ChemE students and faculty take home top prizes at CCEC 2020 Virtual

From October 26 to October 30, 2020, ChemE students and faculty virtually attended and participated in the 70th Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference (CCEC) hosted annually by the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC). Over 600 delegates representing 16 countries attended the conference. Attendees included undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members and industry experts.

This year, ChemE students and faculty were recognized with top awards and honours across several categories:

Undergraduate students Ziting (Judy) Xia (ChemE 2T2 + PEY) and Saif Rjaibi (ChemE 2T1) placed first and second for best technical oral presentation, respectively, in the Robert G. Auld Student Paper Competition. Both presented on their research from the McGuigan Lab.

A screenshot from Xia’s presentation examining the workflow followed to establish a co-culture system of tumor-macrophage on TRACER and extraction of cells for downstream analysis. (Photo courtesy: Ziting (Judy) Xia)

Xia’s research focused on optimizing the culture media and digestion protocol of the tumor-macrophage co-culture on TRACER, which is a 3D-engineered tumor model developed by the McGuigan Lab. The research is significant in that it enables accurate and precise downstream analysis to identify potential targets for immunotherapy to treat pancreatic cancer.  

For Xia, one of the highlights of CCEC 2020 was the opportunity to attend sessions by industry leaders, “I really enjoyed the conference this year as it gave students a great opportunity to hear from experts across academic and industry and see some of the frontiers of research and application.”

In his presentation, Rjaibi examined the development of an image analysis workflow to quantitatively validate 3D adipocyte model by assessing the obesity hallmark of cell hypertrophy. Once validated, this model will serve as a foundation for investigating future therapies to prevent obesity-associated disease.

From L-R: Ziting (Judy) Xia and Saif Rjaibi snap a selfie using the McGuigan Lab’s tissue engineering virtual background. (Photo courtesy: Ziting (Judy) Xia, Saif Rjaibi)

Rjaibi says one of the most rewarding moments of the conference was reconnecting with his peers, “One of the things I have missed this year has been bonding with fellow ChemE’s in our Undergraduate Chem Common Room, so I was elated that the conference served as an opportunity for students and faculty to reconnect.”

Additionally, Emma Harrison (ChemE MASc candidate) placed third in the Graduate Poster Competition for her presentation titled, Computational Design and Evaluation of Microbial Cell Factories for Biomanufacturing, and Professor Gisele Azimi (ChemE, MSE) presented three invited lectures as the 2020 CSChE Innovation Award recipient and the 2020 Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering Lectureship Award recipient for her exceptional contributions to the chemical engineering profession. Azimi also presented a plenary lecture among three other emerging academic leaders in chemical engineering.

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