April 1st, 2022
Acknowledging the unprecedented recent challenges, coinciding with BioProducts Institute’s first year, I am pleased to report on the resilience and dedication of our researchers, staff and faculty in continuing their activities. The current times reinforce the importance of reducing CO2 emissions to combat climate change. At the BPI, we continue to focus on unlocking the full potential of nature-based, regenerative sources of materials. The use of waste streams to create bioproducts will not only preserve the lifetime use of these materials but also provide a renewable way to replace plastics.
The past year brought a re-emergence of research collaboration and knowledge mobilization activities, along with FinnCERES Flagship, celebrated the formation of the Boreal Alliance with the release of Fibre and Beyond, our co-produced documentary on some of the most intriguing research. Additional partners Treesearch, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), Luke, UNITE Flagship, and the University of Oulu soon joined us. Additionally, BPI signed statements of cooperation with all the partners to accelerate innovations in bio-based solutions through co-supervised research, exchange programs, and other collaborative opportunities. This led to the arrival of the first 6-month exchange students under the Boreal Alliance, doctoral candidate Rubina Ajdary and postdoctoral researcher Joice Kaschuk from Finland. We also welcomed our first visiting researcher since the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Junling Guo from Sichuan University in China. Visits from several more Canadian and international scientists are planned. BPI hosted weekly seminars and activities, with nationally and internationally renowned speakers. We were able to host in-person activities such as an open house and a special tour of the recently renovated Pulp and Paper Centre with Hon. Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.
I am pleased to note that BPI has established a committee to work on equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigeneity (EDI.I). The Committee will be an intentional place for members to support policy reviews; initiate educational programming; implement proactive strategies regarding human rights and discrimination; as well as demonstrating an authentic commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and valuing traditional ways of knowing. The committee has already organized two workshops on the topic of EDI.I in research, sustainability and STEM and is planning additional activities.
The excellence of BPI researchers was recognized through several awards, including appointment as a member of the Selection Committee of the Marcus Wallenberg Prize (Orlando Rojas); 2021 Best Publication Award in Natural Resources from The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Energy, Natural Resources & The Environment section (ENRE) (Taraneh Sowlati); Kingfa Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society’s CELLulose and Renewable Materials Division (Feng Jiang); 2021 Researcher Award from the BC Bioenergy Network (Jack Saddler); 2021 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (Emily Cranston); Canada's Top 40 under 40 (Vikram Yadav); American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow (Shawn Mansfield). Additional research highlights include BPI investigators receiving $3.5 million in Government of Canada support through PacifiCan and over $1.5 million in new funding from NSERC. Completing renovations to third floor laboratory spaces in the Pulp and Paper Centre also provided much needed upgrades and refurbishment that will support BPI's world-class research capabilities in bio-based material innovations. With fresh opportunities now possible, BPI will continue to expand its activities
Canada Excellence Research Chair in Bioproducts
Scientific Director, BioProducts Institute