Rising demand for chemicals and fuels coupled with the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions has made the production of these products from plants — or biomass — a priority. Heather Trajano studies the fundamentals of recovering sugars from biomass and the catalytic conversion of those sugars into chemicals. These biomass-derived chemicals are a sustainable alternative to traditional petrochemicals. Heather also studies the recovery and purification of speciality compounds from biomass for use in fragrances, vitamins and pharmaceuticals. She will use fundamental knowledge of these processes to improve and commercialize biomass-conversion technologies. These technologies will reinvigorate Canada’s forestry industry, create jobs in nearby rural communities and contribute to Canada's efforts to lead the low-carbon economy transformation.
Prior to UBC:
Heather earned her B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering-Cooperative Program with Distinction at the University of Alberta; she completed her Ph.D. at the University of California Riverside. Her Ph.D. work was part of the BioEnergy Science Center, a U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Center. During her Ph.D., Heather was invited to intern with KATZEN International Inc., a consulting company specializing in the improvement, development and application of biofuels and bioethanol worldwide. Heather joined UBC as an assistant professor in 2012 immediately after completing her Ph.D.
Heather’s work has been published in Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining , Bioresource Technology and Biotechnology for Biofuels. She has received numerous best-paper awards including the Martin Keller Award for Excellence for Student Poster, University of Ottawa Green Technology Prize at the 58th Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference, and Best Student Presentation in Applied Science and Technology at the 30th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals. UC Riverside also awarded her the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award and the William R. Pierson Graduate Fellowship.
Heather celebrated completion of her B.Sc. by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. She likes to spend her summers swimming and canoeing at the family camp. To unwind during the school year, she hosts a monthly board game party with classics like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride.