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  • School of Science and Technology

Posted October 16, 2017

Chemistry Lab Day & CBU Open House

On Saturday October 14 Cape Breton University held an open house. The events conducted by the chemistry department included a Chemlab Day in which 23 local grade 12 high-school students got actual hands-on experience in a chemistry lab by synthesizing and analyzing nylon. Karen Foss, Adango Miadonye, and chemistry undergraduate students organized and conducted.

Other activities in the department included chemistry experiments conducted by Shimal Fernandopulle for younger visitors.

The open house also involved the lab tours of research equipment such as the Transmission Electron Microscope and GC-MS (Judy MacInnis and Allen Britten), Bierenstiel lab (Roger Gumbau) and the Verschuren Centre (Martin Mkandawire).

Photo: Chem Lab Day

Posted October 10, 2017

2017 Third International Conference on Chemical Engineering

Adango Miadonye was a speaker at the 2017 Chemical Engineering Conference in Chicago.

Industrial Research Chair in Minewater Management (VCSEE) and Associate Professor, Chemistry, Martin Mkandawire carries out research on mine water management

Mining communities across Canada and around the world may soon be looking to Martin and Cape Breton for ways to manage mines once they close. Martin visited Valledupar in Cesar province in Columbia this past summer to advise on mine remediation and waste water treatment.

Chronicle Herald article


Energy Transfer Kinetics in Photosynthesis as an Inspiration for Improving Organic Solar Cells

Posted May 31, 2017

Research Article – Martin Mkandawire

Celebrating Girl Guides

Posted May 30, 2017

A celebration of guiding took place on May 27th-28th  at the Cape Breton County Exhibition grounds in North Sydney. During the celebrations members of the CBU Chemistry Society presented activities to more than 500 guides with ages ranging from five to 18-plus.  The chemistry activities included super bubbles, film canister rockets, invisible writing, magic with erasable pens and sharpie chromatography. Although the day was cold, rainy and windy, the participants thoroughly enjoyed the activates that were presented.

PhotoShown below are those who participated in the event:  Amanda Nicolson, Haley Armstrong, Kuljit Kaur, Courtney Campbell, Lorena Ucciferri and Judy MacInnis back row:  Andrew Carrier, Chris MacKenzie, Kelsey Prosser, Matthew Tobin

Clean Foundation Youth Corp

Posted May 23, 2017

The Clean Foundation Youth Corps provides youth with environmental work experience, an enhanced appreciation of the environment and their community, and develops skills for life-long learning (including team-building and leadership skills, increased knowledge for future employment and/or education ventures, and the ability to give back to their community and their environment). This program is a partnership between the Youth Corps, Nova Scotia communities, employers, and youth.

Students work with local employers to provides youth between the ages of 15-30 with training and employment opportunities in the environmental field. It also helps host employers enhance the local environment through projects.

This year two chemistry students have been hired in partnership with Clean NS and  faculty in the department.  Chris MacKenzie, has been hired as a student research assistant – organic charcoal and is working under the direction of Breton Organic charcoal’s co-founder Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie, while Haley Armstrong is working as a Mine Water Remediation and Management Research Assistant under the direction of Dr. Martin Mkandawire in the VCSEE.   Haley and Chris recently attended the Clean Foundations Youth Corps leadership conference in Debert NS.

The clean foundation provides the knowledge, tools and inspiration needed to encourage the individual actions that add up to positive environmental change.

Techsploration Goes to School

Posted May 19, 2017

Judy MacInnis, a senior chemistry lab instructor in the department was asked to be a role model at the Techsploration goes to School event held May 19th at Sydney Academy. For the event the guest role models from the Canadian Coast Guard College, Department of National Defense – electrical apprentice, a firefighter and a chemist set up stations with props, tools of their trade and information about their careers.  Small groups of Grade 9 students rotated through the stations to ask questions and participate in hands-on activities related to the careers that were represented. Over 50 students from Sydney Academy participated in the event.

Photo:  Judy MacInnis

Young women and  men, teachers and staff benefited from the opportunity to meet women working in today’s in-demand careers.  Techsploration ~ empowering young women to explore careers in Sciences, Trades and Technology.

Congratulations to our 2017 CBU Chemistry Graduates!

