Meet Our Graduate Students

Students in front of the Grad House

The Department of Chemical Engineering has approximately 220 students participating in both course-based and research-based graduate studies. Applicants should explore the different areas of research in the department and directly contact a potential faculty supervisor whose research interests them.

Find out what some of our current students say about graduate studies in our department!

Natalie Pinchin shares her experince as a MASc Student

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Meghana Chepuru reflects on her experience as a PhD candidate.

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Nikolai Burton shares his experience as a MASc student.

Youssra Rahham-interfacial phenomena, colloids and porous media

Program

Youssra Rahham

Youssra is in the PhD program.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in Chemical Engineering?

I discovered my passion for scientific research and teaching throughout the course of my studies. It all started by striving to understand the physical phenomena that surrounded me from a young age. I was also excellent in mathematics and science subjects at school, which nourished my motivation and confidence in solving problems until I found myself pursuing engineering. Meanwhile, I realized that I have always enjoyed explaining engineering problems or parts of lectures to my classmates in clear and simplified ways. Since my bachelor’s junior and senior years, I was already oriented towards research by getting involved in several research projects either at the university or through internships back home in Morocco. My graduate school journey started in the United States where I completed my master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering. After acquiring a diverse background in renewable energy technologies, desalination, enhanced oil recovery, and characterization of nanomaterials, I wanted to pursue an academic research and teaching career in a fundamental discipline that can be applied to all these fields. My ambition to work at the forefront of developing new technologies and contributing to the advancement of scientific research to benefit humanity led me to the pursuit of a doctorate degree in chemical engineering.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Waterloo?

Being admitted to Professor Marios Ioannidis research group was the main factor that influenced my decision to join the University of Waterloo since the research done at his lab aligns with my background and research interests. Additionally, the University of Waterloo is a well-reputed higher education institution known worldwide for its excellence in education and innovative research. Waterloo Engineering, in particular, is one of the best engineering faculties in the world. Its strategic location and the fact that Waterloo has been growing and developing to become a Canadian tech hub broaden the career prospects presented to students after getting a graduate degree from the University of Waterloo. Seeing the examples of successful alumni from the university and from the Chemical Engineering Department specifically encouraged me further to pursue my PhD here.

What did you enjoy most about the Chemical Engineering Grad Program?

I feel very fortunate to be affiliated with the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Waterloo for its excellent Canadian and global reputation and recognition among its kind. Coming from different academic and research backgrounds, I did not know I would integrate quickly and learn so much about the chemical engineering discipline. I knew I wanted to pursue a broader field than petroleum engineering and expand my knowledge and perspectives, and Prof. Ioannidis’s Lab has been the perfect environment for me to learn from his expertise and utilize my previous knowledge in flow through porous media and interfacial science in fundamental research for environmental applications. I enjoy the freedom that is given to graduate students to research the topics of their interest. I also like the collaborative environment in our department and how professors are willing to help other students, for example by allowing them to use their research facilities. I have been learning a lot from my supervisor, professors, and fellow researchers. Plus, the administrative staff at the department are very supportive, helpful, and friendly.

What was the best surprise about the University of Waterloo?

The best surprise to me about the University of Waterloo is the number of opportunities and resources provided for graduate students to succeed in their lives and careers, and the countless guidance that shapes their profiles by the time they graduate. Additionally, the University of Waterloo nurtures an environment for creativity and innovation and encourages students and alumni to take the leap of entrepreneurship.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Graduate school is different, especially if you pursue a research degree because instead of receiving knowledge, you are creating knowledge through research. You might be confused in the beginning and not know where to start, and that is totally normal, just take it one step at a time and you will be surprised how quickly you will get the hang of it. Also, planning is key; my advice for you is to divide your research work into small tasks to complete within a reasonable amount of time during your day/week. Do not get discouraged by the imposter syndrome when things do not work out. That is exactly where your journey toward a research breakthrough begins, just be patient and trust the learning process.

Outside of research, get out there and take advantage of all the great things this amazing place has to offer. Find a hobby or practice a sport, make friends, and engage with the Waterloo community, and most importantly take care of your physical and mental health.

Lukas Bauman-advanced materials and green reaction engineering

Program

Lukas Bauman

Lukas is in the PhD program.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in chemical engineering?

