FABI MSc graduate, Martin Wierzbicki scooped the 2018/2019 Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Award in Vancouver, Canada, on 14 May. The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA) gave the award to Martin and two researchers from Finland and the United States. The international competition accepts submissions from scientists and engineers working on novel solutions using wood fibre or products along the forestry-pulp-paper value chain. Martin’s project carried out research on genome-based biotechnology for designer wood.

“I have combined genetics, genomics, big data and wood chemistry analyses to build a gene network model,” he said. “My model treats the tree as a ‘living biorefinery’, where we have control of how the wood is made.”

Martin completed his MSc degree in the Forest Molecular Genetics programme in FABI with Professors Zander Myburg and Eshchar Mizrachi as his supervisors. He graduated in September 2018.