Celebrating International Women & Girls in Science Day with Yu Sun

To celebrate International Women & Girls in Science Day, we’re sharing of the stories of female employees who practice science every day at a Paper Excellence mills.

Yu Sun, TMP & Stock Prep Manager, Catalyst Crofton
Yu Sun has four degrees—a bachelors in environmental science, two masters in biology and environmental engineering respectively, and a doctorate in pulp and paper technology. She grew up in China, completed her PhD in Quebec, and now lives in Nanaimo, BC.

Yu joined Paper Excellence as an Operation Specialist at TMP & Stock Prep at Catalyst Crofton in February 2017 and was promoted to Manager for TMP & Stock Prep in October 2018.

Why did you choose pulp and paper?
“I’ve always been narrowing my focus along my academic path. For my bachelors, I studied general effluent treatment (the treatment of liquid waste or sewage discharged into a river or the sea). In both my masters I focused on pulp and paper effluent treatment and I worked with a few local pulp and paper mills in Nanjing, China. After completing my PhD, I did post-doctorate research at the University of British Columbia’s Pulp and Paper Centre focused on two things—reducing refining energy while maintaining or improving pulp quality through chemical applications along thermo-mechanical pulping process, and evaluating pulp brightness in response to various bleaching agents.”

“Funnily enough, chemistry is the science I’m least interested in but it’s what I’m doing now, and I enjoy it.”

What is your workday like?
“I’m responsible for the safe operation of the department on a day-to-day basis. Our team is made up of an Operations group that also includes mechanical maintenance, and electrical and instrumentation maintenance. We meet daily to ensure we prioritize maintenance activities and plan for scheduled maintenance days.”

“Another important part of my day is communicating with the Paper Operations group to review the pulp quality requirements for upcoming grades and then execute our plan accordingly. At the end of each month, I summarize the month-end and prioritize OFI (Opportunity For Improvement) which is focused on long-term improvements rather than daily maintenance.”

What do you like most about your job?
Operation process is the part of this job I enjoy most. Doing that well means meeting the tonnes and quality targets that we set. We make approximately 40 different paper grades in the mill. I feel extremely accomplished when we make a plan together and then meet our targets as a team. Results are always positive when we work as a team to drive the dream to be true!

What would you tell girls who are thinking about studying science?
“I would say try to achieve what you want. Your interests will drive where you want to be.”