2019-20 YEAR IN REVIEW

Celebrating Excellence in Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry

Message from the Chair

""Dear ChemE Students, Faculty and Staff,

What an amazing, weird, challenging, scary, hopeful and completely unprecedented year this has been! In the face of so much adversity, you’ve all managed to complete your degrees, finish teaching your courses, continue with vital research and keep the Department running.

While I’m not at all surprised by the resilience you’ve all shown, I am exceedingly proud of this community’s ability to adapt and thrive even under the most difficult circumstances. From developing a COVID-19 protein manufacturing centre within weeks of the pandemic reaching Canada, to our graduate students sewing masks to help prevent the spread of the virus and to help keep residents across Toronto safe, to organizing the first-ever virtual research conference at U of T Engineering, we have come together to address the pandemic in true ChemE fashion.

I also want to take this opportunity to extend my warmest congratulations to our graduating students of 2020. Everyone across the Department wanted to share the moment in person as you cross the stage in Convocation Hall to receive your degrees, and I know that all ChemE faculty and staff are cheering you on in spirt for your incredible accomplishments. As you reflect on this moment, I hope you’ll take some time to think of the people who have helped you get to where you are now. Think of your fellow students with whom you’ve spent so much time with in classes and labs, supporting each other along the way. Think of your instructors, mentors and staff who have worked hard to ensure you have the knowledge and skills you need to succeed beyond U of T. Most importantly, think of your family and friends who have been behind you at every step along your journey who are now bursting with pride for you today.

It has been my pleasure as your Chair, and the pleasure of all your peers, faculty, and staff to watch you grow over these many years. Regardless of where you go from here, we look forward to watching as you apply the education you’ve received to help build a better world. There are many challenges and opportunities that the world is facing: sustainability and climate change; reliable clean water and food systems; developing and producing vaccines and therapeutics for worldwide human health. Your advanced knowledge of chemical and biochemical systems coupled with the professional skills you have developed makes you all uniquely positioned to take leadership roles in developing solutions to these problems and so many others.

Congratulations once again to our graduating students, and to everyone in ChemE, on another incredible year!

Grant Allen
Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry

Reflections from Student Leadership

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This past year has been a huge success for CSChE as we have been able to implement two new programs that directly provide professional development opportunities to students. In particular, the PEY Co-op mentorship program and summer research days help students learn about employment opportunities while bridging the gap between industry and academia.  I’d like to thank Alicia Hill-Turner, Nitish Kumar, Fletcher Han, Monica Lecce, Kejdi Kola, Laila Fahmy, Judy Xia, Diana Li, Erin Chau, Daniel Shi, Natalija Scepanovic, Muskan Sethi, Shariq Naveed, Stella Gregorski, Karma Saskia and everyone else who contributed to making this year so great!

Anton Meier, 2019-20 President, CSChE

 

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We’ve had the pleasure of watching this Chemmunity grow throughout the course of the year; from the Dinner Dance packed until 1 a.m., to something as simple as the Marvel Movie Mondays. We’re glad we were able to be such a large piece of developing that welcoming environment for students and can’t wait to see how this continues to expand in future years!

Jacob Foster, 2019-20 President, Chem Club

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As our yearly CEGSA cycle approaches its end, we want to thank you for your continuous support and enthusiasm for the events and activities we organize. I want to highlight the establishment of the mentorship program for incoming grad students that we hope will increase student engagement and well-being in our Department. These are unusual times with lots of uncertainty, so we would like to thank our staff and faculty for guiding us through this situation. As we transition to online activities and practice physical distancing, we are working to host online events and to create a stronger sense of community in our Department, starting with the buddy system we are piloting. We will get through this situation together, and we are here for you if you need assistance or simply someone to talk to  — feel free to reach out any time. In the meantime, stay safe, take care of yourselves and use this time in the best way you see fit. We look forward to seeing you all in person and to keep on hosting events for you. Congratulations to all the awardees, and all the best to you all.

Jose Cavadid, 2019-20 President, CEGSA

Celebrating #UofTGrad20: Class of 2T0 & 1T9 + PEY!

