All courses for every first-year Science student will be delivered online this fall. A limited number of students in their second, third and fourth years will return to campus for part of the semester.

Get to know McMaster’s 2020 Schulich Leaders

10 Schulich student photos

Ciara McCann and Hina Zahid

Meet the 10 incoming students awarded Canada’s most coveted undergraduate scholarships for science, technology, engineering and math.

Schulich Leader scholarships were awarded to one hundred students at 20 partner universities across Canada. Five recipients are from the Faculty of Engineering and five are from the Faculty of Science.

The scholarships are awarded based on academic excellence, leadership and financial need. Schulich Leaders are entrepreneurial-minded students looking to pursue technology, innovation, engineering or scientific research.

Below, McMaster Schulich Leaders share everything from why they chose McMaster, to how they stay motivated during the pandemic, to what they would take with them to a desert island.

Shathurshika Chandrakumar, Engineering I

Shathurshika ChandrakumarWhat it means to be a Schulich Leader: The title of a Schulich Leader, beyond granting me incredibly generous financial aid, also opens up the door to an invaluable network of individuals and opportunities in STEM, and being a part of such a community only furthers my resolve to keep working hard and contributing to the world around me.
Dream job: A position in the Aerospace Industry where I can work directly towards bringing advancements of space exploration down to Earth for the benefit of global issues.
Why Mac Eng: McMaster’s renowned research and engineering facilities along with the option of gaining experience in my field through co-op.
Outside of the classroom: I am very passionate about advocating for opportunities within STEM in the community, particularly to female students and/or those from low-income backgrounds.
Role model: My parents. I always strive to emulate their work ethic in my academic pursuits, and their generosity of heart in my passions outside of the classroom.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: Creating my own schedule, whether it be for brushing up on my academic work or learning something new like coding and sticking to it on a daily basis.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this Fall: How hands-on engineering projects will be developed in a virtual setting and the new tools that I will learn in the process. I’m nervous about connecting with my peers this fall in this new environment. It is very strange to get used to when seeing faces through the computer screen rather than in person, however I am sure that this new way of connecting will grow more comfortable as time passes.
Three things to bring to a desert island: I need to feed my creativity so I would bring a book, perhaps a childhood classic like Harry Potter, or my recent favourite A Game of Thrones, a pencil and a sketchbook.

Erin Donahue-Boyle, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Erin Donahue BoyleWhat it means to be a Schulich Leader: A tremendous honour and an opportunity to connect with like-minded people. I am humbled by, and very grateful for, the investment that will enable me to fully dedicate myself to my studies for the next four years.
Dream Job: I am interested in working in scientific research pertaining to the environment, particularly in fields related to food security or toxicology.
Why McMaster Science: McMaster Science is appealing because of its flexibility in the first year, the many minor programs it offers, and the excellent opportunities for research assistantship positions in upper years.
Outside the classroom: I love to read about and discuss all sorts of topics, including the environment, philosophy, medical research, and psychology. I am also a fan of outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and ice skating.
Role model: I have many role models. They are the people who take the time to put aside what they are doing and help someone else to learn, grow, and become a better person.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: The extra time allowed me to explore academic topics that interest me in greater detail. This makes it easy to stay engaged with what I am trying to learn.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this Fall: I am really looking forward to taking so many interesting courses this year! However, I worry about perhaps missing some of the person-to-person interaction that is an integral part of the learning process.
Three things to bring to a desert island: Matches, water purification tablets, and a snorkel!

