Richard Kerekes

Dr. Kerekes is Professor Emeritus from the University of British Columbia. His career in the paper industry spans more than 40 years. Through his research, he has contributed to the development of new technology in the areas of fiber processing and papermaking.
Richard was born on July 9, 1940 in Welland, Ontario to Joseph and Elizabeth Kerekes.
Kerekes received a B.A.Sc. (1963) and a M.A.Sc. (1965) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto. In 1970 he earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from McGill University (Montreal).

Shortly after earning his Ph.D., Dr. Kerekes joined PAPRICAN and was based in Pointe Claire, Quebec. In 1978 he moved to British Columbia where he helped to establish PAPRICAN in western Canada and led the creation of the Pulp and Paper Centre at UBC.

Kerekes’ vigorous research program led to breakthroughs in understanding numerous operations in papermaking, including pulp mixing, refining, forming, pulp screening, pressing, and calendering. Among these accomplishments was pioneering work on the hydrodynamics of blade twin-wire formers. Application of his body of research has enabled substantial improvements to both fiber and paper quality.

His fundamental research on fiber suspensions led to the formulation of the Crowding Number, a dimensionless number important in understanding the flocculation tendencies of pulp, as well as the behavior of fibrous networks.

Kerekes is the author or co-author of over 120 technical papers and a Fellow of the following technical associations: The Chemical Institute of Canada, TAPPI, The Canadian Academy of Engineering, the International Academy of Wood Science, and PAPTAC. He has received numerous honors and awards including: the John S. Bates Gold Medal of PAPTAC, the TAPPI R&D Award and W.H. Aiken Prize, the Johannes Van den Akker Prize (in 2007 and 2009), and the TAPPI Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal.

Richard and his wife Valerie celebrated 40 years of marriage in 2018. They have one son, Joseph.

Luigi Lazzareschi

Luigi Lazzareschi was born on February 13, 1963 in Pescia, Italy, an area with a long tradition of paper production. His father, Giuseppe, partnered with Emi Stefani in 1966 to start a papermaking business. This laid the foundation for what is today known as the Sofidel group, a company that, under the leadership of Luigi Lazzareschi, has grown to be the sixth largest tissue-producer globally.

Mr. Lazzareschi joined Sofidel in 1987 and became Head of Marketing in 1988. In his more than 30 years with Sofidel, and as current CEO of the Sofidel group, Mr. Lazzareschi led expansion from a small, Italian company to a multi-national corporation with 18 companies throughout Europe and the United States. By 2017, total production exceeded one million tonnes of paper, and the company employed more than 6,000 people.

Driven by a strategy prioritizing innovation, service to mass retail, and advertising as keys to growth of market share, he enabled the company to move away from strictly price-oriented competition. This approach led to the rise of Regina; Sofidel’s most well-known brand.

Under Lazzareschi’s leadership, Sofidel placed strategic importance on environmentally responsible growth; emphasizing industry-leading sustainability targets related to CO2 emissions, water consumption and raw material sourcing.

Mr. Lazzareschi has been recognized for his leadership with various awards including: Knight of the Italian Republic, Commander of the Italian Republic, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Transatlantic Award from the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy.
Mr. Lazzareschi and his wife, Maria Pia Del Perugia reside in Coselli, Italy.

Lisa Viikari

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.

Heikki Peltola

Heikki Peltola was born in Asikkala, Finland on May 14, 1943.

Mr. Peltola graduated from the University of Helsinki in 1969 with a Master of Science degree. After beginning his career at Enzo-Gutzeit, he joined United Paper Mills Corporation (UPM) in 1971 as a production engineer. After an exemplary career with UPM spanning nearly four decades, he retired in 2005 as Senior Vice President of Technology.

In the 1970s and 1980s, UPM saw rapid growth and expansion in manufacturing of wood-containing printing papers. Mr. Peltola managed the construction and start-up of multiple of these new lines. Judicious risk-taking and some key development partnerships enabled successful incorporation of new technologies into full-scale production assets for the first time. Some of these technologies were: mechanical pulping (TMP), twin-wire forming, high-speed electric drives, wider machines, and on-machine blade coating. These bold moves put UPM in a strong competitive position when other companies were faltering. This strength enabled UPM to expand through acquisition and merger into UPM-Kymmene, the forest-based bio industry giant that it is today. Mr. Peltola’s technical leadership and wise project management was critical to the success of the company and to the advancement of many technologies important to the paper industry.

Mr. Peltola served in numerous project management and technology roles at various UPM mills throughout Europe and beyond, including as Technology Supervisor at a UPM joint venture in China and Singapore. In 2001, he was named Senior Vice President of Technology.

In 2005, Mr. Peltola and his wife retired to a life in the country on their forest farm in Finland.