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McMaster University will continue to host undergraduate academic activities remotely for the Spring/Summer/Intersession term with only a few exceptions for courses that need student access to specialized equipment.

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Scholarship in memory of Sara Etehadolhagh

In May we were devastated to learn of the tragic passing of Sara Etehadolhagh. Sara was a phenomenal student in our medical and biological physics program, but more importantly, she was a fantastic individual: kind, compassionate, and thoughtful. She had a positive impact on everyone she interacted with. Processing her loss is very difficult and I know many in the community are still grieving and will be for some time to come.

In working with her family, friends, colleagues, and classmates, McMaster has put together an iFund Mac page to raise funds for a scholarship in Sara's name here. The Department of Physics & Astronomy has begun the fundraising effort with a donation of $5000. If you are able, we encourage you to donate in Sara's memory. The scholarship will support women in the medical and biological physics program.

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship (NSERC) awarded to Ben Pearce.

Ben K.D. Pearce, who will defend his Ph.D. thesis this August in the Department of Physics with a specialization in Astrobiology through the Origins Institute, has won a prestigious 2021-22 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship (NSERC). He will be taking his award to the Johns Hopkins University this September, to further his research on the topic “From Early Earth Atmosphere to the Origin of RNA in Warm Little Ponds”. His graduate work is supervised by Dr. Ralph Pudritz, with whom he completed an undergrad CREATE summer research award, his 4th year Honours’ thesis (while based at UBC), and both. graduate degrees. Ben’s focus has been on theoretical studies on processes by which the building blocks of RNA are brought to the Earth by meteorites or built by chemical processes that begin in Earth’s early atmosphere. These studies set up the preconditions for RNA synthesis in the wet/dry cycling processes that occur in warm little ponds. As a student in the OI’s Collaborative Grad Program in Astrobiology, he gained valuable experimental skills that will support his proposed theoretical and experimental research at Johns Hopkins. Ben has won many prestigious awards for his work including two NSERC grad scholarships, and the 2017 Cozzarrelli Prize for the best paper in Mathematical and Physical Sciences in the Publications of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He was the lead author of the collaborative team on that paper with members of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, all while still an M.Sc. student. Ben has given numerous invited talks at major international conferences (eg. NASA’s Astrobiology Science Conference 2019) and universities (UBC colloquium, 2021). Most recently, he won the award for the best student talk at the 2021 Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society held this May. Throughout his career at McMaster Ben has served on a wide range of departmental, OI, and university activities and has given many planetarium shows. He is also keen member of the department’s softball team and enjoys hiking. We wish him great success in this exciting new phase of his career.

McMaster PhD graduate working to keep pilots in the air

Dr. Mikhail Klassen (McMaster Physics & Astronomy) started the company Paladin AI that develops AI-driven analytical tools aimed at improving and accelerating aviation training.  Read more from The Globe & Mail here.

Perspectives on Radiation Safety, Nuclear Security and Protecting the Environment

In this talk, Dr. Ed Waller will briefly outline his transition from industry to academia, some of the research projects he worked on while in industry, how his time in industry affected his views on research, and the pros and cons on transiting from industry research into academic research. After setting the stage, he will delve into his current research, specifically in the cooperative areas of safety, security, and the environment. Finally, he will discuss specific research performed in diverse areas such as aerosol dispersion, dose visualization and mapping, emergency response tools, and low dose investigations on human and non-human biota utilizing electron paramagnetic responance (EPR) spectroscopy.

Link to recorded lecture.  Passcode: 5*70G@6T

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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Physics & Astronomy