Liam Butler

Lassonde researchers receive $420,000 CFI awards in research infrastructure funding

Excerpts from this article originally appeared in an article on YFile. 

Researchers at York University will receive more than $1.5 million in funding from the Government of Canada as part of a $77 million investment to support 332 research infrastructure projects at 50 universities across the country. Of that $1.5 million, $420,000 will be going to three researchers at the Lassonde School of Engineering.

Through this initiative, Lassonde Professors Marcus Brubaker, Solomon Boakye-Yiadom and Liam Butler are the recipients of funding for their infrastructure projects. These projects will facilitate the amplification of the scope and scale of each of these emerging researchers’ research programs.

Announced on Aug. 11 by Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, the contribution comes from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) program, a tool designed to invest in state-of-the-art labs and equipment researchers need to turn their visions into reality.

6th Annual Graduate Research Day Winners

1st Place Winner – Abdul Basit

Abstract Title:  Impact of Climate Change on Thermal Behaviour of Pavement Structures in Ontario

2nd Place Winner – Eyad Abu Rish

Abstract Title:  Development of an International Roughness Index (IRI) Model for the province of Alberta

Lassonde PhD student earns Best Student Paper Award at Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference

Congratulations to Arefeh Shamskhany for the Best Student Paper Award at Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference!

Arefeh Shamskhany, a PhD student in civil engineering at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, was awarded the Hydrotechnical Specialty Conference 2021 First Place Best Student Paper Award at the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference held in May 2021. The paper is titled “The Role of Microplastics’ Size and Density on their Vertical Turbulent Mixing and Transport” and will be published online.

Arefeh Shamskhany
Originally from Iran, Shamskhany joined York University in 2019 and is entering her third year of doctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Shooka Karimpour. After earning her BSc and MSc in civil engineering at the Amirkabir University of Technology – Tehran Polytechnic, Shamskhany came to Canada to pursue a specialization in environmental hydraulics in the Department of Civil Engineering at Lassonde.

“At Lassonde, the facilities are excellent for both experimental and numerical research,” said Shamskhany. “Here we have access to well-equipped numerical and experimental labs. I hope to be able to use my experience here to help other eager students pursue an education in the field.”

Working with Karimpour, Shamskhany’s research focuses on numerical modelling of microplastic transport in aquatic environments. Microplastics are minuscule plastic particles, often invisible to the human eye. The accumulation of microplastics in the environment can be direct, or result from the breakdown of larger plastic particles, while the aquatic deposition is a direct result of improper recycling or waste handling. Since only one per cent of microplastic input is visible in surface layers of aquatic environments, understanding what causes the mixing and transport of the invisible 99 per cent is crucial to tackle this global problem.

The winning paper dives deep into this subject matter to uncover how the size and density of microplastics impact their transport and settling into different vertical regions of the water bodies. Their approach is a combination of different numerical modelling approaches to achieve better realistic results. Ultimately, they found a way to categorize microplastics based on their physical properties, which were found to have unique characteristics for entrainment and vertical transport within the water column. Using numerical simulation was beneficial for this prospective research as it can control and manipulate different factors in the process, which is crucial to guiding future field-based assessments and risk mitigation.

The work of Karimpour and Shamskhany is very significant for Canada, and aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals No. 6, clean water and sanitation, and No. 14, life below water.

“Microplastic pollution is an emerging contaminant. Trying to find a solution is critical; however, we should try to solve this problem where it begins,” said Shamskhany. “If we try to separate plastic waste and aid in waste management, this will reduce the impact of mismanaged plastic waste. Hopefully, through our work and that of others, we can help people develop a better understanding of plastic pollution, its reach, adverse impacts and why it is important to address it. Once plastic waste turns into microplastic particles, we are very limited in what we can do to get rid of it from the environment.”

The laboratory of Karimpour recently received a five-year grant through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Alliance Option 2 program, entitled “Hidden microplastics of the Niagara Basin: distribution, variability, and ecotoxicology in water and sediments.”

See article in YFile.

