Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence in the Life Sciences
The Faculty of Science at McMaster University is no stranger to milestones and achievements. It brings us great pleasure to highlight our most recent milestone, the celebration of 25 years of excellence in the Life Sciences.
Since its initial offering, the Faculty of Science has conferred 6,747 degrees in the Life Sciences, making this our largest scientific community.
The undergraduate Life Sciences programs provide students with the opportunity to study topics in human health, aging and disease. The curriculum is organized under the categories of knowledge translation, communication, experiential learning, and research skills. Our programs are unique in their incorporation of community-based projects and experiential opportunities that link learning in the classroom to real world challenges.
The programs sit in the School of Interdisciplinary Science and include the Honours Life Sciences, the Bachelor of Life Sciences, and the Honours Life Sciences Co-op programs. We also offer limited enrollment, interdisciplinary and interdepartmental specializations in Origins of Disease and Sensory Motor Systems.
The positive impact of the Life Sciences community is far-reaching, with our students finding great success in a wide range of sectors including research, academia, public service, and private industry.
To help mark this milestone, we are featuring and reflecting on the experiences of our faculty, current students, and alumni.
We hope you enjoy listening to their stories and look forward to the stories that will be shaped in the years to come.
Dr. Ana Tomljenovic- Berube
Program Coordinator, Life Sciences Program
Dr. Katie Moisse
Associate Director, Curriculum & Pedagogy
Reflections from students, faculty, and alumni.
Abby Samuels, Honours Life Sciences Student, Level II
Dr. Ana Tomljenovic-Berube, Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Science
Shaarujaa Nadarajah, Alumna, Honours Life Sciences Program Class of 2018
Stefan Mladjenovic, Alumnus, Honours Life Sciences Program Class of 2020
Sufyan Rather, Honours Life Sciences Student, Level III
Dr. Katie Moisse, Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Science
What is special about the teaching practices in the Life Sciences Program?
“I love the focus on transferable skills in the Life Sciences Program. Employers today are looking for students who are skilled at critical thinking, communication and collaboration. Our students have so many opportunities to develop and hone these skills. I also love the focus on hands-on, community-engaged learning. Students should graduate with real-world experience that they can apply in graduate or professional programs and careers. It's amazing to see our students seeking out these opportunities. They benefit and so do our communities.”
Dr. Shaiya Robinson, Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Science
Have you had any particularly impactful or memorable moments in your time teaching in the Life Sciences program?
“Yes, I've had many! It's hard to capture them all here, but I will share one example. I had a Level IV student take LIFESCI 2G03 in Winter 2021, but it had been 3 years since they had taken a cell biology or genetics course. They reached out concerned that they were struggling with the content but needed to take genetics for their desired post-graduate programs. They asked for help and advice on how to succeed. This student's email inspired me to re-evaluate how I offer extra help in my large courses. Thanks to this student, I now hold group-style office hours where I address anonymous discussion board questions. To help students, I use these group-style "office hours" to break-down complex concepts into smaller steps or provide more detail to offer more context on concepts that are unclear. This way, everyone benefits from the answer, and by posting their question anonymously, everyone can feel comfortable asking for the help that they need.”
Dr. Ana Campos, Director, School of Interdisciplinary Science
How have students impacted you?
"It has been a great privilege to be a Professor at McMaster University one of the premier institutions in Canada. Mac is research intensive and student focused university which challenges you at every step. I came to Mac 30 years ago and continue to be grateful every day for the opportunity to develop my career here and to be part of the journey of so many talented colleagues that made seminal contributions to knowledge. What I was not quite prepared for and continues to amaze me, is the impact students have on you. To be an instructor is to have a platform to impact and support the development of talented students, but it is also in equal measure an opportunity to learn from them as you witness their growth their struggles and successes. Life Science students are diverse in their interests, lived experience and the talents that they bring to bear in their academic journey. It has been a joy and a learning experience for me to see all the amazing pathways they build for themselves!"