Posted May 16, 2017

Front (from left): Lorena Ucciferri, Amy Clemens, Matthew Tobin, Amanda Cameron, and Lindsay Hawco

Back (from left): Dr. Jaime Martell, Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel, Dr. Trisha Ang, and Doug Richards

Teaching/Research Awards 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie (Chemistry) for receiving the 2017 CBU Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Dr. Ed Barre (Nutrition/Chemistry) for the 2017 President’s Award for Excellence in Research!

Photo:  Dr Stephanie MacQuarrie(left). Dr. Ed Barre(right)

The Department of Chemistry at CBU is very proud of having excellent faculty and laboratory instructors who are dedicated to provide an outstanding learning environment for students taking chemistry courses. Students at CBU are not just a student number;  the small class sizes for lectures and laboratories are ideal for an individual learning experience, and faculty and laboratory instructors get to know the students to assist them and understand the chemistry topics. The research facilities are also excellently equipped with over $5million of state-of-the-art equipment that students use for research and in laboratories. CBU students have the opportunity to hands-on research experience in paid summer research positions as early as in their 1st year of studies. Our students are trained to work with top equipment that is normally only accessible for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at larger institutions. This gives our CBU students a great advantage for their jobs, including top graduate scholarships, when continuing their careers after graduation from CBU with a BSc. Many of our CBU chemistry students participate in regional and national science conference and have won best presentations awards which is attributed to the dedicated faculty and laboratory instructors at CBU.

Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie and Dr. Barre are continuing the list of excellence in teaching and research for chemistry.

Matthias Bierenstiel: Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) 2016 Anne Marie MacKinnon Educational Leadership Award and CBU Instructional Leadership Award 2015

Adango Miadonye:  President’s Award for Excellence in Research 2015

Shimal Fernandopulle: CBU Exceptional Lab/Clinical Instructor Award 2015

Allen Britten: CBU Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award 2015

Judy MacInnis: CBU Exceptional Lab/Clinical Instructor Award 2014

Dale Keefe:  CBU Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award 2009 and CBU Instructional Leadership Award 2009

ChemCon 2017

Posted May 11, 2017

Cape Breton University’s Department of Chemistry took home two awards at the 42nd Annual Science Atlantic/CSC Student Chemistry Conference (ChemCon 2017) that was held May 4-6th at Memorial University in NFLD.  Ten CBU students attended the annual conference, which acknowledges research excellence of chemistry students from across the Maritime provinces.

Photo:  ChemCon 2017 award shot – from L to R Matthew Tobin, Amanda Cameron.

Two CBU students won awards for their research that was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie.  These included Matt Tobin who received the CIC Award for best Undergraduate Oral Presentation in Inorganic Chemistry with his oral presentation on the “Synthesis and Characterization of Chiral Biocarbons for use as Chiral Stationary Phase in Enantioselective Chromatography” and Amanda Cameron who received the Science Atlantic Science Communication Award for her oral presentation on “Investigation into the effects of Salmon Hydrolysate enhanced Biochar on the growth of Barley”.

Also of note a former CBU student now perusing graduate studies at MUN in Chemistry, Kori Andrea, also won the CIC award for Best Inorganic Poster.”

Photo: ChemCon2017 group shot – from L to R (front row):  Matty Ryan, Lindsay Hawco, Emily MacLennan, Lorena Ucciferri, Lindsey Polegato, Amy Clemens, Kuljit Kaur, Vinny Andrea,         Amanda Cameron   (back row): Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel, Matthew Tobin

Soapbox Science

Soapbox Science is an award-winning science outreach platform, created in the UK in 2011, and promotes women in science.  The Ryerson Faculty of Science will be launching the external, first Soapbox Science event in North America during Science Rendezvous on May 13, 2017.

There is an awesome line-up of speakers for the event and you catch them on their Soapboxes from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. These scientists will be standing on soapboxes along Yonge St. to chat about their research and work with the public.

Dr Stephanie MacQuarrie will be participating in the event, and talking about BioChar. She will be on at 11 am.

Photo:  Dr Stephanie MacQuarrie.


At the event you will hear from Medical Physicists, Engineers, Stem Cell Scientists and more! They’ll be talking about everything from cancer to cats and even a bit about poop!

Girls Get WISE Science Retreat

April 24, 2017

A Girls Get WISE Science Retreat was held on Saturday April 22nd at Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni.  This was a one day event for Aboriginal Girls in grades 7-12 to explore science through hands on activities, and discover careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) by meeting and chatting with women working in STEM fields.  Attending from CBU  were:  Dr Stephanie MacQuarrie, Dr Kathy Snow, Peggy Wright, Judy MacInnis and third year Chemistry students Denae Stevens and Kuljit Kudar.

