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Elena Baranova

What is your current job?

Currently I am working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Ottawa. My job includes teaching of undergraduate and graduate students in the area of chemical engineering. Another important aspect of my job is research and graduate student supervision. In my Laboratory of Electrochemical Engineering (LEE) my research projects are related to environment and energy related issues, in particular reduction of air pollution and development of alternative energy sources, such as fuel cells and Li-ion batteries.

What made you want to pursue a career in engineering?

I come from a family of engineers. I am a third generation of chemical engineer/ chemistry professors. Both my grandfather and father are professors in applied chemistry and chemical engineering. Furthermore, not only men in my family are engineers: my grandmother graduated with Chemical Engineering degree in 1951 while my mother holds a degree in mining engineering. During my childhood, I witnessed my family’s passion for science and technology. I could say that my father’s enthusiasm for research and teaching strongly influenced my choice of career.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I really enjoy the part of my job related to the research and training of the undergraduate and graduate students in my research field. I feel very fortunate and proud when they succeed as researchers and independent thinkers. It is very rewarding to see my students presenting or publishing their new discoveries at the international conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.

How do you celebrate National Engineering Month?

My grad students and I are planning to participate in the various activities organized by the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Ottawa during National Engineering Month. For instance, I plan to attend Lunch and Learn with PEO Ottawa and IET.

What advice do you have for young women who hope to pursue a career in your field?

Do not get discourage by someone who says that engineering is not a feminine occupation. Chemical Engineering is tremendously versatile and important field in the modern society, ranging from traditional chemicals production, pharmaceuticals and food industries to cutting-edge areas of nanotechnology and alternative energy, therefore there are a lot of demand and potential for young female engineers.

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Elena Baranova received her M.Sc. degree in Chemical Engineering (1999) and Ph.D in Chemistry (2003) from the Ukrainian State University of Chemical Engineering (Ukraine). She pursued her studies at the Institute of Chemical Science and Engineering at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), where she completed her Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Ch. Comninellis in 2005. During her Ph.D. she spent several months in the laboratory of Prof. C.G. Vayenas at the University of Patras (Greece). She became an NSERC post-doctoral fellow in 2005 and later a Research Associate at the National Research Council Canada. Dr. Baranova’s research there was focused on nano-structured electrocatalytic materials for direct methanol and hydrogen fuel cells. She subsequently worked as a senior scientist at Abbott Point of Care before joining the University of Ottawa in 2008 as an Assistant Professor. Her current research interests are in the area of electrocatalysis for direct oxidation fuel cells and hydrogen production as well as application of the phenomenon of electrochemical promotion of catalysis to environmentally important processes.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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