Magalie Durepos-Létourneau, Engineering I

Magalie Durepos LétourneauWhat it means to be a Schulich leader: Being a Schulich leader is a lifelong commitment to bring positive change with integrity, innovation and leadership. It means pursuing my passion for STEM with the incredible opportunity to focus entirely on my studies and career goals, to one day better society through engineering.
Dream job: Working in the space industry, either designing rockets, satellites, telescopes and rovers, or pursuing research on the origins of the universe.
Why Mac Eng: McMaster Engineering seemed to me like the best institution for undergraduate research opportunities. Their many design teams and engineering clubs give students the opportunity to connect and learn valuable hands-on skills outside the classroom, which is something I aspire to do.
Outside of the classroom: I have been playing classical piano since the age of 4, and I learned to play other instruments performing with my high school’s music group. I believe music is a universal language to express feelings that cannot be put into words, and it has been an essential part of my life and well-being.
Role model(s): I have always been inspired by activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King or even more recently Greta Thunberg because they are a constant reminder to have the courage to do what is right, and to use our voice to stand up for what we believe in.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: One thing I started doing in 10th grade and kept doing during the pandemic was hanging up pictures of stars, universities I hoped to get into or even companies or institutions I dreamed of working for one day. That way, every time I was tempted to procrastinate or waste time on my phone, I looked up and found motivation in my goals.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: I am looking forward to learning virtually since I think it will allow me to grow and gain new technological skills that might be valuable to future employers. Online learning will probably make it more challenging to meet people and work in groups. Thankfully, McMaster has already created great programs such as Ember and Archway to help us connect with other students, staff and mentors.
Three things to bring to a desert island: A journal so I could keep track of the days and of who I am to stay grounded, an axe to cut wood and make hunting and fishing gear to survive and a book called How to survive on a desert island because let’s face it, I probably wouldn’t survive very long without it!

Tomas Frankovich, Chemical and Physical Sciences

TomasWhat it means to be a Schulich Leader: It is truly humbling. It's incredible to join a community with so many exceptional students and leaders, and I'm immensely grateful to McMaster and the Schulich Foundation for providing me this amazing opportunity.
Dream job: It's hard to say what my dream job would be, but I'm really interested in chemical biology, and as it stands right now I'd want to pursue a career in that field.
Why McMaster Science: McMaster has a great science faculty, and their chemistry department is one of the best in the country. I also really like the Mac campus and the Hamilton/Dundas area, and I'm excited to get to live on residence when things open back up.
Outside of the classroom: I enjoy playing guitar, cycling, reading novels and listening to music.
Role model: Richard Feynman. His sense of humour, love of learning, and brilliance continue to inspire me.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I've been staying motivated by doing a lot of cycling and reading. I also got the chance to relax at my cottage for a week recently.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: I'm looking forward to starting university level courses. I'm a little bit nervous about staying focused and productive while working virtually.
Three things to bring to a desert island: A book and a guitar to keep me occupied. I'd also definitely bring a car door - so I can roll the window down if I get too hot.

Samuel Khzym, Engineering I

Samuel KhzymWhat it means to be a Schulich Leader: I have started to see this honour as an opportunity to inspire leadership in others. Everyone has something that they’re passionate about, and sometimes they just need a small spark of inspiration before they follow that passion and become a great leader in their own way.
Dream job: The CEO of a startup company specializing in the development of self-driving car technology.
Why Mac Eng: The community in the Fireball Family has shown itself to be one of the most friendly, supportive, and uplifting groups of people. Throughout all of my concerns in transitioning from high school to university, several upper year McMaster students, staff, and fellow first years took the time to talk with me and answer any questions or doubts I had.
Outside the classroom: Whenever I see a chance for such a solution and I am able to turn my idea into reality through software, it is one of the most satisfying and fulfilling things for me.
Role model: Thomas Edison; he took every failure as an opportunity to learn and propel him closer to his ultimate goals.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: Surrounding myself with a sense of a community that I am a part of has been very beneficial to my mental well-being. I have been working with other Schulich Leaders on Stemulation, a small company dedicated to the education and entertainment of young people aspiring to work in the STEM field.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: I am looking forward to clubs where I can make connections with like-minded people like the SumoBots team, the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, and the competitive coding team.
Three things to bring to a desert island: My main priorities would be to maintain my physical and mental health and to call for help. I’d bring my phone with a solar powered charging case, a tent kit and a water filtration device like a life straw.

