The BioProducts Institute network brings together world-leading, interdisciplinary researchers who are developing fundamental understanding and cutting-edge technologies for the conversion of biomass into sustainable clean energy, chemicals and advanced bioproducts.


Susan Baldwin

Susan A. Baldwin

Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Her overall research goal is environmental sustainability of Canadian society through bioremediation where active (reactor-based) and passive (natural) processes are studied that involve microbes and biomonitoring, which concerns the use of biological organisms for monitoring potential deleterious impacts from industrial and other human activities. Her expertise lies in the application of evolving quantitative molecular biology techniques such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction, gene sequencing, small subunit ribosomal RNA phylogeny and metagenomics to bioreactor monitoring and optimization.

Xiaotao Bi

Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC
Fellow of The Canadian Academy of Engineering

Xiaotao and his team have been developing environmental systems analysis and life cycle analysis tools to model and evaluate biomass energy systems, including Canadian wood pellets, animal wastes and agricultural residues, as well as integrated impacts assessment of biomass combustion, gasification, torrefaction and pelletization processes. Current research is focused on electrostatic charging of dielectric particles in gas-solids fluidized beds, dual fluidized bed for biomass steam gasification and novel i-CFB reactors for catalytic NOx reduction.


Joerg Bohlmann

Professor, Department of Botany, UBC

Joerg is a world leader in the fields of plant and forestry genomics and in plant natural products biology. He is distinguished for his research on the genomics of defence and resistance mechanisms of conifers against insect pests and insect-associated fungal pathogens, as well as on plant terpenoid biochemistry. New systems for high value bioproducts, as well as groundbreaking approaches for conifer improvement, are emerging from this work.

Harry Brumer

Professor, Michael Smith Laboratories (MSL) and Dept. of Chemistry, UBC

The focus of Harry’s research is to understand the way in which particular enzymes act to alter the structure of polysaccharides found in biomass (especially plant cell walls and wood fibers), and to harness these enzymes for application.
The discovery and characterisation of new enzymes involved in these processes provides a foundation for the development of enzyme technology for the improved use of renewable biomass resources in the forest products, agricultural, and textile industries.

Emily Cranston

Associate Professor, Dept. Wood Science, Forestry and Dept. Chemical and Biological Engineering, Applied Science.
President’s Excellence Chair in Forest Bioproducts, UBC

Emily and her team are designing high-performance materials to replace those that are based on non-renewable resources by learning from nature and using bio-based components. Their current focus is on the production, functionalization and characterization of cellulose nanocrystals aimed at tailoring interfacial properties for nano-enhanced and nano-enabled bioproducts. The Cranston group pioneered networked hybrid cellulose nanocrystal materials for energy production/storage, water purification and muscle/bone regeneration as well as co-stabilized foams, emulsions and latexes for enhanced food, drug, paint, and adhesive applications.


Gary Q. Bull

Professor and Department Head Pro Tem, Forest Resources Management Department, UBC

Gary has spent most of his early career working as a management consultant, an economist for two large forest product companies and as an economist for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.  Today he is a professor of forest economics and management at UBC and department head.  His focus is on timber suppy and carbon or bioenergy economics; international trade in forest products and the assessment of forest carbon financing.

Joe Dahmen

Assistant Professor
School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Joe’s research tests emergent materials in two different registers. Quantitative methods measure their structural and environmental performance, while their qualitative spatial and cultural potentials are evaluated through public architectural installations. His research provides pathways for emergent materials derived from regionally specific biological and geological processes to enter architectural practice. These materials offer new expressive capabilities to architects while positively affecting local ecosystems.


Lindsay Eltis

Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, UBC
Canada Research Chair in Microbial Catabolism and Biocatalysis

Lindsay’s primary research interest is bacterial enzymes and pathways responsible for the degradation of aromatic compounds, including lignin, and steroids. His most significant contributions, including the first characterization of a bacterial lignin-degrading enzyme, have changed the way we think about how important classes of enzymes work and how certain pathogens survive in their hosts. Lindsay’s research has important implications for the development of novel biocatalysts for more sustainable processes as well as the development of novel therapeutics.


