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By Scientificanada
Scientificanada is a podcast collective focusing on science news and culture. We are...

The AlmaMAC: weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU about grad students at McMaster University in Canada. Rotating host schedule (Adam Fortais, Shawn Hercules, and Matthew Berry)

Random Walk: a show about interesting things host Adam Fortais stumbles upon. Topics include research as it is applied to the world of education, media, and well... pretty much anywhere. Monthly.

CUPEcast: CUPE 3906 union news, strike and bargaining updates, and member profiles. Weekly while Unit 1 is in negotiations with McMaster Unv.
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Currently playing episode

Random Walk 21: ComSciConCan #7 Sarah Turner is Back!


The AlmaMAC Episode 227 (Mar. 24/22): Protecting our peatlands with Emma Sherwood
Peatlands are wetland ecosystems that are home to at-risk species, tremendous biodiversity, and are responsible for storing huge amounts of carbon. In fact, peatlands are the largest natural carbon source in the world, making them instrumental in mitigating the effects of global warming. However, being a large carbon sink is a double-edged sword because these peatlands release large amounts of carbon when they burn through wildfires. Evidently, it is important to understand the factors that may make peatlands more vulnerable to wildfires to potentially intervene and even restore these ecosystems. But, what are these factors? Emma Sherwood, a 2nd year Master's student in the School of Earth, Environment, & Society, is researching these factors and creating maps of peatlands that may be more vulnerable to the effects of wildfires. Tune in to learn more about Emma's research and her active lifestyle outside the lab!  To learn more about the McMaster Ecohydrology lab, check out their lab page here You can follow Emma on twitter here
April 28, 2022
The AlmaMAC Episode 225: You can't pour from an empty cup with Nicole Rakowski
Burnout - a state of exhaustion, stress, and disillusionment - has increased across the workforce, especially in healthcare providers. In these settings, burnout can lead to poor outcomes for patient care, safety, and retention. In order to have the best outcomes for patients, healthcare providers must understand what factors can increase their morale and prevent burnout. But, what are those factors? Nicole Rakowski, a 2nd year PhD student in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Degroote School of Business, aims to identify factors that can create strong and healthy teams among healthcare providers to ultimately provide the best patient experience possible. Tune in to learn more abut Nicole's research and its important implications!
April 21, 2022
The AlmaMAC Episode 224: Understanding the influence of northern vegetation change on hydrology with Erin Nicholls
The North is warming at a much faster rate compared to the rest of the world through a process known as Arctic amplification. In Canada, particularly in Yukon, this warming has resulted in more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow. These precipitation changes have several consequences, including changes in vegetation. Erin Nicholls, a 4th year PhD Candidate in the School of Earth, Environment, and Society, is interested in understanding how these changes in the types of vegetation can impact the water cycle. Tune in to learn more about Erin's impactful research and her academic journey towards her PhD!  To learn more about Wolf Creek Research Basin, you can check our their website here or follow them on twitter here
March 31, 2022
The AlmaMAC Episode 223: Exploring the intersection between aging and immune response in lung infections with Kevin Zhao
Our immune response becomes less effective as we age and makes us more susceptible to infections. For instance, macrophages - white blood cells that eat up foreign pathogens - not only become slower and less effective at destroying these pathogens, but can also cause a chronic, pro-inflammatory state in the body. But, what are the mechanisms underlying poor macrophage function and susceptibility to lung infections in older adults? Kevin Zhao, a 1st year PhD student in the Department of Medicine, aims to understand these mechanisms and also examine potential drug candidates that can improve macrophage function, and thus protect against lung infections. Tune in to learn more about Kevin's research, the MD/PhD program at McMaster, and his interest in sci-fi! ​ If you have any questions about the MD/PhD program, please feel free to reach out to Kevin ( or Sawayra (
March 24, 2022
The AlmaMAC Episode 220: Preparing for GradFlix 2022 with Dr. John Bandler and Megan Vierhout
For the second year in a row, McMaster is back with its GradFlix competition! GradFlix is a university-wide competition for graduate students where they create a 60 second video showcasing their research. Interested? Nervous? On the fence? Fret not! Dr. John Bandler, who has mentored hundreds of students in these competitions, and Megan Vierhout, a PhD student and finalist in last year's GradFlix competition, are here to help! Tune in to learn more about the upcoming GradFlix competition, the workshop that Dr. Bandler and Megan are leading on February 8, and how you can make GradFlix part of your academic journey! The Art Of GRADflix: TO SHOW THEM OR TO SNOW THEM?  --February 8, 2022 at 12:00PM (virtual). Click here to register; --Learn about the importance of story, subtext, editing, audio, and more! ​--Will feature Q&A panel from past GradFlix finalists Other GradFlix-related resources include: Connecting with your audience, delivering your best (Part 1 and Part 2) and Competitive presentations & competitive speaking: a personal perspective The deadline to register for GradFlix is February 25, 2022. You can register here. To learn more about GradFlix, click here.
March 17, 2022
The AlmaMAC Episode 221: Examining plasmonic properties in semiconductors with Milenka Andelic
Free electrons are responsible for a metal's conductive properties. When light hits these free electrons, they collectively oscillate to create a 'surface plasmon'. Surface plasmons can harvest and focus light on the nanoscale, allowing for an enhancement of light-matter interactions. Milenka, a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is investigating plasmonic properties in semiconductors and how the addition of certain elements to semiconductors can optimize their plasmonic properties. Tune in to learn more about Milenka's research, her research goals, and her favourite bike trail in Hamilton!
March 10, 2022
Random Walk 2.6: Joe Muise is changing student's ideas about physics (and attending CUPC 2021)
Joe Muise is a physics teacher at St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby, BC, a CAP, NSTA, Vernier & Prime Minister’s Award Winner, and Step Up Ambassador. On this week's episode, Adam talks to Joe about teaching physics, changing the way students think of a physics education (interested in finance or medicine? You might like physics), and the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference panel he was a part of.    Follow Joe on Twitter at:  Check out the Step Up physics program:  Students on the Beamlines, hosted by Canadian Light Sources:   Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this, please share! And if you can, please consider supporting us on . Each like, share, and subscribe helps us make interviews, articles, and projects like this one happen.    See ya next time!
December 09, 2021
The AlmaMAC 214: Understanding sex differences in the adaptive response to exercise with Mai Wageh
Historically, people with menstrual cycles have been excluded from scientific studies due to concerns about how hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle may affect research findings. This exclusion and underrepresentation in the health literature have significant implications as research suggests that there are important sex differences in health and wellness, including response to exercise. When our muscle cells are exposed to exercise, it causes micro tears which stimulates muscle cells to repair and regenerate. One important player in the process of muscle cell regeneration are satellite cells which are muscle stem cells. While research has shown that there are sex differences in the post-exercise satellite cell response, the underlying mechanisms that may be causing these differences remain unknown. Mai Wageh, a 3rd year PhD Candidate in the Department of Kinesiology, explains how hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone, may contribute to these observed differences. Tune in to learn more about satellite cells and the important implications that Mai’s research has! You can follow Mai on twitter here If you want to learn more about the lab Mai works in (Parise Lab), you can follow them on Instagram here or check out their website here P.S. if you’re interested in learning more about how women have largely been understudied in scientific research, you can check out Angela Saini’s book, Inferior
November 25, 2021
The AlmaMAC 213: Antibiotic resistance with Pallavi Mukherjee
Antibiotics are compounds that fight bacterial infections by either slowing the growth of bacteria or killing them. Antibiotics generally work by inhibiting processes and pathways needed for bacterial growth and/or survival. Enzymes necessary for bacterial growth/virulence (which are absent in mammals) are promising antimicrobial targets. But, how do we know what this inhibitor should look like?   Pallavi Mukherjee, a 3rd year PhD Candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, aims to answer this question with her research! Tune in to learn more about what the transition state of a reaction is, why isolating its structure can inform the development of antibiotics, and the tools used to study the transition state! You’ll also learn how Pallavi spends her time outside the lab!
November 18, 2021
Random Walk 2.5: Food at COP26, Virgin Vultures, NASA Attacking a Meteor, Ecology in Subnautica
This week: Jessie D takes us deeper into the abyss of Subnautica on Gamer’s Guide to Ecology Looks like yuh brought a haggis to a clahmet fight. The biggest climate conference is underway, and they want you to know how much carbon you make by eating their food Genetic testing shows California Condor produced sons… and didn’t even need a father. A couple of virgin births, if you will. The segment is so fertile for jokes, but I promise I will abstain. And finally, Watching NASA play “Armageddon” starring Bruce Willis. You aren’t gunna want to close your eyes, you aren’t gunna wanna fall asleep etc etc etc, and you won’t want to miss a thing     from this episode. That’s it for this episode. If you have comments or questions, find me on Twitter at AdamFortais or email me at . Find more of Jessie de Haan on Twitter @deHaanJ , and make sure to follow them on Twitch at justjessieD. Our music was provided by my friends from the band Boonie. Find them at . If you liked the show, share it with a friend. We are on all streaming platforms and youtube, just look for scientificanada . If you want to learn more, or if you’d like to help us support more creators, head to . See ya later!
