January 1, 2020
January brings a new year and a new beginning as I relocate from Finland, after accepting my appointment at UBC as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Forest Bioproducts. In this role, one of my missions is to deliver next-generation materials from renewable, forest-based resources. Sustainable and cost-competitive advanced materials are key for the success of the bioeconomy and the reinvention of the Canadian forest and agriculture industries. For this purpose, and as the new Director of the BioProducts Institute and the Pulp and Paper Centre, my immediate attention is focused on people. Faculty members, researchers, collaborating researchers and supporting staff are all key contributors of the BPI mission.
Our research teams work to uncover solutions provided by nature to fulfill our material needs. The resources we find around us, including wood, agricultural by-products and marine residues are the core of our research and primed for society’s sustainable use. Some of our work deals with small objects (colloids), including fibres and particles. Forest products continue to be central in our efforts and collaborations with industry. Work driving the adoption of nanomaterials and enabling nanotechnologies will also continue. Related efforts take advantage of the inherent ability of biomolecules to assemble into fibres and other highly hierarchical and multidimensional structures. Lignin, cellulose nanoparticles and the possibility of controlling their assembly in hydrogels, aerogels, foams and emulsions are the subjects of current interest in our quest to develop functional properties offering promise in future applications. Some examples relate to passive and active components in advanced functional materials that will expand the use of plant fibres.
What does this augur for BPI? We look forward to making the best use of our know-how, infrastructure and resources with the active involvement of many collaborators on campus and beyond. Plans are already in motion to establish key partnerships and strategies, to review lab space and upgrades. We are making way for new, advanced instrumentation, and welcoming new users. The months ahead will see people engaged in their research, in newly refurbished labs and a very cohesive atmosphere.
BPI can look forward to new researchers joining their ranks from other parts of the world. All of us are a part of the ongoing work to accomplish our sustainability goals.
The present and the future carry much promise. Our responsibilities are directed to the fulfillment of that promise.
Canada Excellence Research Chair in Bioproducts