Naoko Ellis

Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

Naoko’s expertise lies in the area of multiphase reaction engineering with emphasis on fluidized beds. Some current projects include: CO2 capture; biomass gasification and pyrolysis; chemical looping combustion; pyrolysis product utilization including bio-oil and biochar applications; and biofuels. In particular, she is involved in utilizing biomass through production of liquid fuel from biomass waste, developing biochar for capacitive deionization, tar reduction in biomass gasifiers. She is passionate about engaging others on sustainability related issues, and developing ways to advance environmental literacy in higher education. 


Peter Englezos

Head and Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC
Fellow of The Canadian Academy of Engineering

Peter has over 20 years of research experience on several fundamental and applied aspects of clathrate or gas hydrates. He has published extensively in this area including reviews on clathrate hydrates, kinetics, energy and environmental aspects and a provisional patent. During the past 15 years he has also developed expertise on several aspects of papermaking chemistry or “wet-end” chemistry. The link connecting these apparently different areas is that the systems under study are aqueous multiphase systems.  Tackling these complex systems involve research methodologies based primarily on chemical thermodynamics aided by kinetics, mass transfer, colloid chemistry and optimization methods. 


Derek P. Gates

Professor, Department of Chemistry, UBC

Research in Derek’s group bridges the traditional areas of inorganic chemistry and polymer science. The development of synthetic methodologies to prepare new macromolecules with interesting structures and properties is a challenging frontier in chemistry. Derek’s group has developed synthetic methods to prepare unprecedented polymers that incorporate phosphorus atoms into the backbone. These new macromolecules possess unique physical and chemical properties.  They are attractive materials for applications as  flame retardant additives for paper, catalyst supports for pharmaceutical synthesis and photoluminescent sensors amongst other potential uses.

Kevin Golovin

Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, UBCO

Kevin’s research interests lie in interfacial mechanics, anti-icing solutions, solid-liquid interactions, designer coatings, polymer engineering, surface modification, and sustainable engineering. Kevin’s diverse research team investigates next-generation surface science with a focus on addressing energy and sustainability challenges.

Dana Grecov

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, UBC

Dana’s core research areas are in Biofluid Mechanics, Liquid crystals, Multiphase flow, Fluid Mechanics, Computational fluid dynamics, and Rheology. A few accomplishments:
– Development of new robust and efficient computational methods to simulate 2D and 3D flows of liquid crystalline materials in complex geometries potentially for industrial and biomedical applications.
– Fundamental understanding of synovial fluid rheological behavior, and the effect of viscosupplements and glucosamine on it.


Sheldon Green

Professor, Mechanical Engineering, UBC

Sheldon is a specialist in industrial fluid mechanics, and more specifically the application of experimental and numerical techniques to study and resolve industrially relevant fluid mechanics problems.  His research has involved the experimental and CFD study of papermaking forming fabric flow and, more recently, dryer fabric performance, and the interaction of spray droplets and spray jets with moving surfaces, which is relevant to the application of friction control materials to railroad tracks.


Steven Hallam

Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, UBC
Canada Research Chair in Environmental Genomics

Steven harnesses the awesome power of environmental genomics to explore the microcosmos, describing microbial community structure and function across a wide range of natural and human engineered ecosystems. Each of his projects shares a core set of interdisciplinary tools sourced from ecology, molecular biology, genetics and computer science, and each views microbial community members as cellular constituents within the body of an ecosystem providing essential nutritional, energetic or detoxification services through distributed networks of metabolite exchange and feedback regulation.


Savvas Hatzikiriakos

Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

Savvas has over 25 years of experience in the rheology of complex fluids including polymer melts and their blends, suspensions, gels and pastes. His group is using rheology as a probe to gain a better understanding of structural changes taking place in complex systems under flow. Primary focus is on polymer melts of controlled molecular architecture, nanocrystalline cellulose suspensions, gels and pastes. Another major theme of his research activities is in the area of surface modification to control wetting properties, including superhydrophobic and superoleophobic surfaces with applications in the area of biomedical sector.

