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Meet our Summer Researchers

Our Research Experience Award winners are students who entered McMaster's Faculty of Engineering with top marks and scholarships. They have just finished their 1st year in the Faculty of Engineering and are now spending their summer working under professors, researchers, and entrepreneurs across campus to gain valuable work experience and create a network of contacts to grow their careers. 

2019 Summer Researchers

Sanjula Ganepola

Sanjula Ganepola

The Joseph Ip Entrance Scholarship, President’s Award, and Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Software Engineering and Management
Why McMaster? McMaster University’s world-renowned reputation and its focus on innovation and research drew me to study here. The welcoming community of professors and students here offers countless opportunities for learning, creativity, and growth.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. Thia Kirubarajan and Dr. Ratnasingham Tharmarasa
Research area: I am working with a group of researchers in the Estimation, Tracking and Fusion Research Laboratory where I am helping to develop software the deals with computer vision, video processing, autonomous vehicles, and surveillance systems. Under the guidance of Dr. Kiruba and his graduate students, I am helping to develop this machine learning based tool through working on GUI, image labeling, testing, and documenting.
What are the real-world applications of this research? One focus of this research is to improve the image detection software that is used for autonomous vehicles by implementing machine learning to assist with image and radar processing. This research is also used by several companies that require tracking and surveillance of objects through various sensors such as radar, sonar, and lidar.
Describe your lab environment:  I work in a computer lab where I collaborate with undergraduate and graduate researchers. It is a productive and welcoming place which makes it a perfect learning environment.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? Being able to work alongside experienced graduate students and professors on a project that allows me to branch off into areas I would not be able to in the classroom. It is also rewarding to see that the research we do now as a team will be used to develop future technology.

Maddison Konway

Maddison Konway

HATCH Entrance Scholarship, The George and Nora Elwin Scholarship, and Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Materials Engineering
Why McMaster? To be honest, it was the opportunity to research. I have dreamed of doing research my entire life and receiving a USRA opened the door to fulfil that desire for exploration and discovery. In addition, I knew I felt I would be more than just a student number at McMaster.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. De Lannoy
Research area: Over the summer, I will likely be synthesizing polymers to use as wetting agents on soils that have become hydrophobic as a result of heating, specifically due to forest fires. Ideally, these surfactants should be biodegradable and return fire to pre-fire conditions to reduce run-off and erosion.
What are the real-world applications of this research? After forest fires, increased runoff and erosion are common due to the hydrophobicity of soils. As a result, surrounding communities that are desperately trying to recover from the damage of the fire often face flooding, which can potentially contaminate water sources. By treating the soil before heavy rainfall, it may be possible to reduce the long-term environmental and social impact of forest fires on the environment and society as a whole. This is particularly important as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of wildfires.
Describe your lab environment:  I have to say working in the lab is a bit of a whirlwind - one moment, everyone is rushing around, other times it is calm and all you can hear is the equipment.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? The incredible knowledge and experience that each individual brings to the table. We can all learn from each other, no matter what our formal level of education may be. Even though I just finished my first year of engineering, I feel my contributions are valued.

Adam Tosti

Adam Tosti

FIRST Robotics Entrance Scholarship, Ontario Professional Engineers Foundation for Education Entrance Scholarship, President's Award, and Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Mechanical Engineering
Why McMaster? I decided to come to McMaster because of the flexibility in co-op as well as a focus on research and advancement. The Engineering department hosts lots of student teams and clubs which present a unique way to be involved while studying. McMaster as a whole has offered a great community and the engineering program showed itself to be very welcoming.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. T. Kirubarajan & Dr. R. Tharmarasa
Research area: I get to develop new programs which integrate physical devices with computer programs and intelligently use human input to simulate flight as accurately as possible.
What are the real-world applications of this research? This research will create a flight simulation which produces extremely accurate data regarding every aspect of flight and can be actively controlled using standard flight control mechanisms. It will allow people to simulate long distance flights and pilots to train while generating and logging large amounts of important data as well as studying the effects of different techniques and movements.
Describe your lab environment: I work in a computer lab along side a few other undergraduates which makes for a fun community aspect as well as a great environment to learn and be productive. There are lots of different projects being worked on so being able to see different sides of research is enjoyable.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? I have the opportunity to work with distinguished professors as well as other undergraduates which provides an environment of constant learning. Being able to use my own ideas to solve problems and build on them freely as well as seeing them succeed is very rewarding.

