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Nanomaterial Catalysts for
Sustainable Energy Technologies

TEAM

DREW HIGGINS
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, McMaster University

EXPERIENCE

Assistant Professor - McMaster University (2019-present)

 

Associate Staff Scientist - Stanford University / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (2017-2018)

 

Banting Postdoctoral Fellow - Stanford University

(2015-2017)

 

Visiting Scholar - Los Alamos National Laboratory (2014)

EDUCATION

Ph.D., University of Waterloo, 2015

M.A.Sc., University of Waterloo 2011

B.A.Sc., University of Waterloo, 2009

EMAIL

higgid2@mcmaster.ca

About Drew
Drew was born in London, Ontario — a city commonly regarded as the 2nd best London in the world. He studied Chemical Engineering through the University of Waterloo’s 5-year co-op program, which allowed him to gain almost two years of experience working in academic laboratories and industrial settings. Recognizing that academia suited his lifestyle, he pursued graduate school and completed his MASc in 2011 and PhD in 2015 in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo under the supervision of Professor Zhongwei Chen. During this time, his research focused on the development of nanostructured catalyst materials for low temperature fuel cells and metal-air batteries. He also spent almost one year at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) as a visiting scholar working with Dr. Piotr Zelenay, Dr. Gang Wu and LANL’s fuel cell research team.

In 2015, Drew began a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University under the supervision of Professor Thomas Jaramillo, carrying out fundamental electrochemical CO2 reduction catalysis research. He was promoted to an Associate Staff Scientist in 2017, and continued with his research in the field of electrocatalysis for electrochemical CO2 reduction, fuel cells and electrochemical water splitting technologies, and carrying out in situ / operando characterization of electrocatalyst materials.. 

He finally made his return to the Great White North, where he began as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at McMaster University in January 2019. Outside of work, Drew can be found hanging out with his partner and twin babies, socializing with friends and colleagues, playing sports, spending time outdoors, or yelling at the television while watching his beloved Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Raptors or Toronto Blue Jays.

Lab Manager

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NAVID NOOR

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, McMaster University, Canada (Current)

M.Sc. in Textile Engineering, Fibre Science and Textile Chemistry, Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran

B.Sc. in Textile Engineering, Fibre Science and Textile Chemistry, Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran

PROJECT

Exploring Single Atom Catalysts for Nitrate Reduction to Ammonia 

EMAIL

noormohn@mcmaster.ca

About Navid
Navid received a B.Sc. in 2016 and M.Sc. in 2018 in Textile Engineering, fibre science and textile chemistry, from Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran, Iran), where he gained experience on electrochemical sensors and wastewater treatment. Navid has also worked as an R&D engineer on producing chemical additives for the textile industry. He is always motivated to overcome critical problems using innovative solutions and also to push the boundaries forward. Navid's goal is to save the environment by inventing new, robust and reliable ways. Outside of research, Navid is a great soccer fan. Also, he can be found reading a book, taking photos, hanging out with friends, playing sports, spending time outdoors. Navid likes learning about different cultures and new languages.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

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JIHYEON PARK

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in School of Earth Science and

Environmental Engineering, GIST, S. Korea

 

M.E. in Chemical Engineering,

Inha University, S. Korea

 

B.E. in Chemical Engineering,

Inha University. S. Korea

PROJECT

A low-IrO2 catalyst for water electrolysis in acidic condition

EMAIL

parkj204@mcmaster.ca

About Jihyeon
Hi, guys! I’m a chemical engineer who will become a professor someday. I decided to become a chemical engineer when I saw the movie Iron man in 2008. In that movie, Tony stark makes an Ark reactor as an energy source for Iron man. I was completely fascinated by it. During my master’s course, I specialized in TiO2 anodization and Li-ion batteries. And in my Ph.D. program, I conducted research from electrocatalysts and alkaline liquid fuel cells (stack) to combining electrochemistry with artificial intelligence. As soon as I finished my Ph.D. course, I joined our group in Oct. 2022. So far, I’m still getting used to living in Canada but, nothing to complain about! The members are so kind and nice, and they help me a lot. Outside of my work, I love going out somewhere to do something such as hiking, skiing, or just a trip. I’m always prepared, so if you want, go with me anytime 😊. At last, my MBTI is ESTJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging).

