The Bressler Lab is comprised of many talented research scientists from all over the world! For more information, click on each researcher's name to be connected to their LinkedIn.

Dr. Justice Asomaning
Program Manager

Dr. Justice Asomaning is the Program Manager overseeing the Bressler lab’s thermochemical conversion research initiatives. He obtained his PhD in Bioresource and Food Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Bressler in 2014 with research focusing on the lipid to hydrocarbons. He was one of the pioneering members of the team working on understanding the fundamental chemistries of the technology. Prior to re-joining the Bressler group as a Program Manager, he worked with the Alberta Government as a policy analyst at the Alberta Climate Change office in roles that involved working on the Bioenergy Producer Program, Carbon Offsets and clean fuel standard. Justice also has 4 years of Postdoctoral research experience, two of which were as Mitacs Accelerate Industrial postdoc with Forge Hydrocarbons Inc. He holds Master of Science degrees from the Ghent University and Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

Jingui Lan, MSc
Analytical Technician

Jingui Lan has worked as an analytical technician in the Bressler lab since January 2007.  He trains and assists postdocs, graduate students, and other researchers with regards to the operation of lab infrastructure, and also maintains and troubleshoots these instruments.  He also performs routine lab management activities, oversees laboratory safety, and handles the ordering of supplies for the Bressler lab.

Currently, Jingui Lan is actively involved in two research projects in the Bressler lab:
1) Degradable Baler Twine for Improved Environmental Sustainability and Livestock Safety
2) Design and Preparation of Biodegradable Tackifiers Incorporating Animal Waste Protein

Heather Jimmy
Fermentation Technician

Heather received her diploma in Biological Sciences – Laboratory Research and Biotechnology at polytechnic Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in April 2021. During her time at NAIT, she developed practical laboratory techniques relating to microbiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to name a few. In addition to these practical skills, she also gained experience with communication and professionalism in science while designing, executing, and presenting a research project that challenged the upper and lower limits of protein detection methods. In July 2021, she joined the Cvictus single cell protein project in the Bressler Lab as a fermentation technician. In this role, she works as part of a team to reach project goals by operating and maintaining a 5L bioreactor along with chemical and biological analysis of fermentation products.

Dr. Ramesh Arumugam
Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Ramesh Arumugam received his Doctoral degree (Ph. D.) in the Department of Chemistry at Anna University, Chennai- 600 025, Tamil Nadu, India. Currently, he is working as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science (AFNS), at the University of Alberta on the Biojet Initiative in March 2021.

He has been published a number of peer-reviewed publications (including Renewable Energy, Fuel, ACS Energy and Fuel, Journal of Cleaner Production, Journal of Hazardous Materials, International Journal of  Energy Research and International Journal of Hydrogen Energy) a total of 18 peer-reviewed publications, with 186 citations since 2019, h-index 9, i10-index 8 and possessing a comprehensive knowledge in catalysis for biofuel productions for the development of advanced technology for renewable energy production. His research work includes synthesis and characterization of novel mesoporous materials supported Ni-Mo catalysts for biomass up-gradation using hydrotreating process.

Dr. Fatemeh Bakhtiari Ziabari
Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Bakhtiari is a postdoctoral fellow in the Biorefining Conversions and Fermentation Laboratory at University of Alberta, working on the Biojet initiative. Her current line of research involves optimization and scale up of the alkene-based biojet technology developed in Bressler lab.

She received her PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alberta. During her PhD she has worked on developing process strategies to enhance the productivity of microbial bioprocesses aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of various industries, for which she received the Westmoreland Coals Company Graduate Scholarship in Environmental Engineering. She obtained a master’s degree in Polymer Engineering and a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran.

Her background in research is quite interdisciplinary as she has the experience of working on projects in the fields of lipid to hydrocarbon technology, microbial bioconversion, process development, and membrane fabrication for gas separation.

Dr. Reza Ahmadi
Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Reza Ahmadi is a MITACS Accelerate postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta with a decade of industrial and research experience. Reza is currently working collaboratively with Cṽictus Inc. and the Biorefining Conversions and Fermentation Laboratory at the University of Alberta to advance microbial production and downstream processing of a single cell protein for industrial purposes.

