By Karen Richardson
A chance to work for three months on computer simulations in Zurich, Switzerland at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has been just one of the highlights of Mary Thomson's graduate studies career at Queen's so far. She is currently enrolled in the Master's and PhD program in Chemical Engineering and has been at Queen's for a year and a half.
Ms. Thomson's research is on the development of advanced materials (nanotechnology) through controlled polymerization. She studies products such as plastics that are manufactured with specialized molecular architectures that can be used in the fields of drug delivery, coatings and in other biomedical or nanotechonology applications. She is also investigating methods to produce these products in an efficient and industrially relevant way through experiments in the lab and computer simulations.
She spends much of her time conducting these computer simulations and experiments in the lab, where she is surrounded by a close-knit group of about eight or nine graduate students who often enjoy socializing together outside of the lab. What does she like most about the department? "The funding has been good - I've had lots of funding for my project and I've had the great chance to go to Zurich," she says.
Ms. Thomson originally decided to pursue grad studies and a PhD because she realized that she wanted a research-based job. While at a Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference as an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo, she met Michael Cunningham, Professor of Chemical Engineering, who is now her current supervisor at Queen's. Ms. Thomson is also part of the Macromolecular Process and Product Development Group in the department.