Ephrem Chemali received the Honours B.Sc. degree in Physics and the M.Sc. in Atomic Physics degree from York University in 2009 and in 2011, respectively. During his master’s, he worked on the precision spectroscopy of lithium ions and wrote a thesis on the “Characterisation of a Lithium Ion Source.” In 2010, his project won the DAMPhi award at the Canadian Association of Physicists Conference. After completing his M.Sc., Ephrem worked as project manager for Moose Power, a solar rooftop developer, where he managed the interconnection of 1.7 MW of rooftop solar projects. He recently joined the McMaster Institute for Automotive Research and Technology (MacAUTO) where his current work includes modeling of Sodium Nickel batteries. His research interests lie in energy storage systems and energy harvesting technologies for hybrid and electric vehicles.
During his childhood, Ephrem took a keen interest in how things worked. More specifically, Ephrem loved to discover how all types of vehicles functioned. One of his most treasured childhood memories was the construction of a model Maglev train with tracks made of small, permanent magnets. At the time, Ephrem was not at an age to power his train with electromagnets, so he instead used a small, battery-operated fan (conveniently “borrowed” from his sister) as the driving device. It’s memories such as this that explain Ephrem’s immense interest in lab work. As a research assistant in his undergraduate years, he quickly felt at home while designing and building components at the student machine shop. It was truly a place where he could use his creativity to solve many experimental hurdles and optimize his system for the best results.
After receiving his Honours B.Sc. degree in 2009, Ephrem decided to continue his research and joined the master’s program at York University. With the many developments made in the atomic theory of two-electron systems, Ephrem was motivated to experiment using precise spectroscopic measurements in order to present a rigorous test of this theory. He was delighted to receive the DAMPhi award while presenting his M.Sc. work at the 2010 Canadian Association of Physicists Conference. After completing his master’s, Ephrem decided to gain industry experience.
In 2011, Ephrem began working for Moose Power (a Toronto-based solar rooftop developer), where he worked as a project manager, managing the solar projects from the preliminary design stage to the commissioning and commercial operation stage. During his time there, Ephrem brought 6 projects through to commercial operation. Although he loved working in the solar industry, his passion for research and renewable energies had not ceased. Ephrem embarked on both a major and exciting, life-changing venture, when he decided to pursue his research interests in energy storage technologies. He joined Dr. Emadi’s group in January 2013 and began exploring research paths in energy storage devices. Presently, Ephrem is working on a physics-based model of Sodium Nickel battery cells. In particular, he is considering the electrochemical processes involved in the operation of Sodium Nickel cells, such as mass transfer and electrode kinetics.
Ephrem’s main passion, other than his work, is enjoying life. More importantly, he loves travelling off-the-beaten-path. As he describes, “Every country has its own unique culture, exquisite food, picturesque sceneries, and great people. Discovering these differing elements can open your eyes to how unique we all are.” When traveling, you can find Ephrem by the beach 70% of the time. “We don’t get great beach weather in Toronto or Hamilton, so I take advantage of it when I have the chance” he says. Being that his background is Lebanese, one of Ephrem’s favourite places to visit is Lebanon, where much of his extended family still resides.
His favourite quote is from Albert Einstein who said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” These are words that clearly define the kind of man Ephrem is, and the kind of man he aspires to be. Working hard is definitely important, but Ephrem always makes time to help members of the community. As he states, “It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.”