Share how you're celebrating Convocation and a photo of you with your parchment by using the hashtags #UofTGrad20, #UofTEngineering, #ChemEUofT and tagging @uoftengineering on Twitter and Instagram!

For more Convocation content, visit: utoronto.ca/convocation

Grads to Watch

Each year, the Department selects two students — one undergraduate student and one graduate student — to feature as "Grads to Watch." This year, we're celebrating Esmeralda Bukuroshi (ChemE PhD 2T0) and Wei Cheng Hooi (ChemE 2T0). Read more about what their plans are after graduation:

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Esmeralda Bukuroshi (ChemE PhD 2T0)

Bukuroshi’s thesis focused on carbon-based molecules that can transform light into electricity. They could one day lead to solar cells with very different properties than those in use today: for example, they could bend or twist, enabling them to be sewn into wearable technology.

A highlight of Bukuroshi’s program was the six months she spent at the University of Copenhagen studying with Professor Mogens Brøndsted Nielsen, an exchange facilitated by a Mitacs Globalink Award.

“I was able to live abroad for half a year while learning and practicing new chemical techniques,” she says. “My efforts there expanded the range of possible applications for my materials, and fostered new collaborations with my home research group at U of T Engineering.”

As co-chair of the Chemical Engineering Graduate Students’ Association, as well as the co-founder and vice-chair of the Graduate Engineering Council of students, Bukuroshi focused on helping her fellow graduate students to enhance their professional skills. She created the ChemE poster exhibition, and coordinated student volunteers for the Engineering Graduate Career Fair, both of which are now annual events.

Following graduation, Bukuroshi plans to work as a policy analyst in the federal or provincial governments, leveraging her research and leadership skills to ensure that government programs are equitably beneficial to Canadians.

“I am looking forward to learning about the data-informed decision-making policy process and the mechanisms that governments follow to invest in innovative research and development while enriching my ability to communicate a wide breadth of issues,” she says.

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Wei Cheng Hooi (ChemE 2T0)

Hooi says that if she could describe her time at U of T Engineering in one word, it would be “priorities.” For Hooi, that meant focusing on sustainability research, and taking advantage of opportunities to go global. 

Last summer she worked alongside graduate students at the University of Edinburgh as part of a summer exchange, supported by her department’s Dorothy Meldrum Szymaszek Student Exchange Award. She and her team investigated new candidates to replace the current three-way catalyst in catalytic converters for gasoline engines. 

“I was involved in most parts of the project, from reviewing papers, to selecting potential candidates, to performance testing,” says Hooi. “I learned recently that these experiments are completed, and I’m now involved in writing the research paper.” 

It was a busy summer for Hooi, who also travelled to Vienna, Austria to take part in a one-week artificial intelligence course run by the non-profit Board of European Students of Technology. 

“It was an extremely precious experience to be able to attend a course with 40 students from all over Europe,” says Hooi. “I had the chance to learn about different cultures, explore a new city and make new friends from a lot of different countries. It was a totally unique experience, and one I might not have the opportunity experience again.” 

During the school year, Hooi’s priority was to not only excel academically but to improve as a leader and communicator. She took part in student clubs such as U of T Toastmasters to practice public speaking and in leadership labs run by Troost ILead. 

As a new alumna, Hooi plans to begin her experience in sustainability to the oil and gas industry in her home country of Malaysia. 

Student Life Catalyst Awards

The Student Life Catalyst Awards recognize deserving graduating undergraduate and graduate students for their significant and sustained contributions to the student life experience in the Department. Read more about the 2020 recipients:

Undergraduate recipients

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Anton Meier (ChemE 1T9 + PEY) 

Anton has become a leader in the University of Toronto’s Chemical Engineering community through his involvement with the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE) student chapter. He has volunteered as a professional development director, an events director, and last year served as the club chair. Anton also worked as a teaching assistant for APS100, which helps students transition from high school to university. He is passionate about water equality and volunteered as a public speaker for Engineers Without Borders’ Water For the World initiative. Outside of school, Anton is an avid soccer player, and enjoys hiking and cycling.

