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PROFILE: Undergraduate researcher, Leigh-Anne McKnight
“I’m really interested in renewable energy and sustainable resources and products,” says fourth-year engineering chemistry student, Leigh-Anne McNight. “I knew Professors Champagne and Cunningham had experience in that field, so I was immediately drawn to the prospect of working with them.”
Aside from her undergraduate studies, McKnight also works under the supervision of Civil Engineering professor Pascale Champagne on research into cellulose nanocrystals. It’s about developing new, more environmentally sustainable plant-based materials for manufacturing.
"Queen’s has so many professors with different areas of interest and expertise, so you really have the opportunities to do whatever your heart desires."- Leigh-Anne McNight
“We’re developing a reinforced cellulose,” says McKnight. “Cellulose is a substance found in all plants. We’re putting polymers onto the surface of the cellulose nanocrystals, allowing us to isolate the molecule while it’s dispersed in a mixture of several polymers.
“Research work gives you an opportunity to hone-in your learning of three or four years of engineering education into something that is very specific. You can often draw a lot of your past experience into your research.”
McKnight has a few tips and words of encouragement for undergraduate students interested in seeking out research positions.
“When you start looking into research, it’s important to get an understanding of what you’re interested in,” she says. “Queen’s has so many professors with different areas of interest and expertise, so you really have the opportunities to do whatever your heart desires.”
Learn more about undergraduate research opportunities and find ways you can participate here and apply for your own Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship (USSRF) here.
NEW MATERIALS: Leigh-Anne McKnight is gaining valuable research experience while working toward her undergraduate degree. It will position her well for graduate studies or for the workforce after she graduates.