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SHAYAN ANGIZI

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Chemistry, McMaster University,

Canada

 

M.Sc. in Materials Science and Engineering,

Sharif University of Technology, Iran

 

B.Sc. in Materials Science and Engineering,

IK International University, Iran

PROJECT

Development of Advanced catalysts for glycerol electro-oxidation reactions

EMAIL

angizis@mcmaster.ca

About Shayan
I am currently a post-doctoral fellow in Drew’s team working on catalytic glycerol oxidation, planning on becoming a Prof. someday in a prestigious North American university. I finished my undergrad and master’s programs in Iran and then joined McMaster University in 2019 for my Ph.D. My research interests are the synthesis and design of new catalysts, electrochemical applications of nanomaterials (2D and 1D materials) and surface chemistry. I also love fabricating novel electrochemical devices and testing them as alternatives to conventional platforms. Outside of work, I do photography with a great interest in portrait and street photography. I enjoy playing basketball and recently joined a gym to practice swimming more!

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AMIRHOSSEIN FOROOZAN EBRAHIMY

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering,

University of Toronto, Canada

 

M.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,

University of Toronto, Canada

 

B.Sc. in Metallurgy & Materials Engineering,

University of Tehran, Iran

PROJECT

Understanding the degradation mechanisms of CO2 electrolyzers using various in-situ and ex-situ characterization techniques

EMAIL

foroozaa@mcmaster.ca

About Amir
Born and raised in the South of Iran, I used to be thrilled when it snowed, until I came to Canada for graduate school! I'm passionate about engineering self-powered, sustainable systems. I've been conducting research in materials degradation, electrochemistry, nanomaterials, and materials characterization. My entire higher education took place at some sort of UofT: B.Sc. in Metallurgy & Materials Engineering at the University of Tehran; M.A.Sc. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Toronto. I joined Higgins Lab in May 2023. My focus is on enabling an economical conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) into value-added products. Understanding the degradation mechanisms of CO2 electrolyzers using various in-situ and ex-situ characterization techniques to expand the lifetime of the system is one of the main themes of my postdoctoral research. I unwind by playing the piano and Daf, gardening, and spending time in nature. A life goal of mine is to produce 100% of what I consume by 2050!

 

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MENGNAN ZHU

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada
 

M.A.Sc. in Materials Science and Engineering, Central South University, China
 

B.Eng. in Materials Science and Engineering, Central South University, China

Exchange student, Monash University, Australia

PROJECT

Development of advanced CO2RR catalysts for MEA devices

EMAIL

zhum78@mcmaster.ca

About Mengnan
Hi friends :) I recently obtained my Ph.D. from the University of Alberta with a research focus on developing and understanding catalysts for CO2 conversion using both experimental and theoretical approaches. Before coming to Canada, I studied Materials Science and Engineering at Central South University in China. During this period, I have gained experiences on the synthesis and characterizations of hydrogels and nanomaterials. In Higgins lab, I am working on designing and synthesizing novel and efficient cathodes that convert CO2 to high-value products. My ultimate dream is to help build a green and sustainable world for all creatures. Outside work, I love watching documentaries, playing sports, and traveling. I also enjoy learning new languages and exploring different cultures in my leisure time.
 

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ZAHRA TEIMOURI

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Canada


M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, Sahand University of Technology, Iran


B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, University of Tabriz, Iran
 

PROJECT

AI accelerated and general novel catalyst designs for CO2 electroreduction to C2+ products

EMAIL

zahra.teimouri@mcmaster.ca

About Zahra
Born and raised in the North West of Iran. I am currently post doctoral fellow in Drew’s team working on the design of novel catalysts for CO2 electroreduction to C2+ products. During my Ph.D. I worked on formulation and characterization of the biomass derived thermal catalyst for production of the clean transportation fuels through CO hydrogenation. My research interests are designing efficient and economically feasibly catalysts for renewable energy applications through both electrochemical and thermal processes. I am also interested in application of the machine learning in catalyst design, in other words ; AI accelerated novel catalyst designs. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and testing new cooking recipes.
 

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REZA ESLAMI

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering,
Toronto Metropolitan University, Canada
 
M.Sc. in Polymer Engineering,
Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran
 
B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,
Isfahan University of Technology, Iran

 

PROJECT

Development of Advanced Catalyst and Electrode Design for (Bi)Carbonate Conversion

EMAIL

eslamr1@mcmaster.ca

About Reza
With a background in polymer engineering and the nanomaterials aspect of chemical engineering, my passion lies in collaborative problem-solving through research and creativity. I have honed my expertise in electrochemistry, specifically in flexible biosensors and the broader energy field, including energy harvesting, storage, and, more recently, energy conversion. During my PhD, I focused on utilizing electrochemical systems in wearable technology, which culminated in the founding of a prize-winning startup company. Presently, my research focuses on enhancing the efficiency of the electrochemical conversion of bicarbonate by developing catalysts and engineering electrodes, marking a new chapter in my pursuit of cutting-edge advancements. Outside of science, I am a nature lover with an INTJ personality type, relishing hours spent in the silent embrace of nature. Apart from this, I enjoy watching TV series and listening to podcasts..

