2014-15 LOT and Grad Award Winners

On March 27, students, faculty, staff, alumni and industry friends came together to enjoy the 30th Annual Chemical Engineering Dinner. Several students were recognized throughout the evening for their extracurricular and/or academic achievements.

Leaders of Tomorrow Award Winners

The Class of 5T9 Leaders of Tomorrow Award


In 2014, Jason Martins (1T6) served as president for the University of Toronto Engineering Toastmasters, a club that focuses on culturing public speaking and leadership skills. He also served as a director of business development for the 2015 You’re Next Career Fair, which hosted 80 companies and saw over 2,500 attendees. Last summer, Jason worked for the City of Toronto at a wastewater plant and will be working with Hatch and Amec for his upcoming PEY internship.

The Class of 8T2 Emerging Leaders Award in Chemical Engineering


Enakshi Shah (1T7) is passionate about female engagement and leadership in professional degrees such as engineering. Her leadership involvement includes the October launch of the Young Women in Engineering Symposium, which she devised over the summer during her work with the U of T Engineering Outreach Office. In addition, Enakshi has led several professional development events and initiative to improve student services at the university.

The ERCO Worldwide Leaders of Tomorrow Award

haroonHaroon Dawood (1T6) believes that humility is a defining quality of a leader because it comes with the understanding that not everyone has the same opportunities. Haroon works with the U of T Chapter of Engineers Without Borders as the VP of youth engagement. He feels that helping others reach their potential and realize their passions is as rewarding as personal achievements.

jacquelineJacqueline Murdock (1T5) has a strong interest in renewable energy and a variety of leadership experiences. This past year, she served as the co-chair for the 30th Annual Chemical Engineering Dinner and also held an executive position in the U of T Energy Fair. She has a particular passion for promoting female representation in the science and engineering disciplines and hopes to continue her involvement in this area in the future.

The Professor Douglas Reeve Leaders of Tomorrow Award


Nimalan Thavandiran is a senior resident advisor of the Engineering Living and Learning Community at New College. He is the co-president of the University of Toronto chapter of Engineering World Health, an organization that aims to inspire and mobilize the University of Toronto community to tackle challenges in health care in low- and middle-income countries. Nimalan is also a mentor for Write Now!, a weekly creative writing workshop initiated through collaboration with the U of T Poet in Community. He believes that good leadership starts and ends with facilitating an environment for others to thrive and excel to new levels.

The Professor James W. Smith Leaders of Tomorrow Award


Oluwatobi Edun (1T7) finds satisfaction in serving, inspiring and building community. He does this through mentoring new students and being a House Council representative. Participation in the Chemical Engineering Intramural Soccer team has enhanced his commitment to discipline and teamwork. In addition, Oluwatobi has completed many certificate courses in leadership development. These courses have increased his intellectual curiosity and has set him on the course to lead change, inspire others and impart knowledge to future generations.

The Troost Family Leaders of Tomorrow Award


Maher Zghondi (1T5) believes taking initiative and getting involved is a catalyst for personal growth and that we are not limited by the campus to make an impact on communities. Maher has been involved on campus by participating in Troost ILead programs and a mentorship program dedicated to guide first year students. He has expanded his learning beyond campus by volunteering for CAMH and being a math and science volunteer tutor at an Alternative High School.

Graduate Award Winners

Diran Basmadjian Graduate Scholarship in Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry; Professor William F. Graydon Memorial Graduate Fellowship


Doug Duffy joined the department in 2010 under the supervision of Professor Vlad Papangelakis completing his MASc studying a novel hydrometallurgical process for Ni production from laterite ores. He then moved on to begin his PhD, researching the use of microorganisms in the reprocessing of tailings produced in the Sudbury region, again for Ni production and under the supervision of Professor Papangelakis. Doug has presented his research at various conferences, in journals and been dutifully engaged as the TA for a number of undergraduate classes.

Eco-Tec Founder’s Fellowship

hanyaHanya Ettefagh is completing her MASc under the supervision of Professor Ramin Farnood. Her passion for environmental issues led her to take several courses and learn great details about the field. It even inspired her current project related to reducing energy consumption during pulp refining used for producing paperboard.


Natalia Mykhayiova is a PhD candidate supervised by Professor Greg Evans. She is working on the development of novel devices and networks for air pollution monitoring. This research project targets a major unmet need – access to reliable, low-cost and high time resolution method for measuring the air we breathe. Natalia has presented at six conferences and received awards recognizing her contributions. She enjoys teaching and has assisted in teaching Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Engineering courses for the past five years. Natalia is passionate about contributing to university and community. Last year she co-chaired Troost ILead:Graduate and co-founded a social venture.

