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By Barbara Black
Christine DeWolf, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, won a Petro-Canada Award for the project “Role of Surface Ozone Reactions in Environmental Processing of Atmospheric Aerosols and Lung Surfactant.”
The holder of a doctorate from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of London (U.K.), she specializes in the interfacial interactions important to health issues, the environment, and materials science. DeWolf has a particular focus on phospholipids, the primary component in cellular membranes.
She studies how the surface structures of cells and molecules play a role in determining what goes on in and around them. Much of her work involves lipids, organic (or carbon-containing) molecules that are insoluble in water, such as fats and cholesterol. Working with such tiny structures requires highly specialized equipment, for which she has benefited from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
Muthukumaran Packirisamy is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and holds the Concordia Chair in Optical BioMEMS (Tier 2). He obtained his Petro-Canada Award for the project “Sustainable micro photosynthetic power cell on polymer MEMS technology.”
Packirisamy’s award-winning work in miniaturization expands the concept of MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) by adding optical and biological elements to mechanical and electronic ones. His optical MEMS inventions are being commercialized through Concordia’s Office of Research and its partner Gestion Valeo, in partnership with a private company, Enablence.
Rolf Wüthrich is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and has a PhD in micro- and nanosciences from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne.
Wüthrich won his award for “Production and characterization of nanoparticles by electrochemical discharges for catalysts in fuel cells.” A scientist who combines high-level physics with biochemistry, his research may one day have us driving cleaner, more energy-efficient cars.
Until the production and safety issues of hydrogen fuel cells are solved, he and others in the field are turning to carbon-based fuels such as methanol. They are creating a platinum-ruthenium alloy fuel cell core and covering its surface with millions of nanoparticles in an effort to increase its efficiency.