Current Members

Laboratory Technologists & Research Associates

 shirin shafiei zadeh

Shirin is the Laboratory Technologist/Research Assistant of the Hydrometallurgy Group at The Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining at Queen’s University. Shirin obtained her Master of Science in Environmental Science from the Memorial University of Newfoundland and her Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic). Shirin has been involved in numerous hydrometallurgical projects, mostly related to waste management including but are not limited to gold recovery through biosorption from e-waste; cobalt, molybdenum, and nickel recovery from spent hydroprocessing catalysts; and precious metals (i.e. platinum, palladium, rhodium) from spent catalytic converters. She has been awarded numerous awards for her research and leadership skills including Mitacs Accelerate Internship Award in 2014, Research Excellence Award (Mater’s category) from Memorial University in 2015, and Best Dissertation of the Year from Tehran Polytechnic in 2010. She has also published more than 12 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and have presented at international conferences. Shirin is a mother of one, loves volunteering and community engagement, and enjoys travelling around the globe.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Rina Kim

Rina Kim

Rina Joined the group in June 2016. Rina has earned her Ph.D., M.Sc. and B.Sc. all from the Seoul National University, one of the top universities in Korea.  Rina brings to our group extensive experience in the rare earth elements metallurgy, uranium leaching, recycling of valuable materials from home appliances, and purification of mine tailings. She has published several journal and conference papers on those topics.

Rina’s research goal at Queen’s University is to develop a better understanding of the oxygen role in the gold leaching processes in cyanide and also thiosulfate solutions.

Dr. jingxiu wang

Jingxiu joined the Hydrometallurgy & Environment Group at Queen’s University in June 2018. She obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Engineering from University of Wollongong and her Master of Biochemical Engineering from China University of Petroleum (Beijing). Jingxiu has extensive experience in the extractive metallurgy, especially in the recycling of metallurgical wastes. She has been involved in many hydrometallurgical projects relevant to organic acid leaching, bioleaching, and bioremediation of contaminated soils.

Jingxiu’s research will mainly focus on gold bio-hydrometallurgy.

PhD Students

Denver Cowan

In 2014 Denver graduated from the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining at Queen’s University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mining Engineering. Although his primary focus was mineral processing he was interested in all aspects of mining, taking electives in geostatistics and completing a fourth year thesis in rock mechanics. After a work term at Hatch within the Mining and Mineral Processing Department and a summer research position within the Queen’s Rock Mechanics Laboratory, Denver decided to return to school to pursue a PhD in Hydrometallurgy in the 2014-2015 academic year. He is currently researching atmospheric pyrite oxidation under the supervision of Dr. Ahmad Ghahreman. The research will work towards developing an economic and efficient alternative to the current autoclave process commonly used on refractory-gold ores. When he’s not in the lab or researching, Denver enjoys pretty much anything outdoors: biking, baseball, swimming, snowboarding, camping, you name it!

LinkedIn page:

Awards and scholarships:
  1. The 2015 Ian M. Drum Scholarship, $20,000
Fazlolah (Fazel) Jahromi


Fazel Jahromi graduated from University Tehran with Master’s degree in extractive metallurgy in 2013. He holds a bachelor degree in Material science and engineering form Imam Khomeini International University. He has worked for Ardakan Pelletizing Company for one year and did some pilot projects for Pishtazan Gold Company. He is pursuing his PhD degree in hydrometallurgy under the supervision of Dr. Ahmad Ghahreman. His current research focuses on hydrometallurgical treatment of enargite. The goal of this research is to reach high recovery of copper and other precious elements in atmospheric condition with different reagents and using catalyst while remediating arsenic in a stable form.

Awards and scholarships:
  1. Ontario Trillium Scholarship, 2014 – 2018, $40,000 annually
Lin Li

lin li cropped

Lin Li got his Bachelor degree (2011) in Metallurgy Engineering from Taiyuan University of Technology and a Master’s degree (2014) in Non-ferrous metallurgy department from Central South University in China. His current research mainly focuses on the application of electrochemical technology in hydrometallurgy, especially on sulfide minerals leaching study. Through fundamental electrochemical studies, the kinetics and mechanism of mineral oxidation, dissolution and passivation can be better understood with his research to systematically explain the kinetics of pyrite dissolution by multiple electrochemical methods.

