Department Calendar of Events

Canada’s First National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (also known as Orange Shirt Day)
Sep 30 all-day

Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is September 30, 2021. It was established this year by the Federal Government to provide an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools which more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forced to attend between the 1870s and 1997. September 30 is also known as Orange Shirt Day, a nation-wide movement rooted in the story of Phyllis Webstad who, in 1973, at the age of six, went to the St. Joseph Mission Residential School.  In preparation for school, Phyllis’ Grandmother, despite limited means, purchased the shiny orange shirt Phyllis coveted and was so excited to wear to school.  At school, she was stripped of the shirt forever and left to feel like no one cared.

U of T Engineering is committed to truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.  We encourage everyone to participate in their own way on September 30: by wearing an orange shirt, taking a moment of reflection, discussing this day in class, using an Orange Shirt Day virtual background, or finding some other way to demonstrate your support for reconciliation and healing.

You can access further supports from Professor Jason Bazylak, Dean’s Advisor on Indigenous Initiatives or Marisa Sterling, Assistant Dean and Director for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Professionalism.  This summer FASE also launched the Indigenous Cultural Competency Toolkit, co-developed with an Indigenous engineering student to help the Faculty learn the truths.

BioZone BITS: Bio-plastics and bio-textiles from bacterial protein fibers @ ONLINE
Sep 30 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Professor Noémie-Manuelle Dorval Courchesne
Department of Chemical Engineering
McGill University

Protein-based materials represent sustainable and easily customizable alternatives to conventional synthetic polymers. With their biocompatibility, bioactivity and genetic tunability, proteins can be customized for a range of applications. Specifically, protein materials that self-assemble into macromolecular structures and can be produced at large scale are of interest for deployment into wearable devices, tissue scaffolds, and alternatives for commodity materials like plastics, textiles and electronics. Curli fibers produced by Escherichia coli bacteria represent a very promising protein scaffold due to their unique physicochemical properties. Once secreted by bacteria cells, CsgA subunits, the self-assembling repeats of curli fibers, form fibrous structures that can further aggregate and gel into macroscopic materials. Among other functionalities, we have genetically encoded in CsgA the ability to fluoresce, to conduct charges, and to nucleate mineral particles.

In this talk, I will describe advances from our group to engineer curli fibers and confer them with properties relevant for biosensing devices, wearables, and plastic-like (“aquaplastic”) materials. First, I will present methods that we have developed to express and isolate bacterial fiber extracellularly secreted from E. coli cells, and I will show examples of materials (thin films, hydrogels, aerogels, coatings) that we have fabricated with these nanofibers. Then, I will focus on specific applications and proof-of-concept functional devices that we have fabricated. We will discuss bio-functionalized pH-sensing textiles, living adaptive wearable devices, curli-based bioplastics, and protein fibers – polymer composites for conductive biocompatible electrodes.Such devices bring us closer to a bio-based circular economy, and enable novel functions that can only be achieved by biological materials.

Noémie-Manuelle Dorval Courchesne is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at McGill University since 2017, and a Canada Research Chair in Biologically-Derived Materials since 2021. Previously, she obtained her PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 2015 and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard until 2017. She was trained as a multidisciplinary scientist and engineer, and has worked in the field of biologically-derived materials for over a decade, focusing on the fabrication and characterization of novel functional materials and devices using recombinant proteins. In her research, she integrates synthetic biology with scalable assembly processes, to fabricate functional materials. Prof. Dorval Courchesne is actively involved in industrially-relevant research, with the goal of introducing biologically-derived technologies in real-world products. Among other projects, she has she has an ongoing collaboration with Lululemon Athletica Inc. She is also part of an NSERC CREATE on Sustainable Electronics and Eco-Design (SEED). In addition, Prof. Dorval Courchesne is a member of several research networks including the Quebec Center for Advanced Materials (QCAM) and the Research Center for High Performance Polymer and Composite Systems (CREPEC). In 2020, she was recognized for her research potential as the recipient of the Christopher Pierre Award for Research Excellence (Early Career) at McGill. She was also recently named one of three “Emerging Leaders in Chemical Engineering” at the Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference (CCEC 2020).


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LLE: Multicomponent Adsorption and Membrane Separations to Enable New and More Efficient Biorefining Processes (Sankar Nair, Georgia Tech) @ ONLINE
Oct 20 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

If you are an external member, registration is required to receive the Zoom link and passcode. External registration closes at 9am on Mon Oct 18.

