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UOIT Chemistry student's research work earns top spot at provincial conference

Allen Pauric finishes first in Physical/Theoretical section

A fourth-year UOIT student's research into developing an alternative catalyst that could be mass produced at a low cost for use in fuel cells placed him at the head of the class at a conference of the province's top chemistry students.

Allen Pauric, who is in the Concurrent Bachelor of Science (Honours)/Bachelor of Education program, finished first in the Physical/Theoretical section at the 37th annual Southern Ontario Undergraduate Student Chemistry Conference (SOUSCC). His presentation, A Surface Modification Route to Non-Precious Metal Fuel Cell Catalysts, was delivered March 28 at the conference held at Brock University and is also the topic of his honours thesis.

"This was an extremely valuable opportunity for me, as I've never been in a situation before where you are part of an event where everyone is drawn together for the purpose of sharing knowledge and research about chemistry," said Pauric, an Oshawa native who was only 16 when he began studies at UOIT. "Everyone was excited to hear about all the research being done by students across Ontario, including here at UOIT. It really broadens your horizons and allows you to see the full spectrum of what can be done and what is being done."

More than 170 delegates attended the conference, including four UOIT students and Dr. Brad Easton, an assistant professor - Chemistry, all representing the Faculty of Science. Pauric will also be presenting his results at the Canadian Society for Chemistry's national conference and exhibition to be held May 30 to June 3 in Hamilton.

His thesis looks at his research into alternatives to the use of platinum as a catalyst in fuel cells. His work involves using iron as the catalyst and his specific methodology is already realizing results comparable to those achieved by leading researchers around the world. Making the success even more impressive is the fact he has yet to optimize the catalyst system as part of his research; rather, he has strictly focused on proving the methodology works and investigating related trends. If fuel cells are mass produced in the future, iron-based catalysts offer potential for significant cost savings and are also available in abundance when considered against a precious resource such as platinum.

"All of us at UOIT are tremendously proud of Allen and congratulate him on attaining this lofty standing," said Dr. William Smith, dean of the Faculty of Science. "His accomplishment is reflective of UOIT's commitment to providing significant research opportunities for students at the undergraduate level. That commitment allows our students to work on groundbreaking research projects that will impact society and succeed at these types of events."

Prior to his appearance at SOUSCC, Pauric prepared by sharing his work with a group of students and faculty on campus and then applied their feedback to his presentation. His success is another affirmation that UOIT is home to some of Ontario's top students when measured against their peers from across the province. The UOIT Faculty of Science is dedicated to creating and sharing scientific knowledge and infusing the thrill of discovery in students, preparing them for rewarding careers as the next generation of highly skilled scientists and professionals or for post-degree studies and graduate school.

Of his experience to date at UOIT, Pauric noted that it's a big advantage for students to be able to access their professors at any time, a key differentiator from many other universities. "Everyone knows you by name here," he said.

To learn more about the Faculty of Science, its programs, globally experienced faculty and research activities, visit

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