November 11, 2021
Bringing the bio-revolution to Canada: Towards a pan-Canadian Genomics Strategy (CSPC2021)
Organized by: Genome Canada   Twenty years after the Human Genome Project, genomics is delivering on its promise: a big data science that—combined with AI, gene editing and biomanufacturing—is revolutionizing our wellbeing and economies. The U.K., U.S. and others are launching genomics strategies to maximize impact for their citizens. Canada is doing the same. Budget 2021 announced $400M for a new Pan-Canadian Genomics Strategy to build on the excellence Canada has built in genomics. This session will explore what it will take to build an effective Strategy, opportunities for Canada’s continued leadership in genomics, and the confluence of genomics with other transformational technologies.   The major takeaways here were our need for our own big database of genomic data that can be used by government, research, industry, etc. The panelists referred to the UK BioBank many times as the best (and only?) example of this, and it’s the consensus that Canada could be the second, if we manage to get our ducks in a row.   This was an exciting session, basically it kind of felt like a room of very smart people getting handed a huge sum of money, and asking them how to use it to become world leaders in genomics. Probably because that is more or less what it was. I took a bunch of notes, which you can find on, but here I will try to summarize a few of the more interesting points I gleaned from the session.
November 10, 2021
Marshalling Science, Technology and Innovation to Solve Global Problems (CSPC2021)
My main takeaway from this session was that “we all want collaborations”. Many have industry-led collaborative approaches. I will say, a lot of the session felt like name-dropping different initiatives and quoting numbers which is probably useful for some, but from my perspective, a lot of that was too in-the-weeds for me. However, there were some interesting questions from the moderator and audience that I’ll highlight, and then get into some odds and ends from the session. Like Japan’s Moonshot Program, whose Step One is focused on Cybernetic Avatars… Organized by: National Research Council Canada   The climate crisis cannot be addressed by any single organization, sector, country, or even region. Research in universities and laboratories around the globe must be commercialized if we are to succeed. This panel draws on experts playing a key role in enabling innovation ; Canada, Japan, Norway, Germany and the UK, which are all recognized leaders in climate change related research, innovation and technology. Panelists will present their initiatives addressing climate change, and the role of international partnerships. The session will highlight successes, underline pitfalls, and discuss innovation and commercialization policy approaches that can most effectively address the climate crisis.
November 10, 2021
Developing holistic food policy in Canada (CSPC2021, Pre-conference sessions)
In 2019 a federal budget item was announced and $134 million was set aside for what is considered the first-ever FOOD POLICY FOR CANADA. Qualitatively, income disparity and unequal access to affordable, healthful food is a fundamental problem we face. Multiple government departments play a part in ensuring Canadians have access to good food because it’s a complicated issue. But getting a bunch of separate departments to work efficiently toward an amorphous goal like this is probably pretty difficult. So, that is the argument for creating the Food Policy for Canada. The first pre-conference session at the CSPC2021 was a panel discussion with five members of the Canadian Food Policy Advisory Council who introduced us to the Food Policy for Canada, and presented their opinions on key priorities for the new government, and reflected on barriers to be overcome. For more, head to
November 09, 2021
Random Walk 2.4: Rock towers, Funding lotteries, Ecology in Subnautica
This week, we:  Are building towers out of rocks, because the US military wants us to!  Buying lottery tickets instead of writing grant proposals - it actually might be the best way to do it!  And of course, Jessie is back talking ecology on Gamer’s Guide to Ecology. This week, we’re starting in on the deep sea planet of Subnautica.  That’s it for this episode. If you have comments or questions, find me on Twitter at AdamFortais or email me at .    Find more of Jessie de Haan on Twitter @deHaanJ , and make sure to follow them on Twitch at justjessieD.     Our music was provided by my friends from the band Boonie. Find them at .    If you liked the show, share it with a friend. We are on all streaming platforms and youtube, just look for scientificanada .    If you want to learn more, or if you’d like to help us support more creators, head to .    See ya later!
November 04, 2021
Random Walk 2.3 - Diffusive Transport (a very special type of random walk!) with Antonia Kowalewski
This week’s random walk is … going to take up the whole episode this week. We have a very special guest this week. Antonia Kowalewski is an undergraduate student studying biophysics at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby British Columbia. This week I talked to her about a summer research project on Multivalent Diffusive Transport that recently was published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B. She will be presenting the work at the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference, but I had a chance to talk to her first. So stay tuned, we will be back with Antonia in just a sec.    Learn more about Antonia and the Forde Lab below:
October 29, 2021
The AlmaMAC 200: How past climate change affects our present and future with Nick Randazzo
Sedimentary rocks are rocks which are formed from the compaction of other rocks or organic material near the Earth's surface. They can tell us information about the Earth's past environment like how much carbon dioxide was in the atmosphere, or what the sea levels were. But, how can this information from millions of years ago help us today? Nick Randazzo is a 5th year PhD Candidate in the School of Earth, Environment, and Society under the Faculty of Science, and his research aims to examine the geochemistry of sedimentary rocks from 90 million years ago to inform present-day models and predictions of climate change. Tune in to learn more about Nick’s research and its breadth of implications on climate change, oil companies, and outer space! You can follow Nick on twitter here or check out his website here See ya next week!
October 21, 2021
Random Walk 2.2 - Gamer's Guide to Ecology, Sonar-Busting Moth Wings, Cosmic Rays and Electronics
Ok! This week, we are talking about risk, reward, probability, and money: If you were a moth, how would you protect yourself from predators? Researchers from Bristol have recently discovered a built-in strategy that keeps some moths safe from echolocation-based attacks. Wait, let me try that again. RESEARCHERS FIND NEW TECHNIQUE TO SURVIVE THE NIGHT. BATS HATE IT! Video games can be hard, but maybe it’s not your fault you can’t make it past the water temple. ARE COSMIC RAYS MAKING YOU LOSE AT VIDEOGAMES? Actually, the story is about someone winning big. But it could work either way. You’ll see. I’m out of clickbait ideas for this one. Ontario universities have moved to “performance-based” funding. Too-little-too-late for Laurentian, but… hold on, what the heck does that even mean? How do ontario universities get their funding anyhow? And my favorite segment, Jessie brings you the Gamer’s Guide to Ecology. That’s it for this episode. If you have comments or questions, find me on Twitter at AdamFortais or email me at . Our music was provided by my friends from the band Boonie. Find them at . If you liked the show, share it with a friend. We are on all streaming platforms and youtube, just look for scientificanada . If you want to learn more, or if you’d like to help us support more creators, head to . See ya later! Find more Jessie  on Twitter and Twitch, and be sure to add the Gamer's Guide to your favorite podcasting app!
October 13, 2021
The AlmaMAC 199: Nikoo Aghaei, genomics and lung cancer brain metastasis, Project Empower Circle
This week, Sawayra talks to Nikoo Aghaei about her work developing an in vivo functional genomics screen to identify novel drivers of lung cancer brain metastasis. They also talk about Nikoo's work with Empower Circle, a group motivated by empowering and connecting individuals from all walks of life, and amplifying the voices of womxn and minorities.     Want to learn more? Want to reach out to Nikoo?    Nikoo’s twitter:   Project Empower Circle’s twitter:   Project Empower Circle’s website:   Project Empower Circle’s Instagram:   You can find Sawayra at:   Finally, for more content like this, go to   See ya next week!
September 30, 2021
Random Walk 2.1 - Gamer's Guide to Ecology, Ig Nobels, Montreal Protocol, The Narwhal
The Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded for 2021! It’s like the Nobel prize, but with a better selection process. Just kidding, but only sort of. The world’s most successful climate-based agreement had its 30-something’th anniversary on September 16th. Let me tell you about it, will ya? A brand new climate-focused reporting outfit right here in frikkin Ontario. And I think it’s going to be a good one. It’s about time, right? And… the second episode of the Gamer’s Guide to Ecology, where Jessie deHaan dives into the fauna in Red Dead Redemption 2 Find more Jessie on Twitter and Twitch, and be sure to add the Gamer’s Guide to your favorite podcasting app!
September 23, 2021
Random Walk 30: Introducing Jessie deHaan and the Gamer's Guide to Ecology #1
WATCH Last week we introduced Jessie deHaan and the Gamer's Guide to Ecology. Today, Adam and Jessie talk about grad school, ecology, gaming, and why those things go together so well. We conclude with the very first episode of the Gamer's Guide to Ecology, where Jessie introduces the world of Red Dead Redemption 2. Find more Jessie  on Twitter and Twitch, and be sure to add the Gamer's Guide to your favorite podcasting app!
