The 1st place of the 2020 CELL Division Graduate Student Award goes to Liyang Liu from University of British Columbia. His research focuses on developing a platform for the modification of lignin into a variety of polymeric materials with a focus on utilising green chemistry strategies. A major accomplishment is in the development of a lignin ‘building block’ with uniform chemical functionality as a robust precursor for green polymer materials. Based on this platform, Liyang showed how lignin properties can be engineered for specific applications, including hydrophobic coatings, polyurethane foams, and polyesters. His award winning paper is “A simple route to synthesize esterified lignin derivatives”, published in Green Chemistry 2019, 21, 3682.
The 2nd place of the 2020 CELL Division Graduate Student Award goes to Valerie Garcia-Negron from University of Tennessee Knoxville. Her research main focus is on the crystalline and amorphous components of carbon products as a function of processing conditions using a variety of characterization and modelling techniques. These approaches enable a holistic understanding of the atomic- and meso-scales of carbon materials and provide insights of their suitability for specific applications. Her award winning paper is “Processing–Structure–Property Relationships for Lignin-Based Carbonaceous Materials Used in Energy-Storage Applications”, published in Energy Technology 2017, 5, 1311.