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ASHKAN IRANNEZHAD

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at McMaster university, Canada


M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering-Energy Conversion at Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnique), Iran


B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at University of Tehran, Iran
 

PROJECT

Develop and characterize electrochemical CO2 conversion electrodes

EMAIL

Irannea@mcmaster.ca

About Ashkan
I am a post-doctoral fellow at Higgins Lab working on experimental and numerical techniques to reduce mass transport challenges in electrochemical devices. I began my academic adventure with a B.Sc. from the University of Tehran, followed by an M.Sc. from Tehran Polytechnic. McMaster University became my academic home in 2019 when I began my Ph.D. in the Civil Engineering department. My research focus is multiphase flow in porous media and its significant applications in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). Beyond the lab coat, I'm all about family, friends, and cozy movie nights – a balance that keeps the scientific journey lively and fulfilling.

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HAYTHAM ERAKY

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Chemistry, McMaster University, Canada
 
M.Sc. in Environmental Science, Alexandria University, Egypt
 
B.Sc. in Chemistry, Alexandria University, Egypt

PROJECT

Ex-situ/in-situ soft and hard X-ray studies of catalysts and electrodes for energy storage systems

EMAIL

abdelsah@mcmaster.ca

About Haytham
I am originally from Alexandria, Egypt. I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science from Alexandria University and recently obtained my Ph.D. from McMaster University. My Ph.D. research focused on studying electrode materials for various energy storage applications using in-situ and ex-situ STXM technique. Throughout my Ph.D., I had the opportunity to travel to different synchrotron facilities and collaborate with exceptional scientists. My research interests focus on understanding electrocatalytic reactions in energy conversion and storage systems using soft and hard X-ray-based techniques. Beyond academia, I have over 16 years of experience in the oil & gas industry. Outside of work, I love swimming, diving, playing chess, and football. I also enjoy traveling, exploring different cultures, and trying out new cuisines.

PhD Students

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CHUNYANG ZHANG

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, McMaster University, Canada

M.Sc. in Polymer Chemistry,

Pittsburg State University, US


B.Sc. in Metallic Materials Engineering,

Henan University of Science and Technology, China

PROJECT

In Situ Soft X-rays Characterization of Catalysts and Electrodes for Electrochemical CO2 Reduction (co-advised with Professor Adam Hitchcock)

EMAIL

zhanc125@mcmaster.ca

About Chunyang
In my undergraduate studies, I have been selected as university-sponsored exchange student to study in US for 1 year. I was granted a full research scholarship and Excellence in Scholarship Award due to my research work during the master studies. I have worked as a research assistant in Chinese Academy of Sciences and Peking University, which are both the most prestigious research institutes in China. I am a first and co-author of ten peer-reviewed research articles and have done 2 times poster conference presentations on ACS National Meetings. I have more than three years of experience in the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials for energy application. Outside of the research, I like to stay at home and relax (which is my favorite). And I also enjoy playing bridge, exercising and cooking.

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WAJDI ALNOUSH

EDUCATION

M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,

Texas A&M University at Qatar


B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,

Texas A&M University at Qatar

PROJECT

Novel Catalysts for Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide Reduction

EMAIL

alnoushw@mcmaster.ca

About Wajdi
Wajdi was born and raised in Doha, Qatar. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ). He is also an alumni of Teach for Qatar (TFQ) where he completed the 2-year fellowship program. He has worked on several experimental and modeling research projects mostly in the oil & gas field covering the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors. He also completed three industrial internships at Qatar Aluminum (QATALUM), Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO), and Dolphin Energy. He spent almost one year working as a research associate with the petroleum engineering department at TAMUQ’s Multiphase Flow in Porous Media (MFPM) laboratory. He is passionate about education and self-development. Besides work, he can be found playing soccer, reading a book, looking up the newest tech gadgets (but holding back from buying everything), or trying to establish a start-up.

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STORM GOURLEY

EDUCATION

M.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,

University of Waterloo


B.A.Sc. in Nanotechnology Engineering,

University of Waterloo

PROJECT

Discovery, development, and implementation of new, high performance mixed metal oxide (MMO) positive electrode materials for rechargeable zinc-ion batteries

EMAIL

gourles@mcmaster.ca

About Storm
I am originally from Toronto, Ontario. I studied Nanotechnology Engineering at the University of Waterloo for my BASc. from 2013-2018. I was fortunate enough to have worked in several industry positions across various fields during my undergraduate degree including internships at Tesla, Inc. (Palo Alto, CA), The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, ON), and WSP Engineering (Markham, ON). I completed my MASc. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 2020 under the supervision of Dr. Zhongwei Chen. There I focused on the design and development of high capacity, cobalt-free positive electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries. My research interests are focused on sustainable energy technologies, environmental policy, and the integration and scale-up of research projects to commercial applications. Outside of work I am a big NBA nerd (go Raps/go Heat!), I have a love for music, gaming, and a developing interest for homebrewing. 

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ECEM YELEKLI KIRICI

EDUCATION

M.Sc., Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey

B.Sc., Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, Hungary

B.Sc., Middle East Technical University,

Ankara, Turkey

PROJECT

Value added anode processes coupled with Carbon Dioxide Reduction, Electrocatalytic Glycerol Oxidation

EMAIL

yeleklie@mcmaster.ca

About Ecem
My interest and enthusiasm in science has always played a major role in my life. I studied Chemical Engineering at the Middle East Technical University [METU] for B.Sc. During my undergraduate study, I attended to Budapest University of Technology and Economics [BME] as an exchange student for one year where I conducted a research project on nanotechnology area. Upon my return to METU, I have conducted a research project on nanocomposite coating in the electrochemistry field. I completed my master degree in Materials Science and Nanotechnology at the Bilkent University in 2020. There I focused on the fabrication of superoleophobic textured surfaces and oil droplet manipulation on these surfaces. Outside of work, I enjoy travelling and experiencing new cultures, learning new languages, trying new cuisines and restaurants and socializing with friends.

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AMIRHOSSEIN (KORA) RAKHSHA

EDUCATION

B.Sc. in Metallurgy and Materials Engineering,

University of Tehran

PROJECT

Developing electrodes for electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide.

EMAIL

rakhsha@mcmaster.ca

About Amirhossein
I am a combination of moustache, zinc oxide, and sustainable energy :) In 2016, I began my bachelor thesis synthesizing and characterizing the one-dimensional nanostructures of zinc oxide. This amazing material with its breathtaking morphologies became part of my life ever since. I joined our group here at Mac in September 2020 and I’ve been working with these wonderful lovable people that you see on this very page on your screen since then.

I’m super outdoorsy and I love sports. In summers, I’m either at the beach or on a camping trip; in winters, I’m either planning what to do for the next summer or falling down skating (I’m getting thereeeee ^.^)

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SHUNQUAN TAN

EDUCATION

M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,

Stanford University, U.S.

B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,

Xi’an Jiaotong University, China

PROJECT

Developing electrodes for CO2 conversion

EMAIL

tans49@mcmaster.ca

About Shunquan
Shunquan is pursuing his renewable energy dream in life. During his master’s study at Stanford University, he developed rich understandings of CO2 electroreduction reaction in Prof. Thomas Jaramillo's lab and studied advanced materials, gas diffusion electrodes, and reactor design. After the master’s study, he temporarily participated in a fuel cell project where he incorporated the atom layer deposition and the membrane electrode assembly in Prof. Fritz Prinz’s group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Moreover, the undergraduate study incubated Shunquan’s passion for novel photovoltaic materials. He enriched himself with skills and knowledge in perovskite solar cells and advanced optoelectronic characterizations under the supervision of Prof. Huanping Zhou at Peking University. Beyond science, Shunquan sincerely loves the diversity of life, so he likes playing tennis with his friends and learning cuisines in the restaurants.

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KHOLOUD ABOUSALEM

EDUCATION

M.Sc. of Nanotechnology, the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

B.Sc. of Science in Chemistry, Mansoura University, Egypt. 

PROJECT

Understanding Heterogeneous Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction via In-situ Liquid Phase Transmission Electron Microscopy.

EMAIL

abousalk@mcmaster.ca

About Kholoud
My research experience started during my third year of college when I had the opportunity to work on a research project in the water treatment field. After my graduation, I was granted a graduate full-tuition university scholarship by the AUC and was enrolled in the master’s program of Nanotechnology in 2019.  In addition to my master’s studies, I have joined the research group of professor Nageh Allam at the American University in Cairo as a research assistant for more than 3 years. I have contributed to some research projects related to the synthesis and characterization of novel nanomaterials and their utilization in energy storage/production applications, particularly, photoelectrochemical water-splitting, electrocatalysis, and supercapacitors. I have been a first and co-author of 7 peer-reviewed research articles in addition to 4 conference poster presentations. Besides, in the summer of 2021, I joined Professor Clara Santato’s group in the Engineering Physics department at Polytechnique University as a research intern to work on bio-sourced materials for electrochemical energy storage applications. Beyond academia, I love hiking, playing chess, and reading books. Also, I enjoy doing handcrafts, Arabic calligraphy, and embroidery designs.