September 09, 2021
The AlmaMAC Episode 198 (Aug. 5/21): Examining the role of sleep and exercise on cardiovascular health with Josh Cherubini
Sleep deprivation is associated with poor heart health including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and even mortality. While exercise has been shown to have positive effects on cardiovascular health, less is known how and if it can counteract some of the negative effects of sleep deprivation. Josh Cherubini, a 1st year Master's student in the Department of Kinesiology, is aiming to better understand how irregular sleeping behaviours and exercise levels interact to impact cardiovascular function. Tune in to learn more about the techniques that Josh uses in his lab, what impact he anticipates his research having, and his favourite go-to exercise! To follow Josh on twitter, click here To learn more about the lab that Josh is in (Vascular Dynamics Lab), click here
August 08, 2021
The AlmaMAC Episode 197 (July 22/21): Blurring the lines between art and science with Kay McCallum
Art and cultural heritage materials are exposed to a number of pollutants including UV light, mold growth, temperature/humidity changes, or gas pollutants that can potentially ruin the pieces over time. Fortunately, these materials remain conserved through the expertise of art conservation scientists. Kay McCallum, a 2nd year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, is researching how art materials (i.e., acrylic paints) interact with the environment (i.e., light) to ultimately understand how to better protect and conserve cultural heritage materials. Tune in to learn about how Kay blurs the lines between art and science through the techniques they use in the lab, their passion for wanting people to interact with cultural heritage materials in a sustainable and equitable way, and their bookbinding hobby! Follow Kay on twitter here If you want to e-mail Kay, you can do so here:
July 23, 2021
A Very Special AlmaMAC: The Caffeine Rabbit Hole at Fringe Fest
Sawayra talks to the cast and crew of The Caffeine Rabbit Hole which is debuting at Hamilton's Fringe Fest 2021!   THE CAFFEINE RABBIT HOLE  Written, Produced & Directed by JOHN BANDLER   Streaming July 15-25, 2021    Box Office:    Fringe Program: Web page: Facebook:   Instagram:   STEPH CHRISTIAENS as Dara   JACLYN SCOBIE as Lenik   Music by EMILY WOOD   Assistant to the Director MEGAN VIERHOUT   Editor & Technical Consultant JEREMY MAJOR THE SHOOTING EYE   Co-Producer BETH BANDLER   Coffee Shop Logo Design & Promo Image Design and Processing RACHELLE HO & JOHN BANDLER
July 08, 2021
The AlmaMAC 181: Sydney Valentino on finding a common language for effort-based exercise
How do you relate exercise intensity from one person to another? Heart rate, perceived effort, lactic acid build up are some of the best methods because these signals increase for everyone the harder they work... right? This week Sawayra talks to Sydney Valentino who tells us how these bodily responses don't happen the same way for everyone. Especially with people who have suffered a spinal injury. How then, can intensity-based exercise be prescribed when these standard systems don't work the way we think they do? Follow Sydney on Twitter @SydValentino Follow Sawayra on Twitter @Seeingaway For more like this, head to
June 17, 2021
The AlmaMAC 180: Jennifer Williams talks Contraception and Cardiovascular Health Research
This week Sawayra talks to Jennifer Williams about her research on Contraception and Cardiovascular Health.    Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JennySWilliams  Follow Sawayre on Twitter @Seeingaway   If you like this, subscribe to the show! You can watch the interview on  Thanks for watching!
June 10, 2021
The AlmaMAC 179: Universality of Music with Konrad Swierczek
Welcome back to The AlmaMAC! This week, Sawayra talks to PhD student and musician Konrad Swierczek about his research into music universality. Why do certain things sound good to us? Do they sound good to other cultures? Let's find out.  Find Konrad on Twitter @KonradSwierczek !   Find Sawayra too: @seeingaway !   We are also at  with additional interviews and articles.    Thanks for watching!
June 02, 2021
The AlmaMAC 178: Sawayra passed her comprehensive exam!
Adam talks to Sawayra about "comps". Thoughts and feelings, tips and tricks, and different styles of exams are the focus of discussion this week. For more, head to 
May 20, 2021
The AlmaMAC 177: Dr. Chungah Kim on socio-economic indicators connected with suicide
CW: Dr. Chungah Kim is an expert on socio-economic indicators connected with suicide, so some of the discussion may not be for everyone.
April 18, 2021
The AlmaMAC 176: Unconventional career paths with MAC Cast's Lindsay D'Souza and Ian Sharpe
This week I am excited to tell you about a new podcast series about university grads who took the long way around, so to speak. I'm sure many listeners are in this boat, but what the heck do you do once you graduate? Post-grad is a big unknown and if you don't have something lined up right out of school (who does, right?) what are you supposed to do? Well, this is more common than you think, and this new podcast talks to McMaster university alumni about their unconventional paths after graduating. The show is called MacCast: Unconventional, which is an apt title, since the career paths of the guests featured on the show are not what one might expect after graduation, but I think the real twist is that.. well, an unconventional career path might actually be the norm. I won't go too much deeper right now, since my guests today are two members of the production team of the podcast. In our interview we talk about some of the stories being featured on MAC cast, but also touch on how their career paths were ALSO unconventional. So, without further adieu, let me introduce to you Lindsay D'Souza and Ian Sharpe! Listen to MAC cast: Unconventional anywhere good podcasts are found! But if you aren't sure, start here:
March 10, 2021
The AlmaMAC 175: Ben Davis Purcell on ATLAS, LHC, and Particle Physics
The Large Hadron Collider is made up of a bunch of different experiments run by different international collaborations, but it’s all happening on the 27-km loop. All of these experiments are attached to the loop, but at different locations around the loop. This requires a ton of oversight and collaboration between experiments, and to facilitate this, the collider basically needs a governing body to keep everything working smoothly. It’s almost like its own country or something, built within this 27-km loop (about 8.5 km diameter). Actually, it kind of reminds me of Vatican City in a lot of ways. Except about 8 times wider. But the point here, is that being able to run experiments that study the things that make up atoms requires this enormously connected world of collaboration. The science blows me away, and so does the politics. So why am I telling you all this? Well, today our guest on the AlmaMAC is a Carlton grad student via McMaster who works on this big loop. Ben Davis Purcell is an ex-McMaster student, graduating with a MSC in physics from the same lab I am currently in. Now he works with a group out of Carlton with ties to the Large Hadron Collider. This week I talk to him about looking at the smallest things in the universe and being a part of perhaps the biggest scientific collaboration in the universe. Stay tuned.
March 03, 2021
The AlmaMAC 174: Rodrigo Narro Pérez on Earth and Environmental Sciences Research
NOTE: 93.3 CFMU HAD TO CUT THIS ONE SHORT. THIS IS THE FULL INTERVIEW. Welcome back to the AlmaMAC! This week Sawayra interviews Rodrigo Narro Pérez. They talk research, diversity in academia, and all of the initiatives that keep Rodrigo busy. Rodrigo is a member of the Glacial Sedimentology Lab whose research looks at using glacial sedimentology and geomorphology to understand glacial hazards and the impacts of climate change on mountain environments. He was born in Perú and is lucky to call the Cordillera Blanca (located in the northern Peruvian Andes) his main field site for this work. He is also interested in all things Latin America (especially food and music), field-based experiential education and anti-racism work. Fun fact - His artist of the decade on Spotify was Shakira Follow Rodrigo on Twitter @RodrigoNarro
February 24, 2021
The AlmaMAC 173: Carmen Lee on ropes of bubbles, pottery, etc.
This week Adam is back, and he's talking to his officemate, Carmen Lee.   Carmen talks about some of her new projects, existing in a pandemic, the student she supervised virtually, and a smattering of other topics.    You can connect with Carmen over Twitter @carmlingling . You can also watch the pod on Youtube! Check out for more.
February 17, 2021
The AlmaMAC 172: Sawayra and Pritpal Matharu talk Navier-Stokes, turbulence, and MATH
The Navier-Stokes equation is like the e=mc2 for fluid dynamics. It's like the F=ma for flow. It's used to model fluids, airstreams, flow of money, and a wide variety of other things, and it's been around for a very long time... but we don't actually know how to solve it... This week, Sawayra talks to Pritpal Matharu, a graduate student in the Math department at McMaster University, who specializes in Navier-Stokes, and explains what it means to finally "solve" the equation. Thanks again to Sawayra for well, for everything. Follow her on twitter @SeeingAWay . If you liked the show, check out the other stuff we have going on at If you want to help support additional content from early career researchers, you can help by joining us on Patreon. Even a dollar a month goes a long way. So, thanks again, and see you next week!
February 10, 2021
The AlmaMAC 170: soon-to-be Dr.Dr. Sawayra talks about her PhD+MD program
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the AlmaMAC! I’m your host Adam and today we have the second part of my interview with Sawayra, the inventor and original host of the AlmaMAC. Last week we talked about why she started this radio show, and what direction we are going to take it from here. You can listen to that over on our website, . Today I’m bringing you the second half of that interview where we finally dig in and learn about the research Sawayra does. Spoiler, she is working through a dual PhD/MD program, but she will explain all of that in the interview. So let’s not waste any more time and jump right in!
February 03, 2021
*ReBroadcast*The AlmaMAC 169: The Return of Sawayra Owais!