Natalie Fossenier

Natalie Fossenier

Undergraduate Summer Research Award and The Engineering Dean's Excellence Entrance Award

Program: Electrical Engineering
Why McMaster? McMaster has a great reputation in academics, research, and student life but I ultimately chose McMaster for the community. It is very welcoming, collaborative and an awesome environment to be in!
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. Ali Emadi
Research area: I am working at McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC) on an industry project partnered with Eaton Aerospace. The project is developing new strategies, technologies, and products for electrical transportation in airplanes! This summer I have been helping a team characterize air-cooled heatsinks in a high efficiency and high-power density propulsion inverter.
What are the real-world applications of this research? The largest sector contributing to greenhouse gas emissions is the transportation industry. The research I am helping with will reduce the emissions and change the way we travel.
Describe your lab environment: MARC is a large facility and I split my time between a shared work area and one of the labs downstairs. The environment is collaborative, welcoming and exciting!
Most rewarding part about working with your team? The most rewarding part about working with my team is how applicable the research we are doing is. Working directly with the industry provides tangible evidence of the research that is redefining the transportation industry while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Griffin McLean

Griffin McLean

Undergraduate Summer Research Award and Engineering Dean's Excellence Entrance Award

Program: Mechanical & Biomedical Engineering
Why McMaster? I decided to come to McMaster not only for the research opportunity but more so for the community, student life, and culture that surrounds it - there is something for everyone at McMaster.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. Kathryn Grandfield & Joseph Deering
Research area: I work in the faculty of Materials Sciences and Engineering where I use 3D metal printing (selective laser melting - SLM) to fabricate porous materials that resemble bone through a trabecular design. Once these designs are created with a computer assisted drawing (CAD) program I go on to stress test them along with recording and presenting the data with MATLAB.
What are the real-world applications of this research? The hope is to understand if trabecular materials (fabricated through SLM), can be used for orthopedic implants. Hopefully improving anchorage (better bio-compatibility) with similar mechanical properties of what is currently on the market.
Describe your lab environment: To my surprise, laid back and causal! I had this idea that lab work was a very bureaucratic process, instead I found there was a lot of trust placed in me to complete tasks/projects however I saw fit as a long as I met my timelines. Really allowing me to play around with different programs, tools, and resources to complete a job.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? Definitely the mentorship aspect with both grad students and post docs. Their insight/experience goes beyond just the lab.

Meet some of our Summer Researchers:

Mariam ElSheikh

Mariam ElSheikh

Winner of the George and Nora Elwin Entrance Scholarship & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Mechanical Engineering
Why McMaster? McMaster is a fantastic university with a high world ranking. It’s also one of the most research intensive universities and I’m looking into becoming a professor one day.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr Ghada Badawy
Research area: Temperature optimization for power of data centres through experiments on the cooling systems, leading to a higher efficiency percentile.
Describe your lab environment:  Intensive IT. Cables everywhere. Highly impressive!
Most rewarding part about working with your team? It’s a very humbling experience to be the only 1st year working on this project. I get to learn so much from incredible people with vast experiences. The project in itself is one step towards the future of data control and to be a part of that is truly rewarding.

Julian Morrone

Julian Morrone

Winner of the Dean's Excellence Entrance Scholarship, President's Award, & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Electrical Engineering
Why McMaster? When I came for a tour I instantly fell in love with the environment of the school and campus. (The scholarship didn't hurt either!).
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr Jennifer Bauman
Research area: I am designing a GUI in Matlab to aid in electric mining truck optimization as well as comparing the results to optimized diesel trucks. I will also be creating a website and conducting a literature review. All of these tasks are transferable to real world jobs in industry. Matlab is used widely in almost every engineering discipline. 
Describe your lab environment:  A comfortable and fun learning environment!
Most rewarding part about working with your team? The most rewarding part is having a blank canvas and seeing progress develop day by day.

