Graduate Student Profiles, April 2024

April 9, 2024 by Alyx Dellamonica

As we wrap up the semester, we asked two more of our graduate students to tell us about their research goals, the start of their journeys in chemistry, and why they chose U of T.


A young woman with long dark hair and athletic clothing poses in front of a mountain.

Melissa D'Amaral

Melissa completed an undergraduate degree in chemistry at Toronto Metropolitan University, and pursued a Master's degree in Molecular Science also from TMU. For her Master's thesis, she worked on the synthesis of organosilicon compounds for the application of catalytic direct amide bond formation. Currently, she works in Dr. Alana Ogata's lab at UTM studying single biomimetically mineralized enzyme/MOF composites by fluorescence microscopy.

Where did your interest in chemistry come from?

My grade 12 chemistry teacher played a significant role in inspiring my curiosity and passion for chemistry. I would also say that once I got into undergrad and began applying what I know in a laboratory setting, that is what really motivated me to keep wanting to learn more. 

What did you look forward to most as you began your graduate studies here at U of T?

I was most looking forward to working at a world-class university with state-of-the-art facilities. I was also looking forward to learning a new field of chemistry. I pursued a Master's degree in organic chemistry and that was mostly all I knew, but now I work in a bioanalytical lab. I've learned so many new skills and topics, and have learned to use a range of analytical instruments. 

Were there any surprises when you began?

I was surprised about how much there was for me to learn. Analytical and materials chemistry is vast, and I'm still learning as I go, but I work with an incredible group of people that have helped me learn in this new field!


Closeup of an Arab man with moustache, beard and glasses, clad in a labcoat and looking with purpose into the camera.

Ahmer Imam

Ahmer Imam completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at University of Toronto Scarborough campus, with an undergraduate thesis completed under the supervision of Dr. Meissam Noroozifar and Dr. Kagan Kerman in the field of Nanomaterials for Biosensors.

After doing your undergraduate studies, what was it that made you decide to continue your graduate studies here in the Department of Chemistry?

My Interest in chemistry had always stemmed from a greater desire of always wanting to understand everything in the universe, and chemistry was a nice balance in between physics and biology which also had its influence reaching from many fields, ranging from Pharmaceuticals all the way to the Energy Storage and Generation sectors. I wanted to learn about everything, but limited by my time on this Earth as an ephemeral being, I believe Chemistry would have offered me the opportunity to achieve my goal.

What did you look forward to most as you began your graduate studies here at U of T?

The thing I looked most forward to when starting graduate studies had to have been finally being the "ideas" guy, and being the person to be looked to for answers. I wanted to be in the position where I could be collaborating with others to come up with discussions and answers for natural phenomena. Being a graduate student allows for this opportunity.

Have there been any surprises so far?

The most surprising thing when starting, or I should say culture shock, was getting used to accepting how much there is still left to discover even within spaces that already seemed to be fully understood. There is always something new to discover and understand.