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Patricia Sheridan, right, works with first-year U of T Engineering students. Sheridan, with Professors Doug Reeve and Greg Evans, has designed, built and tested a web-based tool to help students improve their team effectiveness in large classroom environments. (Photo: Roberta Baker)


Twenty-seven U of T Engineering assistant professors have been appointed to early-career professorships across three new programs for tenure- and teaching-stream faculty members. The professorships, created by Dean Cristina Amon, will enhance research in emerging areas and practices in engineering education across the Faculty.

The new programs are the Dean’s Spark Professorships, Catalyst Professorships and Emerging Innovation in Teaching Professorships. These build on the success of the Percy Edward Hart and the Erwin Edward Hart Professorships and the Hart Teaching Innovation Professorships established in 2016. The appointed professors were selected for their demonstrated commitment to several of the priorities outlined in the Faculty’s 2017-2022 Academic Plan.

“Our professors are pioneering emerging research and designing new engineering education pedagogies that are a model for other universities around the world,” says Amon. “These professorships will further accelerate their innovative research and teaching, and enhance their ability to deliver outstanding educational experiences for our students.”

Dean’s Spark Professorships (DSP)

Recipients of the DSP are within the first four years of their appointment. They are awarded an annual grant of $75,000 per year for three years. Erin Bobicki (MSE, ChemE) earned the Dean’s Spark Professorship to accelerate her research in improving the sustainability of mineral processing operations and increasing Indigenous youth’s access to engineering education.

“The DSP provides a valuable boost to both my research and outreach efforts,” says Bobicki. “This support will enable me to drive forward my work to develop novel bioseparation techniques for mineral processing, and to continue to build relationships with Indigenous communities in the North.”

In addition to Bobicki, DSP recipients include:

Fae Azhari (CivMin, MIE) — Assessing the performance of structures using Structural Health Monitoring techniques to amplify global efforts for resilient and sustainable structures including pulp and paper plants and wind farms.

Gisele Azimi (ChemE, MSE) — Mitigating the adverse effects of climate change through advanced recycling, carbon management, industrial waste reduction, innovative materials with unique properties and energy storage.

Merve Bodur (MIE) — Conducting theoretical and applied operations research on discrete and stochastic optimization to provide valuable planning, scheduling and operational tools for high-level decision makers.

Hai-Ling (Margaret) Cheng (IBBME, ECE) — Advancing novel MRI-guided stem cell tracking technology to probe into the cause of heart failure.

Mason Ghafghazi (CivMin) — Creating a framework for assessing the probability of occurrence of soil strength loss on mine sites, its consequences on our built and natural environment and improved remediation methods.

Alison Olechowski (MIE, ISTEP) — Studying innovative product development by understanding and improving technology maturity in Canadian industries and startups.

Daniel Posen (CivMin) — Improving city-wide greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) accounting and mitigation by enabling cities to evaluate the most effective GHG strategies.

Scott Sanner (MIE, CompSci) — Developing automated data analytics tools to create smarter cities through improved power grid security, traffic flow, HVAC and healthcare systems.

Shoshanna Saxe (CivMin) — Implementing new, bottom-up city-scale assessment to develop a detailed understanding of the material flows and associated greenhouse gas emissions of urban infrastructure.

Marianne Touchie (CivMin, MIE) — Designing new metrics to evaluate health outcomes of retrofits designed to improve building energy and performance.

Yu Zou (MSE) — Creating the first multidisciplinary collaborative research and education programs on metal and additive manufacturing to address economic, environmental, energy and human health challenges.

Dean’s Catalyst Professorships (DCP)

Recipients of the DCP have served at least four years in their appointment. They are awarded an annual grant of $75,000 per year over three years. Jonathan Kelly (UTIAS) earned the DCP to enhance his research and teaching in robotics.

“Robotics is growing exponentially and our students are at the forefront of this exciting field,” says Kelly. “The DCP will help to ensure that we have the ability to equip our students with an unparalleled set of technical skills, which will position them as leaders in the discipline.”

In addition to Kelly, DCP recipients include:

Amy Bilton (MIE) —Developing absorbent foams and treatment systems to address organochlorine pesticides to improve quality of life for the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Arthur Chan (ChemE) —Understanding, monitoring and improving air quality in Indigenous communities using traditional Indigenous knowledge in consultation with the local population to better understand the effects of air quality on human health.

Kinnor Chattopadhyay (MSE) — Strengthening current research initiatives in machine learning to generate data to determine the impacts of metal extraction and production on the environment.

Eric Diller (MIE) — Creating wireless micro-robotic surgical tools for non-invasive surgery.

Jennifer Drake (CivMin) — Conducting research on storm water management in the agricultural sector to pilot low-impact development to reduce phosphorus loadings in greenhouse storm water.

Edmond Young (MIE) — Advancing organ-on-a-chip platforms for biomedical research in disease modelling to improve scale-up, manufacturability and multi-organ integration.

Dean’s Emerging Innovation in Teaching Professorships (DEIP)

Recipients of the DEIP are awarded to selected teaching-stream faculty. They receive an annual grant of $35,000 per year over three years. Patricia Sheridan (ISTEP) has been selected as a recipient of the Dean’s Emerging Innovation in Teaching Professorship (DEIP) to enhance her research in engineering leadership education.

“Strong leadership competencies are fundamental to the success of our students in today’s complex, global engineering landscape,” says Sheridan. “The DEIP provides an exciting opportunity to further develop our leading-edge practices in engineering leadership.”

In addition to Sheridan, DEIP recipients include:

Chris Boumeester (IBBME) — Investigating how design can be incorporated into biomedical engineering courses and create an open-source, low-cost and adaptable “BME-in-your-hand” platform that can be used for experiential learning.

Ariel Chan (ChemE) — Initiating change in active learning in chemical engineering by developing an interactive virtual reality industrial plant, which will enable students to perform laboratory activity remotely at their own pace.

Jennifer Farmer (ChemE) — Creating a program where current graduate students, undergraduate students and post-doctoral fellows will have an opportunity to propose and undertake curriculum development and education research in engineering related fields within the Faculty.

Dawn Kilkenny (IBBME) — Developing virtual reality programs to enhance undergraduate student lab experiences.

Elham Marzi (ISTEP) — Developing and organizing case competitions, a networking session series and site visits to equip students with transdisciplinary business and interpersonal competencies.

Hamid Timorabadi (ECE) — Designing and implementing a new platform, LABLynx, for remote control of laboratories in engineering education, and building accessible experimental labs to enable flexible scheduling, location independence, improved economics, better realization of theoretical concepts, increased efficiency and improved safety.

Chirag Variawa (ISTEP) — Expanding the upcoming activities of the First Year Engineering Education Research program to enhance TA effectiveness, understand resources and teaching needs for TAs, and review the intersections of diversity and engineering and innovations in technology.

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