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New Book Explores United Nations Global Goals

Cover of new book Geography, Health and Sustainability

Professor and Faculty of Science Research Chair Allison Williams has co-edited a new book that explores the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Geography, Health and Sustainability: Gender Matters Globally provides a range of geographical and geospatial insights from a variety of disciplinary and country-specific perspectives, to better understand gender and sustainable development.

The collection brings attention to the centrality of geography and gender in reaching the the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals. The SDGs are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The SDGs were established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 with the aim of being achieved by 2030. Much of the research taking place at McMaster is directly tied to the 17 goals.

The edited book collection, in particular, brings to light SDG 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls, which is argued as being central to the achievement of all other goals. Goal 5 is made up of 9 targets, including Target 5.4: Value unpaid care and promote shared domestic responsibilities. This target is aligned with Allison’s larger CIHR/SSHRC Partnership Grant, which examines carer-friendly workplaces.

Allison, a social geographer and Faculty of Science Research Chair with the School of Earth, Environment & Society, co-edited Geography, Health and Sustainability with Professor Issac Luginaah from the University of Western Ontario.

5 Questions with Mike Waddington

Mike Waddington

Looking to roll out or revamp a recognition program for your team in 2022? Mike Waddington introduced the Nobel Peat Awards 12 years ago to recognize early career researchers in his McMaster Ecohydrology Lab and also raise their profile with international researchers. Mike, a Professor with the School of Earth, Environment & Society and the Canada Research Chair in Ecohydrology, offers advice on how to recognize and raise the profile of your team.

What inspired you to launch the Nobel Peat Prizes?

It started out as a fun pun and it just built from there. Members of the McMaster Ecohydrology Lab started conducting research on peatlands in the Nobel, Ontario area in 2010.  I thought it was a pity that the best and most exciting science in peat and peatlands wasn’t being recognized in some way and so the Nobel Peat Prizes were born. Each year, members of the McMaster Ecohydrology lab review, discuss and critique many top papers and we then rank them and choose a winner. We've taken the "paper reading club" from lab meetings to the next level. Two years ago, I added an additional prize for peatland science outreach and community engagement. I donate a dollar for every giga-tonne of carbon stored in northern peatlands (500 Gt C) to the winner. The Peatland Early Career Researchers Action Team has won the award back-to-back and they've used their prize money to support science communication. peatland community outreach and equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Why's recognition important?

Peatlands are the world’s largest natural terrestrial carbon store and the best carbon storage technology that exists. These ecosystems are critical for mitigating the effects of climate change and they punch way above their weight so I figured the science being done in these ecosystems should be recognized in its own unique way. Early career researchers and scientists from diverse backgrounds don’t always get the recognition they deserve and we wanted to start to change that. It is our lab’s way of thanking the science community for their awesome work but I want to be clear this has also become a great way for early career researchers in the MAC Ecohydrology Lab to network with some top international  scientists.

What do the awards recognize?

All things peat and peatland science which includes hydrology, ecology, biogeochemistry, restoration ecology, biometeorology, wildfire science and more. It is more about the recognition of diverse and novel science of peat and peatlands than about traditionally high-impact papers. In a nutshell, the awards celebrate the best "research for peat’s sake”.

What's the response been like from recipients and the research community?

At first not many people knew about the awards and it was just a fun lab thing to discuss at our annual lab retreat. But after we started tweeting about the awards, it kind of grew from there. Over the years I’ve been introduced at conferences as being the principal investigator in the lab that awards the Nobel Peat Prize, I’ve had people tell me how honoured they were to be nominated or win the award. Last year, the journal of the winning paper even got in on the fun and tweeted "We’re honored to have published our first laureate of the #NobelPeatPrize!”. So, the traction really seems to have been growing over the years.

What advice would you give to other principal investigators who are interested in introducing a recognition program in their labs?

Go for it! Make it more about the early career research paper and science review process and recognizing the science from a diverse suite of authors. In this world of multiple publication, citations, h-index, etc. metrics I think the last thing scientists need is another traditional award. Instead, the Nobel Peat Prize has been a fun way to take the lab meeting paper review club to the next level. In a way the networking that the Nobel Peat Prize provides has been a way for the international peatland science community to recognize the awesome science being done here by early career researchers in the McMaster Ecohydrology Lab and visa versa.

Connect with Mike at jmw@mcmaster.ca.

Building Connections with 33,000 Science Alumni

New Alumni Officer Gavan Dhillon

Gavan Dhillon has returned to McMaster to serve as the Faculty of Science's first Alumni Engagement Officer.

Gavan will be developing virtual and in-person programming for more than 33,000 alumni from around the world. Gavan, who reports to Morgan Tilley-Woo, Associate Director of Faculty Alumni Engagement and Heather Colwell, Associate Director of Development, will also be working on volunteer and recognition programs.

"I was very involved in event planning and networking while I was a student at McMaster," says Gavan, who graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Studies & Gerontology. "Working as the Alumni Engagement Officer in the Faculty of Science will be a great way to give back while doing work that I'm absolutely passionate about."

