The Origins Institute

Formulating answers to the many questions that we consider involves a transdisciplinary approach that utilises ideas and methods from a variety of subjects, such as anthropology, astronomy, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics, and neuroscience, and advanced computational and visualisation techniques.

The Origins Institute focuses on some of the most-interesting and most important questions in science: how did the universe begin? how did elements form? how did stars, galaxies and planets form? how did life emerge on Earth, and has it also emerged on other planets? what processes account for the diversity and disparity among organisms? how does bioelectrical activity give rise to perception, cognition, and consciousness? These questions are multifaceted, and a transdisciplinary approach is required to address them.

The Origins Institute at McMaster University commenced operations July 1, 2004 (note the comment at this article in Science). The first Director is Ralph Pudritz (from the Department of Physics and Astronomy) and the first Associate Director is Jonathon Stone (from the Department of Biology). Current membership includes faculty members at McMaster University - from the Departments of Anthropology, Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, Biology, Mathematics & Statistics, Physics & Astronomy, and Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour, and the School of Geography and Earth Sciences; councilors at Cambridge University, the Santa Fe Institute, and TRIUMF; and fellows at the University of Toronto and Perimeter Institute.

McMaster University is nestled near the Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The campus is situated 66 km southwest from Pearson International Airport in Toronto. The campus features a garden-like atmosphere that maintains its beauty throughout the year.
Maps and driving instructions may be accessed by surfing to the McMaster University 'Find Us' page

Recognizing that scientific practice is nourished by and involves responsibilities toward the university and public, members conceptualise the Origins Institute as an edifice 'erected' on three intellectual pillars:

1. Research
We conduct transdisciplinary research, run colloquia, conferences,  and workshops, and offer positions through a postdoctoral programme.

2. Education
We offer the Origins Research Specialization curriculum for our students to complement studies in their 'home' department through 6 themes:


3. Outreach
We run a free  public lecture series that brings to our campus cutting-edge researchers and world-renowned speakers to meet with our students and engage the public.