People - grad students
In pursuit of my interests in biology and physics, I obtained a BSc in biophysics from the University of Guelph in 2007 and a MSc in physics at Queen’s University in 2010. My Master’s project concentrated on the nanofabrication and nanoelectronic characterization of single-electron transistors, which are sensitive charge amplifiers relevant in quantum mechanics and quantum computing research. My PhD work is to develop a modularly scalable, micro-optofluidic photobioreactor (PBR) for productive biofuel generation. In each module, microalgae will be sustained in high density biofilms using evanescent light coupling for illumination and microfluidic flow-over channels to deliver nutrients and remove toxic cellular waste. This configuration permits total culture illumination in media which does not inhibit photosynthesis at all reactor scales. That this is fundamentally not achievable in traditional photobioreactors, using high density aqueous phase cultures and direct illumination, has limited the success of biofuel generation in industrial-scale PBRs. The goal of my work is to achieve photon-efficient biofuel generation with volumetric productivities exceeding that of traditional photobioreactors by orders of magnitude.
I completed both my BEng and MASc in Mechanical Engineering at Concordia University, in Montreal Quebec. By doing various coop internships during my undergraduate studies, I realized that I would prefer an academic related career; therefore, I decided to pursue graduate studies. My Master’s thesis is an experimental study on droplet coalescence dynamics on superhydrophobic surfaces. Currently I am pursuing my PhD focusing on bio-energy. The overall project of the research group is to grow photosynthetic organisms on the micro scale. I intend to further the group’s capacity to grow biofilms by investigating the role of shear stress, and the transport of nutrients and waste.
I graduated from the University of Victoria in 2010 with my BEng in mechanical engineering and in 2012 with a MASc in mechanical engineering. During co-op work placements I developed an interest in energy conversion and efficiency, particularly the hybridization of different technologies for a net overall gain. This led to a research co-op focused on the design of a hybrid polymeric membrane/distillation system for producing pure oxygen for carbon capture processes. Following my undergrad I’ve researched magnetic refrigeration devices and geothermal energy recovery from natural gas wells. During my PhD I’ve focused on photo and electrocatalysis with applications in water decontamination and solar fuel production. In my photocatalysis work we adsorbed nanoparticles to the interface of two fluids to create a buoyant photocatalytic micro-emulsion useful in both batch and continuous reactors. The primary benefit of the reactor was its scalable nature that removes the need for auxiliary equipment currently used. In my current electrocatalysis work we are using fluidic design to improve the performance of electrochemical cells at high currents needed for commercial applications.
Xiang Alvin Cheng
I graduated with a BASc in Mechatronic Systems Engineering from Simon Fraser University in 2013. During my studies at SFU, I spent 5 co-op work terms in industrial manufacturing, local and oversea companies as well as university research groups to develop my career skills. In 2012, my work as a research student performing smart coating research with nanoparticles in the Integrated Multi-Transducer Systems (IMuTS) Laboratory inspired me to be a researcher.
My current work is to enhance fundamental understanding of emerging biomass to biofuel conversions by taking advantages of microfluidics. Cutting-edge microfluidic platforms adequate for high temperature and pressure are able to screen the processing conditions with in-situ observation and higher degree of control. By visualizing the conversion process enables online measurements, therefore the undetermined reaction mechanisms can be clarified through a progressive approach. Understanding the chemical reactions in the conversions has significant impacts on the next generation of biofuel production.
ZhenBang (Seven) Qi
I graduated with a B.A.Sc in Mechanical Engineering from University of Toronto in 2014. As part of my undergraduate internship, I worked at a field office in Alberta as a Production Engineer for twelve months where I learned not only various cold heavy oil production methods, but also the challenges of heavy oil extraction and limitations of current technologies. I have since become interested in heavy oil extraction processes and wished to explore this field in depth. Currently, I am investigating solvent based recovery methods (requiring less energy and water supply than SAGD) in upstream heavy oil extraction.
I graduated from the University of Toronto in 2012 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and obtained my JD from the University of Toronto in 2015. I have previous research experience in biofuel combustion, microfluidics for high throughput screening applications, contract law, and intellectual property. I also have worked in the auto manufacturing sector.
Photosynthetic organisms have great importance in food, fuel , and the environment. My MASc research focuses on developing high throughput tools to study the effects of environmental conditions on the growth of these organisms.
I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering (BEng) from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China, 2015. During my undergraduate studies, my research experiences included: traditional heat exchanger design and improvement, ink-jet printing for anti-counterfeiting and molecular dynamics simulation on nanoscale systems for impact mitigation.
With the wide-scale exploitation of shale gas, the phase change of hydrocarbons in shale with nanopores and nanochannels has attracted much attention in both academia and industry. As a member of SintonLab, I am investigating condensation of hydrocarbons within the nanoscale using Lab-on-chip. We aim to develop new and efficient methods for directly observing and detecting phase change phenomena in the nanoscale.
