New term brings in new Faculty members

    Expanding Faculty brings in major professionals with vast backgrounds and exciting opportunities.

    By Daniel Schieman on January 10, 2018

    The Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering is starting off the new term with some new and exciting additions.

    We are proud to announce to our Faculty, Dr. Lisa White and Dr. Renato Macciotta Pulisci as part of the David and Joan Lynch school of Safety and Risk Management, as well as Dr. Xuehua Zhang as a primary professor.

    Each come with their own unique backgrounds that will benefit the Department greatly:

    Dr. Lisa White: Dr. White has over 15 years of experience in the environmental engineering and risk assessment fields. Her specialties include Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Risk Assessment, and Environmental Impact Assessment. Dr. White was awarded her Ph.D. In 2013 from the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan in the area of Strategic Environmental Assessment for Sustainable Resource Development and Planning. Lisa was also awarded an Engineering, MSc in the assessment of surface and groundwater contamination potential from point source pollutants in 2006.

    Lisa’s 15 years of experience in environmental consulting include Environmental Risk Assessments and Reviews, Phase I and II Environmental Assessments, and Environmental Impact Assessments for public and private sector clients. Dr. White’s relevant project experience includes a Strategic Environmental Assessment for Parks Canada assessing the cumulative environmental impact of industrial development surrounding the Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Alberta, as well as an environmental risk assessment for Alberta Transportation for a school expansion in Edmonton. She also enjoys managing multi-disciplinary projects, such as the pre-feasibility study and risk assessment for the Saskatoon North Commuter Bridge. Dr. White is also the Co-Chair of the Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) board.

    Dr. Renato PullisciRenato has a B.Sc. In Civil Engineering from Lima, Peru. He started his engineering profession at the Canadian-based Klohn Crippen Berger, focusing on the Geotechnical aspects of mining operations, in particular the design and operation of tailings storage facilities, water treatment ponds, site investigations and remediation options for mine closure. He moved to Edmonton, AB, to pursue a post-graduate degree in Civil Engineering after four years of industrial experience. Renato obtained his Ph.D. In Geotechnical Engineering in 2013, specializing in risk engineering aspects of natural and man-made slopes. He then worked as Research Associate at the University of Alberta while simultaneously providing consulting services within Canada and internationally. Renato has over 12 years of industrial experience and  9 years of research experience.

    Renato’s areas of practice and research include risk engineering and safety assessments for natural and man-made slopes, mining structures, transport operations, dam structures and operations, ground hazards, and reclamation. His expertise also includes the geomechanical characterization of rock and soil masses, slope failure mechanisms and monitoring, rock fall detachment and trajectory analysis, and remote monitoring techniques. His work integrates his technical skills with risk engineering principles for the design and operation of engineered systems and structures. Some of the industrial and regulatory parties with whom Renato has worked, or is currently working, include: Transport Canada, Klohn Crippen Berger, Canadian National Railway, BC Hydro, Alberta Transportation, Canadian Pacific Railway, Antamina mining company, Suncor, Railway Association of Canada, Trans Alta, and the National Research Council of Canada.

    On the academic side, his research has been published more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, including 10 Journal articles and over 20 conference proceedings. He has guided several Ph.D. and M.Sc. candidates in risk engineering and Geotechnical components of their research projects, and has delivered lectures and presentations nationally and internationally. His research has always been conducted in partnership with the industry. His research interests include:

    - Uncertainty evaluation and quantification associated with conceptual engineering models and limitations in site investigations; and how these impacts the evaluation of risk,

    - Development of risk tolerability strategies for key industries in Canada (i.e. rail transport, mining) which reflect society’s expectations for safety and economic health,

    - Development of practical methodologies and processes to address the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction,

    - Potential effects of climate change in the levels of risk associated with key industries in Canada, man-made earth structures and landslide phenomena, among others.

    Renato believes in teaching a strong theoretical background complemented with practical exposure that allow students to be familiar with industry practices and have the skills to address novel challenges. He also advocates for applied engineering research in partnership with industry and regulators, as well as the importance of continuous practice, allowing a relevant understanding of the needs of the industry.

    Dr. Xuehua Zhang: Professor Xuehua Zhang completed her Ph.D. in

    Biomedical Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. After her Ph.D., she first worked as an Endeavor Research Fellow with Professor Vincent Craig at Australian National University since 2005 and then was a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Professor William Ducker in University of Melbourne since 2006.


    was an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2008 and later the ARC Future Fellowship from 2013. In between, she spent six months at the University of Twente as a visiting researcher. Since 2014, Xuehua joined RMIT University in Melbourne as an Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering. She was then appointed as a part-time Professor of Physics of Fluids Group at the University of Twente. As of September 2017, Zhang is a Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta. Her research topics cover surface Nanobubbles and Nanodroplets, wetting, surface forces, spontaneous emulsification, Microextraction, self-assembly of colloids, evaporation, and dissolution of multicomponent droplets, and bubble dynamics in catalytic reactions.  

    Stay tuned for a new and exciting look to the Faculty and Department websites, as well as news and announcements.