Photo:  Dr Stephanie MacQuarrie explains the soap making process during the retreat.


New Victoria student receives scholarship to conduct research in Germany

From Cape Breton Post

Jeremy Fraser
Published on April 20, 2017

SYDNEY, N.S. — Brianna Desveaux has always had a passion for science and what interested her the most was knowing how things work. Desveaux is currently in the third year of her bachelor of science degree, majoring in chemistry, and is also working toward receiving her diploma in engineering at Cape Breton University.

The New Victoria resident was recently awarded with the Liebig Scholarship from the University of Giessen in Germany, where she will conduct research in the country for just over two months.

In order to receive the scholarship, Desveaux had to write a motivational letter, basically telling the selection committee why she loved chemistry and why she wanted to do research in that country.

Desveaux was thrilled to receive the news she had been given the award. “I was sitting in math and science class, where I work, when I received the email,” said Desveaux. “I just couldn’t believe it was real.” “It means so much to me, it’s surreal.” said the 20-year-old.

Desveaux, the daughter of Brian and Kim Desveaux of New Victoria, graduated from Breton Education Centre in 2014, before attending Cape Breton University.

Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel, associate professor for inorganic chemistry and department chair of chemistry in the school of science and technology at CBU, said Desveaux is a very bright student with top marks and has hands-on research experience over the past two years. “I was very happy for Brianna and also very proud,” said Bierenstiel. “This is a great opportunity for her. It shows she is independent and ready to be on her own in a different country — the signs that graduate schools and future employers want to see.”  Desveaux credits Dr. Bierenstiel for making the opportunity possible. “I’ve been working for him since my first year of university,” said Desveaux. “He knew about the scholarship from a friend in Germany and he thought I would be a good fit for the program and recommended I apply.”

The scholarship, valued at $8,000, gives students from around the world an opportunity to connect and work on chemistry research projects for a two-month period. Desveaux won’t know the exact project she will be working on until she arrives in the country.Desveaux will leave for Germany on May 11 and return to Cape Breton on July 15.Desveaux isn’t the first student from Cape Breton University to receive this scholarship. Two other students from the university were given the award in past years, those students moving on to study in professional and PhD programs.

Bierenstiel said Desveaux winning the scholarship highlights the strengths of Cape Breton University. “We provide a great education to students and are proud of our small class sizes,” he said. “This gives students much more attention where as at bigger universities, students can get lost.” “As an educator, this is exactly what one wants to see and it’s part of my passion of being a university professor,” said Bierenstiel. “During the past three years, I have seen Brianna becoming better academically, but also personally. This is what university is about. She has a bright future ahead.”

Desveaux is nervous about the experience, but said the excitement overweights it. “My overall goal is to get some really great research experience while getting to travel and to explore.”

Desveaux will have free time during the weekends while in Germany. She said she’s planning to travel as much as possible and experience as much of Europe as she can. She said she has many people to thank for getting her where she is today. “I’d like to thank Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel, he has done so much for me,” said Desveaux. “Working for him has given me more opportunities than I could’ve dreamed of.”

Chemistry Magic Show

A Chemistry Magic Show was presented on Thursday April 6th at the McConnell Library in Sydney.

Members  of the CBU Chemistry Society entertained elementary and junior high school students and their parents by providing a series of demonstrations and hands on activities that were enjoyed by all. Pictured from left to right below are:  Chris MacKenzie (Student outreach assistant), Lindsey Pologato, Kyle Ryan and Haley Armstrong.



Posted October 19, 2016


November 14, 2016
7:30 PM

Cox Institute of Agricultural Technology | Room 257

Dalhousie University
Agricultural Campus
50 Pictou Rd., Truro NS

Imagine a way to provide farmers, forestry and agricultural companies, and local business with low cost, greener energy in rural areas while improving their carbon foot print. In Cape Breton we are all too well aware of the impact utilization and over implementation of fossil fuels have on our community and environment. Fuel from biomass should become a significant part our energy supply.

