You are now in the main content area

Natural Resource Engineering PhD candidate selected for prestigious national award

Maryam Pourmahdavi celebrates Gordon M. Ritcey award for achievement in hydrometallurgy.

(October 5, 2022) - Maryam Pourmahdavi, PhD candidate of Natural Resource Engineering in Engineering Science at Laurentian University is the recipient of the prestigious Gordon M. Ritcey PhD award. This nation-wide achievement in the hydrometallurgy section of Mettalurgy and Materials Society of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (MetSoc) is an incredible accomplishment for Pourmahdavi, who is also a 2019 Ontario Trillium scholar and 2020 Parya Trillium scholar. This is the first time that a Laurentian student has been the recipient of this award. 

Pourmahdavi is originally from Lahijan, Iran. Her B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering was obtained at Guilan University, and her M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at the Iran University of Science and Technology. When it came to the pursuit of her PhD, Pourmahdavi expressed interest in studying at a Canadian university. When she discovered Laurentian’s location in the unique mining landscape of Greater Sudbury, she recalled thinking, “this could be a great place for me, and the fact that I could further my career here was another reason why I chose Laurentian.” 

For Pourmahdavi, who remains humble despite her many achievements, her experience as a Laurentian student has been “very rewarding.” Working under the direction of her faculty supervisor, Full Professor, Dr. Dean Millar, her dissertation is titled “Design and verification of CO2 capture and sequestration systems utilizing the pressure swing absorption process in a hydraulic air compressor (HAC).” In other words, Pourmahdavi’s research hinges on finding solutions for reducing carbon dioxide emissions produced by the mining industry. 

Other members of Pourmahdavi’s faculty committee include Dr. Ramesh Subramanian, Assistant Professor and Director of the Bharti School of Engineering, Dr. Meysar Zeinali, Associate Professor of the Bharti School of Engineering, Dr. Alex Hutchison, MIRARCO Rock Mechanics Lab and Field Work Manager, and Dr. François Caron, Professor Emeritus, School of the Environment. “All the members of my committee are so welcoming. So helpful.”  

Not only is Pourmahdavi interested in implementing change to support the environment, she is equally passionate about teaching. “All of the women in my family are teachers. I wanted to be a post-secondary lecturer. That is originally why I decided to do a PhD. My family, especially my mother, believed that if you want to make a change, you have to educate the next generation. I want to have an impact on the next generation, help them to have a better life, have a better career. This has really inspired me.” 

Because Pourmahdavi has a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) that finds her supporting faculty with their teaching responsibilities, she is pleased to have already had opportunities to positively impact other students. What’s more, in collaboration with MIRARCO, she is a co-instructor of undergraduate students studying Operation Research at the University of Jiangxi University of Science and Technology in Ganzhou, China. “I’ve really enjoyed these teaching opportunities.” 

In addition to teaching, Pourmahdavi is also keen to advocate for fellow graduate students, which is why she got involved as her program representative within Laurentian’s Graduate Students’ Association. Last year, she was the GSA’s representative on the University's Senate, as well as the graduate student representative on the University’s Presidential Advisory Committee for the Status of Gender Equity. “Grad students need someone to be there for them and be involved in the advocacy of their rights.”

Maryam Pourmahdavi is sure to inspire others. The Laurentian community is fortunate to benefit from her contributions and we will all be eager to hear of her successes after graduation. 

Postscript on behalf of Maryam Pourmahdavi, PhD candidate
"While I am very proud of my accomplishments and will continue to persevere in my academic pursuits, my heart goes out to my family, friends, and all those affected by the violence and tragedies ongoing in my home country. When I was a student in Iran, I did not have the opportunity to be a part of my university community. Although Iranian women form the majority of university students in Iran, they continue to face disproportionate inequalities and do not have many basic rights. However, they are so brave as they are active in public life. I hope to see a better future for Iran with equal opportunities for the growth and development of all Iranian girls and women."