Udita Ringania, a Ph.D. candidate funded by the Renewable Bioproducts Institute’s (RBI) Paper Science & Engineering (PSE) Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology won the 2021 Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Award.
The award is given by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA). Ringania was one of three scientists awarded at the 2021 ICFPA-hosted Global CEO Roundtable, a biennial gathering of forest product industry associations and leaders.
Launched in 2016, the international contest recognizes, celebrates and promotes noteworthy innovations being developed in the global forest sector by students, researchers and engineers age 30 years and younger.
Ringania was recognized for her research project, Dewatering of Cellulose Nanomaterials Using Ultrasound. She is a PSE fellow in the lab of Saad Bhamla, assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
“Udita Ringania’s research is an impressive example of innovation in the forest products industry with great potential to help paper and packaging manufacturers advance sustainability,” said Heidi Brock, AF&PA president and CEO. “On behalf of AF&PA and our members, we congratulate Udita and look forward to seeing this exciting research progress.”
The theme for the 2020-2021 award program was “Boosting the Forest Bioeconomy: Nature-Based Solutions Toward a Lower Carbon Economy.”
In addition to Ringania, two other international finalists were recognized:
Jesús Rodríguez of Chile for research, Flexbio, A Biodegradable and Compostable Bioplastic. Radiata Pine Sawdust Derivative.
Francine Ceccon Claro of Brazil for research, Low Cost Wood-Derived Nanocellulose Wound Dressing.
AF&PA and TAPPI manage the U.S. Blue Sky Award application and selection process, nominating up to three candidates for the international competition. The U.S. judging panel was organized by the Alliance for Pulp & Paper Technology Innovation.
The international Blue Sky Awards program is sponsored by the ICFPA, a worldwide network of forest and paper associations that promotes cooperation in areas of common interest to its members and serves as the industry’s advocate at the international level.
The 2021 Blue Sky Award competition included 21 contestants from nine countries around the world. This year’s judging panel included representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, International Union of Forest Research Organizations, Monash University and University of British Columbia.
The top three finalists presented their work at the ICFPA’s virtual Global CEO Roundtable discussion and were awarded cash prizes for their achievement. Mike Doss, president and chief executive officer for Graphic Packaging presented Ringania with her award.
“The Blue Sky Awards are proof of a vibrant, bright future for an essential and sustainable forest products industry,” said Doss. “The talent and innovation demonstrated by this year’s finalists is impressive.”
Learn more about the ICFPA Blue Sky Awards and 2021 award-winning research projects at: icfpa.org