Reza received his M.Sc. in Food Engineering from the University of Tehran (Iran). For his research project, Reza worked on the development of a biodegradable film as a joint project between the University of Tehran and Iranian polymer and petrochemical institute. The outcomes of this project were published as a patent as well as one research paper. Before joining the University of Alberta for his PhD, Reza experienced different positions in the food industry as the quality assurance technician, production manager, and researcher and development scientist for around 3 years in Iran.

Reza got his Ph.D. in Food and Bioresource Engineering (University of Alberta, Canada) where he worked on the microwave-assisted synthesis of several value-added polymeric materials from canola oil-derived monomers. Reza published several research papers on his PhD project, was the recipient of several research and conference awards, and taught a few courses (as the principal lecturer as well as teaching assistant) during his Ph.D.

His teamwork abilities and multidisciplinary background in research from food and bioresource engineering to chemical and polymer science to biotech engineering has enabled Reza to advance sophisticated research projects and serve as a productive and reliable researcher in the team.

Dr. Afees Ayandiran
Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Afees Ayandiran is a postdoctoral fellow in the Biorefining Conversion and Fermentation Laboratory at University of Alberta. He is responsible for leading part of the Bressler group’s thermal conversions research. Specifically, he oversees the Fueling Canada through Biorefining of Agricultural Waste initiative, including developing methods for removal and recovery of acids from hydrocarbon stream, development of short and medium chain fatty acids co-product streams from the group’s patented LTH technology and development of processes to recover jet fuel from diesel streams of the LTH technology. He carries out research in the lab, collects and analyzes data and writes manuscripts. He also mentors and directs graduate students to help meet project deliverables and objectives in a timely manner.

Dr. Ayandiran received his PhD from Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Laboratory, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. During his PhD, he worked on Novel Catalyst development for production of Jet fuel range hydrocarbons from vegetable oils. He holds Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. His MSc. Thesis focused on Oxidative Dehydrogenation of Propane over Vanadium Oxide supported catalysts for production of propylene.

Through his various experiences, Dr. Ayandiran has received extensive training in Reaction Engineering, Clean Energy and Sustainability, Process Parameters Optimization, Technoeconomic Assessments and Biofuel Production.

Victor Gonzalez Jimenez
PhD Candidate

Victor has a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology obtained at the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes (Mexico); and a master’s degree, with merit, in Biological and Bioprocess Engineering obtained at the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom).

Currently he is developing his PhD research within the bioengineering area of the Bressler’s Lab. Specifically, he is focusing on the systematic search and isolation of endemic oleaginous microorganisms (primarily fungi and bacteria) that can metabolize waste lignin biomass generated as a by-product from companies located within the Canadian province of Alberta with the expectation to use the microorganisms cultures as a cost-efficient feedstock for the Lipid-to-Hydrocarbon (LTH) patented technology, which is a process that can create economically competitive drop-in fuels. As well, due to the recalcitrant nature of the lignin polymeric structure, it is planed to experiment with a couple of lignin depolymerization strategies to facilitate its metabolization by microorganisms.

Andres Merino Restrepo
PhD Candidate

In recent years, there has been a concerted global effort to develop innovative technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate the effects of climate change. Consequently, there has been a tremendous amount of research focused on the development of biofuel production platforms that can generate renewable liquid transportation fuels from a variety of feedstocks, particularly byproduct or waste streams. The primary objective of this research is to advance the Lipid-to-Hydrocarbon (LTH) technology that was developed and patented by Dr. David Bressler.

Andres’ research aims to develop a platform for the removal of acid and contaminants, specifically sulfur, from fuel streams using a variety of methodologies and the recovery of biojet fuel and renewable solvents from the LTH process. These enhancements of the LTH technology will drastically improve process economics, increasing the probability of commercial success and bringing true benefits to the Canadian and world biofuels and agricultural sectors by providing opportunities for biorefining conversions of agricultural biomass to renewable fuels, platform chemicals, and solvents.

