Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Saskatchewan
I was born/grew up in: I grew up in a small town, Lake Francis in Manitoba but was born in St. Boniface which is now part of the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
I now live in: I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
I completed my training/education at: B.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Winnipeg; PhD at the University of Saskatchewan in Physical Chemistry
Describe what you do at work.
I am a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan. A typical day involves teaching and research. More than half of my time is devoted to research and working with undergraduate and post graduate students (Master, PhD, and postdoctoral fellows). I help guide their research, answer their questions, and try to ensure that they keep focused on their research in a productive way.
Mathematics is the language of science, especially in the physical sciences such as chemistry. Technology is equally important since it allows us to understand processes that happen at the molecular level. Math, science, and technology are intertwined and I use them every day.
My research group is focused on the development of new materials that are derived from natural polymers (starch, cellulose and marine polysaccharides). We modify these materials and explore their properties for applications that range from drug delivery systems, adsorbents for water purification or materials for separation of chemical mixtures, and protective devices for storage of unstable
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
I hope that my job makes a difference for the students I work with. I hope that the experiences gained help them in their future career and beyond so they can help make the world a better place. I believe that science and technology have a place that can allow us to solve problems and have a better life. Some of the research by my group has led to new materials and methods for decontamination of water, chemical separations, and biomedical devices that will serve to improve our quality of life and that of the environment.
What motivates you in your career?
The most enjoyable part of my job is seeing the development and growth of the students I work with. As the supervisor of various students and different levels of expertise, it is enjoyable to witness their professional development and intellectual growth. The privilege to witness their intellectual growth and transformation is very inspiring.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
After high school, I completed a B.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Winnipeg. After that I went on to complete a PhD at the University of Saskatchewan in Physical Chemistry. From there I went on to do postdoctoral studies as a Visiting Fellow at the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences with the Functional Materials Program (National Research Council of Canada; Ottawa, ON.). In 2004, I was hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Each of these steps have stories that go beyond the word limit here. Some things are planned and other things are unplanned. I didn’t predict I would be where I am today but I have been fortunate to have been able to work hard and have good people along my path.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I like to read, watch movies at the cinema, cycling, and spending time outdoors. I like to volunteer and contribute toward activities that involve education.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
I think it is important to speak with others who work in your area of interest or profession of choice. This can give you an idea of what to expect if you go down that path.