The team

ESDLab members, September 2019. ESDLab Team, September 2019
Not in the photo: Seongyeop Jung.

Academic staff

Principal investigator


Dr. Marc Secanell


Marc Secanell is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta, Canada, and the director of the Energy Systems Design Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria, Canada, in 2008 and 2004, respectively. He holds a B.Eng. degree (2002) from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (BarcelonaTech). In 2008, he was an Assistant Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada, Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation in Vancouver, Canada and in 2015-16 he was a visiting research scholar in the Energy Conversion Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, US. His research interests are in the areas of: a) analysis and computational design of energy systems, such as polymer electrolyte fuel cells, polymer electrolyzers, flywheels and cooling towers; b) fabrication and characterization of polymer electrolyte fuel cells and electrolyzers; c) finite element analysis; and, d) multidisciplinary design optimization. His current research projects include the development of the open-source Fuel Cell Simulation Toolbox (OpenFCST), an open-source framework to analyze fuel cells, the development of mathematical models and optimization strategies for cooling towers and high-speed composite flywheels, and the fabrication and characterization of low loading polymer electrolyte fuel cells and electrolyzers. He has authored over 50 journal articles, 30 conference proceedings and two book chapters receiving over 2,500 citations (h-index: 31 in Google Scholar). He has been an invited speaker at prestigious conferences such as the Electrochemical Society Meeting and the Gordon Research Conference in Fuel Cells. He has received several awards including University of Alberta, Faculty of Engineering Teaching Award (2020), Excellence in Engineering Research Award (2018), the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) Early Accomplishment Award (2013) and a Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Canada Scholarship (2007). He is the co-chair of the 2022 GRC Fuel Cell conference.

E-mail: Dr. Marc Secanell     CV: Curriculum Vitae

Marc Secanell's photo - Lab director
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Graduate students

Post-doctoral fellows


Ali Mohammadtabar


Ali received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Mazandaran University in Iran. He then received his M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the Azad University- Tehran branch in Iran for his work on improving the heat transfer rate in a cooling system using nanofluids. Ali completed his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta in the department of Mechanical Engineering. His research was primarily focused on the numerical investigation of thermal-driven thin film instabilities. The objective of his Ph.D. work was to fabricate micro/nano-sized patterns on the polymer surface using the thermal-induced patterning technique. Currently, he is working as a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Dr. Marc Secanell and Dr. Jason Olfert, and will be working on the development of the thermal decomposition simulation module for OpenFCST.

Email: Ali Mohammadtabar

Ali_Mohammadtabar
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Doctoral students


Andrey Volkov


Andrey graduated from Bauman Moscow State Technical University in 2018, completing his B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering with Honours. During undergrad, he conducted research on the evaporation and dynamic of moving fuel droplets under the conditions of the fuel injection in internal combustion engines. Additionally, he was involved in the development of the torsional vibration analysis software for reciprocating engines. Currently, he is pursuing his Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Marc Secanell and Dr. Jason Olfert. He is working on the development of the thermal decomposition simulation module for OpenFCST.

Email: Andrey Volkov

Andrey Volkov

Himanshi Dhawan


Himanshi received her B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering in 2018 from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, India where she worked as an undergraduate researcher in the field of Microbial Fuel Cells. Her current research focuses on developing Ir based catalysts for Oxygen Evolution Reaction within the framework of Future Energy System – Grids and Storage. This project is carried out in collaboration with Prof. Natalia Semagina



Email: Himanshi Dhawan

Himanshi Dhawan

Jiafei Liu


Jiafei received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Dalian University of Technology in 2019. During her studies, she mainly focused on synthesis and experimental tests of anion exchange membranes for fuel cell. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Secanell with a CSC scholarship and is working on numerical modelling of anion exchange membrane fuel cell and its optimization.

Email: Jiafei Liu

Jiafei Liu

Mohamad Ghadban


Mohamad received his Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Mechanical Engineering from Beirut Arab University in 2016. He interned at Associated Mechanical Engineers (AME) where his tasks involved mechanical building design particularly HVAC and plumbing design. He then joined the Mechanical Engineering program at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and obtained his Master of Engineering (ME) degree in 2018 where his research in the energy and pollution group involved quantifying key urban parameters relevant to the urban heat island in Beirut city and implementing a downscaling model that is capable of downscaling a velocity field from the scale of 1 km to the scale of 1 m using the Finite Element Method and mass conservation as a constraint. Currently, he is pursuing his Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Marc Secanell where his research involves developing a transient pore-scale simulation framework that is integrated with statistical reconstruction algorithms to study the effect of electrode microstructures on transport and electrochemical performance in PEFCs and LIBs.

