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Lecturer lands spot in international final

Queen’s University PhD candidate Morgan Lehtinen wins inaugural Young Persons’ Lecture Competition.

Queen's University PhD candidate Morgan Lehtinen (Chemistry) is the first Queen's student to win the Canadian Young Persons’ Lecture Competition and earn a spot in the Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition in London, England.

Morgan Lehtinen (Chemistry) won the inaugural Canadian Young Persons' Lecture Competition.

Under the supervision of Guojun Liu (Chemistry), Lehtinen’s research focuses on the development of smart filters and their use in oil and water separation. These new tools could provide a greener option to the current separation methods – especially in regards to oil spills.

“When I began my research career, I knew I wanted to work on an applied project focusing on developing green technologies that could aid in solving one of the many issues our planet faces and make an impact on the world around me,” says Lehtinen. “When the opportunity arose to conduct research with my supervisor Dr. Liu on oil and water separation, I knew it was the perfect fit and combined my passions of scientific discovery with improving the state of our planet.”

The national lecture competition is co-hosted by the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute in partnership with the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3). The competition invites students and professionals aged 28 and under to deliver a short lecture on select materials science and processing subjects. This is the first time the event has been hosted in Canada.

“Both Queen’s and the McDonald Institute are expanding the breadth and range of experience-driven opportunities for grad students in astroparticle physics to engage the public, collaborate with entrepreneurs, and build broad-based skills relevant to careers inside and outside of academia,” says Tony Noble, Scientific Director of the McDonald Institute. “Events like this are wonderful platforms for developing skills in science-translation and public outreach.”

In addition to advancing research into areas such as the mysteries surrounding dark matter and neutrino science, the institute has a mandate for scientific outreach and to develop unique undergraduate and graduate student programming and opportunities.

Astroparticle physicists investigate elementary particles at matter’s smallest scales to understand cosmological phenomena at matter’s largest scales. Apart from its focus on the nature of matter itself, experimental work in the field requires many novel materials processes to build and operate ultra-sensitive detectors, which motivates the McDonald Institute’s partnership with IOM3. 

With her victory and pending trip overseas for the Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition this fall, Lehtinen says she hopes her work can motivate other young women interested in research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

“I hope to show young women that we all have a seat at the table in the STEM world and if you are passionate about your field of study, do not let anything stop you from pursuing it,” says Lehtinen. “I strongly believe that our planet and society will not improve without the collaboration of all different types of people from various backgrounds with diverse ways of thinking. If I can give one piece of advice, it is to surround yourself with a support system that fosters inclusivity, innovation, and an overall positive learning environment.”

For more information visit the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) website.