How's my driving? Mac PhD finishes second in national automotive research competition
December 22, 2014
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”
Grad student recognized for work on groundwater remediation
March 27, 2009
Kevin Mumford, a PhD candidate in civil engineering, was recently recognized for his work in groundwater remediation. Photo courtesy of engineering.
It seems so bountiful that many take it for granted. Not Kevin Mumford. He understands that water is a precious resource that needs to be nurtured in order to sustain life and the societies we've developed around it.
Mumford, who will graduate this spring with a PhD in civil engineering, was recently recognized by his peers and colleagues with a series of awards for his work in groundwater remediation.
It began with a win at the 2008 southern Ontario graduate student presentation competition organized by the Canadian Geotechnical Society. Mumford then moved on to the national competition, which he won. Capping it off, Mumford was invited to present his doctoral research to the hydrology section of the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco, where he was presented with an outstanding student paper award.
"It's nice to have engineers winning communications awards," said Mumford. "It's important that engineers are able to communicate highly technical work."
Mumford's research is focused on identifying contaminants polluting groundwater and finding ways to address problems encountered. Specifically, he studies remediation of non-aqueous phase liquids, such as gasoline, PCBs, creosote, and chlorinated solvents such as degreasers and dry cleaning fluid.
"It's about understanding the chemistry and physics of how contaminants behave," said Mumford. "You can't see the problem since the water is underground so you're trying to find out what is there, how it moves and how to address it."
Mumford credits several people at McMaster for assisting him with his research, in particular his PhD co-advisors Sarah Dickson, assistant professor of civil engineering, and Jim Smith, associate professor in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences.
"Sarah and Jim are internationally known, I was familiar with their work, and they came highly recommended," explained Mumford on his decision to pursue PhD studies at McMaster.
Prior to enrolling for the PhD program, Mumford was working for an environmental engineering consulting firm on projects throughout North America. He earned his B.A.Sc. in Environmental Engineering-Chemical Branch and Master's of Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo. He is currently working on an NSERC post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Western Ontario, commuting from Hamilton.
"Kevin is exceptionally talented in his communication, academic and interpersonal skills," said Dickson. "This is a very rare combination, and both Jim and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to supervise him."
Mumford has his sights set on an academic career in order to combine teaching and research. While studying at McMaster, he was awarded the Graduate Student Association Teaching Assistant Excellence Award in 2005 in recognition of his contributions to undergraduate education.
McMaster partners with Maastricht University to produce health leaders of tomorrow
March 18, 2009
Andrea Baumann, associate vice-president, International Health, McMaster University. File photo.
International bodies such as the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and the G-8 have made the improvement of global health a priority. Dr. Jong-wook Lee, former director-general of the World Health Organization, has said that "in the face of today's global challenges of poverty, inequities, disease and epidemics, there is an increasing demand for dynamic health leaders with sound technical skills."
To meet these global needs effectively, McMaster University and Maastricht University in the Netherlands - internationally respected in health sciences, social sciences and business - are partnering in the development of an innovative Masters in Global Health degree program. Graduates of the program are expected to become the much-needed health leaders of tomorrow.
The 12-month program officially begins this September (upon Ontario Council on Graduate Studies approval) with a maximum of 25 students admitted each year at McMaster and another 50 at Maastricht. Student exchanges between the two universities will take place during the winter term.
"The foundation courses will be delivered simultaneously at McMaster and Maastricht. At both institutions, graduate students will have the opportunity to learn from guest lecturers who are well-known experts in global health and to study in small groups as both McMaster and Maastricht are highly regarded internationally for their focus on small group, problem-based learning," said Andrea Baumann, associate vice-president, International Health, McMaster University.
At McMaster, the program includes globalization and development, global health management and global diseases. Maastricht will offer a program on implementing innovations on a global scale and an epidemiology/field methodology program. The program is designed to provide students with a solid foundation in global health issues.
Students will take their first term (September - December) at their "home" institution. During the winter/spring term (January - April) students have the option of travelling to their sister institution or staying "home." At the end of the winter term, all students from McMaster and Maastricht join in a three-to-four week learning symposium and field orientation in Hamilton or Maastricht or on site in a developing or underdeveloped country. Students return to their "home" institutions to complete their final research reports.
For more information about the program, please visit: http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/global_health_masters/.
Trades establish $1-million heavy-construction chair at McMaster
March 11, 2009
(Front Row, L to R) Joe Mancinelli, Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 837; Wendy Fountain, John Deere Foundation Canada; Jon Brown, Hamilton and District Heavy Construction Association; Paul Shewfelt, Mechanical Contractors Association - Hamilton; Mike Gallagher, International Union of Operating Engineers; Gerry Mulhern, Ontario Concrete Pipe Association; (Back Row, L to R) David Wilkinson, dean of the Faculty of Engineering; President Peter George. Photo courtesy of the Faculty of Engineering.
