Faculty of Science's Fall Term Update on courses, labs, tutorials, exams, research and fieldwork

Major Federal Investment in Nuclear Reactor

The Canada Foundation for Innovation has awarded $14.25 million to a national project led by Bruce Gaulin with the Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Bruce GaulinThe Building a Future for Canadian Neutron Scattering project will construct three new neutron beamlines in the McMaster Nuclear Reactor’s Neutron Beam Lab.

The reactor is Canada’s only source for neutrons and supports the work of hundreds of scientists, engineers, and students in more than 40 Canadian institutions.

Potential benefits of the research include technologies to reduced greenhouse gas emissions; enhanced reliability and competitiveness of Canadian nuclear power and auto parts manufacturing industries; knowledge to aid the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and antibiotic resistance; and knowledge of quantum materials that could enable breakthroughs in information technology devices.

“Neutron scattering really is a vehicle for the creation of knowledge about materials,” says Bruce, who is the Brockhouse Chair in the Physics of Materials. “Once understood, the materials — and therefore the technology they enable — can be optimized and improved to better our quality of lives.”

The project will advance research and innovation in areas such as materials for clean energy technology, the structural integrity of components of vehicles or nuclear power plants, biomaterials for understanding and combating disease, and materials for information technology.

“On behalf of our many partners, I would like to thank the CFI for recognizing the importance of this project, which is indeed building a future for Canadian neutron scattering,” says Karen Mossman, Vice-president, Research.

“Constructing the additional neutron beamlines at the MNR will sustain Canada’s status as a world leader in materials research and technology development and will allow us to train the next generation of scientists and engineers here at home.”

The Canada Foundation for Innovation awarded more than $35 million to five projects at McMaster and more than $518 million in research infrastructure funding across Canada.

Four Graduate Student Recognition Award Winners in the Faculty of Science

Three Faculty of Science graduate students and the Chair of the Biology Department have received university-wide recognition awards.

The annual Graduate Student Recognition Awards, administered by the School of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Students Association (GSA), acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of McMaster's graduate student community, including graduate researchers, teaching assistants, administrative staff and graduate supervisors.

Daniella Lato (Biology) received the Therese Quigley Award of Excellence for Graduate Student Leadership in Athletics, awarded by the GSA.

Shawn Hercules (Biology) received the Mary Keyes Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service to McMaster, awarded by the GSA.

Pallavi Mukherjee (Chemistry and Chemical Biology) received the Dean's Award for Outstanding Leadership and Contributions to the International Graduate Student Community.

Marie Elliot march newsletter

Marie Elliot, Chair of the Department of Biology, received the President's Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision.

"Graduate students are at the heart of all our research programs," says Marie, who was also elected last month as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

"Investing in graduate students means investing in ourselves and our research success. I feel so fortunate to have had a chance to work with such universally outstanding graduate students throughout my career. Every individual comes in with a unique set of experiences, knowledge and skills and our lab as a whole benefit from these distinct perspectives and approaches. One of the most interesting parts of my job is figuring out how best to support, motivate and guide everyone."

Pallavi, a Ph.D. student in Chemistry, is the new Co-President of McMaster International Graduate Student Association. "Being an international student, I understand the feeling of uncertainty that comes up when moving to a foreign country. I want to make sure our association helps every international student makes a smooth transition, engages in social activities, makes new friends and really feels at home at McMaster."

Pallavi says she had tremendous support when she first arrived as a graduate student ."My friends Dipankar Saha and Nikita Jhaveri helped me a lot when I moved to Canada with everything from housing, administrative work, getting acquainted with Hamilton and lots of emotional support. My supervisor Dr. Paul Berti and our Department's Research Lab Manager Darko Ljubic helped me immensely with training, adjusting to the academic system in Canada and being there whenever I needed any assistance."

A provincial and national competitive synchronized swimmer since she was 11 years old, Daniella has served as an executive member, Vice President, President and coach with the McMaster Synchronized Swimming Club for the past decade. "I just love the sport and want to help the club flourish," says Daniella. "My family has always encouraged me to get involved in things that I am passionate about. This has lead to many wonderful opportunities to be involved with the McMaster community. My previous Mac synchro coach Nicole Maffey has been instrumental in helping guide me through my various synchro executive positions.

"Supporting graduate students is crucial to the success of the University. McMaster prides itself on being Canada's most research-intensive university. Graduate students are doing the bulk of this research. Without proper financial, mental health and school/research supports, we cannot do our best. Graduate students are extremely motivated and create clubs, labs and classes that benefit everyone at McMaster. We graduate students succeed, the whole University succeeds."

Watch and Share the Faculty of Science's EDI Webinars

Monique Pipkin left and Amelia Juliette DemeryA recording of the March 2 Safe Fieldwork Strategies webinar is now available online. The strategies for students, supervisors and institutions were presented by Cornell University graduate students Monique Pipkin (left) and Amelia-Juliette Demery.

Last November's 10 Simple Rules for Running an Antiracist Lab webinar is also posted online. The webinar featured Bala Chaudhary from DePaul University and Asmeret Asefaw Berhe from the University of California.

The equity, diversity and inclusion webinars are presented by the Faculty of Science, the McMaster Science Society and the Science Graduate Students Association. Student leaders Nicole Wong and Rhea Desai joined Acting Associate Dean of Research Juliet Daniel and Dean Maureen MacDonald in interviewing the webinar presenters.

Zooming in on Lab Work for Students

Jennifer Williams Jennifer Williams is a Ph.D. candidate in the Vascular Dynamics Lab with the Department of Kinesiology. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennifer switched from her previous human research to begin running experiments in a cell model, working with Gianni Parise and his students Michael Kamal and Mai Wageh.

"With the pandemic restricting access to labs for our undergraduate students, I’ve been hosting virtual sessions to show students lab procedures and also how research happens – all the excitement of new results and the challenges of running experiments.

"I started using my computer to Zoom students into the lab back in January. But I wasn't able to bring the students with me as I conducted experiments. My supervisor, Dr. Maureen MacDonald, suggested that I set up a harness to take the students with me through the lab.

"Students now get to join me on Zoom through a smartphone I wear in a harness. I also wear a Bluetooth headset so they can ask and answer questions while I'm working. We run sessions almost daily as I go through various cell culture procedures, including growing up the cells, treating them with various hormone conditions, running Western blots for protein analysis, and probing with immunofluorescent probes to look at intracellular metabolites. I also record the sessions for students who couldn’t join in and to develop training videos.

"I initially ran the sessions for undergraduate students in my lab but the opportunity has now grown to include students from other programs who are interested in seeing what research looks like. The virtual medium makes it very accessible for students to drop in and everyone gets an unobstructed view. Students who would have never otherwise had an opportunity this term to see the inner workings of a research lab now have a chance to see and be a part of this experience. Hopefully, these sessions are getting students excited and prepared for going into a lab and doing hands-on research in the near future."
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