Canada Research Chairs

Dr. Baiyu (Helen) Zhang

Canada Research Chair in Coastal Environmental Engineering

Phone: 709-864-3301

Research involves: Coastal environmental engineering with a focus on oil pollution control.

Research relevance: Development of new methodologies and biotechnologies for studying and mitigating oil pollution in coastal soil, beaches and seawater under cold and harsh conditions.

Controlling oil pollution
Coastal oil pollution problems caused by releases of petroleum hydrocarbons into the seawater near shore and shoreline land due to human activities or natural disasters can lead to major ecological and economic damage.

Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and nearly 6.5 million Canadians live near marine coasts. Canadian coastal environment is usually featured with low temperature, strong winds, rough waves, low visibility, and sea-ice coverage, thus poses unique and significant challenges for coastal oil pollution control. The cumulative impact of these limiting factors has raised worldwide consciousness of the needs and importance of improved coastal oil pollution research. This is especially true for Atlantic and Northern Canada where offshore petroleum and shipping operations are continuously growing.

As Canada Research Chair in Coastal Environmental Engineering, Dr. Baiyu Zhang is interested in addressing these pressing needs by developing bio-based solutions. Through integration of microbiology and environmental engineering, new methodologies and biotechnologies will be obtained to study and mitigate oil pollution in coastal soil, beaches and seawater under cold and harsh conditions.

Dr. Zhang’s research will help explore a new dimension of coastal oil pollution research to achieve a shift towards improved microbial engineering knowledge, eco-friendly technologies, and novel bio-products so as to protect human health and the environment.

Dr. Faisal Khan

Canada Research Chair in Offshore Safety and Risk Engineering

Phone: 709-864-8939

Research involves:

Interdisciplinary research on safety, risk management, asset integrity and sustainable industrial processes and systems in production plants operating in harsh environments.

Research relevance:

This research will lead to the development of new technologies for safer and greener design, operation and maintenance of industrial processing facilities operating in challenging conditions and remote locations.

Managing risk and improving safety in harsh environments

The need for natural resources and economical marine transportation has pushed industrial processing operations into deeper waters and harsher offshore environments. Developing natural resources and transporting goods in these environments pose unique challenges – freezing temperatures, extreme winds, long periods of darkness, dense fog, corrosive sea spray, and the remoteness of operations – for the energy, mining and transportation industries.

As the Canada Research Chair in Safety and Risk Engineering, Dr. Faisal Khan and his team are exploring ways to help industry better understand, quantify and manage operational risks to enable safe and sustainable developments.

The team’s research focuses on process safety, risk engineering, logistic management and asset integrity management. Through this research, Dr. Khan has found traditional safety and risk assessment techniques do not adequately capture the hazards and risk factors faced by complex process designs and operations in the variable, dynamic conditions experienced in harsh environments.

An important tool in ensuring the safe operation of remote production and processing facilities is dynamic risk management, which takes into account the real-time frequency and consequences of near-misses and incidents in processing plants.

Dr. Khan’s team is establishing a lab-scale plant to test and evaluate dynamic risk assessment models and to verify which models provide a reliable indication of process safety performance. Their goals are to apply the knowledge gained to real-life industrial applications, such as detection systems; to educate and train highly qualified personnel who will help advance the mission of sustainable, safe and green development of natural resources; and to improve risk management decision-making.