Zachary Hudson

Assistant Professor, Chemistry

The Hudson group is focused on developing new bio-based polymers for use in compostable plastics. Tens of billions of pieces of single-use plastics end up in rivers, oceans and landfills every year, most of which take thousands of years to naturally break down. Food and beverage packaging is the single largest source of single-use plastic waste, with only a small fraction of that ever being recycled. Hudson and his team are working to develop fully compostable materials from renewable feedstocks which meet the needs of consumers, while breaking down quickly into environmentally benign products.

Reinhard Jetter

Reinhard Jetter

Professor, Botany

His research interests focus on the formation, composition, structure, properties and function of plant surface waxes. Lipids play a pivotal role in all interactions between plants and their biotic and abiotic environment. Integrative research in his lab spans secondary metabolites, wax accumulation and recovery after damage, biosynthetic pathway of enzymes, cloning of relevant genes and expression studies, characterization of infochemicals at the plant surface, and wax compounds forming the transpiration barrier. Cuticular waxes on wheat, barley and rye surfaces occupy current research.

Feng Jiang

Assistant Professor, Department of Wood Science

Feng’s research interest lies in converting naturally abundant biomass into functional nanocellulose and assembled structures. His strategies include: (1) developing green and efficient isolation/modification pathways to reduce production cost and diversify surface chemistry, (2) assembling nanocellulose into hierarchical structures including fibres, films, hydrogel/aerogel, and nanocomposites, and (3) designing novel structures and functionalities for targeted applications in environmental remediation, biomedicine, structure and building, as well as energy storage and harvesting.

Patrick N. Kirchen

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

His current research activities include internal combustion engine studies focusing on novel combustion strategies utilizing natural gas (NG) and biofuels, in particular the development of instrumentation, diagnostic techniques, and phenomenological models. He is developing a membrane reactor research program, with a focus on the surface fuel conversion processes and the development of practical reactor configurations for fuel conversion. Overarching interest is minimization of the environmental impact of practical heat and power production devices, with a focus on thermodynamic and fuel conversion processes.

Frank Ko

Professor, Materials Engineering, UBC
Canada Research Chair Professor (Tier 1) in Advanced Fibrous Materials

Building on a tradition of creative design and fabrication of fibre based surgical implants, the Advanced Fibrous Materials Laboratory is dedicated to the development of a nanofiber platform for tissue engineering scaffolds in orthopedic, vascular and neual prostheses.
Ko also works on Nanofibre technology to gain a fundamental understanding and investigate methods to produce nanofibres consistently and reproducibly. Ko’s research also focuses on textile structural composites, which are composites reinforced by textile structures dedicated for load bearing applications, such as armor and vehicle safety products.


Rob Kozak

Professor, Department of Wood Science, UBC
Associate Dean Academic

Rob’s current research and teaching interests revolve around sustainable business management practices and issues and providing business-based solutions to complex problems related to sustainable development, forestry, wood products and the emerging conservation economy. Currently, his work focuses on the wellbeing of forest-dependent communities, international development and poverty alleviation strategies, forest certification, corporate social responsibility, and forest sector sustainability and competitiveness.

Jim Lim

Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

Lim’s research has been focused on the fundamentals of spouting and fluidization phenomena, and the application of these technologies to environmentally friendly processes and clean energy production. His current research interests include biomass gasification with CO2 capture in a circulating fluidized bed, hydrogen production in a fluidized bed membrane reactor from steam reforming of higher hydrocarbons, performance of limestone for CO2 capture from a high-temperature/pressure reactor over many calcinations/carbonation cycles, chemical looping combustion for CO2 separation, development of thin Pd-based composite membrane suitable for hydrogen separation at high temperature/pressure, and process modeling and simulation.

