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Hi, I'm Dana

I come from Timmins - a small town in Northern Ontario. It was a big adjustment for me to move to such a big city, especially coming to McMaster directly after a 53-day canoe trip in the Canadian sub-arctic - something I saved up for for a long time. However, the community at McMaster instantly made me feel at home. I've participated in AirBands representing Wallingford, gone on a rafting trip with my program, visited the art festivals of Hamilton, and explored the city. 

My lifelong passion for canoeing

This is a picture of me canoeing as a kid (I’m middle right). My family would go on a lot of camping trips in the summers, and when I turned seven I started attending Camp Wanapitei - a canoe tripping camp based out of Temagami. I've been hooked on canoeing ever since. I moved up through the programs over the years, and eventually - in the summer before I began university - I travelled 53 days from Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan to Baker Lake, Nunavut.  It was amazing.  This love of the outdoors is one reason I love science.

iSci at Mac

I'm currently a first-year student in McMaster's integrated science program (iSci).  I took to science from an early age. I was fascinated by how and why the world around me worked. I was into marine biology and would study books about marine life.

My reason for choosing McMaster was the iSci program. The program takes a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to science. It is small, hands-on, and based around group projects. We learn about life sciences, earth sciences, chemistry, physics, calculus, and science literacy.

One of the things that’s so special about iSci is the amount of hands-on work you get to do in labs. We have two labs every week covering topics such as rock identification, kinematics, the microbiology of antibiotics, and electrochemistry.

Here I am participating in a lab on water quality testing.

The Wallingford Women in Leadership Community

I live on campus in Wallingford Hall. This photo is of the Wally AirBands team during Welcome Week.

Through Wallingford, I am involved in the Women in Leadership Living-Learning Community. This community provides a fantastic opportunity to make connections with successful women through events and volunteering and to learn the necessary skills required to succeed.

It is through this group that I have been able to sign up for a mentorship program so that I can learn from a past Wallingford alumnae with experience in the working world. The experience has been great as I can ask my mentor questions about settling in at McMaster, and it's nice to have her perspective because she is in a field that is not science related. I find I can lean on the support network in my program for my science-related curiosity, and my mentor is able to teach me about other aspects of the working world. I think the relationship is translating well into my perception of my future in science.

iSci research projects

The workload in iSci has certainly taken some getting used to, but I am absolutely in love with the program. There is an amazing support network and opportunities that allow everyone to find success and happiness.

Throughout the year we complete group research projects in small groups, creating a report and doing a presentation for each.

This image was taken after the first research project of the year. My group and I had just presented to our peers and professors about the possibility of life existing on other planets. This photo was taken with some members of iTeach (the wonderful people who teach and organize iSci).

We are required to incorporate all areas of study into our projects. We used life science to study how life on earth first came into existance and what is necessary in order for a planet to sustain life. We used earth science to examine markers of life and liquid water (essential for life). We planned an experiment that could be conducted on Mars and used the knowledge we gained in chemistry class to plan a rocket propulsion that would lead there. We used psychology to examine the ethics of manned vs unmanned missions. We used Maple and mathematical models to determine which exoplanets were in the Goldilocks Zone - the zone we deemed to be life supporting. Science literacy came into play as we presented our findings to our peers and professors. 

Investigating in a McMaster lab

Our third research project was all about sustainable energy. We looked into many sources - solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, and biorefineries.

This research project involved a tour of the McMaster nuclear plant, a lab for each sustainable energy source, peer reviews of each other's papers, and a business pitch on which sustainable energy source would be most appropriate to a region we were assigned. My group proposed tidal turbines for St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Here I am mixing together a solution to be used in our biorefinery lab. Biorefineries are facilities that convert the chemical energy in biomass like corn into usable energy. McMaster has amazing lab resources for learning. Tye-dyed lab coats are commonly sported by the iSci population.

Our research projects are a lot of work but are well worth it for how much I learn. We use a different method of presentation for each research project, which teaches us about communicable scientific skills.

McMaster's dance team

To balance out my science-heavy schedule, I participated on the McMaster recreational dance team. I was involved in dance growing up, so this experience was a different creative outlet and a great excuse to get out of the libraries.

This is a photo of the recreational dance team at our recital at the end of the dance season.

Reflections on a busy and beneficial year

Overall, my first year at Mac was a whirlwind of activity. I just took it day by day and dealt with life as it came. Coming from a small town in Northern Ontario, university was a very big change in every aspect of my life.

When I first came to Mac I was worried, wondering if I would feel at home. Thankfully I certainly do. McMaster has such an amazing sense of community, and the same can be said for iSci and Wallingford Hall. You are never alone. I thank each and every person who has made my first year at McMaster so wonderful.

I would also like to thank the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation for their generous support of the Wallingford Hall Women in Leadership community and its programming. The leadership community has been a very memorable experience that you helped to make possible. Thank you.

I’m excited for the years to come at McMaster, as I continue to build friendships and experiences that I know will last a lifetime!






Thank you for reading about my year at McMaster University.