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Faculty of Science

Department of Physics & Astronomy

McMaster team receives Canadian Space Agency funding for NEUDOSE mission

Congratulations to the team of students and researchers from McMaster University who were awarded funding from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to launch their radiation-detecting satellite up to the International Space Station in 2021! The satellite was designed as part of the NEUDOSE mission: The CSA funding was announced on Friday, May 4th, providing $200,000 to 15 teams across Canada to build satellites to be launched, including the team from McMaster. Pictures from the announcement event can be seen below:


Multiple media outlets covered the announcement as well, including Daily Planet:, CHCH:, and the McMaster Daily News:

These are very exciting times for this talented team of students and researchers. We look forward to the satellite launch in 2021! 

Dr. Bill Harris to be awarded honourary degree

Dr. William (Bill) Harris, one of the founding figures of astronomy at McMaster University, will be awarded an honourary degree at McMaster's spring convocation ceremony for his outstanding contributions to science at McMaster. The ceremony will take place during the June 14th Science Convocation at 2:30pm. Congratulations to Bill, along with the 9 other honourary degree recipients! More information can be found here:

Girls in Science Day!

The 5th annual Girls in Science (GIS) Day will be taking place on Friday, April 27th, 2018. GIS Day is an outreach event aimed at tenth grade girls from area high-schools. The event is organized by the Graduate Women in Physics and Astronomy (GWIPA) society at McMaster University. The goal of GIS Day is to encourage young girls to be confident in themselves and foster a love of science by providing a non-intimidating, inclusive event filled with science-related activities. Participants will take part in science workshops, science demonstrations, tour research labs on campus, and hear a keynote presentation from a female faculty member in the Faculty of Science. By encouraging young girls to have a love for science, we are helping to recruit the bright students of the future and we are working towards addressing the gender bias that exists in STEM fields. Grade 10 is a pivotal year for students in Ontario, as students are required to take grade 10 science, but are not required to take any grade 11 science. We hope to inspire more girls to take high school science classes, and to encourage those who are already doing so to remain in the STEM fields.

We look forward to a fun-filled day of science with these young future scientists!  

PNAS Cozzarelli Prize Awarded to Ben K. D. Pearce and Dr. Ralph Pudritz

Congratulations to PhD student Ben K. D. Pearce and his supervisor Dr. Ralph Pudritz who were awarded the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) Cozzarelli Prize for their paper entitled "Origin of the RNA World: the Fate of Nucleobases in Warm Little Ponds". This incredibly prestigious award is given to 6 papers in PNAS each year that are deemed to be of outstanding scientific excellence and originality. Ben will be attending the prize ceremony in Washington, DC at the end of April. A full press release which includes a link to the original paper can be found here:

Congratulations again to Ben and Dr. Pudritz!

Cliff Burgess and Peter Hayman awarded 3rd place in Buchalter Cosmology Prize

Congratulations to Dr. Cliff Burgess and his PhD student Peter Hayman who were awarded 3rd place in the 2017 Buchalter Cosmology Prize competition for their paper entitled “Magnon Inflation: Slow Roll with Steep Potentials”. The full press release can be found here. Their paper was published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics and can be found on the arXiv here.

Congratulations Cliff and Peter!

McMaster Undergraduates Win Big at the 2017 CUPC

Another successful Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference has come and gone. This annual conference brings together about 150 of the top undergraduate physics students from across Canada to present summer research, meet peers, network, and much more. The 2017 version took place at Carleton University in Ottawa. McMaster was well represented at the conference. As usual, all McMaster attendees gave incredible presentations and made our school proud. 6 students in particular were able to come away with medals for top talks in their respective presentation categories:

Adree Khondker - 2nd Place, Biological & Medical Physics

Christian DiMaria - 1st Place, Applied & Engineering Physics

Cissy Suen - 1st Place, Quantum & Solid State Physics

Dana Murdoch - 3rd Place, Astrophysics & Cosmology

Karan Chowdhry - 2nd Place, Quantum & Solid State Physics

Leanne Dias - 3rd Place, Applied & Engineering Physics

Congratulations to the award winners along with all of our attendees! We look forward to another successful conference next year.

Congratulations to this year's Graduate Student Symposium Day winners

Each year the physics department holds a Graduate Student Symposium Day where graduate students who have just completed their first year of studies present their research. Talks were given on a wide range of interesting topics and as usual all of the talks were excellent. Prizes were awarded to the top three presenters - in no particular order:

Carmen Lee, supervised by Kari Dalnoki-Veress

Clementine Fournier, supervised by Kari Dalnoki-Veress

Jordan Atchison, supervised by David Venus

Congratulations to Carmen, Clementine and Jordan!