We got a little out of sync with CFMU a few weeks ago, so let's get back on track. If you already heard this one, then you have no homework this week! Head outside and take a walk :) Hi hello, and welcome to the show. Today is a particularly special episode of the AlmaMAC. Actually, it’s probably the most Meta episode of the almaMAC that we’ve ever had. Today I’m joined by the inventor of the AlmaMAC, the once and future host of the AlmaMAC, Sawayra Owais! This is actually a 2-parter, since we have so much to talk about. Today we are going to talk about the show in general - how did Sawayra come up with it? What is the goal of the show? How has it evolved, etc. Full show notes, as always, are at . 
January 27, 2021
The AlmaMAC #171: Human Rights-Based Policy with Rida and Sawayra (#170 next week)
This week’s episode is a very special one. For one thing, it’s the triumphant return of Sawayra Owais as host of the AlmaMAC. For another, she speaks to a guest who studies some very important, very timely issues. I’d probably label them as crises really. Rida is a Masters student at McMaster university. This week Sawayra talks to her about her research which includes assessing science policy decisions from a human rights perspective. For example: stay at home restrictions and the homeless/unemployed, and child welfare affected by institutional racism. See for the full show notes.
January 20, 2021
The AlmaMAC 169: The Return of Sawayra Owais
Hi hello, and welcome to the show. Today is a particularly special episode of the AlmaMAC. Actually, it’s probably the most Meta episode of the AlmaMAC that we’ve ever had. Today I’m joined by the inventor of the AlmaMAC, the once and future host of the AlmaMAC, Sawayra Owais! This is actually a 2-parter, since we have so much to talk about. Today we are going to talk about the show in general - how did Sawayra come up with it? What is the goal of the show? How has it evolved, etc. See the full show notes at !
January 13, 2021
Random Walk 29: Cats, Crows, and MeowTalk with Sabrina Schalz
Sabrina Schalz is a PhD student in Urban Evolutionary Ecology at Middlesex University, focusing on the speech perception of wild Carrion Crows in London. However, in this interview, you will find that she's broadened her scope to cats Find the full show notes at
January 06, 2021
Random Walk 28: Francesco Zangari on ComSciCon-GTA (pt 2) + 2020 needs another month!
Thanks again to Francesco Zangari! Follow him on Twitter, And now, you may notice we still have a couple minutes left. So here we go, another installment of Journal Club. This week, I want to share something timely. The new year is upon us, which means we are almost done with this 12th month of ours, and this garbage fire of a year. But what if we could have one more month? Allow me to introduce you to the International Fixed Calendar. (read the full notes on )
December 31, 2020
Random Walk 27: Francesco Zangari on ComSciCon-GTA + Havana Syndrome?
Hello and welcome to Random walk episode 27. This week you will be hearing from PhD Candidate and science writer Francesco Zangari. Francesco is finishing his PhD on Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto, and recently attended ComSciCon-GTA, a conference on communicating science for researchers local to the Greater Toronto Area. This is another 2-parter, and this week we will be talking a bit about Francesco’s research, competitiveness in science, lab safety with COVID, and social media for communicating science. In part two, we are going to dig more into science writing. For full show notes, head to
December 16, 2020
Random Walk 26: Zi Yan Chen on ComSciCon-GTA
Welcome back to the show, I’m your host Adam, and this week I am going to be talking to ZiYan Chen about communicating science as a researcher and grad student. But before we get to the interview, I’m excited to announce that as well as being a guest on this episode, ZiYan is one of our very first guest authors on our website, . This is a big deal for us! One of my first goals I had with this project was to get to a position where I could start sourcing articles from contributing writers. But I wanted to make sure I did it ethically.    In a lot of cases, young scientists and science communicators aren’t paid for their work. In a lot of cases, communicating research to the public, writing articles that don’t end up in an academic journal, or doing outreach activities are seen as secondary to “real” research. A lot of aspects of academia seem to operate under the expectation that experts will volunteer their time and expertise. As much as I wanted to get scientificanada to a place where we could start taking articles from contributors, I didn’t want to do it unless these writers could be compensated in something concrete. Like money. And that’s where our Patrons have come in.    At this point, we are still operating at a loss, considering website hosting, purchasing domains, not to mention the time I spend recording and editing episodes and our site. But over the last year I’ve been putting away contributions from our few but consistent Patrons, and because of them, I’ve been able to start commissioning articles for the website.  So first, thank you to everyone who has subscribed to our Patreon, I couldn’t do all of this without your support.  Second, please check out ZiYan Chen’s article, up on . She’s written a great piece about attending ComSciCon-GTA, or, the Greater Toronto Area’s first Science Communications conference, including a whole load of take-aways that are super useful for anyone just starting out in “sci-comm”.  And thirdly, all of this will always be free - the podcasts, the articles, everything - but there is so much more I want to do with this platform. There are so many scientists and researchers with fantastic stories and opinions, and so many different voices that need to be shared, and I want to help get these stories heard. If you want to help us keep doing what we’re doing, and then some, please consider joining our Patreon. As little as 1-dollar per month helps, and with that you will get early access to all of our content, as well as some bonuses every so often.    Anyway, thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoy my interview with Zi Yan Chen, about attending the GTA’s first ComSciCon.   Oh, and check out Tareq on Instagram at @RCIscience and  ps our website is . jus' sayin'
December 09, 2020
Random Walk 25: Talking psychology with DRAKE and KYLE from Brain Buzz, Part II
We are back! And with two great guests, Canada's DRAKE and KYLE from the Brain Buzz Podcast! (I wanted to make a click-bait Drake-based title but deemed that too "unprofessional") Kyle and Drake a psychology grad students at the University of British Columbia. When they aren't working towards graduating, they produce a fantastic podcast where they interview other psychology researchers. Last week I talk to them about their research. This week we are talking about their show. But that is not all! You can hear the mirror image of this interview on their show, which will be up at
December 02, 2020
Random Walk 24: Talking psychology with DRAKE and KYLE from Brain Buzz
We are back! And with two great guests, Canada's DRAKE and KYLE from the Brain Buzz Podcast! (I wanted to make a click-bait Drake-based title but deemed that too "unprofessional") Kyle and Drake a psychology grad students at the University of British Columbia. When they aren't working towards graduating, they produce a fantastic podcast where they interview other psychology researchers. This week I talk to them about their research, and next week we are talking about their show. But that is not all! You can hear the mirror image of this interview on their show, which will be up at
November 24, 2020
Random Walk 23: CmSciConCan #9 Kathryn Vaillancourt is Back!
Kathryn is back to talk ComSciConCAN2020! We talk about our take-aways from the 2020 edition of ComSciConCAN, a grad-student focused conference on science communication!   Remember, we have a big write-up about the conference available for free at   Kathryn Vaillancourt is a PhD candidate at McGill University studying how addiction can change the way traits are passed down, without having to alter the person's genetic code. It's a fascinating (and relatively new) area of research called "epigenetics".
October 05, 2020
Random Walk 22: ComSciConCan #8 Dr. Roshan Achal is Back!
Roshan is back to talk ComSciConCAN2020! We talk about our take-aways from the 2020 edition of ComSciConCAN, a grad-student focused conference on science communication! Remember, we have a big write-up about the conference available for free at Dr. Roshan Achal (from University of Alberta) is a physicist who organizes, corrals, and places individual atoms for nano-devices. 
September 28, 2020
Random Walk 21: ComSciConCan #7 Sarah Turner is Back!
Sarah is back to talk ComSciConCAN2020! We talk about the panels, policy, and new initiatives!  Remember, we have a big write-up about the conference available for free at   Sarah Turner studies Community Health Science at the University of Manitoba, focusing on breast milk, epidemiology, and health promotion.  Her work in science communication stems from interest in science policy and advocacy.
September 21, 2020
Random Walk 20: ComSciConCan #6.5 Tareq Yousef is Back (part 2)!
And we're back! Last you heard, we were going to ComSciConCAN-2020, and you met some attendees. Now that we're back, you'll hear about the conference from Adam and his previous guests. This week, we start with Tareq! You remember Tareq right?  :)
September 14, 2020
Random Walk 19: Tareq's back re: ComSciConCAN-2020
And we're back! Last you heard, we were going to ComSciConCAN-2020, and you met some attendees. Now that we're back, you'll hear about the conference from Adam and his previous guests. This week, we start with Tareq! You remember Tareq right?  :)
September 08, 2020
Random Walk 18: ComSciConCan #5 with Kathryn Vaillancourt
THIS WEEK: Kathryn Vaillancourt is a PhD candidate at McGill University studying how addiction can change the way traits are passed down, without having to alter the person's genetic code. It's a fascinating (and relatively new) area of research called "epigenetics", and I wish I had read the wikipedia article before the interview, because it says that, "Due to epigenetics being in the early stages of development as a science and the sensationalism surrounding it in the public media, David Gorski and geneticist Adam Rutherford advised caution against proliferation of false and pseudoscientific conclusions by new age authors who make unfounded suggestions that a person's genes and health can be manipulated by mind control." We also talk about Kathryn's path through academia, an awesome new arts+science podcast she's creating, The Brain Bank that she works at, zines, and a bunch of other fun stuff!    CHECK OUT: Kathryn on Twitter: (@MoleculeMind). Actually, instead of re-typing all of the really cool stuff Kathryn is up to, you should definitely go to her website: . You'll find stuff like a Women in Science Tarot deck she helped create, 97 Neuro-based podcast episodes, a bunch of writing, and lots more!  Kathryn is also working to build a podcast for The Convergence Initiative, a group that's using art to help make neuroscience accessible to everyone. It is SO COOL. Go here:   AMPLIFY: This week instead of amplifying specific voices, I want to shout out this really great movement seemingly started by the (great) blog Astrobites: #BlackInAstro ( What started as a week to celebrate black astronomers and astrophysicists has spilled over into other fields. And to my great satisfaction, we are JUST IN TIME to follow @BlackinNeuro (! Starting July 27, they will be featuring daily stories of black neuroscientists. In fact, it looks to be spearheaded by one of our favorites, the @FutureDrDukes ! So hurry up and get in there:  Also, check out the Society for Black Brain and Behavioral Scientists. This is a group with the goal of supporting black brain and neuro - based scientists. I personally benefit from the privilege of being surrounded by scientists and researchers that look like me. It's hard for white people to really truly appreciate how important that actually is to ones development in a community since we've likely never not felt like we belong. One of SB^3S's big goals is to foster a community and carve space in yet another white-dominated field. Check them out here:   Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our channel on YouTube , Anchor and our email list at .
