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Top 10 Under 40: Meet Heather Trajano from University of British Columbia

September 13, 2023  By Sukanya Ray Ghosh

The next generation of leaders in Canada’s pulp and paper industry are striving hard to build a resilient future. The winners of the 2023 Top 10 Under 40 program are constantly raising the bar for their peers with their forward-thinking initiatives and their zeal to make a lasting difference. The future of the industry is in the secure hands of these young professionals who not only take ownership of their responsibilities but contribute beyond what is expected of them.

The winners this year work in different roles and capacities within the industry, but share some key characteristics – strong work ethic, commitment to their roles and a desire to innovate and improve.

Today, we introduce Heather Trajano, associate professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.


Dr. Heather Trajano is an associate professor in the department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UBC, with a research program aimed at the Canadian pulp and paper industry, delivering both mill-ready technologies and highly trained engineers. In the Energy Reduction in Mechanical Pulping Consortium, a university-led collaborative research and development program with 10 industrial partners, she leads a number of projects having a clear path to commercialization.

Her recent accomplishments include the demonstration of highly-alkaline peroxide treatment for strength enhancement of mechanical pulps, valorization of extractives while simultaneously reducing water treatment challenges, and patenting an enzyme-LC refining process for surface treatments of paper. Her work is characterized by the application of fundamental engineering principles and careful experimentation to produce a thorough and definitive understanding.

She positions her research trainees at the forefront of university-industry interactions to aid in attraction and retention to the industry. Dr. Trajano deliberately pursues research strategies to deliver knowledge that the industry can implement on near- to mid-term timelines to enhance current operations and create new value.

Dr. Trajano has adopted a leadership role in the development of EDI policy in the faculty, serving as the benchmark and lens for other units in the university. She has a strong educational portfolio by voluntarily teaching pulp and paper science to new recruits in the industry, as well as the introduction of unit processing in her undergraduate lectures. Nearly a hundred students have participated in her Biomass Fractionation or Sustainable Bioenergy and Biorefinery course offerings.

Dr. Trajano supports CPPA activities and has encouraged student participation in the local PACWEST meeting.

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