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Natalie Tleel (ChemE 1T9 + PEY)

Natalie has taken on different roles throughout her years at the University of Toronto. She led the political advocacy team at Engineers Without Borders, was vice-chair of the Chemical Society for Chemical Engineers, Business Development Associate for the You’re Next Career Network and volunteered with the UNICEF Youth Engagement team. Natalie has also received scholarships to represent the University around global initiatives including: attending a 10-day sustainability program in Peru, representing U of T at the Student Energy Conference at Imperial College London, and getting accepted to the 2019's World Bank Youth Summit in Washington.

Graduate recipients

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Opeyemi Ajogbeje (ChemE MASc 2T0)

Opeyemi is the director of Union Affairs in the Chemical Engineering Graduate Students’ Association (CEGSA). She is on the board of directors of the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) and contributed to the development of new bylaws for the benefit of the graduate student community. In addition, she was vital to the review of CUPE Local 3902 collective agreement for teaching assistants within the Department. She represented the Department at a conference and participated in new student recruitments. As a graduate student, she aims to continue her leadership roles in student life at the University.

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Esmeralda Bukuroshi (ChemE PhD 2T0) 

A PhD candidate in chemical engineering, Esmeralda combines passion for environmentally-friendly energy solutions with graduate student community development. She has leveraged her undergraduate background in chemistry to develop new materials for more efficient organic solar cells. As co-chair of the Chemical Engineering Graduate Students’ Association, as well as the co-founder and vice-chair of the Graduate Engineering Council of Students, she has focused on helping her fellow graduate students to enhance their professional skills. She currently advocates for graduate student needs and concerns on faculty-wide initiatives such as the Mental Wellness Commission and the Faculty’s Divisional Research Restart Advisory Committee.

Departmental Awards

Undergraduate Student Awards

Leaders of Tomorrow Awards

Each year, the Department presents the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Awards to recognize students who have shown the potential to become outstanding leaders. This potential may be demonstrated in a number of ways, including: participation in student councils or clubs, community organizations, cultural groups and athletics. Meet our 2020 recipients:

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Saif Rjaibi (ChemE 2T1) 

Class of 5T9 Leaders of Tomorrow Award

Saif has been actively involved in the Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Council, serving as the first year class representative, mentorship director, and current vice-chair. He is passionate about strengthening his community and presently captains the Chemical Engineering soccer team. He also worked as an instructor with the Faculty’s Junior DEEP Program, empowering his own aspiration to enter the field of bioengineering to inspire the next generation of STEM-loving students.

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Purushoth Thavendran (Chem 2T2) 

Class of 8T2 Emerging Leaders Award in Chemical Engineering

Purushoth has been actively involved in the chemical engineering community, serving as treasurer of the Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Council (Chem Club). He is also a part of the Club for Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering and the Interplanetary Space Exploration Design Team. Outside of school he is working with his co-founded social enterprise EmPowerEQ Inc. to tackle energy poverty in economically disadvantaged regions of the world.

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Natalie Tleel (ChemE 1T9 + PEY) 

ERCO Worldwide Leaders of Tomorrow Award

Natalie has focused her leadership initiatives around providing students with networking and career growth opportunities throughout her five years. This year, she led the political advocacy portfolio for Engineers Without Borders placing a strong focus around social impact. She was also an executive member on the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineers for four years, serving as Vice-Chair during her PEY Co-op. Upon graduation, she plans to continue to lead global opportunities related to sustainable energy.

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Ziting (Judy) Xia (ChemE 2T2 + PEY)

Professor James W. Smith Leaders of Tomorrow Award

Judy has been an active member of the ChemE community serving as the first-year class rep and mentorship director in CSChE for two years. She has hosted events including a research day seminar to promote professional development among students. Further, she serves as a conference team member on WISE and a workshop development head on CUBE.

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Stephen Joly (Chem 1T9T1 + PEY) 

Troost Family Leaders of Tomorrow Award

Stephen has always held a penchant for mentorship and in helping those around him succeed. He has significantly contributed to the engineering community through his involvement as the leader of the inaugural engCEO program, as a Head Leedur in Orientation Week, and as an active volunteer for the Department of Chemical Engineering. Stephen attributes his personal growth to the experiences he has had with those around him.