July 13, 2020
Random Walk 17: ComSciConCan #4 with Roshan Achal
THIS WEEK: Congrats to Dr. Roshan Achal (from University of Alberta), who had just convocated at the time of recording! In this episode, he tells us about the work he does, organizing, corralling, and placing individual atoms for nano-devices. We also talk about is 90-second video series on Twitter, and Science Communication at large. CHECK OUT: Roshan on Twitter: (@TheSmilentist)where you can find his 90-second physics videos AMPLIFY: A few links for you this week. Working on the nano-scale requires a strong understanding of quantum physics; check out Dr. Charles D Brown II, (@CDBrownII) who I had the pleasure of meeting last year. He is a brilliant quantum physicist from Yale, currently doing a post-doc at UC Berkley. Also, for more materials science, Dr. Lyndsey McMillon-Brown (@DrMcMillonBrown) is building solar-cells at Yale and just recently had a project accepted to be sent up to the International Space Station! Follow for that clean energy tech.  Lastly, my friend Karmela wrote about the virtual meeting held by the American Physical Society regarding racial inequity in physics and in our society. Spoiler: we aren't doing great. Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our channel on YouTube , Anchor and our email list at .
July 06, 2020
Random Walk 16: ComSciConCan #3 with Gracielle Higino
THIS WEEK: Gracielle grew up in Brazil immersed in science (communication). Her dream has always been to be a scientist by day, and writer by night. She currently studies computational ecology at Université Montréal, and we talk about her work, communicating science, and the difficulties English Second Language (ESL) researchers have. Some of her work includes organizing SciComm training with IGNITE. CHECK OUT: SciComm in Portuguese:…  ( SciComm training:… https://ignitescicomm.comIf  ( email: graciellehigino [at] gmail [dot] com Twitter: AMPLIFY: I dug into ecology twitter and found a research group focusing on ecosystem health using computer modelling led by Dr. Samniqueka Halsey ( that's currently looking to recruit M.Sc students ( Also check out Danielle N Lee's ( article on diversity and inclusion in behavioral ecology ( And for something really unique, check out Asia Murphy ( , a scientist who is also writing an ecological fantasy novel ( Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our channel on YouTube ( and our email list at .
June 29, 2020
Random Walk 15: ComSciConCan #2 with Sarah Turner
THIS WEEK: Sarah Turner studies Community Health Science at the University of Manitoba, focusing on breast milk, epidemiology, and health promotion.  Her work in science communication stems from interest in science policy and advocacy. We talk about her research, scientific/non-scientific writing, and she gives some tips for writing your first OpEd.   CHECK OUT: CHILD study:  Quick tips for writing your first OpEd:  Twitter: Sarah = , and the Azad Lab:   AMPLIFY: If you want to learn more about the science of infant health and breastfeeding, Sarah recommends following Kimberly Seals Allers. Check her out on Twitter ( or her website, (   Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our channel on YouTube ( and our email list at . 
June 22, 2020
Random Walk 14: ComSciConCan #1 with Tareq Yousef
AMPLIFY: This week Tareq introduced me to a few brilliant neuroscientists on Twitter. Give them a follow: @jarildy @futuredrdukes @danne_phd @RackebT THIS WEEK: Tareq is a Ph.D candidate at Dalhousie University studying Neuroscience via the retina of fish. He is attending ComSciConCan-2020 (a virtual science communication meeting run by grad students, for grad students), and I got the chance to meet him before the conference to talk research, communication, what he hopes to get from the conference, and a little bit about blue light filtering glasses (among many other things). CHECK OUT: Tareq has a nutrition podcast! No BS Nutrition:  Also check out Open Think blog: And of course follow Tareq  !! Thanks for listening!
June 09, 2020
The AlmaMAC 168: Catching up with Adam and Shawn
Shawn has been writing covid-related grant proposals and Adam has been running at-home labs for first-year physics students. Adam shows off the best way to organize your spaghetti. We are are YouTube! Subscribe to never miss an episode!
May 31, 2020
Random Walk 13: Dr. Shoshana Jacobs on Seabirds and the New Normal in Academia
Dr. Jacobs is an assoc. professor at the University of Guelph studying seabird ecology, with what I would call an extra special focus on mentorship, knowledge transfer, and equity in academia. We talked about academia's response to the "C" word; the opportunities but also the long-range issues it may cause. You HAVE to listen to this one. Follow Dr. Jacobs on Twitter: Watch the interview on YouTube: If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast and our YouTube channel. It really helps!
May 14, 2020
The AlmaMAC Episode 167: Science Sucks podcast visits The AlmaMAC (the second half)
The Science Sucks x AlmaMAC collab we've all been waiting for! Ive Velikova is a Science Communicator who did her undergrad at McMaster, started the Science Sucks radio show, and is juuuuust completing Canada's only Masters program focusing on Science Communication (at Laurentian). Adam and Ive talk all sorts of SciComm, and discuss the Masters program. It sounds cool!  For part one, check out Ive's podcast: Science Sucks ! Follow Ive on Twitter! 
May 08, 2020
Random Walk 12: Pint of Science Canada 2020 with Alexandra Gelle!
** **  Alexandra Gelle is a Ph.D candidate at McGill University studying green chemistry. But today, we are talking about Pint of Science Canada 2020! Alexandra is the Director of the Canadian arm of the international festival, and it's coming up NEXT WEEK. We talk about some of the exciting talks you can tune in for next week, including the SCIENCE OF SEXTING (did I get that right?!), MAKING CLOUDS AT HOME, BEING AN ASTRONAUT and a tonne of other topics. It's totally free, but you have to sign up at  
May 07, 2020
Random Walk 11: Pint of Science and Particle Smashing at the LHC with Ben Davis-Purcell
Ben Davis-Purcell smashes particles at the Large Hadron Collider as a part of ATLAS. He is also giving a talk as part of the Pint of Science Canada Festival next week. Tune in for a sneak peak into Ben's research, a discussion about whether space or the ocean is scarier, and curdled-milk cocktails. To see Ben's talk, register here (it's free, but you have to register): Follow Ben on Twitter: Watch the interview on YouTube: 
May 06, 2020
The AlmaMAC Episode 166: Wine, Whiskey, Coffee, Beer, and the Maillard reaction w/ Hannah Charnock
The Maillard reaction what makes a lot of foods taste great. When sugars and proteins are heated, they created a cascade of delicious molecules that make toasted bread so nice, seared steaks so satisfying, and coffee drinkable. The Maillard reaction usually requires heat, but in some cases (sparkling wine), it doesn't. The reason is still a mystery. Whiskey is one of those drinks that seem to command a higher price the older it is. As a whiskey ages, things happen to its chemical makeup that changes, making it more desirable to whiskey-lovers. However, having to age a product for years means high quality whiskey production requires a huge investment in both time and money. But what if you could get the same effect without having to wait years and years? What if whiskey could be artificially aged by blasting soundwaves at it? On this episode, Adam talks to Hannah Charnock about her work in various beverage industries, studying how the Maillard reaction affects the end product of some of our favorite fluids. They also talk about her upcoming Pint of Science Canada talk, where she will be presenting some of her work on the aging of whiskey. [Hannah is working toward an MSc at Brock University's Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), focused on investigating the impact of sugar-type on Maillard Reaction (MR) associated flavours in sparkling wine under supervision of Dr. Belinda Kemp & Prof. Gary Pickering.] (
April 23, 2020
The AlmaMAC Episode 165: Designing at-home physics labs
Adam has put his PhD on hold for a semester to help emergency-redesign some of the first-year physics labs at McMaster. Because of COVID, the summer term will have to take place all online and at home. On this episode, Adam shows off the ultra-minimist kit he's helped design (to be mailed to students), and walks Shawn through a few of the experiments.   (Originally broadcast on Instagram LIVE. Visit us on Thursdays at Noon at )
April 18, 2020
Random Walk 7: Camp COVID #1 with Arthur Michaut
Arthur Michaud has a Ph.D from the University of Strasbourg in France, in developmental Biology. He is now working at Institut Pasteur France. He is also an extremely active science communicator. Arthur and Adam talk about what seems to be a societal difference between science communication in the French-speaking world compared to Canada. PS: Pardon the audio. I was/am experimenting with webcast audio. We are all doing our best in these Trying Times (tm).
