Our Team

Principal Invetigator

Jinguang Hu

Dr. Jinguang Hu’s current research is supported by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) Initiative. Prior to join UCalgary, Dr. Hu did his postdoc research in UBC BioProducts Institute (Canada) and Aalto-VTT HYBER center (Academy of Finland's Centre of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials research) respectively. Dr. Hu has also worked/collaborated with several biomass valorization related companies such as Novozymes, Performance BioFilaments, S2G BioChem, MetaMixis and Lignol. He has published over 90 papers in top journals such as Energy & Environmental Science, Advanced Functional Material, Green Chemistry, Nanoscale, ChemSusChem etc. Dr. Hu is a Research Fellow of GBIC, a recipient of “S.C. Trindade Award”, and an active participator in the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy division and the “China-Canada Joint Centre for BioEnergy”. 
His research has been focusing on sustainable energy, biomass valorization, bioinspired materials/systems, and catalyst engineering. His current research interest is utilizing photo/bio-catalysts to design and fabricate bioinspired materials or systems for Energy, Environmental, and Medical application. The research direction includes biomass photorefinery, bioprocess engineering, nanocellulose biological modification and alignment, plastic bio/photo-degradation, biomaterial engineering, biofuels and sustainable H2.

Postdoc Fellows

Dr. Heng Zhao received his Ph.D. degree from Wuhan University of Technology majored in Material Science and Engineering in 2019. He is currently a GRI CFREF funded post-doctoral researcher in the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at University of Calgary under the guidance of Dr. Jinguang Hu, Dr. Md Kibria and Dr. Stephen Larter. His research mainly focuses on the design and synthesis of functional catalysts for sustainable hydrogen and value-added bio-products co-production from biomass photoreforming.

Heng Zhao

Dr.Li received her Ph.D. degree at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, in the field of biochemistry. Her research focused on protein engineering and enzyme kinetics. Her research interests include enzyme catalysis improvement and hybrid(bio-inorganic) system establishing. With the experience of gene subcloning, prokaryotic recombinant protein expression and purification, Dr.Li is leading the biologic projects in Dr.Hu's group. Currently, we are focusing on the investigation and ultilization of biodesulfurization enzymes (DszABCD).  To improve the degradation of PET(polyethylene terephthalate ) through the process of combining enzymes and photo-active catalysts is another proposed project. Besides, we are producing and using a protein motif named CBM(carbohydrate-binding module) to modify cellulose and immobilize enzymes to improve the catalysis.

Jia Li

Dr. Aiguo Wang is a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Jinguang Hu’s group. He received his BSc degree at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2004 and MSc degree at Tsinghua University in 2007, China. Then he worked as a chemical engineer for 7 years in Key Laboratory of Industrial Separation and Environment Protection in China. He started his PhD programme at University of Calgary in 2015 and focused on the catalytic co-conversion of bio-derived compounds and methane to valuable chemicals. He received his PhD degree at 2018 and continued to work as a postdoctoral. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles in Journals, including Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, ACS Catalysis, Energy Conversion & Management, Communications Chemistry, ChemComm, 2 book-chapters and 2 patents. His current research interest includes biomass valorization via thermo- photo- or electro-catalysis, natural gas utilization, catalyst development, chemical engineering and processing optimization, and non-thermal plasma chemistry, etc.

 Aiguo Wang

Dr. Pawan Kumar completed his Ph.D. in chemical science from the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun, India in 2016 under the guidance of Dr. Suman L. Jain. After his Ph.D., he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at RCPTM, Palacky University, Czech Republic (Dec 2016-Aug 2017) and University of Alberta, Canada (Sept 2017-Sept 2020). Currently, he is working as a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Jinguang Hu and Dr. M. G. Kibria at the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering University of Calgary. Dr. Kumar’s research interest is mainly focuses on materials synthesis and their application in photocatalysis , catalysis (organic transformation), and energy applications. Dr. Kumar is author/co-author of 60+ journal articles (including JACS, Adv. Mater., Adv. Funct. Mater., Appl. Catal. B, J. Mater. Chem. A etc.), 3+ book chapters, and 1 patent;

      Pawan Kumar


Amir received his B.Sc. degree in Petroleum Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology in 2014 and the M.Sc. degree in Petroleum Reservoirs Engineering from the University of Tehran in 2018. He did his master thesis on thermodynamic modeling of asphaltene precipitation in the presence of metal oxide nanoparticles using cubic plus association equation of state. Amir has been involved in multiple research projects during his academic career and he has co-authored several publications in reputed journals. Also, he received several prestigious national and international awards and scholarships. Amir currently is working on the application of green nanoparticles derived from biomaterials for producing green foams. His research is co-supervised with Dr. Steven Bryant.

Amir Varamesh - Ph.D

Brett graduated with distinction from the University of Calgary in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering specialized in biomedical engineering.  He completed an honour thesis in the University of Calgary’s Pharmaceutical Production Research Facility where he helped to develop bioreactor protocols for the scale-up production of regenerative therapies with a focus on stem cell bioprocessing. His work he won first place at the 2018 Alberta Biomedical Engineering conference for best undergraduate poster presentation. In the Hu group Brett brings his knowledge of stem cell tissue culture to the focus of bacterial cellulose based tissue engineering and biomaterial functionalization. Brett enjoys snowboarding in the winter months and hiking and waterskiing in the summer.