Kieran McKenzie

Kieran McKenzie

Winner of the Joseph Ip Entrance Scholarship, President's Award, & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Chemical and Bioengineering
Why McMaster? McMaster offered more to me compared to the other universities I applied to - the campus was more attractive, the students seemed more welcoming, and of course, the academic reputation of McMaster was very high.  
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr Jake Nease
Research area: This summer, I will be completing my research as a Course Developmental Assistant.  In this position, I will help a Chemical Engineering professor work to improve one of the courses that he teaches.  This includes first mastering the material,
then creating various modules and other teaching aids that the course will be taught off of in future years.
Describe your lab environment:  Quiet, relaxed, welcoming, and productive.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? The amount of experience I am able to gain in the field of teaching will aid me greatly when applying for TA positions in the future!

Rebecca Gysbers

Rebecca Gysbers

Winner of the President's Award & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Civil & Biomedical Engineering (iBioMed)
Why McMaster? I came to Mac because it has an amazing engineering program! It's always evolving (I'm in the new iBioMed program), and I love the feeling of community!
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. Rakesh Prasad Sahu (Supervisor) and  Dr. Ishwar K. Puri (Director - and Dean!).
Research area: I am working on a biosensor project with MuRG (Dr. Puri's Multiphysics Research Group). We are developing a magnetically printed biosensor; the ink is made of carbon nanotubes, and the sensor detects antigens of diseased cells.This sensor, once fully developed, will be able to help find diseased cells amongst healthy ones! It could help with the detection and diagnosis of cancer.
Describe your lab environment: My lab is safe, welcoming, and a great learning environment!
Most rewarding part about working with your team? I love that I get to take what I learned this year and apply it to a real-life project! I am also learning a lot of things about research that I don't think can be learned in a classroom; you have to experience them hands-on.

Jessica de Leeuw

Jessica de Leeuw

Winner of the Dean's Excellence Entrance Scholarship, President's Award, & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Computer Science
Why McMaster? I loved the feel of the community, and the supportive environment that McMaster offers. On top of that, it is highly ranked both in Canada and in the world. I knew that the combination of intense academics and the positive, welcoming environment would suit me well. And I was right!
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. Fei Chiang
Research area: I'm working on a project that is improving data privacy by creating and implementing an algorithm that analyzes data and ensures that sensitive information is reduced to a high-level format so that privacy is maintained. It focuses on maximizing data utility while preserving the functional dependencies in the data, as well as maintaining the semantics.
Describe your lab environment: I work in an office space with all the students doing research, so it feels like I am part of the team.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? ? It is a very different environment than taking classes. I am working with a Master's student and a Postdoctoral student, so learning from their experiences and what they are doing is very beneficial and rewarding for me.

Daniel Rubinstein

Daniel Rubinstein

Winner of the Dean's Excellence Entrance Scholarship & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Computer Science
Why McMaster? The community at McMaster is what really stood out to me. Everybody was so willing to answer questions, get involved, and just say hello as I walked around campus and it truly made the university feel like home.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr Rong Zheng
Research area: I work on MacQuest, a mobile map app for helping students around campus. I personally work mostly on the UI design end of the project, coding for Android / iOS to design a user friendly experience. Throughout the summer I also hope to learn a bit about indoor localization through WiFi connections as well as AR as these are both large parts of what's to come for MacQuest!
Describe your lab environment: I would describe my lab environment as self driven as there is a large focus on me setting my own goals and working towards successfully achieving them.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? My supervisor has pushed very hard for all the students who work with her to work together so I often find myself sitting in on presentations from undergraduate and graduate students about their own work and learning quite a bit from them even if their work may not have an actual application in my position for the summer.

Thomas Baker

Thomas Baker

Winner of the Dean's Excellence Entrance Scholarship, President's Award, & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Chemical and Bioengineering
Why McMaster? McMaster University has a much more collaborative and open approach to exploring engineering. The common first year allowed me to have the chance to explore many aspects of engineering and connect with many people. Plus the proximity and the beauty of the campus campus, along with the compassionate faculty, really reinforced my decision.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. Charles de Lannoy
Research area: Currently, I am working with a team to optimize advance membrane performance in order to make water treatment more efficient. Utilizing the versatile properties of carbon nanotubes, we are trying to figure out how membranes can be adapted in order to overcome problems like membrane fouling whose inefficiencies can render membrane treatment infeasible. Our work is exploring the solutions to this problem utilizing knowledge of both molecular chemistry and electricity with the membrane. By making these membranes more efficient by reducing the cost wasted due to fouling and the degradation of the membranes, the overall water filtration system will be more effective and this will make it easier for more people to access reliable clean drinking water.
Describe your lab environment: Picture that quintessential chemistry lab with the glass wear cabinet, lab coats, experiments bubbling and stirring, equipment whose names can only be pronounced by their acronyms and a good amount of Kimwipes.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? Although it seems like small steps, when we experiment and come up with a result we have just discovered something that no one else in the history of humanity has ever figured out. The fact that I can be a part of figuring out the small pieces that will eventually solve problems in completely new and innovative ways is truly inspiring.

Akram Elwazani

Akram Elwazani

Winner of the Dean's Excellence Entrance Scholarship & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Computer Science
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. Spencer Smith and Dr. Jacques Carette
Research area: Right now I'm involved in data entry and review, but my job will progress to include programming a meta-programming framework. This framework can be used to streamline the scientific software creating and designing process.
Describe your lab environment:  My lab is less a lab and more an office space, because my work takes place on a computer. 
Most rewarding part about working with your team? The ability to learn from each other and provide support to each other when necessary.

Mitchell Cooke

Mitchell Cooke

Winner of the Dalvi Family Entrance Scholarship & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Computer Engineering
Why McMaster? McMaster is one of the top ranking universities in Canada and has excellent resources for research. I love the campus and the environment within the Faculty of Engineering is very welcoming and supportive.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr Rong Zheng
Research area: I am working in the Department of Computing and Software under Dr. Rong Zheng where I am developing an Android application to collect data. My app uses computer vision to track and store foot movement of the user through the phone's camera as well as collecting sensor data.
Describe your lab environment: A typical office space as the majority of my work is done on the computer.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? Learning new things everyday and expanding my knowledge about computers & programming.

Jeremy Colangelo

Jeremy Colangelo

Winner of the Dean's Excellence Entrance Scholarship & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Mechatronics & Biomedical Engineering (iBioMed)
Why McMaster? McMaster has a world-renowned Engineering department and I was especially excited about the new iBioMed program. I also heard that McMaster has the best social scene.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr Tohid Didar
Research area: I am working in the field of microfluidics, specifically micro/nano-engineered interfaces for use in biomedical devices. Using a variety of techniques, we are able to create surfaces that minimize non-specific binding, making these surfaces biocompatible and eliminating blood clot formation. The surfaces we have designed have applications for a multitude of biomedical devices, especially for medical implants such as heart valves.
Describe your lab environment: My lab is a welcoming environment where I have the opportunity to work with knowledgeable, helpful grad students.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? The most rewarding part of my research is seeing the real-world applications of my projects. Making a difference in the world is something that I have been working towards my entire life.

Seth Ebos

Seth Ebos

Winner of the President's Entrance Award & Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Program: Engineering Physics & Biomedical Engineering (iBioMed)
Why McMaster?  The iBioMed  program peaked my interest as I can see myself past my studies working directly with people and making a direct impact in that person’s life all while focusing on design and the science behind how it works. Next, the campus is surrounded by trails and wildlife. If you are out at the right time, you can always count on seeing an overwhelming amount of deer.  Finally, the enthusiasm and excitement I have felt from students that I have met while I was visiting McMaster drew me right in.
Faculty supervisor(s): Dr. Rakesh Prasad Sahu (Supervisor) and Dr. Ishwar K. Puri (Director - and Dean!).
Research area: The research involves the effect of strain on a thin films thermal conductivity. This is very important for thermoelectric devices which basically convert heat to electricity or electricity to heat. Improving thermal conduction would improve many thermoelectric devices that need cooling like air conditioning, coolers, and refrigerators. Specifically, in the military, soldiers use laser diodes to detect toxic chemicals in the environment and the thermoelectric component helps the diode operate most effectively by
regulating the temperature.
Describe your lab environment: A hustle and bustle scene, something is always going on.
Most rewarding part about working with your team? I am given the opportunity to decide what aspect or project I would like to focus on. Afterwards, I am asked to complete it with the tools I have. Of course, every person there is willing to help, but I can also contribute mainly my ideas. Could I make an electric wired adapter box or a useful computer program before coming to the lab? I did not think so, but by actively improving my knowledge and skills I was driven to get these projects done. They work too, it feels good.