April 14, 2020
Random Walk 10: Camp COVID #4 with Dr. Karen Kwon
Dr. Karen Kwon is a recent chemistry graduate from Columbia University, and freelance science writer. I talk to Karen about being named a AAAS Mass Media Science&Engineering Fellow which includes a 10-week placement at Scientific American, gaining writing experience, being a "journalist" rather than "communicator", and freelance writing from her temporary home in Vermont. 
April 14, 2020
The AlmaMAC Episode 164: Thrown into COVID-19 research with Dr. Alliston Kennedy (Host: Shawn)
Shawn talks to Dr. Allison Kennedy about taking on COVID-19 during an Instagram LIVE interview.
April 12, 2020
Random Walk 9: Camp COVID #3 with Sumeet Kulkarni
LIGO, writing for Scientific American, a bit of Ed Yong fanboying, and maybe.. just maybe... the birth of a new project? SciAm article: Twitter profile: Books mentioned:
April 06, 2020
Random Walk 8: Camp COVID #2 with Karmela Padavic-Callaghan
I had the chance to talk to Dr. Karmela Padavic-Callaghan about the brave new world of virtual conferencing and how it's making science more accessible. The conference she attended was SCIENCE TALK '20.
April 01, 2020
The AlmaMAC Episode 162: Working from home with Adam and Shawn
Pretty much everything has shut down, and a lot of people are trying to work from home. Adam and Shawn hosted an Instagram Live show where they talked about the difficulties they are having with staying motivated, and how importance of face-to-face time with other people.  Keep it up everyone, we'll get through this.
March 27, 2020
The AlmaMAC episode 161: Fitness literacy with Hilary Caldwell
On episode 161 Adam talks to Hilary Caldwell, a kinesiology PhD candidate at McMaster University. One of the things Hilary is involved with is developing the concept of "Physical Literacy".  From wiki:  Physical literacy is a fundamental and valuable human capability that can be described as a disposition acquired by human individuals encompassing the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding that establishes purposeful physical pursuits as an integral part of their lifestyle.  For more info, Hilary recently had a paper published (open access!). Or check out wiki:
March 19, 2020
The AlmaMAC episode 159: Understanding hidden mysteries about Ataxia w/ Celeste (Host: Shawn)
Shawn talks with Celeste Suart from the Truant lab about ataxia! Find out more about ataxia research at SCAsource and Huntington's Disease at HDBuzz which her lab also works on. Read more about how SCAsource was started here. If you want to reach out to Celeste on Twitter, you can find her here @suartce and she's open to collaborations! Feel free to email her at to get involved!
March 05, 2020
The AlmaMAC episode 158 (Feb 27/20): How DNA is like an elastic band, science communication, and knowing your audience with Adam and Shawn
It's a big "Communicating Science" week at the AlmaMAC! Shawn asks Adam about an article he got published called Researchers play with elastic bands to understand DNA and protein structures.  It was written for non-experts, but is laying the groundwork for a presentation Adam is giving next week in Denver.  Shawn and Adam also talk about the lecture they gave on Monday about how hard it can be to know your audience and package up your research just for them. Shawn briefly talks about the SciCommTO conference held last weekend.
February 27, 2020
The AlmaMAC episode 157 (Feb 20/20): Drug Delivery in Cancer Using Creatively Complicated Nanoparticles w/ Matt (Host: Shawn)
Matt is in the Hoare Lab studying drug delivery with nanoscaled particles for cancer treatment. He's also the winner of McMaster's 3MT in 2019! Watch his winning talk here. That really long word he used is poly(oligoethylene glycol methacrylate) and you can read more about its applications in the Hoare lab here. Tweet him @CampeaMatt and his supervisor @HoareLab!
February 21, 2020
The AlmaMAC episode 156: Food for Thought. Adam moderated McMaster's Researchers' Night (Host: Adam)
On Monday, Adam co-moderated the 2020 McMaster Researchers' Night.  The topic was FOOD, and included four panelists from diverse research backgrounds. Adam had a chance to sneak a question or two in during the evening and got some audio from the event. Have a listen! The panelists included: - biophysicist and expert in molecular gastronomy: Dr. Christophe Lavelle from the National Research Centre in Paris, France - Dr. Geneviève Sicotte from Concordia University, Montréal, professor in literature and expert on the representation of food,  - Dr. Parmjit Singh, PhD Psychology and expert in mindfulness at McMaster University, - Dr. Tina Moffat, professor of anthropology and lead of community-based research projects in Hamilton. The event has passed, but some of Adam's posts about the researchers are still available on Facebook. If any of the panelists piqued your interest, read more about them there. See you next week!
February 13, 2020
The AlmaMAC Episode 155 (Feb 6/20): 3 Minute Thesis is Back, and Dr. Bandler walks us through some award-winning examples (Host: Adam)
Dr. John Bandler is back this week to talk about the Three Minute Thesis Competition. He is hosting a workshop to help get you started on THURSDAY FEBRUARY 13th, and in anticipation of that, is here with Adam to dissect some award-winning examples, like Canxiu Zhang’s (Brainwave Analysis for Stroke Detection) and Daniel Tajik’s Microwave Holography for Medical Imaging. For the full experience, make sure to follow us on YouTube where we will be posting the full interview including video of the presentations. Check out the School of Graduate Studies’ YouTube channel for more videos, too. Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a university-wide competition for graduate students in which participants present their research and its wider impact in 3 minutes or less to a panel of non-specialist judges. The challenge is to present complex research in an engaging, accessible, and compelling way, using only one static slide. For more examples, and some other workshops Dr. Bandler has hosted, find him on YouTube. Never miss an episode, and be the first to know when new episodes come out (we have a super-special episode coming out on Friday) by following us on Instagram and Twitter! We actually post there now!
February 06, 2020
The AlmaMAC episode 154 (Jan 30/20): Billy Bostad on heart health, interval training, returning to academia, smart watches... (Host: Adam)
Here's the deal. You can get a 45 minute workout done in 10 minutes... but it's going to be tough. Billy Bostad is working towards a PhD in McMaster's Human Performance Lab. His work focuses on the physical responses everyday people have to extremely short, intense bouts of exercise, and how to encorporate this type of exercise into a healthy lifestyle that anyone can benefit from. We also learn about how Billy found physiology at Guelph, earned a MSc in it at Queen's, got a job, then left to pursue his PhD at McMaster. You can follow Billy on social media (Twitter + Instagram). If you are interested in his work, you can email him directly (bostadw  at  mcmaster  dot  ca). If you are reaaaaally interested in his work, check out the Human Performance Lab! I betcha they are recruiting students and volunteers.
January 30, 2020
The AlmaMAC episode 153 (Jan 23/20): Shawn had a paper accepted! Also, 23andMe sold you out, and why that might be a good thing, and coronavirus (with Adam+Shawn)
Shawn had a chapter from his thesis accepted, to be published in Cancer! Hear about going from side project to accepted, with all the iteration and uncertainty in between. But first, we talk about commercial gene sequencing company 23andMe developing and selling drugs based on their customers' data. Also - the coronavirus has been found in the US. No confirmed cases in Canada though several travelers are being held for observation.
January 23, 2020
The AlmaMAC: Matthew Jordan is back from Oxford to talk Artificial Intelligence, Science History, Funk, and Improv (Host: Adam)
Matthew Jordan graduated from McMaster's Arts & Science Department, earned two Masters' degrees at Oxford, and came back to teach McMaster undergrads about the history of science, and history, policy, philosophy, and ethics of Artificial Intelligence. Adam and Matthew talk about those things, plus music, and performing improv! Follow Matthew Jordan on Twitter. Follow The AlmaMAC on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Adam on Twitter. Watch the interview on YouTube this Friday.
January 16, 2020
The AlmaMAC: He Jiankiu Sentenced for 3 Years: CRISPR Fiasco (Host: Adam)
"Scientist He Jiankui showed the world how human embryo editing is relatively easy to do but incredibly difficult to do well." (read more here). Adam and Shawn discussed this case, what CRISPR can be used for, the use of CRISPR in somatic vs germline mutations and overall the ethics of this case.
January 09, 2020
Coming up in 2020: Spiders, storms and evolution (teaser)
What happens when a cyclone tears through a spider's habitat? It gets mad. Like, generational anger. A grudge that gets passed down through their DNA? This year I am transitioning from graduate student to science writer, and I have successfully pitched my first paid article! It's based on an interview I've been sitting on for a few months. The full thing will be released closer to the article, but here is a taste of what to expect! Be sure to follow scientificanada on your favorite podcasting app, and leave a rating if applicable! We are now on YouTube for those who would prefer captions to read along with! I am also hoping to start putting up some video content in 2020. Like-Comment-Subscribe! Finally, you can follow me on Twitter @adamfortais  Thanks!
