Dr. Drew Higgins – Faculty of Engineering
Drew Higgins

Dr. Drew Higgins


Electrochemistry, catalysis, nanomaterials, energy conversion and storage. sustainable energy technologies, fuel cells, electrosynthesis, electrolyzers, batteries, supercapacitors, in situ/operando materials characterization.

Areas of Specialization

  • Assistant Professor

    Chemical Engineering


Achieving a sustainable energy economy is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. The Higgins lab focuses on addressing this challenge through the design, synthesis and in situ characterization of novel nanomaterial catalysts for clean electrochemical energy technologies, including electrochemical CO2 reduction for the synthesis of fuels and chemicals, water electrolysis for the production of hydrogen, rechargeable zinc-ion batteries for grid scale energy storage or low temperature fuel cells and supercapacitors for transportation applications. Our primary goal is to develop nanomaterial-based device designs that will help to reduce the > 700 Megatonnes of greenhouse gases emitted in Canada and > 40,000 Megatonnes emitted globally each year, with most projects supported by industry or government partners. Researchers in the Higgins group apply nanomaterial design principles to synthesize electrochemically active materials designed on the atomic scale to possess desirable structures and properties. The nanostructured active materials (catalysts, electrodes) are tested for performance towards electrochemical energy storage/conversion processes. Structure-property-performance relationships are established through spectroscopy and microscopy characterization using advanced facilities at McMaster, such as the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy, the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research, or the McMaster Analytical X-ray Diffraction Facility. Best in class nanomaterials are integrated into device prototypes engineered for performance validation and demonstration. This is a unique and holistic approach to research that involves close coupling and real-time feedback between all stages of the research project (nanomaterial synthesis, characterization, performance testing, device integration). The interconnected approach to research provides a comprehensive training experience for researchers through exposure to various stages of the material/ technology development lifecycle, and increases efficiency by improving knowledge sharing and ensuring relevancy between all activities.

Drew’s team is regularly recruiting talented and motivated graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. If interested, please send your CV, transcript and a brief statement of interest to Drew (higgid2@mcmaster.ca). The Higgins group and McMaster University are committed to building a diverse and inclusive community. While all qualified applicants are invited to apply, we particularly welcome applications from individuals that identify with groups traditionally underrepresented in Engineering, and we will strive to hire individuals who share our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

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  • BA.Sc. in Chemical Engineering – University of Waterloo (2009)
  • MA.Sc. in Chemical Engineering – University of Waterloo (2011)
  • Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering – University of Waterloo (2015)
  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellow – Stanford University (2015-2017)
  • Associate Staff Scientist – Stanford University / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (2017-2018)
  • Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology Rising Star Award (2020)
  • Canadian Association of Graduate Studies Distinguished Dissertation Award (2016)
  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship (2015-2017)
  • Bernard S. Baker Student Award for Fuel Cell Research, Grand Prize (2014)
  • NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarships – Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements (2014)
  • 4 x Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology Fellowship (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
  • NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (2013-2015)
  • 2013 Electrochemical Society Canadian Section Student Award (2013)
  • 2 x Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2011, 2012)
  • M. Chandrashekar Memorial Award in Sustainable Energy (2012-2013)
  • Bernard S. Baker Student Award for Fuel Cell Research, Honourable Mention (2012)
  • Bernard S. Baker Student Award for Fuel Cell Research, Third Place (2011)