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Lassonde showcases cutting-edge research at the 2021 undergrad research conference

The Lassonde School of Engineering held its sixth annual Undergraduate Summer Student Research Conference, virtually, on August 17.  

Over the summer months, more than 80 undergraduate students worked alongside Lassonde faculty members on a variety of research projects, from virtual reality and molecular simulations to investigating other planets. Students presented their final research findings to fellow students, faculty, industry representatives, and staff members during the conference. For the second time, the annual research was delivered in an entirely virtual format using a combination of virtual fair, oral presentations and videos. The full conference program can be found online

“This conference is a magnificent platform to get to know our colleagues and their research at Lassonde, stimulate scientific discussions, and bolster interdisciplinary collaboration”, said Lassonde Professor Hina Tabassum, a faculty mentor and judge for the conference.  

The undergraduate summer research program allows students to gain experience in a professional research environment and take part in experiential education. “Participating in LURA (Lassonde Undergraduate Research Award)  this summer has been a great experience. Seeing so many amazing and unique research projects done by students like me is inspiring,” said Jessie Chesal, LURA student and third-place Plenary Award Winner. 

Raghavender Sahdev [MSc/18] delivered a keynote presentation titled “Engineers Cruise through Life seamlessly”. His talk described the work he has undertaken since completing his graduate degree at Lassonde, including becoming the Co-Founder and CEO of NuPort Robotics, Canada’s first autonomous trucking company.

Sixty-two students were awarded the Lassonde Undergraduate Research Awards (LURA) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Awards (NSERC USRA) programs. In fact, this year had the highest ever number of LURA recipients in the history of the program!

Headshot of Raghavender Sahdev
Raghavender Sahdev

Students included representatives from programs across the Lassonde School of Engineering and York University as well as the University of Toronto, Queens University, the University of Waterloo and McGill University.

“NSERC would like to express our appreciation to the professors and to the Lassonde School of Engineering – York University staff members who manage the USRA program. The time and attention that you have invested in training the next generation of researchers in Canada are invaluable,” said Kayla Zavitske, Manager of Scholarships & fellowships at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. “The USRA program provides an exceptional opportunity for Canadian researchers to access top student talent and develops the potential for these students’ future careers in NSE disciplines.” 

Throughout the conference, student projects were evaluated by judges who selected winners across several categories. 

Some of Raghavender Sahdev's work
Some of Raghavender Sahdev’s work

The Plenary Presentation Winners were: 

First Place: Scott Watson, Civil Engineering, supervised by John Gales 
Project: Methodology for the non-linear thermal analysis of structural cables exposed to fire 

Second Place: Dhruvi Desai, Mechanical Engineering, supervised by Cuiying Jian 
Project: Tuning mechanical properties of graphene by molecular dynamics simulations 

Third Place (tie): Jessie Chesal, Earth & Space Science & Engineering, supervised by Isaac Smith 
Project: Identifying areas of horizontal wind shear and corresponding cloud morphologies in the middle atmosphere of Venus 

Third Place (tie): Yaniv Khaslavsky, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, supervised by Ali-Sadeghi-Naini 
Project: A software framework for rapid generation of quantitative ultrasound parametric images 

Students’ Choice – Plenary Presentation 

Dhruvi Desai, Mechanical Engineering, supervised by Cuiying Jian 
Project: Tuning mechanical properties of graphene by molecular dynamics simulations 

Video Presentations 

First Place: Sara Hajari, Mechanical Engineering, supervised by Eleftherios Sachlos 
Project: Developing a novel collagen-based scaffold that best mimics the extracellular matrix composition of acute myeloid leukemia cell niche 

Second Place: Ellen van Wijngaarden, Mechanical Engineering, supervised by Pouya Rezai 
Project: Testing heavy metal toxicity in zebrafish larvae using microfluidics 

Third Place: Walleed Khan, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, supervised by Michael Jenkin 
Project: Sentiment analysis for a social engagement robot 

Students Choice – Video Presentations 

First Place: David Tran, Civil Engineering, supervised by Peter Park 
Project Name: Microsimulation Analysis of Truck Signal Priority in the Region of Peel 

Second Place: Ellen van Wijngaarden, Mechanical Engineering, supervised by Pouya Rezai 
Project: Testing heavy metal toxicity in zebrafish larvae using microfluidics 

Third Place: Damith Tennakoon, Earth & Space Science & Engineering, supervised by Mojgan Jadidi  
Project Name: Augmented reality sandbox captures beyond the sands using an object detection approach 


“I was grateful for the opportunity to present my research among a group of extremely talented individuals,” said Scott Watson, LURA Student and first place Plenary Award winner. “Countless interesting projects were introduced this year and it is inspiring to be able to witness the hard work demonstrated by the next wave of young researchers.” 

The undergraduate summer research program and conference provide students with a unique opportunity to showcase their talents and learn new skills. “Undergraduate research experience is invaluable for the students and society,” said Lassonde Professor Isaac B Smith, also a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Planetary Science. “The students benefit from being trained by a professional scientist or engineer, this in turn, motivates them to pursue research, and that creates knowledge and technology for the next generation.” 

For more information on undergraduate research at Lassonde visit the Lassonde website.  

Next year competition for LURA and USRA will start in early 2021, stay tuned for more information. 


This article also appeared in YFile.


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