PhD pupil goals to scale back pulp and paper’s environmental footprint, encourage underprivileged youth


For Gaius St. Marie, a doctoral diploma in chemical engineering and utilized chemistry on the College of Toronto isn’t solely a method to pursue his ardour for science, expertise and sustainability – but in addition to function a job mannequin for his neighborhood. 

For his PhD thesis, St. Marie will work with an industrial consortium that features many pulp and paper producers to assist the business decrease its environmental influence by understanding the elements that trigger fluctuations within the composition of black liquor, a mix of spent chemical substances and natural matter produced as a part of the pulping course of. 

Whereas black liquor is often recycled, fluctuations in its composition can hinder this course of. By creating a mannequin to assist pulp and paper mills predict and account for these fluctuations, St. Marie hopes to give them the instruments to be much more environment friendly of their use of sources. 

“Pulp and paper is without doubt one of the largest industrial sectors on this planet,” says St. Marie, who might be supervised by Assistant Professor Nikolai DeMartini

“As an business based mostly on renewable sources, this sector performs an vital function in sustainable growth. I need to assist help that growth by informing it with good science.” 

Gaius St. Marie says he desires “to function an inspiration to any younger youngster in an underprivileged neighborhood” (picture by Tyler Irving)

St. Marie is one in all two recipients of this 12 months’s IBET Momentum Fellowships, together with fellow chemical engineering graduate pupil Oseremen Ebewele

The fellowships present help and construct a community for Indigenous and Black graduate college students – two teams which can be considerably underrepresented throughout each academia and the engineering career. Fellowship recipients obtain monetary help, mentorship, coaching and networking alternatives to foster a sturdy skilled neighborhood. 

“Younger Black adults like myself have to see that there are alternatives for us in society,” St. Marie says. “My dream is to function an inspiration to any younger youngster in an underprivileged neighborhood, to point out them that any state of affairs in life is merely a stepping-stone to future success.” 

St. Marie grew up within the Caribbean nation of St. Lucia. In 2015, he moved to Halifax to finish an undergraduate diploma in chemistry at Saint Mary’s College, graduating magna cum laude

At Saint Mary’s, he accomplished a analysis thesis in sustainable chemistry, supervised by Professor Christa Brosseau. The work concerned experimenting with new forms of bio-based supplies that may function substrates in floor enhanced raman spectroscopy (SERS), an analytical approach that can be utilized to detect biomarkers of illness, amongst different functions. He was additionally in a position to work on a mission with Alpha Chemical, a pharmaceutical and biodiesel firm based mostly in Nova Scotia. 

Pursuing a PhD in chemical engineering will assist St. Marie fulfill his objective of turning into a analysis scientist.  

“Graduate research are probably the most efficient methods to be taught crucial considering abilities. You’ll want to develop good hypotheses, clarify your analysis to those that don’t but perceive it, and troubleshoot concepts as you go,” he says. 

“Being at U of T Engineering will encompass me with like-minded people who share the identical analysis pursuits and ambitions, offering worthwhile alternatives for collaboration.” 

St. Marie says he’s very grateful for the alternatives offered by the IBET Momentum Fellowship, and is trying ahead to becoming a member of the neighborhood of recipients, which now contains 4 researchers from U of T Engineering and many extra at different establishments throughout Ontario. 

“The IBET Momentum Fellowship exhibits that with ardour and willpower, I can pursue my instructional desires,” he says. “I’m grateful to my help system, which is my household and God, for this chance.” 

After commencement, St. Marie hopes to pursue post-doctoral research and finally turn into a professor himself.  

“The PhD program makes your thoughts into an concept manufacturing unit,” he says. “This manufacturing unit is fed by studying the work of others, and by your personal earlier expertise, together with concepts that didn’t work out. It’ll present an array of abilities which can be transferable throughout totally different sectors, and hopefully set me as much as create my very own analysis lab in the future.” 



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