Gavan was previously the Program Coordinator with Thrive Group, a non-profit that serves as an umbrella organization for health care charities. Gavan also served as Director of Resident and Family Relations for Silverthorn Care Community.

Welcome Gavan at dhillg8@mcmaster.ca.

New HR Support for Departments and Schools

New HR coordinators Banushaa Theiventhiran and Michael Daku

Banushaa Theiventhiran and Michael Daku have joined the Faculty of Science as Human Resources Coordinators.

Postdoc Joins Dean's Office to Help Advance EDI

Rodrigo Narro Perez

Postdoctoral Fellow Rodrigo Narro Pérez has joined the Office of the Dean to help faculty and staff with their equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Rodrigo recently completed his PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences in School of Earth, Environment & Society under the supervision of Carolyn Eyles. Rodrigo's research focused on understanding the impact that retreating tropical glaciers will have in the Cordillera Blanca, part of the northern Andes in Perú

Rodrigo has served as one of the Co-Conveners for the Race, Racialization and Racism (R3) Working Group of the President’s Advisory Committee for Building an Inclusive Community. Working alongside Juliet Daniel and Daniel Coleman, Rodrigo addresses issues of race and racism across the campus community. He was also a member of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force for the Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and currently serves on the Board of Directors with the Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre (HARRC).  Rodrigo also served on the McMaster Students Union and McMaster Science Society as an undergraduate student.

Rodrigo most recently co-founded the Latin American Network at McMaster University (LANMU) with faculty members, staff and students from across campus. The network's mission is to expand supports to the Latin American/Latinx community at McMaster and elevate research and teaching related to Latin America and its peoples. 

What will you be working on in your new role?

I'm in the unique position of advancing equity, anti-racism and justice work in both the Faculty of Science and the Office of the Vice-Provost (Faculty)  Doing work within the Faculty while also supporting work across campus is very exciting.

I'll be working on a variety of initiatives in the Faculty of Science. Every Department and School is at various stages regarding this type of work and will have distinct needs and priority areas. I'll be providing advice, feedback and guidance as each unit moves forward with their initiatives and planning regarding equity, inclusion, anti-racism, accessibility and Indigeneity.

One thing that I am passionate about, and is a research area of mine, is looking at how we integrate anti-racist, inclusive and accessible pedagogies in the undergraduate science curriculum. Recently, Kalai Saravanamuttu (Chemistry & Chemical Biology) and I were awarded a small grant to support this research and I’m excited to work on this in the coming months.

I also hope to explore how we can support the success of racialized students in the Faculty of Science and do equitable and purposeful outreach in our local Hamilton community. In particular, I plan on working alongside the McMaster Access Strategy that assists academically qualified students from equity-deserving groups in Hamilton and surrounding communities to access university education. The Access Strategy has identified students who are Black, Indigenous and Latinx/Latin American, and intersecting identities, as priority groups and I'd love to work with youth in these communities and build pathways to McMaster and our Faculty of Science. 

What drives your commitment to EDI?

I was born in Perú and immigrated here when I was 10 years old. My family and I faced racism and xenophobia as soon as we arrived. Within a week of starting work in Canada, my dad was told 'to go back to México'. Those experiences, as well as those through my education, marked my understanding of how people would treat me based on my skin colour.

We all belong to communities and I think many folks have forgotten that. You do not have to experience certain discrimination and hardship to acknowledge injustice and stand up for others. I have learned that a community based approach is essential in this type of work and that and if we take care of one another and support one another in this type of work then it can become filled in solidarity and care. This work is ongoing and does not end when we step outside campus, it is something that all of us should strive to do in our lives every day.

It's also important to acknowledge that I am inspired by folks who have come before me and have been doing this work for a long time. I am lucky to have colleagues and mentors who have inspired me and encouraged me to be an active agent of change.
Why is it important to build an equitable, inclusive and anti-racist Faculty of Science?

We know that excellent science occurs when scientific teams are comprised of individuals with different backgrounds and experiences. Despite this, scientific disciplines in Canada and the U.S. are not diverse, and have changed very little in the last couple of decades. We know that not everyone is afforded the same research and learning opportunities due to race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and class. Systemic and structural barriers and procedures, many of which often are historical, detract racialized, disabled, queer and low-income students from pursuing a career in the sciences. In addition, there is plenty of research that shows that representation is integral for student success. In the U.S., there is a lot of research that shows that when students see themselves in the faculty complement, they are more likely to pursue similar research interests and see themselves as a scientist. In addition, not every student can afford to ‘volunteer’ in a research lab, understanding this and ensuring all students can have research opportunities is important. An equitable, inclusive, diverse and anti-racist Faculty of Science is a goal that everyone should strive for. This will allow all students, staff and faculty members to reach their full potential and contribute to the great scientific research, teaching and learning that occurs and that can occur within our Faculty of Science.  

Welcome Rodrigo at narrora@mcmcaster.ca.

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