ERMP Research Team

Faculty members involved in the program span four Universities across Canada:

University of British Columbia

James Olson
Mark Martinez
Bhushan Gopaluni
Boris Stoeber
Yankai Cao
Heather Trajano
Scott Renneckar
Laurel Schafer
Emily Cranston

British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT)

Rodger Beatson

University of Victoria 

Peter Wild

McMaster University

André Phillion

Our recent efforts have concentrated on sleep building our team with the best and brightest students and researchers. Researchers work on a specific project in their field with supervising faculty members. In this section, we invite you to meet ERMP team members and their interests.

Daniela Vargas Figueroa

ERMP Research Program Manager
Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

Daniela started as the new program manager for ERMP phase 3 in July 2020 after collaborating as a Researcher during phase 2. She holds a B.Eng. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Concepcion (Chile) and a MASc focused in Renewables Energies from the University of British Columbia. Her previous research included investigating the biochemical mechanisms of microbial enzyme action in industrial processing of plant biomass and its fermentation into bioproducts and optimizing dissolving wood pulp productions for improved chemical reactivity. As a member of the ERMP team, Daniela collaborated with Reanna Seifert on low consistency refining trials, in the sample analysis and testing of different cellulose microfibres to assess their potential reinforcement when added to cellulose-based foams.

Elisa Ferreira

Postdoctoral fellow
Wood Science, Forestry UBC

Elisa obtained a PhD in Chemistry in 2020 at the University of Campinas (Brazil) exploring lightweight materials prepared from cellulose and lignocellulosic fibres. Her past research focused on green approaches to prepare bio-based foams to be used in packaging, thermal insulation, and oil absorption. In the ERMP program, Elisa will investigate mechanical and chemical treatments to prevent collapse in fibres. She will systematically evaluate fibre processing and additives to control fibre intra-pore structure and to enhance bulk and absorbency.

Pierre Betu Kasangana

Postdoctoral fellow
Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

Dr. Pierre Betu Kasangana joined the project as a post-doctoral fellow in October 2020.  Dr. Kasangana has an MSc in Organic Chemistry (Université Pédagogique Nationale, R.D. Congo), MSc in Wood Science (Université Laval), and a Ph.D. in Wood Science (Université Laval).  His Ph.D. examined anti-diabetic bioactive molecules in the bark extracts of Myrianthus arboreus roots. He has been a PDF at Université Laval for the last two years; his recent work focused on the complex polysaccharides in sugar maple bark and black spruce as well as production of organosolv lignin from sugar maple bark. In addition, he has conducted work on the recovery of xylose from rice husks and wheat straw. Pierre brings a wealth of analytical experience with techniques such as NMR, HPLC-DAD, gel permeation chromatography, GC-FID/MS, electrospray ionization-time of flight-high resolution mass spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

Sudipta Kumar Mitra

Postdoctoral fellow
Chemical and Biological Engineering, BCIT

Dr. Mitra obtained his PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 2020 under the supervision of Professors James Olson and Mark Martinez. During his graduate studies, he examined tensile development during refining of mixtures of NBSK and hardwood pulp. He investigated the effect of separate refining and co-refining of mixtures of softwood and hardwood pulps in terms of tensile strength increase.

He received his MSc degree in Pulp and Paper engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee and received prestigious DAAD scholarship to carry out his master’s project on ultrasound refining at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.

Liyang Liu

Postdoctoral fellow
Wood Science, Forestry UBC

Liyang Liu received his Ph.D. degree in wood science in 2020 from the University of British Columbia, working under the supervision of Prof. Scott Renneckar. At present, he is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia, working in the same lab. His main research interest focused on the greener chemical modification methods to convert the biomass (e.g., lignin) to platform resources for advanced materials, including foam, coatings, 3D printing inks, package materials, and electronic materials, as well as the advanced characterization methods of biopolymer such as nuclear magnetic resonance.

