PhD student wins a national forestry award

AnupamaIn 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.

Among the two inaugural winners is ChemE’s Anupama Sharan, a PhD candidate supervised by Professors Emma Master and Elizabeth Edwards. Sharan’s 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.

“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.”