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Graduate Studies

Celebrating excellence at the Graduate Student Recognition Awards

McMaster teaching assistant Madeleine Mant believes it’s important to engage students in the classroom. That’s why she aims to make every class just as exciting as the last.
It’s a fitting aspiration for Mant, who is one of six winners of this year’s Keith Leppmann Teaching Assistant Excellence Award.
She was joined by close to 150 students, supervisors and staff to celebrate the contributions of the graduate community at the 19th-annual Graduate Student Recognition Awards.
“I think it’s very important that students are engaged in the material, but it’s more than that. I want to inspire them to appreciate a subject even if it’s not the area that they are most interested in” says the anthropology PhD candidate.
When she was called to the podium to accept her certificate, Mant was thrilled — and a little choked up.
“It’s an incredible honour that felt a bit like winning a People’s Choice Award. It sounds silly, but the idea that a student was moved enough by my instruction, and the style of instruction particularly, was very heartening.”
The GSA Keith Leppmann Teaching Assistant Excellence Award honours the contributions of teaching assistants (TA) to undergraduate education at McMaster.
Nominated by undergraduate students, the TA’s are evaluated in numerous areas, from their enthusiasm for the subject to their communication skills.
Joining Mant for their important contributions as TA’s are Khaled Al-Kassimi, Saranya Amirthamanoharan, Hadi Eslami, Nick Randazzo and Natashya Wall.
2015 Graduate Student Recognition Award recipients:
President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision

Thomas Adams, Chemical Engineering
Mirna Carranza, School of Social Work
Rick Hackett, Management of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources
Karin Humphreys, Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour
Peter Rosenbaum, Rehabilitation Science
Lorraine York, English and Cultural Studies

The Dean’s Award for Graduate Student Knowledge Mobilization and Innovation

Melissa Tanti

GSA Award for Contributions by Non-Academic Staff

Elaine Whiskin

Therese Quigley Award of Excellence for Graduate Student Leadership in Athletics

Aaron Bailey

Mary Keyes Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service to McMaster

Elyse Rosa

GSA Millennium Award for Community Service

Pei Yu
A-Rum Choi

The annual awards are coordinated by the McMaster Graduate Students Association (GSA) and the School of Graduate Studies. […]

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How’s my driving? Mac PhD finishes second in national automotive research competition

McMaster student Kinga Eliasz has finished second in the 2014 AUTO21 TestDRIVE competition.
She was recognized for her work to help develop an in-car recording system that uses GPS-technology to capture driving patterns and HD cameras to capture actual behaviour behind the wheel.
Eliasz, a PhD candidate in kinesiology, said this is the first study in the world that objectively quantifies driving behaviour in a comprehensive way to understand the older driver — a rapidly growing demographic.
“Kinga and I share a passion for enabling older adults to stay healthy and mobile for as long as possible” said Brenda Vrkljan, an associate professor in rehabilitation science and Eliasz’s project supervisor.
Her research team develops evidence-based methods to keep older drivers safe behind the wheel for as long as possible.
“We were fortunate that Kinga came on board to assist with our project” said Vrkljan. “She has wonderful presentation and people skills, which helped her convey the importance of our research and its translation to tangible product.”
Read more about the team’s work in The Hamilton Spectator: “McMaster pair keep seniors safe behind the wheel” […]

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McMaster students teach youth about science, salmon and sustainability

Students stand at the water's edge of a creek as another student speaks while standing in the creek.

More than 100 students gathered at Burlington’s Lowville Park to release salmon into Bronte Creek.
Earlier this month, volunteers from McMaster’s Let’s Talk Science Partnership Program (LTSPP) helped local students release over 200 Atlantic salmon into Bronte Creek as part of an effort to both increase salmon populations in Hamilton waters and get young people involved in science.
The release took place at Burlington’s Lowville Park on May 15, with over 100 students from three different schools in attendance. Volunteers from LTSPP had been visiting the schools since February to teach youth about salmon, sustainability and the environment. With the help of undergraduate and graduate volunteers from McMaster, teachers and students learned how to raise the fish from eggs.
Although the reintroduction project contributes to the rehabilitation of the local environment, ultimately it exists just as much for the students as for the salmon.
“We have a chance to involve kids in science in a real hands-on and meaningful way,” says Allison Sills, associate dean of science at McMaster. “Far too often science in elementary school can be stripped down to the memorization of inconsequential facts and that’s not what science is all about.”
Every year the McMaster group works with youth throughout Hamilton on a number of projects with the goal of inspiring Canada’s next generation of scientists.
Coordinators say the project was a great success as an additional 30 youth were involved this year over last, thanks to a Promo Science grant awarded by the National Science and Engineering Council of Canada. Next year, LTSPP hopes that award funds will allow them to reach 60 more youth than this year.
For more information on the LTSPP, please visittheir website. […]

