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March 2013

Globalink Professor Profile: Dr. Pierre Sullivan from UToronto

Sky high airplanes and lifesaving medical devices may not appear to have much in common at first but for Dr. Pierre Sullivan, the two are connected every day in his lab at the University of Toronto’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. In order to help the airplanes soar and devices to work on a Nano-scale, Dr. Sullivan looks forward to welcoming the fresh perspectives brought by the Mitacs Globalink students he hosts every summer.

While much research exists to study large commercial airliners, micro-air vehicles remain under-studied by comparison. As Director of the Turbulence Research Lab at UofT, Dr. Sullivan is studying aerodynamic control of these aircraft flying at low speeds, with the goal of developing methods to improve their performance at minimal cost to manufacturers.

Simultaneously in collaboration with Dr. Ridha Ben Mrad, his microfluidics team is studying the understanding of the mechanics of tiny fluid jets for use in medical apparatuses. The jets can be used for the analysis of biological samples at the nano-scale, delivering near-invisible droplets accurately while minimizing patient pain. For several years, Mitacs Globalink students from India and China have played a role in both of the projects under his wing.

Dr. Sullivan explains that hosting Globalink students is a welcome opportunity to understand different approaches to his research. Last year, his team developed an Invention Disclosure based on some of the research his 2012 Globalink student, Zhifang Yang, undertook. They are also looking to publish an academic paper related to his 2012 students’ work in microfluidics this year.

“I’ve always been impressed by the quality, knowledge and work ethic of the Mitacs Globalink students I’ve hosted, and it’s been very good to have a student come from another country who brings good ideas and a new perspective to the challenges in my lab. ”

When asked if he would recommend Mitacs Globalink to other Canadian faculty, Dr. Sullivan said: “Never! I want all of the students to myself! But actually, I would absolutely recommend it and have done so in the past.  It not only gives students the chance to experience Canadian universities and labs, but we also benefit from the ability to meet prospective grad students who give us a new perspective on the work.”

Mitacs would like to thank the following government and international partners, in addition to our full and associate university partners, for their support of Globalink in 2013: Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Government of Alberta, le Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior of Brazil, the China Scholarship Council, the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.