Xiaonan Lu

Xiaonan Lu

Associate Professor, Food Safety Engineering

Xiaonan works on developing innovative and rapid sensing technologies, instrumentation systems, and other detection methods for ensuring food safety and preventing food bioterrorism. His five directional research focus is:
(1) Developing sensor and nano-based single-molecule biophotonics to rapidly detect chemical and microbiological hazards in food systems.
(2) Campylobacter-associated food safety.
(3) Food microbiology
(4) Characterization of emerging foodborne viruses, nanoscopic optical imaging for contagious virus tracking and virus-host cell interaction investigation.
(5) Detection of food fraud and adulteration.


Mark MacLachlan

Professor, Chemistry, UBC

Taking inspiration from nature, he assembles new materials with hierarchical structures on the nanoscale. Much of his research is aimed at developing new materials using biopolymers – cellulose and chitin – as a template. Using cellulose nanocrystals, for example, his team has constructed glasses and plastics that mimic the structure and iridescence of beetle shells. Furthermore, they have developed new cellulosic materials that can be used for pressure sensing and as hosts for nanomaterials.


Shawn Mansfield

Professor, Department of Wood Science, UBC
Canada Research Chair in Wood and Fibre Quality (term completed)

Mansfield and his team use a combination of molecular biology, biochemistry, analytical chemistry and plant cell wall characterization techniques to elucidate the role of various biosynthetic pathways in the development, growth, chemistry and ultrastructure of secondary xylem formation in trees or plants. They are also pursuing a functional genomics investigation of sucrose metabolism in Populus, where they combine parallel chemical, biochemical and molecular approaches to define the key metabolites and genes involved in modulating sucrose biosynthesis and translocation, the generation and mobilization of starch, and the biosynthesis of oligomeric carbohydrates (e.g. raffinose, stachyose).


Parisa Mehrkhodavandi

Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, UBC

Parisa’s research focuses on catalysis and bridges inorganic and polymer chemistry. She has developed indium and zinc catalysts for the selective and controlled polymerization of lactones, some bio-sourced, to form biodegradable material. These catalytic systems have allowed the precise formation of block copolymers and star shaped polymers as well as immortal polymerization of various monomers in the presence of alcohols. These catalytic systems are air and moisture tolerant, limit the need for purification of monomers, and make reactivity with bio-based monomers possible.


William Mohn

Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, UBC

Bill has made pioneering advances in understanding bacterial metabolism of terpenoid compounds, including plant defense compounds and steroids, as well as understanding complex microbiomes residing in soil, wastewater treatment systems and humans.  They are also studying the composition of complex microbial communities in soil and marine environments and are working to understand how the composition of communities relates to the important ecological services provided by those communities. His research is relevant to the use of bacterial enzymes and whole bacteria for synthesis of useful chemicals and for cleaning up contaminated environments, and is also relevant to sustainable management of forests and understanding microbial mediation of global change.


Madjid Mohseni

Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC
Scientific Director, RES’EAU

Research in Madjid’s laboratory focuses on water quality and the application of advanced water treatment processes to improve the quality of drinking water. In particular, he works on the development, evaluation, and implementation of advanced oxidation processes (AOPs), particularly UV-based AOPs, ion exchange, and electrochemical processes. His research involves laboratory scale development and investigation, as well as pilot scale and field evaluation of the technologies under real operating conditions at several partner community sites. His goal is to not only advance the science behind the water treatment technologies, but also offer communities and industries more efficient and cost-effective technologies to reduce pollution and protect human health and the environment.

James Olson

Dean, Faculty of Applied Science, UBC
Professor, Mechanical Engineering, UBC

An industry leading expert in the application of physics and fluid mechanics, James Olson’s research has led to revolutionary developments in the pulp and paper industry.  He currently leads a five-year university-industry collaborative research program whose  primary goal is to reduce energy consumption in allied industry through the development of several innovative technologies. James is also the lead researcher on the development and commercialization of the Fibre Quality Analyzer (FQA), a device that measures the physical properties of pulp fibres in suspension, and has become the accepted world standard for measuring key fibre properties.


