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Assistant Professor Sarah Symons  
Area: Teaching Position
Location: Thode Library, Room 306
Phone: 905-525-9140 ext 21641
Fax: (905)546-1252
  1. Research Profile
  2. Letter to Grad Students

Sarah Symons - New thinking on ancient science

New thinking on ancient science

My main research field is history of science, in particular ancient Egyptian astronomy.  I look at descriptive texts (written in hieroglyphs), astronomical tables, depictions of the sky on the ceilings of temples and tombs, and small instruments such as sundials.  One of the unique features of Egyptian astronomical activity is the construction of "star clocks", tables of star names charting the position of constellations through the nights of the year.  My interest is in trying to deduce the way these tables were developed and the observational methods used to construct them.

I am also interested in agent-based modelling environments.  I am primarily working on modelling early civilisations, including urbanisation, trade, and information dissemination processes, as complex adaptive systems.  I also use similar techniques to help model pre-biotic environments with colleagues here and in Europe who are looking at the origin of life.

My teaching role is based in the Integrated Science Program, iSci.  I became involved in curriculum development in the sciences in the UK, where I ran teaching and learning projects for physics, chemistry, and interdisciplinary science, working with groups of university departments across England.  One project involved designing and implementing a new three or four year degree program at the University of Leicester called Interdisciplinary Science, which is based entirely on PBL.   My experience as PBL advisor, instructor and (later) Deputy Director of this program is very useful for my present work with McMaster's iSci program.  I have helped to deisgn and implement iSci, and am involved in running several of the research projects across all levels, in topics including astronomy, history of science, and science communication.

Beyond research and teaching, I am the director of the William J. McCallion Planetarium.  The planetarium runs public and private shows every week, presented by a very competent and enthusiastic team of graduate students.  The planetarium is an exciting and valuable link between our department and the wider Hamilton community.

I regret, I am not taking grad students at present.