Aurélien Sibellas

Postdoctoral fellow
Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC

I defended my PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2019 which was conducted in collaboration with MATEIS lab. (Lyon, France), MSsMAT lab. (Paris, France) and Michelin tires. I examined the mechanical behaviour of twisted textile yarns (reinforcements in tires) using both X-ray microcomputed tomography and simulation techniques. The same techniques were used in my postdoc to study the rubber under compression. Due to delays created by Covid-19, I will begin my postdoctoral fellowship on Nov. 1st 2020. My personal interests are attached to outdoor activities like cycling and hiking but I really have some dedication in rock climbing where I find a way of pushing my limits physically and mentally.

Lab Technician
Pulp and Paper Centre, UBC

Reanna holds a Bachelor of Science in Geology from UBC. As a science co-op student, she worked at several mine sites across Canada, from copper mining in northern BC to iron ore in Labrador. After graduation she worked for 2 years as a Lab Assistant at C.F. Mineral Research, a world-renowned mineral testing facility in Kelowna specializing in diamond research. Reanna was involved in numerous projects ranging from gold to diamonds, pulverizing rocks to operating electron microprobes.

Reanna has transferred her mineral processing skills to the world of pulp testing. As Lab Technician, she collaborates with ERMP staff and researchers on low consistency refining trials and is responsible for all sample testing in the PPC pulp and paper testing lab. She also trains the ERMP Work Learn students and supervises their work.

Michael Bilek

Laboratory Technician
Mechanical Engineering, UBC

To assist in the research activities Michael Bilek has joined the team as a laboratory technician in the papermaking lab.  Michael is originally from a suburb of Chicago and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Eastern Illinois University in 2014 and a Master’s in Forestry from the University of British Columbia in 2019.  His research has focused on various aspects of sustainability, from pretreating biomass for gasification to selecting superior tree genotypes for fracking spill remediation. He was hired in the Pulp and Paper Centre in the fall of 2020 where his research focuses will include recycling of paper-plastic laminate waste and novel biofoam products.

Ph.D candidate
Mechanical Engineering, UVic

Matthias Aigner completed his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leoben in Austria in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Matthias will collaborate with Reza Harirforoush on ERMP project 2.2 to further develop the bar force sensor for pulp and paper refiners. Matthias will investigate the effect of pulp furnish (i.e. softwood, hardwood) and plate pattern on the shear force along with the direction of the bar. He will also perform further analysis in investigating the effect of plate pattern on bar forces by designing and installing  the refiner force sensor in  different plate patterns ( i.e. BEL=0.99 km/rev). 

Cameron Zheng

PhD student, UBC
Chemistry, UBC

Cameron Zheng joined the project as a graduate student in October 2020. Mr. Zheng has a BSc Honours in Chemistry (University of Victoria, Canada). He has had numerous previous research experiences especially in the field of organometallics and organic synthesis. His bachelors thesis focused on the development of sustainable base metal catalysts for hydrophosphination. His current work in the Schafer group aims to apply hydroaminoalkylation towards the syntheses of biologically relevant compounds specifically focusing on the synthesis and modification of N-heterocycles. His expertise will extend toward the use of feedstock chemicals available from nature, specifically materials to be isolated and identified by post-doctoral fellow Pierre Betu Kasangana.

MASc student
Mechanical Engineering, UBC

Bryan Bohn is currently pursuing an MASc degree at the University of British Columbia under the co-supervision of Professors Boris Stoeber and Bhushan Gopaluni. His research will focus on reducing energy consumption in mechanical pumping processes through the use of advanced performance monitoring systems.

Bryan received his BSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 2010. Bryan’s research will extend preceding efforts to minimize waste energy in pumps and pumping processes. It has been proposed that an inexpensive and adaptable sensor suite could be developed to serve as a comprehensive pump performance monitoring system. This sensor network would generate continuous efficiency monitoring and allow for accurate maintenance scheduling through predictive pump failure analysis. Bryan is currently engaged in literature review of sensor network concepts and signal processing schemes, and is developing an approach to his project in addition to coursework.

Claire Maulit

MASc student
Chemical and Biological Engineering, BCIT

Claire graduated with a BASc from Notre Dame University and recently obtained a Diploma in Chemical and Environmental Sciences at BCIT where she gained theoretical and practical knowledge in pulping and papermaking.