Four York professors receive awards from Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund

Matthew Perras, assistant professor, Department of Civil Engineering at the Lassonde School of Engineering is the principal investigator on the project “Using machine learning to understand ancient climatic influences on the stability of cliffs and tombs in the Theban Necropolis of Egypt.” Working with an international research team that includes his colleague Usman Khan, also an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Lassonde, who is a co-principal investigator on the project, the research focuses on the Theban Necropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage site comprised of tombs and temples near Luxor, Egypt. The project received $250,000 in funding.

The tombs in the Theban Necropolis are often shallow excavations with entrances at the base of cliffs. The tombs hold evidence of rock mass collapses during construction through to recent deterioration leading to potential instabilities. Climatic variations are known to cause rock to deteriorate, however, there is debate about the exact influence on crack growth rates. Due to lack of detailed observations and experiments on long-term crack growth in rock, since such experiments span many months or even years, current numerical tools are not capable of capturing the influences of climate change on crack growth. This leads to challenges in determining when instabilities will develop and problems designing preservation strategies. To address these challenges, Perras and the research team propose to utilize machine learning (ML) to aid in analyzing existing climate data and crack growth indicators to predict instability. A ML algorithm will be trained on current measurements (weather & crack movement), then on historic climate & photographs of crack growth.

Ancient climate records and models (Nile sedimentation, tomb flooding & collapses) could be used to back analyze the influence on crack growth with time. With the expertise of geotechnical engineering, geology, archaeology, data and climate science, the researchers will seek to understand the prevailing conditions that led to the current state of stability and develop guidelines for preserving the stability into the future. The novelty of this research is in the combination of machine learning with archaeology and geological engineering. Machine learning in both fields is in its infancy, however, such techniques allow for nuanced behaviors to be extracted from large and complex data sets as in this project. Understanding the current measurements, past influences and applying it to predict future instabilities will help to identify key areas for protection and aid in preserving this UNESCO site for generations to come.

Link to the full article on YFile:

Four York professors receive awards from Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund – YFile (

2021 TA Excellence Award Winner

Congratulations to Zoi Ralli who is recipient of the 2021 TA Excellence Award!

The adjudication committee was impressed with the support letters that spoke of Zoi’s positive personality and ability to develop personal connections with students. In addition to this, the letters spoke positively about Zoi’s ability to convey difficult concepts in a clear and engaging manner. 

Zoi’s efforts have helped create a positive and enjoyable learning experience for our students.

Lassonde professor combats microplastic contamination in Lake Ontario

Lassonde professor combats microplastic contamination in Lake Ontario – YFile Shooka Karimpour, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University, is working to tackle the spread of plastics in aquatic systems where the decomposition of plastics is having a major impact on aquatic health.. Karimpour has received a Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance Option 2 Grant, totalling …

Standford’s List of the World’s Top Researchers — Two Named from Civil Engineering

17 researchers from Lassonde named in Standford’s list of the World’s top researchers

From the department of Civil Engineering the following professors were recognized (top recognized subfield in brackets): Stavroula Pantazopoulou (Civil Engineering) and Satinder Brar (Biotechnology).

To read the full article about York University’s at on the list of top researchers visit YFile. To see the full list of 80+ researchers from York who made the list, visit the journal’s website.

Satindar Brar

Female researchers sweep 2021 Lassonde Innovation Awards

The Lassonde School of Engineering at York University has released the results of its 2021 Lassonde Innovation Awards, which included two innovation awards, one graduate mentorship award and the inaugural awarding of the media outreach award.

Faculty members from the Department of Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering were honoured this year.

  • Innovation Award – Early Researcher: Magdalena Krol, associate professor, Department of Civil Engineering.
  • Innovation Award – Established Researcher: Satinder Brar, professor, Department of Civil Engineering.
  • Graduate Mentorship Award: Magdalena Krol, associate professor, Department of Civil Engineering.
  • Media Outreach Award: Marina Friere-Gormaly, assistant professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“We are delighted to honour these individuals as exemplary researchers and ambassadors for the Lassonde School of Engineering. These winners were determined through an academic committee and their cutting-edge research, dedication to training, and willingness to have an impact beyond the lab is admirable,” said Professor John Moores, associate dean of research and graduate studies.

