Thermodynamics in Cell and Tissue Cryopreservation: How Math Can Save Knees


This is a joint meeting of Canadian Society of Senior Engineers and IEEE Life Members Affinity Groups.

This series of presentations has been occurring for more than 20 years and is now being also advertised to the IEEE Northern Canada Section (NCS) Life Members Affinity Group (LMAG) through vTools and other IEEE LMAG's and IEEE members depending upon the topic.  At the same time the Canadian Society of Senior Engineers (CSSE) is using their national organization to provide information, the subject and speaker to members across Canada.

The April meeting will be held on Thursday April 18, 2024. The meeting will open at 12:30 pm MDT (2:30pm Eastern), with the presentation starting at 12:45 (2:45pm EDT). The meeting will be held via the Zoom platform, with the actual invitations sent the afternoon of Wednesday April 17. If you plan to attend and be included on the Zoom invite for this meeting please respond to Tom Madsen,, before noon on Wednesday April 17.

Please note the meeting originates in AB which is in the Mountain Time Zone, so if you are in another province you must account for any necessary time shift.

Summary: Cryobiology is the study of life at low temperatures with a major application being cryopreservation—the use of temperatures as low as that of liquid nitrogen (−196 °C) to preserve living cells and tissues. Cryopreservation is used every day to manage availability in research labs, by commercial distributors of cells for research, and by clinical banks that distribute cells and tissues for medical transplantation. Some cells and most tissues cannot be cryopreserved with adequate post-thaw viability and function limiting their availability. Cryopreservation outcome is governed by chemical and physical processes including heat transfer, osmotic/diffusive transport, and the effects of cryoprotectant additives that mitigate the deleterious effect of ice formation. For this reason, thermodynamics is fundamental to cryobiology. In this presentation, I will describe our group’s research combining thermodynamic understanding with biological experiments to arrive at new cryopreservation protocols for cells and tissues including endothelial cells and articular cartilage.


Bio: Dr. Janet A. W. Elliott is a University of Alberta Distinguished Professor and Canada Research Chair in Thermodynamics in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. Dr. Elliott was the first female graduate of the Engineering Physics Option of Engineering Science at the University of Toronto and received MASc and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto. Dr. Elliott has been a Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the University of Oxford Centre for Collaborative Applied Mathematics.

Dr. Elliott currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cryobiology, on the Editorial Advisory Boards of The Journal of Physical Chemistry and of Langmuir, and on the Editorial Board of Advances in Colloid and Interface Science. She has previously served as a member of the Physical Sciences Advisory Committee for the Canadian Space Agency, the Board of Directors of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering, and the Executive Committee of the American Chemical Society Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry.


Dr. Elliott’s research has been recognized nationally and internationally in science and engineering by the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lectureship Award (2022), Fellowship in the Canadian Academy of Engineering (2023), Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada (2022), Fellowship in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2019), Fellowship in the Society for Cryobiology (2018), Fellowship in the Chemical Institute of Canada (2015), Fellowship in Engineers Canada (2023), the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering Syncrude Canada Innovation Award (2008), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Doctoral Prize (1998), the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers Young Engineer Achievement Award (2001), the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Young Explorer’s Prize (2002), and Time Magazine’s Canadians Who Define the New Frontiers of Science (2002). Dr. Elliott has also received many provincial and University awards including the APEGA Summit Excellence in Education Award (2017), the University of Alberta Teaching Unit Award (2004, 2016), the Faculty of Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award (2021) and the Faculty of Engineering Graduate Teaching Award (2023). As one student put it, “She could convince rocks to study thermodynamics.”

  Date and Time




  • Date: 18 Apr 2024
  • Time: 12:30 PM to 02:30 PM
  • All times are (UTC-06:00) Mountain Time (US & Canada)
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