Meet New Faculty Member - Lydia Chen

Meet Lydia Chen, an Assistant Professor in the Department Of Chemistry & Chemical Biology. Lydia is joining us from Ryerson University.Lydia Chen

Who or what inspired you to become a scientist?
I could not recall a specific person or reason that inspired me to become a scientist, except that my curiosity, thirst for knowledge, and determination have driven me to pursue my career path. I am grateful for the opportunities and supports that my family and mentors have provided me over the years. Their guidance and encouragement have been fundamental to lead me to my new position at McMaster University.

What's the focus of your research?
Throughout my teaching experiences at various post-secondary institutions, I have learned that my true passion is for the development of educational programs to facilitate teaching and learning. My research is on chemical education with a focus on applying web-based tools to enhance the learner experience. I also have a keen interest in creating opportunities for learners to collaborate through projects and assessments. I am excited to explore and learn with my students in my new role as an assistant professor, teaching stream, at the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology.

When you're not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Outside of work, I enjoyed gardening and hiking. One of my favourite things is to spend time with my husband, Colin to try out new foods and recipes that are inspired by our childhood memories and travelling.

Lydia completed her undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Alberta, in method development of arsenic speciation analysis in environmental and biological systems.

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Alex Adronov named director of the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research

Polymer chemist Alex Adronov has been named director of the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research (BIMR) – an appointment that follows a long association with the institute, first as an undergraduate summer student, then more than two decades as a faculty member.

Adronov’s work with the BIMR goes back to 1992, when the freshman biological chemistry major decided he wanted to take a minor in New Materials and Their Impact on Society from the newly established Theme School of the same name.

The program offered him a summer placement in the BIMR, giving the young scientist his first taste of academic research – and, as he says, “I’ve never looked back.”

After completing his doctoral work in polymer chemistry at Berkeley, Adronov was hired by McMaster’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, coming back to rejoin the BIMR as a faculty member.

The BIMR is one of the oldest and largest materials research facilities in North America. Established in 1967, and eventually renamed for Nobel laureate Bertram Brockhouse, the institute includes more than 130 faculty members from 13 departments in the faculties of science, engineering and health sciences.

As well, it provides a facility for Canadian and international universities to work collaboratively, taking materials from their discovery through to advanced characterization and translating structure, properties, performance and processing into new devices and products.

Materials research continues to be an area of priority for McMaster, says Karen Mossman, vice-president of research.

“McMaster’s Strategic Research Plan has identified Advanced Materials and Manufacturing as a strategic initiative, and I have every confidence that under his leadership, Dr. Alex Adronov will propel the BIMR forward to advance this priority area for the University.”

Of course, as someone who has been connected to the BIMR throughout his professional career, Adronov has a keen personal interest in ensuring it thrives in the decades to come.

“I want to engage the membership in new, collaborative initiatives that focus on cutting-edge materials science and engineering. I want to build on existing strengths, and challenge our membership to enter new areas of materials research that will distinguish the BIMR on the national and international stage,” he says.

“Today, materials are more important to our society than they have ever been, and McMaster is well equipped, both from the perspective of infrastructure and expertise, to make significant contributions to this fundamentally important area of research.”

JULY 24, 2020

Here is what to expect from C&CB in the Fall Term - 2209

To all students in chemistry, chemical biology and sustainable chemistry programs:

First, a big welcome to our in-coming level 2 students! We will be sending you much more information about our exciting programs in the near future, once program selection is completed. And a big shout-out to everyone for managing to get through the unprecedented experience at the end of the winter term, not least the graduands!

We have been hard at work planning for the Fall term, both before and since the formal announcement by the University that fall will be primarily off campus. The course outlines are being altered to provide as much information as we can to help you select courses; these outlines will be available on the department website before registration starts, and we strongly recommend reading the outlines to ensure you understand how courses are expected to run.

While the outlines will provide the formal arrangements for courses, we have had a number of inquiries from students who are looking for information to plan their semester and year. This note provides an update of what we expect for required Fall courses, but again the course outlines will supersede the information provided, and of course there may be further unavoidable changes. For the courses listed, lectures will be provided by either on-line (asynchronous, view when you want) or virtual (synchronous, scheduled into your timetable) formats, or in many cases a combination of both approaches. Course outlines will provide details of this information. Also please note that you should ask other Departments for information about their courses: we cannot provide this to you directly.

CHEM 2OG3- two in-person labs on Monday afternoons of weeks 3 and 5; OR weeks 4 and 6. Tuesday and Weds. sections cancelled, must do Monday. Possibility of doing both labs same day (Mon. am and pm) if your schedule allows, to help out-of-town students.

CHEM/CHEMBIO 2A03- virtual labs, with some lab activities moved to 3AA3 in following year.

CHEM/CHEMBIO 2Q03- synchronous activities, scheduled for Thursday & Friday afternoons.

CHEM 3II3- lectures only

CHEM 3LA3- moved from Fall to winter term

CHEM 3OA3- lectures only

CHEM 3PC3- lectures only

CHEM 4OB3- was winter, moved to fall term

(CHEM 4OA3- was Fall term, moved to winter)

CHEMBIO 3OA3- labs cancelled. Lectures only

CHEMBIO 3P03- lectures only

CHEMBIO 4Q03- synchronous activities, scheduled for Thursday & Friday afternoons.

CHEM/CHEMBIO 3EP3 and 3RP3- cancelled for Fall. Expected to run in Winter term.

CHEM/CHEMBIO 4RP6- cancelled for 2020/21.

CHEM/CHEMBIO 4G12- currently expected to run, with students allowed on campus for the purposes of the course only. Once the course is underway, students can expect to be able to complete the course even if they are subsequently prevented from working on campus, as determined by the supervisor, through activities such as literature research. Thus they can expect to graduate.

McMaster chemists develop foolproof new test to track the fats we eat

A team of researchers at McMaster has developed a reliable and accurate blood test to track individual fat intake, a tool that could guide public health policy on healthy eating.

Establishing reliable guidelines has been a significant challenge for nutritional epidemiologists until now, because they have to rely on study participants faithfully recording their own consumption, creating results that are prone to human error and selective reporting, particularly when in the case of high-fat diets.

For the study, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, chemists developed a test, which detects specific non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs), a type of circulating free fatty acid that can be measured using a small volume of blood sample.

“Epidemiologists need better ways to reliably assess dietary intake when developing nutritional recommendations,” says Philip Britz-McKibbin, professor in the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at McMaster  and lead author of the study

“The food we consume is highly complex and difficult to measure when relying on self-reporting or memory recall, particularly in the case of dietary fats.  There are thousands of chemicals that we are exposed to in foods, both processed and natural,” he says.

The study was a combination of two research projects Britz-McKibbin conducted with Sonia Anand in the Department of Medicine and Stuart Phillips in the Department of Kinesiology.

Researchers first assessed the habitual diet of pregnant women in their second trimester, an important development stage for the fetus. The women, some of whom were taking omega-3 fish oil supplements, were asked to report on their average consumption of oily fish and full-fat dairy and were then tested with the new technology.  Their study also monitored changes in omega-3 NEFAs in women following high-dose omega-3 fish oil supplementation as compared to a placebo.

Researchers were able to prove that certain blood NEFAs closely matched the diets and/or supplements the women had reported, suggesting the dietary biomarkers may serve as an objective tool for assessment of fat intake.

“Fat intake is among the most controversial aspects of nutritional public health policies given previously flawed low-fat diet recommendations, and the growing popularity of low-carb/high-fat ketogenic based diets,” says Britz-McKibbin.

“If we can measure it reliably, we can begin to study such questions as: Should pregnant women take fish oil?  Are women deficient in certain dietary fats? Does a certain diet or supplement lead to better health outcomes for their babies?”

Researchers plan to study what impact NEFAs and other metabolites associated with dietary exposures during pregnancy, might have on childhood health outcomes in relation to the obesity, metabolic syndrome and chronic disease risk later in life.

The study was funded by the NSERC and Genome Canada.

MAY 15, 2020

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