Faculty of Science 2021 Fall Term Update

We can’t wait to see you on campus in September.

Your safety and well-being remains our #1 priority in the Faculty of Science and we’ll continue to follow all public health guidelines.Back to Mac

The Faculty of Science plans to hold labs and tutorials on campus during the Fall term. You’ll be attending your labs and tutorials with small groups of students.

Off-campus fieldwork, research and community placements will be going ahead where allowed under public health guidelines in the host communities.

The majority of your lecture-based classes in the Faculty of Science will be delivered online during the Fall term. Lectures that are delivered online at the start of the Fall term will stay online until the end of the term, so there’s no need to keep track of whether you should be logging on or heading to campus for class.

Whether delivered on-line or on campus, lectures will be recorded so you can watch and learn at the times that work best for you.

You’ll take the majority of your tests and final exams online.

All of your instructors in the Faculty of Science will keep regular office hours during the Fall term, either on campus or on-line.

We are planning to return to in-person lectures being delivered on-campus for the Winter 2022 term.

For the latest information on McMaster’s plans for the Fall term and what services will be available on campus, from libraries and dining halls to athletics and recreation, please visit the University’s COVID-19 Back to Mac site

A Student Town Hall is also being livestreamed June 17 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on McMaster’s YouTube channel and on the Back to Mac website.

Please continue to take care of yourself and each other and do your part to help prevent the spread of COVID0-19.

See you in September.

7 Core Skills of Accessibility

Teaching and Learning Month

Date(s) - 12/05/2021
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Attendees will learn how to apply the 7 Core Skills of Digital Accessibility to the McMaster ecosystem, including Microsoft Office 365 products (Word, PowerPoint, Outlook). Time will be allocated for Question and Answer discussions and facilitate how to build an inclusive online community.

Facilitators: Jessica Blackwood, Faculty of Science, Accessible Digital Media Specialist

Kate Brown, Equity and Inclusion Office, Accessibility and Disability Inclusion Programming and Support

Platform: Microsoft Teams (details provided upon registration)

For questions about accessibility or accommodation support, please contact the event organizer before the session.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/7-core-skills-of-accessibility-tickets-149586879383

Eight Teaching Awards For The Faculty of Science

Meagan MacKenzie has capped off her first year with the Faculty of Science by receiving a teaching award from students.

Meagan, an Assistant Professor with the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior, received the McMaster Students Union Teaching Award for the Faculty of Science. The annual awards were established by the McMaster Students Union in 1978 to recognize and encourage excellence in teaching.

MSU Teaching Awards 2021"Dr. MacKenzie is one of the best professors I have had at McMaster," said one student. "I have had her for three courses and in each class she has been phenomenal at teaching content, answering questions, engaging the class, being enthusiastic and understanding student needs. She consistently goes above and beyond for her students."

Another student said "online school has been extremely difficult for me in every aspect but Dr. MacKenzie solves all my problems within her course. She is clear with what is expected and cares a lot about her students' mental health and well-being. Her lectures are the most engaging ones I've attended by far."

Meagan joined McMaster from a postdoctoral fellowship at Wilfrid Laurier University with Dr. Nancy Kocovski. Meagan completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Trent University and her master’s degree in social and developmental psychology at Wilfrid Laurier. She then earned a doctoral degree in experimental psychology (clinical research emphasis) at Memorial University under the mentorship of Dr. Ken Fowler.

Teaching awards were also given to Krista Howarth, Megumi Harada, Julie Jenkins, Anas Abdallah, Trevor King, Allison Williams and Jennifer Williams.

Dean Maureen MacDonald announced the Faculty of Science and Department of Kinesiology Teaching Awards during the MSU's virtual ceremony.

"I'm incredibly proud that eight of the 15 awards went to our colleagues in the Faculty of Science," says Maureen. "Congratulations to Meagan, Krista, Megumi, Julie, Anas, Trevor, Allison and Jennifer. These are special awards because the recognition comes from students. While this was a challenging year, you found ways to educate, engage and inspire your students. On behalf of our Faculty of Science, I'd also like to extend a very special thanks to the McMaster Students Union for recognizing and celebrating excellence in teaching"


The Faculty of Science's MSU Teaching Award winners were asked what they found most challenging about teaching online and whether there were any silver linings with virtual learning.

Julie Jenkins

Biggest challenge:

Julie Jenkins april newsletter"The biggest change would have to be figuring out how to navigate online teaching so that the live sessions didn't feel like watching a video for students. There are lots of things I missed about being in Julie Jenkinsperson with my students--feeding off of their energy in class makes a big difference when teaching, and sometimes teaching to blank boxes can be exhausting. I found that I had to be far more intentional about how I got informal feedback from students throughout a class--or after classes--to gauge how students were doing, and measure how successful a lesson was. This often looked like polling frequently and creating some optional modules for feedback to remain "in touch" with the students throughout the course."

