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Graham Van Every

Graham Van Every recently completed his third year of Chemical Engineering and Management at McMaster. This summer, he participated in a research fellowship at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

I’m originally from a small town called Sharon, which is located about 45 minutes north of Toronto. The decision to attend McMaster University was quite easy; however, I’ll always be grateful for making that decision.

Last fall, I was approached by David Latulippe, a Chemical Engineering professor, who asked if I would be interested in performing a research fellowship at either the University of Notre Dame or Penn State University. I was initially caught off guard — I didn’t even know that he knew who I was.

I was a student in his fluid mechanics course the prior winter semester, but had never formally introduced myself. Latulippe explained how I had performed well in his course and noted my attendance and participation at every tutorial. He explained that he thought I was a good candidate for this fellowship and that he had a number of contacts at both universities who would be willing to mentor a summer exchange student. Over the coming weeks, we met a number of times to discuss my research interests and determine where my best fit would be.

We eventually concluded that I would work under William Phillip at the University of Notre Dame, focusing specifically on hollow-fibre membranes fabricated from self-assembled block copolymers for the purpose of waste water treatment. Fast forward five months, and I find myself writing this blog post on the second floor of McCourtney Hall, the molecular engineering research building, at Notre Dame.

On a professional level, this experience has been fantastic. For the past few semesters I’ve struggled with deciding whether I’d like to pursue a master’s degree or enter industry immediately after graduation.

This experience gives me an excellent opportunity to dip my toes in the waters of engineering research and determine if there’s a future for myself in this area.

On a personal note, this experience has allowed for immense growth — it’s really important for undergraduates to take a risk and step outside of their comfort zone. I was quite nervous when I arrived here, as moving to a new country with a new job was a lot to take in. I quickly learned that as long as I put my best foot forward each day and ask for help whenever needed in the lab, the transition would be easy. Moving forward, I know I’ll be much more confident when taking on a new job or new role.

Despite the change of moving a long way from McMaster, one thing has stayed the same – a sense of belonging. From day one, I’ve always felt welcome and have been surrounded by truly amazing people. McMaster’s Department of Chemical Engineering is not only filled with incredible minds, but also has a large ‘family’ like feel that makes students feel like they belong.

The same can be said about the group I work with here at Notre Dame. Phillip and his team of researchers have been beyond helpful in answering all of my questions and providing me with all the technical assistance I need in the lab.  

It should come as no surprise that the thing I miss the most about McMaster is the people. I have forged a lot of relationships during my time at McMaster. From the close friends I sit with every day in class, to the countless TA’s and professors that have helped me with my studies, there’s a lot of people who I can’t wait to see when I return in the fall.

I would like to conclude by thanking Dr. Latulippe and Dr. Phillip for presenting me with this opportunity, as well as Ryan Larue and Michale Dzugas who have dedicated a lot of their time to training myself. I also owe a great thanks to Arlene Dosen and the Faculty of Engineering, as well as Mitacs Globalink for financially supporting this experience. Without these great people, an experience like this would never be possible. I’ll always be thankful for the bright, kind-hearted people I know at McMaster.