Farzaneh Sadri

She obtained her BSc and MSc degrees from Sharif University of Technology and University of Tehran, in the field of Materials Science and Engineering, Extractive Metallurgy. She worked on the extraction of rare earth elements (REE) as her master’s thesis and in Sept. 2015, joined the Hydrometallurgy & Environment Group in the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining at Queen’s University, working on the impurity removal stage of hydrometallurgical treatment of REE. The goal of her project is to make lime and limestone viable options to be used instead of other expensive reagents for removing impurities from REE leaching solutions, by means of decreasing or ideally diminishing the coprecipitation of REE with precipitated gypsum. Her main area of interest is hydrometallurgical processing of materials, with knowledge in pyrometallurgy, chemistry, extractive metallurgy and mineral processing.

Fei meng

Fei is currently a visiting PhD student (founded by China Scholarship Council) from Chongqing University in China for 2 years. In 2015, he got promoted to a PhD program in the department of Material Science and Engineering at Chongqing University, where he entered as an MSc student in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Metallurgy Engineering from Chongqing University of Technology.

alexandru catalin sonoc

Alexandru graduated from the University of Toronto in 2006 with a Bachelor’s in Applied Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. In his 4th year thesis, he investigated the feed requirements for a strain of anaerobic bacteria used in groundwater remediation. In 2013, he graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada with a Master’s degree in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. In his thesis, he investigated the kinetics of decomposition of siloxanes on gamma alumina. The application of this work is the purification of biogas so that it can be safely used as a fuel source. Since 2013 he is pursuing a PhD at Queen’s University. He is co-supervised by Jacob Jeswiet, in mechanical engineering, and by Ahmad Ghahreman. He is developing a process to recycle lithium ion batteries. The goal is to achieve a process that not only achieves a high recovery of transition metals but also a high recovery of battery grade lithium, with minimal energy usage. In 2015, Alexandru was a summer scholar of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and spent the summer at Kansai University, Japan investigating the use of cation exchange membranes in the separation and recovery of metals from leached lithium ion battery cathodes. Aside from his academic work, Alexandru enjoys singing in choirs, playing rugby and volleyball. He also serves currently on the Senate of Queen’s University.

MSc Students

Chengqian (Charles) Wu

Charles is an M. Sc. student in the Hydrometallurgy and Environment group at Queen’s University. Originally from China, Charles has visited the hydrometallurgy lab at Queen’s University during summer 2016 as a MITACS Globalink Research Assistant, and rejoined this amazing group, which conducts cutting-edge research aiming to extract metals from refractory resources at lower costs and to eliminate environmental effects of mining process, after received a bachelor’s degree in Minerals Engineering from Central South University in 2017.

Charles is focusing on developing novel methods for arsenic immobilization and removal from mineral processing streams and wastewaters. His research is more based on chemistry and electrochemistry sides to thoroughly understand the mechanism of the arsenic oxidation process and study the kinetics of the reactions so as to promote the adaptabilities for industry application. In his leisure time, Charles enjoys a bunch of things to do outdoors: jogging, hiking, cycling, skiing and kayaking.

Awards and scholarships:
  1. Mitacs Globalink Graduate Fellowship, 2017
James McNeice

James M

I am a 22 year old Mineral Processing Engineering student in my final year of an undergraduate degree in Mineral Processing Engineering at Queen’s University.  My main interest of study at Queen’s are hydrometallurgy, mineral processing, and economics. I am actively involved in the mining department and currently hold the position of Queen’s SME student chapter president as well as holding a seat on the Mining Club sponsorship committee.

My Master’s thesis project will focus on cerium oxidation in the processing of rare earth minerals. When not studying or working I enjoy skiing, biking, baseball, and scuba diving. Starting September 2016 James will be promoted to a Master’s student in the Hydrometallurgy and Environment Group.

Johannes Zenner

Johannes is an M. Sc. Chemistry student from Germany who is doing a Mitacs Globalink Internship in the Hydrometallurgy and Environment group at Queen’s University. The topic of his research project is the recovery of Rare Earth Elements (REE) by using Ionic Liquids (ILs). At RWTH Aachen University in Germany, Johannes already gained experience in the field of ILs during his bachelor thesis, he synthesized phosphonium-based Supported Ionic Liquid Phases (SILPs) to stabilize metal nanoparticles for the catalytic reduction of biomass. In his free time, Johannes enjoys playing Badminton and Soccer.