Dr. MacQuarrie has 5 undergraduate students and two post-doctoral researchers working on a variety of projects in her lab – ranging from developing reusable, cost effective, greener alternative organic catalysts to investigating unique biomass. She is a recipient of two Canadian Foundation for Innovation grants. Dr. MacQuarrie has authored more than 25 peer reviewed papers in her early career. Stephanie also enjoys spending every spare moment with her amazing children, Lyla (4), Sophie (7) and Braydon (11).

Posted September 12, 2016

Research Seminar series for Fall 2016

  • Joseph Weiss (Bruker Inc., Milton, ON); Sept. 6th, 2016 12-1 in CS 101 “Technological Advances Within Bruker: A Look at Magnet, Console, and CryoProbe Offerings”
  • Cathleen Crudden (Queen’s University, Kingston, ON and  Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules, Nagoya, Japan); Sept. 26th, 2016, 11:30-12:15 in B226 “From Molecules to Materials: Asymmetric Catalysis and the Preparation of Carbon-based Monolayers on Gold”
  • Jason Clyburne (St. Mary’s University, Halifax, NS), Oct. 7th, 2016
  • Peng Zhang (Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS). Oct. 14th, 2016
  • Sophie Rousseaux (University of Toronto, Toronto, ON), Oct. 25th, 2016

Posted August 29, 2016Cape Breton University researchers seeking solution for ‘superbugs’. CBC News Link


A team of researchers at Cape Breton University, working with a life-science company in Halifax, is confident it has found a chink in the armour of antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains commonly known as “superbugs.”

Superbugs are pathogens that have evolved to be immune to antibiotics.

The research project, based out of Cape Breton University and funded by Halifax-based Chelation Partners and the National Research Council of Canada, is focused on finding a way around that resistance.

Trisha Ang and Roger Gumbau-Brisa are post-doctoral researchers working on the project, supervised by Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel, an associate professor in Cape Breton University’s chemistry department.

Their research is built on the concept of weakening bacteria by starving them of iron.

“Iron is an essential nutrient for cellular growth — and in turn, essential for the growth of bacteria,” Ang said.

“By denying iron to bacteria you’re inhibiting their growth, inhibiting their spread.”

In this weakened state, the bacteria would then be a vulnerable target for a round of antibiotics, Gumbau-Brisa said.

“Their sensitivity to antibiotics is increased.”

The two chemists and a team of other scientists have developed a chemical compound known as a polymer that strips iron from the blood plasma.

Ang uses the metaphor of a long string to describe the action.

“A fishing line that has multiple hooks on it that can steal away the iron, and latch on to it.”

Ang characterizes the process as a “one-two punch.” First, the polymer is injected into the body to strip away the iron from the bacteria. It’s then “hit” by a dose of antibiotic.

Gumbau-Brisa said the research team is testing the polymer they’ve developed on rodents at this point, but the group plans to bring in physicians later who will conduct tests on human patients.

Ang says the polymer has proven to be non-toxic.

Posted May 15, 2016

Congratulations to Dr. Adango Miadonye for winning the 2016 President’s Award for Excellence in Research at Cape Breton University!

Dr. Miadonye 2

Dr. Adango Miadonye, Professor of Petroleum Engineering in the Department of Chemistry at CBU, has been awarded this prestigious award for exceptionally productive research, with over 80 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, in his academic area specialty of the petroleum engineering/chemistry.  His research in rheology and fluid transport properties of heavy oils, and its upgrading and refining has been funded by NSERC and other agencies including academic-industry collaboration projects.  His current research, in collaboration with Innovation 121 Inc., uses micro-bubbles technology that facilitates oil separation from the sand grains, improving bitumen recovery rate to over 60 per cent.

Dr. Miadonye supervised numerous honours and graduate students as well as post-doctoral fellows and teaches CBU students in the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Engineering, and Bachelor of Engineering Technology programs at CBU. Dr. Miadonye is concluding six years as the Chair of the Department of Chemistry at CBU and will devoting his focus on research during his sabbatical year 2016/17.


Did you know the Department of Chemistry news and information can also be found on many social media sites?

Twitter Page:

Facebook Page:

Members of the department maintain our Facebook page, where information about news and events in the department can be found. It’s a great way to make contact with current and past members of the department.

Current, Past, and Future Students interested in chemistry can also consult the Chemistry Society Facebook page. Whether it’s to simply catch up with old friends, or a way for those interested in majoring or minoring in chemistry at CBU to make new connections and get information from their peers.

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