Profs appointed as Canada Research Chairs

Monday, June 17, 2024

Dr. Tizazu Mekonnen and Dr. Valerie Ward, both from the Department of Chemical Engineering, have been announced as Canada Research Chairs (CRC).

The Canada Research Chairs Program is a national initiative that invests approximately $311 million per year to attract and retain world-class researchers and reinforce academic research and training excellence in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

Mekonnen’s research focuses on tackling the plastic waste crisis through the development of sustainable multiphase and multifunctional plastics. This work encompasses the development of novel routes and modification chemistries for the conversion of renewable chemicals, such as sugars, lignin, plant oils, and other naturally sourced starting materials into sustainable plastics. Canada Research Chair funding will allow Mekonnen to attract and train highly qualified personnel who will go on to become independent scientists, providing future solutions for future needs and challenges.

Ward’s research group is investigating using algae as a sustainable alternative to the chemicals currently used to produce plastics, textiles and some medications. Algae is particularly promising as it photosynthesizes and uses carbon dioxide. Receiving a CRC designation will allow Ward to focus on training graduate students. The chemical engineers learning their trade in her lab will be an essential part of a sustainable future.

Go to Professors Valerie Ward and Tizazu Mekonnen are designated as Canada Research Chairs for the full story.