Silver lining:

"The discussion in class is an amazing feature, which I will have to find a way to incorporate into my teaching once we return to in person classes! This feature allowed me to learn my students names, the programs they were in, what they had trouble with and what they enjoyed. It let me talk directly to students, and even better, to have them talk back. The feature allowed me "recognize" them even more so than if I was teaching live. In a way, online teaching was a great opportunity to develop a relationship with students. The medium enabled a real sense of togetherness within the class--arguably, the greatest victory of the semester. Students got to connect with each other over mathematics, both by supporting each other through tricky problems and celebrating each others' successes."

Trevor King

Trevor King april newsletterBiggest challenge:

"Moving to a hybrid synchronous and asynchronous class design was my biggest challenge. This move allowed me to focus my asynchronous classes on new content and my synchronous classes could focus on problem- solving using that content."

Silver lining:

"The recording of all lectures greatly increased accessibility."

Meagan MacKenzie

Meagan MacKenzie april newsletterBiggest challenge:

"The biggest change I had to make was to get used to having less nonverbal feedback in class. I quickly realized how much I had previously relied on eye contact, nodding, and smiles in class to Meagan MacKenziegauge whether students were learning the concepts I was presenting. Instead of being able to check in visually, I had to build in comprehension checkpoints in my online lectures. For example, I would use Mentimeter - a free live polling tool - to present a survey or a poll after asking questions to see if they understood. I also encouraged students to turn on their webcams whenever possible and asked them to share their thoughts or answers in a chat window. These changes had the added bonus of increasing student engagement!"

Silver lining:

"The silver lining was that we all learned to present more accessible material. Making sure that my lectures had captions/transcripts and making recorded lectures available on Avenue after class has meant that students who may have previously had difficulty now have better access to class material. Students with various accommodations have reached out to tell me that these changes have helped them. Students with other obligations like work or family are now able to watch lectures at their convenience. I’m looking forward to getting back into the classroom where I can bring these changes with me."

Anas Abdallah

Anas Abdallah april newsletterBiggest challenge:

Anas Abdallah"The biggest change I had to make was to adapt the course delivery and examination to the online environment. For this, I adopted a new routine and learned more about e-technology. I am grateful that the McPherson Institute offered many learning opportunities to support us in this journey. Another adaptation was to maintain student-to-student interactions and allow for a social learning component, even in a virtual context. These interactions, combined with ongoing opportunities for feedback and increased instructor and teaching assistant availability, helped keep the students engaged which is key for their success at the University."

Silver lining:

"One of the unexpected benefits of remote teaching was the very positive reaction to the recorded lectures. The students greatly benefited from this and they were able to watch and re-watch the lectures at their own rhythm and with closed captioning. It made the education and learning more accessible to everyone. Another silver lining to remote teaching and learning was to observe the solidarity within the students and with the instructor during online lectures (in case of technical issues for example). It gave the impression that we were all on the same team, trying to overcome this situation, and that was truly refreshing. Lastly, remote teaching and learning was the opportunity for many students to develop some professional skills as autonomy, adaptability, and resilience, which are important elements for their transition and success in the workforce."

Krista Howarth

Krista Howarth april newsletterBiggest challenge:

"The biggest change was figuring out how to make engaging asynchronous lectures that could still spark that excitement for learning in my students, along with the development of 'hands-on' Krista Howarthlaboratory experiences that students could do at home or in groups online with their peers."

Silver lining:

"I think my courses are more accessible than they have ever been. Students from across the world are participating in the same course with more flexibility in the learning process than ever before."

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams newsletterBiggest challenge:

"I was a Teaching Assistant for Kinesiology courses that largely involved lab components. So the biggest change the teaching team had to make was getting creative about how to showcase Jennifer Williamsexercise tests virtually. In response to this challenge, I made interactive H5P modules that included videos of myself doing submaximal and maximal exercise testing and showed the real-time data collection alongside. Students watched and engaged with the modules while working in small synchronous groups, similar to what we would experience in-person."

Silver lining:

"As a Teaching Assistant, I felt I was able to connect more with my students on a one-to-one basis, through our synchronous lab sessions, office hours, and discussions in-between. While I miss the opportunity to have a more hands-on teaching approach with our Kinesiology labs, I'm thankful that the virtual space seems to have removed some physical barriers to seeking help, with students often sending a quick question over Teams chat or hopping on a video call to explain a concept. Another 'silver lining' was with the lab modules we created because they were available asynchronously after our lab sessions. Students could go back to rewatch portions of the lab which would not have been available in-person."

Allison Williams
Allison Williams april newsletter
Biggest challenge:

"Getting my basement space heater to keep me warm, even with my plaid granny blanket and fashionable ski toque in tow!"

Silver Lining;

"Changing up my fourth-year ‘Geographies of Public Health’ course to a student seminar, which allowed experiential learning to thrive amidst the rolling out of a global public health emergency."

