"I enjoy the wealth of experience, diversity of study, and research-centered nature of the SFU graduate schools. The seminar series from several departments each semester link you to a wide range of exciting research from fields outside your own, widening your view of what is capable and potentially inspiring novel cross-disciplinary innovations in your own work."

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Student Profile: Ramis Rafay

February 24, 2022
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Biological Science doctoral student in the Faculty of Science

I am a doctoral candidate with Prof. Jane Fowler at the Biological Sciences Department. My background studies are in Chemical Engineering, and I have research experience in industrial biotechnological processes such as microalgae culturing, anaerobic fermentation, and water treatment on both the wet-lab experimental and process modeling fronts.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I came to SFU after having been introduced to Prof. Fowler's work and research interests by my MSc. advisor, Prof. Jorge Rodriguez. I found her aims to understand the ecology behind the microbial communities that characterize mixed-culture processes to align strongly with mine, so I joined her lab here at SFU.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

Microbes are ubiquitous on Earth and incredibly diverse, from the depths of the ocean floor to inside our human guts; but they rarely exist alone. Microbial communities are capable of removing many nutrients from their environments through their metabolism. We have known for about a couple hundred years that they can be used to treat our wastewater, and more recently that they can even do so while producing valuable by-products. Engineers like myself have now begun to attempt to understand how these communities form and how they can be directed and controlled, which can lead us to generate value from waste at scale and at low cost. This would lead to effective deployment of waste upgrading that can be harnessed by both developed and developing countries alike. It may even be key to ensuring long-term survivability in the extra-terrestrial human colonies of the future! My goal is to study and understand these community-shaping mechanisms and engineering factors that can be used to influence them.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

I enjoy the wealth of experience, diversity of study, and research-centered nature of the SFU graduate schools. The seminar series from several departments each semester link you to a wide range of exciting research from fields outside your own, widening your view of what is capable and potentially inspiring novel cross-disciplinary innovations in your own work.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

I am the grateful recipient of the Graduate Deans Entrance Scholarship (2021-2024). Having such generous funding maximizes my opportunity to focus my attention and efforts on my research work, and eases my tensions about living in a somewhat agreeable manner as I do so.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

I love discussing ideas and concepts with different students and professionals on a daily basis and/or just having a good laugh. I think if there is one thing that our current worldly circumstances have shown us, it is the power and necessity of human connections.

 

Contact : ramis_rafay@sfu.ca

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