P&A Undergrad Emma Mogus on the Tonight Show

P&A undergrad Emma Mogus recently appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. On the show, she demonstrated the TIC (tongue interface communication).  Her invention won her the 2016 Weston Youth Innovation Award from the Ontario Science Centre. You can watch the video here. You can read more in the Hamilton Spectator article.

Congratulations Emma!

Congratulations to Gwen Eadie for her first place finish at CASCA!

At the CASCA meeting each year, the Board and students separately judge student oral and poster presentations.  At the close of the meeting, these groups each award those presentations they consider to be the best. Our very own Gwendolyn Eadie (supervisor: Bill Harris) placed first for the best student oral presentation as judged by the students and tied for first place as judged by the board. Her title was "Can we correctly infer a simulated galaxy's mass using a hierarchical Bayesian model?" Congratulations Gwen!

Media Numeracy – New Course Offering for Winter 2017/18

“Twice as many people have been murdered in Toronto this year to date, as were murdered in Toronto at the same date last year.”

"New protocol 33% more effective in treating rare blood disorder."

You have seen similar claims. Consider: What role do these statements play in the stories containing them? What story does the quoted numbers tell? How can we evaluate and compare these two claims?

These are the questions that we will attempt to answer in Physics 2NM3 – Media Numeracy: Telling stories with numbers, a new course offered by the Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Designed to give students insight on how numbers can be used and mis-used in the media, Physics 2NM3 will provide students from every academic background with simple, practical and understandable tools to allow them to interpret the vast majority of the quantitative statements that they encounter in media stories.

Media Numeracy: Telling stories with numbers – Physics 2NM3
Prerequisites: None

The course will be offered on Dean's Permission in Winter Term 207/18. More information about the course can be found here..

Bruce Gaulin named to Distinguished University Professor

Yesterday, the McMaster University Senate voted to confer the title of Distinguished University Professor on Bruce Gaulin.  This title is the highest honour that the University can bestow on one of its own members.  President Deane said that the Senate took note of his reputation as a scholar who has put Canada on the world map in condensed matter physics.
The title will be formally conferred by the Chancellor at the Faculty of Science Convocation on June 15, 2017.
Congratulations to Bruce on this great achievement!

Congratulations to undergraduates Ahmad Mahmood and Diego Martinez on their win at the Western PhUnC

A heartfelt congratualtions to Diego Martinez who won 1st place overall and Ahmad Mahmood who won 3rd place overall at the annual Physics Undergraduate Conference (PhUnC) held at Western University

McMaster Physics PhD Charles-Philippe Lajoie Makes Astronaut Short-list

McMaster Physics and Astronomy PhD Charles-Philippe Lajoie has made the short-list for the next astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency. You can follow our canditate through the extremely competitive process here. The full story is available on the Daily News.

Dr. Cliff Burgess awarded 3rd prize in the 2016 Bulchalter Cosmology Prize Competition

Congratulations to Prof. Cliff Burgess whose paper entitled “EFT Beyond the Horizon: Stochastic Inflation and How Primordial Quantum Fluctuations Go Classical” was awarded 3rd prize in the 2016 Bulchalter Cosmology Prize Competition! The judging committee recognized the work as “a remarkable paper that sheds light on how quantum fluctuations exiting the Hubble scale are rendered into the classical large-scales of our Universe, detailing a process by which gravitational interaction triggers this transition.” You can see a link to this on the McMaster Daily News. The full announcement can be found here.

Dr. Alannah Hallas, recent PhD grad, wins 2018 NSSA Prize for Outstanding Research

Congratulations to Dr. Alannah Hallas who has been awarded the Neutron Scattering Society of America (NSSA) 2018 Prize for Outstanding Student Research. Dr. Hallas won the prize "for her exploration of new families of quantum pyrochlore magnets and elucidating their phase behaviour and excitations using forefront neutron scattering techniques". Dr. Hallas was jointly supervised by Dr. Graeme Luke, Dr. Bruce Gaulin and Dr. Chris Wiebe during her PhD at McMaster University. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University. The full press release can be found here:

Excellent work Dr. Hallas!

Science on Tap Event - Wednesday, February 28th @ 7pm

Join scientists from McMaster University’s Department of Physics & Astronomy for an entertaining night filled with scientific discussion, trivia, and beer. At Science on Tap, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with researchers in various scientific fields as they present some of science’s most intriguing phenomena. There will be plenty of time to ask questions while the scientists are on stage, or afterwards over cold pints. Come try this educational twist on a night out at the pub.

