President's Excellence Chair in Forest Bio-products

The cluster in Forest Bio-products will bring together five UBC strategic research centres in support of bio-economy research and education.

The research team is accelerating the development of high-value products including bio-materials, bio-energy and bio-chemicals from Canada’s renewable bio-resources. The vision for this cluster is to develop a deeper understanding of the biosynthesis of forest and agricultural biomass and its transformation in order to unlock nature’s infinite biocatalytic potential.

This fundamental knowledge will be applied – together with leading-edge catalytic polymer chemistry – to create molecular-engineered and functionalized nano-fibre and polymeric composite materials as well as high-value chemicals and biofuels that are at the vanguard of a dynamically changing global commodities market. Unleashing this technology will revolutionize products, from biomedicine and chemical feedstocks to clean fuels for the transportation sector.

This research vision is uniquely positioned to provide revolutionary science combined with strong economic impact to Canada’s urban and rural communities served by Canada’s agro-forest sector, while also providing clear climate change solutions as society transitions to renewable materials, chemicals and fuels.

UBC is the ideal environment to meet this exciting potential with its world-leading researchers who span plant and microbial genomics, catalysts, polymers and material science, and who are collectively well positioned to become clear global leaders.


This comprehensive research program requires the ability to integrate advanced enzyme/catalysis discovery and design with nanotechnology from renewable materials. Catalysis and bio-catalysis are at the heart of our ability to deconstruct the complex polymeric structures derived from biomass and to reconstruct and functionalize these nanostructures and polymers into advanced materials and chemicals, including liquid crystalline films and supercapacitors, to name a few.

Expertise in the emerging field of nanotechnology and synthetic biology will bring together UBC’s existing excellence in bio-catalysis discovery and design with its prominence in materials science, which is essential to propelling UBC to the global forefront of forest bio-products innovation.


Dr. Emily D. Cranston has joined UBC as the President’s Excellence Chair in Forest Bio-products, and as an Associate Professor in UBC's Departments of Wood Science and Chemical and Biological Engineering. She was previously an Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering at McMaster University and held the Canada Research Chair in Bio-Based Nanomaterials. 

Dr. Cranston’s research focuses on sustainable nanocomposites and hybrid materials from cellulose and other biopolymers, and her papers have been published in such journals as Chemical Society Reviews, Materials Today, Advanced Materials and Nano Letters. Her work has significantly impacted the broad scientific community, as evidenced by her H-index of 27, four patents and 75 peer-reviewed publications with over 3000 citations. 

Dr. Cranston received her Bachelor of Science (Honours) and PhD, both in Chemistry, from McGill University. She also spent time as a post-doctoral fellow at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Cranston currently sits on the editorial boards for the Canadian Chemical News and various American Chemical Society and De Gruyter journals, and is active in Nanocellulose Standards Development. 

Dr. Cranston has supervised 75 students and post-docs over the past 8 years and is passionate about teaching and training.

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