Megumi Harada

Biggest challenge:
Megumi Harada april newsletter
"I was forced to rethink how to help students one-on-one. I am accustomed to having an office overflowing with students during office hours when we are in a traditional in-person learning environment. In the past, my office hours were where a whole lot of questions were answered, lots Megumi Haradaof concepts clarified and where students and I did a lot of bonding, chatting, and just getting to know one another as human beings. That all had to change with COVID-19 and virtual learning. Virtual Zoom office hours just weren't cutting it, so, on my own time, I implemented an additional and optional course-specific Help Centre held twice weekly in the evenings on Zoom. My students had an open invitation to drop by and hang out. This was separate from, and in addition to, my more formal office hours. At the Help Centre, I wasn't necessarily doing all the talking and it was accepted that sometimes everyone would just be silent, working on their homework and would only ask questions or make comments when they felt the need to do so. It was really nice that I didn't feel pressured to constantly be talking; it allowed me to relax, and I think that also relaxed the students. It was just a laid-back, supportive environment in which the students knew that I or a teaching assistant was available when they needed me. It was also totally okay for us to talk about non-course-related stuff. They would tell me what was going on in their other courses or in their lives, and that was okay too. It was a new way to connect and it seemed to work. Many students expressed appreciation for the Help Centre."

Silver lining:

"One silver lining was that I discovered that my students really don't mind listening to pre-recorded lectures. What they value about the one-on-one, direct human interaction with me is not the delivery of the course material but rather the opportunity to ask questions, get clarifications on the material and get guidance and feedback on their assignments. What is most valuable about the fact that they have a living, breathing, human course instructor is, well, the actual interaction that they experience with me -- or in other words, the ability to have a conversation, to take part in an organic give-and-take. I think I might have guessed this even before COVID forced me to go entirely virtual but actually living the experience this year has really brought this lesson home for me."

Showcase Extraordinary Teaching In Science

Good newsThe Faculty of Science and the MacPherson Institute are looking to celebrate some of the extraordinary teaching and learning experiences that faculty, instructors, staff and students have delivered over the past year.

An anthology of short narratives and video interviews will be compiled to showcase best practices.

Faculty, instructors and staff can submit their own short story (150-250 words) or nominate a colleague or friend who has a story worth sharing broadly across the Faculty. Stories can showcase innovations in teaching and learning, community building and overcoming challenges, Stories can also be shared on a Zoom call which will then be edited into a video clip for the anthology.

Submissions will be open until May 7, with the anthology published and distributed during the Faculty of Science's virtual retreat on May 20. This is not a competition so all submitted stories will be celebrated and included in the anthology.

For more information, contact Educational Developer Kris Knorr at knorrk@mcmaster.ca.

Three Students Receive Co-op Awards

Richa Alvares Alyssa Burrows and Miranda Zary Richa Alvares, Alyssa Burrows and Miranda Zary are the Faculty of Science's 2020 Co-op Students of the Year.

The employer-nominated awards are presented annually by Science Career & Cooperative Education Department to recognize students who excelled during their co-op work terms while also making significant contributions to their fellow students and McMaster.

Richa, a Life Sciences student who has served as a McMaster tour guide, peer mentor and ambassador on the Firsthand online platform, completed her co-op at Alaya Care. "Along with Richa's initiative, attention to detail and organization, she brought a positive attitude and great energy to any project that she was working on, no matter how challenging," wrote her supervisor Rojin Karimi. Richa was also chosen as McMaster's nominee for Ontario's Work-Integrated Learning Co-op Student of the Year Award.

Alyssa, a Biology & Pharmacology student who served as co-president of the McMaster Biology & Pharmacology Society and McMaster Food Allergy Club and was the mentorship coordinator for the McMaster Science Society, worked for Kingston Allergy Research. "Alyssa went above and beyond expectations," wrote her supervisor Anne Ellis. "Alyssa tackled each task given to her with great care and attention to detail while always considering the privacy of our participants and their confidentiality."

Miranda, a Biochemistry student who served as co-president and a peer mentor with the Biochemistry and Biomedical Society, worked in Professor Eric Brown's lab at McMaster University. "Miranda immediately distinguished herself as a bright student with a genuine interest in the field and a contagious enthusiasm for science," Eric wrote in his nomination letter. "Miranda is a positive role model for new trainees in the lab."

Receiving honourable mentions were Manjot Grewal who worked as a laboratory assistant with Professor Jose Moran Mirabel, Alessandra Scalisi who worked with the Corporate Actuarial Life and Health Production Team at TD Insurance and Larissa Turco who was a junior policy analyst with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Reviewing employer nominations and selecting the co-op students of the year were faculty member Anas Abdullah, alumnae Laura Morrison and Alice O'Carroll, Director of Science Career Development and Cooperative Education.

Students are available for summer co-ops within the Faculty of Science. For more information, email Hiresci@mcmaster.ca.
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