Hayley Monson, Mathematics and Statistics

Hayley MonsonWhat it means to be a Schulich Leader: To me, being named a Schulich Leader places a responsibility on me to be a leader within and without the classroom, and to continue to pursue and excel in my own STEM studies, so I can help to define that future.
Dream job: I would like to combine my passions for mathematics and biology by creating new methods for epidemiological modelling. The need for better prediction of the rise of epidemics and pandemics, and improved model of disease progression through populations has become increasingly clear in this unprecedented time.
Why McMaster Science: I wanted a school that was very strong in STEM, but one that also retained a feeling of community that many large STEM programs lack. I liked the small size of the McMaster STEM programs and after touring the campus, I was convinced by the warm and welcoming attitudes of the professors and students that I spoke to.
Outside the classroom: I spend much of my free time coding, solving math problems, and bettering my chess skills. I also read avidly, with genres ranging from Chemistry Textbooks to Victorian fiction.
Role model: The greatest role models in any field are those who show initiative while lacking the educational tools and resources accessible to others. Benjamin Franklin embodies this ideal, having been born into poverty, while subsequently pursuing a variety of careers which have had wide-reaching effects on the modern world.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: For me, routine has been key in the pandemic. I still wake up at 7:30, get dressed, and then I make a To-Do list for the day to come. The pandemic has been an amazing opportunity to foster skills and interests that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to grow, and for that I am grateful.
Most excited about and/or most nervous about working virtually this fall: I am tremendously excited to begin learning next semester, even if it is only online. I am nervous about what I will miss in the absence of human contact; the group dynamic that stems from working and being with other students in an academic environment is one that I anticipate will be difficult to replicate virtually.
Three things to bring to a desert island: Practically, if asked about three things I would bring on to a desert island, they would be an ax (for hunting, and shelter building), a lifestraw (for water purification), and a lighter. However, if I was concerned about my mental wellbeing, I would need at least one novel (The Count of Monte Cristo), a Rubik’s cube, and a pen and paper with some very challenging math problems.

Ahmed Raja, Engineering I

Ahmed RajaWhat it means to be a Schulich leader: The opportunity to pursue an Engineering degree without any financial burden alleviates tons of potential stress and allows me to focus on school and extracurricular activities like McMaster's design teams. I plan to use this achievement to help inspire students younger than me to pursue engineering through various avenues like FIRST Robotics.
Dream job: Work in the research and development sector for the automotive or space-exploration industry.
Why Mac Eng: With background experience in FIRST Robotics, I am excited to join vehicle teams like EcoCAR and FormulaE, as well as some of the various non-technical clubs McMaster has. Also, McMaster's flexible coop program leaves tons of avenues open for me in terms of internships, allowing me to control my experience.
Outside the classroom: I am most passionate about robotics and the future of automation. Ever since I joined my high school's FIRST Robotics team, I have been hooked on researching how some of these companies accomplish these amazing milestones to automate the world around us.
Role model: Elon Musk’s ability to be involved in the engineering aspects of his businesses while managing various aspects of them as an owner is something I dream of doing myself.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I started biking 100 kilometers per week to make sure I stay physically healthy, play video games with friends to wind down, and try to spend some time with family and friends (in a safe manner of course).
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: I am stoked to start learning new things and making new, life-long friends. I also cannot wait to be the first class to take the Integrated Cornerstone Design Projects in Engineering (1P13) course.
Three things to bring to a desert island?: Assuming we aren't stranded and are just visiting for leisure, I'd take good company in the form of family and friends, a soccer ball to have some fun, and a tent to sleep in and get away from sun.