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ALEJANDRA IBARRA

EDUCATION

B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,

University of Sonora, Mexico

PROJECT

Development of new organic positive electrode materials for rechargeable zinc-ion batteries

EMAIL

aleja1@mcmaster.ca

About Alejandra
I studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Sonora, in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. During my undergraduate degree, I got the opportunity to get involved in different research projects, most of them in the nanomaterial´s field. I was employed as a research assistant developing advanced oxidation process for the degradation of dyes. On 2020, I started my bachelor’s thesis implementing new catalyst for the heterogeneous photo-Fenton process, aimed to the degradation of antibiotics. I am passionate about science and how it can be applied to solve nowadays problems. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music or reading books of different topics. I like learning new languages since it helps you connect with more people.

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CAIO MIRANDA MILIANTE

EDUCATION

B.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

PROJECT

Computational screening of cathode materials for Zn-ion aqueous rechargeable batteries.​

EMAIL

miliantc@mcmaster.ca

About Caio
Caio was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but moved to Porto Alegre to attend the Chemical Engineering program at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. There, under the supervision of Dr. André Muniz, investigated the Barocaloric effect in organic systems through Molecular Dynamic simulations, mainly focusing on its interpretation at the atomic level and the macroscopic consequences. During his time as an undergraduate researcher he was able to publish multiple papers in peer-reviewed journals and present his studies in national and international conferences. Currently his focus is on optimizing the screening process of cathodes materials and their evaluation through DFT calculations In his free time, Caio enjoys listening to music (mainly Jazz) and getting enraged every time a Botafogo player misses a goal.

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ROBERT FATHIEH-NGUNJIRI

EDUCATION

M.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,

University of Waterloo


B.A.Sc. In Chemical Engineering,

University of Waterloo

PROJECT

Integration of Machine Learning in the design and characterization of nano-structured electro-catalysts with optimized performance for room temperature reduction of carbon dioxide into C2+ products.​

EMAIL

ngunjirr@mcmaster.ca

About Robert
I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. I came to Canada in 2013 for my undergraduate training in chemical engineering. What drew me to chemical engineering was a desire to remediate the increasingly wide-spread pollution that I observed in our natural environment. During my first co-op placement, I fell in love with research and have never looked back. I graduated from my undergrad with a specialization in materials science. I built on this during my masters where I focused on polymer engineering. After my MASc., I worked for two and a half years in industry as a research engineer mostly focusing in product development and technical customer service. Outside of research, I love spending time with my wife and energetic baby boy.

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REEM JALAB

EDUCATION

M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering, Qatar University, Qatar.


B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, Qatar University, Qatar.
 

PROJECT

Catalysts development and electrode engineering with advanced characterizations for electrochemical CO2RR.​

EMAIL

jalabr@mcmaster.ca

About Reem
I am passionate about research and constantly motivated to acquire new knowledge. My research experience started during my master’s studies in the area of oilfield wastewater treatment. I was involved in a pilot-scale membrane-based treatment project at the Gas Processing Center, Qatar University in collaboration with ConocoPhillips. After my graduation, I continued my research journey working as a Research Assistant at GPC for three years on several projects using theoretical and experimental techniques to address the oil and gas industry challenges. I received training in molecular simulations and performed Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations for diverse iron sulfide scale inhibitors. Also, the primary focus of my research was on the electrochemical investigation of innovative structures of corrosion inhibitors, developed by the Chemistry Department at Qatar University, under challenging field conditions and acidizing treatments. Overall, I am the first author and co-author of 15 journal articles, 1 book chapter, and 2 conference proceedings. I am currently a Chemical Engineering PhD student in the Higgins team. My ongoing research will focus on the design of novel electrocatalysts for CO2RR and will delve into advanced characterizations to enhance the understanding of these catalysts.

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MAHSA KHOSHNAM

EDUCATION

Dual M.Sc. in Materials Science, UNIMIB, Italy and KU-Leuven, Belgium.


B.Sc. in Materials Science and Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Iran.

PROJECT

Value added anode processes coupled with Carbon Dioxide Reduction, Electrocatalytic Glycerol Oxidation.​

EMAIL

khoshnam@mcmaster.ca

About Mahsa
After completing my bachelor's degree in Materials Science and Engineering, I became interested by the role of catalytic nanomaterials in water purification. This curiosity led me to pursue dual master's degrees at UNIMIB in Italy and KU-Leuven in Belgium, focusing on sustainable materials for methanol oxidation and Oxygen reduction by GDE cells. Studying in two European countries broadened my outlook and emphasized the importance of addressing global challenges. Seeking to deepen my understanding, I joined Higgins' group—an innovative and adaptable research team. Motivated by their work, I apply my skills to convert compounds like CO2 or glycerol into value-added products, contributing to a greener and more sustainable future. Outside of work, I enjoy experiencing new cultures, so I like traveling and photography. Also, I love video games and movie night with friends, cooking, and drawing.