Bernardo Araujo Souto
PhD Candidate 

Bernardo obtained his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Itajuba, Brazil. He worked as an undergraduate researcher in organic synthesis, focused on the microwave approach to obtain possible bioactive compounds. After that, Bernardo worked as an intern at the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials, when he studied the synthesis of bioactive compounds for heart disease. At the end of his undergraduate, he participated in the Mitacs internship when he joined Dr. Bressler’s lab to work on preliminary studies on microwave heating for the Lipid-to Hydrocarbon (LTH) project.

Nowadays, he is pursuing his Ph.D. degree at Dr. Bressler’s lab, working on the bio-jet fuel project. With the increasing demand for air transportation, the investigation of biofuel production for aviation is necessary to develop a sustainable fuel. Previous work at the lab showed the application of short alkene gases enhanced the branched hydrocarbons yield. This essential fuel fraction improves its freezing point, which is a desirable property for jet fuel. In this way, Bernardo’s research is focused on optimizing processes with four-carbon compounds to improve branching and cold flow properties to meet aviation industry standards, using model lipid compounds and the real feedstock. In addition, the study will focus on understating how the structural variability may affect the properties of the bio-jet fuel.

Dagem Haddis
PhD Candidate

Dagem Zekaryas Haddis is researching co-production of ethanol and cellulose nanocrystals through an enzymatic mediated approach in the Bressler’s lab. His major focus is in developing biorefinery strategies that have a great potential to increase productivity of CNC and value-added products and improve the overall process economics of the ethanol industry.

Dagem holds a master’s degree in Biochemical Engineering and bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and he worked for four years as a lecturer in the School of Chemical and Bio Engineering at the same university.

Besides scientific activity, Dagem like to participate in different voluntary activities, and he has been named ambassador of good ethics for his voluntary service in Ethiopia.

Yueh-Hao (Ronny) Hung
PhD Provisional Candidate

Yueh-Hao acquired his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Food Science at the National Taiwan Ocean University. His previous research focused on the development of biorefinery process for seaweeds by utilizing multiple marine bacterial enzymes and fermentation systems. Yueh-Hao is currently pursuing his Ph.D. degree in Food Science at the University of Alberta, specifically working on fermentation engineering under the supervision of Dr. Bressler and Dr. Sauvageau.

Global energy demand is increasing because of population and economic growth. To fulfill that demand, biofuels have been considered as an alternative to fossil fuels, which are the traditional energy sources. Dr. Bressler’s and Dr. Sauvageau’s labs have developed an automated self-cycling fermentation (SCF) system and a proof-of-concept that SCF improves overall productivity of ethanol compared to the conventional microbial batch fermentation. To expand the ability of cellulosic ethanol using as fuel, Yueh-Hao is researching in the SCF systems and different fermentation strategies. He aims at building a well-developed fermentation system that can help operators to acquire desire products and boost production efficiency.

Fantahun Bitew
PhD Provisional Candidate

Fantahun Bitew received his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and his master’s degree in Biochemical Engineering at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Currently, Fantahun is doing his PhD degree in Bioresource and Food Engineering at the University of Alberta on bioconversion of lignin into biofuels.

Lignin has been identified as a promising feedstock for producing biofuels using microbes by converting it into lipids because of its aromatic nature. The main challenges of using microbes to convert lignin into lipids are the recalcitrant nature of lignin and its high molecular weight. The key step in the utilization of lignin for biofuel production is the depolymerization of lignin into small molecular weight aromatic products. Diverse strategies have been used for degrading lignin into aromatics, but faces a problem like low yield, high cost, and environmentally non-benign. Therefore, in Dr. Bressler's lab, he focuses on environmentally friendly and easily scalable different techniques to degrade West Fraser’s Amallin lignin into aromatic monomers, thereby easily metabolize by microbes and produce lipids that can be incorporated into LTH technology patented by Dr. Bressler to produce biojet fuel.

Bingxin Hai
MSc Student

Bingxin Hai obtained her bachelor’s degree in Honors in Food Science at the University of Alberta. Throughout her undergraduate degree, she has implemented a one-year independent research project in the development of a protein-stabilized hempseed oil emulsion and the systematic investigation into its oxidative stability. In addition, she has completed two consecutive internships in the food industry as a Quality Assurance and R&D Technician.

