We have an amazing pool of candidates for the 2022 CELL Division Graduate Student Award this year and the selection was tough. Our panel of judges have narrowed down two candidates for the Graduate Student Award this year. The first place goes to Paul Jusner from University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna and the first runner up goes to Kudzanai Nyamayaro from University of British Columbia.
Paul has studied processes imposing thermal stress on cellulose. Special emphasis was placed on structural changes of the cellulose, interactions with biomass processing agents, chemical reactions in theses systems and the elucidation of side reactions and byproducts. In the award-winning publication “On the chemical interactions of the biomass processing agents γ-valerolactone (GVL) and N-methylmorpholine-N-oxide (NMMO)” (Green Chemistry 2021, 23(16), 5832-5848) thermal runaway reactions and degradation processes in the title system are studied in detail. Currently, Paul is investigating how thermal stress affects the supramolecular arrangement and the molecular structure of cellulose, e.g., in insulator papers employed in electrical power transformers. This work addresses fundamental analytical issues, but is at the same time important for manufacturing paper with higher thermal stability.
Kudzanai’s research focusses on advancing the use of bioderived and synthetic biodegradable polymers in advanced applications. Polymers have undoubtedly become an integral part of our everyday life and as we move towards sustainable practices, it becomes important to use biodegradable biopolymers in everyday products. The use of bioderived polymers to manufacture functional material is an attractive route to produce light, flexible, biocompatible and biodegradable electronics. Taking advantage of the intrinsic properties of cellulose nanocrystals, and combining them with hydrogel matrices, Kudzanai developed ionic diodes with exceptional rectification behavior. His award-winning paper is “Toward Biodegradable Electronics: Ionic Diodes Based on a Cellulose Nanocrystal–Agarose Hydrogel”, published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2020, 12, 46, 52182–52191
Congratulations to both of them!