1 January 2020
A new year and a new beginning as I relocated from Finland, after accepting my appointment at UBC as Canada Excellence Research Chair in 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 industry. For this purpose, and as the new Director of the UBC’s Pulp and Paper Centre and the Bioproducts Institute, my immediate attention relates to our people. Faculty members, researchers and supporting staff are key contributors of our PPC mission.
Our research teams work on aspects to uncover solutions that nature may provide to fulfill our material needs. Resources that we find around us, including wood, agricultural waste and marine residues are core to our research and 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 towards 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 to control their assembly in hydrogels, aerogels, foams and emulsions are subjects of current interest in our quest to develop functional properties. They offer 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 the Pulp and Paper Centre (PPC)? We look forward to making best use of our know-how, infrastructure and resources available at PPC ,with the active involvement of many collaborators around 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 on their research in newly refurbished labs, and in a very cohesive atmosphere.
PPC 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 dreams following sustainable goals.
The present and the future carry much promise. Our responsibilities are directed to its fulfillment.
Canada Excellence Research Chair