Global Water Futures funding for study of forest ecosystems and climate change

Altaf Arain, School of Geography & Earth Sciences recently received $500,000 from Global Water Futures to investigate how forest ecosystems in southeastern Canada function and respond to climate change and extreme weather conditions such as droughts. Arain, who is also the Director of the McMaster Centre for Climate Change, explains that extensive land use changes, agricultural activities and forest harvesting in the Great Lakes region are putting pressure on water resources. More frequent extreme weather events and climate change will add to this pressure.

The project will help guide municipalities and conservation authorities in developing watershed management strategies to account the effects of shifts in land use and climate change. The work will also help improve how Canadian models forecast the effects of climate.

Global Water Futures, the largest university-led water research program in the world, aims to make Canada a global leader in water science for the world’s cold regions. It is funded in part by a $77.8 million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, and is dedicated to finding solutions to risks posed by the effects of climate change.


Why Canada must stand up for Science

In December, Toby Brown, Post Doctorate Fellow, Physics & Astronomy, wrote about Canada’s ability and obligation to support scientific endeavours. His article, “Canada must make science great again,” appeared on The Conversation and in The National Post.

Brown argues for the importance of science and the need to support research as it is key to a healthy and prosperous society. As he says: “It is hard to exaggerate the benefits that growth in the knowledge economy has on a society. Education and research are key drivers of innovation and prosperity while simultaneously making economies more efficient and mobile. The result is that, despite President Trump’s assertions, the societies who invest in science are the ones with the highest living standards, the best environmental protection and the strongest economy.”

Biology student Stephanie Jones receives graduate research award

Discovering completely new mechanism of bacterial growth, development and communication netted Stephanie Jones, Biology, the 2017 top Graduate Research Prize from the Canadian Council of University Biology Chairs (CCUBC). Jones is a Vanier Scholar and senior PhD student in the lab of Marie Elliot, Biology. The award is given yearly in recognition of publishing the best and most innovative refereed journal article based on graduate research in Canada.

Jones’ eLife paper, “Streptomyces exploration is triggered by fungal interactions and volatile signals” impressed scholars in the field of microbial development with its report of new mechanisms. Her findings were all the more remarkable as the bacterium she studies (Streptomyces), has been the subject of developmental investigations for more than 70 years. The work received extensive attention, including being highlighted in the journals Nature and Nature Reviews Microbiology. Jones received the honour during the CCUBC’s annual meeting held earlier in November.

Kinesiology student and faculty member honoured at Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology meeting

Stu Phillps and Amy HectorKinesiology PhD graduate Amy Hector won the 2017 Graduate Student Oral Award at the annual Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) meeting in October. Each year, the CSEP honours a graduate student for their research contribution to the annual general meeting. Up to four finalists are invited to present their research at the Graduate Student Award Symposium on the first evening of the conference.

Hector received the award for her presentation, “Pronounced energy restriction results in no change in proteolysis and reductions in skeletal muscle protein synthesis that are mitigated with high dietary protein and resistance exercise.” This important work addresses some of the questions surrounding the question of how people can reduce their calorie intake and yet still maintain their muscle mass. Hector received her PhD at McMaster’s Fall Convocation; her supervisor was Stuart Phillips, Kinesiology.

Phillips was also recognized with the first-ever CSEP Mentorship Award. This award, given in honour of Enzo Cafarelli, recognizes a professor or advisor in the exercise science field for their dedication and mentorship to their students and/or their faculty. Phillips’ nomination was supported by more than 10 current and former trainees. They described him as an exemplary mentor to graduate student trainees and young investigators in the field of exercise science and physiology. Phillips is a past recipient of both the CSEP Graduate Student Award in 1996 and the CSEP Young Investigator Award in 2003.

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