Dr. Liisa Viikari was born in Helsinki, Finland on 30 January, 1949.
Dr. Viikari served as a professor from 1995 until her retirement in 2013, first at VTT and since 2007 at the University of Helsinki. Prior to receiving a Doctor of Technology degree in 1986, she earned a Master of Science in Biochemical Engineering, and a Licentiate in Biotechnology. Dr. Viikari is also a Docent in Biochemical Process Technology.
Dr. Viikari is both a scientist and an educator. She is the author or co-author of over 450 publications, including about 200 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Additionally, she has authored or co-authored over 30 patents and patent applications. By 2008, Dr. Viikari had more patents to her name than any other Finnish woman.
Her research focus on industrial biotechnology; especially on the development and use of enzymes in converting wood and agricultural residues into useful products has had substantial impact on the pulp and paper industry. Her work with hemicellulolytic enzymes enabled the reduction of chlorine-based bleaching. In addition to positive environmental impact, the technology actually enabled a brightness improvement. This work was a critical development, paving the way for Elementally-Chlorine Free (ECF) and Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) bleaching processes. Later work focused on the use of enzymes for biorefining, and enzymatic modification of lignin to produce useful chemicals capable of replacing oil-based products. Most of her R&D activities were carried out in close collaboration with industry. Many of Dr. Viikari’s contributions represent important process innovations for the pulp and paper industry; additionally, much of her work has shown the potential for a forest-based biorefining industry.
Dr. Viikari has been honored with the following awards: the VTT Prize for Scientific Excellence, The Emmanuel Merck Award, the Anselm Payen Award, the Award of the Ministry of the Environment, the Walter Ahlstrom Award, Knight First Class of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, the Charles D. Scott Award, and the Linnebon Prize.
Dr. Viikari and her husband, Timo, have three children.