Twelve organizations in the heavy construction industry have pledged $1,127,500 over five years to establish an endowed chair at McMaster University. It is believed to be the first such chair in Canada.
Among the key duties of the chair will be to provide leadership in advancing innovation in the heavy-construction sector, attracting and developing talent, and contributing to the advancement of a modern and durable infrastructure in Ontario.
"This chair is a vital step in ensuring strong growth and a progressive future of our industry," said Jon Brown, president of the Hamilton and District Heavy Construction Association. Brown, along with Leo Laviolette who was general manager of the Association at the time, initiated the endeavour.
The organizations involved include: Hamilton and District Heavy Construction Association, Ontario Road Builders' Association, Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association, John Deere Foundation of Canada, Ministry of Transportation Ontario, Laborers International Union of North America - Ontario Provincial District Council, Mechanical Contractors Association - Hamilton, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 793, Ontario Concrete Pipe Association, Greater Toronto Sewer and Watermain Contractors Association, Battlefield Equipment Rentals The Cat Rental Store, and the Heavy Construction Association of Toronto.
"We need to develop more intelligent infrastructure," said Ghani Razaqpur, chair, Department of Civil Engineering at McMaster. "That means more efficient, safer, and greener construction methods. It means longer lasting, sustainable infrastructure that needs less maintenance. But we need to attract and develop a pool of highly qualified engineers and engineering technicians who can provide the leadership and management skills to make it happen."
The chair in heavy construction will have an academic appointment in the Department of Civil Engineering at McMaster with instruction responsibilities at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as in the McMaster-Mohawk Bachelor of Technology civil engineering technology program.
Heavy construction includes the development of transportation networks such as roads, bridges, and harbor facilities; municipal infrastructure such as water supply and sewer systems; and the sustainable supply of power such as hydro-electric facilities.
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.
McMaster alumna Beverly Goodman has been named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic.
What does it take to be recognized by one of today's best-known geographic magazines? Being at the forefront of your research career, being adventurous with your research and studying uncharted territory are all required - and receiving your PhD from McMaster University certainly helps.
Beverly Goodman, who earned her PhD from the School of Geography and Earth Sciences, has been named an Emerging Explorer byNational Geographicmagazine. The program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, photographers and storytellers who are making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration, while still early in their careers. Each Emerging Explorer receives an award of $10,000 to assist with their research and to aid further exploration.
Goodman was recognized for her work exploring the complex ways nature and humans interact on coastlines, more specifically, the causes and frequency of tsunami events. Her fieldwork centred in Caesarea, Israel where her team discovered evidence that proves a tsunami struck the ancient harbour sometime in the first or second century A.D., which may have caused its destruction. Up until this point, the lack of physical evidence contradicted what was written in historical texts - showing that relying on texts alone can be unreliable.
Goodman studied at McMaster from 2001 to 2006 under the primary supervision of professors Eduard Reinhardt and Henry Schwarcz in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences. She credits her supervisors with being the biggest part of her experience at McMaster.
"Overall, it was a great place to do my PhD because of the equipment and support available there," stated Goodman. "Also, the quality of life for graduate students was much better than what I have seen and experienced at many American universities."
At the moment, Goodman is in the middle of the Red Sea as a researcher for the Interuniversity for Marine Sciences. For the future, Goodman is considering different options for tenure track academic positions, and plans to continue to work on coastal environment questions that are relevant in both archaeological and modern contexts.
"Working with Beverly, I knew she would go on to great things," says Reinhardt. "Everyone in the School is proud of the research she is doing and excited to see where it will take her next."
Harvey Longboat Graduate Scholarship will honour Indigenous scholars
January 1, 2009
McMaster's School of Graduate Studies has announced a new scholarship to encourage Indigenous undergraduate students to study at the graduate level. Students from First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities will be eligible for the $15,000 scholarship, named after Six Nation's educator and Cayuga chief Harvey Longboat. The first award will be made for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Twenty-eight years ago, a survey of McMaster undergraduate students indicated a need for improved instruction by teaching assistants. In response, the Centre for Leadership in Learning (CLL) created TA Day, a one-day series of workshops addressing the challenges teaching assistants face when interacting with undergraduate students.
In the years since, TA Day has proven to be a highly valued component of a teaching assistant's learning experience, and evidence of McMaster's continued commitment to excellence in education. This year, TA Day will take place in the Burke Science Building on Wednesday, Sept. 3.