Sankar Nair, Georgia Institute for Technology

Host: Prof. Nikolai DeMartini


This lecture will discuss our progress in developing materials-based separation processes for biorefinery applications. The discussion will be centered on the kraft process, which is a high-volume biorefining process that currently yields biopolymer (cellulose), biobased chemical (such as tall oil), and bioenergy (steam and electricity) products. The main byproduct of the process – kraft black liquor – is dewatered by energy-intensive multi-effect evaporation, followed by combustion of the concentrated black liquor to produce steam and electricity. However, black liquor is a potential high-volume feedstock (available at > 1 billion tons/yr in kraft processes) for chemical production because it contains lignin and hydroxy acid fractions.

We will highlight the key role of advanced separation processes in increasing the energy efficiency of the kraft process as well as enabling valorization of stream components. The discussion is placed in the context of three interconnected issues. First, we will illustrate the importance of imagining biorefineries as an interconnected network of conversion and separation processes, and the possibility for materials-based separations to enable new ways of dewatering black liquor as well as valorizing black liquor components such as hydroxy acids and lignin. Second, we will illustrate the differing separation challenges encountered in stream fractionation versus product purification, both of which are critical for biorefineries. Third, we will explore the development and identification of versatile and inexpensive separation materials that can handle complex multicomponent streams in harsh conditions of temperature, pH, and high dissolved solids content.

Sankar Nair is Professor, Associate Chair, and Simmons Faculty Fellow in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. His research interests are in the science and engineering of nanoporous materials for the development of sustainable chemical processes. His current work focuses on nanoporous membrane and adsorption-based separation systems and processes that can enable new technological paths in biorefining, plastics upcycling, industrial water management, and CO2 utilization.


View the complete 2021-22 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Jennifer Hsu, Manager, External Relations

CCEC 2021 – Now Virtual
Oct 24 – Oct 27 all-day

Welcome to CCEC, your forum for learning, knowledge exchange, innovation, and celebration of all that Canadian chemical engineering has to offer.

CCEC 2021 is going virtual

The safety of our community comes first. With a fourth wave of COVID-19 underway The Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering has made the difficult decision to turn CCEC 2021 into a virtual event.

We’re sure you have a lot of questions about what this means for the conference. Here are a few changes you can expect.


The registration fees for the conference have been decreased. Visit the CCEC 2021 website to see the new registration fees. Anyone who has paid the full registration fee for the in-person conference will be reimbursed for the difference in early October.

If you are not interested in taking part in the virtual conference but have completed your registration, please contact the CIC for a refund before Oct. 1, 2021.

Presentation format

The virtual conference will take place over CIC’s virtual conference platform (X-CD). Using the platform, you will be able to create your itinerary, chat with other attendees, visit exhibitor booths, and access links for each of the live sessions.

Technical sessions will take place live over Zoom. Posters will be viewable using the virtual conference platform, and office hours will allow attendees to chat with the poster presenters.

Virtual exhibition hall

The virtual conference platform will include a virtual exhibition hall where attendees can interact live with industry leaders and partners, and engage with partners during live events.

Stay tuned

We’ll be working hard to answer all your questions about this new virtual format as quickly as possible over the coming weeks. Look for more information on CCEC 2021 and its new virtual format in your inbox, on our website, and on our social media channels in the near future.

LLE: Synthetic Biology: Life Redesigned (James Collins, MIT)
Oct 27 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

External members are required to register to receive the link and passcode. Registration now closed!


James Collins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Host: Prof. Krishna Mahadevan


Synthetic biology is bringing together engineers, physicists and biologists to model, design and construct biological circuits out of proteins, genes and other bits of DNA, and to use these circuits to rewire and reprogram organisms.  These re-engineered organisms are going to change our lives in the coming years, leading to cheaper drugs, rapid diagnostic tests, and synthetic probiotics to treat infections and a range of complex diseases.  In this talk, we highlight recent efforts to create synthetic gene networks and programmable cells, and discuss a variety of synthetic biology applications in biotechnology and biomedicine.

