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News from the Faculty of Science

Remembering Russell Bell

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Russell Bell, Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology. A native of New Zealand, he completed his undergraduate degree there and his PhD at Stanford. Bell joined McMaster’s Department of Chemistry in 1964; he also held a joint member of the Department of Biochemistry. He was an excellent researcher, who made pioneering discoveries in the area of nucleic acids and natural materials, utilizing state-of-the-art NMR methods. He collaborated with many colleagues with the Department, and ran an active research group for more than 30 years. Dr. Bell was also well-loved professor of organic chemistry and an outstanding instructor, recognized by a life-time achievement award from the McMaster Student Union in 1996. Following his retirement, Bell remained an active scientist, regularly attending departmental seminars in his areas of interest and social events in the Department. He was always warm and encouraging to students, staff, and colleagues alike. More details can be found here.

New technique may better detect cystic fibrosis in newborns


Researchers have identified new biological markers of cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease which affects children and young adults, leaving them with lifelong health complications including digestive problems and persistent lung infections.

The findings, published in the journal ACS Central Science, shed new light on the underlying mechanisms of CF. They may could lead to improved prognosis and better therapies for a disease which is quite variable, affecting different children in different ways, say researchers.

“There are chemical signatures in sweat that tell us an infant has CF even when they do not exhibit any symptoms,” says Philip Britz-McKibbin, lead author of the study and a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at McMaster University. “We set out to discover whether there were chemical indicators detected in sweat that could complement the gold standard for CF diagnosis: the sweat chloride test.”


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Faculty congratulates Science’s newest member of College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists

Paul McNicholas, Mathematics & Statistics, is among the latest cohort to be elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. He is one of the first people in his field to be elected. McNicholas, Canada Research Chair in Computational Statistics, works to develop approaches that extract as much quality information as possible from big, complex or otherwise ‘tricky’ data, which is key to solving emerging problems in areas as diverse as genetics, disease diagnostics, management science and terrorist behaviour. He was also recently appointed director of the MacDATA Institute.

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Congratulations to Stuart Phillips, fellow of the CAHS

Stuart Phillips, Kinesiology, has been elected as a 2017 Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS). The CAHS is one of three national academies that comprise the Council of Canadian Academies; the others are Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. Election to one of Academies is the highest honour granted to scholars in Canada. Fellows of the Academy are selected based on demonstrated leadership, creativity, distinctive competencies and commitment to advance academic health sciences. He was inducted at a ceremony held in Ottawa on September 14. Phillips hold the Canada Research Chair in Human Skeletal Muscle Health in Aging.

Faculty welcomes New Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Environment and Health

Photo of Karen KiddInternationally recognized ecotoxicologist, Karen Kidd, has been named the Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Environment and Health at McMaster University. Kidd has a joint appointment in the Department of Biology and School of Geography & Earth Sciences, which began July 1. Her research focuses on understanding the effects of human activities on aquatic systems and how contaminants, such as mercury, pesticides, industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other pollutants, impact the health of fish in freshwater ecosystems in Canada and abroad. She previously held a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Chemical Contamination of Food Webs at University of New Brunswick.

The Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Environment and Health is funded by long-time university supporter Stephen A. Jarislowsky, and is aimed at enhancing research excellence in the areas of environment, health and water within the Faculty of Science, and across all Faculties at the University.


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Explanation for largest mammalian genome found

Picture of a red vizcacha ratBen Evans, Biology, and team have found that repetitive DNA, not whole chromosome duplication, may be why the red vizcacha rat has the largest genome of all mammals. A native species of Argentina, the rats’ genome is roughly two-and-a-half times as large as the human genome, 102 chromosomes versus 46 for humans. That is twice the size of one of its closest relatives, the mountain vizcacha rat. The two species had a common ancestor as recently as five million years ago, which is a short period of time in evolutionary terms, according to Evans.

The analysis has implications for humans, as similar mechanisms have been observed in human DNA and and contribute to ‘genomic baggage’ or extra DNA. 

McMaster University - Faculty of Science

Mailing Address

Office of the Dean of Science
McMaster University
Burke Science Building (BSB), Room 102
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8S 4K1

Contact Information

Business Hours:
8:30AM - 12:00PM + 1:00PM - 4:30PM
Telephone Inquiries:
+1 (905) 525-9140 ext.22616
Fax:
(905) 546-9995
Student Inquiries:
science@mcmaster.ca

McMaster University - Faculty of Science

Mailing Address

Office of the Dean of Science
McMaster University
Burke Science Building (BSB), Room 102
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8S 4K1

Contact Information

Business Hours:
8:30AM - 12:00PM + 1:00PM - 4:30PM
Telephone Inquiries:
+1 (905) 525-9140 ext.22616
Fax:
(905) 546-9995
Student Inquiries:
science@mcmaster.ca