Expert researchers

Fanshawe's Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI) has a wealth of expert researchers specializing in food innovation and sustainable buildings and automation. A great example is Dr. Kamal Al-Rafea, who works with the biotechnology processing/production and food processing technology industries in developing methods for improving industrial processes. Josie Olaveson is another one of our premier researchers, who has worked with emerging food industry enterprises such as My Active Snacks to develop novel recipes and processes for optimal commercialization.


Partnering with community organizations and leveraging College resources, our researchers are helping businesses leap ahead competitively in their respective industries. Explore the drop-downs below to learn more about our roster of researchers. 


Kamal Al-Rafea, PhD - Chemical Engineering

Photo of Kamal Al-RafeaResearch specializations: Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology, Food Processing, Renewable Energy

Background: Kamal holds a BSc and MASc from Ryerson University and a PhD from the University of Waterloo, all in chemical engineering.

Kamal is a professor in chemical engineering sciences with special research interests in biotechnology, food processing and renewable energy. He leads projects at CRI focused on adopting innovative ideas and solutions with applying technical improvements on the production process, sustainable operations, product design and carbon management. This supports the biotechnology processing/production and food processing technology industries with developing methods for improving industrial processes.

"I'm excited to work with industry partners on their research projects and incorporate new technology into CRI's advanced food innovation labs," says Kamal. "I also love working with Fanshawe students to create an effective environment for learning which accommodates students' diverse cultural and educational backgrounds, experience, and individual learning style."

Connect with Kamal Al-Rafea, PhD on LinkedIn

Ravi Kanaparthi, M.Eng - Bio-materials and Biochemical Engineering

Photo of Ravi KanaparthiResearch specializations: Ravi is a professor in the School of Applied Science and Technology at Fanshawe. He is a multi-disciplinary research specialist with experience in the fields of polymer science, chemical engineering, analytical chemistry, biotechnology, material science and engineering design.

At CRI, Ravi connects with industry partners from various sectors to solve a variety of challenges across multiple industries with innovative solutions. 

Background: "Research stretches my mind and challenges my ability to think outside the box, which leads to new possibilities," says Ravi. "Managing a research project helps me master the literature, improve my planning skills, helps me to find strengths in the team, helps me to identify checkpoints, and allows me to work with a diverse group of talented individuals."

Ravi is passionate about working with students: "Research and education strongly complement each other," Ravi says. "Working with students brings new energy and excitement to the project. It makes you a better researcher, teacher, and mentor."

Connect with Ravi Kanaparthi, M.Eng on LinkedIn

Mustafa Khdair, IE and ASQ CMQ/OE - Industrial Engineering

Photo of Mustafa KhdairResearch specializations: As a seasoned quality management leader, Mustafa enjoys delivering holistic business solutions to address top-priority business challenges. His research specializations at CRI help companies with business process management, production scale-up through automation, operations performance management, project management and operating model development. These are key areas along the unique R&D journey that each business takes to ensure operational readiness to scale up and successfully execute growth strategies.

Background: "I love supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs in analyzing their business operations to design and implement solutions for revenue growth and operational efficiency enhancement," says Mustafa.

Mustafa is an industrial engineer, certified management consultant and certified manager of quality/organizational excellence and brings more than 20 years of experience to help businesses with their growth development challenges. "I enjoy working with and supporting CRI’s industry partners’ project team in defining business challenges and recommending effective solutions," he says. "This supports companies in efficiency enhancement initiatives and bottom-line improvement."

Connect with Mustafa Khdair, IE and ASQ CMQ/OE on LinkedIn

Josie Olaveson, MBA, RSE – Food Innovation Scientist 

Photo of Josie OlavesonResearch specializations: As a professor in Food Processing - Operational Leadership within the School of Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Fanshawe College, Josie has a specific research interest related to increasing sustainability in dairy production.

Background: Josie holds a Masters of Business Administration in Food and Agribusiness, trained at the Stratford Chefs School and is a Red Seal Certified chef with 25 years of experience supervising many professional kitchens, developing restaurant concepts and recipes and contributing to the local food movement in Southwestern Ontario.

Josie leads projects at CRI that aim to solve industry challenges related to developing new and improved food products with growing agri-business enterprises. Examples of work she is involved in include: improving ice cream formulations for special diets; developing casein food products; and advising on the manufacturing process related to probiotic yogurt production.

Working with student research assistants is particularly enjoyable for Josie: "When I have the opportunity to work with students on a project, I am constantly amazed by the creative and innovative ideas they bring to a project. And I couldn’t be prouder when I see how our industry partners are impressed by our student’s level of professionalism."

"What I enjoy most about working on research projects is the dynamic nature of each challenge," says Josie. "With each project comes a renewed sense of curiosity and an enthusiasm for the task at hand. It’s incredibly rewarding to provide knowledge, resources and collaborative solutions to small and medium-sized companies, which can help them to make better research-based business decisions."