Aaron Shannon, Mathematics and Statistics

Aaron ShannonWhat it means to be a Schulich Leader: It’s a great honour and I hope that my experience mentoring younger students will help inspire them to get involved in the fields of STEM.
Dream job: Working on a team developing nuclear fusion as a viable source of energy.
Why McMaster Science: I could pursue my combined studies in mathematics and physics. Attending McMaster will also allow me to continue mentoring FLL teams within the community.
Outside of the classroom: I am passionate about helping others experience the excitement of learning new skills in robotics, swimming, and karate.
Role model(s): My parents, who have supported all my extracurricular activities and encouraged me to never stop learning.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I have maintained a daily routine which includes various workout activities, learning a new computer programming language and playing online with my friends.
Most excited about and/or nervous about working virtually this fall: Starting classes and discovering ways to stay connected while logging in from the comfort of my own home. I am nervous about the lack of social interaction and missing out on the relationships that are developed through participating in campus activities.
Three things to take to a desert island: I would take a sailboat, my best friend and scuba gear.

Tyler Tat Lem Ng, Mathematics and Statistics

Tyler Tat Lem NgWhat it means to be a Schulich leader: It means being a member of the next generation of pioneers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. A Schulich Leader attempts to use STEM as means to create positive change in the world.
Dream job: A research mathematician who does teaching on the side.
Why McMaster Science: A number of factors led to my decision to choose McMaster Science, including the offer of the financial aid of the Schulich Scholarship, and the great reputation of the Faculty.
Outside of the classroom: I am passionate about writing. I enjoy the act of manifesting my thoughts and ideas into physical words, whether those words be pixels on a screen or graphite on paper.
Role model: Leonhard Euler is certainly an inspiration. His vast, varied, and deeply influential work just goes to show how much (and in Euler's case, so very, very much) one person can accomplish.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I take pride in my goals, and the knowledge that every day I can work towards making those goals a reality is a wonderful motivator.
Most excited about and/or are most nervous about working virtually this fall: For years teachers have refined their teaching practices with an in-person approach in mind. I'm worried that the sudden transition to virtual learning will negatively impact the quality of lessons, as for many teachers online teaching is unfamiliar territory.
Three things to bring to a desert island: A helicopter, a friendly helicopter pilot, and enough money to compensate the pilot for bringing me home.

Anthony Vu, Computer Science

Anthony VuWhat it means to be a Schulich leader: Becoming a Schulich Leader verifies that I have an outstanding community around me. My schools, Cathedral Catholic High School and Saint Patrick's Catholic Elementary School, my parish, Saint Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, and my family have supported me so much that I could never pay them back.
Dream job: Anything that allows me to support my family and community.
Why Mac Eng: The kind faculty and staff members (shoutout to Patricia Kousoulas).
Outside of the classroom: Volunteering. I have been an altar server for over a decade and plan to continue the streak. All of the clubs and teams at Mac are amazing so I'm struggling to pick a few. I am definitely interested in technology clubs such as Competitive Programming and RoboMaster.
Role model: Everyone, because each person has a unique story.
How to stay motivated during the pandemic: I like to think about this quote from Edwin Louis Cole; "Winners are not those who never fail, but those who never quit."
Most excited about working virtually this fall: Everything
Three things would bring to a desert island: The book, Get Smarter, an airplane, and a pilot.

Applications Open For Postdoc Teaching & Leadership Program

Dennis KolosovDennis Kolosov credits a made-at McMaster program for helping him make the move to the Golden State.

Dennis, an NSERC and McCall MacBain Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biology, will join California State University in January. He was among the first group of postdoctoral fellows to participate in the McCall MacBain Postdoctoral Fellows in Teaching and Leadership Program that launched last fall.

“It was an amazing immersive experience,” Dennis says about the program. “I truly believe that my participation in this program can at least in part be credited with helping me land interviews and a tenure-track faculty position at California State University.”

The first-of-its-kind program, funded by John and Marcy McCall MacBain, helps postdoctoral fellows hone their skills as future educators and academic leaders.  The program was developed by Program Faculty Advisor Joe Kim and Program Manager and Research Coordinator Connie Imbault from the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior. 

