Origins Research Specialization (ORS)

Undergraduate Training

The Origins Institute is a leading transdisciplinary enterprise, located at McMaster University. Its members seek answers to the most-fundamental questions in 21st century science through 6 origins themes:

The Origins Research Specialization is designed to allow students to participate in our activities, by interacting with our members, taking our courses, and meeting our visiting speakers. The specialization is taken as a complement to a variety of participating honours programs, including:

  • Arts & Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics & Statistics
  • Physics
  • Psychology, Neurosciences, & Behaviour

Students are introduced to general problems in Level II through two survey courses that cover the 6 origins themes. Students refine their interests in Level III by completing 2 among 6 available specialized courses. Students hone their research skills in Level IV by attending a unique, problem-based seminar course, in which they discuss origins themes with leading scientists who we invite to contribute to our colloquium series, and culminating their experience with an exciting undergraduate research thesis course, in which they collaborate with institute members, investigating mutually interesting problems.

Combining an honours degree with the ORS provides marketable training in a particular scientific area, comprehensive familiarity with the most-important problems in modern science, and transdisciplinary research experience. Graduates are prepared to contribute to a wide variety of research programs, specialised (through their particular honours degrees) or transdisciplinary (such as Astrobiology). Graduates also are suited ideally for other scientific endeavours in which refined skills, through scientific understanding and multidisciplinary experience, constitute huge assets, from industry to government.

The ORS arguably is among the most-unique curricula in North America. Course instruction is delivered by distinguished scientists and innovative educators at McMaster University and involves a variety of techniques, including lectures, inquiry and problem-based learning, presentations and Internet resource contributions, seminar discussions and meetings with visiting speakers, and self-directed research.

Information about the Origins Institute from the Undergraduate Calendar may be accessed here.

Information about the Origins Research Specialization from the Undergraduate Calendar may be accessed here.

Information about the curricula from a brochure may be accessed here.

Information about the ORIGINS courses from the Undergraduate Calendar may be accessed here.

Information about the Minor in Origins Research from the Undergraduate Calendar may be accessed here.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting:

Doc Roc (aka Jon Stone)
Associate Director
email: jstoner@mcmaster.ca
telephone: 905-525-9140 x26136

Sarah Robinson
Administrator
email:

or origins@mcmaster.ca

Notable achievements

  • first 'play as thesis' in McMaster University Faculty of Science
  • our seminar courses have been used as templates for other courses offered at McMaster University (e.g., specialist seminar course in physiology by the Department of Biology)
  • links to images capturing (1) hypothetical extremophile organisms that were devised by students in the course ORIGINS 2LU3 Life in the Universe and (2) presentations delivered 'on the green' and in the Phoenix Bar & Grill (with visiting Origins Institute Colloquium visitors) will be accessible soon
  • videos created by students in the courses ORIGINS 2LU3 & 3E03 Origins of Species and Biodiversity may be viewed here (Nabil Hawwa), here (Olajumoke Marissa Ologundudu), and here (Dhillon Persaud) & here (link to be updated soon) and here.

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. What projects do ORS students undertake for their ORIGINS 4A09 Origins Research Thesis course?
  2. What vocations are open to ORS student graduates?

 

What projects do ORS students undertake for their ORIGINS 4A09 Origins Research Thesis course?

Everything, from travelling to the Canadian high Arctic to collect extremophile microscopic organisms to sequencing DNA from elephants (we live by the adage 'make research happen').

Graduates, Thesis Titles, Supervisors, and Current Activity are listed below:

