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Graduate student receives prestigious thesis award

June 9, 2022 | Sophie Laberge

Update : June 9, 2022

The ACES-ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award was presented to Qingzhe Zhang for his excellent work and depth of knowledge.

Qingzhe Zhang

In his thesis, Qingzhe Zhang focused on developing cost-effective photocatalysts that enable efficient absorption of solar photons from a wide range of wavelengths. The graduate, who worked with Professor Dongling Ma and Professor Mohamed Chaker, received the CAGS-ProQuest 2021 Distinguished Dissertation Award from the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS).

Professor Ma highlights how extremely qualified and motivated he was, along with its strong collaborative spirit.

“He has demonstrated leadership and perseverance, initiative, and intellectual creativity necessary to conduct cutting-edge research independently. He is one of my best PhD students and it has been such a pleasure working with him during the past several years.”

Professor Dongling Ma, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Advanced Functional Nanocomposites and scientific head of the Nanomaterials Chemistry and Advanced Optical Characterization Lab.

According to his colleagues at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), Dr. Zhang has a vast and solid knowledge base, first-rate technical skills, and exceptional communication abilities.

“The innovative work he has done as part of his thesis will certainly have a major impact in the years to come, both in the field of energy and the environment.”

Professor Mohamed Chaker, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Plasma Applied to Micro- and Nanomanufacturing Technologies and scientific head of the Laboratory of Micro and Nanofabrication (LMN).

Innovation at the core of research

His innovative research during his PhD in energy and materials science led to the creation of three new nanocomposite photocatalysts based on graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4), a metal-free 2D material. Qingzhe Zhang’s discoveries in the field of plasmonic have highlighted the enormous potential of photocatalysts to effectively treat wastewater. His research into the fabrication and use of metal-free black phosphorus photocatalysts has revealed fascinating ways to harness the sun’s energy to produce a zero-emission fuel: hydrogen.

Dr. Zhang received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in environmental engineering in China and earned his PhD at the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre in 2020. He subsequently continued his work as a postdoctoral fellow and conducted research on novel nanostructures for broadband solar energy harvesting.

The graduate already holds seven patents. He has published a book chapter, as well as 37 research papers that have been cited over 1,230 times. Along the way, he has received several awards and honours, including the Relève étoile Louis-Berlinguet 2020 award, as well as PhD scholarship from Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT). Qingzhe Zhang is currently a Qilu Young Scholar and a professor at the School of Environmental Science and Engineering of Shandong University, where he is pursuing his research on wastewater treatment using solar energy and green fuel production.

To discover his work

About the Award

The ACES-ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards recognize Canadian doctoral dissertations that have contributed to their discipline of outstanding significance and originality. Established in 1994, they are awarded annually. Two awards are offered, one in engineering, medical sciences and natural sciences: the other in fine arts, humanities and social sciences. The awards are presented by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) and sponsored by ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. The top prize in each of the two categories will be $1,500, and all finalists will receive a certificate of honour and the opportunity to attend the 60th annual CASE conference, which will be held in a hybrid format in November 2022.