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McMaster Engineering PhD candidate recognized as Vanier Canada Graduate ScholarJune 19, 2020

Moustafa Naiem is one of 50 recipients of this year’s scholarship awarded by NSERC, and one of five 2020 Vanier Scholars from McMaster University.

Moustafa Naiem, a PhD candidate in civil engineering, is awarded the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) this year from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).  

The Vanier CGS Program aims to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by supporting students who demonstrate both leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities, or health sciences. 

Naiem's research project studies the effects of climate change on city infrastructure networks. Using data analytics tools, and complex network theory, he is exploring how cities can be made more resilient to floods. 

“Floods are one of the costliest hazards of climate change,” says Naiem. “I’m focusing on how floods damage a city’s housing networks and how we can model this damage, predict it and mitigate the potential risks.” 

He explains how one disrupted system, such as water and wastewater, may cause a “cascade failure” for other systems such as power, transportation networks and healthcare.  

“If I can do anything to help people who may be impacted by climate change and floods, I want to make their lives easier,” he says. “It’s a very exciting project to work on.” 

Now in his second year of graduate studies at McMaster, he is working with Wael El-Dakhahkni, a professor in civil engineering and the McMaster School of Computational Science and Engineering 

The final effort of the collective team is to create a virtual twin of a city, to model how interconnected all of its systems are,” says Naiem. El-Dakhahkni's team recently received a research funding award from Roche Canada for their work in city infrastructure modelling. 

Naiem says the Vanier CGS Program allows him to take his research further than he had originally planned.  

“I always knew that I could put in the effort to get something done, but I never had the kind of confirmation that I might be good enough for something like this,” he says. “This award is confirmation that I’m on the right track, and that what I’m doing is important and I can take it further.” 

Born in Ottawa and raised in Egypt from early childhood, Naiem received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in structural engineering from Cairo University. He moved to Hamilton for his PhD in 2018. 

“I’m very lucky to have a supervisor who is supportive and provides a nurturing environment for growth,” he says. 

Last year, Naiem was one of three winners from McMaster in the Objective Resilience student paper competition, organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was also chosen for the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship - Doctoral (PGSD) but accepted the Vanier CGS.

Learn about all of McMaster's Vanier Scholarship Winners.