cellulose and other biopolymers. She received her Honours BSc (2001) and PhD (2008) in Chemistry at McGill University. The study of value-added products from cellulose took her to Stockholm, Sweden as a post-doctoral fellow at KTH Royal Institute of Technology before she returned to Canada in 2011. Cranston’s work has had a significant impact on a broad scientific community as evidenced by her H-index of 23, 66 peer-reviewed publications and four patents with a total of 2230 citations that includes papers in Chemical Society Reviews (IF=38.6) and Advanced Materials (IF=18.9). She has been invited to give over 80 presentations at universities, conferences and companies around the world. Cranston has trained 69 students and post-docs over 7 years which has led to 182 conference presentations. Her work has been highlighted in The Globe & Mail Newspaper, Canadian Chemical News (ACCN), the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Chemical & Engineering News, and on the cover of the journals Advanced Materials, Langmuir, Chemistry of Materials, and Nanoscale. Cranston sits on the editorial board for ACCN, ACS Central Science, ACS Macro Letters, Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, and the Nordic Pulp & Paper Research Journal and is active in Nanocellulose Standards Development. Cranston is the recipient of the 2018 Kavli Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lectureship Award from the ACS, the 2017 KINGFA Young Investigator’s Award from the ACS CELL Division, the 2015 Early Researcher Award from the province of Ontario, and is a Distinguished Engineering Fellow at McMaster.

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Dr. Ying-Hei Chui is currently Professor and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Engineered Wood and Building Systems in Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Alberta. Prior to joining the University of Alberta, he was New Brunswick Innovation Research Chair in Advanced Wood Products and Director of the Wood Science and Technology Centre at the University of New Brunswick. Dr. Chui was Scientific Director of the highly successful NSERC Strategic Research Network, NEWBuildS. NEWBuildS consisted of 23 professors from 13 Canadian universities and operated between 2010 and 2015, and was widely considered to play a major role in supporting the use of engineered wood products in tall buildings. Dr. Chui is a renowned researcher and one of Canada’s leading experts in the field of timber engineering, specializing in engineered wood products, dynamic behaviour of timber structures, non-destructive evaluation and timber connections. He has over 30 years of research experience and published over 220 articles in refereed journals and conference proceedings in these disciplines. Dr. Chui is actively engaged in building code and design standard development in North America and at the international level. He is currently member of a Standing Committee of the National Building Code of Canada, and a number of CSA technical committees on engineering design in wood and engineered wood products. He is also Vice-Chair of ASTM Technical Committee D.07 ‘Wood’, and Head of the Canadian delegation to the ISO TC 165 Technical Committee ‘Timber structures’.

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Dr. Scott Renneckar is an Associate Professor of Wood Science at UBC and Program Director for the Bioeconomy Sciences and Technology program in the Faculty of Forestry. He received his B.Sc. degree in Wood Science, with a minor in chemistry (1997; Virginia Tech), MSc in Wood Science (1999, University of California, Berkeley) and Ph.D. degree (2004; Virginia Tech) in Wood Science. In 2005, Scott was appointed as an assistant professor at Virginia Tech working to bridge wood materials with developing nanotechnology. Scott’s research interests are interdisciplinary related to applied polymer chemistry. From this standpoint he works with the deconstruction of biomass with isolation, modification, and characterization of lignocellulosic biopolymers and nanomaterials and careful assembly back into novel materials. His contributions span electrospinning cellulose and lignin for biomedical applications and carbon based energy storage systems to isolation and characterization of novel polysaccharide nanoparticles using unique catalysts. He has graduated 8 PhDs, 3 MScs, and worked with over 4 post-docs and 30 undergraduates / visiting students. Scott has published nearly 50 peer reviewer papers and 2 US patents, and given nearly 50 invited presentations at universities and conferences around the world. He is the elected Councilor of the Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division of the American Chemical Society. He holds the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Advanced Renewable Materials. Scott has an adjunct appointment at Virginia Tech and affiliate of the Sustainable Nanotechnology group at Virginia Tech.

