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

Picture a Scientist Special Screening

Picture a scientist poster

The Gender Equity in Chemical Sciences (GEICS), Promoting Inclusion in Physics and Astronomy (PIPA) and McMaster Women in Math (MWM) groups are hosting a screening of the documentary “Picture a Scientist” for International Women’s Day.

"Picture a Scientist" is a feature-length documentary film chronicling the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. A biologist, a chemist and a geologist lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, overcoming brutal harassment, institutional discrimination, and years of subtle slights to revolutionize the culture of science. From cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, we also encounter scientific luminaries who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all.

Here is a link to the trailer: https://www.pictureascientist.com/media

The film will be available to watch at any time from Saturday, March 6th through Monday, March 8th to registered attendees, with a follow-up round table discussion on Monday, March 8 at 4:30 pm (moderated by Khadijeh Rakie from the Equity and Inclusion Office). Although the discussion session will be restricted to students, anyone is welcome to register for the screening and view the documentary!

You may register for the event here.

Updates to Spring/Summer 2021 Science Courses

Due to the on-going COVID-19 outbreak, McMaster will continue to offer Spring/Summer and Intersession classes virtually.

The Faculty of Science courses that will have some on-campus, in-person elements:
BIOLOGY 3JJ3 (Spring term)
CHEM 3EP3S (summer only)
CHEMBIO 3EP3S (summer only)
MOLBIOL 3V03 (spring term)

All other courses will remain virtual.

If you have questions you are encouraged to review the advising options at the Associate Dean (Academic) Office


Connecting Students With Overlooked Scientists

Sarissyas project on left and Sarissya's photo on right

Physics & Astronomy professor Laura Parker introduced student Sarissya Puvanenthirakanthan to a history-making Nobel Laureate.

It was an introduction that left an impression on Sarissya. The third-year Life Sciences student showcased the scientific accomplishments of Dr. Abdus Salam for her major class assignment.

Dr. Salam was among the 81 overlooked, hidden and unappreciated scientists that students could research and report on in Laura's Astronomy 2B03 class. Laura compiled the list of international scientists with help from a head teaching assistant and Vanier Scholar Carmen Lee and instructional assistant Sara Cormier.

"The contributions of countless scientists have been undervalued and often overlooked because of geography, culture, language, bias and discrimination," says Laura. "Students were having conversations in their tutorials about equity, diversity and inclusion and this project showed the barriers that brilliant scientists have had to overcome."

The pandemic and Hidden Figures were Laura's inspirations for the Overlooked Scientists project. In previous years, students did partner presentations for their major assignment. "With 450 students in the class, presentations would be a logistical challenge on Zoom," says Laura. "So like many instructors, I decided to change the marking scheme and the syllabus to better match the virtual format."

Hidden Figures, a 2016 book and movie, told the story of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson - three Black women who worked as mathematicians at NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. All three mathematicians were included on the list of 81 overlooked scientists.

Students turned their research into two-page handouts that were posted online and shared with classmates in their tutorial section. Students were also assigned to review and evaluate three other handouts.

"Students were introduced to dozens of overlooked scientists and gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in science," says Laura.

It's a lesson Sarissya learned in researching Dr. Salam. "I'd never heard of Dr. Salam before our Overlooked Scientists project. I did a quick Google search and was immediately impressed by all of his scientific accomplishments and wanted to learn more. Dr. Salam made history in 1979 when he became the first Pakistani and Muslim to receive a Nobel Prize in science. Yet despite all of his achievements and contributions, Dr. Salam has been largely forgotten in the country where he was born because of his religious beliefs".

Faculty of Science Research Chair Call For Nominations

Michael Brook, Allison Williams, Kari Dalnoki-Veress (top row) and Louis Schmidt, Gillian Goward and Martin Gibala

Searching For Next Trio of Research Chairs

Three faculty members will join Michael Brook, Allison Williams, Kari Dalnoki-Veress (top row) and Louis Schmidt, Gillian Goward and Martin Gibala later this year as Faculty of Science Research Chairs.

Nominations are being accepted until Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. (download the nomination form here). The Office of the Associate Dean, Research & External Relations launched the Faculty of Science Research Chair program in 2018 to recognize faculty members deserving of recognition for their research excellence.

In addition to holding the title of Science Research Chair, each Chair receives an annual $15,000 research stipend for three years and one three-unit term of teaching release to dedicate to research efforts. Chairs can be renewed for an additional three-year term without the research stipend and teaching release.

Candidates can be nominated by a colleague or self-nominated. Juliet Daniel, Acting Associate Dean of Research & External Relations, will strike a committee to evaluate candidates based on research excellence, excellence in research training and alignment with the Faculty's strategic research priorities. Contributions to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion will also be considered.

For more information, contact Katelyn McKay, Research Administrative Assistant at mckayk16@mcmaster.ca.

President and Provost Meet With Advisory Board

John Brennan
McMaster President David Farrar was the opening act and John Brennan gave an encore performance for members of the Dean's External Advisory Board.

John BrennanPresident Farrar led off last month's virtual meeting with an update on McMaster's strategic plan. John, who'd met with the advisory board last May to talk about his work as Director of the Biointerfaces Institute, returned to give an update on COVID-19 rapid tests. Provost Susan Tighe also met with the Advisory Board for a conversation about the future of enrolment, virtual learning, micro-credentialing and career planning supports for students.

Dean Maureen MacDonald updated the advisory board on earlier discussions about succession planning and leadership development; equity, diversity and inclusion practices; and commercialization of research. Maureen then gave the advisory board an overview of the Faculty of Science's budget and strategic plans.

Ten scientists and business leaders were recruited to the advisory board in 2019 to share their expertise and insights with the Dean and Associate Deans and also serve as ambassadors for the Faculty of Science in their professional and personal networks.

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