Pint of Science global science festival makes research and researchers accessible

Over three days in May, across five continents, in more than 300 cities, science finds its way out of the lab and into the pubs for the global Pint of Science Festival – and this year Mac researchers joined in the fun for the first time.

From May 14 to 16, researchers from the faculties of Science and Humanities participated in six events over two venues: The Phoenix pub on campus, and the West Town Bar and Grill on Locke Street. Topics ranged from music cognition to addiction to stellar nurseries as well as others related to the year’s research themes: astronomy, physics and neuroscience.

Organized by Florence Roullet, an assistant clinical professor in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, and grad students Sawayra Owais and Thanassis Psaltis, the events were hugely popular, with four of the six talks sold out in advance.

“This is a perfect opportunity to connect with the larger community,” says Owais. “So often, scientists only talk to each other. This is a chance to share some of their discoveries with people outside of academia.”

Kalai Saravanamuttu agrees. The associate professor of chemistry spoke at the Phoenix about her work using unusual types of light waves in computing and to make 3-D printed models.

“Events like Pint of Science force us to pause and come up for air after being immersed in rigorous science all the time, and explain to people outside the field about what we’re trying to do, and why it matters,” Saravanamuttu says.

“We’re conveying our joy in our work and maybe even stimulating an interest in science as a career.”

It’s important for people to know about the tangible change scientific research can bring about, she points out. “These are cool things that could ultimately improve our technology and our world and make people’s lives better.”

At many of the talks, professors and graduate students presented together.

“It’s almost a spiritual experience, knowing that so many people in so many different places are all talking about science at the same time,” says Fiza Arshad, a graduate student working with Iris Balodis, both of whom presented their work on addiction at the West Town. “Addiction is a topic that many people have a personal connection to and strong feelings about, so it’s good to talk about what the scientific evidence actually shows.”

For chemistry PhD student Kathryn Benincasa, who presented at the Phoenix on using unusual types of light waves to increase our field of vision, chatting about her work in a casual, non-institutional setting is an important step towards educating people about what scientists actually do.

“My family has this idea that I’m a mad scientist in a lab coat doing concoctions all day,” she laughs. “Yes, I do experiments, but that’s not all of what research is. Getting out there to talk about my research starts to get rid of that misconception of what we do.”

Over three days in May, across five continents, in more than 300 cities, science finds its way out of the lab and into the pubs for the global Pint of Science Festival – and this year Mac researchers joined in the fun for the first time.

From May 14 to 16, researchers from the faculties of Science and Humanities participated in six events over two venues: The Phoenix pub on campus, and the West Town Bar and Grill on Locke Street. Topics ranged from music cognition to addiction to stellar nurseries as well as others related to the year’s research themes: astronomy, physics and neuroscience.

Organized by Florence Roullet, an assistant clinical professor in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, and grad students Sawayra Owais and Thanassis Psaltis, the events were hugely popular, with four of the six talks sold out in advance.

“This is a perfect opportunity to connect with the larger community,” says Owais. “So often, scientists only talk to each other. This is a chance to share some of their discoveries with people outside of academia.”

Kalai Saravanamuttu agrees. The associate professor of chemistry spoke at the Phoenix about her work using unusual types of light waves in computing and to make 3-D printed models.

“Events like Pint of Science force us to pause and come up for air after being immersed in rigorous science all the time, and explain to people outside the field about what we’re trying to do, and why it matters,” Saravanamuttu says.

“We’re conveying our joy in our work and maybe even stimulating an interest in science as a career.”

It’s important for people to know about the tangible change scientific research can bring about, she points out. “These are cool things that could ultimately improve our technology and our world and make people’s lives better.”

At many of the talks, professors and graduate students presented together.

“It’s almost a spiritual experience, knowing that so many people in so many different places are all talking about science at the same time,” says Fiza Arshad, a graduate student working with Iris Balodis, both of whom presented their work on addiction at the West Town. “Addiction is a topic that many people have a personal connection to and strong feelings about, so it’s good to talk about what the scientific evidence actually shows.”

For chemistry PhD student Kathryn Benincasa, who presented at the Phoenix on using unusual types of light waves to increase our field of vision, chatting about her work in a casual, non-institutional setting is an important step towards educating people about what scientists actually do.