For the first time ever all recipients of the awards are female faculty members. Krol is the first female faculty member to receive both the Innovation Award – Early Researcher and the Graduate Mentorship Award. She is also the first faculty member to receive two awards in the same year. Friere-Gormaly is the inaugural winner of the media outreach award.

“These three women represent the future of engineering at Lassonde. Together they demonstrate the strength of our research program, our dedication to our surrounding community and our commitment to our students,” said Lassonde School of Engineering Dean Jane Goodyer.

Magdalena Krol: Innovation Award – Early Researcher & Graduate Mentorship Award

Magdalena Krol

Magdalena Krol

Krol joined the Lassonde School of Engineering in 2014 and has quickly developed an innovative research program focused on the development of experimentally validated models to predict contaminant subsurface transport. This issue, if unaddressed, can lead to significant harm to human and ecological health with potential costs in the billions. Krol’s work is industry-driven as she has secured significant external funding through the Ontario Research Fund (ORF), Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance, and NSERC Collaborative Research and Development Grants (CRD). She received the Early Career Award from the International Association of Hydrogeologists in 2019, the Lassonde School of Engineering Research Excellence Award in 2018 and was recognized as a York Research Leader in 2019.

The success of her research program can be attributed to the talent of the highly qualified personnel and students that she has mentored while at Lassonde. Her students have received numerous prestigious awards including the Alexander Graham Bell Graduate Award, the Carswell Scholarship and the Lassonde Undergraduate Research Award. Alumni from her group have all found jobs directly related to their training. In addition, Krol is a champion of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in research at Lassonde. She has supported EDI initiatives at Lassonde through GoEngGirls, the Thales Technovation and York’s Women’s weekend.

Satinder Kaur Brar: Innovation Award – Established Researcher

Satinder Kaur Brar

Satinder Kaur Brar

Brar is the James and Joanne Love Chair in Environmental Engineering and an internationally recognized leader in water and wastewater related research. Her work on sustainable environmental issues includes removal of trace organics from water, petrochemical degradation and valorization of waste products. The impact of her work has been felt worldwide: she has developed widely-adopted filters to remove arsenic from drinking water in African and Asian countries, she is a nominated Federal Full Professor in Brazil and has developed new bioflocculants for the beer industry.

Within Canada she has been recognized as a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in the Royal Society of Canada, received the le Soleil Vedette from Le Soleil and was named to the Cercle d’excellence de l’université du Québec. Internationally, she received the Eddy Wastewater Principles/Processes medal in 2019, the American Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Grand Prize in University Research in 2017 and the Save The Environment (STE) International Achiever Award in 2019, and several American Society of Civil Engineering awards for best research papers, originality and state-of-the-art technologies in 2019 and 2021.

Marina Freire-Gormaly: Media Outreach Award

Marina Freire-Gormaly

Marina Freire-Gormaly

As the inaugural winner of the Lassonde Media Outreach Award, Freire-Gormaly has made a concerted effort to engage with traditional news outlets and other emerging media spaces. Her research focuses on new technologies and materials for energy sustainability, safe and healthy indoor environments, and clean drinking water.

Speaking about her team’s research and its impact on society, Freire-Gormaly has appeared on CTV News, CITY TV News, CTV News Northern and CBC Radio International in the past year alone. She has been engaged in scientific outreach through the Helen Carswell STEAM program, Let’s Talk Science, Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering and Academics Without Borders. In addition to receiving York University funding for COVID-19 aerosol transmission research, she has received funding through Canada’s Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS)’s Pop-up City Contest, the NSERC Discovery Grant with an Early Career Research Supplement, the NSERC Emerging Infectious Disease Modelling Initiative, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI-JELF) and the York University Lassonde Innovation Fund.

CTV News

CTV Interview with Dr. Park on Social Distancing on Sidewalks

Click on image to see video clip

This interview is related to recently published work done by Dr. Park’s research group.
Developing levels of pedestrian physical distancing during a pandemic – ScienceDirect