January 02, 2020
The AlmaMAC: Holiday wrap-up with Matt, Shawn, and Adam (Host: Shawn)
The whole team is here today! Hear what Matt, Shawn, and Adam have been up to this semester (getting awards, giving away thigh muscles. "Matt-leave", etc.), an interesting fact about Rhianna, and what your hosts are planning for next semester (a field trip to SciCommTO?) Did you know we have a podcast channel with nearly 30 episodes from 3 different shows, including old episodes of The AlmaMAC? Listen here!
December 19, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Evidence-based medical protocols with Emily Sirotich (Host: Adam)
Emily Sirotich has got to have the hardest job. She is trying to create evidence-based protocols for when patients with a rare bleeding disorder come into the emergency ward. These are usually life-or-death situations, but because of the rarity of the disease, there is very little evidence in the literature for which to base a protocol off of. Emily tells us the techniques she uses, including retroactive studies, that let her make strong, science-based recommendations for treating these patients.
December 12, 2019
The AlmaMAC: How do sleep and exercise work together to help with memory with Tara Kuhn (Host: Shawn)
Tara is a 2nd year MSc. student in Dr. Heisz' Neurofit Lab in the Department of Kinesiology. She studies how physical activity and sleep interact as a protective measure for cognitive function Find out more about her lab's previous work on exercise intensity for improving memory here as well as the paper she mentioned throughout the interview about how physical activity impacts sleep and cognition here. If you are interested in helping her recruit participants, please contact her with her contact information below: Email: or
December 09, 2019
Random Walk E.4: Hamilton, sewergate, and keeping city council accountable with Thea Kozakis
Hamilton Ontario has been dumping sewage into our protected wetland consistently for 4 years via a leaking sewer. When city council found out, they chose to cover it up rather than address the issue. The Hamilton Spectator broke the story on November 20th, and I go through some of the information they dug up, including a Timeline of Events written by Matthew Van Dongen. Then I talk to Thea Kozakis, a climate scientist who took the city of Ithaca to task on their climate policies. Hey Hamilton, let’s do the same.
December 04, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Volunteering for a carpal tunnel syndrome study with Amanda Farias Zuniga (Host: Adam)
Amanda Farias Zuniga is a soon-to-graduate PhD candidate in the kinesiology department focusing on biomechanics. Recently, Adam volunteered for one of her studies which involved simulating carpal tunnel in his right arm. In this episode, Adam and Amanda talk about carpal tunnel, the details of that study, and graduation! Follow Amanda on Twitter or check out her publications! Also consider following Adam on Twitter. To listen to more sciencey stuff, check out scientificanada wherever podcasts are found.
November 28, 2019
The AlmaMAC // CUPEcast: Teaching assistants on strike? (Host: Adam)
This episode is a bit of a deviation from the norm. Graduate students who work as Teaching Assistants are part of a union (CUPE 3906). The union was set to go on strike starting next Monday, but in light of a new tentative agreement, the strike may be avoided. Host Adam is a member of the strike committee, and talks to undergraduate Andrea Klaver about how things have progressed since the summer. Adam also talks about a magazine article he has been working on. You can listen to CUPEcast, Adam's other show for union updates here. For more information about the union and potential strike, go here. Follow Adam on Twitter!
November 22, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Omega-3 and Muscle Repair in the Elderly (Host: Shawn)
Michael is a 2nd year MSc. student in the Parise Lab in the Department of Kinesiology. He studies how Omega-3 supplements can help in muslce repair in elderly. Find out more about his lab's previous work here. If you are interested in helping him recruit participants, please contact him with his contact information below: Email: Mobile: (647) 808-5893
November 15, 2019
CUPEcast Ep. 4: No concessions! No agreement? No board... :(
Spoiler: Conciliation didn't go anywhere. We will be in legal strike position by the end of the month. Here's what you need to know this week. You can follow Adam on Twitter @adamfortais
November 12, 2019
The AlmaMAC: A new lease on (the origins of) life with Ben Pearce (Host: Adam)
This week Adam talks to Ben Pearce about his PhD work studying the origins of life. But he wasn't always a physicist... Ben first graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. Like many, he was enticed by the nice pay and began working in the oil industry, but was never really passionate about engineering. This lead him to Berlin, where he realized, through long conversations with some interesting a brilliant young people like himself, the Big Questions like, "where did life come from" were questions he could totally pursue. So he came back to Canada, earned a degree in astronomy, and ended up here at McMaster in the Origins of Life Institute. Follow Ben on Twitter Follow me on Twitter If you like what you hear and want to help support the show, please visit our Patreon.
November 07, 2019
CUPEcast Ep. 3: Tuesday is the big day...
Tuesday is the big day. Conciliation is happening this Wednesday, and as such, there is very little to report in terms of bargaining, so this one is pretty short. Adam briefly talks about one of the important bargaining points, paid pedagogical training, and why the University should be pushing for this harder than we are. Adam also talks about the Six Nations Polytechnic school that CUPE 3906 has agreed to help support (it's really cool!) For more bargaining news, head to *** Note: I may have said conciliation is Wednesday. It is actually Tuesday.
November 04, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Chilling tales of blood splatter and a blob that eats to learn (Host: Adam and Matt)
It's the AlmaMAC Halloween Spooktacular, and this week Adam and Matt tell two terrifying tales. Adam tells a story of a man found guilty of murdering his wife and that blood splatter that got him, 35 years ago... and why, perhaps, the investigators were wrong after all. Then, Matt talks about a slime that learns and teaches by fusing with and incorporating other slimes within itself. Matt terrifies Adam with the idea that the students he TAs might try to eat him for his knowledge. For more on blood and the real homicide case, click here, and here. For more on that marvelous, terrible slime, click here. And hey! Make sure to follow the AlmaMAC on Twitter. You can also follow Adam, and be sure to subscribe to Scientificanada on your favorite podcast app to have access to back episodes of the AlmaMAC, and hear new episodes of some new shows like CUPEcast, Adam's CUPE3906 TA Union podcast. Have a spooky and safe Halloween!
October 31, 2019
CUPEcast Ep. 2: Diving into the BOG (board of governors)
This week we bring you up to speed on McMaster's Board of Governor's meeting, and hear from CUPE 3906 President, Nathan Todd.  A few important dates:  General Member's Meeting: October 30th at 12:00 pm in BSB 108 Conciliation begins: November 5th CUPE strike training: Nov. 15 from 9 am to 5 pm
October 28, 2019
The AlmaMAC : Understanding Genetics of Rheumatic Heart Disease with Tafadzwa Machipisa (Host: Shawn)
Tafadzwa Machipisa is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Population Health Research Institute (McMaster) and Hatter Institute of Cardiovascular Research in Africa (University of Cape Town, South Africa). She currently investigates genes that are involved in predisposing people to rhematic heart disease with populations on the African continent. Find out more by listening to this podcast and read up about her labs here: Tafadzwa's Master's Research Dr. Pare's research The Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory (GMEL) Prof. Mayosi's research​ Prof. Mark Engel's research
October 27, 2019
CUPEcast Ep. 1 : What is CUPEcast? Bargaining updates (Oct 21, 2019)
Welcome to CUPEcast, a show about CUPE 3906 , the union for McMaster TAs, RAs, sessionals, postdocs, etc. In this first episode introduces the reason behind this podcast, introduces your host Adam, and will bring you up to date on the bargaining between McMaster and Unit 1.  Looking to help? Let’s keep this momentum going! Reach out to your Department      Chair or Executive Committee for letters of support like those linked      above. Similarly, if you are      involved in an organization on campus that supports our bargaining      priorities, ask your fellow members for a public statement of      support! Use social media to increase      pressure on McMaster to return to the table ASAP. Our Twitter and Facebook accounts      tend to have lots of content for      sharing. You can also take a picture       with the #BetterMac window sign and       tag us on these platforms. Visit for       a copy of the sign, or drop by the Union Office at Kenneth Taylor Hall,       room B111 to participate. Sign & Share our Petition! JOIN THE      STRIKE COMMITTEE! All are welcome + the kind       of work will vary. There is something for everyone! Next meeting: Wednesday,       October 23 | 12 PM – 1PM | Mills Library Room L304 (third floor) Please note: This       committee is ratified after every strike vote and is generally tasked       with organizing pickets and other essential duties that arise in the       unique event of a strike. Forming this committee does not mean       that we are any closer to having to call a strike. It simply       means that we are making the necessary preparations, just in case. For a complete list of past bargaining updates, click here. In solidarity, The Unit 1 Bargaining Team
October 22, 2019
Random Walk Ep.3 Ethics of Science Communication with Dr. John Bandler and Rachelle Ho (Host: Adam)
WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) and the SciGSA are hosting a very exciting talk on Tuesday, October 22nd. They are hosting Dr. John Bandler, decorated engineer and passionate science communicator, who will talk about the Ethics of Science Communication. This week I talk to Rachelle Ho (ex-WISE president) and Dr. Bandler about the event coming up, and how to ethically speak about science and research. We all want to tell a riveting story, but what you say and what people hear aren't always the same... Sign up to attend in advance here (but if you just show up, it'll be ok.) Follow Dr. Bandler and Rachelle on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter if you wanna! Thank Boonie personally, for supplying music to the show at Boonie.Rocks  