Edward Jarvis Tyrrell Fellowship

jessicaJessica Wan-Yan Ngai is pursuing a MASc degree under the supervision of Professor Molly Shoichet. She is currently working on a novel bioengineering strategy that allows local drug delivery. This strategy is designed to mitigate pain.

naomiNaomi Zimmerman is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Professor Greg Evans in the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR). She is dedicated to improving local air quality in cities with high traffic densities and her work investigates the impact of new vehicle technologies on traffic-related air pollution. Naomi is also committed to teaching in the department, and has been an instructor for Environmental Chemistry, as well as a TA for the Unit Operations Laboratory and the Scientific Writing Workshops for graduate students.

Frank Howard Guest Bursary

mahbodMahbod Hajighasemi is a PhD candidate co-supervised by Professors Elizabeth Edwards and Alexander Yakunin. His research focuses on enzymatic degradation of bio-plastics including Poly Lactic Acid and co-polymers as green alternatives for current petroleum-derived plastics. Recently, he developed a patent-pending, bio-based technology that not only enables efficient degradation of bio-plastics as a recycling approach, but also serves as a platform to convert post-consumer waste to different value-added chemicals by genetically engineered bacteria.


Mehdi Nouraei is a PhD candidate who is co-supervised by Professors Edgar Acosta and Levente Diosady. Mehdi is working on developing delivery systems for drugs and micronutrients to increase the stability and bioavailability of bioactive compounds. This includes the use of self micro emulsifying delivery systems (SMEDS), microemulsions and microencapsulation technologies.

Helen L. Cross Memorial Graduate Scholarship

zahraZahra Choolaei is a PhD candidate co-supervised by Professors Elizabeth Edwards and Alexander Yakunin. She is working on the improvement of anaerobic digestibility of pulp and paper mill biosludge using enzymes. This treatment could result in reducing the amount of solids in biosludge, as well as enhancing biogas production from the anaerobic digestion process.


Fakhria Muhammad Razeq is an MASc candidate working with Professor Emma Master. The specific aim of her MASc thesis will be to identify and characterize unchartered glycosidases that can be used to fine-tune the chemistry of hemicelluloses to expand their utility and improve their performance in biomaterials.

Irving O. Shoichet Graduate Scholarship

nimalan_newNimalan Thavandiran is a PhD candidate working on the design of human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac microtissues for drug cardiotoxicology screening in both the labs of Professor Milica Radisic and Professor Peter Zandstra (IBBME). His drug-screening platform is being further developed for industry and research applications at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM). He is a co-recipient of a Grand Challenges Canada grant that aims to use his cardiotoxicity screening platform to combat the use of counterfeit and substandard drugs that have adverse effects on the heart, in Ghana. He is also very interested in effective methods of improving accessibility of science education to the world.


Yun Xiao is a PhD candidate in Professor Milica Radisic’s lab, Laboratory of Functional Tissue Engineering (LFTE). Her work has been focused on designing biomaterials and bioreactors that facilitate the interaction between cells and surrounding microenvironment, with proper stimuli (e.g. topographical guidance) to guide cellular behaviour and tissue morphogenesis.

W. H. Rapson Memorial Award

saraSara Eskandarifar is an MASc candidate co-supervised by Professors Honghi Tran and Cathy Chin. Her research addresses pulp and paper industrial issues. By combing both theoretical and practical approaches, Sara has achieved more than what she was expecting from her graduate studies experience, and has evolved her perspective towards science.

sofiaIsabel Sofia Bonilla Toba is completing her PhD uder the supervision of Professor Grant Allen. Her work involves using “nature’s tools,” such as proteins and enzymes, to improve the dewaterability of biosludge from pulp and paper mills. Sludge dewatering is a chemical and energy intensive process and so, any improvement will have a significant impact in the overall performance of the mills.

William J. Dowkes Graduate Bursary

ericEric Jin is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Professor Honghi Tran. His research is in the area of energy and chemical recovery in the Pulp and Paper industry, particularly the interaction between high temperature molten smelt and water. Eric currently holds the Co-Chair of Troost ILead:Grad and President of PAPTAC Student Community.

jonJon Albert Obnamia is a PhD candidate under the co-supervision of Profesors Brad Saville and Heather MacLean (CivE). His work investigates the life cycle environmental performance of biofuels by quantifying the biofuel’s capacity to contribute to impacts like global warming, water depletion, and air pollution. By comparing these impacts to those of conventional fuels, we can determine areas in the fuel production process for which biofuels are doing much better, and areas that we can improve further. This line of research is useful to decision makers in engineering and policy because it allows them to accurately judge the performance of biofuel systems in meeting environmental goals.

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