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FPAC names two winners of inaugural National Forestry Innovation Awards


June 3, 2022
By Forest Products Association of Canada

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In advance of World Environment Day, Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is proud to announce the inaugural winners of the Chisholm Awards for Innovation in Forestry, a national competition which recognizes youth leadership and innovative research developments in the field of forestry.

The Chisholm Awards for Innovation in Forestry program showcases the game-changing ideas, practices, processes, and technologies young researchers are developing that have the potential to strengthen the forest sector and help Canada meet its net-zero goals – either in the forest, at production facilities, along the supply chain, or via product innovation.

2022 Chisholm Awards for Innovation in Forestry Recipients

 Anupama Sharan is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. Her current research is focused on adding value to lignin – one of the most underutilised, renewable by-products from the forestry sector in Canada. She is using biocatalysts sourced from microorganisms to activate the inert structure of lignin, converting it into a multi-purpose use product. This reactive lignin can then be used to sustainably replace fossil-fuel derived sources for making widely used polymeric products such as resins and adhesives, in a carbon-neutral manner.

She holds a Master of Applied Science in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of British Columbia, and a Bachelor of Biotechnological Engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology in India. She is also a passionate advocate for EDI in STEM workspaces, focusing on women and BIPOC rights and experiences in engineering. She co-founded and was the past president of the graduate chapter of Society of Women Engineers at the University of Toronto.

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“I am humbled and grateful to be recognized by the Forest Products Association of Canada for my research,” said Sharan. “Respect for nature and stewardship for our forests has always been a part of my cultural upbringing. After moving to Canada and experiencing first-hand how sustainably forestry research is done here, it has been all the more reason to keep pushing myself and contribute my bio-engineering training to design creative, carbon-neutral pathways to strengthen the forest economy and sustainably support the communities that rely on it.”

Kudzanai Nyamayaro is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia whose research is focused on the use of alternative bioderived (forest-based) and synthetic biodegradable polymers in advanced applications – including electronic products. His work focuses on the potential benefits of forest products towards a lower-carbon economy by using biodegradable and bio-sourced polymers as possible replacements for traditional polyolefin-based materials.

Prior to attending UBC, he studied at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, South Africa, where he completed a National Diploma in Analytical Chemistry, Bachelor of Chemistry, and a Master of Supramolecular Chemistry.

“I am thrilled and feel honoured to be selected as a recipient of the FPAC’s 2022 Chisholm Awards for Innovation in Forestry,” said Nyamayaro. “I’m excited that sustainability and climate action is getting world attention and is driving innovation. This is also evident from the establishment of organizations such as the BioProducts Institute at UBC, which aims to push research in forestry products in BC and throughout Canada. I am certainly looking forward to sharing my research with a broader audience and spread news of the potential benefits of forestry products innovation.”

In addition to a cash prize of $2500, the 2022 recipients will proceed to compete with forestry research peers around the world as part of the Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Awards initiative led by the International Council of Forest & Paper Associations (ICFPA).

“The environmentally leading research being conducted by this year’s recipients is aimed at tackling real problems with innovative solutions, made in Canada know-how, and ideas that will strengthen the Canadian forest sector of tomorrow,” said FPAC president and CEO Derek Nighbor. “As we mark World Environment Day, we are proud to recognize and congratulate Anupama and Kudzanai for their hard work, dedication, and commitment to exploring new ways to build a more sustainable future through Canadian forestry.”

Learn more about the Chisholm Awards for Innovation in Forestry.