Grad Student of the Month

Each month, the EGS will be interviewing a graduate student from an engineering department at McMaster University. Check back on the last Friday of each month to see the latest feature profile!

If you'd like to be featured, please email

Sondos Ayyash

Sondos is a PhD Candidate from the School of Biomedical Engineering.

Where are you from?

My name is Sondos Ayyash and I spent part of my childhood in Nova Scotia and Mississauga but the place I can really call home is Milton, Ontario.

What department are you in and what is your research about?

Currently, as a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Biomedical Engineering at McMaster University my research interests lie in combining imaging modalities: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). I combine these two, in order to study the joint structural/functional model, which in turn will provide us with more complete and complimentary information on the brain of a depressed patient. To date, there are no laboratory tests that can be done to diagnose depression. Thus, my research focuses on detecting biomarkers for depressed patients, in order to be able identify and treat it.

What is your favourite thing about Hamilton?

What I love about Hamilton is the generous amount of nature we are surrounded by and the many waterfalls that decorate this beautiful city.

Here, Sondos is seen analyzing the structural connectivity (tractography) of a single depressed patients brain before combining it with the functional connectivity of the patient, into a fused model.

Danielle De Rango

Danielle is a Materials Science and Engineering MASc Candidate.

Where are you from?

I was born in Toronto and have three cities and I think of as home: Oakville (a town between Toronto and Hamilton), Hamilton and Milan, Italy.

What department are you in and what is your research about?

As a Master’s student in Materials Science and Engineering, my thesis research is on zinc-based coatings for automotiveadvanced high strength Light weighting of vehicles is a growing area of research, as lighter vehicles reduce fuel consumption and in turn, green house gas emissions. Advanced high strength steels are lighter steels and have excellent strength-ductility balance, making them superior in crash situations. Most advanced high strength steels are not naturally corrosion resistant and the iron in the steel will rust due to environmental factors. Galvanized zinc-based coatings solve this problem, as the zinc in the coating will corrode before the steel underneath, protecting the steel. Adding other elements into the zinc coating, such aluminum and magnesium, enable the protective coating to be thinner without compromising corrosion resistance, further light weighting the steel. My research focuses on analyzing how well the coating is adhering to the steel.

What is your favourite thing about Hamilton?

My favourite thing about Hamilton is all the variety of restaurant cuisines. There are so many delicious restaurants to eat, both near the McMaster campus, downtown and all over the city. The variety of cuisines, from all over the world means that no matter the type of food you are craving, there is a restaurant in Hamilton for you.

Danielle loading a steel sample in the galvanizing simulator. This simulator, which mimics the coating application in a continuous hot-dip galvanizing line found in industrial steel companies, will apply the zinc-based coating on the automotive steel. The coated steel sample can be further analyzed to confirm good coating adhesion to the steel.