CEPS Graduate Student Research Day (Virtual)

Date and Time


Virtual: Please register for the event in advance.

Virtual Event Link


Graduate student research day promo banner with CEPS logo and arrow pointing down

The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) invites graduate students from all departments and schools in the College to participate in our inaugural Graduate Student Research Day to be held virtually on October 16th, 2020, 9:00am to 12:00pm EST. U of G faculty, staff, and industry partners are invited to attend.

What is Grad Student Research Day?

CEPS’s Graduate Student Research Day is a chance for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and industry partners to learn about new research being done by our graduate students, driving innovation in their disciplines, alongside cutting-edge sustainability research being done by faculty and alumni. This event will provide:

  • Experience for graduate students to present research through virtual talks in the style of the 3-minute thesis;
  • Learning opportunities within and between academic units, and from industry partners/alumni; and
  • Graduate student award opportunities.

Who's invited?

  • Students who are registered in a CEPS master’s or PhD program at the University of Guelph (see the full list of CEPS graduate programs here) are encouraged to participate or attend.
  • CEPS PhD and master’s students who have defended their thesis but have not yet graduated are also eligible to participate or attend.  
  • University of Guelph faculty, staff, alumni, and industry partners are invited to attend the event.

Information for presenters:

Presentations will follow the same guidelines as the U of G three-minute thesis competition.


  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description, the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
  • Presentations are to be given live (not recorded).
  • No additional electronic media are permitted (e.g. sound and video files).
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. no poems, raps or songs).
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  • Presentations must be based on research that is directly related to the student’s graduate program thesis.  
  • Presenters must agree to be recorded.

Award Opportunities

All presenters will be eligible for the following awards. We will have two Best Presentation Awards (1st and 2nd place) determined by an awards committee, and a People’s Choice Award that will be determined by your peers and fellow presenters. Winners will receive the following cash prizes:

  • Best Presentation, 1st place - $500
  • Best Presentation, 2nd place - $250
  • People’s Choice - $250

Note that winners of 1st and 2nd place will not be eligible for the People’s Choice Award.

Information for All Attendees

Agenda and Activities

9:00-9:15am Opening Remarks Associate Dean (Research & Grad Studies)
9:15-10:30am Presentations 3-minute student presentations
10:30-10:45am Break Awards committee convenes
10:45-11:45am Panel Discussion Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: Elements of a Sustainable Future
11:45am-12:00pm Awards and Closing Remarks Associate Dean (Research & Grad Studies)

Panel Discussion

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: Elements of a Sustainable Future
The year 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. To mark this milestone, our live four-person panel will focus on the role that physical scientists and engineers play in driving our society towards improved sustainability. Each panelist will represent one of the Earth’s elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. Four faculty trailblazers in their fields will join moderator Prof. Bill Van Heyst, environmental engineer and associate dean (external) to discuss the forms of environmental decline that are in urgent need of attention—eroding soils, air pollution, contaminated water, and shrinking forests. Our aim is to build a dialogue around the ways each of these elements should be considered individually and together, and how we might leverage green technology and scientific research to promote sustainable development.

Moderator: Prof. Bill Van Heyst
Bill Van Heyst, Ph.D., P.Eng., received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 1997, after which he worked for five years with a major Toronto-based air quality consulting firm. Professor Van Heyst joined the School of Engineering in 2002 at the University of Guelph and is currently a Professor in Environmental Engineering and the Associate Dean (External Relations) for CEPS. Professor Van Heyst’s research focuses on estimating and mitigating air pollution from a variety of agricultural sources including ammonia and particulate matter from animal housing units, especially in the poultry sector. Recently, Van Heyst has been developing innovative products that can reduce the emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from mobile and stationary sources in partnership with Envision SQ, a local clean technology company.  Recently, Van Heyst has pivoted his research and development of the photocatalyst air pollution control system to address the spread of the Covid-19 disease.  

Earth: Prof. Emily Chiang 
Emily Chiang, Ph.D., P.Eng., worked in the mining industry for five years before pursuing her PhD in Bioscience Engineering from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. She joined the School of Engineering in 2014 at the University of Guelph and is currently an Associate Professor. Her research focuses on mineral carbon sequestration in soils; conversion of industrial inorganic residues into valuable products: sorbents, construction materials, carbon sink; and remediation of heavy metal contaminated soils, sediments, groundwater and fluvial systems. Her work is contextualized in helping industry overcome the challenges it is facing in the 21st century as environmental impacts of its activities become unacceptable by society, as it is pushed to finding greener sources of materials and energy, and as the sources of high-grade natural resources become increasingly scarce.

Air: Prof. Leanne Chen
Leanne Chen received her PhD in Physical Chemistry from Stanford University in 2017, where she focused on unravelling the discharge mechanisms of batteries and the second-order effects of electrolyte in electrocatalysis using atomic-scale computational modelling techniques. Chen joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Guelph as an Assistant Professor in 2020. She is the lead for the Computational Electrochemistry Lab where her research program focuses on using renewably-generated electricity to drive chemical processes for energy storage (e.g. direct electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon fuels) that could reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and carbon dioxide release from energy sources.

Fire: Prof. Khurram Nadeem 
Khurram Nadeem received his PhD from the University of Alberta in 2013. He joined the University of Guelph as an Assistant Professor of Statistics in 2019. His work focuses on predictive mode.ling of ecological and environmental processes via big data analytics; wildland fire occurrence prediction; and mode.ling of spatio-temporal processes. Prof. Nadeem harnesses the availability of large scale historical environmental, wildland fire and demographic data in Canada to spatially predict severe and large forest fires for two weeks ahead into the future. Apart from contributing to improvements to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre’s (CIFFC) management, coordination and information services, this research has implications for sustainable forest management in the face of changing climate and increasing human anthropogenic activity. The outcomes of this ongoing work will have significant impact on Canada’s ability to efficiently respond to the danger of severe wildland fires and to understand fire-weather dynamics in the wake of changing Earth climate.

Water: Eric Monteith
Eric Monteith is a Senior Vice President at Stantec Consulting and a U of G alumnus (BSc Environmental Engineering) who has over 22 years of experience in the water resources engineering field with direct experience in design and management including planning, evaluation, piloting, optimization, and commissioning of water treatment and distribution systems. Having been Stantec’s Western Canada Water Regional Business Leader Eric is now part of Stantec Innovation Office and is the Director of their IBO program. In this role he oversees the creation and commercialization of new, innovative business lines for the company. Eric is a senior project manager at Stantec who is counted on to lead projects that are complex in scope and/or high in capital cost, and a business leader focused on keeping Stantec at the forefront of an evolving consulting industry.

How to Register

Register As A Presenter

Register As An Attendee

Note: Students should discuss their intention to participate with their advisor and give serious consideration to authorship and intellectual property.


  • The registration deadline for presenters is Wednesday, September 30, 2020.
  • Attendees can register any time prior and up to event day October 16, 2020 at 8:59 am.
  • Presenters must submit final slides by October 12th, 2020 to kmcgooga@uoguelph.ca.

Queries about Graduate Student Research Day should be directed to Keriann McGoogan, CEPS Research Communications Officer: kmcgooga@uoguelph.ca.

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