Here's a recap of the speakers of the International Conference for Young Scientists on Biorefinery Technologies and Products BTechPro2024, held in Riga, Latvia on April 24-26, 2024.


Sustainable solutions: LCA insights into biorefinery technology
LCA is a vital tool for assessing the environmental impact of products and processes, Dr. Karīna Bāliņa from the Circularity Transitions Research Group at the University of Latvia will provide a unique opportunity to dive into LCA’s  complexity.

‘’In this workshop, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of LCA’s core principles and tackle the challenges that often arise in the field. Through various case studies, we'll witness LCA in action and learn how it informs sustainable decision-making across various industries. We'll explore the role of waste treatment in LCA, emphasizing the importance of end-of-life considerations. Additionally, we'll discuss the distinctions between product-centred and material-centred perspectives in LCA and the implications of each. Delving into biotechnologies, we'll uncover the challenges related to data availability and methodological concerns. Furthermore, we'll investigate LCA applications associated with greenwashing, helping to distinguish authentic sustainability claims from misleading ones.’’

Converting research findings into clear & concise figures and tables
Dr. Ali Kandemir from the Bristol Composites Institute at the University of Bristol will demonstrate how to better communicate research results by clear and impactful visuals, using different softwares.

’’In this interactive workshop designed for young researchers, you will learn the art of transforming complex research findings into clear and concise figures and tables. Discover when to use a figure to visualize trends and when to opt for a table to present precise data. Through practical guidance and expert tips, you will gain the skills to make your research results easily digestible and informative for your targeted audience, enhancing the impact and clarity of your work.’’


A systematic approach to literature review
Dr. Mikus Dubickis, Assistant Professor at Riga Technical University, will give practical recommendations from his experience and offer to analyze examples of systematic literature reviews done to acquire best practices. Participants will conduct a pilot literature search using a systematic approach to a topic of interest.

’’The workshop will examine evidence-based management, the concept of theory, and the importance of a systematic literature review. Participants will get an idea of the characteristics of a systematic approach and guidelines for developing a review, formulate a research question, define information searches (database selection, keywords, inclusion, and exclusion criteria), and gain insight into information analysis and synthesis.’’



What is there for Young Researchers? In a Spotlight Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and European Research Council
Plenary lecture by Liene Kairiša, National Contact Point for Horizon Europe parts: Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions, European Research Council and the Reforming and Enhancing the European R&I system calls since 2020. Liene offers a variety of support tools - webinars, meetings, training, consultations, pre-screening, help with partner search tools and Funding&Tenders portal etc. Besides that, you may receive tailor - made consultations both individually, for your team or a whole organization. Liene annually improves her capacity and knowledge by participating in network projects WIDERA NET and MSCA-NET, and is a national delegate in EU program committees for ERC, WIDERA, MSCA.

Fostering Academic Integrity Excellence through Young Researcher Organizations
Plenary lecture by Raimonda Soloha. Raimonda is a PhD student in Natural Sciences at the University of Latvia. Her background is in environmental engineering. She is interested in climate change, sustainability assessment and circularity research topics. In her PhD she researches food waste quantification and prevention through the lenses of a systemic and methodological approach. In parallel to her work, she is a board member of the
Latvian Association of Young Researchers (LJZA). LJZA is the leading organisation in Latvia dedicated to advocating for PhD candidates and early career researchers. Participation in the LJZA has improved Raimonda’s knowledge of the research environment in Latvia and abroad, as well as what impact better integrity and management could bring to the research community. While there is much to be done, within a community of like-minded and purpose-driven people it is possible to raise the voice on important topics and make a difference. Research is a collaborative but also highly competitive activity. In theory, only the best of the best get permanent positions. To excel, one needs the support from advisers and group leaders, which makes many young researchers highly dependent on a few people. When young researchers uncover unethical practices of their higher-ups, many face a dilemma of whether and how to report it.

