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Three Science faculty members recognized for research excellence

Colleagues have awarded Faculty of Science Research Chairs to Louis Schmidt, Gillian Goward and Martin Gibala.

The faculty members will join last year’s cohort of Michael BrookKari Dalnoki-Veress and Allison Williams.

Maureen MacDonald, dean of Science, and Gianni Parise, Associate Dean of Research & External Relations, congratulated the Faculty’s newest chairs during a celebration hosted at the LIVELab.

“Being awarded a Faculty of Science Research Chair is a special honour because colleagues are nominated and then chosen by their peers,” says MacDonald.

Introduced in 2019, Faculty of Science Research Chairs receive three years of funding for graduate students and supplies. The designation also helps secure further grants, investments and partnerships.

Dalnoki-Veress, who was named an inaugural Faculty of Science Research Chair last year, joined Megumi Harada and Pat Bennett on the selection committee chaired by Goward.

“Selecting this year’s Faculty of Science Research Chairs was far from quick or easy decision for the committee,” said Parise. “We had 15 researchers nominated from across the entire Faculty and every candidate is an exceptional researcher and mentor to students”

In addition to introducing Research Chairs, the Faculty of Science has launched a Research Infrastructure Renewal Fund, Post Leave Support Program and Global Science Initiative. A third cohort of Faculty of Science Research Chairs will be chosen next year.

“We’re proud to be making significant and sustainable investments that support our researchers in building a brighter world,” says MacDonald.


(from left): PhD students Chris Franko and Annica Freytag, Research Lab Manager Blossam Yan, Faculty of Science Research Chair Gillian Goward, graduate student Taiana Periera, undergraduate student Jacob Keffer and graduate student Mengyang Cui.

Gillian Goward is chair of the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology and an internationally renowned Canadian scientist who studies advanced energy materials using a combination of magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging. In her Magnetic Resonance and Materials for Energy Storage Lab, Goward and her students use nuclear magnetic resonance to study how lithium and other types of batteries and fuel cells work at a fundamental level. Since 2011, she has led an NSERC partnership program with researchers at General Motors and four Canadian universities.

MARCH 11, 2020

The 2020 winner of the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Lectureship Award is: Giuseppe Melacini, McMaster University

Giuseppe Melacini obtained his BSc from the University of Milan in 1992 under the supervision of Professors Mario Farina, Lucia Zetta and Henriette Molinari, and his PhD in biophysical chemistry from the University of Milan in 1996 with external research at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) working with Professor Murray Goodman. He then joined the laboratory of Robert Kaptein and Rolf Boelens at the University of Utrecht as an EU PDF to return to UCSD as Lecturer. In 2003, he moved to McMaster University and was promoted to professor in 2014. He has served as Associate Chair of Graduate Studies in Chemistry and since 2019 as Director of the Chemical Biology Graduate Program. He has been awarded the Premier Research Excellence Award and the Alzheimer Society of Canada Young Investigator Award in 2005, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada New Investigator Award and the Maureen Andrew Award in 2006, the CIHR Maud Menten Finalist Prize in 2007, the McMaster Student Union Teaching Award for Faculty of Science in 2012, an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement in 2014, and the HSGSF Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision Award in 2019. Research in the Melacini laboratory focuses on the molecular pharmacology of allosteric modulators and amyloid inhibitors. Using NMR spectroscopy integrated with other biophysical and biochemical assays, the Melacini group has elucidated the mechanism of inhibition for several cyclic nucleotide-dependent signaling proteins and amyloidogenic peptides linked to cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, respectively. 

The Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Lectureship Award (formerly the Teva Canada Limited Biological and Medicinal Chemistry (BMC) Lectureship Award) is presented to a scientist who has made a distinguished contribution to the field of biological or medicinal chemistry within the past five years of the initial nomination deadline date while working in Canada.

Audrey Cameron Academic Excellence Awards in Chemistry and Chemical Biology - 2020

The Dr. Audrey Cameron Academic Excellence and Discovery Fund has been established to fund student research experiences in which students will have the chance to work on innovative projects in chemistry and chemical biology.
All domestic and international undergraduate students are encouraged to apply to the McMaster Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology for an Audrey Cameron Academic Excellence Award (ACAEA).
Students receiving ACAE awards work full time for 16 weeks during the summer in one of the department’s research laboratories. Students are provided with invaluable research experience and unique learning opportunities in Chemistry and Chemical Biology.  
All students in Level II, Level III or Level IV Honours Chemistry or Honours Chemical Biology programs, with a GPA of 9.5 or higher, are eligible to apply.
Students must discuss their application and research projects with a potential supervisor before submission to the Department. For more information please contact Linda Spruce in the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology Office, ABB 156, by phone at ext. 23490, or by email at  
Awarded students will receive the following total wages over 16 weeks (35 hrs/wk):

     $7840 – students completing level II
     $8000 – students completing level III
     $8200 – students completing level IV

A complete application consists of an up to date copy of the applicant’s transcript and this form, signed by the potential supervisor.
Please send this application and copy of your transcript to Linda Spruce in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Office (ABB 156) no later than 4:30 p.m. on Monday February 24, 2020. 


Applicant Name                                                          Applicant Student ID#   

Applicant Email

Potential Supervisor Name                                         Potential Supervisor Signature    

Making light work

A collaboration between McMaster and Harvard researchers has generated a new platform in which light beams communicate with one another through solid matter, establishing the foundation to explore a new form of computing.

Their work is described in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kalaichelvi Saravanamuttu, an associate professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster, explains that the technology brings together a form of hyrdrogel developed by the Harvard team with light manipulation and measurement techniques performed in her lab, which specializes in the chemistry of materials that respond to light.

The translucent material, which resembles raspberry Jell-O in appearance, incorporates light-responsive molecules whose structure changes in the presence of light, giving the gel special properties both to contain light beams and to transmit information between them.

Typically, beams of light broaden as they travel, but the gel is able to contain filaments of laser light along their pathway through the material, as though the light were being channeled through a pipe.

When multiple laser beams, each about half the diameter of a human hair, are shone through the same material, the researchers have established that they affect one another’s intensity, even without their optical fields overlapping at all – a fact that proves the gel is “intelligent.”

The interaction between those filaments of light can be stopped, started, managed and read, producing a predictable, high-speed output: a form of information that could be developed into a circuit-free form of computing, Saravanamuttu explains.

“Though they are separated, the beams still see each other and change as a result,” she says. “We can imagine, in the long term, designing computing operations using this intelligent responsiveness.”

While the broader concept of computing with light is a separate and developing field unto itself, this new technology introduces a promising platform, says Derek Morim, a graduate student in Saravanamuttu’s lab who is co-first author on the paper.

“Not only can we design photoresponsive materials that reversibly switch their optical, chemical and physical properties in the presence of light, but we can use those changes to create channels of light, or self-trapped beams, that can guide and manipulate light,” he says. “Further study may allow us to design even more complex materials to manipulate both light and material in specific ways.”

Amos Meeks, a graduate student at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said the technology helps to advance the idea of all-optical computing, or computations done solely with beams of light.

“Most computation right now uses hard materials such as metal wires, semiconductors and photodiodes, to couple electronics to light,” says Meeks, who is also co-first author of the research. “The idea behind all optical computing is to remove those rigid components and control light with light. Imagine, for example, an entirely soft, circuitry-free robot driven by light from the sun.”

Derek Morim, co-first author on the new paper.

FEBRUARY 3, 2020

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