Jan. 15, 2024

Conducting innovative research on climate models and dry reforming of methane inspires UCalgary engineering PhD students

Hebatallah Abdelmoaty and Ruth Alli win 2023 Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarships
Two headshots next to eachother
Hebatallah Abdelmoaty, left, and Ruth Alli Asma Bernier

There’s no question that the world of engineering is diverse, complex and always evolving, but the engineering research behind combating greenhouse gases and climate change is set to benefit immensely from two of the 2023 Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship recipients. This esteemed scholarship recognizes outstanding doctoral students, paving the way for promising contributions to the field. 

“With each passing year, we can see the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in our community and province and seeing these exceptional scholars devoting their time and energy into researching solutions is what makes the University of Calgary one of Canada’s top research institutions,” says Dr. Tara Beattie, interim dean and vice-provost (graduate studies). 

“Scholarships, such as the Killam, are incredibly important to supporting our graduate students not only in funding their innovative research, but also to recognize the diverse and inspiring scholars in our community.” 

The Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship, valued at $45,000 over two years, is one of the most competitive awards for international and Canadian graduate students studying across Canada. Beyond providing financial support for their research endeavoors, the Killam scholarship provides support for graduate students, guiding them toward meaningful exploration and research in their professional and academic pursuits. 

Hebatallah Abdelmoaty and Ruth Alli — two 2023 winners of the Killam Scholarship at the University of Calgary — are contributing to moving engineering forward through research at the Schulich School of Engineering dedicated to understanding climate change.

Hebatallah Abdelmoaty

Hebatallah Abdelmoaty

Asma Bernier

Hebatallah Abdelmoaty, a third-year PhD student in the field of civil engineering at the University of Calgary, embarked on her graduate student journey ready to make contributions by understanding the impact of climate change. Abdelmoaty transferred to the University of Calgary, after completing her first year at the University of Saskatchewan, due to its high ranking and global recognition. 

Through her research, Abdelmoaty focuses on understanding the impact of climate change on extreme precipitation and snow depth globally. Abdelmoaty’s work has two directions: evaluating the performance of the latest generation of climate models (CMIP6) in reproducing extreme precipitation and snow depth; and investigating the characteristics of these variables in the future, highlighting the suitable models that should be employed in engineering purposes.

This research is not confined to academia; rather, it benefits societies globally, especially in regions facing increased risks of floods and extreme weather conditions.

“This research can allow climate researchers to identify the regions with the most biases towards enhancing climate modelling,” explains Abdelmoaty. “Engineers and hydrologists should be able to understand the future of climate and accordingly design structures and infrastructures that can accommodate future capacities.”

Being awarded the Killam Scholarship is an outstanding achievement for Abdelmoaty. “This scholarship alleviated me from external stressors, overall enhancing my mental health and quality of life. It motivates me to pursue high-quality research and make meaningful contributions.”

Ruth Alli

Ruth Alli

Asma Bernier

Ruth Alli, a fourth-year PhD student in chemical and petroleum engineering and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC CGS) award holder and Alberta Innovates Graduate Student Scholarship winner, chose the University of Calgary to make meaningful impacts through research and innovation. 

“The university’s strategic location in Calgary, a major hub for the energy sector and technological innovation, opens up numerous opportunities for collaboration with industry leaders and real-world applications of research,” explains Alli. Being a member of the University of Calgary and the Graduate College remains pivotal in Alli’s goal of developing lasting connections and transformative research. 

Alli’s research focuses on the dry reforming of methane (DRM), which involves the conversion of the two main culprits of greenhouse gases (methane and carbon dioxide) into useful chemicals with a low carbon footprint. “This technique mitigates greenhouse gas emissions, carbon conversion and contributes to environmental sustainability and resource optimization. DRM benefits Canada and the world’s transition to cleaner energy sources.”

As a Killam scholarship winner, Alli understands that she holds a responsibility to continue pushing boundaries, pursuing excellence and setting higher standards in research. 

“I was particularly elated, humbled and honoured to have received such a prestigious scholarship,” says Alli. “This scholarship is a vote of confidence in my abilities and contributions and allows me to explore new frontiers and address complex challenges in my field that have the potential to bring about transformative change.” 

Continuing her academic journey, Alli remains invested in discovering new materials, processes and technologies that reduce negative environmental impacts and, in turn, contribute to clean energy solutions. Being a Killam Scholarship winner enables her to continue down this path of innovation and transformative change within her research.

The Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship supports outstanding graduate students in developing advanced research at the University of Calgary. The University of Calgary gathered in-person on Oct. 19, 2023, to recognize our exceptional faculty, post and predoctoral 2023 Killam Laureates.

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