Bio-Based Economy Unleashed: Pitfalls and Opportunities of Polymers and Biofuels for Tomorrow
Plenary lecture by PhD. Miķelis Kirpļuks.
Miķelis is a senior researcher at the Polymer Laboratory of the Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry. He has more than 15-year experience in the field of polyurethane materials – from polyol synthesis and analysis to polyurethane formulation development and final characterization of polyurethane materials. He has actively participated in activities of several EU FP7 and ERA-NET projects. He also has experience in projects with the European Space Agency, such as CRYOFOAMS and CRYOFOAMS-LW. The first-ever bio-based cryogenic insulation is being developed in the Bio4Cryo project and up-scaled in ESA funded BioSpace project. His scientific endeavours have resulted in 76 research papers indexed in Scopus and his Hirsh-index is 23.

Nature did it right the first time: How can we better utilize biomass for enhancing bio-based products
Keynote lecture by Dr. Matthew Schwarzkopf
Matthew is a researcher and associate professor at the InnoRenew CoE and University of Primorska in Slovenia. His research focuses on biomass utilization, bio-based and novel adhesives, wood-based composites, and wood anatomy.


Bio-sourced fire retardant systems for polymeric materials
Keynote lecture by Dr. hab. Kamila Sałasińska
Kamila obtained a PhD from the Faculty of Materials Engineering at the Faculty of Environmental Engineering of the Warsaw University of Technology in 2015. In 2023, she obtained a degree of Doctor of Science in the engineering and technical sciences in the materials engineering discipline. In her research work at the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering at WUT she designs and assesses properties of polymer materials and their composites. Much of the work carried out and published so far has concerned the burning behaviour of polymers and the search for new, environmentally friendly fire retardants. Kamila is a co-author of approx 60 publications, 4 chapters, 6 patents and 3 patent applications. She was a manager in 3 projects and 2 research tasks, and a contractor in another 13, as well as a guest editor of special issues of research journals (Materials, Polymers and Journal of Renewable Materials).

Carbon Sequestration using Biochar
Keynote lecture by Dr. Thomas Nicol
Tom completed his MChem and PhD at the University of York. His PhD focused on cellulose and cello-oligomer aqueous solution interactions from experimental and theoretical perspectives. After his PhD, he began working at Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT), where he was initially employed to establish an onsite laboratory facility and act as a laboratory scientist. NPT are a biomass valorisation company, currently at demonstration scale with their REFNOVA process, producing sugars and bio-carbons from biomass residues. Following an internal promotion, Tom is now working as the Senior Research Scientist for NPT. His research includes process understanding & optimisation, product applications and life cycle analysis.

Application of Deep Eutectic Systems in high-purity textile cellulose samples and lignocellulosic wastes
Keynote lecture by Dr. Tamara Llano Astuy
Tamara received an M.S. degree in Chemical Engineering in 2009, a post degree in Process and Chemical Engineering in Sustainable Production and Consumption in 2010 and a PhD in Chemical and Process Engineering in 2016, obtaining the extraordinary award of the University of Cantabria. Tamara is assistant professor in the Resource Engineering Department at the University of Cantabria. Her research interests focus on three main pillars: (1) process engineering, simulation and optimisation of biorefineries and textile cellulose manufacturing plants; (2) characterization, hydrolysis, fractionation and detoxification of lignocellulosic biomass and marine biomass; (3) conversion and valorisation of waste and industrial effluents into biofuels and bio-products. Currently she is working with decision-making tools for the evaluation of processes from a techno-economic, social and environmental point of view.

Sustainable Wood Treatment Solutions: The Role of Bio-Based Products
Keynote lecture by Dr. René Herrera
René works at Innorenew CoE (Izola, Slovenia) as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow and serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Primorska (Koper, Slovenia). He holds both an MSc and a PhD in renewable materials engineering from the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of the Basque Country (Spain). His research is focused on advancing the use of bio-based materials, such as wood and wood-based products, as sustainable alternatives to traditional fossil-derived materials. His work involves enhancing the properties of these materials and introducing new functionalities. René is dedicated to employing green engineering methods to procure ingredients for formulations and applying advanced non-intrusive analytical techniques for quality control of processes and final products.