Brett Abraham - Ph.D

Zhangkang Li is currently a Ph.D. student under Professor Hu’s supervision in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at University of Calgary. He received his M.S. degree in materials engineering from Jiangnan University in 2019. Before joining Professor Hu's group, he had a seven-month stint at University of Sherbrooke. His research focuses on functional cellulose-based materials and tissue engineering. He likes basketball, football and swimming.

Zhangkang Li  - Ph.D.

Bruna Palma has received her B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering (2017) from Rio de Janeiro State University, in Brazil, and had the experience of working as a research assistant at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro for more than a year. She is a M.Sc. student in our group and her research focus on the selective decomposition of lignin via heterogeneous photocatalysis.

Bruna Palma - M.Sc.

Jiu Wang received his B.Sc. degree and M.Sc. degree from Wuhan University of Technology with a major in Materials Science and Engineering in 2017 and 2020, respectively. His M.Sc. project mainly focused on designing highly-efficient photocatalysts for CO2 photoreduction and he had several publications in reputed journals. He is currently a CFREF funded PhD student in the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr. Jinguang Hu and Dr. Md Kibria. His research mainly focuses on the design and synthesis of functional catalysts for sustainable hydrogen and value-added products from sunlight driven reforming of biomass.

Jiu Wang -​ Ph.D.

Ugo graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016 with a B.Sc. in chemical engineering and is currently pursuing an M.Sc. in the same discipline. His research interests include photocatalysis, biochemistry, and chemical thermodynamics. In his free time, Ugo likes to stay active. His hobbies include playing soccer and basketball, dancing to music, and traveling

Ugochukwu Nwosu  - M.Sc.

Faranak Afsar research focus on developing responsive gels for Enhanced Oil Recovery applications. Prior to joining the department, she completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc., in Chemical Engineering at Shiraz University and Ferdowsi University, respectively. Her M.Sc. project was about the synthesis and fabrication of polymeric membranes for the pervaporation process. Besides being passionate about making new materials in the lab, she likes dogs, baking, traveling around the world, and of course chocolate!

Faranak Afsar - Ph.D.

Hongguang received his MSc degree in Chemical Engineering from the Ocean University of China in 2020. His research interest mainly focused on the synthesizing of the nanomaterials, HER and organic pollutant removal using photocatalysis technology. He has published several research articles in the reputed journals. Also, he received Chinese National Scholarship for Graduate Student in 2019. Prior to joining in the Dr. Hu’s group, he worked as a research assistant in the Shandong Analysis and Test Center and Pilot National Laboratory Currently, He is a MSc student under the guidance of the Dr. Hu and Dr. Kibria and working on the biomass photoreforming using MXene-based photocatalyst.

​Hongguang Zhang- M.Sc.

Hamed graduated from Sharif University of Technology in 2020 with a B.Sc. degree in chemical engineering. His research interests include enzyme immobilization, protein engineering, and the application of enzymes in different fields. He has been involved in some research projects during his undergraduate studies, including the co-immobilization of enzymes for environmental applications and the synthesis of antibacterial nanocomposites. Hamed now works under Dr. Hu's supervision in the application of enzymes for the biodesulfurization of sulfur compounds. His co-supervisor in the BDS project is Dr. Li. In his free time, Hamed enjoys mountaineering, hiking, rock climbing, and of course, soccer.

 Hamed Shirvani - M.Sc.

Visiting Scholars

Guichun Hu joined Dr. Hu’s group in February, 2020 as a visiting scholar. She received her Ph.D. degree from South China University of Technology majored in Pulp and Paper Engineering in 2015. Her research mainly focuses on the design and synthesis of cellulose-based flexible printed electronics.

Guichun Hu

Hong Zhao is a PhD candidate in college of chemistry, chemical engineering and biotechnology of Donghua University. Her research mainly focuses on the design and fabrication of wearable electronics.

Hong Zhao



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Lab Alumni Members

Mohd Adnan Khan - Research Associate

Nael Yasri - Research Associate

Qing Wang - Visiting Scholar

Xinxing Wu - Visiting Scholar

Fen Li - Visiting Scholar


Ragesh Prathapan - Pos-doctoral Fellow 

Abdulhameed Al-Ghabkari - Pos-doctoral Fellow

Shengjie Li  - M.Sc. Fellow


Juan Sebastian - Undergrad Student 

Xinyao Liu - M.Sc. Student

Summer Students

Dhwanil Trivedi

Dhwanil has completed his Bachelor's in chemical engineering from D.J. Sanghvi College of Engineering, Mumbai. He is currently a course-based master's student at University of Calgary. Before joining his master's degree course, he was a research associate at ICT and Mumbai University where his field of study was heterogeneous catalysis. His current research focus is optimizing the photocataytic conversion of HMF into various value-added chemicals using different photocatalysts.

Shakil is currently a 4th-year chemical engineering undergrad student at the University of Calgary. He joined Dr. Hu’s group as a summer research student from the 1st of May 2021. His summer research project mainly focused on the photocatalytic oxidation of HMF to DFF and other value-added chemicals. He made use of a variety of photocatalysts to obtain the highest yield and selectivity. He is passionate about biochemistry, polymer chemistry, and pharmaceuticals. In his free time, he enjoys going outside, having good food, playing football, and watching Netflix. He also loves traveling a lot.

Shakil Ahmed Shetu