Video: 

Every year, a select group of scholarship winners and other high achieving students are offered an Research Experience Award as part of their offer of admission to the Faculty of Engineering. This is a  paid co-op work opportunity on campus for students to give them a head-start in developing their engineering & technology careers.

Please be advised that in order to maintain eligibility for this award you will be required to:

  • Successfully complete all required Level I program courses prior to May 1, 2020; and
  • Achieve a minimum cumulative average (CA) for all courses of 9.5 on the McMaster Grading System

The award is a contribution of $6,000 towards a paid work position in research, teaching, and/or entrepreneurship for the summer after 1st year of studies. Students will make, at minimum, $14/hr, making the total minimum earned wages (not including applicable deductions) $5,880 for a 12 week period (35 hrs/wk).

Students can work under any faculty member or researcher on campus (inside or outside the Faculty of Engineering). Our students can also work alongside entrepreneurs at The Forge, a start-up incubator at McMaster.  Your work opportunity does NOT have to be in a traditional laboratory environment. 

In the fall of your 1st year, Engineering Co-op and Career Services will invite you to an information session. During this info session, they will explain the process which involves: 

  • submitting a resume for review and revisions (resumes are compiled into an electronic resume book and sent out to every professor within the Fauclty of Engineering, The Forge, and other key research groups); and
  • learning strategies for how to research and communicate with professors in your fields of interest.

Some students will receive an invitation to interview directly from a professor who selected them out of the electronic resume book. Others students have a clear idea of who they want to work with and will seek to initiate a conversation with those faculty members or researchers directly. In either case, Engineering Co-op and Career Services is here to help guide you through the process. 

Yes! As long as your position meets the minimum number of hours/week (35 hours/week) and the minimum number of week (12 weeks), it will count as co-op credit.

In addition to your paid work position, you will be invited to participate in weekly professional development sessions which include guest lectures from professors on their research areas, various research oriented workshops (e.g. visits from McMaster University Librarians on proper research methodologies). In addition, we host various social events, including a summer BBQ and an end of summer poster fair, where you can share the work that you have been involved in to a broader audience.

Inside the Lab

Meet our student researchers

Our students offer a behind the scenes look of the work they do in our research labs. 

#InsidetheLab: New ideas sprout from nanotechnology

June 28, 2017

#InsidetheLab: New ideas sprout from nanotechnology

Can innovations in nanotechnology improve plant growth for crop-based farming?

#InsidetheLab: Improving healthcare with bio-inspired technologies

September 29, 2017

#InsidetheLab: Improving healthcare with bio-inspired technologies

The Didar Lab is showcasing their bio-inspired technologies today as part of the next instalment of Inside the Lab.

#InsidetheLab: Bearings support bridges, but how long can they last?

July 12, 2017

#InsidetheLab: Bearings support bridges, but how long can they last?

#InsidetheLab: is McMaster Engineering’s new Instagram story series that gives a behind-the-scenes look at how our students are working towards tackling the grand challenges facing our world through innovative research projects.

#InsidetheLab: The diverse research areas of advanced manufacturing

November 10, 2017

#InsidetheLab: The diverse research areas of advanced manufacturing

Students working at the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) are enhancing productivity, improving quality and increasing the lifespan of materials used in various manufacturing industries.

#InsidetheLab: Fusing engineering and medicine to improve healthcare

August 25, 2017

#InsidetheLab: Fusing engineering and medicine to improve healthcare

Today’s Inside the Lab Instagram story spotlights an undergraduate student research team who put their hearts into their work.

#InsidetheLab: Combining natural and synthetic materials to create new health technologies

July 27, 2017

#InsidetheLab: Combining natural and synthetic materials to create new health technologies

Four McMaster Engineering students take you inside the new Biohybrids Lab on today’s Inside the Lab Instagram Takeover.