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Dr. Heather L. MacLean is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. She is an internationally recognized expert in life cycle assessment (LCA), particularly of biobased systems. She has developed techno-economic and LCA models for a large set of bioproduct systems and successfully led many research projects (funding includes NSERC, AUTO21 Network Centres of Excellence (NCE), BioFuelNet NCE, Ontario Power Generation, Natural Resources Canada). She has served on industry and government advisory committees and is the sole academic member on the Federal Clean Fuel Standard Technical Committee. Dr. MacLean’s contributions have been recognized with a Premier’s Research Excellence Award, Canada Mortgage and Housing Excellence in Education Award for Promotion of Sustainable Practices and Canadian Society for Civil Engineering’s Dr. Albert E. Berry Medal for outstanding contributions to the field of environmental engineering in Canada. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and Engineering Institute of Canada. Over the last six years she has published 46 peer-reviewed journal papers (86 career total), given 140 presentations (47 invited), trained 51 HQP, and held more than $8 M in grants/contracts, including leading a $2.3 M project funded by NSERC, Ontario Centres of Excellence and EllisDon, aimed at reducing GHG emissions from the infrastructure sector. She holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from St. Mary’s University and Bachelor of Engineering from Dalhousie/Technical University of Nova Scotia.

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Dr. Paul Stuart is Professor of Chemical Engineering at Polytechnique-Montréal. He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from McGill University. Prior to joining Polytechnique, Paul worked in engineering design and strategic consulting including as Company Associate and Director of Process and Environmental Engineering at Toronto-based Beak Consultants Limited, and then as Partner and Director of Process and Environmental Services for Vancouver-based Simons Environmental Group (later AMEC and today, Wood Group). Paul joined the Chemical Engineering Department at Polytechnique-Montréal in 2000, to become Chairholder of the NSERC Chair in Design Engineering entitled Process Integration in the Pulp & Paper Industry, which he renewed and held until 2013, following which he became the Scientific Director of the NSERC Strategic Network in Value Chain Optimization (VCO).  Paul’s major research contributions are related to the development and application of process integration tools, process systems engineering and data analytics to address problems that are critical to the forest products industry including particularly for sector transformation – and assisting in the innovation process for biorefinery implementation. He was Founding Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Canada’s Journal of Science and Technology for Forest Products and Processes (J-FOR), and co-editor with Professor Mahmoud El-Halwagi of Texas A&M University of Integrated Biorefineries: Design, Analysis, and Optimization published by CRC-Press/Taylor and Francis. Paul has graduated 20 PhDs, 28 MScs, worked with 8 post-docs, published 131 peer-reviewed papers, and given over 100 invited presentations at universities and industries around the world. Paul is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE), a Fellow of the Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada (PAPTAC), and is founder and Principal Consultant of his consulting companies, Processys Inc and EnVertis Inc.

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Dr. Warren Mabee is Professor and Head of the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s University. He is also the Director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy. He received his B.Sc. degree in wood chemistry (1992; Toronto) and a Ph.D. degree (2001; Toronto) in wood science and environmental policy. He was the first Postdoctoral Fellow in the Liu Institute at UBC (2001-2002) and spent several years as a Research Associate in the Forest Products Biotechnology group before taking up a faculty position in Geography and Policy Studies at Queen’s University (2008). His research takes place at the intersection of technology and policy with specific focus on renewable biomaterials and bioenergy. His most notable contributions are related to the development of policy recommendations related to the roll-out of renewable material and energy products to help meet Canada’s carbon challenge. Warren has graduated 7 PhDs, 20 Master-level students, and supervised 10 post-docs and over 50 undergraduate projects. Warren has published 105 peer-reviewed papers and given over 300 invited presentations to universities, governments, and communities as well as academic conferences around the world. He holds the Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation. He previously served as a Theme Lead (2013-16) and as Associate Scientific Director (2016-17) of BioFuelNet, an NCE focused on biorefining and energy products.

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Dr. Mark MacLachlan is a Professor of Chemistry at UBC and Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Science. He received his B.Sc. degree in honours chemistry (1995; UBC) and Ph.D. degree (1999; Toronto) in Inorganic Materials. After an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship at M.I.T., Mark began his independent career at UBC in 2001. Mark’s research interests span supramolecular chemistry, nanomaterials, mesoporous materials, photonic structures, and biopolymers. His most notable contributions have been in the area of cellulose nanocrystals, where he has used them as templates for new photonic materials. He has graduated 15 PhDs, 9 MScs, and worked with over 22 post-docs and 100 undergraduates / visiting students. Mark has published 172 peer reviewer papers and 3 US patents, and given nearly 200 invited presentations at universities and conferences around the world. He has received a Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers (2009-2010), an E. W. R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship (2012-2014), the Strem Award for Pure or Applied Inorganic Chemistry from the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) (2013), a JSPS Invitational Fellowship for Research in Japan (2013), the Rutherford Medal of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) (2013), the Steacie Prize (2014), and the Award for Excellence in Materials Chemistry of the CSC (2015). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) and holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Supramolecular Materials. Mark is also the Director of the NSERC CREATE Training Program in Nanomaterials Science & Technology (NanoMat) at UBC.

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