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Tao PengTao Peng, pictured here in a mass spectrometry lab in the Centre for Engineering Innovation, completed his doctoral studies under the joint supervision of professors at the University of Windsor and Sorbonne University.

Unparalleled international experience enjoyed by UWindsor’s first cotutelle graduate

An agreement between the University of Windsor and Sorbonne University in France has provided an unparalleled international experience for a UWindsor grad student.

Tao Peng is the university’s first student to complete a dual PhD degree at UWindsor and a partner institution. As a cotutelle student, Peng was jointly supervised in his thesis research by faculty at each institution.

“This unique opportunity was provided through a partnership of committed professors who recognized Tao’s potential,” says Patti Weir, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. “It was a pleasure to work with our partners at Sorbonne University.”

For the past four years, Peng synthesized catalysts that harvest solar energy to produce hydrogen.

“Hydrogen is a clean energy source and can be used to power automobiles without any emission except water,” says Peng, who is now working as a postdoctoral researcher with Jerald Lalman, one of his PhD thesis supervisors and professor in UWindsor’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Peng says the research he conducted in Windsor examined the principle of the catalysts, which will help scientists understand the foundation of catalyst synthesis. His research at Sorbonne University was related to the application of the catalysts.

“We deposited our catalysts from University of Windsor on glass substrate as a film and used the catalyst film to clean water under solar light,” he says. “We will know how our catalyst particles behave in the practical application. The application in turn will help us design a better catalyst nanoparticle at the University of Windsor.”

In 2014, Peng, originally from China, received one of 75 Ontario Trillium Scholarships worth $40,000 per year. The scholarships are awarded to top international doctoral students to support their studies in Ontario.

In 2015, he completed a six-month Mitacs internship at Sorbonne University under the supervision of Farzaneh Arefi-Khonsari, who later supervised his doctoral thesis.

—Kristie Pearce