Scott Renneckar

Associate Professor, Department of Wood Science, UBC
Canada Research Chair in Advanced Renewable Materials

Scott’s research program focuses on creating advanced renewable materials through cutting-edge science that will catalyze a green economy.  These sustainable products sourced from nature are stronger, lighter, and more energy efficient than their petroleum analogs.  He uses materials such as high performance fibres, transparent films and coatings, and nanocomposites in applications for automobile, aerospace, building, and the emerging additive manufacturing industries.


Jack Saddler

Professor, Department of Wood Science, UBC
NSERC Industrial Senior Chair
Task Leader, IEA Bioenergy Task 39

Jack’s research specializes on turning forest residues into liquid fuels and chemicals, in what is called the biorefining concept. He expects that new technologies will allow many chemicals and fuels that are currently products of oil refining to be produced more sustainably and, more economically, from biomass sources such as forestry residues or forestry energy crops such as fast rotation poplar.

Jack has taken on the role of Task Leader for IEA Bioenergy Task 39 in order to facilitate international communication and promote research on the policy and technology issues related to the commercialization of liquid biofuels.

Lacey Samuels

Professor, Department of Botany, Faculty of Science

Research in Samuels lab integrates plant biochemistry with plant cell biology to discover how cellulose and lignin are made during wood formation. The formation of wood in the annual growth rings of trees is the most vivid example of how plant cells use carbon captured during photosynthesis to produce biomass that is rich in cellulose and lignin. Our approach is to integrate advanced microscopy techniques with molecular biology and biochemistry to discover the cellular mechanisms of biomass production.


Laurel L. Schafer

Professor, Department of Chemistry, UBC

Laurel’s research interests bridge the areas of organometallic and organic chemistry.  She has developed a new class of early transition metal complexes for use in selective carbon-nitrogen and carbon-carbon bond forming reactions of industrial relevance.  Applications in generated value-added products, such as pharmaceuticals and functional materials, from biomass derived starting materials is an emerging area of research focus.  These new catalytic systems build toward the minimization of waste and maximization of energy efficiency by using metals of low toxicity for sustainable approaches towards selective chemical transformations.

Peyman Servati

Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Four research areas occupy his research and collaboration:

  • Low-cost flexible solar cells and storage devices—develop novel nanomaterials and nanocomposites for low-cost and scalable solar energy generation and electricity storage.
  • Wearable health monitoring sensors and systems—novel nanofiber materials can be used to increase accuracy and decrease power consumption and improve comfort of future wearable sensors.
  • Novel display technologies, and
  • Growth and modelling of nanowires and nanostructures complete the quartet of his research focus.
Sumi Siddiqua

Sumi Siddiqua

Associate Professor, School of Engineering – UBC Okanagan

Her research focuses on the design and development of new technologies for mixing soil targeted to improve ground conditions. Optimizing the application of environmentally safe soil stabilizers will significantly enhance the strength and performance of problematic soft soils. Sumi also investigates thermal-hydraulic-mechanical behaviour of engineered barrier materials to improve their role in containment systems for highly toxic waste.


Kevin J. Smith

Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

The aim of our research is to better understand the relationships between heterogeneous catalyst properties, reaction kinetics and reaction mechanisms, so as to assist in the design and development of improved catalysts and catalytic processes. We focus on issues related to the Canadian energy scene. Current research activities include an investigation of hydrogen production by catalytic methane decomposition, synthesis gas conversion to alcohols and hydrocarbons, residue and bio-oil hydroconversion (upgrading) as well as hydrogen storage using heteroaromatic liquids.

Suzana Straus

Suzana K. Straus

Associate Professor, Chemistry

The aims of her research programme are twofold:
1) Increase the applicability of solid state NMR by improving current methods and developing new solid state NMR techniques for the structure determination of membrane peptides and proteins, and
2) Study biologically and pharmaceutically important proteins in their native environment (e.g. antimicrobial peptides and viral membrane proteins) or in aggregated states (fusion peptides) using solid state NMR and complementary biophysical techniques.