Professor James Collins is the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science and Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, as well as a Member of the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences & Technology Faculty. He is also a Core Founding Faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and an Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is one of the founders of the field of synthetic biology, and his research group is currently focused on using synthetic biology to create next-generation diagnostics and therapeutics. Professor Collins’ patented technologies have been licensed by over 25 biotech, pharma and medical devices companies, and he has co-founded a number of companies, including Synlogic, Senti Biosciences, Sherlock Biosciences and Cellarity, as well as Phare Bio, a non-profit focused on AI-driven antibiotic discovery. He has received numerous awards and honors, including a Rhodes Scholarship and a MacArthur “Genius” Award, and he is an elected member of all three national academies – the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine.


View the complete 2021-22 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Jennifer Hsu, Manager, External Relations

BioZone BITS: Extracellular production of recombinant proteins with E. coli
Oct 28 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm


BioZone will be hosting Dr. Jens Kastenhofer, from our Dept. of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, on Thursday, October 28 from 3 pm – 4:30 pm.

Title: Extracellular production of recombinant proteins with E. coli


Escherichia coli is among the most favored expression hosts for recombinant proteins. It grows fast on cheap media, is easily genetically manipulated and bears low risk of contamination. However, the product is usually located inside the cell, resulting in a complex and costly purification process. Extracellular production may alleviate this bottleneck but is difficult to achieve due to the nature of the E. coli cell envelope and missing secretory pathways.

Dr. Jens Kastenhofer will present various strategies on how to achieve extracellular production of recombinant proteins with E. coli and demonstrate its benefit for the downstream process, both economical and ecological. Furthermore, the talk will explore approaches to monitoring extracellular production processes with E. coli.

Speaker Bio

Jens Kastenhofer obtained his MSc degree from Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands) and his PhD from TU Wien (Vienna, Austria). His doctoral research was concerned with novel techniques for recombinant protein production in E. coli. He was awarded with the Erwin-Schrödinger-Fellowship from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) for a postdoc position at the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto. In the lab of Prof. D. Grant Allen, he is working towards understanding the response of microalgae to rare earth elements.

To receive the Zoom link and passcode, please contact Sofia Bonilla ( or Olan Raji (

SOCAAR Seminar: Photolysis of atmospheric organic aerosol: chemical transformations and photo bleaching
Nov 3 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Rachel O’Brien
Assistant Professor

Chemistry Department
College of William and Mary


Brown carbon (BrC) in aerosol particles and cloud droplets can contribute to climate warming by absorbing radiation in the visible region of the solar spectrum. Large uncertainties remain in our parameterization of this warming, in part due to a lack of knowledge about atmospheric lifetimes for the chromophores (the light absorbing structures in BrC molecules). An important removal pathway involves chemical transformations that fragment the chromophore, thus removing its ability to absorb visible light. However, the rates measured for this removal pathway in the laboratory are much shorter than what is observed in ambient measurements. There also can be different amounts of photo-resistant BrC, which is a fraction of the mixture that does not rapidly bleach and therefore affects the practical lifetime of the BrC. An important BrC source in the atmosphere is biomass burning and the overall photochemical decay rates for these emissions are important to quantify to improve our parameterizations for their radiative effects. In this talk, I will be combining results from work in our lab, along with a broader review of prior literature of photochemical bleaching, to evaluate gaps in our ability to predict the observed ambient removal rates using laboratory measurements. By probing complex mixtures from recent biomass burning experiments (e.g. FIREX samples), I will demonstrate that our current measured rates in the laboratory are overestimated and that a slower photolysis rate, as well as a potential gas-phase oxidation rate, should be included to better predict BrC lifetimes in the atmosphere.

For the Microsoft Teams Meeting details, please email

LLE: Education in Engineering Lecture: We need a moral infrastructure: “Calling in” the relationship between engineering education’s structural racism and its continuing trivialization of the climate crisis (Alice Pawley, Purdue) @ ONLINE
Nov 17 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

External members are required to register to receive the link and passcode. Registration closed at 9am on Monday, November 15.



Co-hosted with the Institute for Studies in Transdisciplinary Engineering Education & Practice (ISTEP)

Alice Pawley, Purdue

Host: Prof. Greg Evans


Social activism has increased, even during the COVID pandemic, around both systemic racism in North America and around the climate crisis internationally.  While both movements have roots decades old, we are not yet seeing a sea-change in engineering curricula around either, despite its necessity. I argue there are similarities between engineering education’s intransigence on social justice and equity issues and its lack of adequate response regarding the global climate crisis. Scholars in linguistics, education, sociology, and critical race studies, and journalists writing about the climate crisis, can help us see how both are related to a moral discussion rather than the techno-rational one that scientists, engineers, and science and engineering educators seem most equipped to have.  In this talk, I call for the development of a moral infrastructure to address both engineering education’s foundation in white supremacy, and its global obligation to halt the anthropogenic climate crisis.