Connect with Josie Olaveson MBA, RSE on LinkedIn

Sohail Qazi, M.Phil., PhD - Molecular Biotechnology Scientist

Photo of Sohail QaziResearch specializations: Sohail's overarching research interests revolve around proteins/enzymes and secondary metabolites that are either involved in microbial pathogenesis or in cellular defence.

At CRI, Sohail has two distinct specialties:

  • Microbial seed treatments for crop and soil health using the emerging area of precision agriculture that encourages the judicious use of agriculture practices for increasing crop productivity and profitability in an eco-friendly manner. He is using natural coating agents for coating seeds with beneficial microbes of agricultural importance.
  • Shelf-life studies of foods and food products, which are critical to ensure their quality control and safe consumption by Canadians. In this work, he applies microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology tools for the analysis and identification of food-borne pathogens. 

Background: Sohail has a Ph.D. in Applied Microbiology from the University of Saskatchewan and has worked as a Research Fellow/ Visiting Scientist in the interdisciplinary research groups (Natural and Engineering Sciences) at the University of Alberta, Natural Resources Canada, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario. As a lead investigator, he enjoys working along with his team on challenging projects and in finding new ways to tackle difficult scientific questions. His unique skill set encompasses training in genomics, proteomics and metabolomics while working on different projects for over 15 years for government, academia and industry.

Sohail is excited about the way that CRI's research activities work at the interface of industry and academia: "The research being done at CRI has practical applications to solve the real-world problems," he says. A gifted teacher, Sohail also derives great joy from working with students. "Teaching is my passion," he says. "I like to transfer skills to the next generation so they can achieve their goal and be successful in their endeavours."

Connect with Sohail Qazi, PhD on LinkedIn

Sahar Samimi, PhD - Process Engineering Scientist

Photo of Sahar SamimiResearch specializations: At CRI, Sahar focuses on proof-of-concept projects in process and product development for industrial partners. Her research interests combine engineering and natural science with a specialization in process design, bio-extraction, refinement and formulation of high value-added products.

Background: "The most enjoyable part of leading a research project is the opportunity to devise and develop creative, applied solutions; addressing challenges and shortcomings in the health and environmental sectors."

As a professor in the Faculty of Creative Industries, Sahar is excited to train future researchers who will continue leading innovations in food processing. "I find it rewarding to mentor students by immersing them in applied research where they are challenged and can experience the thrill of discovery, innovation and realization," she says. "Applied research learning helps build transferable skills that students can take away and potentially use to approach their own challenges as they enter into an industry career. CRI is a state-of-the-art applied research center that drives collaboration and innovation, empowers industry and community partners allowing students and researchers the opportunity to learn and grow in rich experiential learning environments."

With over 15 years of professional experience as a process engineering scientist, Sahar has led multidisciplinary research and tech-transfer projects in academia and industry.

Connect with Sahar Samimi, PhD on LinkedIn

Jennifer Wright, BDes - Sustainable Fashion Industry Research Expert

Photo of Jennifer WrightResearch specializations: At CRI, Jennifer has been a primary investigator exploring topics surrounding fashion sustainability, fashion and the environment, unethical labour issues within the industry, skills training for newcomers to Canada and others with barriers to employment, PPE (primarily reusable facial masks for protection from the Covid-19 virus), viable micro-manufacturing, garment re-manufacture and re-make and circularity.

Her current major research project combines research into apparel skills training for newcomers to Canada and others with barriers to employment, intentional design that tells the narrative of the detrimental social and environmental impact of fast-fashion, diversion of textile waste from landfill through the re-manufacture of apparel and social enterprise to support skills training. This all creates a more sustainable way of thinking about apparel and reduces the fashion industry's waste footprint.

Background: Sustainability to create a more livable world is the foundation of all CRI research and Jennifer applies that lens to her work in fashion industry research as a professor of fashion design in Fanshawe's Faculty of Creative Industries.

Jennifer became a professor and researcher after 22 years of employment in the fashion and apparel industry as a designer, product developer, freelancer and entrepreneur. Her teaching specialties include visual communications, fashion illustration, computer illustration, portfolio development, business and entrepreneurship and global sourcing.

"The key to the research that I do is community collaboration," says Jennifer. "CRI supports building the community partnerships that enable the research projects to thrive. Opportunities to work with the community lead to very positive social and environmental change and provide great experiential learning for students."

An experienced teacher, Jennifer enjoys inspiring future innovators in the fashion industry: "I believe in bringing together teaching and research to offer unique experiential learning to students outside of the four walls of a classroom, encouraging them to be social and environmental change-makers within their chosen field of work. It is so rewarding to watch students identify possibilities to make change within their community."

Connect with Jennifer Wright, BDes on LinkedIn



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