Throughout my undergraduate degree, I had significant lab experience working under Dr. Elizabeth Gillies at the Western during summer breaks as a research assistant and during my final year as a thesis project. I found the research I was performing more engaging than the Capstone Design Project I performed. There is something about investigating novel phenomena and attempting to further our understanding of materials that has an appeal to certain types of people. Overall, I am extremely happy with where I have ended up and the experiences I have had during my PhD degree.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Waterloo?

 My father studied medicine at Western and my mother studied optometry at Waterloo. Growing up in a family of academics I was encouraged to follow a similar path. After completing my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Western, I started looking for schools to perform my graduate studies. An obvious choice for this was Waterloo as my family had excellent experiences here, but mainly the University of Waterloo is world-renowned for its engineering programs. Because of this, I felt it would be a great institution to complete my graduate degree.

What did you enjoy most about the Chemical Engineering graduate program?

What I enjoyed most at the University of Waterloo is the freedom I have had in my research. Throughout my PhD, three of the four different projects I researched were proposed by myself and my supervisor Professor Boxin Zhao has been extremely supportive of this research and provided invaluable guidance. The ability to follow my own path and explore applications of 3D printing for biomedical applications in the Zhao Lab has been extremely rewarding and I hope this research can be utilized to better people’s lives.

What was the best surprise about the University of Waterloo?

The best surprise about doing my graduate degree is the support of staff and faculty during my degree. Throughout my position as the President of the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association, I have had enormous help from the administrative staff in planning events for graduate students. On the research side of things, I have found the faculty within the Chemical Engineering Department to be very open to collaborations and enabling the use of their equipment for my research. I feel like the department as a whole has been very supportive whenever I have needed assistance, almost like a family.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Don’t give up. Multiple times in my degree I have reached the point where results are not as expected, and you lose sight of where you are going. Sometimes you learn from your mistakes and sometimes the failure is the research. You should always question why something is not working as expected and that the reason for that deviation could be worth investigating.

Madhuja Chakraborty-biochemical and biomedical engineering

Program

Madhuja Chakraborty

 Madhuja is in the Ph.D. Program

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in Chemical Engineering?

After completing my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology which had components of Chemical Engineering as well, I was intrigued to study the subject in more depth. Moreover, my interest in research in the field of Biotechnology and Chemical Engineering combined gave me the motivation to pursue this graduate degree.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Waterloo?

As it is already known, the University of Waterloo is one of the best universities across the globe. The infrastructure, professors, and University's environment ensure your professional and personal growth. The research that is carried out here is groundbreaking and many successful researchers/scientists, as well as entrepreneurs, have graduated from UWaterloo, thus demonstrating the horizon of possibilities and development. Furthermore, while searching for research opportunities that aligned with my interests I came across my supervisor, Professor Marc Aucoin, and the quality and nature of work done in his lab led to my decision to study here.

What did you enjoy most about the Chemical Engineering Graduate Program?

After completing my MASc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo I am pursuing a Ph.D. here, and I think that says a lot about the Chemical Engineering grad program! I enjoy the freedom, opportunities, and facilities to carry out my research in the field I am interested in. We have a collaborative environment that aids you to grow as a researcher and expand your network. Moreover, we have a very friendly and encouraging atmosphere in the AUCOIN Lab that shapes you into a better person and researcher. Also, you cannot forget the awesome administrative and technical staff who are ever ready to help you in every possible way.

What was the best surprise about the University of Waterloo?

The best surprise I would say is the plethora of opportunities that are made available to you and the wonderful people on campus who are more than happy to help and guide you.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

The Department of Chemical Engineering and the University offers various training, seminars, and programs that can prepare you for a career in academics and industry. Make the most of your time here and grab every opportunity you get to grow. Most importantly make friends and connections, enjoy your time at UWaterloo, and strive towards making a difference in society!

Saeed Habibpour-polymer science and engineering

Program

Saeed Habibpour

Saeed is in the  Ph.D. Program

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in chemical engineering?

