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    All your Science News in one place

New HR Support for Departments and Schools

New HR coordinators Banushaa Theiventhiran and Michael Daku

Banushaa Theiventhiran and Michael Daku have joined the Faculty of Science as Human Resources Coordinators.

Postdoc Joins Dean's Office to Help Advance EDI

Rodrigo Narro Perez

Postdoctoral Fellow Rodrigo Narro Pérez has joined the Office of the Dean to help faculty and staff with their equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Rodrigo recently completed his PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences in School of Earth, Environment & Society under the supervision of Carolyn Eyles. Rodrigo's research focused on understanding the impact that retreating tropical glaciers will have in the Cordillera Blanca, part of the northern Andes in Perú

Rodrigo has served as one of the Co-Conveners for the Race, Racialization and Racism (R3) Working Group of the President’s Advisory Committee for Building an Inclusive Community. Working alongside Juliet Daniel and Daniel Coleman, Rodrigo addresses issues of race and racism across the campus community. He was also a member of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force for the Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and currently serves on the Board of Directors with the Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre (HARRC).  Rodrigo also served on the McMaster Students Union and McMaster Science Society as an undergraduate student.

Rodrigo most recently co-founded the Latin American Network at McMaster University (LANMU) with faculty members, staff and students from across campus. The network's mission is to expand supports to the Latin American/Latinx community at McMaster and elevate research and teaching related to Latin America and its peoples. 

What will you be working on in your new role?

I'm in the unique position of advancing equity, anti-racism and justice work in both the Faculty of Science and the Office of the Vice-Provost (Faculty)  Doing work within the Faculty while also supporting work across campus is very exciting.

I'll be working on a variety of initiatives in the Faculty of Science. Every Department and School is at various stages regarding this type of work and will have distinct needs and priority areas. I'll be providing advice, feedback and guidance as each unit moves forward with their initiatives and planning regarding equity, inclusion, anti-racism, accessibility and Indigeneity.

One thing that I am passionate about, and is a research area of mine, is looking at how we integrate anti-racist, inclusive and accessible pedagogies in the undergraduate science curriculum. Recently, Kalai Saravanamuttu (Chemistry & Chemical Biology) and I were awarded a small grant to support this research and I’m excited to work on this in the coming months.

I also hope to explore how we can support the success of racialized students in the Faculty of Science and do equitable and purposeful outreach in our local Hamilton community. In particular, I plan on working alongside the McMaster Access Strategy that assists academically qualified students from equity-deserving groups in Hamilton and surrounding communities to access university education. The Access Strategy has identified students who are Black, Indigenous and Latinx/Latin American, and intersecting identities, as priority groups and I'd love to work with youth in these communities and build pathways to McMaster and our Faculty of Science. 

What drives your commitment to EDI?

I was born in Perú and immigrated here when I was 10 years old. My family and I faced racism and xenophobia as soon as we arrived. Within a week of starting work in Canada, my dad was told 'to go back to México'. Those experiences, as well as those through my education, marked my understanding of how people would treat me based on my skin colour.

We all belong to communities and I think many folks have forgotten that. You do not have to experience certain discrimination and hardship to acknowledge injustice and stand up for others. I have learned that a community based approach is essential in this type of work and that and if we take care of one another and support one another in this type of work then it can become filled in solidarity and care. This work is ongoing and does not end when we step outside campus, it is something that all of us should strive to do in our lives every day.

It's also important to acknowledge that I am inspired by folks who have come before me and have been doing this work for a long time. I am lucky to have colleagues and mentors who have inspired me and encouraged me to be an active agent of change.
Why is it important to build an equitable, inclusive and anti-racist Faculty of Science?

We know that excellent science occurs when scientific teams are comprised of individuals with different backgrounds and experiences. Despite this, scientific disciplines in Canada and the U.S. are not diverse, and have changed very little in the last couple of decades. We know that not everyone is afforded the same research and learning opportunities due to race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and class. Systemic and structural barriers and procedures, many of which often are historical, detract racialized, disabled, queer and low-income students from pursuing a career in the sciences. In addition, there is plenty of research that shows that representation is integral for student success. In the U.S., there is a lot of research that shows that when students see themselves in the faculty complement, they are more likely to pursue similar research interests and see themselves as a scientist. In addition, not every student can afford to ‘volunteer’ in a research lab, understanding this and ensuring all students can have research opportunities is important. An equitable, inclusive, diverse and anti-racist Faculty of Science is a goal that everyone should strive for. This will allow all students, staff and faculty members to reach their full potential and contribute to the great scientific research, teaching and learning that occurs and that can occur within our Faculty of Science.  

Welcome Rodrigo at narrora@mcmcaster.ca.

Presidential Honours for Martin Gibala

 President's Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies recipient Martin Gibala

Kinesiology Professor and Faculty of Science Research Chair Martin Gibala is one of four McMaster faculty members to be recognized with 2021 President's Awards for Excellence in Graduate Supervision.

Administered by the School of Graduate Studies, the award was also given to Jason Busse with Health Research Methodology, Jamal Deen with Biomedical Engineering and Michel Grignon with Health, Aging & Society & Economics.

The award recognizes faculty members who've demonstrated excellent supervisory and mentorship skills. Nominations, which require letters of support from graduate alumni and current students, are reviewed by the Associate Deans of the School of Graduate Studies.

Martin currently supervises two PhD students and two MSc students in his Human Performance Lab. Over the years, Martin has supervised eight PhD and 15 MSc students to completion as well as more than 50 students completing undergraduate thesis projects and research placements. 

“Supervising trainees is one of the best parts of my job," says Martin. "It's very rewarding to collaborate on an idea and see it through to project completion. My students have taught me to take chances and this has often involved them pursuing new approaches and techniques. In the process, they've advanced the overall impact of our work. I'm extremely grateful.”

Marie Elliot, Chair of the Department of Biology and a Faculty of Science Research Chair,was the 2020 award recipient in the Faculty of Science.

Two New Canada Research Chairs in Science

A collage featuring Katrina Choe and Sarah Styler.
Katrina Choe and Sarah Styler are the newest Canada Research Chairs in the Faculty of Science.

Katrina and Sarah were among 10 McMaster researchers awarded Canada Research Chairs earlier this month. Sarah and Katrina joined the Faculty of Science in 2020.

Katrina, an Assistant Professor with the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Social Behaviour

"During my graduate and postdoctoral training, I had unique opportunities to learn and apply a variety of both established and cutting-edge techniques for neuroscience research," says Katrina. "By combining multiple techniques, I've uncovered new aspects of how the brain coordinates social behaviour and how oxytocin influences it. I'm excited to continue making new discoveries in this research area using integrative approaches with the support of the Canada Research Chairs Program.

Katrina thanks her graduate mentor Dr. Charles Bourque (McGill) and postdoctoral mentors Dr. Tom Otis (formerly UCLA, now Sainsbury Wellcome Centre) and Dr. Daniel Geschwind (UCLA). "They were always been so supportive of every ambitious experiment I wanted to do, and they provided essential career advice wherever I needed it. I feel extremely privileged to have received mentorship from these brilliant scientists who really care for their trainees.

Sarah, an Assistant Professor with the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry. "I always tell students that the arc of my academic career in environmental and atmospheric chemistry began somewhat inauspiciously. In the summer before my second year of my undergraduate degree, I made a split-second decision between environmental chemistry and evolutionary biology. At the same time, I embrace the role that luck and chance have played in determining my academic interests, and the breadth of topics that I and my research team can explore as atmospheric chemists. For example, at the moment, students in my research group are studying the chemistry occurring in urban road dust, wildfire smoke and ash, and museum storage environments."

Sarah says she's been fortunate to have had so many mentors and teachers throughout her career. "There were the supportive faculty in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Toronto where I completed all of my training; my excellent colleagues at the University of Alberta, my former institution; my inspiring network of peers in Atmospheric Chemistry at Canadian and international institutions; my first group of graduate students, who I often think taught me more than I taught them. My first mentor, best teacher, and all-around inspiration, though, has always been my brilliant and creative mom, who took me on nature walks, helped me to design science experiments, and encouraged my learning in all areas, and who is still my first point of contact for all trials and tribulations."

With Katrina and Sarah's appointments, there are now 19 Canada Research Chairs in the Faculty of Science: Congratulate Katrina at choek@mcmaster.ca and Sarah at stylers@mcmaster.ca.

Two Researchers Among the World's Most Cited

A collage of images stacked on top of each other, with Altaf Arain on the top, and Stuart Phillips on the bottom.
School of Earth, Environment & Society Professor Altaf Arain and Kinesiology Professor Stuart Phillips  have been named on Clarivate's Highly Cited Researchers list for 2021. 

Altaf, Science Research Chair in Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change and Director of the McMaster Centre for Climate Change and Stuart, Canada Research Chair in Human Skeletal Muscle Health in Aging and Director of the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence, are joined by 18 other McMaster researchers on the annual international list. More than 6,600 researchers from around the world made this year's list, including more than 200 Canadians.

According to Clarivate, Altaf's 163 publications have been cited 11,465 times while Stuart's 366 publications have been cited 26,029 times. 

Introduced in 2001, the annual list identifies researchers who have demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. Their names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top one per cent by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index.

The methodology that determines the “who’s who” of influential researchers draws on the data and analysis performed by bibliometric experts and data scientists at the Institute for Scientific Information at Clarivate. It also uses the tallies to identify the countries and research institutions where these citation elite are based.
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