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KO B4E 2 Kick off Photo by Anna StromBio4Energy expert on bio-based applications created using nanotechnology, Kristiina Oksman, has won this year's Nordea Science Prize. Photo by Anna Strom©.The Nordea Science Prize 2016 has been awarded Bio4Energy researcher This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., professor at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU). She received it during a prize ceremony held last weekend at Luleå in northern Sweden. It is the Swedish bank Nordea, in cooperation with the LTU vice-chancellor and deans, who decide on and hand out the prize each year to a scientist who has made "outstanding contributions to the promotion of scientific research and development" and who has been "a good representative [of] the university", according to a press release from the LTU.

"When they first called me [to announce the prize] I couldn't believe it was true. This is such a great encouragement. I am very happy", said Oksman whose research group creates nanocellulose applications and bio-based composites materials using nanotechnology. Oksman was a platform leader in Bio4Energy between the years 2010 and 2015. Currently she and her group are members of the research and development platform Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies.

Among her group's greatest achievements in Bio4Energy are the creation of a new bio-based composite material to be used as a packaging liners for instance in food or drink's packaging to keep the produce or beverage last long, but without using materials with a negative environmental impact such as aluminium. More recently Oksman has proved herself by winning not one but two projects in the highly competitive race for means from the Bio4Energy Strategic Funds, and by having been promoted to a scientific advisory role in the Wallenberg Wood Science Centre. Moreover, she and her group have participated in several EU-funded research and development projects.

None of this would have happened, had Oksman not consistently and perhaps with some stubbornness worked to build a strong research group, a world-class research laboratory at the LTU and a number of fruitful collaborations with industry. 

"They called me from the LTU in 2005 and wanted me to come back. I arrived there late 2006 and started to build the lab in 2007", Oksman said.

That was the start of the LTU 'Wood and Bio Nanocomposites' group. Previous to that Oksman had carried out her PhD studies at the LTU, and gone on to work as a project leader at the research institute Swerea SCICOMP, at Piteå, making bio-based composites in cooperation with local companies. In 2002 she was recruited to work for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), at Trondheim, Norway. That is where she started to create nanocellulose applications and built a platform for the purpose for the NTNU.

Commenting on her career since coming back to the LTU, she said;

"We have had a great deal of good [research] results. Bio4Energy has been a very important part for me. It has given us the freedom to pursue areas we really believe in as researchers. I feel that everyone appreciates me in Bio4Energy and I have received great support from Stellan [Marklund, the former Bio4Energy programme manager] and now from you.

"I am excited at the prospect of starting to develop new materials from lignin, such as the supercapacitors that we won funds for from Bio4Energy. We want to develop different types of carbon materials, you know".

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