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McMaster University will continue to host undergraduate academic activities remotely for the Spring/Summer/Intersession term with only a few exceptions for courses that need student access to specialized equipment.

Foundation Honours Distinguished University Professor

Mike Brook april newletterCongratulations to Chemistry & Chemical Biology professor Mike Brook on receiving a D'Arcy McGee Beacon Fellowship from the Ireland Canada University Foundation.

The fellowship connects Irish and Canadian academics, researchers and thinkers online to nurture and develop collaborations. Beacon fellows deliver an online lecture that is recorded and posted on the Ireland Canada University Foundation and also gives a series of smaller online events.

Mike, who is the Faculty of Science Chair in Sustainable Silicone Polymers, was made a Distinguished University Professor in 2017 and has been a visiting professor at six universities in Ireland, Australia, France and the Netherlands.

National Research Award for Kinesiology Undergrad

National research award for Kinesiology undergrad 1Christina Pizzola pivoted her way to a national award with an assist from Zoom and Amazon and encouragement from a past award recipient.

Christina, a fourth-year Kinesiology student, received an Outstanding Research Award at the 21st Annual Bertha Rosenstadt National Undergraduate Research Conference in Kinesiology and Physical Education. Hosted by the University of Toronto, the multidisciplinary conference gives undergraduate students the opportunity to present literature reviews, critiques, term papers and findings from research projects. Students submit an abstract and have 10 minutes to present their papers to peers and faculty members.

Christina presented findings from her research into the effects of four weeks of lower limb heating therapy on cardiorespiratory fitness in young, healthy and recreationally active women and men.
Christina Pizzola

"My original plan was to focus on arterial stiffness as my main outcome measure," says Christina. "But the pandemic forced me to pivot my thesis to a measure that could be determined from home instead of in a lab. So we measured cardiorespiratory fitness at home using the modified Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test. We used Zoom to facilitate the submaximal exercise test. Participants in our research study performed heat therapy three times a week from the comfort of their own homes using a commercial foot bath I ordered from Amazon. Although running the study remotely was challenging, I was delighted to see there was 100 percent adherence to the intervention."

Presenting at the conference was a race to the finish. Christina and her graduate supervisor Jem Cheng were still collecting data the week of the conference and even running sessions the day before the presentation to build the largest possible data set.

Christina submitted her abstract to the conference on the recommendation of her graduate supervisor Jem Cheng. "I'm just so proud of Christina and everything she's accomplished this year in spite of the situation we're all in," says Jem, who won the same award at the 2015 conference. "It was definitely a proud 'research mom' moment. I had this pang of nostalgia and just a sense that my research journey was coming full circle"

Christina will be working in the Vascular Dynamics Lab this summer to assist with Jem's research.

Grad Student Recognized for Leadership Role

Shawn HerculesShawn Hercules has received the Mary Keyes Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service to McMaster. The award, named in memory of Dr. Mary Keyes, Associate Vice President (Student Affairs), acknowledges graduate students who give their time, spirit and energy to McMaster student societies, university committees and governing bodies.

Shawn, a Ph.D. candidate with the Department of Biology, has served as President of McMaster's Graduate Students Association since May 2019. The Association advocates for the needs of the collective acts as a resource and provides support and services that improve the graduate student experience at McMaster.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PAST YEAR

"The Graduate Students Association was able to quickly pivot during the pandemic and continue providing services that meet students' needs in a virtual format. Additionally, in the face of anti-Black racism, the GSA abolished its previous political neutrality policy and replaced it with an anti-oppression policy. The GSA is now positioned to be more vocal and active on issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, that are important and relevant to graduate students.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GRADUATE STUDENTS

"Graduate students, with guidance from our supervisors and peers, are the ones running the research engine at Canada's most research-intensive university.

THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORSHIP

"At the beginning of the lockdown, my supervisor Dr. Juliet Daniel went above and beyond to meet with me and the other graduate students in our lab. Dr. Daniel began meeting with us on a weekly basis not only to help us transition our research to an online format but also to check in on us and our mental health. She insisted that our lab as a whole would have games nights to help us maintain social activities and overall team spirit.

LIVELab Ambassadors Make Research-Infused Playlist

LIVELab Ambassadors can help put you to sleep, work up a sweat and find your inner peace.

The 45 student volunteers have curated research-themed Spotify and YouTube music and wellness playlists for topics ranging from sleep and exercise to meditation, creativity, cognition and mood.

Before the pandemic, ambassadors helped with LIVELab's concert series, annual NeuroMusic conference and research studies with academic and industry partners. LIVELab offers year-round experiential learning opportunities for student volunteers who share a passion for music cognition and neuroscience.

"Since everything went virtual this year, we had to reimagine and restructure how our LIVELab Ambassadors could continue making important contributions to our lab," say Communications and Lab Manager Sally Stafford and Clinical Studies Coordinator and Stage Manager Susan Marsch-Rollo."Our Ambassadors put their science communication skills to work by summarizing research papers on how music affects us all. Drawing from supporting research, students then created playlists of songs that we've posted on our LIVELab Music and Mental Health webpage."

The idea for LIVELab music playlists grew out of a year-long collaboration with The Agency at Mohawk College, where students create marketing and communications solutions for real-world clients.

Oishee GhoshOishee Ghosh is one of the record number of Ambassadors volunteering with LIVELab this year. The second-year student in McMaster's Arts & Science Program (Combined Honours Biology) created a playlist showcasing music and jazz improvisation and wrote a summary of research related to music, improvisation and neuroplasticity.

"I love music and I'm interested in learning more about how it impacts the brain," says Oishee. "I joined LIVELab at the beginning of my first year at McMaster. I really enjoy the various projects we get to be involved in as well as the atmosphere of the lab. The other volunteers I have met at the lab have various backgrounds but we all share a common interest in music cognition. Being a LIVELab Ambassador has helped me learn about the types of skills I should be developing as an undergraduate student in order to pursue research into music cognition as a graduate student."

LIVELab is a 106-seat research-based performance hall and testing centre within the McMaster Institute for Music & the Mind and located in the Psychology Building. Led by Director Laurel Trainor, the McMaster Institute for Music & the Mind is one of the Faculty of Science's five research centres and institutes.
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