FIBRE Conference hosted at UBC

Several PPC researchers attend the FIBRE Conference Welcoming Reception

Several PPC researchers attend the FIBRE Conference Welcoming Reception

The 2nd FIBRE Conference (May 12-15, 2014) kicked off with a Big Bang on a sunny morning in May. More than 120 forest industry students attended the Student Workshop where they were asked which character they most identify with on the hit TV show the Big Bang Theory. It was an interesting exercise that prompted students to realize that who they are now, will likely change in the next five years and that they must be flexible as their career paths change. The Where are the Jobs? session included eight talks from varying perspectives including from the public realm (Cascades), private corporations (NORAM), a start-up (Lignol Innovations), academic positions (PPC’s James Olson talks on becoming a Professor at UBC), patent law (Smart & Biggar), knowledge translation (Carex Canada) and research (FPInnovations). Each speaker offered information and tips that will help students accelerate their careers after graduation. Following their presentations, the expert speakers met with small groups of students in six-minute intervals to receive questions and offer more advice on how to conquer the job market. Later in the Workshop students also received tips on networking from Judy Thomson and Gayle Hallgren-Rezac from the Shepa Learning Company, how to present yourself both in person and in presentations from Emily Cranston, Assistant Professor from McMaster University, and heard from recently hired graduates who conquered the job market. Day one wrapped up at the Welcoming Reception organized by the FIBRE Networks and sponsored by FPAC.

Key Note Speaker, Elizabeth Dowdeswell

Key Note Speaker, Elizabeth Dowdeswell

The second day started with a welcome address by Theo van de Ven, Chair of FIBRE. He reminds us that FIBRE remains one of the largest university-led forestry research networks in the world, and that this collaborative dynamic between university, industry and decision makers is what makes it a success. The keynote speaker of the day was Elizabeth Dowdeswell, President and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies on “Finding Common Ground: Enlightened Leadership for Global and Local Challenges”, and echoed what Mr. van de Ven spoke about.
The Council of Canadian Academies is an independent, not-for-profit organization that supports independent, authoritative, and evidence-based expert assessments that inform public policy developments. Ms. Dowdeswell emphasized the need for an understanding of building close linkages between scientific and technological development and decision makers from the public and private sectors. She says “we must decide how we harness science and technology for the betterment of society”. Ms. Dwondeswell also reinforced the idea of ‘interdisciplinary’, quite fitting for FIBRE as the goal of the network is building synergies between research groups across Canada’s forest innovation system. Mr Regnier of Paper Advance writes “for Ms. Dowdeswell this is also the path to sustainability – an interdisciplinary concept by nature.” Ms. Dowdeswell presented her organizations’ suggestions regarding the position of industrial research & development in Canada: forestry related industrial research, although not considered to be one of the country’s strength, is undoubtedly an economic one. The morning session concluded with a riveting panel discussion on the “Importance of FIBRE in the Innovation System – looking back and looking forward”. You can read about that <here>.
The afternoon session focused on the numerous FIBRE success stories. It was fitting to have Dr. Theo van de Ven as session chair of the talks that highlighted the successes and milestones of the eight FIBRE networks. There are too many to mention, but you can read about them <here>.

Professor Derek G. Gray, recipient of the 2013 Marcus Wallenberg Prize

Professor Derek G. Gray, recipient of the 2013 Marcus Wallenberg Prize

The third day began with what many participants were waiting for – Professor Derek G. Gray’s talk on “Evolution and Potential Uses of Nanocrystalline Cellulose”. Dr. Gray, McGill University, is the recipient of the 2013 Marcus Wallenberg Prize. The prize is awarded to recognize, encourage and stimulate path-breaking scientific achievements in the field of forestry. He delivered his Laureate speech that he delivered in 2013 in Sweden when he received his award. Five students from Canadian Universities were invited to attend the 2013 festivities, including Pulp and Paper Centre’s Ata Sina, also member of the Green Fibre Network. The five students presented an overview of their experience – it was a very entertaining session which perfectly segued to the 2014 Marcus Wallenberg Competition. This year, eleven students and post-docs from various universities (six from UBC) were competing for the chance to automatically be invited to represent FIBRE at the Marcus Wallenberg Awards in September 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden. David McDonald, Senior Advisor for the Marcus Wallenberg Prize and Session Chair says “these highly qualified personnel are the core of FIBRE” and that the competition offers them a great opportunity to learn. In the two-day competition, delegates heard talks ranging from Flame Retardants for Wood Products to Timber Building Limits. In the end, ballots were counted and five clear winners emerged (in no particular order):

Wallenberg Competition Winners, 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 Wallenberg Competition Winners

Keith Gourlay, Forest Products Biotechnology and Bioenergy Group, Department of Wood Science, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, NSERC Bioconversion Network, “CBM Adsorption as a Tool for Quantifying the Surface Morphology of Cellulosic Fibers”

Richard Chandra, University of British Columbia, NSERC Bioconversion Network, “Enzymatic Modification of Conventional Kraft Pulps for Conversion to Specialty Grade Cellulose”

Laure Kayser, Department of Chemistry, McGill University, Lignoworks Network, “Metal-Free Synthesis of Conjugated Polymers from Lignin-Based Vanillin”

Kevin Conley, Department of Chemistry, McGill University, Innovative Green Wood Fibre Products Network, “The Crystalloid Twist Structure of Cellulose and its Implications”

Claudia Cambero, Department of Wood Science, University of British Columbia, Value Chain Optimization Network, “Strategic Optimization of Forest Biomass Value Chains with Economic, Environmental and Social Considerations”

Otto Maass Student Poster Competition

Otto Maass Student Poster Competition

Along with the 2014 MWC, students from all eight FIBRE networks presented a total of 93 posters. Winning students shared $3000 in awards made possible through the Otto Maass Endowment Fund in the support of studies in pulp and paper. The Pulp and Paper Centre was well represented by four students, members of the Green Fibre Network, who presented their posters:

Pouyan Jahangiri: Novel Foam-Formed Cellulose-Based Products Using MFC and NFC

Ata Sina: Origami Engineering: Advanced Converting for Novel Products

Negar Mirvakili: Effect of Fiber Size on Water Vapor Permeability and Hydrophobicity of Cellulosic Paper

Reza Korehei: Production of Cellulose-Mycelia Foam Material.

James Olson, Associate Dean of Research at Applied Science and PPC’s prior Director, served as session chair on talks about “International Partnerships”. Dr. Olson works closely with industry and FPInnovations to develop a bio-economy strategy and action plan for British Columbia. His efforts in positioning UBC and the Pulp and Paper Centre as global leaders in research are never ending. You can read more on this final session <here>.


To find out more about the FIBRE networks and how to get involved, visit:
For real time updates on events, follow us on Twitter @ubcPPC

Anna Jamroz
Communications Coordinator, Pulp and Paper Centre
University of British Columbia
Tel: 604.827.2117

One response to “FIBRE Conference hosted at UBC”

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