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YUZHEN DENG

EDUCATION

M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore

B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and Technology, Xiamen University, China

 

PROJECT

Developing novel electrode materials for rechargeable zinc-ion batteries

EMAIL

dengy89@mcmaster.ca

About Yuzhen
Yuzhen was born in Guilin, a pretty city in China famous for its natural picturesque scenery. Following her undergraduate in Chemical Engineering at Xiamen University in China, she pursued her master’s degree at the University of Singapore, where she worked on designing membrane reactors for CO2 hydrogenation. Currently, in the Higgin’s lab, her primary focus lies in researching novel electrodes to improve the performance of zinc-ion batteries and prolong their battery life. Outside of work, she prefers to spend leisure time at home. She also enjoys painting and growing plants 😊.

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THOMAS BAKER

EDUCATION

M.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering,

McMaster University

B.Eng.Biosciences Co-op in Chemical Engineering,

McMaster University

PROJECT

Development of Cathode Materials for Rechargeable Zinc Ion Batteries (ZIB)

EMAIL

bakert4@mcmaster.ca

About Thomas
I am from Hamilton, Ontario and I am currently a Masters student in the Chemical Engineering Department here at McMaster University in Hamilton. I have had the pleasure of working on research projects in the past at McMaster. In the De Lannoy Lab group, I helped to analyse antiscalants on RO wastewater systems and investigated carbon nanotube adsorption to ultrafiltration membranes. I have also performed research in the Thompson Lab group on the chemical modification of lignocellulose to prepare bioplastics with tunable thermal and mechanical properties. Additonally, I worked with Hydromantis ESS. to model air delivery in wastewater treatment aeration systems using Python. I joined the Higgins group in the summer of 2021 as an undergraduate researcher investigating next-generation carbon – quinone based supercapacitors for automotive applications. Now I am extending my research on quinone applications of ZIB development.  In the future I would like to continue graduate studies focusing on sustainable energy as I am very passionate about improving the sustainability of energy and material systems. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, gardening, and creative writing.

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Masters Students

MATT GIBSON

EDUCATION

B.A.Sc in Nanotechnology Engineering,

University of Waterloo

PROJECT

Secondary ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) for real-time, highly sensitive reaction product analysis for electrochemical CO2 reduction (Co-advised with Robert Black from NRC)

EMAIL

gibsot3@mcmaster.ca

About Matt
I am from London; Ontario and I am currently a Master’s student in the Chemical Engineering
Department at McMaster University. I studied Nanotechnology Engineering at the University of Waterloo in my undergrad. During my time at Waterloo, I had several co-ops within the industry at companies like Amphenol and Electrical Contacts Limited. I spent some time in Drew's lab for one of my co-ops where I worked on developing metal free catalysts for hydrogen peroxide production. My research interests lie in developing and furthering the understanding of electrocatalysts for energy applications, and sustainable energy technologies. My project involves using SIFT-MS to further the advancement of catalysts for carbon dioxide reduction. Outside of work, I am a big sports fan, specifically of hockey (Go Leaf’s Go) and tennis. I have a love for gaming, playing sports such as tennis (any racquet sport) with friends, and reading books.

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ERIC LIU

EDUCATION

B.A.Sc. in Materials Science and Engineering, University of Toronto

PROJECT

Development of ultralow platinum-group metal anode catalysts with high performance and durability for low temperature proton exchange membrane water electrolyzers

EMAIL

lium18@mcmaster.ca

About Eric
I am from Markham, Ontario and am currently a 1st year Chemical Engineering Masters student.  During my undergrad at the University of Toronto, I was blessed with the opportunity to satisfy my broad research interests and had the pleasure of working on several projects in different areas. In 2nd year, I was an NSERC USRA funded summer researcher at the Process Metallurgy Research Lab headed by Professor Kinnor Chattopadhyay, where I worked to optimize process parameters that would yield maximal and homogeneous mixing between hydrogen and silicon tetrachloride in a T-pipe chemical reactor. During my 3rd year summer, I was a research assistant at the National Research Council of Canada where I provided project management and engineering support to research projects investigating the mechanical strength and durability of carbon fiber composites and engineering adhesives for aerospace applications.

My ultimate goal in life is to contribute towards the energy and environmental security of the human race. Therefore, my current research interest and focus lies in the development of anode catalysts with ultralow platinum-group metal content and high performance and durability for low temperature PEM water electrolyzers, with the goal of enabling or aiding their anticipated, rapid commercial scale up. 

