NC State

BioResources Early Career Investigator Award

The BioResources Early Career Investigator Award, established in 2021, recognizes novel, impactful, and captivating research from early career scientists in any experimental or theoretical frameworks related to lignocellulosic materials, chemicals, and applications for new uses and new capabilities.

Eligible recipients have earned their Doctorate degree in the last 10 years, or are in the process of earning their Doctorate degree.

Nominees submit their original research, in the scope of materials, wood, and fiber sciences to BioResources, wherein the Editorial Board elects the winner after reviewing the submitted work and the candidate’s curriculum vitae.

The award recipient receives a $1,000 USD honorarium and their research is published free of charge in the open-access, international, and peer-reviewed journal BioResources. Stay tuned to the BioResources website and social media for details related to the 2023 Early Career Investigator Award competition.

Congratulations to the Award Winners!

2022 Award

Björn Sjöstrand, Kemiteknik Karlstad University

Sjöstrand, B., Danielsson, M., and Lestelius, M. (2023). “Method for studying water removal and air penetration during Through Air Drying of tissue in laboratory scale,” BioResources 18(2), 3073-3088.

DOI: 10.15376/biores.18.2.3073-3088




Energy use, together with consumption of raw materials, machine clothing, and wet end chemicals, are some of the most critical aspects in successful tissue making today. This work was aimed at developing a laboratory-scale method of estimating dewatering mechanisms, vacuum efficiency, and energy use of Through Air Drying (TAD) of tissue. When compared to pilot data, the results of the new laboratory method for investigating dewatering during TAD were in the same magnitude, around 24 to 26% dryness after vacuum dewatering, and 27 to 29% dryness after TAD molding. Sheet properties, such as caliper and surface profile, were evaluated and compared to commercial tissue sheets. The results indicate that it will be possible to precisely measure accurate dryness development and penetrated air volume for tissue sheet forming and TAD molding at a laboratory scale. This can contribute to the efforts of implementing a circular forest-based bioeconomy by increasing the fundamental understanding of dewatering of tissue paper materials, which is facilitated by improvements in energy use. The new method developed in this work will make it easier to assess ideas that are difficult to bring to pilot scale or full scale before learning more of the dewatering capabilities. The authors are convinced that improved knowledge of tissue dewatering mechanisms, forming, and material transport during and after TAD dewatering can increase the efficiency of the industrial manufacturing processes.

2022 Early Career Award Winning Paper

Q&A. What inspired you to enter the field of papermaking and wood products?

“I was interested in science in general and particularly chemistry, and started my undergraduate education in chemical engineering. At Karlstad University, I met several inspiring researchers teaching my classes, and they introduced me to the existing industry of converting biomass from forest into paper and board products. The most important teacher I had was Dr. Christophe Barbier, who later became my supervisor during my PhD education. Dr Barbier introduced the complexity of the processes and the wonderful connection between properties of the wood fibers, layout of the papermaking process, and the optical and mechanical performance of the paper and board products.

The appeal of the field for me is both the exciting high technological processes and that we make products that are renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable and with the potential of competing with fossil-based plastics.”

2021 Award

Nanci Ehman, Materials Institute of Misiones (IMAM, CONICET – UNaM)

Ehman, N., Ponce de León, A., Felissia, F. E., and Area, M. C. (2022). “Towards biodegradable barrier packaging: Production of films for single-use primary food liquid packaging,” BioResources 17(3), 5215-5233.

DOI: 10.15376/biores.17.3.5215-5233




This research aimed to obtain bio-degradable microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) films from a pine sawdust pulp for use as liquid containers. The films were combined with food-grade polyols (sorbitol, glycerol, and mannitol) to improve the hydrophobicity and provide barrier properties. Pine sawdust (a by-product of primary wood industrialization, highly available, and inexpensive) was treated with soda-ethanol and a 2-stage oxygen sequence. The resulting pulps were mechanically fibrillated to produce MFC with a disk refiner. The polyols were added to improve crosslinking and achieve a plasticizing effect. The films were dried at 25, 50, and 60 °C. The mechanical and barrier properties (tensile strength, elongation, vapor permeability, and water absorption), the crystallinity, and the transparency of the films were evaluated. Total migration tests were carried out to verify the compliance of the films with current regulations. Finally, the film’s biodegradation properties in soil under normal climatic conditions were evaluated.

2021 Early Career Award Winning Paper

Q&A. What does winning this award mean to you?

“I am very grateful and happy!. This award is a great incentive for me. It boosts confidence to continue working on the research. The topic of my research deals with a current problem:  non-biodegradable plastics. I consider that, as young researchers, it is crucial to become aware of the current problems related to plastic pollution, and to offer solutions to society. 

I am grateful to the BioResources Journal for the award. For helping and for encouraging young researchers, and for also making our research studies reach internationally renowned colleagues.

I would also like to thank my director, Ph.D. Cristina Area, for the nomination, and for always giving me the freedom to investigate such interesting topics related to the pulp and paper field. I greatly appreciate that you have given me an opportunity in research and that you have always trusted me.”