Research Group


Tel: (613) 533-3097
Fax: (613) 533-6637
Office: Dupuis Hall 426


«Back to Faculty Profile

Mingmin Zhang PDF (2019-current), PhD (2015 - 2018)

PhD Project: Design and Synthesis of Acrylic Dispersants for Nonaqueous Dispersions

After earning a B. Eng degree in Pharmaceutical Engineering, Zhejiang University, China (2000-2004), I worked as a process engineer, technical sales representative, and business and technical manager in the emulsion polymerization and polymer latex formulation application industry (adhesive, paints and coating) in Shanghai, China for about 9 years both in multinational and in local Chinese companies. After completing my MBA degree from the University of Hong Kong (IMBA, part-time, Distinction, 2011-2013), I joined in Robin's research group for a cutting-edge research opportunity in the polymer reaction engineering and polymer synthesis areas.

My MSc research project developed a new process to synthesize hydrogel through lower copper-mediated ATRP technique in aqueous medium for coating and biomaterial industries, and my PhD research involved the use of ATRP and Co-mediated polymerization to synthesize poly(BMA) macromonomers with low dispersity for application as a dispersant in nonaqueous dispersions.

Working in an international research team with bright minds helps keep me excited and progressing.

My short-term goal is to earn a Ph.D. degree in polymer reaction and polymer synthesis area. My long-term target is to get tenure in a recognized university or to establish a company with international competitiveness in chemical industry.


Oral Presentation:

Canadian Society of Chemical Engineering Conference – Quebec City, Canada (October 2016)
Polymer Reaction Engineering X (PRE 10), Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (May 2018)

Poster Presentation:

Hangzhou International Polymer Forum – Hangzhou, China (May 2017)


Zhang, M., R. A. Hutchinson, “Modeling the Synthesis of Butyl Methacrylate Macromonomer by Sequential ATRP-CCTP”, Macromol. React. Eng. 13, 1800062, 2019 [More information]

Zhang, M., R. A. Hutchinson, “Synthesis and Utilization of Low Dispersity Acrylic Macromonomer as Dispersant for Nonaqueous Dispersion Polymerization”, Macromolecules 51, 6267-6275 2018 [More information].

Zhang, M., R. A. Hutchinson, “Design of Acrylic Dispersants for Nonaqueous Dispersion Polymerization: The Importance of Thermodynamics”, Macromol. React. Eng. 12, 1800025, 2018 [More information].

Zhang, M., M. F. Cunningham R. A. Hutchinson, "Aqueous Copper(0) Mediated Reversible Deactivation Radical Polymerization of 2-Hydroxyethyl Acrylate", Polym. Chem. 6, 6509-6518, 2015 [More information].

Maryam AgboluajeMaryam Agboluaje – PhD (started MSc Sept 2017, promoted Jan 2019 – Present)

Polymerization Kinetics of Water-Soluble Monomers in Organic and Aqueous Solutions

I graduated from the University of Alberta with a BSc in Chemical Engineering in 2017. During my time there, I had opportunities to work as a co-op student with Enbridge and Hinton Pulp, obtaining experience in both project management and the pulp and paper industry. Upon completion of my undergraduate program, I decided to pursue an advanced degree in order to pursue a career in R&D or quality control. While exploring graduate programs across Canada, I came across Dr. Hutchinson’s webpages at Queen’s University. I found his research areas interesting, and decided to join his group in the field of polymer reaction engineering. So far I have no regrets! He always makes himself available to discuss progress and to help resolve technical issues, and encourages us to participate in different learning opportunities via conferences or external courses paid for out of his research funds.

I am investigating the copolymerization kinetics of water soluble monomers from the acrylate and methacrylate families to determine how the kinetic behaviour of these monomers change as the polymerization environment changes from organic to aqueous. PLP-SEC and NMR are the main tools I use to investigate these reaction kinetics. Aside from my thesis project, during my time in Queen’s I have had the opportunity to listen to numerous presentations and attend courses regarding different aspects of polymerization kinetics.