  1. Graduate: Emily Groot (Arts & Science, 2007)
    Thesis Title: Genetic Corroborations of Social Theories Can Be Misleading: A Re-examination of the Patterns of Sex-dependent Gene Flow Up and Down the Indian Caste Hierarchy
    Supervisor (primary): Singh, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Senior Chief Resident, Public Health and Preventive Medicine (Queen’s University)
  2. Graduate: Anna Leung (Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, 2007)
    Thesis Title: Mechanisms of tRNA Binding to the AUA Codon in the Three Domains of Life
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Higgs, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Educator (Taejon Christian International School and Gyeonggi-Suwon International School, Korea)
  3. Graduate: Graham Brown (Science, 2008)
    Thesis Title: Embryonic Expression of Transcription Factors in C. elegans Suggests a Conserved Evolutionary History
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Gupta (B), Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: unknown
  4. Graduate: Cedoljub Bundalovic-Torma (Biochemistry, 2008)
    Thesis Title: A Model for Horizontal Transfer in Early Cell Populations
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Higgs, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Master's of Science Candidate (Biology, McMaster University)
  5. Graduate: Rebecca Nada-Rajah Science (Physical Science, 2008)
    Thesis Title: Bestiality (a play about origins)
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, Logan
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Writer
  6. Graduate: Jeffrey Wainberg (Biology, 2008)
    Thesis Title: Similarity Benefits in Mimetic Learning
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Higgs, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Quadrexx Asset Management
  7. Graduate: Carmen Cheung (Biology, 2009)
    Thesis Title: Turtles in the Half Shell: Uncovering a 'New' Ossification Origin in the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) Carapace
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, Vickaryous (Guelph)
    Most-Recent Known Activity: M.Sc. Candidate (Biology, McMaster University)
  8. Graduate: Nicholas Davies (Arts & Science, 2009)
    Thesis Title: The Structure and Origins of the Genetic Code: a Computational Analysis
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, Golding
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Ph.D. Candidate, University of Oxford
  9. Graduate: William Sharman (Science, 2009)
    Title: Investigation into the Evolution of Multicellularity using Dictyostelium discoideum as a Model Organism
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, O'Day (Toronto)
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Culinary Management (Algonquin College)
  10. Graduate: Salini Thulasirajah (Biochemistry, 2009)
    Thesis Title: Telomere Erosion as a Mechanism for Extinction
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, Poinar
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Royal College of Surgeons (Belfast)
  11. Graduate: Judith Agar
    To Be Updated Soon (TBUS)
  12. Graduate: Chance Chan (Life Science, 2010)
    Thesis Title: Nitrate as Nutrient for Growth in Tardigrades
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, Rollo
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  13. Graduate: Benjamin Connolly
    TBUS
  14. Graduate: Jessica Hider (Biology, 2010)
    Thesis Title: Multiple factors which may affect the survival of the tardigrade species Hypsibius dujardini during travel from Earth to Mars
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, Pudritz
    Most-Recent Known Activity: M.Sc. Graduate (University of Toronto)
  15. Graduate: Heather Kennedy (Life Science, 2010)
    Thesis Title: Multiple factors which may affect the survival of the tardigrade species Hypsibius dujardini during travel from Earth to Mars
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, Pudritz
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Registered Nurse (St. Joseph's Hospital)
  16. Graduate: Aaron Vogan (Biochemistry, 2010)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Higgs, Golding
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Ph.D. Candidate (McMaster University)
  17. Graduate: Ye Yuan (Life Science, 2010)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Logan, Anderson
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Ph.D. Candidate (McMaster University)
  18. Graduate: Agnes Chan (Life Science, 2011)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Kolasa, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: M.Sc. Graduate (University of Toronto)
  19. Graduate: Ernest Chan
    TBUS
  20. Graduate: Susan Chan (Life Science, 2011)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Kolasa, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Application Developer (City of Hamilton)
  21. Graduate: Benjamin Scott (Biochemistry, 2011)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Sheffield, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Ph.D. Candidate (University of Toronto)
  22. Graduate: Sarah Soles (Biology, 2011)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Warren, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: M.Sc. Graduate (McMaster University)
  23. Graduate: Kaan Alkin (Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour 2012)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Feinberg, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  24. Graduate: Sean Lin (Biology, 2012)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Warren, Elliot
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  25. Graduate: Sarah Strasser (Life Science, 2012)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Wright, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: Medical School (University College Dublin)
  26. Graduate: Janine Wong
    TBUS
  27. Graduate: Liam Duncan (Biology, 2013)
    Thesis Title: The Effects of Reduced Diets on Tardigrade Resistance to Cyclical Freezing
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, O'Donnell
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  28. Graduate: Travis Fuchs (Biology, 2013)
    Thesis Title: The Effects of Reduced Diets on Tardigrade Resistance to Cyclical Freezing
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Evans, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  29. Graduate: Rachel Gysbers (Biochemistry, 2013)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Li, Higgs
    Most-Recent Known Activity: M.Sc. Candidate (McMaster University)
  30. Graduate: Alex Luby (Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour, 2013)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Dukas, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  31. Graduate: Phavalan Rajendram (Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour, 2013)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Ullal, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  32. Graduate: Jonathan Farrow (Arts & Science, 2014)
    Thesis Title: Finding Astrobiology:  Characterizing an Emerging Field using the Internet
    Supervisors (primary): Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  33. Graduate: Ethan Greenberg (Life Science, 2014)
    Thesis Title: TBUS
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Galef, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  34. Graduate: Holly Howe (Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour, 2014)
    Thesis Title: Finding Astrobiology:  Characterizing an Emerging Field using the Internet
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Martin-Ginis, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  35. Graduate: Amardeep Singh (Biology, 2014)
    Thesis Title: There and Back Again:  a Rudiment's Tale, or the Resorption of the Juvenile Rudiment during the Larval Development of the Sea Urchin Species Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Stone, Heyland (University of Guelph)
    Most-Recent Known Activity: M.Sc. Candidate (University of Toronto)
  36. Graduate: Julie-Anne Mendoza (Arts & Science, 2015)
    Thesis Title: Radiation-Induced Bystander Effects in the Tardigrade Species Hypsibius dujardini: Impacts on Survival and Astrobiological Interests
    Supervisors (primary): Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  37. Graduate: Mike Takahashi (Honours Life Science, 2015)
    Thesis Title: Mate Choice Theory for the Origin of Human Menopause
    Supervisors (primary): Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  38. Graduate: Lindsay Woo
    Thesis Title: Cryobiosis in the Tardigrade Species Hypsibius dujardini: Dormancy and Associated Fitness Costs
    Supervisors (primary): Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS
  39. Graduate: Jane Zhang
    Thesis Title: Science Identity Development in the Honours Life Science Program and the Origins Research Specialization
    Supervisors (primary, secondary): Dej, Stone
    Most-Recent Known Activity: TBUS

What vocations are open to ORS student graduates?

In addition to anything that already is open to them with their honours degrees, the breadth that our graduates possess prepares them for opportunities with the Canadian Space Agency, NASA, and government institutions or starting academic careers through postgraduate training (e.g., the Origins Institute Collaborative Program in Astrobiology); we envision the ideal position, from an educated perspective, as editor for a journal like Nature or Science.

Our first two graduates, respectively, entered medical school and began a career in education; others are registered in graduate schools, working in consulting and economic management firms, composing award-winning plays, and enrolled in a culinary school (please view the list above for details).  

Contributions by Origins Research Specialization students