Gisele’s Bio

About Dr. Gisele Azimi

Gisele is an Assistant Professor joint-appointed between the Departments of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto.

She is an expert in the fields of technospheric and urban mining, waste valorization, recycling through hydrometallurgy and supercritical fluid extraction, design and fabrication of advanced materials, electrochemistry, and process modelling and optimization.

Her research is focused on three areas: 1) Extraction, recovery, and recycling of strategic materials ranging from iron and steel to lithium to rare earth elements and platinum group metals; 2) Development and fabrication of advanced materials and surfaces with controlled properties (such as electrochemical cells, hydrophobic, anti-scaling and self-cleaning surfaces); and 3) fundamental and experimental investigation of electrolyte systems in hydrometallurgical and electrochemical processes, including batteries.

Gisele has published 18 journal papers and refereed conference publications and she continues to present her research in national and international conferences. She is also a co-inventor in 5 patents applications and one awarded that were filed in the US.

She received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. Her research (sponsored by Vale) involved chemical modelling and experimental investigation of hydrometallurgical systems with a focus on base metals extraction and scaling mitigation. She also contributed to a research project on the “solubility equilibria in simulated CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium reactor) steam generator crevice environments”, sponsored by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). During her Ph.D. program, she had close collaboration with the sponsors, such as OLI systems, CANMET, Vale (Inco), and AECL.

After receiving her Ph.D., she completed her first post-doctoral appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research, sponsored by American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), involved the advancement of a breakthrough technology, called molten oxide electrolysis (MOE), as a carbon-free process to extract iron from its ore for steel making.

Before joining the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor in 2014, Gisele completed her second postdoctoral appointment in the Mechanical Engineering Department (Lab for Manufacturing and Productivity) at MIT. Her research involved the development of advanced materials with unique controlled properties (e.g., hydrophobicity and transparency) and fabrication of innovative surfaces with macro- and nano-structures that could fundamentally improve the efficiency of power and desalination plants.

Gisele was the lead researcher in the development and fabrication of a new class of ceramics comprising rare earth oxides that demonstrate hydrophobicity (non-wetting properties). This was quite a revolutionary discovery, because almost all commercially available non-wetting materials are polymeric, which deteriorate under harsh industrial conditions. But the newly developed materials are ceramics and they can sustain harsh environments. Therefore, they can be used as coatings in boilers and condensers to improve the efficacy of power plants. The results of this research were published in Nature Materials in 2013.

She was also the lead researcher of a study where surfaces with reduced scale formation tendency were developed. The results of this work can benefit various industries ranging from power plants to desalination to hydrometallurgy by increasing their efficiency and lowering their maintenance costs for scale removal. Here are the links (1) and (2) to the publications from this research.

Gisele was also involved in collaborative research with other groups at MIT including:

  1. Professor William Green’s group at the Chemical Engineering Department, where she contributed to a project on the effect of catalysts on supercritical water desulphurization (link).
  2. Professor Yang Shao-Horn’s group at the Mechanical Engineering Departments, where she contributed to a project on the Reactivity of Perovskites with Water: Role of Hydroxylation in Wetting and Implications for Oxygen Electrocatalysis (link).

EDUCATION  

University of Toronto
Doctor of Philosophy, Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry
Dissertation: “Evaluating the potential of scaling due to calcium compounds in hydrometallurgical processes” with focus on the following themes:

  • Chemical and Process Modelling of Hydrometallurgical Processes
  • Treatment of the effluents from the Voisey’s Bay Nickel demonstration plant to lower the gypsum content (a major scaling problem)
  • Solubility equilibria in simulated CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium reactor) steam generator crevice environments containing calcium and sulphate

Sharif University of Technology
Master of Applied Science, Chemical Engineering
Dissertation: “Correlation of activity and osmotic coefficients of aqueous electrolyte solutions utilizing MSA-based models”

Sharif University of Technology
Bachelor of Applied Science, Chemical Engineering (with a minor in Applied Chemistry)

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

University of Toronto (2014 – present) Assistant Professor
Departments of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (2011 – 2014) Postdoctoral Associate
Department of Mechanical Engineering (LMP), PI: Professor Kripa K. Varanasi

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (2010 – 2011) Postdoctoral Associate
Department of Materials Science & Engineering, PI: Professor Donald R. Sadoway

Namvaran Engineering & Management Company (2002 – 2005) Process Engineer
Involved in the basic and detailed design of several oil and gas projects including liquid ethylene transportation network, oil field development basic design, off-site and interconnection design, and recovery of associated natural gas plant.

HONOURS AND AWARDS 

  • 2016 TMS Light Metals/Extraction & Processing Subject Award – Recycling (2017)
  • Gordon Ritcey Outstanding Award, CIM (2009)
  • TATP Teaching Excellence Award, University of Toronto (2008)
  • CIM MetSoc Hydrometallurgy Award, University of Toronto (2008)
  • Tyrell Fellowship Excellence Award, University of Toronto (2007)
  • Wallberg Research Fellowship, University of Toronto (2006)