Dr. Kevin De France 

Assistant Professor Queen’s University                                            

Dr. Kevin De France joined Queen’s University as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering in May 2022. His research interests lie in the design of sustainable materials using building blocks from cellulose and proteins. 

Prior to his appointment at Queen’s, Kevin was an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow in The Cellulose & Wood Materials Lab at Empa – Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science & Technology. His research at Empa focused on understanding structure-function relationships in bio-based nanomaterials, and translation toward commercialization. This included the design of sprayable food-packaging from cellulose nanofibers, emulsion stabilized fungal propagules for biological control, and composite films from cellulose nanocrystals and protein amyloid fibers. Kevin earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from McMaster University (2019), under the supervision of Dr. Todd Hoare and Dr. Emily Cranston, where his research focused on the design of cellulose nanocrystal based hydrogels for tissue engineering applications.

Lenka 2

Lenka Vitkova

Postdoctoral Fellow (co-supervised with Dr. Amsden)
Project: Reactive electrospinning of cross-linkable protein nanofibers for muscle tissue engineering

Lenka is a postdoctoral fellow in the De France Lab at Queen’s University. A proud alumna of Tomas Bata University in Zlín, Czech Republic, she got her Ph.D. at the Department of Physics and Materials Engineering. Her research dives into the world of biopolymers, focusing on advanced scaffold processing for cell cultivation. Her work on the electrospinning of hyaluronan has been recognized with the Head of the Department of Physics and Materials Engineering Award. She gained international experience at the University of Luxembourg and the Bayreuth University. At Queen’s, Lenka will explore self-assembled protein amyloids as materials for electrospinning of aligned fibrous scaffolds, aiming to guide muscle cell growth and differentiation. When she’s not immersed in research, Lenka enjoys climbing, reading and absurd hypothetical questions.

Graduate Students


Nasim Fadaie

PhD student (co-supervised with Dr. Xin, Civil Engineering)
Project: Sustainable materials for the treatment of emerging pharmaceutical contaminants

Nasim is a first-year doctoral student who holds a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST). Her academic expertise centers on Membrane Technology for water/wastewater treatment applications. She has previously worked on innovative thin-film composite membranes for forward osmosis processes. At Queen’s University, her research will be focused on developing bio-based nanofibril materials for both water treatment and biomedical applications. Outside of the lab, she is a fitness trainer and enjoys spending her free time in the gym.

Carolina Ordonez

Carolina Ordonez

PhD student (co-supervised with Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Champagne, NRC)
Project: Stimuli-responsive protein nanofiber emulsions for controlled delivery applications

Carolina is a second year doctoral student from Colombia. Her academic background includes bioprocess, corrosion and polymers. She has six years of prior work experience in Corrosion for the Oil and Gas industry. Carolina’s current project pursues enhancing latex-based coatings with carboxylated cellulose nanocrystals. Her future work will focused on developing emulsions with protein fibers that can be stimuli-responsive for biomedical applications. Aside from research, Carolina is passionate about dancing and making crafts. She likes to do exercise and is an active member of CEGSA.


Romina Shirazi

PhD student (co-supervised with Dr. Koupaie)
Project: Sustainable materials in water treatment and anaerobic digestion

Romina is a first-year doctoral student, and completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST). Her research interests lie in the area of nanofibrous membrane design for water purification and other biotechnological applications. She is enthusiastic about implementing her knowledge in designing high-performance bio-based materials for wastewater treatment and medical applications. Aside from her academic activities, she is a fitness enthusiast, an amateur photographer and painter.

Mohamed Wahbi

Mohamed Wahbi

PhD student (co-supervised with Dr. Kontopoulou)
Project: Sustainable routes to modify PLA for additive manufacturing

Mohamed is a third-year doctoral student who is interested in advancing sustainable materials for 3D printing. His academic journey began with a B.Sc. from Ibn Zohr University, followed by an M.Sc. from Cadi Ayyad University in Morocco. During his master’s studies, Mohamed participated in an Erasmus exchange program in Greece, where he spent a year dedicated to developing biobased polyesters for eco-friendly packaging. Currently, his research focuses on addressing the limitations of PLA in 3D printing applications.

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Marwa Naime

MASc student (co-supervised with Dr. Kontopoulou and Dr. Gilbert)
Project: Protein nanofiber alignment and rheological behavior

Marwa is a second year Chemical Engineering Master’s student from Lebanon who is passionate about sustainability. she is interested in integrating it into unconventional scientific research fields and exploring niche techniques to studying sustainable materials. Her project will focus on studying protein nanofiber alignment, orientation, and rheological behavior to better understand their effects on material properties. Outside academics, she is an avid enthusiast of archeology, morning runs, and escape rooms!