October 18, 2019
Random Walk E.2 (Oct 10/19): Media Numeracy with Dr. David Venus (Host: Adam)
The Canadian (American) Federal (Presidential) elections are looming. This time around it seems like there is just as much discussion about the integrity of the candidates as there is about the media reporting on the candidates [cite]. #fakenews has become a globally recognized  hashtag, one-line-comeback, and an agonizingly slippery threat to democracy [cite]. By exploiting human psychology, the news industry is constantly presented with a shape-shifting slew of threats to its integrity. Today I talk to Dr. David Venus of the Physics and Astronomy department at McMaster about the need for media numeracy, and what he's doing to help (teaching a course on it). For details about the course, see the description here. I mentioned some of Dr. Venus' opinion pieces. They are here and here. Hey, you can follow me on Twitter @AdamFortais ! And be sure to follow us on your favorite podcasting app (eg. Spotify, Apple, Google...). I've started posting back episodes under the new flag Scientificanada. No specific announcement yet, but do note that I re-introduced this episode under a different name... :)
October 10, 2019
The AlmaMAC: What's up with White Nose Fungus with Adrian Forsythe (Host: Shawn)
This week we heard from Biology Ph.D. candidate, Adrian Forsythe and he told us all about his research with white nose syndrome in bats! You can follow him on Twitter at @adrian_forsythe. Read his latest findings on how adaptation occurs within White Nose Syndrom pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans among strains in eastern North America here If you like what you heard, want to chat, or maybe want to be a guest, let us know on Twitter @almamac_radio or by email at
October 03, 2019
The AlmaMAC: MiNDS vs Psych and Developmental Neurobiology with Shane Simon (Host: Matt)
Today's guest was Shane Simon, a PhD student from the MiNDS Program in Psychology. We discussed the differences between the graduate neuroscience program and psychology program at McMaster (vote PNB!) as well as his research on the development of inhibitory neural circuitry! Find out more about Shane Simon on his podcast: GET LEARNT at
October 02, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Origins of life, grad life, and birding4lyfe with Sian Ford (Host: Adam)
This week I went for a walk and stood in a line with Sian Ford from the Earth Science department. We talked about her research on the origins of life. Specifically, how “lipid membranes” (the things that surround all the important junk in your cells) could have formed. We also talked about all the birding she does in her spare time! You can follow her on Twitter at @sianford I opened the show with a quick announcement of the winners of the 2019 Ig Nobel Prizes. If you like what you heard, want to chat, or maybe want to be a guest, let me know on Twitter @adamfortais or by email at .​ See you next week!
September 20, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Soapbox Science, Nobel Prizes and catching up with Carmen Lee from Ark&Anchor (Host: Adam)
I hung out with Carmen Lee (a fellow soft matter physicist) at one of our favorite places to study and she told me all about Soapbox Science (an outreach event in Toronto that she will be presenting at), and a really cool Nobel Prize conference she got to attend in Germany.
September 13, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Grape plasma, and research for fun with Hamza Khattak (Host: Adam, Sept 5/19)
Note: We had some microphone difficulties about halfway through the episode this week. Sorry! Hamza joined my lab a year ago. In his undergrad, he did some horrible things to microwaves, and wonderful things to grapes. Here, watch this. His work on grape plasma went viral. We then talked a little about the Ig Nobel prizes, and why researching fun questions can be useful. Completely unrelated, ever wonder what Earth would be like if it were made completely out of blueberries? Blueberry world: Follow Hamza on Twitter, and ask him about anything! Grapes or non-grapes. Whatever!
September 06, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Forecasting childhood health by studying placenta with Christian Bellissimo (Host: Adam)
Placenta is an incredible organ, and Christian Bellissimo tells us why. I guess I kind of always though the placenta was like the white of an egg. Oh boy was I wrong! Of course we know that early life stressors, including those during pregnancy, impact long term health of the baby. Usually we think smoking or drinking, but maternal obesity is also something than can affect the child. Christian and I talk about his work trying to understand how changes in development of the placenta may increase the risk of offspring disease later life. You can tweet questions to Christian here. You can read about the work that goes on in the Sloboda Lab (where Christian works) here. Aaaand... I joked about placenta recipes on the show, but I don't think I'm going to share any links. Use your judgement. Or consider getting on the list to donate it?
August 30, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Microbes and arsenic in the groundwater (in Bangladesh) with Reisa San Pedro (Host: Adam)
Arsenic is bad for you. It can be found in large quantities in rat poison, and it can be found in smaller (but still dangerous) quantities in groundwater. This is of particular concern in South-East Asia, and more specifically Bangladesh, where citizens have been developing cancers, skin lesions, and other horrible effects due to long-term arsenic exposure. But unlike many water contamination issues, human's aren't totally to blame! This week we welcome Reisa San Pedro, a 2nd year MSc student in the Geography and Earth Sciences department at McMaster University. We discuss the origin of the arsenic, why it's dissolving in the groundwater, and what's being done to better understand and avoid arsenic contamination in these affected countries.  For more details on her work, you can visit her supervisor's website. PS. Reisa is defending her MSc in September! Wish her luck! (not that she needs it...)
August 15, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Hard Condensed Matter and the Role of Fundamental Research with Connor Buhariwalla (Host: Adam)
Connor studies hard condensed matter. This is a branch of physics that might not take centre stage in the media, but is at the heart of nearly every technology you interact with daily. Despite all of the useful things that have come from this area of physics, Connor studies "fundamental" questions. That is, he tries to solve problems that don't necessarily have no applications, but are at least not application-driven. And that is not just "Ok", that's absolutely necessary for science to work . Connor tells us why he does what he does. Here is a nice description of hard condensed matter.
August 04, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Psychology of Acting and Burnout in Grad School with Matt Berry (Host: Shawn)
  Matt's website: B U R N O U T Definition: How to tell: Matt Berry: To treat burnout you will need to stop working. Rest. Seek counseling and/or medical help. You need to lower your expectations of yourself and virtually eliminate what others expect from you. Find activities that relax you and being you joy and focus on those for a start and detach yourself from work if you can. Ultimately, because work is about expectations (either self-imposed or set by others), I believe that you can continue working and recover from a burnout slowly over time (it is not a quick fix). But eventually you will be able to manage it all again. You got this, I believe in you. Take it easy on yourself.Activity: if you're anxious or depressed and have a hard time getting your work done split it up and tackle it. Make a list of things from 1-100 of what you need to accomplish and start tackling them. Pick one or two big things like a paper or presentation and split it up into 100 little pieces to finish. No piece is too small. When you're done you won't have just done one thing you will have done 100! You got this!Modules:
July 30, 2019
Random Walk E.1 Education and psychology, and why you probably aren't a "visual" learner... with Dr. Joe Kim (Host: Adam)
Adam put together a podcast! Random Walk is a podcast about interesting stuff Adam finds that doesn't quite fit into the format of The AlmaMAC. In this episode, Adam had a chance to interview Dr. Joe Kim, wherein they discuss the theory of "multiple intelligences", the myth of "learning styles", and how Dr. Kim applies research-based techniques to his first year course. Follow Dr.  Kim on Twitter here and Adam here.
July 19, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Using elastic fibers to understand DNA, undersea cables, spider silk... with Adam Fortais (Host: Matt)
  Matt talks to co-host and PhD candidate Adam Fortais about the experimental physics research he does.  Adam studies "soft condensed matter", or, squishy things. Specifically, he is working with thin elastic fibers (10x thinner than a human hair) to understand how everything from undersea cables, to DNA, to your headphone cables respond to different stresses.  This is a video of Adam's supervisor describing the exploratory work they do in the lab. Adam talks about DNA supercoiling, one of the major inspirations for his current work. This is a short (bio-heavy) description. And finally, while all this looping is cool, it can damage your cables if you aren't careful. Here is some practicle advice on how to avoid damaging cables (not actually Adam). You can follow Adam on Twitter here or check out his blog at
July 16, 2019
The AlmaMAC: Titan Arum with Shay Freger (Host: Adam and Matt)
Adam and Matt talk to recent graduate Shay Freger about Arthur, the Amorphophallus Titanum, aka, the Titan Arum, aka, the Corpse Plant. This plant, a roughly 6-foot behemoth, typically blooms only once every 7 or so years... and guess what! It's blooming right now! You can watch a nice, succinct description of the Titan Arum by NPR here. If you want to dig deeper, Wikipedia has a very good intro to to Titan. There is an extremely long video of a plant blooming "live" from a while ago here. Fast forward to hours 73-119. If you would like to visit the green house at McMaster or volunteer (anyone from the community is welcomed), the hours and location are posted here. And be sure to follow the greenhouse on Facebook and Instagram to hear about upcoming events and plant sales. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Be sure to tune in Thursdays at noon at 93.3 CFMU or at to hear the show LIVE!
July 09, 2019