“Our inaugural group of Postdoctoral Fellows have already achieved amazing accomplishments, from publishing op-eds in national media outlets to securing tenure-track faculty positions,” says Connie. “We can’t wait to meet our second cohort and see the remarkable things they can do. Their success makes us so thankful to the McCall MacBain Foundation for their generous support in funding this program.”

Up to 10 Postdoctoral Fellows will participate in professional development workshops and journal club meetings, complete a discipline-based education research project and publish an op-ed about their research. Dennis was among the first-year Fellows to have an op-ed published in The Conversation Canada.

Open to all postdoctoral students in the Faculty of Science, the deadline to apply for the 2020-2021 program is Aug. 12. An online information session will be held on Aug. 5 at 11 am. The Faculty of Science will reimburse postdoctoral supervisors 20 percent of their postdoctoral fellows’ stipends during the fall and winter terms.

Here’s what other postdoctoral fellows had to say about the McCall MacBain Postdoctoral Fellows in Teaching and Leadership Program:

Emily Dunford“Without the support of this program, I would not have had the confidence to write an op-ed, let alone submit it to The Conversation Canada and have it published. I you are interested in a career in academia, where teaching is a requirement, this program is an excellent opportunity to learn critical teaching, learning and science communication skills.”

Emily Dunford
Department of Kinesiology

Pat Clancy


“I would strongly recommend the McCall MacBain program to any postdoc at McMaster who has an interest in teaching or educational research. It was a fantastic experience and a great introduction to the teaching and learning community here at Mac. I’ve started a new teaching-focused position in the Department of Physics & Astronomy and hope to be involved in the program again.”

Pat Clancy
Department of Physics & Astronomy



Oana Birceanu

“I had the opportunity to connect with post-doctoral fellows from other Departments, talk with them about teaching and their research and form a community that otherwise would not have been possible without the fellowship. The McCall MacBain program provided additional teaching tools that I will always carry with me. When I think about designing my lectures, I now have different perspectives of looking at the content and its delivery, at the assessments and at student engagement.”

Oana Birceanu
Department of Biology



Messages For The Classes Of 2020 And 2024

Graduating students received congratulations from Dean Maureen MacDonald while incoming students and future scientists were welcomed and received their first four-part university homework assignment.

Congratulations Class of 2020

Here's the transcript and the video message Maureen recorded in her living room for the Class of 2020 as part of their virtual Convocation ceremonies on June 11:

"I was supposed to put on a robe and give a Convocation speech from my living room.
But instead, I have a message for COVID-19.
Get ready.
The class of 2020 is coming for you.
And this won’t be a fair fight.
I’ve met this next generation of scientists.
They’ve done amazing work in our classrooms and labs, on the job, on campus and in our community.
I also know who’s taught, mentored and inspired them.
The Class of 2020 is smart, resilient and resourceful.
Solving problems is what they do. The bigger, the better and the harder they lean in.
The Class of 2020 has spent years working hard for a moment exactly like this.
They’re ready to step up and help out in a big way.
So get ready, COVID-19. You’ve disrupted the world.
But the Class of 2020... they’re the ones who are going to transform our world through science.
And we’ll always be in their corner.
Like I said, this won’t be a fair fight.
You’re on borrowed time COVID-19.
You will be defeated.
And long after you’re gone, the Class of 2020 will still be making a difference.
Solving whatever problems come next.
And doing their part to help build a brighter world."



Maureen sent a welcome letter to the incoming Class of 2024 and assigned their first university homework assignment. She also filmed a video message and Instagram story during an early morning social distancing run through campus.

"Dear Future Scientist:

Welcome to McMaster University and our Faculty of Science!

We’re thrilled that you have chosen to earn your science degree with us and we can’t wait to have you join our virtual campus in just a few months.

COVID-19 is disrupting our lives but it is the science that transforms our world. Now more than ever, we need smart, creative, resilient and resourceful students like you to become our next generation of scientists. I’m confident that you’ll prove equal to the task at hand.