I completed my undergraduate studies in Mechanical Engineering (BEng) at the University of Toronto in 2015, having honed my skills towards microfluidics research. For two consecutive years I received the NSERC Summer Research Award, while working as an intern for both SintonLab and CMC (Carbon Management of Canada). My research mainly focused on the wettability of petroleum surfaces, and Bitumen analysis in the microfluidic scale.
As an MASc candidate in SintonLab, my research focuses on solvent-assisted bitumen recovery processes. I am leveraging microfluidics to develop a lab-based platform for the rapid, efficient measurement of solvent solubility in bitumen and diluted/live bitumen viscosity, under reservoir conditions.
I graduated with a BASc in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo. My industrial experience has been focused in the automotive industry – most recently as an Advanced Manufacturing Engineer with Ford Motor Company in Michigan. As a native of northern British Columbia who grew up in Alberta and studied in Ontario, I am looking forward to bringing microfluidic technologies to Canada’s oil and gas industry. My research with SintonLab is to develop next-generation screening techniques of bitumen recovery methods using a microfluidics approach.
In 2015 Katarina graduated from the University of Toronto with a BASc in Chemical Engineering. Additionally she completed the Next 36 program. Having conducted undergrad research in biofuels, she has garnered an interest in reducing the human carbon footprint. In the SintonLab, her work is in electrocatalysis.
Arnav graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Nanotechnology Engineering program in 2016. He completed 24 months of CO-OP internships in the energy and environment industry. In particular, he worked on new technologies and R&D initiatives to help lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with bitumen extraction. As of 2016, he joined SintonLab as an MASc. student, studying the phase behaviour of nanoconfined fluids using microfluidic and nanofluidic devices.
Evan graduated from Rice University with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering (2016). His research interests included: synthesizing 3D-nanostructured carbon-based solids, and developing nanostructured photocatalytic reactors.
As an MASc student in SintonLab (2016), Evan will focus on developing high throughput tools and techniques to study the interactive effects and ecological implications of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors on ecosystems.
Atena received her BASc in Petroleum Systems Engineering (with Distinction) from the University of Regina in 2016. She is also a recipient of the 2016 Association of Professional Engineers & Geoscientists of Sask (APEGS) Engineering Prize. For her 4th year undergrad project, she worked on the optimization of waterflooding/polymer flooding sequences for enhanced heavy oil recovery by means of sandpack flooding.
She joined Sintonlab as a MASc student (2016), working on phase behaviour and enhanced oil recovery processes using microfluidic approaches.
Yi (Sheldon) Xu
I graduated with a B.A.Sc (2014) in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto, specializing in energy and mechatronics. I worked as a summer research student in SintonLab, during which time I gained valuable research experience in experimental microfluidics.
Currently as an M.A.Sc student in SintonLab, my research focuses on studying fluid (such as hydrocarbons and CO2) phase behaviors in micro and nano scales. More specifically, I am developing a microfluidics-based mixture PVT phase behavior measurement platform, which will be able to accurately and efficiently determine bubbling, dew and critical points.
Farhang completed his BASc in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto (2016). During his undergraduate, as an Engineering Science Exceptional Opportunity fellow, he worked in Professor Ali Khademhosseini’s lab, learning micromechanical approaches for fabricating simple blood vessels. Upon graduation, he had the privilege of joining SintonLab as an MASc student, where he will further learn about microfluidics design and fabrication. In particular, he will focus on utilizing microfluidics in high quality sperm selection for assisted reproductive technologies.
Jonathan graduated from the University of Toronto's Mechanical Engineering program in 2016 (BASc). As an undergrad, he performed a 15-month internship doing mechanical design for machinery in the battery manufacturing industry. He joined Sintonlab in 2016 as an MASc student with a focus on using electrocatalysis and microfluidics to develop CO2 conversion devices.
Brett graduated from the University of Toronto with a BASc (2016) in Mechanical Engineering, with a focus on energy systems and mechatronics. He has also had experience in 3D printing operations for start-up companies and in maintenance for PVC pipe manufacturing. In the fall of 2016, he joined Sintonlab as an MEng student to study the effects different growth environments have on Haematococcus pluvialis’ production of Astaxanthin.
Nash graduated from the University of Calgary in Chemical Engineering in 2014 (BSc). He then worked in the oil and gas industry for 16 months. During his work term, he developed a strong interest in research studies. In 2016, he joined Sinton Lab as an MEng student, focusing on a research project aiming to develop an oil fractionation/composition chip.
Tian graduated from the University of Toronto with a BASc in Mechanical Engineering (2016). She conducted her undergraduate research on the topic of optimizing the electro-conductivity of foamed CNT-Polypropylene. For her 4th year capstone project, she worked on the design of a plasma torch for inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).
As an MEng student in SintonLab (2016), she will work on male fertility diagnostics using microfluidic approaches, focusing on a mobile health application: screening on paper-based chips for male fertility.