The Finnish Science Award to Professor Bjarne Holmbom
The 2005 Finnish Science Award winner is Professor Bjarne Holmbom. Professor Holmbom works at the Åbo Akademi University Laboratory of Wood and Paper Chemistry. The 85,000 euro award will be presented by Minister of Education and Science Tuula Haatainen and Vice President (Research) Anneli Pauli on Tuesday. This is the first time the Award ceremony takes place at the Finnish Science Forum.
The Finnish Science Award is conferred every other year in recognition of high-standard research
of special significance and international relevance. This is the fifth Science Award.
E xtract from the statement of the Board of the Academy of Finland:
Professor Bjarne Holmbom's (b. 1943) field of research is Wood and Paper Chemistry. He gained his doctorate at Åbo Akademi University in 1978 and has worked as Associate Professor (1981-1985), Research Professor (1990-1995) and Professor (1985-1990, 1995-1998, 2003 -) at Åbo Akademi and was Academy Professor (Academy of Finland) between 1998 and 2003. He has held several research posts at the Academy of Finland (Research Assistant, Junior Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow). He has been visiting scientist and professor in Canada, the USA and France.
Professor Holmbom's research career began with research relating to the refinement of tall oil in pulp industry. Later he widened his interests to environmental chemistry. In recent years, Professor Holmbom has concentrated on in-depth, molecular-level understanding of the complex chemistry involved in paper making. His key expertise relates to versatile application of wood chemistry, with special focus on wood extractives and interface innovations based on this. Professor Holmbom's special interest in recent years has been the rich source of lignans in tree knots and stemwood. The easily extracted lignans can be used as active components in medicines and in functional foods or as organic biocides.
Professor Holmbom leads a research team on wood and paper chemistry at Åbo Akademi University; it is part of the Process Chemistry Centre led by Professor Hupa, which is a National Centre of Excellence in Research. The common denominator for the four research teams comprising the Centre is physical-chemical processes in complex industry-related environments. Two of the teams research and develop innovative wood-based products. The aim is to develop environmentally friendly processes for producing organic compounds and new chemical products, exploiting all the unique and valuable resources in wood.
Professor Holmbom is a very innovative researcher, whose interdisciplinary research profile has three key aims:
- To minimise the environmental and health effects of emissions to waterways in wood processing industry. This research in the interface of biology, biotechnology and wood chemistry focuses on modifying extractives with enzymes to achieve more environmentally friendly processes.
- To utilise wood extractives in health and medical sciences, in consumer goods and as organic
antioxidants. Based on this research, which is in the interface of medicine, wood chemistry and
organic chemistry, it is possible to develop new medicinal preparations, for instance for the
treatment of carcinomas.
- To produce and utilise industrial antioxidants and biocides which organically enhance the hygiene and preservation of different products. This research in the interface of process technology and wood chemistry also prepares the way to the manufacture of "bioactive paper".
Professor Holmbom works actively in researcher training. From 1999 to 2003 he led the National Graduate School "Environmental Science and Technology" (EnSTe), which he continues to serve as a member of its Board. From 1995 to 1998 Professor Holmbom coordinated the National Graduate School "Integrated Aquatic Risk Assessment", which was one of the founding members of the EnSTe graduate school.
Professor Holmbom has published a significant number (over 150) of scientific articles in eminent publications and written several textbooks and chapters of scientific books. His research has led to a number of patents and patent applications (12) both in Finland and abroad. He has also skilfully popularised his research findings, including "From tree to table" and "Wood ingredients in biomedicine".
Professor Holmbom has wide international experience of both academic research and industrial R&D. His studies are a superb combination of high standard basic and applied research. His research represents world class in its field - as evidenced by his team being a member of a centre of excellence - and its results have major significance for the development of forest industry and wood-based innovations.
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The Finnish Science Award has been previously conferred on Academy Professor Risto Näätänen; on
a research team consisting of Academy Professor Kari Kivirikko, Professor Taina Pihlajaniemi and
Adjunct Professor Leena Ala-Kokko; on Professor Lea Pulkkinen; and on Academy Professor Markku
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- Ms Marja Pulkkinen, Counsellor of Education, Ministry of Education, tel. + 358 9 160 77223
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The Science Forum is organised by the Ministry of Education and the Academy of Finland.