My name is Dimitris Athanassiadis. I am Associate Professor at the Department of Forest Biomaterials and Technology of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Umeå.
Teaching and course responsibility in basic education
I have lectured on a set of various courses and subjects within the MSc program in forestry. My main educational effort has been to be responsible for, as well as supervise and examine a BSc thesis course. My teaching and administration have generally scored high on course evaluations, with the BSc thesis course scoring above 4 out of a maximum grade of 5 the four last years (2012-2016).
I have been responsible for and teacher in the following courses:
- Bachelor degree thesis in Forest Science, with major in Business Administration: 2010-2017
- Innovations in Nordic Forest Technology 2011-2012.
- Utveckling av skogsteknologi: 2008-2010.
I have been teaching in the following courses:
- Miljöteknik, modellering och tillämpning.
- Skogens Produktion och Förädling
- Plant biology for future forestry
- Råvaruegenskaper och förädlingsprocesser
Pedagogical vison with emphasis on supervision
What characterizes my relationship to the students (at all level I could say) is RESPECT. Respect to the knowledge they have acquired prior to my course, respect for the time they invest to come to my lectures and work with the assignments that I give them, respect for the knowledge they get from the work we do together (they as student and I as a supervisor) and also respect to the student as a person outside the work place. I have been working as a teacher at all levels of the Swedish school education system (pre-school, compulsory, upper secondary and adult education) and have treated all my students respectfully from the very young to the old ones.
As a teacher/supervisor at graduate and postgraduate levels I am always interested in my students’ opinions and ideas and keen in having an open discussion climate in my lectures. Most of the classes I teach are students at the third, fourth and fifth year of their forestry education. They have a lot of knowledge on forestry issues and as a teacher I need to discover what they already know and dock the knowledge that I can provide to them (mostly on energy from biomass, logistics and systems analysis) to their previously acquired knowledge. For example I am teaching in courses where the discussion of sustainable forest management emerges quite often. Forest is a scarce resource, how should it be used at the best way? Should it be left to store carbon or should it be used to generate even more heat, electricity and other forest products? It is very gratifying for the students to have such discussions and it is great for me as a teacher to see my students arguing for the one or the other position. In such discussions I see as my challenges i) to provide to the students a structured framework for the discussion that will help them focus on the discussion topic and ii) engage all the students in a discussion that is meaningful and constructive.
I also believe that on all higher educational levels students have the main responsibility for their learning. They need to be willing to learn and be active in searching knowledge. My aim as a teacher/supervisor is to stimulate their interest, create the conditions that will help them to acquire knowledge on their subject but also be observant that the students take the responsibility for their learning.
I consider myself as an experienced supervisor as I have supervised (or assisted in the supervision of) more than 20 MSc and PhD thesis. It is very important both for my students and me that our supervisory meetings are planned well in advance and are regular in order to discuss the progress of the work and methodological issues. This gives us a spirit of being together in the “same team” working together to achieve the good progress in the projects’ research results. During the first meeting we always discuss about our expectations from each other and decide on practicalities.
The system analysis perspective has been a very important factor in my work as a researcher. In the beginning of my PhD, I came in contact with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and I was one of the first researchers to work with this new methodology. I adopted it in to forestry issues providing an overlook over the harvesting and forwarding processes in the Cut-to-Length harvesting system. With the help of LCA we could get a better picture of the complex relations between different work processes and even compare different methods for wood and biomass harvesting and extraction in terms of fuel consumption and emissions.
My current research interests include both environmental and economic evaluations and design of supply chains for biofuel generation. Lately I have been working in studying the efficient use of forest biomass terminals to meet future changes in demand from the conventional forestry industry and biorefineries.
Vision of future research objectives
My research effort will be concentrated on the supply chain of forest biomass from the forest to biorefineries/biofuel production facilities. My vision is to design, model and study supply chains that are effective and where forest biomass is the main feedstock. Biomass logistics and pre-processing with respect to subsequent conversion technologies and products have been proven as issues that are difficult to handle but are crucial when discussing the optimized use of the forest and competitivity with the fossil feedstock. I will use discrete event simulations to model new and conventional supply chains and find the economic and environmental consequences of using a specific supply chain and the environmental footprint that this supply chain has.
During my work in the Bio4Energy research platform I will concentrate on methodological development of LCA of bio-based products. This development will be done in co-operation with researchers at the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University. The following areas will be developed
- System boundaries;
- Allocation methods;
- Cascading use of forest biomass;
- End of life perspective;
- Residual streams;
- Life Cycle Inventory database development related to transportation and supply chain module;
- and finally integration of LCA with GIS for better show the spatial effects of bioenergy systems and even take into consideration local/regional conditions.
The efficient use of terminals to meet future changes in demand from the Swedish forestry industry is an important research area for the coming years. I want to i) assess the value that is created through the supply of forest biomass from the forest to sawmills, pulp mills and heating, CHP plants and biorefineries, ii) examine which stakeholders are involved in this value chains and analyse the effect on regional development from different supply chains iii) identify critical parts and bottlenecks in the value chain and iv) suggest hands on measures that will deal with the bottlenecks at a short and a long term. The vision once again is to speed up the development of optimized biomass delivery and handling in order to reduce the cost of producing biofuels from forest biomass to competitive levels.
In cooperation with LTU and UMU we will i) identify where in Sweden different types of biorefineries should be located to be as resource and cost efficient as possible; (ii) study which systems and technologies in the entire value chain that is most interesting for Sweden under given industrial and technological maturity conditions and (iii) investigate the effects of large-scale implementation of biorefineries on commodity systems and industrial structure in Sweden.
For a current list of peer reviewed publications please check out this search at Scopus.
I have recently been appointed Associate Professor in Technology at my department. As a part of the appointment process I gave a trial lecture in order to provide an insight into my research area in such a way as to be of interest to the general public.