Vireo Advisors Founder and President Jo Anne Shatkin received the 2019 TAPPI Nanotechnology Division Leadership and Service Award in Chiba, Japan, on June 5 in recognition of her contributions toward establishing the safety of cellulose nanomaterials. Jo Anne first attended the TAPPI Nano Conference in in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in 2009, by invitation from Lori Sheremeta, then of Alberta Ingenuity, now Alberta Innovates. At that meeting, Robert Moon of the US Forest Products Laboratory gave a presentation describing the range of novel and interesting properties of cellulose nanomaterials, concluding, “And they are safe!” Jo Anne was inspired by his statement and related discussions to demonstrate that safety using the tools of risk assessment, with the larger goal of achieving market acceptance for these high-performance, bio-based materials. This led to the formation of Vireo Advisors in 2013, as well as numerous topical discussions, workshops, webinars and more focused on advancing the environmental health and safety (EHS) of cellulose nanomaterials. Since then, she and the team at Vireo have been working to develop methods and data to demonstrate the safety of cellulose and other bio-based and nanomaterials, beginning with a Life Cycle Risk Assessment and EHS Roadmap. None of this would have been possible without the vision of the founders of the TAPPI Nanotechnology Division, Ted Wegner, Phil Jones, Sean Ireland and P3Nano (the public private partnership between the USDA Forest Products Laboratory and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities) nor without the shared commitment and financial support toward product safety and stewardship by Vireo’s governmental, non-governmental and industrial clients, collaborators and the broader nanosafety community.
Jo Anne is grateful for the recognition from the TAPPI Nanotechnology Division and Awards Committee, as well as for the foresight of Vireo’s pioneering collaborators, clients and esteemed colleagues, many of whom are also cherished friends. She and the rest of the Vireo team look forward to continuing to work toward securing market and regulatory acceptance for cellulose and other novel and sustainable bio-based and nanomaterials through proactive efforts toward safety demonstration.