Email: Mohamad Ghadban

Mohamad Ghadban

Ambuj Punia


Ambuj received his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical and Automation Engineering, and worked at Trident India Limited in the Energy division for 1 year and 2 months. He then joined Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee for pursuing his Master's degree specialising in Solar Thermal Energy Storage Systems. After completing his Master's, he worked as a Research Assistant at Indian Institute of Science Bangalore for a period of 6 months. The research group work involved molten salt thermocline energy storage using thermosyphoning effect with the help of nanoparticles. Currently, he is working as a graduate student under the supervision of Dr. Marc Secanell and Dr. Jason Olfert, and will be working on the numerical modelling of thermal decomposition of methane using solar central towers.

Email: Ambuj Punia

Ambuj Punia

Michael Moore


Michael received his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Dublin University, Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. He then received his M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta in 2012 for his work on multi-step oxygen reduction reaction kinetics mathematical modeling. He spent two years working at Intelligent Energy in Loughborough, U.K. where he was a research engineer in the stack development department. He has now returned to the University of Alberta to complete his PhD thesis, where he will be working on the development of an electrolyzer model using OpenFCST.

Email: Michael Moore

Michael Moore

Luis Padilla Urbina


Luis has a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi in Mexico. He received his M.Sc. in Mining Engineering in 2016 at the Metallurgy Institute, also from the UASLP, where he worked as assistant researcher in the experimental testing and computational analysis of wastewater treatment processes by electrochemical methods. He started his Ph.D. program in 2017 under the supervision of Dr. Marc Secanell in the EDSLab and will focus his research on the fabrication, testing and design optimization of low Pt loading unitized regenerative fuel cells.

Email: Luis Padilla Urbina

Luis Padilla Urbina

Fei Wei


Fei Wei received his M.Sc. in Power Engineering and Engineering Thermophysics from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in July 2017. During his Masters studies, he mainly focused on the thermal control and design of aerospace systems. After obtaining his Masters degree, he came to University of Alberta and joined the ESDLab in Fall 2017 under a CSC scholarship. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Secanell. His research focuses on computational and experimental analysis of heat and water transport in low platinum loading polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells.

Email: Fei Wei

Fei Wei

Vaishnavi Kale


Vaishnavi completed her Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from PES Institute of Technology, Bangalore in 2011. Upon completion of her studies, she worked at Mercedes Benz Research & Development in embedded control software development and validation of automated manual transmission, heat pump and energy management. She also worked at SEDEMAC Mechatronics, where she developed control software for integrated starter generator (ISG) and ignition in single cylinder engines used in motorbikes. She joined the University of Alberta in Fall 2016 to pursue a Master's degree under the supervision of Dr. Marc Secanell and transferred to a Ph.D. program in 2017. Her research focusses on flywheel optimization and control of flywheel energy storage systems.

Email: Vaishnavi Kale

Vaishnavi Kale
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Research Associates

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Masters students


Jake Mouallem


Jake graduated with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering with a Minor in Mathematics from the University of Alberta in 2022. As a part of the coop program he had an internship at Defense Research and Development Canada, where he researched explosive bubble collapses and assisted with explosion bulge testing of submarine armour. He will be starting graduate school in pursuit of his Master's Degree under Dr. Marc Secanell. Jake will be working on the modelling of Anion Exchange Membranes in openFCST.

Email: Jake Mouallem

Jake Mouallem

Eric Beaulieu


Eric graduated from the University of Alberta in 2020 with a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has previously conducted research on CO2 reduction catalysts which will be used in the process for creating solar fuels and he has assisted in the testing of thin film nanocomposite membranes for water filtration at varying temperatures. His current interests are in fuels and energy systems. Currently, Eric is working towards a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Marc Secanell and Dr. Steven Bergens. Eric will be working on fabrication and testing of iridium catalysts in fuel cells with an acidic electrolyte.

Email: Eric Beaulieu

Eric Beaulieu

Jasper Eitzen


Jasper received his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta in 2020. During his degree, he had an eight month internship at the University of Bremen IWT where he assisted with research and experiments on molten metal gas atomization, including developing a numerical model to estimate particle cooling during the atomization process. He also had a four month co-op work term at D-Wave Systems in Burnaby, BC testing reliability improvements made to cryogenic cooling systems. Jasper is currently working towards his Master's degree on researching and testing novel catalysts for anion exchange membrane water electrolysis under the supervision of Dr. Marc Secanell.

Email: Jasper Eitzen

Jasper Eitzen
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