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Anton Meier (ChemE 1T9 + PEY) 

Troost Family Leaders of Tomorrow Award

Anton has worked to provide undergrad students with professional development and leadership opportunities as chair of CSChe U of T student chapter. Additionally, he worked as a teaching assistant for APS100: Orientation to Engineering where, he helped first year students transition from high school to university. Anton also volunteered as a mentor for the past three years through the ChemE mentorship program.

Plant Design Awards

As part of their capstone design project, fourth year chemical engineering students work directly with an industry client to design a plant for the chemical and process industries and examine the economic viability of the plant. Read more about the 2020 Plant Design Award winners and their projects:

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Biotechnology Plant Design Award — Ugo Ndem-Chijioke, Nitish Kumar, Shuhan (Scarlett) Ma, Tristan Nadar, Shuyi (Yvonne) Zhang

Project name:

Artizen Kombucha New Plant Design

About the project:

Kombucha is a flavoured, fermented beverage made from tea; it enjoys the fastest growing functional-beverage market in North America. Artizen is a small company in Perth, Ontario that seeks to expand and modernize its facilities; the proposed plant would produce 680,000 liters per year (8% of the North American market).

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Chemical Engineering Plant Design Award — Patrick Dong Min Chang, Wei Cheng Hooi, Yousuf LaHaye, Yucong (Tony) Shi, Diana Teichman

Project name:

Production of Peracetic Acid (PAA) by the Autooxidation of Acetaldehyde

About the project:

The plant will manufacture PAA for delivery in concentrations of 5 to 35% in non-aqueous solvent for a total annual capacity of 50,000 tonnes. As an eco-friendly sanitizing agent, PAA has won a place as a highly effective antimicrobial agent in the healthcare sector.

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Environmental Plant Design Award — Omar Hamdy, Yangshuo Hu, Anna Kitor, Alexander Profiti, Richard Stuivenberg, Wen Tan

Project name:

Green Corrosion Inhibitor Production Plant - Industrial Scale-up of Nano-Crystalline Cellulose Polypyrrole Production

About the project:

Nano-Crystalline Cellulose Polypyrrole (NCC-PPy) provides two key advantages over heavy-metal-based corrosion inhibitors such as sodium chromate — it is not carcinogenic and it is sourced from environmentally sustainable cellulose. NCC-PPy particles are easily dispersed in aqueous and organic solvents which makes it compatible with a variety of surface treatments. NCC-PPy was developed at the University of Toronto. The proposed plant is designed to produce sixty tonnes per year.

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Sustainable Energy Plant Design Award — Olga Misic, Nick Robson, Kevin Samardzic, Shankavi Sivakumaran, Runlin Yuan, Mary Yu

Project name:

Impurity Removal from a Geothermal Brine Upstream of Lithium Recovery

About the project:

The Salton Sea in California is a potential source for geothermal power generation and lithium — much in demand for electric car batteries. Extraction of lithium from the thermally depleted brine requires prior removal of transition metal ions, iron and manganese, and safe disposal of lead-bearing waste.

Graduate Student Awards

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Shirley Lam (ChemE PhD 2T0) 

Diran Basmadjian Graduate Scholarship in Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry

Shirley is currently pursuing her PhD in triclosan removal through passive water treatment. She is extremely passionate about teaching and has been the teaching assistant for a range of courses, from differential equations to physical chemistry. She wants to inspire all her students to reach their full potential.

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Elizabeth Maggs (ChemE MASc 2T1) 

Helen L Cross (nee Colquhuon) Memorial Graduate Scholarship

Elizabeth is a first year MASc candidate supervised by Professor Honghi Tran. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Waterloo. Her research is focused on the effects of biofuel combustion on the settling and filtering behaviours of the resulting solid particles in the pulp and paper industry.

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Azadeh Vatandoust (ChemE PhD candidate)

Helen L Cross (nee Colquhuon) Memorial Graduate Scholarship

Azadeh is a fourth-year PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Levente Diosady. Her research is focused on developing cost-effective technology for reducing micronutrient deficiencies through fortification of iodized salt with zinc alone and with other micronutrients such as Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin B12, which these nutrients consider to be a necessity for humans' well-being.

