Posted February 9th, 2016 by Tyler Irving

Seven U of T engineers awarded Canada Research Chairs

  • Seven U of T engineers have received new or renewed Canada Research Chairs, enabling innovative research in sustainability, biomedicine, transportation and a variety of other fields.

Seven researchers from across U of T’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering have received significant federal support for their research with new or renewed Canada Research Chairs.

The announcement was made today by Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan. The seven engineering chairholders join 27 others from faculties across the University of Toronto.

Duncan, a U of T graduate who has taught at the University of Toronto Scarborough and at Royal Roads University, congratulated the new research chairs. “The Government of Canada is proud to support these elite researchers who improve our depth of knowledge, strengthen Canada’s international competitiveness, and help train the next generation of our highly skilled workforce.”

The U of T Engineering chairholders will use the support to pursue a variety of projects, everything from tracking the fate of chemicals in the environment to developing new sources of sustainable energy.

“On behalf of the Faculty, I am very pleased to congratulate the new and renewed chairs on this important recognition of their outstanding research,” said U of T Engineering’s vice-dean of research, Professor Ted Sargent. “They are developing innovative solutions to some of society’s most important challenges, and their work will have significant impact not just here in Toronto, but around the world.”

Launched in 2000, the Canada Research Chair program is aimed at helping the country attract and retain research leaders in engineering and natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences. Tier 1 Chairs last for seven years, and recognize outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields. Tier 2 Chairs are for exceptional emerging researchers and last for five years.

The U of T Engineering chairholders are:

Chin-circle2Ya-Huei Cathy Chin (ChemE), Canada Research Chair in Advanced Catalysis for Sustainable Chemistry (Tier 2, new)

Chin and her team discover materials that enable new chemistry for the synthesis of sustainable fuels and chemicals. The multidisciplinary team increases the value of biogas, natural gas, and biomass through catalytic transformation, converting them into fine chemicals and liquid fuels.



Birsen Donmez (MIE), Canada Research Chair in Human Factors and Transportation (Tier 2, new)

Driving a car is a complex process, requiring the ability to multi-task and pay attention to many simultaneous sources of information. By studying how humans behave under these conditions and developing tools to help them perform better, Donmez and her team aim to reduce the rate of traffic accidents.



Andreas Mandelis (MIE), Canada Research Chair in Diffusion-Wave and Photoacoustic Sciences and Technologies (Tier 1, renewal)

Mandelis has invented and developed a series of non-invasive imaging techniques related to diffusion-wave science and application technologies. His group focuses on advanced instrumentation and measurement technique development at the interface between two fields: industrial non-destructive testing/imaging and biomedical diagnostics. The techniques can help address a variety of challenges in biomedicine, dentistry, optoelectronics, photovoltaics, manufacturing and more.

Nair-circlePrasanth Nair (UTIAS), Canada Research Chair in Computational Modelling and Design Under Uncertainty (Tier 2, renewal)

Nair and his team build computer models of aerospace components (e.g. gas turbine blades) that take into account the inherent uncertainty associated with these complex systems. Improved models will lead to more efficient and reliable designs.


Passeport-circleElodie Passeport (ChemE, CivE), Canada Research Chair in Environmental Engineering and Stable Isotopes (Tier 2, new)

Using water samples collected from the field or laboratory experiments, Passeport and her team use stable isotope analysis to trace the path and eventual fate of environmental contaminants. They also build and test innovative water treatment systems that could eliminate harmful substances from the environment to protect water resources.


Roorda-circleMatthew Roorda (CivE), Canada Research Chair in Freight Transportation and Logistics (Tier 2, new)

Roorda and his team build computer models to study and optimize how freight is transported, particularly within cities. They work with industry partners to develop smarter solutions, from night-time deliveries to avoid congestion to the impacts of alternative fuelled vehicles on air quality.


Sinton-circleDavid Sinton (MIE), Canada Research Chair in Microfluidics and Energy (Tier 1, new)

Sinton and his group apply innovations in microfluidics — a field relating to the flow of fluids through very small spaces — to advance new renewable energy technologies and to mitigate the negative impacts of current energy practices.