Three McMaster engineering professors, three awards

April 22, 2015
Monique Beech

Three McMaster University engineering professors are being recognized with prestigious university awards. Jamal Deen and Shiping Zhu are among five professors receiving McMaster's premier honour: Distinguished University Professor. The title, created in 1996, goes only to those who achieve the highest level of excellence in teaching, learning and research. Those recognized with the honour are considered “complete scholars” and have demonstrated an outstanding and sustained research record, innovation in teaching and learning and a history of service that has had an impact on the community. The Distinguished University Professor title will be conferred upon the faculty members at spring Convocation ceremonies. Read more about other Distinguished University Professor recipients here»

Chemical engineer Todd Hoare joins eight other academics being recognized with a University Scholarship prize. Th​e title is intended to recognize faculty members in mid­career who have already distinguished themselves as international scholars. Recipients are considered global leaders in a number of diverse research areas and academic disciplines. Each University Scholar will be awarded for a period of four years (beginning July 1, 2015), and will receive $15,000 per year provided by McMaster provost David Wilkinson and the applicable faculty dean. Read more about other university scholars here» An awards reception will be held on May 11.

Here’s more about these three distinguished engineering professors:

Jamal Deen, ​a professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, is a pioneer in environmental sensing and health imaging systems. Deen is an exceptional engineering scientist who has made significant contributions to the fields of optoelectronics and nanoelectronics, and implementation of communication and biosensing systems.

Q: What advice would you pass on to students considering graduate studies?

Deen:​ First, they should be genuinely interested and motivated to further their education, become stronger self­learners and passionate about research work. They should also realize that research work is evolutionary and it’s rapidly changing especially in these times. They must learn to adapt and adjust. They also need to recognize that they need to work hard to achieve their goals. They should also realize that research work is not smooth all the time and very often they may encounter challenges that may seem insurmountable. However, a lot of the skills they learned as undergraduate students such as patience, perseverance will be skills they will need to be successful in their undergraduate studies.

Q: What does it mean to you to be honoured by McMaster University as a Distinguished University Professor?

Deen: T​his award is extremely special to me. It’s the second time I’m being honoured by McMaster University. The first was an Engineering Faculty Research Award that recognized world class efforts in specific areas of research. Now being honoured as a Distinguished University Professor is a highlight of my career. Having my peers, who are also at the top of their profession, elect me as a Distinguished University Professor is humbling and is also a significant recognition of our research and technology development work over the years.

Q: Who is your inspiration?


M​y inspiration has been my parents and my relatives. I was born into a family of very modest means and at a very early age I realized that having a solid education could make my career enjoyable and rewarding. My parents and my relatives have always been strong supporters in my quest to have a solid education so that I can prepare well for my future.

Todd Hoare, ​associate professor in Chemical Engineering, is considered a world leader in the synthesis and the application of functional hydrogel materials, having developed a number of technologies, including pioneering work on ‘remote­ control’ drug delivery vehicles, the development of injectable hydrogels and the design of drug­ eluting contact lenses.

Q: Why is your work important to society?

Hoare: ​Particularly with drug therapies, a lot of money is spent on them and a lot of patients are dependent on them working well. So what our research aims to do is to improve the efficacy of those treatments, basically. So minimizing the amount of drug that’s needed for a particular therapy; trying to minimize the time and the inconvenience that the patients are experiencing as a result of that therapy. Those are the key things we’re trying to improve.

Q: What drives you to excel in your field?

Hoare: ​I think the thing that actually motivates me the most is the ability to actually use what I know about, which is material science, but use that in a very direct way that’s helping people and actually helping cure and treat diseases. I think that’s really motivating because you put can some faces and experiences to what you’re doing in a way that maybe in other research fields is more difficult to do.

Q: What’s your experience been like at McMaster?

Hoare: ​I really enjoy McMaster. I think the most important thing about the environment here at McMaster is it’s very collaborative. We have the hospital right behind me actually. So it’s world experts on various diseases that you can email and they’re willing to meet with you to see if there’s an opportunity to collaborate. We collaborate with several of them. I think that’s a huge opportunity, particularly in biomedical research because it’s such a big field and no one person can know everything you need to know to actually accomplish something meaningful. Having that resource and also the collaborative environment that makes that resource useful is really important.

Shiping ZhuShiping Zhu, a professor in Chemical Engineering, is a chemical engineer leading a team discovering new polymers and biomaterials. Zhu is considered Canada’s top academic chemical engineer and one of the very top researchers in polymer science and engineering the world. Zhu was unavailable for comment.

— Interviews and videos by Monique Beech

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