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The Department of Chemical Engineering is proud to announce the appointment of two of its faculty members as Canada Research Chairs (CRC). The designation of Canada Research Chair is an honour bestowed upon exceptional emerging researchers. Professors Valerie Ward and Tizazu Mekonnen are both trailblazers in their respective fields.

Ward now holds a CRC in Microalgae Biomanufacturing. Her research group uses microalgae to make a variety of products.

Last month, negotiators and interested parties met in Ottawa for the INC-4 to discuss progress on a plastics treaty. A delegation of plastics and microplastics experts from the Water Institute at the University of Waterloo participated with special accreditation from the UNEP. Professor Elisabeth Prince was part of that delegation.

“We had the opportunity to share our expertise in the emerging technologies for mitigating the plastic waste crisis with key decision-makers,” says Prince.

Prince has expertise in synthetic polymer chemistry and polymer science. The delegation from the Water Institute hoped to lend their scientific knowledge to ensure the treaty was well-informed by science because there were many parties with many different interests and motivations throughout the negotiation.

Professor Raj Pal has been identified as a highly-ranked scholar in the field of Rheology by Scholar GPS, a California-based company owned by Meta, that analyses scholarly activity. Highly ranked scholars are among the top 0.05% or better worldwide.

Pal is ranked number six in the world (second in Canada) in the field of Rheology, the science of the deformation and flow of complex substances such as polymers, surfactants, gels, suspensions, emulsions, foams and more. Pal’s research focuses on the rheology and flow of complex fluids through both experimental work and modelling.

The Chemical Institute of Canada has awarded Professor Luis Ricardez Sandoval the D. G. Fisher Award in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of systems and control engineering. This prestigious award celebrates the lifetime achievements of exceptional researchers in Canada.

Ricardez-Sandoval spearheads research initiatives focused on optimal integration of planning, scheduling, control, and process design decisions for chemical and manufacturing systems in the presence of uncertainty. His pioneering work on CO2 capture and conversion technologies aims to mitigate carbon emissions thus promoting sustainability and circular carbon economy and employing first-principles modelling couples with multiscale modelling techniques for the design of novel catalyst materials and valuable chemical products, e.g. thin films. This research is supported through the development of theoretical and computational tools aimed to predict the behaviour of complex and emerging systems.

Mohammad Farkhondeh, a University of Waterloo alumnus, embarked on a career journey dedicated to advancing electrification and sustainability.  Farkhondeh began his PhD in the Department of Chemical Engineering in 2011 and successfully completed it in 2016.

Inspired by the mentorship and academic excellence of his undergraduate professors in Iran, many of whom were alumni of the University of Waterloo, Farkhondeh was driven to pursue graduate studies here.

“I did my undergrad project on fuel cells under the supervision of Professor Khodadadi at the University of Tehran, who himself is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. Although too brief, this was enough of an experience to spark my interest in electrochemical engineering and transport phenomena in porous media. This led to my PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo,” says Farkhondeh.

Professor Boxin Zhao is this year’s recipient of the Ontario Professional Engineering Association (OPEA) Research and Development Engineering Medal.

Administered by OPEA, the Research and Development Engineering Medal is awarded to individuals who have advanced engineering knowledge and have developed useful and novel applications. Zhao certainly fits the bill.

Zhao's research is at the frontier of surface science and engineering. His work focuses on innovative soft matter engineering and bionanomaterials research aimed at advancing sustainable manufacturing. This includes the development of smart polymers, advanced adhesives, and coating materials.

Azin Adibi has always had a passion for working in the field of polymer science. During high school, she won the prestigious Khwarizmi Youth Award for a project which developed biodegradable plastics from potato starch. This achievement further ignited her interest in polymer engineering, particularly in sustainable and green materials. As a result, she pursued research opportunities in this field and eventually immigrated to Canada to pursue a graduate degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

“I was drawn to the University of Waterloo's Chemical Engineering program specifically due to the department's strong focus on polymer science and engineering, combined with the interdisciplinary approach of the Institute for Polymer Research and the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, which offered me the ideal environment to explore my research interests,” says Adibi.

Professor Tizazu Mekonnen has been awarded the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Division (MSED)  Early Career Instigator Award. The award is sponsored by NOVA Chemicals.

This honour is bestowed upon researchers who have made substantial contributions to the polymer industry, aligning perfectly with Mekonnen's disruptive research in polymer engineering and sustainability.

Mekonnen spearheads a dynamic research program focusing on material sustainability. His initiatives range from developing polymers sourced sustainably to creating compostable plastics, crafting eco-friendly nanomaterials, and exploring low-carbon alternatives.

Kartik Subramanian (Class of '98) chose to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo because he wanted to study a discipline of engineering that related to food, energy, advanced materials, and medicine.

Subramanian was eager to understand everyday needs from a scientific perspective. For Subramanian, the department’s small class sizes, the engagement level of the professors and the caliber of his peers made his time here memorable.

Excitement was in the air at the 2024 Capstone Design Symposium as Chemical Engineering students showcased their Fourth-Year Capstone Design Projects! Students applied their knowledge, skills, and creativity toward solving real-world problems.

Beyond the classroom, Capstone Design Projects have the potential to make a real difference in the world. Some projects were developed in collaboration with industry partners or community organizations. This allowed students to address real-life challenges and potentially contribute to positive change. This year’s winning teams are excellent examples of such projects. Many were aimed at advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals.