PNB PhD Student Wins Provincial 3 Minute Thesis Competition

Matt Berry 3MT winnerThe Faculty of Science applauds Matthew Berry, graduate student in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, for winning top prize in the Ontario 3 Minute Thesis Competition. On April 19, he beat students from 20 other universities in Ontario to advance to the national round of the contest.

Berry's research takes advantage of McMaster’s interdisciplinary strengths by blending psychology and theatre to measure whether acting is an art or science. Berry’s winning presentation, Scientifically Quantifying the Craft of Acting, can be seen on YouTube.

Faculty of Science celebrates career milestones of Philip White

The Faculty of Science celebrates the career contributions of Philip White, Kinesiology, who gave his final two lectures on April 5, 2018. We recognize for White for reaching this career milestone, and thank him for his considerable contributions to the McMaster University community.

White completed his M.Sc. (Kinesiology) and Ph.D. (Sociology) at the University of Waterloo. In 1978, he began teaching at the University of Waterloo, and in 1986, he joined Kinesiology at McMaster as a lecturer. A full professor at McMaster since 1998, he received multiple nominations for McMaster Students Union (MSU) teaching awards. This year he received the MSU Teaching Excellence Award for the Faculty of Science. The award is a testament to the quality of his teaching and interaction with students over the years.

In addition to his achievements as a researcher and instructor, White was a key contributor to athletics at McMaster, including a storied 25-year career as head coach of the men’s rugby team. For more about White’s coaching career, watch this interview from 2013.

White Kin last lecture group photo

Welcome to McMaster’s Canada 150 Research Chair

The Faculty is pleased to welcome Jonathan Pruitt, McMaster’s Canada 150 Research Chair in Biological Dystopias. Pruitt, an internationally recognized evolutionary ecologist, will be joining McMaster University on July 1 as a member of the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. He comes to McMaster from the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Jonathan Pruitt photo

The Canada 150 Research Chair program is designed to help Canadian universities attract the world’s top researchers and scholars to Canada. In total, 24 Canada 150 Research Chairs were appointed across Canada. Pruitt’s appointment was announced by the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, Kirsty Duncan at a ceremony in Ottawa in March. 

His research program focuses on how the collective traits of different animal societies – including those of ants, wasps and spiders – affect their survival. “My research explores what it takes for animal societies to succeed and why it is that so many societies wither and die,” says Pruitt who creates experimental social groups made up of contrasting organizations, compositions, architectures and collective attributes, and then subjects them to a range of ecological challenges.

He monitors their performance to observe what traits enable some societies to proliferate and take over a landscape, and what doesn’t. Working with McMaster researchers, he plans to expand his studies of societal collapse in invertebrates to studies on vertebrate social groups, including humans.

Maureen MacDonald, Dean of the Faculty of Science, says Pruitt’s work will have a significant impact in the field of animal behaviour and will build on the Faculty’s already defined strengths in this area.

“Jonathan is recognized as an international leader in his field and his work complements so much of the leading-edge work coming out of the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour,” she said. “We’re excited for him to bring his robust research program to McMaster, develop interdisciplinary research initiatives with colleagues across the Faculty and University, and expand the scope of our animal and human behaviour research.”


Chemistry & Chemical Biology Professor Recognized For His Contribution to Macromolecular Science

Adronov ChemAlex Adronov, Chemistry & Chemical Biology, is this year’s winner of the Chemical Institute of Canada’s Macromolecular Science and Engineering Award. The award is presented annually to a researcher who has made a distinguished contribution to macromolecular science or engineering. His recognition continues Chemistry & Chemical Biology's winning streak in this category, making it the third win in a row for the Department. Other McMaster professors who received the award include Harald Stöver (2016) and Michael Brook (2017).

Adronov received the award for his work involving the synthesis of complex polymers with controlled architectures and well-defined reactivity, as well as for his investigations of the interactions between conjugated polymers and single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). Over the course of his career, he has established himself as a national leader in the multi-step preparation of novel polymers and their applications toward the development of SWNT-based nanostructures. SWNTs are hollow, narrow tubes formed from one-atom-thick sheets of carbon; they are one hundred thousand times smaller than a human hair. They also have different properties depending on their radius and the way in which carbon atoms are arranged within their walls. Applications for SWNTs can be found in nano-scale electronics, flexible transparent electrodes, sensors and optics. Because of their exceptional mechanical strength, they are also used in various sporting equipment, ranging from golf clubs to the frames of high-end racing bikes.

The ability to control and manipulate such small structures is critical to the realization and development of new applications for SWNTs. Adronov’s team studies the interactions of conjugated polymers with the surface of SWNTs to find new methods to purify them and to introduce previously unrealized reactivity. Similar to painting a surface, Adronov decorates nanotubes with polymers that modify their properties and allow them to be incorporated in various materials that are otherwise incompatible. This work has been described as novel, creative and extremely important in allowing the processing of SWNTs without affecting their conductivity and structural properties. His efforts are providing insight into better manufacturing practices, which may lead to increased use and commercialization of these hybrid structures. His current goal is to develop highly sensitive chemo-resistive sensors for a wide variety of targets, ranging from trace explosives to illicit drugs.

In addition to his highly successful research program, Adronov is an active member of the polymer and materials communities. He has organized and chaired many symposia at the annual CSC conferences, as well as international meetings (ACS, Gordon Conferences, etc.), and has served as Treasurer of the Materials Science and Engineering Division (MSED). As an active faculty member, he focused on the quality of graduate education while Associate Chair of Graduate Studies; his current focus is on enhancing the research profile of the Department as Associate Chair of Research. For his efforts, he has been awarded the Polanyi Prize (2002), the Premier’s Research Excellence Award (2003), the Lash Miller Award in 2007, an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Grant in 2012, and the Award for Research Excellence in Materials Chemistry in 2013, which is also a national award given by the Chemical Institute of Canada. His devotion to teaching and mentorship has been recognized with the 2017 McMaster Student Union (MSU) Award for Excellence in Teaching, as well as a nomination for the President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision (2015).

A McMaster University professor since 2001, Adronov received his B.Sc. from McMaster in 1996 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001. Over his career, he has worked with a team of 24 graduate students, 8 postdoctoral fellows, and 25 undergraduates, and has published over 105 peer-reviewed publications.

He will officially receive his award on May 30 at the Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference in Edmonton, where he will deliver an award lecture on his research.

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