"In 2008, we are focusing even more than ever on topics that teaching assistants have identified as being the most important areas of concern," says TA Day coordinator Paul Szego.
The workshops will cover topics such as Stimulating Discussions, Making Effective Presentations, The First Tutorial and Teaching in a Different Culture. Each workshop is led by members of the McMaster T.A. Network, comprised of graduate students who have been identified as leaders in teaching and instruction.
"The great advantage of having T.A. Network members run the workshop is that these individuals embody the qualities aspired to by most instructors," says Szego. "They are some of the most enthusiastic and dedicated teaching assistants at McMaster, but they also remember that they were once new and nervous TA's -- just like many of our attendees, who want to learn how to become great instructors."
In addition to these instructional workshops, professors from across the University will also be discussing the topic, What Do TAs Actually Do? This workshop consists of a frank round-table discussion about expectations and responsibilities from the professors' point-of-view.
"TA Day is important because it gives us an opportunity to welcome the new teaching assistants to the University, while providing them with the information and the skills that they will need to contribute to the high-quality education we offer to our undergraduate students. It also allows returning TAs to hone those skills," says Peter Smith, associate vice-president (academic).
This year, TA Day will be a more intimate event, focusing on pedagogy as a student-instructor with smaller group sizes for increased interaction between audience and speakers.
Free workshops take place in the morning, with many departments hosting specific events in the afternoon. The day's activities end with a party at the Phoenix Restaurant and Bar. Anyone interested in attending the free workshops can find more information, including registration, atwww.mcmaster.ca/cll. Please note that registration is online only.
Anthropologist leaves gift, legacy to students days before her death
July 2, 2008
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."
Szeman honoured for excellence in graduate supervision
March 25, 2008
Imre Szeman, associate professor in the Department of English & Cultural Studies.
When Imre Szeman meets with his graduate students, he learns as much from them as they do from him.
"Working with graduate students keeps my own ideas fresh," said Szeman, associate professor in the Department of English & Cultural Studies. "Grad students are always on top of the latest ideas and developments in the scholarly world."
Szeman received the President's Award of Excellence for Graduate Supervision at the Graduate Students Recognition Day on March 18.
"I feel extremely honoured to receive the award, especially since my students nominated me for it," said Szeman. "I take my role as graduate supervisor extremely seriously and try to do what I can to make sure that my students have an interesting and rewarding time while they are in graduate school at McMaster."
He added that he enjoys helping graduate students build their confidence as writers and researchers.
"It can be daunting to begin work in areas of scholarly research in which, inevitably, a great deal has already been written. I like helping my students come to a realization that they have something unique and original to contribute, and that through their hard work they can become part of the community of scholars that have preceded them."
Graduate Students Recognition Day celebrates excellence
March 13, 2008
The McMaster University community is invited to attend the 12th Annual Graduate Students Recognition Day on Tuesday, March 18 in Convocation Hall. The reception starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by the Awards Ceremony at 6:30 p.m.
The event represents a collaborative effort between the Graduate Students Association (GSA) and the School of Graduate Studies to celebrate the contributions of graduate students to innovation and discovery at McMaster.
Graduate students help McMaster achieve its academic mission. The award categories honour graduate student excellence in research communication, teaching assistance, and leadership in athletics and community service.
The contributions of graduate faculty and non-academic staff are acknowledged with the President's Awards for Excellence in Graduate Supervision and the GSA Award for Contributions by Non-Academic Staff.
As an elite cyclist, Naomi Cermak is aware of the latest trends in sports nutrition. To help distinguish fact from fiction, the doctoral student in kinesiology can rely on her own award-winning research.
Last weekend, Cermak won the Graduate Student Award at the Ontario Exercise Physiology meeting in Barrie for her project,Protein-carbohydrate ingestion does not alter selected markers of skeletal muscle metabolism during exercise in trained cyclists.
The study addressed a controversial topic in athletic circles, namely, whether adding protein to a typical carbohydrate sports drink improves performance. Some sports nutrition companies have heavily marketed protein-laced sports drinks as the next magic bullet, but Cermak's research disputes such claims.
Cermak explained that her work was interesting from both an applied and basic science perspective.
"While this study has practical relevance for endurance athletes, our laboratory is fundamentally interested in the regulation of substrate metabolism, or the way in which the body converts fuels into energy," she said.
It is the second year in a row that one of associate professor Martin Gibala's students returned home with the top prize. The Department of Kinesiology was particularly well represented at this year's meeting. Michael DeLisio, a doctoral student supervised by Gibala's colleague Gianni Parise, was also a finalist for the 2008 award.
"We are fortunate to work with a group of very talented students," said Gibala, "and it is rewarding to see their efforts recognized in a provincial competition."