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ANJA SCHOUTEN

EDUCATION

B.Sc. in Chemical Biology Co-op,

McMaster University

PROJECT

Exploring Single Atom Catalysts for Nitrate Reduction to Ammonia 

EMAIL

schoua2@mcmaster.ca

About Anja
I am a master's student with the Higgins group studying catalysts to electrochemically synthesize ammonia from nitrate. I grew up in Toronto and completed my undergrad in 2023 at McMaster majoring in chemical biology and minoring in math. During my undergrad I worked with the Koivisto group at Toronto Metropolitan University synthesizing novel triphenylamine and BODIPY based dyes for dye sensitized solar cells. Additionally, I worked at STEMCELL Technologies in Vancouver as an analytical chemist in process development quantifying the concentration of process impurities and polymer molecular weights by HPLC. During my undergrad thesis project I worked with the Higgins group studying quinone structure performance relationships in of zinc ion battery cathodes. During my free time I like to go hiking, find new cafes, and travel.

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MAHDIS NANKALI

EDUCATION

B.Sc. in Textile Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran

PROJECT

Catalysts for the Electro-oxidation of Glycerol into Value-added Products

EMAIL

nankalim@mcmaster.ca

About Mahdis
I completed my bachelor's in Textile Engineering at Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) in February 2021. I worked on "Application of highly efficient electrospun Polyaniline/CNT/Fe3O4 nanofibers as an electro-Fenton cathode for organic pollutant removal". Beyond my professional and scientific activities, during high school and university, I have tried to enhance my social skills by taking part in many gregarious activities, which have made me an open-minded and realistic person who always expects something better ahead, explores new paths, and believes that even failures can be the harbingers of success. In my free time, I am interested in doing Pilates, cooking, watching movies, and spending time with my friends.

Undergraduate Students

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FARIHA AHMAD

EDUCATION

B.Sc Materials and Nanoscience, University of Waterloo (Current)

PROJECT

Investigating the effect of catholyte pH on the efficiency of bicarbonate conversion

EMAIL

ahmadf60@mcmaster.ca

About Fariha
Hi everyone 😊, I'm currently doing my undergrad and working as a co-op student at the Higgins Lab. Originally from Bangladesh, I'm now an international student at the University of Waterloo. My previous co-op experiences include working at the National Research Council of Canada, where I conducted thermogravimetric experiments on silicone rubber composites used for high voltage outdoor insulators. I also worked at NanoVation Therapeutics, a biotech startup in Vancouver, where I formulated nano-lipids used for nucleic acid therapeutics.
I've always been drawn to research opportunities that not only interest me but also make a positive impact. That's what led me to the Higgins Lab, and I couldn't be more excited to be part of the team! Outside of work, I really enjoy exploring different trails for walking, playing board games and taking naps. I’ve also recently picked up on baking (which is mostly motivated by my very strong sweet tooth).

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REBECCA FRISE

EDUCATION

B.A.Sc. Sustainable Chemistry, McMaster University (Current)

PROJECT

Exploring Single Atom Catalysts for Nitrate Reduction to Ammonia 

EMAIL

friser@mcmaster.ca

About Rebecca
I am a Sustainable Chemistry Co-op student completing my first work term as a researcher in the Higgins lab. I love studying chemistry and using its principles to address real world environmental issues. I am very excited to be a part of the Nitrate Reduction Team, and to be involved in such an electrifying project! Outside of work I enjoy rock climbing, reading, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family.

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MADELINE LEBRETON

EDUCATION

B. Eng in Mechatronics Engineering, McMaster University (Current)

PROJECT

Secondary ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) for real-time product analysis of CO2 reduction

EMAIL

lebretom@mcmaster.ca

About MADELINE
I am a returning undergrad student back for the summer after working on electrochemical nitrate reduction to ammonia in the fall. I am excited to apply my electrocatalysis knowledge to the SIFT-MS CO2 reduction project, working with Matt Gibson and the National Research Council. This project interests me because it aligns with my passion in finding innovative solutions to clean energy challenges. When I’m not in the lab you can find me riding bikes, baking, and spending time with friends!

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CALLUM WILLIAMS

EDUCATION

B.Eng.Biosciences Co-op in Chemical Engineering, McMaster University (Current)

PROJECT

Catalysts development and electrode engineering for electrochemical CO2 reduction.​

EMAIL

willic54@mcmaster.ca

About Callum
I am from Burlington, Ontario and I am a chemical and bioengineering major here at McMaster. I am currently working on a CO2 reduction project with our industry partners at CERT systems. I was drawn to this opportunity because I wanted to experience the laboratory environment firsthand while working on a project that I knew would have a positive impact. This is my first co-op experience during my time at McMaster, and I am hopeful that it will give me a real understanding of the research environment of chemical engineering. During my time at McMaster, I have also been a part of the varsity fencing team as an épée fencer, and I am also a part of the engineering faculty's rocketry team as a member of the propulsion sub-team, both of which have been incredible learning experiences.