Conferences and Papers

Agboluaje, M, Sauvageau, D. Phage Production in Bioreactors. In Batcteriophage Therapy: From Lab to Clinical Practice. Azeredo, J., Sillankorva, S. (Eds), Springer Protocols (2017).

Ikenna Ezenwajiaku PhD (Promoted 2016 - current)

Kinetics and Modeling of radical copolymerization of water-soluble cationic monomers

After completion of my undergraduate degree in Polymer Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria in 2010, I decided to pursue my graduate studies in the field of Polymer Reaction Engineering. This decision prompted me to commence my course-based masters program at the University of Ottawa, Canada in September 2014.

I transferred to Queen’s University at Kingston in May, 2015 to commence my research-based Master’s program under the supervision of Dr. Hutchinson. My current project sponsored by BASF SE is on water-soluble cationic monomers with permanent positive charge processed into polyelectrolytes by aqueous radical copolymerization with ionizable monomers for a variety of industrial applications, including wastewater treatment.

In May 2016, I promoted to the Doctorate program and have benefited from the great opportunity to undertake a 3-month summer work placement with the group of Dr. Igor Lacik at the Polymer Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia in 2017.

In August 2017, I participated as a finalist in the 2017 BASF North America Science Competition to provide a solution for the research challenge to enable efficient coating of lightweight materials for automotive manufacturing. Recently, I attended the 2018 BASF North America Research Forum in Iselin, New Jersey. This high-profile event hosted 35 Chemical Engineering/Chemistry Doctoral researchers from top universities in North America and it was gratifying to learn about the work of other participants and brainstorm in teams to solve assigned tasks.

Dr. Hutchinson always avails his graduate students exposure through participation in international conferences and working abroad with research collaborators. I have benefitted immensely from his extensive academic and industrial expertise in polymer reaction engineering and successful industrial collaborations.


Oral Presentations:

  • XXIX Interamerican Congress of Chemical Engineering incorporating the 68th Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference – Toronto, Canada (October 2018)
  • 67th Canadian Society of Chemical Engineering Conference - Edmonton, Canada (October 2017)

Poster Presentations:

  • Polymer Reaction Engineering X (PRE 10) Conference – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (May 2018)
  • 12th International Workshop on Polymer Reaction Engineering – Hamburg, Germany (May, 2016)
  • 5th PhD Workshop for Polymer Reaction Engineering – Hamburg, Germany (May, 2016)


Preusser, C.; Ezenwajiaku, I. H.; Hutchinson, R. A. The Combined Influence of Monomer Concentration and Ionization on Acrylamide/Acrylic Acid Composition in Aqueous Solution Radical Batch Copolymerization. Macromolecules 2016, 49(13), 4746-4756.

Ezenwajiaku, E. H., A. Chovancová, K. C. Lister, I. Lacík, R. A. Hutchinson "Experimental and Modeling Investigation of Radical Homopolymerization of 2-(Methacryloyloxyethyl) Trimethylammonium Chloride in Aqueous Solution", Macromol. React. Eng.2020, 14, 201900033.

Amin Nasresfahani – PhD Candidate (Sept 2017 – Present)

Accelerated Monte-Carlo Techniques for Modeling of Polymer Architecture and Semi-batch Process Optimization

Amin NasresfahaniAmin Nasresfahani was born on November 1992 and grew up in a vibrant city called Esfahan in the heart of Iran. He obtained his B.Sc. Eng. in Polymer Engineering in July 2015 from one of Iran’s most prestigious universities, Amirkabir University, located in Tehran, the capital of Iran. His BSc project developed a model to quantify the effects of the reversible coordinative transfer reaction  in the chain shuttling copolymerization of ethylene and 1-octene, and led to his first publication.

Immediately after graduation, he came to Canada to gain an in-depth knowledge of polymer chemistry at Brock University, obtaining his MSc degree in the Chemistry Department. His MSc thesis established a novel method to equip polysiloxane linear chains with self-healing capacity, pushing forward knowledge initially reported a decade ago to extend the lifetime of the polymeric material. Synthesizing small molecules, developing purification methods, functionalizing polysiloxanes & silicon-containing compounds, and using various NMR techniques (1H,13C,29Si) in solution & solid state are among the  practical skills he acquired. The work was awarded the 2018 Distinguished Graduate Student MSc Award in Chemistry from Brock University.

Upon completion of his MSc in organic chemistry in 2017, he decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University under the supervision of Prof. Robin Hutchinson. His project focuses on the improvement of semi-batch starved-feed radical copolymerization processes through development and application of a comprehensive stochastic model to represent the complex reaction system. Since polymers are often functionalized for end-use applications, knowledge of the average composition and molecular weights of the product is often not sufficient, as the distribution of the reactive moieties among the chains affects performance. Minimizing the fraction of functional monomer used in the production of low molecular-weight resins for solvent-borne coatings is a challenge that can be tackled via accelerated stochastic modeling approaches as well as optimization techniques via nonlinear dosing strategies. Since this opportunity is strongly connected with the precise predictions, development of acceleration techniques is a pivotal part of the project. The aim, therefore, has been maintaining the concentrations of the reactants fixed throughout the polymerization process by adapting nonlinear feeding strategies derived based on both the developed models and experimental knowledge that will be gathered. In summary, his PhD thesis will be focusing on finding the best potential control variables in radical polymerization to achieve desirable distributions of functionality among the macromolecules at a minimum cost based on off-line or on-line measurements and predictions.


Oral Presentations:

Polymer Reaction Engineering X (PRE 10), Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (May 2018)

100th Canadian Chemistry Conference (CSC), Toronto, Canada (May 2017)

11th International Seminar Polymer Science, Polymer And Petrochemical Institute (ISPST), Tehran, Iran (October 2014)


Nasresfahani, A., L. A. Idowu, R. A. Hutchinson, "Extractable Content of Functional Acrylic Resins Produced by Radical Copolymerization: A Comparison of Experiment and Stochastic Simulation", Chem. Eng. J. 378, 122087, 2019 [More Information].

Nasresfahani, A., R. A. Hutchinson, “Modeling the Distribution of Functional Groups in Semibatch Radical Copolymerization: An Accelerated Stochastic Approach”, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 57, 9407-9419, 2018 [More information].

Nasresfahani, A., P. M. Zelisko, Polym. Chem.  8, 2942, 2017

Nasresfahani, A.; M. Ahmadi, Macromol. Theory Simulations 24, 31, 2015,

Derek Russell – PhD Candidate (Sept 2018 – Present).  Co-supervised by Prof. Louise Meunier

The Fate of Degradation Products from Hydrolytically-Degradable Cationic Flocculants

I received my BSc and MSc in Chemical Engineering at the University of Alberta in 2014 and 2017, respectively. During this time, I experienced opportunities to work in several organizations as a co-op student to gain relevant professional experience in project management and R&D within the energy and mining industry. For my MSc program, I conducted scientific experiments to support the use of petroleum diesel as an effective solvent for bitumen extraction of ores at lower operating temperature conditions, thereby reducing the cost of the extraction process.

Having a desire to continue performing R&D and laboratory work, I am continuing my education as a PhD graduate student at Queen’s University. I joined Dr. Hutchinson’s and Dr. Meunier’s research groups as their work gives me a chance to expand on my previous research experiences, is industrially relevant, and could have important environmental benefits that I have a passion for.

I am currently investigating the environmental fate of degradation products from hydrolytically-degradable cationic flocculants for wastewater applications, using analytical equipment such as nuclear magnetic resonance. Environment assessments will evaluate the bio-accessibility of these degradable flocculants. This project will allow me to conduct leading, independent research and diversify my R&D skills. After graduation, I hope to pursue an R&D opportunity in industry.

Conferences and Papers

"Petroleum Diesel-Assisted Ambient Temperature Aqueous-Nonaqueous Hybrid Bitumen Extraction Process", MSc Thesis, University of Alberta, 2017.

Niloofar Shirali MASc (2017 - current)

An Efficient Process for the Cu(0)-Catalyzed Synthesis and Subsequent Chain Extension of Poly(methyl acrylate) MacroinitiatorNiloofar Shirali

I completed my Bachelor of polymer engineering at Amirkabir University of Technology, in Iran in 2016. While there, I completed my internship as a development engineer with a company producing plastic and artificial leather, and my undergraduate thesis on improving the gas barrier properties in polymeric packaging films by nanoparticles arrangements. After graduation, I decided to further develop my knowledge and experience in polymer science and reaction engineering, coming to Queen’s University in September 2017 to pursue a master’s degree.

I have set up two new reactor systems as part of my MSc project, a copper tubular reactor to produce low MW poly(methyl acrylate) chains, and a semi-batch reactor for chain extension of the macroinitiator to produce block copolymers. My research is part of a project supported by the NIPSEA Group to make block copolymers with application in the coatings industry. I am now running a series of experiments to support a planned patent application, as well as organizing my results for a publication, and am also exploring the opportunity to spend several months in Singapore or Shanghai to finish my MSc studies. It is a challenging project, but very interesting to work on this international collaboration! The project has given me confidence to conduct independent research as well as experience working as part of a project team.  After graduation, I would like to use my engineering knowledge to do similar product or process development work in industry.

Conferences and Papers

Shirali Zadeh, N., M. J. Cooze, N. R. Barr, R. A. Hutchinson, "An Efficient Process for the Cu(0)-mediated Synthesis and Subsequent Chain Extension of Poly(methyl acrylate) Macroinitiator", React. Chem. Eng. 4, 2000-2010, 2019 [More Information]

Dr. Nina Heidarzadeh – Post Doctoral Fellow (Sept 2018 – Present)

Acrylic Macromonomers via High Temperature Radical Polymerization

After the completion of my undergraduate degree in Polymer Engineering at Azad University-Science and Research, Tehran, Iran in 2008, I started my graduate studies in the field of Polymerization Process Engineering at Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. I worked on polyester nanocomposites by in-situ polymerization and studied the thermal properties.

My doctoral dissertation was conducted with the title of “Preparation of Polybutylene terephthalate-co-(succinate, adipate and sebacate) and its nanocomposites: studies of biodegradation kinetics and crystallization”. This study developed a conceptual and theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between methylene groups in polyesters and their biodegradation behavior. I developed a procedure for synthesizing the biodegradable copolyesters as well as new techniques for studying the influence of the crystallinity and capability of forming multiple crystal structures on degradation. I was excited to share and explore this finding to expand the potential uses of biodegradable polymers.

During my PhD research, I was also fortunate to conduct part of my work at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), in Barcelona, Spain, where I learned and applied several new analyses techniques to the polyesters I synthesized. This international experience built my confidence and interest to continue my career as a polymer researcher after completing my PhD.

In September 2018 I joined Dr. Hutchinson’s group at Queen’s University as a postdoc researcher to develop Acrylic Macromonomers via High Temperature Radical Polymerization under his supervision, in a project funded by Saint Gobain Ceramics & Polymers. I look forward to the opportunity to apply my skill set to the study of a radical polymerization system in a project that involves both simulation and experimentation, and that will be conducted in close collaboration with industry.


Nucleant and Retarding effect of nanohydroxyapatite on the crystallization of poly(butylene terephthalate-co-alkylene dicarboxylate)s having dicarboxylate units with different lengths, Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry (accepted), October 2018

Preparation of random poly(butylene alkylate-co-terephthalate)s with different methylene group contents: Crystallization and degradation kinetics, Journal of Polymer Research, 2017, 24, 163-178.

Thermal Degradation of Random Copolyesters Based on 1,4-Butanediol, Terephthalic acid and Different Aliphatic Dicarboxylic Acids, Thermochimica Acta, 2017, 654, 101-111.

Biodegradability and biocompatibility of copoly (butylene sebacate-co-terephthalate)s. Polymer Degradation and Stability, 2017, 135, 18-30.

Effect of Hydroxyapatite Nanoparticles on the Degradability of Random Poly (butylene terephthalate-co-aliphatic dicarboxylate)s Having a High Content of Terephthalic Units. Polymers, 2016, 8(7) 253.

Preparation of Poly (butylene terephthalate)/Modified Organoclay Nanocomposite via In-Situ Polymerization: Characterization, Thermal Properties and Flame Retardancy. High Performance Polymers, 2012, 24, 589–602.

Graduates from the Hutchinson Group

Dr. Ninz Heiderzadeh PDF (2018-2019)
Maximizing Macromonomer Content Produced by Starved-Feed High Temperature Acrylate/Methacrylate Semi-Batch Polymerization
Research Scientist, VivaVax (Toronto ON)

Niloofar Shirali Zadeh MSc (2017-2019)
An Efficient Process for the Cu(0)-Catalyzed Controlled Radical Synthesis and Subsequent Chain Extension of Poly(Methyl Acrylate) Macroinitiator
Analytical Chemist Level 2, Toronto Research Chemicals (Toronto ON)

Loretta Idowu MSc (2016-2019)
Radical Copolymerization of Hydroxy-Functional Monomers
Chemical Engineer, Axalta Coating Systems (Cornwall ON)

Mingmin Zhang MSc (2013-2015) PhD (2015-2018)
Design and Synthesis of Acrylic Dispersants for Nonaqueous Dispersion Polymerization (PhD)
Cu(0)-Mediated Reversible Deactivation Radical Polymerization of 2-Hydroxyethyl Acrylate (MSc, co-supervised by M. Cunningham)
PDF at Queen's University (Kingston ON)

Georges Younes MSc (2016-2018)
Hydrolytically Degradable Cationic Flocculants for Improved Water Recovery from Mature Fine Tailings
PhD Student at McGill University (Montreal QC)

Sharmaine Luk MSc (2015-2017)
Radical Polymerization Kinetics of Bio-renewable Butyrolactone Monomers in Aqueous Solution
PhD Student at McGill University (Montreal, QC)

Jan Schier PhD (2013-2017)
Hydrogen Bonding in Radical Copolymerization: A Kinetic Investigation under Industrially Relevant Conditions
Research Scientist, Axalta Coating Systems (Wuppertal, Germany)

Thomas Rooney PhD (2012-2017)
Synthesis, Polymerization Kinetics and Applications of Novel Macromonomer-Based Degradable Materials
Research Engineer, BASF Corporation (Ludwigshafen, Germany)

Weiwei Yang PhD (2011-2016)
Dispersion Polymerization for Automotive Coating Applications
Assistant Professor, School of Textile and Clothing, Nantong University (Nantong, China)

Otlaatla Monyatsi MSc (2013-2015)
Free Radical Polymerization studies of vinyl ester monomers using Pulsed-Lased Polymerization with Size Exclusion Chromatography (PLP-SEC)
Process Engineer, Kingston Process Metallurgy (Kingston ON)

Calista Preusser PhD (2010-2015)
Modeling of Aqueous-Phase Copolymerization of Acrylic Acid and Acrylamide
Process Development Engineer, BASF Corporation (Wyandotte MI)

Kevin Payne PhD (2010-2015) co-supervised by M. Cunningham
Controlled Radical Polymerization: Towards an Industrial Process
Research Engineer, Advanced Materials & Systems Research, BASF Corporation (Wyandotte MI)

M. Ali Parsa MSc (2012-2014)
Combined Monte-Carlo and Deterministic Modeling Techniques applied to Polymerization Systems

QA Automotion Engineer, Proofpoint (Toronto ON)

Kun Liang PhD (2009-2013)
Free-Radical Copolymerization of Hydroxy-functional Monomers: Kinetic and Semibatch Studies
CEO at American Wanda

Robert Cockburn, P.Eng. MSc (2009-2011) co-supervised by T. F. L. McKenna
Kinetics, Synthesis and Characterization of Copolymers Containing the Bio-Renewable Monomer g-Methyl- a-Methylene-g-Butyrolactone
Asia-Pacific Regional FCC Process Specialist, ExxonMobil (Calgary AB)

Onyinye Okorafo MSc (2007-2009) co-supervised by M. Guay
On-Line Optimization for a Batch-Fed Copolymerization Reactor with Partial State Measurement
Engineer, Watersmart (Calgary AB).

Nicky Chan PhD (2006-2012) co-supervised by M. Cunningham
Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization with Low Catalyst Concentration in Continuous Reactors
Senior Research Engineer, Saint-Gobain Ceramics and Polymers (Northboro MA)

Sandhya Santanakrishnan PhD (2007-2011)
Kinetic Modeling of Homo- and Co- Polymerization of Water-Soluble N-Vinyl Monomers

Raul Moraes PhD (2007-2011) co-supervised by T. F. L. McKenna
Pushing the Boundaries of Concentrated Dispersions: High Solids Content Bimodal Latex for Paper Coating Applications
Intellectual Property Liaison/Senior Product Development Scientist, 3M (London ON)

Inga (Utz) Bürger MSc (2007-2008) PhD at the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics (Stuttgart, Germany)
Modeling of Aqueous-Phase Free-Radical Polymerization Kinetics
Researcher at German Centre for Aeronautics and Space, Institute of Technical Thermodynamics (Stuttgart, Germany).

Wei Wang PhD (2006-2010)
A Comprehensive Kinetic Model for High Temperature Free Radical Production of Styrene/Methacrylate/Acrylate Resins
Senior Research Chemist, PPG Industries (Pittsburgh PA).

Luis Fernando Perea MSc (2005-2007)
Optimization and Control of Semibatch Free Radical Copolymerization
Engineer, Transmin Consulting (Lima, Peru).

Lina Tang MSc (2004-2007)
Free Radical Polymerization Kinetics of N-Vinyl Pyrrolidone in Aqueous Solution
Process Engineer, Sorin Group Canada (Vancouver BC).

Ning Li MSc (2003-2005)
Investigation of Free Radical Polymerization Propagation Kinetics by Pulsed-Laser Polymerization
Engineering Manager at Henan Coal and Chemical Industry Group Co. (Zhenzhou, China).

Siziwe Bebe PhD (2002-2008)
Estimation of Free Radical Polymerization Rate Coefficients using Computational Chemistry
Managing Director/CEO African Global Pharma Ltd, Executive Director & Chief Technology Officer at DAS Innovations (Kingston ON)

Yao Fu PhD (2002-2007), co-supervised by M. F. Cunningham
Living Radical Polymerization Techniques applied to Semibatch Solution Polymerization
Research Engineer, Henan Coal and Chemical Industry Group Co. (Zhenzhou, China).

Deheng Li MSc (2001-2003) PhD (2003-2006)
Modeling of Kinetic Complexities in High Temperature Free Radical Terpolymerization for Production of Acrylic Coatings Resins (PhD)
Modeling and Measurement of Free Radical Copolymerization Kinetics for High Temperature Synthesis of Acrylic Coatings Resins (MSc)
Research & Development Director, Nippon Paint Co. (Shanghai, China).

Adam Peck MSc (2001-2003) PhD at the University of the Basque Country, San Sebastían, Spain
Secondary Reactions in the High Temperature Free Radical Polymerization of n-Butyl Acrylate
Service Engineering Leader - Americas, Gamesa Wind Energy (Pamplona, Spain)