Alice Pawley (she, her) is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies Program, the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. Prof. Pawley’s goal through her work at Purdue is to help people, including the engineering education profession, develop a vision of engineering education as more inclusive, engaged, and socially just. She runs the Feminist Research in Engineering Education Group, whose diverse projects and group members are described at She has won numerous best paper awards in ASEE, and professional awards, including a PECASE award, ABIE Denice Denton award, the ASEE-LEES Sterling Olmsted award, and mentoring and leadership awards in her school. She helped found, fund, and grow the PEER Collaborative, a peer-mentoring community of academics primarily evaluated on doing engineering education research. She is president of Purdue’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (2020-22).


View the complete 2021-22 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Jennifer Hsu, Manager, External Relations

BioZone BITS: Science communication for fun and profit
Nov 25 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

BioZone will be hosting Tyler Irving, from our Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering on Thursday, November 25 from 3-4:30pm on Zoom.

Title: Science communication for fun and profit

Science communication is a critical skill for anyone in STEM, but it can also be a career unto itself. Tyler will talk about his journey as a professional science writer/communicator and fold in some tips for anyone interested in either pursuing a similar path or simply improving their science communication practice.

Speaker Bio
Tyler Irving graduated with a MASc from U of T Engineering in 2010. He has since worked as a freelance science writer and communicator, as well as for a range of organizations, including the Canadian Chemical News, the Science Media Centre of Canada, and the University of Toronto. His work has won awards from Engineers Canada and from Science Writers and Communicators Canada.

To receive the Zoom link and passcode, please send an email to either Sofia Bonilla ( or Olan Raji (

Life in a Tight Spot: How Bacteria Swim, Disperse, and Grow in Crowded Spaces @ Zoom
Nov 26 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Life in a Tight Spot: How Bacteria Swim, Disperse, and Grow in Crowded Spaces
Speaker: Sujit Datta
Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University

Join us:
Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 867 6293 1790, Passcode: 759852


Bacterial motility and growth play central roles in agriculture, the environment, and medicine. While
bacterial behavior is typically studied in bulk liquid or on flat surfaces, many bacterial habitats—e.g.,
soils, sediments, and biological gels/tissues—are complex and crowded spaces. In this talk, I will
describe my group’s work using tools from soft matter engineering to address this gap in knowledge. In
particular, using studies of E. coli in transparent 3D porous media, we demonstrate how confinement in
a crowded medium fundamentally alters bacterial behavior. In particular, we show how the paradigm of
run-and-tumble motility is dramatically altered by pore-scale confinement, both for cells performing
undirected motion and those performing chemotaxis, directed motion in response to a chemical
stimulus. Our porous media also enable precisely structured multi-cellular communities to be 3D
printed. Using this capability, we show how spatial variations in the ability of cells to perform
chemotaxis enable populations to autonomously stabilize large-scale perturbations in their overall
morphology. Finally, we show how when the pores are small enough to prevent cells from swimming
through the pore space, expansion of a community via cellular growth and division gives rise to distinct,
highly-complex, large-scale community morphologies. Together, our work thus reveals new principles to
predict and control the behavior of bacteria, and active matter in general, in complex and crowded

Sujit Datta is an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University. He
earned a BA in Mathematics and Physics and an MS in Physics in 2008 from the University of
Pennsylvania. He earned his PhD in Physics in 2013 from Harvard, where he studied fluid dynamics and
instabilities in porous media and colloidal microcapsules with David Weitz. His postdoctoral training was in Chemical Engineering at Caltech, where he studied the biophysics of the gut with Rustem Ismagilov.

He joined Princeton in 2017, where his lab studies the dynamics of soft and living materials in complex
environments. Prof. Datta is the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, Pew Biomedical Scholar Award,
AIChE 35 Under 35 Award, ACS Unilever Award, APS Andreas Acrivos Award in Fluid Dynamics, and
multiple Commendations for Outstanding Teaching.

Research Webpage: