Research Group


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


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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].

Amin Nasresfahani – PDF (2020 - current), PhD (2017 – 2020)

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 PhD focused on the improvement of semi-batch starved-feed radical copolymerization processes through development and application of a comprehensive stochastic kinetic Monte Carlo 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 was tackled via accelerated stochastic modeling approaches, with the model used to develop nonlinear dosing strategies to improve product uniformity while significantly reducing semi-batch feeding time, as verified by lab trials. The model is currently being applied to model acrylate-rich copolymers under conditions that maximize the production of chains with terminal-double bond functionality.


13th International Workshop on Polymer Reaction Engineering, Hamburg, Germany (June 2019)

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., R. A. Hutchinson, "Deterministic Approach to Estimate Functionality of Chains Produced by Radical Copolymerization in the Presence of Secondary Reactions", Macromolecules 53, 5674-5686, 2020 [More Information].

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.

Maryam 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 work towards an advanced degree in order to pursue a career in R&D or quaMaryam Agboluajelity 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. I started at Queen’s University as an MSc student in Dr. Hutchinson’s group, and as my interest grew in polymer reaction engineering I decided to promote to a PhD student within his group. Thus, I have been able to expand my scope of knowledge and skills to include both experimental investigations and kinetic modeling. 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. Furthermore, as a graduate student in the Hutchinson group, I have found multiple opportunities to develop leadership skills.

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 and modeling 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.


13th International Workshop on Polymer Reaction Engineering, Hamburg, Germany (June 2019)


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

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

Physicochemical Characteristics and Environmental Fate of a Hydrolytically Degradable Cationic Flocculant

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 expDerek Russellerience 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.


69th Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference, Halifax, Canada (October 2019)


Russell, D. A., L. Meunier, R. A. Hutchinson, "Characterization of Degradation Products from a Hydrolytically Degradable Cationic Flocculant", Polym. Degrad. Stab. 174, 109097, 2020 [More information]

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

Morgan Cooze MSc (2020 - current)

Cu(0)-Mediated Chain Extension of poly(MA) Macroinitiator in a Semi-batch Process 

In my MSc project, I use 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 as 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 with alternative ligands and other monomers, including methacrylates, that are more difficult to use with Cu(0)-mediated chemistry, in support of a planned patent application and a series of publications.


69th Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference, Halifax, Canada (October 2019)


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].

Ibrahim Refai MSc (2020 - current)

A PLP-SEC Study of the Effect of Solvent on Radical Copolymerization Propagation Kinetics of Methyl Acrylate and tert-Butyl Acrylamide

I completed my undergraduate degree (BSc in Biology and Chemistry) at the University of Toronto in 2019 where I gained experience working in a variety of lab settings. After finishing my undergraduate degree I decided to pursue studies in a Master’s program in a field related to chemistry so I can further develop my critical thinking and research skills. One of the areas that interested me the most in chemical engineering is polymers, which led to my decision to start my MSc studies in the Hutchinson group.  I am investigating the effect of solvent on the radical propagation kinetics of methyl acrylate, t-butyl acrylamide and their copolymers. 

Conferences and papers coming soon!

Gagandeep Kaur MSc (2020 - current)

A Semi-batch Study of the Radical Copolymerization of Methyl Acrylate and tert-Butyl Acrylamide in Ethanol/Water Mixtures

I grew up in the beautiful city of Chandigarh, India and received a BE in Chemical Engineering from the prestigious,Thapar Institute of Technology, Patiala.  I interned in the R&D division of Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory where I worked with top scientists of India to develop models for performance optimization of high-density compounds. This experience led to my interest in research. After obtaining my bachelor's degree, I joined the amazing and dynamic team of Dr. Robin Hutchinson at Queen’s University as an MSc student. Presently, I am studying the radical copolymerization of methyl acrylate and n-tert butyl acrylamide in alcohol/water mixtures in a semi-batch reactor system. In addition, I have gained a lot of knowledge about different analytical techniques to analyse the reaction and polymer properties, including GPC, NMR, and GC.

Conferences and papers coming soon!

Elizabeth Bygott MSc (2020 - current)

Synthesis and Utilization of Acrylic Macromonomers

Graduating from Queen’s University with a BASc in Chemical Engineering in the spring of 2020, Elizabeth plans to continue to build off of her undergrade thesis work expElizabeth Bygottloring the use of poly(isobornyl acrylate) and various acrylate copolymers for use in the adhesive industry. Due to a keen interest in the field of polymer reaction engineering and having already worked under the supervision of Dr. Robin Hutchinson and Dr. Nina Heidarzadeh, Elizabeth found this lab to be the perfect fit for her.

Elizabeth’s Masters thesis will investigate the high-temperature semi-batch radical polymerization of poly(isobornyl acrylate) and blocky acrylate copolymers for use of the acrylic macromonomers in the automotive coatings industry. Size exclusion chromatography, light-scattering, gas chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance, and differential scanning calorimetry will be used to investigate the properties of the polymeric materials.



Heidarzadeh, N., E. G. Bygott, R. A. Hutchinson, "Exploiting Addition–Fragmentation Reactions to Produce Low Dispersity Poly(isobornyl acrylate) and Blocky Copolymers by Semibatch Radical Polymerization", Macromol. Rapid Commun. 41, 202000288, 2020 [more information].

Opeyemi Ajogbeje PhD (2020 - current)

Radical Polymerization Kinetics of Amino-functional Monomers

I attended University of Waterloo, where I obtained a BASc in Chemical Engineering in 2017. I earned an Energy and Environmental Systems and Processes Specialization as well as a Management Sciences Option. During the co-operative education program, I gained relevant work experience at Apotex Inc., Toronto Hydro, Regional Municipality of York and other reputable organizations. I worked as an undergraduate research assistant and investigated the colloidal stability of ethyl cellulose nanoparticles for Pickering emulsion formulation in the course of study at University of Waterloo.

On completion of the undergraduate degree, I worked briefly at the Sitel Group before proceeding to University of Toronto, where I graduated with a MASc in Chemical Engineering in 2020. As a graduate research assistant, I collaborated with an industrial partner (Syncrude Canada Limited), where I conducted research in the fields of colloids (microemulsions), interfacial phenomena and porous media to model a packed bed process equipment. A coalescer design methodology was successfully developed at the end of the program.

I am presently at Queen’s University pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering.  The combination of polymer science and reaction engineering principles lead to commercial-scale synthesis of polymers. Specifically, I study the free-radical polymerization of amino-functional monomers for coating and biomedical applications. The research explores dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate (DMAEMA) monomer for the development of novel polymers.

Conferences and papers coming soon!

Recent graduates from the Hutchinson Group

Kyle Lister MSc (2018-2020)
Evaluation of a Novel Polymeric Flocculant for Enhanced Water Recovery of Mature Fine Tailings
 Plant Engineer, Evonik (Morrisburg ON)

Amin Nasrefsahani PhD (2017-2020)
Acclerated Monte-Carlo Techniques for Modeling of Chain Architecture and Semi-batch Radical Polymerization Process Optimization 
PDF at Queen's University (Kingston ON)

Ikenna Ezenwajiaku PhD (2015-2020)
Kinetics and Modeling the Radical Copolymerization of Water-Soluble Cationic Monomers
PDF at Queen's University (Kingston 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)
Project Leader, 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 (Charlotte NC)

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
Global Technical & Marketing Manager (Front Royal VA)

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 Research North America (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)