In advance of the coming Graduate Research Days, February 24 & 25, CivMin contacted previous participants to get their point of view on the event and their research goals at U of T. Our Q&A is with PhD candidate Mengqing Kan.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Mengqing Kan. I am from China. I got my bachelor’s degree from Simon Fraser University, majoring in sustainable business. Then I went to the University of Michigan to pursue my master’s degree in Environment and Sustainability. At U of T I am supervised by Prof. Daniel Posen and Prof. Heather MacLean. I am interested in researching carbon capture and utilization technologies. What attracted you to bring you to U of T?
I decided to come to U of T because my research interests aligned with those of my supervisors and the SPM group. Professors Posen and MacLean were recommended by my master’s supervisors, who provided me advice on PhD programs. Also, because my master’s thesis is about plastics, and Prof Posen has published multiple articles on the subject, I was familiar with Prof Posen’s work before I decided to apply for a PhD. I had an interview with them before to GRD. What kind of experience did you have with Graduate Research Days (GRD) last year?
Last year I was able to participate in GRD online. We used an internet portal to view a video tour of the labs, which was provided by several current students. We also went to other rooms to speak with professors and current students; depending on how many people were in the room at the time, it might be one-on-one or group discussions. It exceeded my expectations because I had enough time to talk to my interested professors, and existing students addressed my questions about the school and program. Had you been to Toronto, or anywhere in Canada, before?
I lived in Vancouver and studied in Simon Fraser University for four years. I have travelled around in the west coast, but I never visited Toronto before. How did you find the city when you first arrived? What made an impression?
When I first arrived, I liked the city. I find commuting by bike in downtown Toronto is incredibly convenient due to the availability of shared bikes and bike lanes. Did you already know Toronto is the most diverse (multiculturual) city in the world?
I did not know that. But I feel Toronto is a very diverse city. Especially at U of T, as many of my classmates and people in my research group came from diverse backgrounds. What kind of impression did you have of the U of T campus upon your first visit?
Because U of T St. George campus is in downtown Toronto, I found it is very convenient to subway stations, gallery, museum, shopping malls, restaurants. Do you now have a favourite place to visit on campus, or perhaps in the nearby neighbourhoods?
I like Philosopher’s walk. Philosopher’s Walk is a leafy walkway at the St George campus. It is a short distance from Trinity College. The Walk’s gorgeous natural setting makes me relax. It’s a good place to gather and walk. You started in September 2021, so now have a bit better idea of what you want to research (correct?). Can you tell us a bit more about this?
I am interested in use life cycle assessment and mathematics optimization model to investigate how do the various CCU pathways help Canada achieve net zero emissions by 2050 while maximizing economic returns. Do you have any advice for graduate students considering attending GRD this year?
I think GRD is a great opportunity to know our interested supervisors. I recommend prospective students to do some research about professor’s research area; this will help with the communication. What’s next for you in the future?
I will keep working on my research. This summer I plan to attend an academic conference. Is there anything fun/unusual hobby or talent you’d like to share with us?
I like playing table tennis and Guzheng, a traditional Chinese musical instrument.