I completed my Master of Science (M.Sc.) in the field of polymeric materials and went to industry afterward. However, as the days went forward, I felt more eager to deepen my knowledge in this area. As per my limited research experience during my master’s degree, I realized that pursuing a Ph.D. allows me to delve much deeper into the field I am interested. In a graduate program, I feel more freedom to explore phenomena, find knowledge-based solutions to scientific or engineering challenges, and make life easier for humans.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Waterloo?

 My reasons behind choosing UWaterloo to pursue the Ph.D. program are divided into personal and professional reasons. The Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Waterloo has an impressive worldwide reputation. The University of Waterloo is ranked #1 for employer-student connections and the most innovative in Canada. I believe this is because of the various research centres with state-of-the-art facilities which allow grad students to do research and innovate in many interdisciplinary fields. From a personal perspective, I have a few friends in Waterloo (former UW students) who introduced me to the city of Waterloo as a small city that is home to many high-tech start-up companies. I would love to live in such a start-up city.

What did you enjoy most about the Chemical Engineering Graduate Program?

I love the chemical engineering grad program because it provides me with the advanced equipment and facilities to conduct my research. I also enjoy being in Aiping Yu's research group and being surrounded by brilliant and collaborative students who are always willing to lend a helping hand to their fellow teammates.

What was the best surprise about the University of Waterloo?

For me, the big surprise about the University of Waterloo was the intellectual property policies. All grad students own any ideas they develop in their research. This allows grad students to always think about being an entrepreneur in the back of their minds. I believe this is why the University of Waterloo is ranked #1 as the most innovative university.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

My advice to new grad students is to give yourself plenty of time to learn and adapt to new challenges. Always keep an open mind about constructive feedback and engage yourself with groups of people with different skills and interests. Also, continuously take care of your mental health and enjoy what Waterloo offers to you while you live here.

Negin Bouzari-biomedical and biotechnology engineering

Negin Bouzari

Negin is in the MASc Program

The opportunity to make the world a better place  

 Negin Bouzari has always had an eagerness to learn, and so when deciding whether to pursue graduate studies, her family and friends in Iran pushed her to take the opportunity to pursue her interests in conducting, what she calls, “profound research in a burgeoning field.”  

Negin began her MASc in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo under the supervision of Professor Shahsavan in the Smart Materials For Advanced Robotic Technologies, SMART-Lab, which focuses on the development of programmable materials.  

She chose to study at the University of Waterloo after reading about its outstanding reputation as one of the top-ranking universities in Canada for engineering. Negin eventually fell in love with the city of Waterloo.

  “I believe Waterloo has a beautiful nature! I love hiking around Columbia Lake or the local walking trails!” 

 Developing ground-breaking technologies for the future 

 Currently, Negin is researching methods to introduce novel and smart systems for soft robotic applications, which focus on the design and fabrication of robots. She comments, that the world is developing technologies that will minimize human error, and so choosing to work on fabricating smart hydrogel-based systems will play a crucial role in the use of remote robotics in different fields. However, the benefits of her system go beyond just reducing errors.

 “Smart materials could also be ground-breaking for biomedical applications. Innovative, smart and functional materials that aim to open a new era in therapeutics & theragnostic will expand the opportunities for health improvement,” said Negin.

Specifically, Negin is developing a prototype of a self-healing hybrid hydrogel system that responds to temperature, pH, magnetic fields, and light. This can be used in biomedical robotic systems designed to perform specific functions, such as drug delivery and removing blood clots in hard-to-reach systems of the body. As such, her research could be impactful in several sectors.  

Negin believes that grad studies have allowed her to expand her experiential skills, for example learning to operate different types of equipment. She has been able to create professional connections in both academia and industry and was given the opportunity to publish her work in top-ranked peer-reviewed journals.  For Negin the best part of the grad program is the opportunity to develop ideas that could help to make the world a better place to live and expand on them through research. 

 Advice for aspiring grad students  

  “If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies, the only advice I have for you is to go for it! You will experience some difficult moments in your student life, as you might experience in any other profession, however, the surge of pride and happiness that you will experience after accomplishing your research goals (even small), in my opinion, is something unique that is worth the difficulties!”  

Negin’s perseverance and hard work were rewarded when she was selected as the Waterloo Institution for Nanotechnology Nanofellowship Laureate. Congratulations Negin!