Awards and scholarships:
  1. Mitacs Globalink Internship, 2018
uchitta vashist

I joined the Hydrometallurgy group in May 2018 as a Master’s of Applied Sciences candidate. I am currently working on the Study of Gold-Thiosulphate leaching process. I received my Bachelors in Engineering in Chemical Engineering degree from Thapar University in India and Master’s of Engineering in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University. Before coming to Queen’s in Sept 2017 for my M.Eng, I served India’s largest Petrochemical and Refining company, Reliance Corporation Ltd. for a year as a Graduate Engineer Trainee in the commissioning of Refinery off-gas cracker plant (ROGC).
During my time as a Bachelor’s as well as Master’s student, I keep myself consistently involved in student societies and clubs. Presently, I am serving as the Social media and Marketing Manager of Science to Business Network (S2BN), Kingston Chapter. Also, I enjoy dancing and has been a Choreographer in the Queen’s Indian Student Association (QISA).

Undergraduate Students

jung lee

I am a chemical engineering student going into my final year of undergraduate studies starting in September 2018. I am an NSERC USRA summer research student and I will be working as a research assistant under the supervision of Dr. Ghahreman and his post-graduate team. I hope to use my knowledge in chemistry and apply it over the summer to further my interest in metallurgy. My other interests are soccer, running, and snowboarding.

Aritra acherjee

I am a chemical process engineering student heading into my final year of my undergraduate studies at Queen’s University. My main interest is in extractive metallurgy, specifically hydrometallurgy and electrometallurgy. My experience includes working for the Queen’s Fuel Cell Design team, where I actively designed and built the proton-exchange membrane fuel cell from scratch. I am hoping this extensive hands-on experience with electrolytic cells will help in my work in electrometallurgy for this lab group as well as a future career in electrometallurgy. Outside of work, my interests are basketball, poker, and soccer.


 Former Group Members and Alumni

  1. Caitlyn McKinley (MSc student 2015 to 2017). Currently, a graduate student in OT program at Queen’s University.
  2. Rebecca Radzinski (MSc student 2014 to 2016). Currently a Metallurgist at Algoma Steel.
  3. Said Karimi (visiting PhD student): currently PhD student at the University of Tehran.
  4. Thomas Mills (Undergraduate Research Assistant 2016-2017). Currently with a mining company in Canada.
  5. Dr. Amir Nazari (PDF, 2015 to 2016).
  6. Dr. Esmaeil Jorjani (visiting scholar – 2015 to 2016)
  7. Chengqian (Charles) Wu (MITACS undergraduate research assistant from Central South University, China, summer 2016).
  8. Ian Bergeron (NSERC USRA summer research student, summer 2016)
  9. Vincent El Ghoubarira (Visiting undergraduate student from the American University of Beirut, summer 2016).
  10. Dr. Min Tian (Post-doctoral Research Assistant) – Current Position: Fire Assay Specialist at Kingston Process Metallurgy (KPM).
  11. Matt Hepburn (Undergraduate Research Assistant 2015-2016)
  12. Raquel F. Tiago (MITACS undergraduate student from Brazil) – Current Position: 4th year undergrad student.
  13. Caitlyn McKinley (NSERC USR Undergraduate Research Assistant 2014-2015) – Current Position: MSc student in our group.
  14. Jennifer Tylor (Undergraduate Research Assistant 2014-2015).
  15. Catalina Polanco Palacios (Visiting Undergraduate Student from Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile) – Current position: MSc candidate at Universidad Católica de Chile.
  16. Moleti Motlhagodi (BASc Chemical engineering at Queen’s) – Current position: Mineral Processing Intern at Vale Mining Company (2015-2016).
  17. Tom Parr (BASc Chemical engineering at Queen’s).
  18. Alexander Cushing (PhD Mining Engineering – Mineral Processing at Queen’s 2014-2017). Current position: Metallurgist at SGS Lakefield (2018-present).
  19. Samantha Danko 
  20. Kayden Kaller (BASc Engineering Chemistry at Queen’s 2013-2018). Current position: Process Engineer at Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc.
  21. Rachel Watts (BASc Mining Engineering-Mineral Processing at Queen’s 2013-2018). Current Position: Engineer at Freeport McMoran.
  22. Zhi (Carrie) Yang (Visiting undergraduate student from Northwestern Polytechnical University of China July 2017-Sep 2017). Current Position: Master student at Rice University.
  23. Kyle Lister (Part time research assistant Oct 2017-April 2018). Current Position: Master student in Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University.
  24. Broden Cecic (Volunteer Undergraduate Student Summer 2018). Current Position: Bachelor student in Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University.