2019 Edition

The Sustainability Research Symposium 2019 focused on the most recent innovations and progress towards a sustainable future. We see sustainability as going beyond environmentalism to encompass  issues of human rights, equitable and inclusive growth, and secure and healthy communities. We seek innovation in all its forms – technological, but also social, pedagogical, and organizational. This student-led conference has served as an interdisciplinary platform for students and researchers to share ideas and research for the last eight years. Our 9th edition of this symposium highlighted the work of researchers and innovators who are pushing the boundaries of biochemistry, urban architecture, and epidemiology to respond to some of our planet’s most pressing challenges. We welcomed over 100 attendees, and hosted 4 keynote speakers and 11 student posters. Members from 19 departments in 8 faculties at McGill participated, and we also welcomed groups and individuals from the wider sustainability community.

This event was made possible by the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative. We thank them for their support.

The 2019 Organizing Team

  • Sarah M. Mah – Co-lead
  • Joanna Ondrusek-Roy – Co-lead
  • Spencer Nelson – Communications
  • Patrick Slack – Academic coordinator
  • Rémi St-Gelais – Finance
  • Olivia del Giorgio – Logistics
  • Jennifer Langill – Logistics & support
  • Hannah Whitlaw – Social media

2019 Speakers


Dr. Weichenthal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of  Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His research program is dedicated to identifying and evaluating environmental risk factors for chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. To support this objective, Dr. Weichenthal develops new approaches to population-based exposure assessment and examines how the urban built environment influences air pollution exposures at both the individual and population-level. His recent studies have examined the health effects of air pollution from biomass burning as well as the oxidative potential of particulate air pollution. Dr. Weichenthal holds Masters and PhD degrees from the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health at McGill University. 


Audrey Moores is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry (2007-17) at McGill University. She is a leading expert in the field of catalysis using metal, metal oxide and biomass-based nanomaterials, with a special emphasis on sustainable processes and use of earth abundant starting materials. Her research was recently highlighted in Nature in 2016, and she was selected as an emerging leader in 2017 by the RSC journal Green Chemistry. She is the scientific director in the board of GreenCenter Canada, an Ontario-based tech transfer company, and the associate director of the Facility for Electron Microscopy Research (FEMR) at McGill since 2017. She is a member of the advisory board of the Green Chemistry Institute (America Chemical Society) since 2018. Since 2016, she is an associate editorship for ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. She received a Discovery Accelerator Supplement Award in 2018 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. She was recently invited by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization for to teach a 5-day workshop in South Africa in the fall 2018.


Sociologist and social entrepreneur, Bruno Demers is specialized in various issues related to sustainability and the built environment. In 2011, with a grant from Équiterre, he launched RénoCyclage, an action-research project to benchmark and promote the best practices and social business models for the building material reuse and deconstruction sector. From 2012 to 2016, as director of education at the Canada Green Building Council, he developed courses and conferences for LEED rating systems, urban planing, architecture and building products. He has written several articles for Esquisses, the Ordre des Architectes du Québec (OAQ) journal and has also worked as a freelance journalist to cover the COP21 Paris Climate conference in 2015, and Quito’s UN Habitat III sustainable cities summit in 2016. As of 2017, he is both a member of the board of Architecture Without Borders International and the executive director of Architecture Without Borders Quebec, the humanitarian arm of the OAQ. As a charity organisation providing architectural services to vulnerable communities, AWBQ is currently developing “Materials Without Borders”, a new circular economy program to reclaim and redistribute building components.


As the Associate Vice-Principal of Innovation and Partnerships, Professor Coulombe’s primary mandate is to support the overall mission of advancing research excellence at McGill while also increasing research performance and research intensity at the University. His duties include overseeing the Office of Innovation and Partnerships within Research and Innovation, with the goal of driving University progress in technology transfer and partnership programs with industry. He also has a leading role in developing large-scale institutional initiatives and major funding proposals for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and other areas related to this portfolio. A former senior research scientist and project leader for GE Global Research (1997-2001), Professor Coulombe joined McGill in 2001, serving as Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 2012 to 2018. He was the Canada Research Chair in Non-Thermal Plasma Processing from 2002 to 2012 and has been a Gerald Hatch Faculty Fellow since 2015. His contributions to research and development have resulted in numerous reports of invention and patent applications. Recognized for excellence in graduate supervision with the 2010 Carrie M. Derick Award, his contributions to the academic community have strengthened the knowledge base and influenced the direction of research at the University.