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Province commits to graduate expansion

Allison Sekuler, associate vice-president and dean of Graduate Studies. File Photo.
More than 330 new graduate student spaces are being created at McMaster as part of the province of Ontario’s new investment in graduate expansion.
John Milloy, minister of Training, Colleges and Universities announced the province is committing $52-million to create nearly 3,300 new spaces over the next three years at Ontario’s universities.
At McMaster, a total of 338 new graduate spots will be created in both Master’s and PhD programs, representing an investment of about $5.25-million to McMaster’s graduate programs.
“Graduate expansion is of critical importance to McMaster and is one of our strategic goals in Refining Directions,” says president Peter George. “With this investment, we will be able to meet anticipated student demand while supporting research and innovation that will fuel our economic recovery.”
In announcing the expansion, Milloy said there will be a strong return on the investment. The government estimates that seven out of 10 new jobs created in Ontario over the next decade will require post-secondary education or training.
“Ontario’s highly skilled work force is our province’s greatest asset,” he said. “By helping more Ontarians pursue higher education we can strengthen our economy and attract the kind of jobs and investment that will build prosperity for all Ontario families.”
Allison Sekuler, McMaster’s associate vice-president and dean of Graduate Studies says the provincial investment will have an significant impact on campus and highlights McMaster’s contribution to cultural, social, and economic prosperity.
“We’ve seen increased interest in graduate studies across the entire University compared to this time last year, with increases in application rates as high as 30 per cent in areas such as Engineering and our MBA program,” she says. “The allocation of 338 new graduate spaces enables McMaster to meet this rising demand by developing and growing new programs, and continuing to build our traditional areas of excellence in research and graduate training.”
Combined with previously allocated spots for graduate expansion, McMaster plans to increase graduate enrollment by more than 530 students over the next three years, resulting in overall growth to graduate programs of nearly 70 per cent since the expansion program began in 2002. […]

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Anthropologist leaves gift, legacy to students days before her death

Shelly Saunders

Shelly Saunders made a donation to establish the Shelly Saunders Scholarship in Anthropology before her death in May 2008. File photo.
The legacy of internationally renowned anthropology professor Shelley Saunders, who spent her career teaching students how to solve the mysteries of the past, will be carried on thanks to a $547,250 gift to build the best anthropology program in the country.
Saunders died of cancer in May of this year, but days before her death, made the donation to establish the Shelley Saunders Scholarships in Anthropology, a lasting legacy for graduate students to give them the tools and resources they need to be the great thinkers and scientific detectives of our time.
“Shelley loved her students,” says her husband, Victor Koloshuk. “She particularly loved mentoring them and working very closely with them. She believed McMaster’s success as an international institution in anthropology meant attracting young, bright students and this gift would help them greatly.”
The formal announcement of Saunders’ gift will be made Thursday, November 6 at 5 p.m. before a room full of her friends and colleagues, in the West Ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel in Hamilton. Earlier in the day, the Annual Meeting for the Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology, which is being held at the same venue, will pay tribute to her life’s work in a special symposium.
“Shelley was a leader in the field of skeletal biology and physical anthropology, and certainly a leader at McMaster,” says Peter George, president of the University. “She was admired for her innovative teaching methods and research skills, and her clear-eyed approach to her work. She distinguished herself academically: as the first biological anthropologist to be elected to the prestigious Royal Society of Canada, and to receive a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair. This donation is a bittersweet one for us; we are truly grateful for such a generous gift, and deeply saddened that we cannot share this occasion with Shelley in person.”
Saunders was instrumental in the development of research at McMaster University. She initiated the Children and Childhood in Human Societies research network, founded and established the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre, and directed the expansion of the McMaster Anthropology Hard Tissue and Light Microscopy Laboratory.
Saunders was also frequently called upon by local police to lend her expertise and help solve difficult forensic cases. Under her tutelage, Saunders’ students also flourished. Some of them worked on high profile investigations, including the Robert Pickton investigation in British Columbia.
“Shelley’s life was anthropology and delving into the past,” says Koloshuk. “It is my hope that this gift might be something the students will rally around, that it will help get them really involved and bring them together for a common cause. Hopefully this is just the beginning.” […]

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