SIS News

Lab technician helps student put on special suit

Undergraduates in a new Life Sciences lab course are feeling what it’s like to age – literally.
Students in Life Sciences 2L03 put on a specialized body suit designed to mimic many of the physical effects of aging. From tinnitus, to back pain, to stability and arthritis, the suit allows the wearer to actually experience how the aging process impacts the human body.

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If you want to learn about geology, ecology and environmental sciene, there may be no better place to visit than Iceland! That's why students in McMaster's Integrated Science Program and Arts & Science Program have been visiting the Nordic nation during the spring for the last number of years, learning about the country's very active geology. Guided by geologist Kristinn Guojonsson, the students visited volcanoes, lava flows, hot springs, geysers and more.

Students and faculty documented the trip in photos, which can be seen here!

PHOTO BY KYRA SIMONE    Chad Harvey won an OUSA Teaching Excellence Award this week. The assistant professor was recognized for his eccentricity, passion and dedication to easing the transition into first-year university.

A popular faculty member in Science has been recognized as one of Ontario’s top teachers.

Chad Harvey, an assistant professor in Biology and the Integrated Science Program, won a Teaching Excellence Award this week from the Ontario University Student Alliance.

The award recognizes educators who excel at unlocking the potential of Ontario’s young people.

“Chad Harvey is an exceptionally deserving instructor for this award,” OUSA wrote on its blog. “By becoming both a mentor and friend to students, he goes above and beyond the role of an instructor. His lecturers are engaging, interactive, and interdisciplinary, and draw on analogies to teach content and strengthen understanding.

“He is a beloved figure within the McMaster Integrated Science Program for his eccentricity, passion, and dedication to easing the first year transition.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance represents the interests of more than 140,000 students at seven student associations across Ontario.

SIS Director, Dr. Maureen MacDonald

 PHOTO BY GREG ATKINSON    The new School of Interdisciplinary Science (SIS) will provide an opportunity to 'form bonds across programs' and 'elevate teaching and learning' in the Faculty of Science says the School's inaugural director, Maureen McDonald (pictured).- See more at:


Enhancing undergraduate science education at Master is the goal of a new school recently created by the Faculty of Science.

The School of Interdisciplinary Science (SIS), officially launched on January 1, brings together three Faculty programs including Honours Integrated Science, Life Science and Medical Radiation Sciences, making it home to a large percentage of undergraduate Science students, as well as faculty members and staff from a number of departments.

Robert Baker, dean of the Faculty of Science, says the new school is intended to foster exploration and discovery, while emphasizing experiential, collaborative and student-centred learning.

“We plan to give students and faculty members more opportunities to learn and do interdisciplinary science together,” says Baker. “Students want hands-on experience and they want to have their learning connect to the world beyond campus. We are aiming to create a national and international centre recognized for its excellent interdisciplinary science education while preparing our students for the careers of tomorrow.”

The inaugural director of SIS, Maureen McDonald, says the school will focus on interdisciplinary teaching and pedagogical experimentation and is intended to serve as a resource for other departments and schools within the Faculty, helping to enhance the student experience.

“What’s exciting is that we now have an opportunity to form bonds across programs and elevate teaching and learning by taking what’s best in our programs and spreading those approaches both within the Faculty and even more broadly,” says McDonald. “This is something McMaster has always done and we’re making space in the Faculty of Science for this to happen more effectively.”

The creation of the school was a key recommendation of the Faculty of Science Academic Planning Committee and was the result of extensive consultation with Faculty, staff and students within the Faculty of Science.

For students currently enrolled the in the programs that have now been consolidated within SIS, changes will be administrative in nature and are not expected to impact the day-to-day academic experience.

- See more at:

November 10, 2015 – The Faculty of Science and the Dean of Science welcome Dr. Maureen MacDonald, Department of Kinesiology, as the inaugural Director of the School of Interdisciplinary Science. The School of Interdisciplinary Science was formally approved by the Board of Governors on October 22, 2015, and will open officially on January 1, 2016.

Dr. MacDonald brings a wealth of administrative experience to the task of establishing the new School. She is currently the Director of the McMaster Physical Activity Centre of Excellence (PACE), and has held numerous academic administrative appointments, including Acting Chair of the Department of Kinesiology from 2014-2015 and Chair of the McMaster University Board-Senate Hearing Panel for Sexual Harassment and Anti-Discrimination from 2009 to 2013.

Her research program focuses on exercise physiology, cardiovascular physiology, blood flow regulation, arterial compliance, spinal cord injury, aging, hypertension, and adaptations to exercise training. She received her Honours BSc in Chemistry from Acadia University, Canada, in 1991, and her MSc (1993) and PhD (1998) in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo, Canada. She joined McMaster in 2000. Dr. MacDonald directs the Vascular Dynamics Laboratory and is an active member of the Exercise Metabolism Research Group in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster. She has directly supervised 45 undergraduate and graduate students since her appointment. She has been continually funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) since 2001, and also currently holds funding from Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Dr. MacDonald is a co-chair of the Biological Systems and Functions NSERC Discovery Grant Scientific Review Panel for 2015/16. She is a member of the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Physiological Society and is an Associate Editor for Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

We congratulate Dr. MacDonald on this new role and believe that the School’s anticipated goals and objectives will be achieved under her leadership.

Scheduled to open January 1, 2016, the School aims to be a national and international centre for interdisciplinary science education. It will foster exploration and discovery while emphasizing experiential, collaborative and student-centred learning. The School will be home to the Life Sciences Program, the Faculty’s largest with approximately 1200 students, and the award-winning Honours Integrated Science Program (iSci). Other interdisciplinary programs and courses may be added to the School’s umbrella in the future.

Creating the School was a key recommendation of the Faculty of Science Academic Planning Committee, which was struck in fall 2013 and reported in the fall of 2014. The Committee recommended the creation of the School as a way to strengthen interdisciplinary undergraduate programs, and spread effective new pedagogical techniques and classroom approaches throughout the Faculty.

Robert Baker
Dean of Science

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