Sustainable Materials Research Summit SMART 2023
Organising Committee
Kirsi Mikkonen

My research is focused on valorization of biomass streams, particularly hemicelluloses derived from wood and agricultural residues as well as fungal biomass. I am interested in functionality of biopolymers at multiphase systems and interfaces. The sustainability, biodegradability, and safety of hemicelluloses for food contact make them a highly interesting future alternative for petroleum-derived plastics. Other possible applications for hemicelluloses include, e.g., emulsions for food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals.

Liangbing Hu

Liangbing Hu is a Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research group works on materials innovations, device integration, and manufacturing, with ongoing research activities on electrified ultrahigh-temperature synthesis, energy storage beyond Li-ion batteries, and novel wood nanotechnologies. His group focuses on nanotechnologies using cellulose nanomaterials, with a focus on assembly and functionalization strategies of wood nanocellulose aimed at specific properties, with an eye toward high impact applications including energy, electronics, building materials and water treatment.

Yimin Mao

Dr. Yimin Mao is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Material Science and Engineering, University of Maryland (UMD), College Park; and an instrument scientist of small-angle and ultra-small-angle neutron scattering (SANS and USANS) at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Dr. Mao earned his Ph. D. degree in Chemistry in 2011 from the Stony Brook University. The main research theme of Dr. Mao is to understand structure-processing-property relationship of materials by characterizing multi-scale structure and dynamics, using different scattering (including neutron, X-ray, and light scattering) and spectroscopic probes. His current research focus is on natural polymers, including cellulose and chitin, their structures and functionalization via green chemistry.

Orlando Rojas

Prof. Orlando Rojas works toward supporting global sustainable development through research on the fundamental and utilization aspects of renewable resources, including lignocellulose, proteins and other biopolymers. His research aims to discover competitive alternatives for fossil materials. Specific research interests include: Nanopolysaccharides (based on cellulose, chitin, starches and others); Bacterial nanocelluloses; Cellulose derivatives; Lignins, colloidal lignins, nanolignins and their uses; Renewable biopolymers (hemicelluloses, proteins, chitin and chitosan, alginates and others); Multiphase systems (emulsions, foams, dispersed systems), gels, aerogels; Films, filaments and hybrid materials; Nanocomposites; Bioactive systems; Fiber processing; Pulp and paper

Mika Sipponen

Mika H. Sipponen earned his Doctor of Science (Tech.) degree in Chemical Technology from Aalto University (Finland) in 2015. He is the head of the Sustainable Materials Chemistry (SUSMATCHEM) research group at Stockholm University, supported by prestigious grants from the Swedish Foundation of Strategic Research (SSF, FFL8) and European Research Council (ERC-StG-2022). The group focuses on developing functional materials from lignin and other industrial by-products, with a keen interest in exploring related fundamental phenomena.

Photo attached. Credit: Sören Andersson

Maija Tenkanen

Maija Tenkanen is  Professor of Bioproduction Chemistry at the Department of Food and Nutrition, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, Finland. She served two terms as the head of the department and one term as the vice-dean of the faculty. Currently, she works as the deputy director of the University of Helsinki Graduate School. Her research interests are mainly focused on the characterization, modification and use of polysaccharides, especially plant-derived hemicelluloses (xylans, mannans), and on the identification of new hemicellulose-acting enzymes. Maija is the author of 300 scientific publications with over 10 000 citations. She is a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and in 2003 was one of the recipients of the prestigious Marcus Wallenberg Prize.