“My family has this idea that I’m a mad scientist in a lab coat doing concoctions all day,” she laughs. “Yes, I do experiments, but that’s not all of what research is. Getting out there to talk about my research starts to get rid of that misconception of what we do.”

pint3 2

Concepts in Magnetic Resonance Honours Dr. Alex Bain

This latest issue of Concepts in Magnetic Resonance was prepared in honour of the late Alex Bain.  The front cover includes a lovely photo of Alex, who passed away in 2016. Dr. Bain joined our department as Associate Professor in 1987 and continued to publish papers long after his formal retirement in 2008. His research interests lay in the field of pulse and two-dimensional NMR and chemical exchange, including both theoretical simulations and practical applications. (note that due to an issue with the publication, the date of the issue is incorrect)

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/15525023/45A/6

Concepts Bain cover

Dr. Jose Moran Mirabal recognized with Canada Research Chair

 José Moran-Mirabal, associate professor, chemistry and chemical biology, holds the Canada Research Chair in Micro- and Nanostructured Materials (Tier 2).  Moran-Mirabal is developing new, more efficient methods for patterning and structuring thin films used in everything from electronics to biosensors. His research will expand our knowledge of membrane-surface interactions and open paths for the development of novel assays for the diagnosis of important diseases, and will have major impacts on environmental monitoring, clinical practice, and biological research. For the full story see the McMaster Daily News article.

josemoranmirabal preview

Alex Adronov Recognized For His Contribution to Macromolecular Science

McMaster’s Chemistry & Chemical Biology continues its winning streak at the Chemical Institute of Canada’s annual awards. Alex Adronov, Chemistry & Chemical Biology, is this year’s winner of the Chemical Institute of Canada’s Macromolecular Science and Engineering Award (www.cheminst.ca/awards/cic-awards/macromolecular-science-and-engineering-award). The award is presented to a researcher who has made a distinguished contribution to macromolecular science or engineering. Other McMaster professors who received the award include Harald Stöver (2016) and Michael Brook (2017), making this the third win in a row for Chemistry & Chemical Biology.

Adronov Chem 2018

Adronov won recognition for his work involving the synthesis of complex polymers with controlled architectures and well-defined reactivity, as well as for his investigations of the interactions between conjugated polymers and single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). Over the course of his career, he has established himself as a national leader in the multi-step preparation of novel polymers and their applications toward the development of SWNT-based nanostructures. SWNTs are hollow, narrow tubes formed from one-atom-thick sheets of carbon; they are one hundred thousand times smaller than a human hair. They also have different properties depending on their radius and the way in which carbon atoms are arranged within their walls. Applications for SWNTs can be found in nano-scale electronics, flexible transparent electrodes, sensors and optics. Because of their exceptional mechanical strength, they are also used in various sporting equipment, ranging from golf clubs to the frames of high-end racing bikes.

The ability to control and manipulate such small structures is critical to the realization and development of new applications for SWNTs. Adronov’s team studies the interactions of conjugated polymers with the surface of SWNTs to find new methods to purify them and to introduce previously unrealized reactivity. Similar to painting a surface, Adronov decorates nanotubes with polymers that modify their properties and allow them to be incorporated in various materials that are otherwise incompatible. This work has been described as novel, creative and extremely important in allowing the processing of SWNTs without affecting their conductivity and structural properties. His efforts are providing insight into better manufacturing practices, which may lead to increased use and commercialization of these hybrid structures. His current goal is to develop highly sensitive chemo-resistive sensors for a wide variety of targets, ranging from trace explosives to illicit drugs.

In addition to his highly successful research program, Adronov is an active member of the polymer and materials communities. He has organized and chaired many symposia at the annual CSC conferences, as well as international meetings (ACS, Gordon Conferences, etc.), and has served as Treasurer of the Materials Science and Engineering Division (MSED). As an active faculty member, he focused on the quality of graduate education while Associate Chair of Graduate Studies; his current focus is on enhancing the research profile of the Department as Associate Chair of Research. For his efforts, he has been awarded the Polanyi Prize (2002), the Premier’s Research Excellence Award (2003), the Lash Miller Award in 2007, an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Grant in 2012, and the Award for Research Excellence in Materials Chemistry in 2013, which is also a national award given by the Chemical Institute of Canada. His devotion to teaching and mentorship has been recognized with the 2017 McMaster Student Union (MSU) Award for Excellence in Teaching, as well as a nomination for the President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision (2015).

A McMaster University professor since 2001, Adronov received his B.Sc. from McMaster in 1996 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001. Over his career, he has worked with a team of 24 graduate students, 8 postdoctoral fellows, and 25 undergraduates, and has published over 105 peer-reviewed publications.

He will officially receive his award on May 30 at the Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference in Edmonton, where he will deliver an award lecture on his research.

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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Chemistry & Chemical Biology