Wen-Qiang Wang

MASc student (co-supervised with Dr. Xin, Civil Engineering)
Project: Designing sustainable adsorbents for PFAS removal

Wen-Qiang is a first-year Civil Engineering Master’s Student from China, and brings four years of prior work experience in the chemical industry. He is interested in PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) removal from wastewater and is committed to advancing the field. His research project will be dedicated to leveraging cutting-edge technology to enhance the adsorbents’ capacity for PFAS removal in landfills. Beyond his academic pursuits, Wen-Qiang is an enthusiastic landscape photographer and enjoys playing badminton in his free time.


Yidan (Daniella) Wen

MASc student
Project: Protein nanofibers from algal proteins

Yidan (Daniella) started her academic journey as a nanotechnology engineering undergraduate at the University of Waterloo. Her capstone project focused on developing a glucose sensor for diabetes, based on gold nanoparticles. During her co-op she conducted research on microfluidic devices for point of care applications. She is now pursuing a Master’s degree at Queen’s University in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and is excited to explore the potential of protein nanofibers in biomedical devices and sustainable biomaterials

Undergraduate Students


Brigitte Gaudert

Queen’s USSRF researcher & BIOL 537 Thesis student (co-supervised with Dr. diCenzo, Biology)
Project: Antimicrobial hybrid materials with protein nanofibers

Brigitte is a Biotechnology undergraduate student who is passionate about finding sustainable solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change. As part of her thesis, Brigitte will be working in the Natural Nanocomposites lab where she will focus on the self-assembly of antimicrobial protein nanofibers. This exciting opportunity will allow her to combine her expertise in Biology with her interest in interdisciplinary studies in Chemical Engineering. Aside from working in the lab, Brigitte is passionate about film photography and is a member of the Queen’s rowing team.


Victor Di Donato

CHEE 408 Thesis student (co-supervised with Dr. Koupaie)
Project: Protein nanofiber-based materials for water treatment

Victor is in an undergraduate BioChemical Engineering student who is passionate about bio-science based engineering projects. He was the director for the 2022-2023 Queen’s Genetically Engineered Machine (QGEM) team where he led in the development of a water pathogen and detection device using Synthetic Biology. In Victor’s thesis he will work to develop protein-nanofiber based materials for wastewater treatment applications. This opportunity will allow him to further explore the intersection of Biology + Engineering. In his free time, Victor enjoys weightlifting, watching MMA and has found a new passion for cooking


Sam Fahrngruber

CHEE 408 Thesis student (co-supervised with Dr. Baker)
Project: Lysozyme nanofiber hybrid materials in electrochemistry

Sam is a fourth-year undergraduate student in Chemical Engineering interested in green chemistry practices and renewable materials. Sam’s thesis project involves using protein-based materials in electrochemical systems and is co-supervised by Dr. Kevin De France and Dr. Rachel Baker (https://bakerlab.ca/). He is the Co-Founder and Team Lead for the Queen’s Carbon Capture and Conversion Team which seeks to develop a bench scale carbon capture device and promote carbon dioxide removal methods. In his free time, Sam enjoys running, discovering new music, and camping.


Michaela Hammond

CHEE 408 Thesis student (co-supervised with Dr. Xin, Civil Engineering)
Project: Protein nanofiber aerogels as adsorbents for water treatment

Michaela is a 4th year BioChemical engineering student who is interested in areas of renewable energy, sustainable materials and water resources. Last year she completed a 16-month internship at Teck Resources (a mining company in BC), supporting water treatment and reclamation projects. For her undergraduate thesis, Michaela will be working on designing protein-based aerogels for water treatment applications, with both Dr. De France and Dr. Xin. In her free time, Michaela enjoys hiking, cooking, and playing on the Queen’s Ringette Team.

Caroline K

Caroline Kupczyk

ENCH 417 Thesis student (co-supervised with Dr. Xin, Civil Engineering)
Project: Investigating adsorbants for PFAS removal from water

Caroline is a 4th year Engineering Chemistry student who is interested in areas of groundwater engineering, water treatment, and green chemistry. Last year, she completed a 16-month internship at General Motors as an Environmental Engineer. Her key duties included water treatment support and environmental compliance monitoring. For her undergraduate thesis, Caroline will be working on absorbents for PFAS removal from landfill leachate with both Dr. De France and Dr. Xin. She enjoys spending time outdoors, playing basketball, and crocheting in her free time.


Nathalia Rosalle

NSERC USRA researcher & ENCH 417 Thesis student (co-supervised with Dr. Kontopoulou)
Project: Sustainable PLA blends with modified CNCs

Nathalia is an Engineering Chemistry undergraduate student interested in green chemistry and sustainable materials. Last year she completed a 12-month internship at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Whitby, focusing on the research and development of pharmaceuticals. After returning to Queen’s, Nathalia wanted to combine her passion for research and sustainable materials. Currently, Nathalia’s project focuses on the chemical modification of cellulose nanocrystals to improve their compatibility with PLA blends. In her free time, Nathalia loves to be active, spend as much time outside as possible, and play with her two dogs Moon and Star. Nathalia also enjoys going to spin classes, reading, and painting sunsets.


Geneviève Norris-Roozmon Undergraduate Researcher 2023