Now that you have made it official and become a McMaster student, I would like to give your first university homework assignment. It’s a four-part assignment that you will need to complete before your classes begin in September.
  1. First and foremost, please continue to take good care of your physical health and mental well-being. Stay active and connected with family and friends. If you are struggling and feeling isolated and anxious, reach out for help. Also, give yourself permission to be upset or sad. Even if you have not lost someone to COVID-19, you have still lost something that matters to you, whether that’s your high school prom and graduation, your summer job, vacation plans or how you dreamed of beginning your first semester at McMaster. Please know that those losses will be more than offset by some amazing achievements, experiences and milestones that are waiting for you at our University.
  2. Please accept your invitation to join The Archway. This is a new program created specifically for you and all first-year McMaster students. As soon as you sign up, an entire team of professionals, including a coach and mentor, will begin working with you and a group of 29 other students. They’ll stay by your side all through your first year. They’ll be there to answer your questions, give advice, help build a community amongst the students in your group, and offer personalized support to ensure a strong start to your time with us at McMaster. Invitations are going out in early June. You can also email the team at
  3. Start following the McMaster Science Society on social media. The Society is led and run by student volunteers. They organize and host academic and social events throughout the year and offer services and resources for all undergraduate students in our Faculty of Science. I met with the student leaders a few weeks ago and they have exciting plans to connect with you online and introduce you to the other 7,000 undergraduate students in our Faculty. You can find out more about the McMaster Science Society at
  4. And finally, please thank whoever ignited your passion for science and inspired you to come to McMaster. Maybe this is a family member or friend or an outstanding teacher, coach or mentor. Send an email, drop a note in the mail, make a phone call or post your thank-you on social media. Having personally thanked my grade 11 science teacher, I guarantee that you’ll make their day (and quite possibly their entire year). Success in life, just as in science, is always a team effort. Please take the time to thank the person who helped you succeed on your journey to McMaster.
So that’s your first university homework assignment. Continue to take good care of yourself, connect with The Archway and the McMaster Science Society and thank whoever believed in the brilliant potential that our professors and staff will help you unlock during our time together.

Please check your inbox in the coming weeks for emails from our Associate Dean Academic Office. You will be receiving your New Student Guide and important information on your next steps for course planning and enrollment.

Thanks again for choosing McMaster. I had the privilege of joining the Faculty of Science more than 20 years ago as a professor. The best part of my job remains watching students learn, grow and become scientists who help transform our world. I can’t wait to be inspired by all that you will achieve and contribute to your time at McMaster.

While these are uncertain times, please know with absolute certainty that all of us here at McMaster’s Faculty of Science is 100 percent committed to your success and we are thrilled to have you join us."

Faculty And Staff Zoom In For Annual Retreat

It was a morning of firsts for the Faculty of Science.

Last month's retreat was the first to bring together faculty and staff. In previous years, faculty and staff attended separate events. It was the Faculty of Science's first virtual retreat, using Zoom and Google Jamboard. It was the first time many faculty and staff had gotten together since in-person classes ended March 13 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. While recapping the achievements of the past year, Dean Maureen MacDonald announced the first researchers to receive funding through the Faculty of Science's new Global Science Initiative.

David FarrarNearly 200 faculty and staff participated in the online and interactive May 21 retreat. The overnight transition to virtual learning in mid-March was the focus of conversations in the first breakout session, with faculty and staff sharing best practices and lessons learned. Following a plenary discussion, faculty and staff returned to breakout rooms to review and help refine measures and targets for the Faculty of Science's 2020-2025 strategic plan. Virtual notes posted to the Google Jamboard have since President David Farrarbeen consolidated into a report for the Dean.

McMaster President David Farrar closed out the retreat with a live appearance from his home office. David said he was grateful and impressed by the contributions, achievements and leadership of the Faculty of Science faculty and staff. David, who's a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, asked faculty and staff to continue taking care of themselves physically and mentally and then reaffirmed McMaster's commitment to the health and safety of faculty, staff, students and the broader community. McMaster was among the first universities in Canada to announce an online fall term.
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