February 1 marks the start of Black Histories and Futures Month, a relatively new approach to Black History Month. This new vision, introduced by Movement 4 Black Lives in 2015, facilitates the intentional action of looking at the past, acknowledging the struggles, and achievements, of Black communities, while promoting an equitable future, continued accomplishments, and a commitment to ongoing education. Queen’s University is celebrating the month with several events. We will be spotlighting some of our current and past black identifying undergraduate and graduate students.

Dr. Maryam Agboluaje, a former Chemical Engineering PhD student, always had an interest in solving puzzles and excelled in subjects like math and science in high school. She pursued a BSc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alberta, during which time she had the opportunity to work as a co-op student with various industries including Enbridge and Hinton Pulp, obtaining experience in both project management and the pulp and paper industry.

“I find developing a concept on paper and then seeing it applied in real life fascinating and motivating,” says Dr. Agboluaje. “These qualities about myself made studying engineering a good fit for me and informed my decision in pursuing a career in this field.”

Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Dr. Agboluaje came to Queen’s to pursue graduate studies. She started as an MASc student in Dr. Robin Hutchinson’s group, and as her interest grew in polymer reaction engineering, she decided to promote to PhD. She studied polymer reaction engineering which involved studying the reaction kinetics of polymerization systems used to produce materials found in consumer goods. She also developed mathematical models that can describe these systems. This involved designing batch and semi-batch reaction experiments that would provide the information required to develop these models.

Recent publication: Agboluaje, M., G Kaur, E. Dǔsǐcka, A. Urbanová, M. Pishnamazi, B. Horváth, M. Janata, V. Raus, I. Lacík, R. A. Hutchinson. (2023) A Systematic Study of tert-Butylacrylamide-Methyl Acrylate-Acrylic Acid Radical Solution Terpolymerization. Can. J. Chem. Eng. 101, 5300-5314.

Dr.  Agboluaje  currently works as a Digitalization Specialist for BASF (Germany), one of the largest chemical producers in the world, which she commenced shortly after she completed her PhD in early 2022. This position parallels the research she conducted as a graduate student and gave her an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in the chemical engineering department in an industrial setting. She indicates that living in Germany has been an exciting adventure, and the transition has been a positive experience thanks to supportive colleagues and friends.

“As a researcher, I am able to collaborate and work with people to formulate solutions to questions that arise. The knowledge and experience I gained as a graduate student at Queen's made the transition from academia to industry smooth.”

Dr.  Agboluaje  would like to see Black Histories and Futures month celebrated by seeing platforms being made available for Black Canadians to share their journeys in the academic and professional space across various career fields.

“Black Histories and Futures month means to me a time to share the past and current accomplishments and contributions Black Canadians have made and are making to their communities.”