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Prof. Dr. Bernd Nowack

Empa, Switzerland

Micro- and nanoplastics: sources and release

Bernd Nowack holds a MSc. (1992) and a PhD (1995) in environmental sciences from ETH Zürich. After research stays at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, Eawag in Dübendorf, Switzerland, and ETH Zürich, he is leading since 2007 the "Environmental Risk Assessment and Management" group at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. He is also adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zürich.

His research deals with the environmental risks of engineered nanomaterials, nanobiomaterials, plastics and nano/microplastics, comprising a wide spectrum of different approaches: development and application of methods for material flow modeling, exposure modeling, biouptake modeling and environmental risk assessment; experimental studies about release of materials from products and development of methods for safe and sustainable by design (SSbD).

Bernd Nowack has published more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and has an h-factor of 71. He acted as co-advisor of 26 PhD projects and is founding co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal NanoImpact. He has been listed since 2014 eight times so far as “Highly Cited Researcher” in the category “Environmental Sciences/Ecology” from Clarivate Analytics (Web of Science).


Prof. Dr. Jan Vermant

ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Efficient processing of  high interfacial area soft materials using advective processing

Jan Vermant studied Chemical Engineering at KU Leuven in Belgium, obtaining the doctoral degree in 1996 under the supervision of Prof. Jan Mewis. He was a postdoctoral fellow of Elf Aquitaine (at Stanford University and the CNRS) and the Fund for Scientific Research – Vlaanderen. In 2000 he joined the faculty at the department of Chemical Engineering at KU Leuven, becoming professor in 2005. In 2014 he joined the Materials Department at the ETH Zürich where he now heads the laboratory of Soft Materials. He has held visiting appointments at Stanford University (USA), University of Delaware (USA), Princeton University (USA), the Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany) and the ESPCI (France).

Jan Vermant's research at the ETH Zürich focuses on the rheology and applications of complex fluid-fluid interfaces, colloidal suspensions and the development of novel experimental methods and soft matter applications in materials science.



Prof. Dr. Ulrich S. Schubert

Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

Innovative pharmapolymers for the 21st century: From synthesis to formulation and processing

Ulrich S. Schubert studied chemistry at the Universities of Frankfurt and Bayreuth and carried out his doctorate at the Universities of Bayreuth and South Florida (USA). After a postdoctoral stay with Nobel Prize winner Prof. Lehn in Strasbourg, he finished his “Habilitation” with a Zehetmair scholarship at the Technical University of Munich, and was awarded the Heisenberg scholarship of the DFG. He first accepted a full professorship at the Eindhoven University of Technology, and since 2007 he holds a chair for organic and macromolecular chemistry at the University of Jena. He was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit by Federal President Steinmeier in 2018 and in 2019 by the University Teachers' Association and DIE ZEIT with the award "University Teacher of the Year".

Ulrich S. Schubert uses synthetic possibilities to provide polymers with new functions and properties. He is one of the pioneers of polymer-based, metal-free batteries, one of the world's leading scientists in the field of pharmaceutical polymers, as well as an innovator in the field of sustainable polymers and self-healing materials from degradable polymers to tailor-made polymers for a circular economy. Moreover, he is a pioneer in applying high-throughput approaches in polymer science, recently intensively combined with AI and ML methods.

With over 1100 peer-reviewed publications, over 50 patent applications and five textbooks, Ulrich S. is one of the most highly cited scientists in his field of research (h-Index 126 and 80,000 citations in Google Scholar). The transfer to spin-offs is also of central interest to him.


Prof. Dr. Alexander Bismarck

University of Vienna, Austria

Fungal biorefinery: Upcycling waste to chitin-glucan nanomaterials with a promising future

Alexander Bismarck studied Technical Chemistry at the TU Berlin, were he also completed his PhD in Polymer Science. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Surfactant & Colloid Group at the University of Hull. Prior to joining Imperial College London as lecturer, he was R&D Engineer working for Sulzer Composites in Switzerland. Since 2012, he is Professor of Materials Chemistry and Head of the Institute of Materials Chemistry of the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Vienna, Austria.

His research is focusing on various aspects of polymer materials with particular interests on interface design and manufacturing aspects of advanced composites, renewable materials and porous polymers. More recently, his group explored the potential of the fungal biorefinery as a route for the effortless isolation of fungal chitin material.



Prof. Dr. Kim Ragaert

Maastricht University, The Netherlands

The complexity of redesigning the plastics system for circularity

Kim Ragaert is full professor at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE), holding the key domain chair of Circular Plastics within the department Circular Chemical Engineering (CCE). She obtained her PhD in polymer processing at Ghent University in 2011 and focused her research on mechanical recycling of plastics soon after. Prior to accepting her current position at Maastricht University, she was associate professor at Ghent University and chair of the Plastics to Resource pipeline within CAPTURE.

Her lab and research group are on the Chemelot industrial site in Geleen. The Circular Plastics team focuses on structure-property-processing relationships in thermoplastics and translates these fundamentals to methods for increased quality and quantity in mechanical recycling of plastics. Committed also to educating the next generation of circular professionals, she is the Chair of the educational program committee of the BSc Circular Engineering at FSE.

Kim is a strong believer in value-chain cooperation and interdisciplinary research. She consults for organizations like Plastics Europe, Plastics Recyclers Europe, CEFLEX and ECOS, and works closely with industrial partners. Kim was the 2020 European Plastics Recycling Ambassador.


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