Tipu Islam, Honours Life Sciences Student, Level IV
How is your degree contributing to your growth, personally and professionally?
“The Honours Life Sciences program is an interdisciplinary route of science exploration. This honours degree has allowed me to gain insight into different areas of science i.e., the health sciences, Biology and Chemistry as well as areas of philosophy. Over the past four years, I have grown to be more resilient and capable of meeting the demands of academic rigour. Professionalism has been a key part of both the deliverables in my coursework and within my job as a Teaching Assistant. I hope to continue to use the skills I have attained in my degree to further my personal growth and education.”
Zoya Adeel, Honours Life Sciences Student, Level V
Are there any memorable people (professors, staff, other connections) that have helped shape your experience?
“I’ve been fortunate to have met Dr. Katie Moisse, Dr. Ana Tomljenovic-Berube, Dr. Ayesha Khan and many more wonderful professors who have shaped my undergraduate experience. I’ve been working with Dr. Moisse for almost two years now and I’m grateful to call her both a mentor and a colleague. Anyone that has taken Dr. Moisse’s science communication courses knows that she is passionate about science communication and teaching and learning. Dr. Moisse is gracious with her time and expertise, prioritizes accessibility in her classroom, and is committed to supporting her students achieve their full potential as both scientists and science communicators. Since working with Dr. Moisse, I have grown personally, academically, and professionally. I have also been very fortunate to have worked with Dr. Tomljenovic-Berube and Dr. Khan. They are gracious with their time and expertise and committed to supporting their students’ growth academically and professionally. They are inspiring teachers, and it is clear they are excited about the content they teach. We are so very lucky to have Dr. Moisse, Dr. Tomljenovic-Berube, and Dr. Khan here at McMaster.”
Kian O’Neil, Alumna, Honours Life Sciences Program Class of 2021
What advice would you give to your past self on day one at McMaster in the Life Science Program?
“Some advice I would give myself upon entering this program would be to enjoy the time in this program. It can be challenging at times, but this challenge is necessary to facilitate your growth as a student. Step out of your comfort zone and try to enjoy all parts of the process. Take courses that are relevant and interesting to you. In these courses, learn the content for the sake of expanding your knowledge rather than just learning it to obtain the grade you desire. Use the freedom that the Life Sciences Program gives you regarding course selection in the upper years to spread out your more challenging courses. Plan your time wisely and form solid relationships to support you along the way.”
Jayco Cheng, Honours Life Sciences Student, Level IV
Why did you choose to study Life Sciences at McMaster?
“I chose the Life Sciences because I liked the freedom in course selection and flexibility in career pathways in this program. When I joined the program, I knew what my interests were but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my undergraduate degree; nor did I know what I could do. I like to think of Life Sciences as a program that can offer a breadth and depth because it has a variety of different courses, which is why it is interdisciplinary. I also like how once you identify what you are interested in, you can opt to streamline down that path such as conducting a thesis project.”
Virtual Keynote: Making Science Go Viral...in Viral Times
Dr. Samantha Yammine (“Science Sam”)
Date: April 13, 2022
Time: 5:30pm-6:30pm (Virtual)
The School of Interdisciplinary Science in partnership with the McMaster Alumni Association invites you to participate in a special virtual talk to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Life Sciences Program.
In this talk, research scientist turned science communicator Samantha Yammine will share the importance and pitfalls of sharing science on social media, with lessons learned from the comms front lines during the pandemic. She'll also share best practises and tips before a lively discussion.
Interdisciplinary Research Symposium (IRS)
- Date: April 13, 2022
- Undergraduate Student Presentations: 11:00am - 4:30pm in BSB 104, 105, 106.
- Drop in reception and awards: 4:30pm-5:30pm in in CIBC Hall (McMaster University Student Centre)
Support the Life Sciences Program
To celebrate our 25th anniversary, please consider making a gift to the Life Sciences Program Fund, which supports teaching and learning priorities within Life Sciences.