BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

Taking INITIATIVE: Getting Involved in the McMaster Graduate Community!

Author: Lisa Dyce

Welcome new students, and welcome back to those of you who are returning to our

Neuroscience community once again this year!

As a student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program, you are part of not only a group of high-calibre researchers, problem-solvers, and innovators, but also a group of individuals who are committed to supporting one another and enhancing our surrounding graduate and McMaster communities. There are many ways to get involved and give back during your time in the program. Here, we’ve included a brief – and by no means exhaustive! – list of opportunities that may be of interest to you!

As an interdisciplinary and interfaculty program, our students can participate in both the Faculty of Science (eg. SciGSA)

and Faculty of Health Sciences (eg. HSGSF) groups listed below.

Neuroscience Graduate Program-Specific Initiatives


Our students and faculty proudly support and operate four Neuroscience Graduate Program-specific initiatives: 

BrainWaves is our bi-monthly newsletter (which you’re reading right now!), featuring program-specific events, researcher spotlights, and summaries of ‘hot topics’ in neuroscience. BrainWaves is led by Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout (Editor-in-Chief) and Kathryn Reynolds (Editor). We’re always looking for more contributors! Please contact or if you’d like to join the BrainWaves team!

SOMA is our student social group that organizes a variety of fun activities for students to connect (usually over delicious pizza!) throughout the year. SOMA is led by Co-Presidents Saurabh Shaw and Kathryn Reynolds. For more information about upcoming SOMA events, check out the SOMA feature in this issue of BrainWaves, visit our website, email, or follow SOMA on social media:




Out of Our MiNDS is our Neuroscience Education Outreach program, which brings hands-on experiments into local high school classrooms. This program is led by John Krzeczkowski and Nicole Greisman. Please check out this BrainWaves article for more information about the program, and email if you’d like to volunteer!

The Neuroscience High School Co-Op Program is an experiential education initiative where high school students are placed in neuroscience labs for course credit. This initiative is currently led by Lisa Dyce; however, we’re looking for a volunteer or two to take over this initiative this year! Please read this BrainWaves article for more information about the impact of this program and email if you’d like to get involved!

The impact, longevity, and overall success of each of these Neuroscience Graduate Program initiatives is dependent on YOU: our student body! 

For a more complete run-down of what involvement in these initiatives entails, please check out the SOMA and Out of Our MiNDS features in this issue of BrainWaves, and visit:

McMaster-Wide Initiatives


Founded by one of our very own students, Saurabh Shaw, NeurotechHA is the Hamilton chapter of NeurotechX, a global non-profit organization that promotes research collaborations between neurotechnology enthusiasts from academia and industry. Throughout the year, NeurotechHA hosts workshops and ‘hack nights’ to connect neurotechnology enthusiasts, provide a platform for collaborative work, and prepare participants for a weekend-long neurotech-focused hackathon. If you are interested in learning more about NeurotechHA and its events, please follow the chapter members on Meetup, check them out on Twitter at, or send an email to

The Graduate Students Association (GSA) is a campus-wide association that promotes the well-being and interests of McMaster graduate students, represents and advocates for the graduate student body, and supports graduate student groups and organizations. The GSA owns and operates The Phoenix, an on-campus restaurant and bar which offers graduate students meal discounts and a casual place to meet and socialize. The GSA also runs the annual GSA Softball and Soccer Leagues. Graduate students can get involved in the GSA by running for Executive Committee roles, acting as Faculty Representatives, or sitting on the Faculty Senate or Board of Directors. To learn more about the GSA, its upcoming events, and how you can get involved, please visit their website and look out for their promotional emails throughout the year!

The Science Graduate Student Association (SciGSA) promotes the social and professional well-being of graduate students in the Faculty of Science. Each spring, SciGSA holds an annual general meeting (AGM) to review the past year’s operations, elect new Executive members, and discuss future events. Interested students can get involved by running for an Executive position, participating as a Department/Program Representative, or by sitting on the General Membership. Please check out their website or Facebook page for more information about how you can get involved!

The Health Sciences Graduate Student Federation (HSGSF) is a group of student representatives from all departments and programs under the Faculty of Health Sciences. The Federation aims to facilitate opportunities to meet and network with fellow graduate students and develop skills and professional connections outside of your research lab. For more information about upcoming events and/or how you can get involved, please email hsgsf@mcmaster.caor check out their website.

The McMaster Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Initiative is an integrated network of academics and professionals whose mission is to support, celebrate, and advocate for female-identified and equity-seeking groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Their membership and events are open to undergraduate and graduate students of any gender identification and STEM-background. WISE will be kicking off its 2019-2020 programming with a campus-wide scavenger hunt and meet ‘n’ greet social at The Phoenix on Thursday, October 3rd, and any students interested in joining the committee and/or learning about its programming are encouraged to come out! To learn more about WISE, please visit their website, email, or learn about the events offered this past year here.

The Graduate Management Consulting Association (GMCA) is an educational initiative that provides graduate students with opportunities to develop and advance the skills required for success in a professional or business setting. Their current programming includes interview practice sessions, resume workshops, and a mini-MBA course. For those of you who are interested in learning more about careers in management consulting and/or who would like to contribute to GMCA and its initiatives, please contact or check them out on FacebookPlease note that applications and interviews for executive committee membership take place in the Spring semester, and that commitment to GMCA includes approximately 4 to 6 hours of work per week throughout the year (especially around peak event periods). 

Industry Link is a novel mentorship program that provides graduate students with first-hand experiences and connections with industry leaders to prepare them for careers outside of academia. Their current programming includes company tours of local health science organizations, part-time internships or volunteer work opportunities, ‘coffee chats’ to network with industry partners and practice informational interviews, and an annual ‘Academia-to-Industry (AIM)’ meeting. Run by graduate students at McMaster, Industry Link welcomes those who are interested in joiningtheir group to contact them through their website, or you can check them out on Facebook

Let’s Talk Science (LTS) is a national education outreach program for children and youth interested in learning more about STEM topics. McMaster has its very own chapter, led by students in Science and Health Sciences, and boasts over 100 volunteers who bring hands-on activities to classrooms, camps, and community events throughout the year. Individuals from any discipline and/or degree level are encouraged to apply, with flexible scheduling and a minimum time commitment of 5 hours (~2 outreach visits) per semester. As a volunteer, you will have opportunities to develop and finetune ‘soft skills’ like oral presentation and communication skills and will be given a record of your involvement for job and/or school applications, all while working with a welcoming team of individuals who are passionate about science! If you are interested in volunteering, please visit the LTS website to sign-up for a training session.

We hope this has piqued your interest and shown you some of the exciting volunteer opportunities that the Neuroscience and graduate student communities have to offer! For a more complete list of GSA-ratified clubs, please visit their website.