Invited speakers

Prof. James Wuest

Professor James (Jim) Wuest was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1948. He studied chemistry and mathematics at Cornell University, where he received an A. B. summa cum laude in 1969. He did his graduate work in organic chemistry at Harvard University, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow and a student of the late Nobel Laureate Robert B. Woodward. After receiving his Ph. D. in 1973, he joined the faculty at Harvard as an assistant professor of chemistry. He remained at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School until 1981, when he accepted a tenured position at the Université de Montréal. He has been a full professor since 1986, and he holds the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Materials. He and his group are broadly interested in the design, synthesis, structure, and properties of molecular materials. Molecular association plays an important role in their projects, and one of their principal objectives is to learn how to exploit weak interactions to control molecular association. To know more about the Wuest group, please visit their website:



Putting Molecules in their Place: Learning How to Control Order in Crystals and Other Materials

         Crystallization is commonplace but deeply mysterious. Its mechanism remains poorly understood, and the structures formed by crystallizing new compounds defy prediction. In general, the rules governing molecular organization in ordered  materials remain unclear, and structures and properties can only be determined by experimental study. Learning how order can be controlled is a prerequisite for making useful new materials by design. A promising approach is to use the strategy of modular construction, which involves building complex structures from simple molecular modules that associate and thereby place their neighbors in predetermined positions. Examples will be presented to show how modular construction can be used to build robust porous materials, ordered covalently bonded materials analogous to diamond and graphite, and materials designed for use in batteries, sensors, OLEDs, solar cells, and other devices. The approach taken in this work is multidisciplinary and will cover aspects of organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, and other areas.

Prof. Matthew Harrington

Professor Matthew Harrington is Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry and a member of the Chemistry Department at McGill University. He received his Ph.D. in 2008 from the University of California, Santa Barbara in the lab of J. Herbert Waite. This was followed by a Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in the Department of Biomaterials, where he was later a research group leader from 2010 until 2017. His research is focused on understanding biochemical structure–function relationships in biological materials and applying extracted design principles for the development and sustainable production of high-performance bio-inspired materials. If you want to know more about the Harrington Lab, you can visit their website:



Biological Fabrication of Hierarchically Structured Soft Matter

         A number of living organisms, such as mussels and spiders, rapidly fabricate hierarchically structured polymeric fibers with excellent material properties (e.g. high  toughness, self-healing). These materials exhibit bottom-up supramolecular self-assembly from biomolecular building blocks via rapid “fluid-to-fiber”  transformation.

Employing a cross-disciplinary approach, our group has harnessed advanced material characterization techniques, including confocal Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction and focused ion beam scanning electron spectroscopy (FIB-SEM), as well as traditional biochemical approaches to investigate the fabrication of a number of bio-fibers, including the mussel byssus, velvet worm slime fibers and mistletoe viscin fibers. Elucidation of the physical and chemical forces driving assembly of such materials provides design principles for inspiring “green” polymer processing methods, as well as for fabrication of materials for biomedical applications (e.g. tissue scaffolds, surgical adhesives). Our comparative study has identified several novel assembly mechanisms, which may have relevance in these realms. In this talk, I will highlight recent results from our investigations.


Prof. Dongling Ma

Professor Dongling Ma is a member of the Center for Energy, Materials, and Telecommunications at the INRS in Varennes. She received her Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA, and has been a professor at INRS EMT Varennes since 2008. The research interest of Prof. Ma consists in the development of novel, highly functional materials and structures on the nanometer scale targeted at various biomedical and energy applications, such as long-term tracking of biological processes, catalysis and photovoltaics. Research in the Ma group will contribute to advanced nanomaterials research by developing new synthetic routes leading to highly functional nanoparticles and by exploring exciting applications of nanoparticles in biomedical and energy sectors. For more information about the Ma Lab, visit their website:


Designing Nanohybrids for Energy, Environmental and Biomedical Applications

     With unique physical and chemical properties, and high potential for many important applications, nanomaterials have attracted extensive attention in the past two  decades. For instance, due to their unique, size- and shape-tunable surface plasmon resonance, plasmonic nanostructures have recently been explored for enhancing the efficiency of solar cells and photocatalysis via improved light scattering, strong near field effect and/or hot electron injection. In another vein, near-infrared (NIR) absorbing and emitting semiconductor nanocrystals (also known as quantum dots) hold high potential in bioimaging for disease detection due to its high sensitivity at the subcellular level and low cost of related imaging facilities. Combination of different nanomaterials into a single architecture can lead to improved properties/performance or, even better, multifunctional nanoplatforms. In this talk, I will present some of our recent work on the rational design and realization of nanohybrid materials as well as their applications in solar fuel, photocatalysis, biomedicine, etc. For instance, I will give an example on the combination of plasmonic nanoparticles with two-dimensional semiconductor catalysts, showing largely enhanced photocatalytic activity. Another example is about the preparation of multifunctional nanoplatforms compose of multiple superparamagnetic nanoparticles and NIR quantum dots in single particles, which can serve as bimodal imaging probes and bimodal hyperthermia agents. Rational design in order to maximize benefits is highlighted for all these nanohybrids. 


November 6, 2020

9:00am to 6:00pm

Online (ZOOM)

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