After graduation, her interest in alternative energy has inspired her to take a closer look into the aviation industry. Coming from Asia, she understands the importance of travel and connecting communities. However, the aviation industry is one of the top ten greenhouse gas emitters. Bingxin wants to contribute to the movement for a global low-carbon based economy. Thus, she is currently pursuing her research on biojet fuel conversion pathways in Dr. Bressler’s lab.

Dr. Bressler’s group has recently developed and patented a novel process where short-chain alkenes are introduced to the Lipid-to-Hydrocarbon (LTH) reactors. This supplementation substantially increases the amounts of branched hydrocarbons necessary for aviation fuels to confer desirable properties such as a reduced freezing point. Bingxin’s research focuses on upgrading this process by investigating into the parameters and conditions involved in the addition of ethylene to the LTH pyrolysis step, using a range of model lipid compounds, waste oils and fats, and low-grade crop oils as feedstocks. This research aims to enhance the viability and competitiveness of biojet fuels by improving process economics and overall performance.

Elisabeth Kezia Widjaja
MSc Student 

Elisabeth obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology at the Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia through her research on fibrinolytic enzymes from fermented soy products. During her undergraduate studies, she also has participated in value-added products generation process, both liquid state and solid-state fermentation from starch substrate.

In the University of Alberta, she will continue working on fermentation of byproducts stream from Air-Current Assisted Particle Separation (ACAPS) technology under the supervision of Dr. Bressler and Dr. Vasanthan.

Frehiwot Hailu
MSc Student 

Frehiwot received her BSc and MSc in Chemical Engineering (Process Stream) from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia in 2016 and 2018 respectively. Immediate after graduation, she became a lecturer at Wolkite University, Ethiopia till July 2021. On top of that, she took IT, business innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship courses in order to mold herself in various ways. In September 2021, she joined the LTH (Lipid to Hydrocarbon) research group as MSc student under the supervision of Dr. Bressler.

Energy generation and waste disposal are two most difficult challenges facing the world today. In this way, lipid appears to be the logical choice to produce renewable hydrocarbons, since it is abundant and available all over the world. Moreover, these hydrocarbons are ecofriendly and sustainable biofuels capable of helping meet the global demand. As Frehiwot is interested in a research area that collaborates both academy and industry which means transfer of knowledge into practice (to the real world), her research mainly focuses on removal of contaminants specifically sulfur to meet stringent fuel standards for intended application.

Zakaria Mohamed Said Kaal
MSc Student 

Zakaria holds a bachelor's degree in environmental science and management from the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. During that time, he developed an interest in renewable energy, specifically renewable liquid fuels. This growing interest resulted in a short stint at the biomass energy lab at the University of Malaya upon graduation, where the focus of his work was the conversion of agricultural residues to biodiesel. Zakaria is interested in bridging the gap between academia and industry, aiming to conduct research that has impacts outside of the laboratory environment. Collaborations and interactions with industry are paramount in ensuring academic research has real world results. Currently, Zakaria is researching methods of upgrading the diesel cut of the LTH process into jet fuel to aid in meeting the increasing demand on renewable jet fuels.

Past Members:

Dr. Michael Chae
Program Manager

Dr. Michael Chae is the Program Manager of the Biorefining Conversions and Fermentation Laboratory run by Dr. David Bressler in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences.  In this capacity, Dr. Chae helps to oversee all aspects of Dr. Bressler’s research laboratory, including research program development, supervision of graduate students and postdocs, financial planning and budgeting, and the editing of manuscripts and reports.

Dr. Chae received his PhD from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta in Molecular Genetics. His work focused on using a model organism, Neurospora crassa, to study intracellular signaling pathways.  Following his graduation, he was awarded a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the process of ageing at Saitama University in Saitama, Japan. He then moved to Dallas, Texas for another postdoc at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of circadian rhythms. In 2012, he moved back to Edmonton, Alberta to work for Maxxam Analytics, an environmental testing laboratory, as a Scientific Specialist. He was later promoted to Soils Supervisor of the Inorganics Department. Dr. Chae was recruited to his current position in April 2014.

Through his various experiences, Dr. Chae has received extensive training in genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and inorganic chemistry.