Outside of work and school, I love Track & Field, hiking, reading science fiction, trying new things, and getting to know new people.

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MCKENZIE BRAZEAU

EDUCATION

B.Eng. Chemical Engineering Co-op, McMaster University (Current)

PROJECT

Investigations on the Effects of Ionomers on CO2 Reduction in Membrane Electrode Assembly

EMAIL

brazeam@mcmaster.ca

About McKenzie
I am currently doing my undergrad in Chemical Engineering as a co-op student at McMaster University. I am completing my first co-op work term at Higgins Lab. I have a strong passion for the environment and for finding ways to make our everyday life processes more sustainable. This is one of the reasons why the Higgins Lab and its projects were so interesting and exciting to me. Outside of work I enjoy cooking and baking, hiking, listening to music, and spending time with my friends and family!

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TOLUWALEKE AGUNBIADE

EDUCATION

B.Eng. Chemical Engineering Co-op, McMaster University (Current)

PROJECT

Development of new organic positive electrode materials for rechargeable zinc-ion batteries

EMAIL

agunbiat@mcmaster.ca

About Toluwaleke
Hi everyone, I'm an engineering student at McMaster University and working as a co-op student at the Higgins Lab. This is my first co-op and I'm excited to be a part of the Zinc-ion Battery team as we work on building batteries for a sustainable and greener future. I can't wait to see the impact we make as a team! Outside of work, you can find me watching anime, reading my Bible or adventure books, playing chess and video games, or watching a new series!

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KATHERINE ROELAND

EDUCATION

B.Eng Chemical Engineering and Society

Co-op, McMaster University (Current)

PROJECT

Optimization of Tandem Catalyst ratio for CO2 Reduction to C2+ products

EMAIL

roelandk@mcmaster.ca

About Katherine
I am from Ancaster, Ontario and I am currently an undergraduate student at McMaster University working towards a degree in Chemical Engineering and Society. This is my first co-op term, and I am excited to gain research skills while working in the Higgins lab. My project involves working on testing different ratios of tandem catalyst, CuO and Ni-N-C, and finding the optimal ratio to have the highest selectivity towards C2+ products. In the future, I would like to find ways to implement lab-scale sustainable energies and products on an industry scale. I love the snow and consequently enjoy skating and snowboarding. In my free time, I enjoy reading, participating in 4H, and being outside.

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BARRET FRIESEN

EDUCATION

B.Eng.Biosciences Co-op in Chemical Engineering, McMaster University (Current)

PROJECT

Development of Catalyst and Electrode Design for Bicarbonate Conversion

EMAIL

friesb5@mcmaster.ca

About Barret
I am from Pickering, Ontario and I'm currently an undergraduate student in Chemical and Bioengineering Co-op at McMaster. It is truly a privilege to be able to work with the Bicarbonate Reduction team at Higgins Lab.  It is so exciting to be working with something so new in the scientific community. Outside of work, I spend most of my free time playing or listening to music or playing board games with friends, and I love to go camping with my friends and family over the summer. 

Alumni

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HYEJIN LEE

Postdoc

Currently: Researcher at
Sungkyunkwan

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SUDHEESH KUMAR

Postdoc

Currently: Researcher at KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology)

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JIATANG CHEN

Postdoc

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AMIR KAZEMI

Postdoc

Currently: Research Specialist at Resilience

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XIAOXUAN YANG

Postdoc

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ILHAN YOO

Postdoc

Currently: Research Scientist
at Zerocis

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AHMED ABDELLAH

Postdoc

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RICARDO MARQUES E. SILVA

Postdoc

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FATMA ISMAIL

PhD Student

Currently: Research Scientist at CERT Systems Inc.

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LADEN SHAHCHERAGHI

Master Student

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ARJUN REGO

Master Student

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KATIE DORAN

Undergrad Student

Currently: PhD Student at
University of Toronto

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SALMA GHANEM

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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MELISSA CUSACK STRIEPE

Undergrad Student

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GERTRUDE HENNEH

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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HARLEEN JARYAL

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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ANNIKA CULHANE

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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ALLISON SUICHIES

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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ERIN HERZSTEIN

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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GAVIN RUGGLES

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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CLARA ARGENTINO

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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MICHAEL NGUYEN

Undergrad Student

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SIDDHARTH AJITH

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at
Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai

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ELLIOT EVANS

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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MADDY WAGSTAFF

Undergrad Student

Currently: Undergraduate Student at McMaster University

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