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Maryam Arefmanesh (ChemE PhD candidate)

W. H. Rapson Memorial Award

Maryam is completing her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Emma Master within BioZone. She is also a Visiting Scholar PhD student at Michigan State University under the supervision of Prof. Mojgan Nejad. Her research is focused on investigating sustainable chemo-enzymatic pathways to increase lignin reactivity for polyurethane resin application in wood coating.

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Sadafnaz (Sadaf) Kalhour (ChemE PhD candidate) 

Eco-Tec Founder's Fellowship

Sadaf is completing her PhD with Prof. Grant Allen and Prof. Arun Ramachandran on Visualization and Characterization of Water Movement through Biosludge Flocs, which ultimately will help in our mechanistic understanding of the relationship between floc properties and dewatering. She anticipates this will lead to an improvement in developing more energy and cost-effective dewatering processes.

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Amir F. Ebrahimy (ChemE MASc 1T7, ChemE PhD 2T1) 

Edward Jarvis Tyrrell Fellowship

Amir is working on the development of metallic nanoporous materials, such as nanoporous gold (np-Au) and np-Cu with applications including catalysis (e.g. in CO2 electrochemical reduction into fuels), (bio)sensing, and self-sanitizing. He graduated from the University of Tehran with a BSc degree in Metallurgy and Materials Engineering.

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Jihye Kim (ChemE PhD 2T1) 

Edward Jarvis Tyrrell Fellowship

Jihye is completing her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Gisele Azimi. Her research focuses on the development of interconnected industrial pyro-hydrometallurgical processes for extraction, separation, and purification of strategic materials. She is focused on the recovery of valuable materials from steelmaking slag through a modified version of sulfuric acid leaching, separation of iron through carbothermic reduction followed by alkaline cracking, and valorization of steelmaking slag through CO2 sequestration.

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Folake Oyewole (ChemE PhD candidate)

Frank Howard Guest Bursary

Folake is a member of the Food Engineering Research Group and is supervised by Professor Levente Diosady. Her research thesis is focussed on developing a functional beverage from a Sub-Saharan African indigenous herb: Hibiscus sabdariffa, to address the prevalence of iron deficiency in the region. Folake is an international student from Nigeria and is also a recipient of the prestigious Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Award.

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Samantha Cheung (ChemE PhD candidate)

Bert Wasmund Graduate  Fellowship in Sustainable Energy Research, Professor Douglas Reeve Leaders of Tomorrow Award

Samantha is grateful to her colleagues who were crucial for numerous initiatives including: founding the GECoS Mental Wellness Commission, starting the ChemE Mentorship Program, and acquiring a snack machine for the Wallberg Building. Her aspiration is to contribute to climate change solutions through algae technologies.

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Nicolas Carunungan (ChemE MEng 2T1) 

William J. Dowkes Graduate Bursary

Nicolas specializes in water and wastewater treatment. His personal goal is to build more just and sustainable societies across the world by ensuring that all people have access to clean water. Currently, he does research on the use of algae to treat and recover rare earth elements from aqueous solution.

Shaihroz Khan (ChemE PhD 2T3) 

Eco-Tec Founder's Fellowship

Shaihroz is working under the supervision of Prof. Erin Bobicki in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry. As part of his PhD research, he is exploring the field of carbon dioxide capture, utilization and storage in the processing of low-grade ultramafic nickel ores.

Goutham Rangarajan (ChemE PhD candidate)

Frank Howard Guest Bursary

Teaching Awards

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Lydia Wilkinson

Basmadjian Teaching Award

Lydia has coordinated communication within the Department since 2013, designing and delivering courses that teach transdisciplinary skills within technical contexts. Her teaching is informed by her research in engineering education, which focuses on the development and transfer of these key skills that allow students to succeed in their careers.

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Graeme Norval

Bill Burgess Teaching Award

Graeme is a ChemE teaching stream professor. He is a safety champion and has introduced concepts of safety and safety management into the chemical engineering design courses.  He served on the Province of Ontario's Prevention Council between 2012 and 2020 and is chair of the CAN/CSA Z-767 Process Safety Management Committee.  He is part of the team that is developing safety related e-modules, which will be freely available to all students in Canada.

2019-2020 in Photos: Event Highlights

ChemE Dinner Dance

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Iron Ring 2020

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CSChE Highlights

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