October 8, 2021

This September, BPI welcomed Doctoral candidate Rubina Ajdary and Postdoctoral researcher Joice Kaschuk arriving from Aalto University in Finland to begin their 6-month exchange program at UBC under the Boreal Alliance initiative. This exchange marks the first of many collaborations of academic excellence and professional development between BPI and FinnCERES, the Alliance's foundational partners.

Originally from Iran, Rubina lived and studied in Finland for seven years and has an academic background in biomaterials 3D printing. Over the course of her research, Rubina developed a surgical mesh to assist women with pelvic organ prolapse. For Rubina, the exchange program is an opportunity to further work on developing 3D printed planar structures that can form into an origami shape upon initiation. Although a challenging task, Rubina looks forward to collaborating with her research team in Vancouver to surmount these challenges.

For both Rubina and Joice, this exchange is an opportunity to ideate and create long-term solutions and innovative projects in their chosen fields of specialization. “What makes us very excited about this project is that we are connecting through the Boreal Alliance,” highlights Joice who completed her Ph.D. at the University of São Paulo in 2019.

Born in Brazil, Joice moved to Finland to work with nanocellulose materials on solar cells. She aims to substitute these components and create recyclable and bendable solar cells as alternatives. Currently, she is in the process of determining her exchange project but hopes to create membranes and biobased materials for Hydrogen-based fuel cells. 

When asked what inspired their interest in their respective fields, Rubina highlighted her background in chemical process engineering. She said, “when I wanted to study abroad, I realized that I didn’t want to work related to plastics anymore, [but] focus on biobased materials.” In Finland her first lecture as a master’s student began with Dr. Orlando asking, “who knows what lignin is?!” As she reflects on this memory, she fondly remembers, “everyone raised their hands, and I was the only one who had my hand down … I had no clue what it was!” This experience inspired her to switch from a petroleum-based field to “being green and helping the environment," said Rubina. 

Joice remembers having a similar feeling, "I was in organic chemistry, and I was looking for a Master’s program.” For Joice, working with polymers was an important aspect of her academic ambitions. “I met this professor, and she was one of the toughest polymer scientists [working] with lignin … and when I started to learn more about how we can manage these materials and how products could be applied to pharmacy, technology and electronics, I started to fall in love with it,” said Joice. Since then, Joice has actively pursued working with biobased materials and has also been inspired by Dr. Orlando, whom she met in Finland in 2017. “He has a passion that is contagious, and after I started to work with him, I really wanted to pursue and improve the world.”  

In their academic journeys, both have had big takeaways, new insights, and ideas that they hope to pursue and implement. When asked to highlight a key takeaway on the importance of bioproducts, Joice said, “that it is the present and the future … because if you look at the story of humanity, we have always used biobased materials. But then … we started to use plastics.  Everyone needs to know that we can use biobased materials … live very well and have all the technology we have [today]."

Again BPI Team heartily welcomes Rubina and Joice and wishes all the bests on their exciting new journey both in personal and professional development while in Canada. If anyone is interested in the exchange program with our collaborators in the Boreal Alliance network, please contact us at Thank you.

- BPI Operations Team

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