Since the New Year, the Faculty of Engineering has welcomed four new professors to its team. We are pleased to welcome Dr. Stéphanie Guilherme, Dr. Mehrdad Sabetzadeh, Dr. Shiva Nejati and Dr. Paula Branco.
The Faculty is extremely excited to welcome these talented professors on campus!
Stéphanie Guilherme, Professor, Civil Engineering
Helping Northern and Indigenous communities get access to a reliable and clean water system.
Professor Stéphanie Guilherme, our newest Faculty member in the Department of Civil Engineering, started with the Faculty in January and will begin teaching courses in the fall 2020 term.
Originally from France, Professor Guilherme moved to Canada after completing her degree in Chemical Engineering and her Master’s in Environment, Psychology and Health. She completed her PhD at l’Université Laval in 2010 during which time she studied drinking-water quality in small communities in Newfoundland and in Quebec: “I always wanted to work on access to water,” she tells us, “there had been no project related to drinking water in Nunavik since 2004”, she says speaking about her current research.
Guilherme’s research focuses on her passion and dedication to helping Northern and Indigenous communities get access to a reliable and clean water system: “They are very small and isolated villages, but the population is really motivated and really involved in the community,” she tells us.
She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Faculty. She will no doubt be a valued member to the department!
Paula Branco, Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Predicting and anticipating rare events through Machine Learning.
Professor Paula Branco started her career tenure as a mathematician. She taught mathematics in Portugal, her native country, for more than ten years before redirecting her path to Computer Science. Making the smooth transition from math to computer science, she completed both a Master’s degree and PhD in CSI. “The transition was very easy, [math and computer science] are very connected. Where I am currently working, in Machine Learning, it has a strong mathematical basis. It’s nice to see math applied in a different way,” she says.
Prof. Branco continued her journey in CSI, moving to Canada to pursue a postdoctoral position at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Now, after completing her postdoc, she brings her expertise in Data Science and Machine Learning to the Faculty as a researcher and as a professor.
Professor Branco’s current research focuses on predicting and anticipating rare events through Machine Learning technologies. These rare occurrences can happen in contexts as diverse as extreme weather conditions or cyber security breaches. Her long-term research objective will be to transition from a more theoretical framework to an applied approach. “To me, it’s very important to see the impact of my research on people’s day-to-day life,” she explains.
She has quickly evolved in her role at the Faculty, currently teaching a course in databases this semester and one in AI for cyber security applications in the coming fall.
Mehrdad Sabetzadeh, Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Developing software to help ensure companies are meeting proper requirements and standards.
Professor. Mehrdad Sabetzadeh grew up in Iran, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering before moving to Toronto at the age of 21. He pursued his studies in Computer Science at the University of Toronto and received his MSc in 2003 and his PhD in 2008. The following year, he left for the University of College London in England after receiving an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship, where he lived for ten years before returning to Canada: “Canada is the country that I have always called home.”
Professor Sabetzadeh’s motivation to move back to Canada was also prompted by his enthusiasm to working and collaborating with industry partners: “I really look forward to working with others and to interact with industry. However accomplished we may feel, it’s absolutely paramount to have our work grounded into practical needs,” he says.
He will also wear another hat at the Faculty as a first-year JAVA programming professor: “I’m coming from a background where I’ve been mostly teaching professionals, so there are many differences [when teaching students]. It’s very interesting so far and I’m enjoying every bit of it.”
Shiva Nejati, Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Improving the reliability and dependability of automated driving systems.
Professor Shiva Nejati also completed her Bachelor’s degree in Iran in Computer Engineering. Later, she moved to Canada to study Software Engineering at the University of Toronto: “At the time, I was young and I couldn’t see the big picture, but I understood that software engineering was on the applied side of computer science, and that’s what made me choose the software path,” she says.
Professor Nejati completed both her Master’s and her PhD at the University of Toronto before moving to Europe, where she would get the opportunity to conduct research by working with industry: “I wanted to learn more about applying what you’ve learnt in the context of academia to industry.” She moved back to Canada with the aim of continuing to apply her research to concrete problems: “We are trying to find overlaps between the work we did there and the industries here,” she says.
She is also teaching an undergraduate engineering course this semester.
A familiar research trio
Prior to their arrival in Canada, professors Sabetzadeh and Nejati have both been working in collaboration with current Faculty Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1), Prof. Lionel Briand. The trio worked together in the Software Verification and Validation department at the University of Luxembourg’s Center for Security, Reliability and Trust.
Their research focuses on the regulatory compliance and the testing of software systems in areas that include autonomous vehicles, satellites and telecommunications systems, and legal informatics.
Their approach to research has always been to work closely with industry on the real problems they are facing in order to build impactful solutions, and they now hope to foster new collaborations with Ottawa’s industry sector.