Oriana Vanderfleet

Oriana Vanderfleet

PhD Chemical Engineering student

Research: Oriana is changing the world by using renewable materials to make environmentally friendly products. She is part of a research group under Assistant Professor Emily Cranston (Chemical Engineering) that uses nanocellulose, which is a renewable resource extracted from plants and trees, to make a wide variety of products from cosmetics to household paint to batteries. Oriana is working with an oil and gas company to improve the drilling process by replacing expensive and non-renewable polymers with biodegradable and renewable products, which make them better for the environment.

What excites Oriana most about pursuing a PhD: “I really like the opportunity to be working on something new and be very independent. So as I’m working through my project, if there’s one specific area that I’m finding really interesting, there’s totally the option to focus more on that or start a side project, so it’s very based on what I find interesting as a researcher. I find this specific area of research really interesting because we need renewable materials and it’s amazing to me that cellulose nanocrystals come from trees and that we can do so many different things with that and the options are pretty much endless.”

The Co-Op Experience: “I did an internship out in Calgary. I worked for ConocoPhillips which is an oil and gas exploration company. I really got into my role at the company I was working with. I got to spend a sizeable amount of time there so I really got to understand what the company culture was about and what work life would mean to me.”

Student Life: “I think it’s a good environment. There are so many different types of people. It’s very welcoming. There’s a lot of enthusiasm at McMaster. For example, when I worked with the engineering outreach office, whenever there was an event, there were so many people that wanted to volunteer because everyone is so enthusiastic about McMaster and have loved their experience and they wanted to share that with people coming to these events. I’ve never met anyone who says they don’t like the McMaster engineering program.”

“I really got into my role [at ConocoPhillips]. I got to spend a sizeable amount of time there so I really got to understand what the company culture was about and what work life would mean to me.”

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