Nov. 1, 2022
Schulich prof inspires the next generation of energy industry
Dr. Maryam Mkhani grew up always asking the question, “Why?”
Infinitely curious, she enjoyed figuring out how things worked, investigating problems and finding solutions.
It led Mkhani down the path of engineering with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Tehran, graduating from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden with a master’s degree in environmentally sustainable process technology, and later a PhD in chemical engineering.
An innovator and educator, she has published dozens of articles on innovations in energy technology while sharing her knowledge with students as an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering.
Mkhani's work has led to her being named one of the 100 women profiled for the Women in Energy Transformation, a series created by the Pembina Institute, Globe Series and Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE).
The series spotlights influential women in the energy industry with hopes of creating a national dialogue about the role they play in Canada's transition to a clean economy while identifying opportunities for more women to get involved.
“Thinking differently and searching for better solutions is what inspires me,” says Mkhani. “This is a recognition for women who are amongst the most powerful and inspirational leaders in Canada, which only helps move the dial.”
A safe, reliable energy supply of the future
Mkhani has dedicated her life’s work to accelerating the adoption of new, low-carbon innovations.
She has worked with energy technology innovation ecosystems such as Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance and the Clean Resource Innovation Network, as well as a wide range of businesses from startups to large corporations, to provide her insights and expertise.
Currently, she is working with Worley, an engineering and advisory solution provider for decarbonization, to accelerate growth in the sustainability and energy-transition landscape. Mkhani says:
Energy is one of the basic needs for humans and is essential to our health, happiness and well-being, but it’s not sustainably generated.
“We need to provide secure and affordable energy to everyone while reducing the environmental impact of its production and consumption.”
She says that includes removing greenhouse gas emissions from our energy system through carbon dioxide capture, pre- and post-combustion of any hydrocarbon fuels, as well as capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Capturing the momentum already created
In Mkhani’s eyes, collaboration will be an essential tool in the energy sector’s transition, with idustry leaders, technology and solution developers, integrators, investors, academic institutions, education systems, and the public needing to be at the table.
She says we also have to be honest about the issues we are facing, and that we may have to stand up against the status quo to keep the conversation going.
Mkhani hopes the recognition she and the other women received through the Women in Energy Transformation series will open eyes to what is possible.
“As a professional engineer, an entrepreneur and an educator in the energy industry, I hope to continue connecting the business challenges to energy and environmental opportunities, and to inspire students to become the leaders in the industry,” she says. “They are our future decision-makers.”
Two UCalgary alumnae were also acknowledged through the program: Nagwan Al-Guneid, BA’05, MSc’15, who took her master’s in sustainable energy development; and Binnu Jeyakumar, BSc (Eng)’04, who graduated from mechanical engineering.