Shahab Sokhansanj

Adjunct Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

Shahab’s core research is in feedstock engineering focusing on harvesting, drying, fractionating, and densification of cellulosic biomass. The work has evolved in two fronts: (1) experimenting with innovative biomass preprocesses to acquire engineering data for design and optimum operation of individual unit operations; and (2) developing engineering models for simulation of unit operations for optimizing the entire supply chains. 

Taraneh Sowlati

Professor, Wood Science, Faculty of Forestry

Biomass utilization, its optimization and management in supply chains have been the focus of her research the past seven years.

  • Improved mathematical programming and simulation models for optimizing the utilization of forest biomass along supply chains.
  • Environmental impacts of utilizing forest biomass to produce bioenergy and biofuels via life cycle assessment.
  • Sustainable development using approaches that include multi-criteria decision making and multi-objective optimization to incorporate the economic, social and environmental impacts of products and processes into decision making.

Heather Trajano

Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

Her research focus is explore and harness fundamental knowledge of biomass fractionation and conversion for maximum economic and environmental benefit.

Some specific research interests are i) Fundamentals of biomass deconstruction to separate carbohydrates from lignin, ii) Recovery and purification of extractives and iii) Heterogeneous catalysis for chemical production.  Dr. Trajano searches for biorefining opportunities that complement existing forestry operations by utilizing waste streams and by-products.

Siyung Wang

Siyun Wang

Assistant Professor, Land and Food Systems

Her research goal is to contribute to novel food safety technologies that will help reduce national and global burden of foodborne illnesses. Recent advances in high-throughput OMICs and big data have led to considerable breakthroughs in microbial food safety research, and the impact of her work continues to be enhanced by the application of such technologies. Siyun uses comparative transcriptomics and genomics approaches to identify and characterize novel genetic factors associated with the persistence of foodborne pathogens in food supply systems.


Stephen Withers

Professor, Department of Chemistry, UBC

Stephen focuses primarily upon enzymes that catalyse glycoside formation and hydrolysis, since these play crucial roles in all areas of biology. Applications of his research range from the development of new catalysts for industrial processes to the design, synthesis and testing of new therapeutics.  Particular emphasis is on investigating the detailed mechanisms of enzymes that carry out glycoside hydrolysis, and indeed contributed heavily to the understanding of cellulase catalysis. These insights now inform his design of reagents for monitoring enzymes within complex mixtures, as well as our efforts in engineering and evolution of these enzymes. 


Vikramaditya Yadav

Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

Vikram’s research harnesses metabolic and enzyme engineering to investigate, tailor and express biosynthetic enzymes that can convert biomass-derived feedstocks into better fuels and pharmaceuticals under benign conditions without using hazardous reagents and solvents. Salient examples of bioeconomy-related research and innovation in his research group includes (1) carbon capture and reutilization through gas-to-liquid bioprocessing for synthesis of C8-C12 alcohols, (2) bioconversion of lignin to value-added chemicals such as flavours and fragrances, (3) biosynthesis of speciality chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and (4) target- and diversity-oriented synthesis of bioactive natural products and novel analogues for drug discovery. 


Hisham Zerriffi

Associate Professor, Forest Resources Management

Overall research focus is on rural energy in developing countries, climate change, and the tradeoffs inherent in solving global environmental problems through local development projects. He practises an interdisciplinary approach that combines technical and social analysis to address important policy-relevant questions at the interface of technology, environment and development.

Ryan Ziels

Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, UBC

Beyond traditional wastewater treatment design approaches, Ryan’s goal is to integrate genomic information on the metabolic capacity and structure of microbial communities into treatment process modelling, design, and control. His research utilizes advanced molecular sequencing tools, such as metagenomics, to recover the genomes of non-cultivable microbes for the identification of new metabolic pathways. Ultimately, he seeks to integrate microbial community genomic data into new mechanistic models to predict pollutant transformation in a variety of natural and engineered systems.