Dr. Joice Kaschuk, an alumna of UBC BPI, is starting her role as an Assistant Professor at the Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter Chair Group at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in the Netherlands.
Joice was born and raised in a small town in the Brazilian countryside, the daughter of a farmer, who always had a passion for understanding how nature works and finding ways to mitigate the environmental issues stemming from uncontrolled consumption. When she decided, at the age of
16, to pursue a career in science, she never imagined that she would one day become a member of one of the world's most esteemed and renowned bioproduct research institutes, BPI.
She joined BPI from 2021 to 2022 as part of the Boreal Alliance initiative between Aalto University-Finnceres and UBC-BPI. Her research focused on finding innovative ways to apply nanocellulose for advanced technologies, particularly in the realm of energy harvesting. She was an integral part of the Advanced Materials group, coordinated by Prof. Johan Foster, and the Biobased Colloids & Materials (BiCMat) group, led by Prof. Orlando Rojas. During her time at BPI, she collaborated closely with Dr. Gabriel Banvillet and Ms. Fernanda Brito on developing nanocellulose proton exchange membranes for fuel cell applications (manuscript in preparation) and microstructure nanocellulose films patterned with flower-shaped designs and tunable properties (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2588842023001232…).
In the coming December, Joice will eagerly embark on the next phase of her professional journey as an Assistant Professor at WUR. Her research group will concentrate on developing eco- friendly processes for producing sustainable polymers, including nanocellulose, nanolignin, and building blocks. The primary objective is to unlock the full potential of renewable feedstocks by harnessing their unique chemical, physical, and biological structures to create cutting-edge multifunctional materials.
Reflecting on her journey, she recognizes the challenges of standing out as a woman from a country where research isn't a top priority. She feels fortunate about the opportunity to meet, interact with, and work alongside outstanding researchers such as Orlando, Johan, and Emily Cranston. Additionally, she hopes her story will serve as an inspiration for young women embarking on an academic career, and her main advice is to persist while being honest about your own limitations and challenges. Most importantly, she emphasizes that no path is similar and linear, for this reason, there is no shame in seeking help when needed.