When: Wed. February 28th, 7pm

Where: Artword Artbar, 15 Colbourne Street, Hamilton, ON

More info:

Applications Open for Summer 2018 NSERC USRAs

Applications are now open for McMaster University's Summer 2018 NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRAs). These prestigious research positions allow exceptional undergraduates to perform a fully-funded 16 week research project with a professor over the summer. Students from all Canadian universities are eligible and are encouraged to apply. For more information and a list of available projects, please click here.

Dark Matter Day! - Tuesday, October 31

Many of us look forward to October 31, that special day when all things dark and mysterious come out from hiding. That day is called...


...Dark Matter Day! Yes, Dark Matter Day is this Tuesday, October 31. Dark matter itself probably won't reveal its true nature to us on this day, but there are many dark matter events happening around the world to celebrate this historic hunt for the unseen. More information on various global, regional and local events, including how to get involved, can be found at the official Dark Matter Day website.

Oh, and happy trick or treating!

Bruce Gaulin awarded President's Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision

Congratulations to Dr. Bruce Gaulin who was awarded the President's Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision! This prestigious award is administered by the School of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Students Association.

You can read about this award and see the other recipients here.

Congratulations Dr. Gaulin!

Congratulations to Alex Dhaliwal on earning the Governor General's Academic Medal at the June convocation

Congratulations to Governor General's Academic Medal recipient Alex Dhaliwal. Alex just graduated from iSci with a triple minor in Biochemistry, Math and Physics. He completed his senior thesis in our Department with Dr. Maikel Rheinstadter and will now be pursuing a MD/PhD program at UofT where he will earn a PhD in Medical Biophysics. Way to go Alex!…/getting-involved-and-giving…/

McMaster Students Win Big at the 2017 CAP Congress!

Congratulations to Jean-Christophe Ono-dit-Biot (supervisor: Kari Dalnoki-Veress) and Andree Khondker (supervisor: Maikel Rheinstadter) for finishing first and tying for second respectivley in the oral competition at the CAP Congres. JC's talk titled was "Rearrangement of 2D clusters of droplets under compression: transiton from crystal to glass" and Andree's was titled "Partioning of Caffeine in Lipid Bilayers Reduces Membrane Fluidity and Increases Membrane Thickness".  

Cecile Fradin gives Plenary lecture at 2017 CAP Congress

The 2017 CAP Congress is currently underway at Queens University and our very own Dr. Cecile Fradin was a Plenary Speaker. The abstract to her talk, "On the importance of diffusion in biological systems" can be found on the CAP website.

Christine Wilson Awarded Prestigious Killam Fellowship

Congratulations to Christine Wilson, who has been awarded the prestigious Killam Fellowship. The fellowship will allow Christine to futher study dense gas and star formation in galxies using the Atacama Large Milimeter Array.

You can read more about it on the Daily News or the Faculty of Science Newsfeed.

Congratulations Christine!

The physics of figure skating with Gwen Eadie

McMaster created a video about the physics of figure skating along with the help from our PhD Candidate Gwen Eadie. Check it out on facebook here.

McMaster undergrads host successful CCUWiP

This past weekend our Department hosted the 4th annual Canadian Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CCUWiP). The conference was a huge success and we would like to congratulate the exectutive committee who made it all possible:

Anastasia Smolina - Chair
Jennifer Scora - VP Sponsorships
Courtney Mulholland - VP Logistics
Dana Murdoch - VP Events
Jasper Grond - VP Technology
Mindy Chapman - Treasurer
Harrison Winch - VP Speakers
Sara Cormier - Administrative Co-ordinator
Special thanks goes out to Claire Prest (Design), Jennifer Tang (Initial bid), Carmen Lee (CCUWiP 2016), Alison Sills (Faculty contact), Mara Esposto (Finance organization), Tina Stewart (Administrative help), and the Canadian and U.S National CUWiP Organizing Committees for their advice and guidance.

It was a weekend filled with fruitful discussions and inspiring talks and workshops. A truly great event.

McMaster University - Faculty of Science

Mailing Address

Department of Physics & Astronomy,
McMaster University

1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8S 4M1

Contact Information

Telephone Inquiries:
+1 (905) 525-9140 ext.24559
(905) 546-1252
Email Inquiries:

McMaster University - Faculty of Science

Mailing Address

Department of Physics & Astronomy,
McMaster University

1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8S 4M1

Contact Information

Telephone Inquiries:
+1 (905) 525-9140 ext.24558
(905) 546-1252
Email Inquiries: