An understanding of the tapestry of life comes not from a single discipline, but is woven from all of the Life Sciences: biochemistry, cell biology, genomics, developmental biology, neurobiology, psychology, ecology, and earth sciences. The avalanche of information available from these fields allows scientists to look at biological systems in unprecedented detail. The key is to integrate knowledge across disciplines in order to understand organisms and their place in the ecosystem.
The Life Sciences I program is one of four science gateway programs at McMaster University. The Life Sciences I program offers problem-based and inquiry learning experiences that will challenge you to think independently and to apply the knowledge you gain. After completing your first year of Undergraduate studies in Life Sciences I, you will apply to and enter one of McMaster’s Honours programs – popular programs for Life Sciences I students are listed below.
Life Sciences at McMaster prepares students for a variety of careers in science and elsewhere by giving them a firm foundation in traditional scientific disciplines, while exposing them to multidisciplinary approaches to solving pressing problems.
Many courses provide opportunities to apply scientific knowledge to the analysis of real-world situations in the various scientific fields. Experiential Placement courses provide students with the opportunity to explore career options and integrate academics with a community or professional experience. Senior Independent Study courses provide the opportunity to conduct independent research (in an area of your choosing) under a faculty member’s supervision. Students also participate in hands on learning in state-of- the-art laboratories and facilities.
OUAC Application Code: MLS
Annual Enrollment TARGET: 1000 students
SCIENCE ACADEMIC JOURNEY PLANNING TOOL: MAPSCI.ca
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Total: 30 Units
- 3 of: Biology 1A03, 1M03; Psychology 1F03, Psychology 1X03, 1XX3
- 1 of: Math 1A03, 1LS3
- 1 of: Physics 1A03, 1C03
- HTH SCI 1BS0
- WHMIS 1A00
Electives: 6 units
- 3 courses (9 units) from Life Sciences I Course List (below):
Biology 1A03, 1M03;
Chemistry 1A03, 1AA3;
Computer Science 1JC3, 1MD3, 1XA3;
Environmental Science 1C03, 1G03;
Geography 1HA3, 1HB3;
Math 1A03, 1AA3, 1B03, 1LS3, 1LT3;
Medical Physics 1E03;
Physics 1A03, 1AA3, 1C03, 1CC3, 1L03;
Psychology 1F03, 1X03, 1XX3;
The unit value of a particular course is indicated by the last digit of the course code (e.g. 1A03 = 3 units).
Students are also responsible to ensure that the necessary prerequisites needed to proceed to Level II are completed in a timely manner.
Co-op opportunities are available within some specializations available to Life Sciences I students. Please refer to the Faculty of Science’s Science Career & Cooperative Education website for additional details.In 2012 there were 249 work terms completed, broken down as follows (all Science Co-ops):
- 51% of students worked in academic settings
- 12% of students worked in government
- 14 % of students work in hospital research settings
- 23 % of students work in industry
Students from any Level I Science program can, through careful Level I course selection, pursue any Level II program in:
- Life Sciences (see below),
- Environmental and Earth Sciences,
- Mathematics & Statistics or
- Physical Sciences.
In order to use the Faculty of Science’s academic journey mapping tool, visit MapSci.ca.
Honours Bachelor of Science (Hons. B.Sc.) Programs
(Popular options in the Life Sciences Streams)
- Honours Biology & Environmental Sciences
- Honours Biology & Mathematics
- Honours Biology & Pharmacology (begins in Level III)
- Honours Biology & Psychology
- Honours Chemical Biology
- Honours Life Sciences
- Honours Molecular Biology & Genetics
- Honours Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour
— Music Cognition Specialization
— Mental Health Specialization
Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) Programs
There is a wide variety of career sectors in the Life Sciences including:
Biomedical engineering and biosensors
Drug design and toxicology
Environmental research & consulting
Environmental health and safety
Government (Health Canada, Agriculture Canada)
Health care support
Medical / scientific writing
Occupational health and safety
Policy and Ethics
Speech and Hearing Pathology
In addition to spacious, well equipped, general laboratories the departments have:
- An Electron Microscope Facility that contains a Transmission Electron Microscope, an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM), Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis and a Cryogenic Specimen Preparation System for ESEM
- greenhouses and plant growth chambers
- Animal Quarters
- Biophotonics Imaging Facility
- Centralized Facilities for DNA Synthesis, Automated DNA Sequencing, Electron Microscopy, NMR Spectroscopy
- Facilities for Fish Holding Recombinant DNA Research
- Fluorescence Microscopes
- Greenhouses and Plant Growth Chambers
- High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
- an electron microscope facility that contains a transmission electron microscope, an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM), energy dispersive X-ray analysis and a cryogenic specimen preparation system for ESEM
- Protein Crystallography facility
- High-Throughput Screening laboratory
- Instrumentation for protein analysis, purification and biophysical characterization
- Radioactivity counters
- Oligonucleotide synthesizer
- Sequencing facility
- High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
- Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy
- Infrared Spectroscope
- UV-visible spectroscopy
LIVE Auditory Laboratory
The McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind (MIMM) has a unique research-based performance theatre and testing centre. The LIVE (Large Interactive Virtual Environment) Auditory Lab is the only facility of this exact kind in the world.
To be posted shortly.
Visit MapSci.ca for additional research profiles and videos from the Faculty of Science.
Examples of Faculty Research
- Jonathan Dushoff is a theoretical biologist who investigates the evolution, spread and attempts to control infectious diseases of humans. His lab uses cutting-edge computing techniques, and genomic and health data from a wide variety of sources, to investigate diseases ranging fromHIV to rabies to malaria to influenza.
- Marie Elliot uses big science to study small creatures. She studies bacteria that make a huge range of pharmaceutical compounds (including most antibiotics), and uses genomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic techniques to understand both how they grow and how to manipulate them to produce new medicines.
- Ben Evans travels to biodiversity “hotspots” in tropical portions of Africa and Southeast Asia, with an aim of identifying which parts of the Earth are most diverse and why. He studies terrestrial vertebrates such as frogs and monkeys using a combination of fieldwork, genetic techniques, and computational approaches.
- Bhagwati Gupta uses nematodes as model organisms to investigate biological processes that are linked to cancers and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. His research involves a combination of multidisciplinary approaches in genetics, molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, and engineering.
- Graham Scott studies how animals survive and perform in extreme environments. He uses integrative physiological and genomic approaches to understand how different species of fish, birds, and mammals cope with environmental stress, and strives to explain how animals will be affected by global change in the future.
- Dr. Paul Andrews directs the Evolutionary Ecology of Health Research Lab (Evo-Health Lab). His research focuses on the evolutionary ecology of mental and physical health, as well as the accurate distinguishing between healthy and disordered states.
- Dr. Suzanna Becker directs the Neurotechnology & Neuroplasticity Lab. Research involves areas such as spatial cognition, hippocampal coding and neurogenesis, episodic memory, controlled memory use; language, semantic memory, semantic priming, numerosity; auditory processing, music, Tinnitus, and hearing aids.
- Dr. Louis Schmidt’s Child Emotion Lab’s research interests are in temperament, affect processing and regulation; developmental and individual differences; brain and affective development in clinical and non-clinical populations; and developmental psychophysiology and psychopathology.
- Dr. Sigal Balshine is director of the Aquatic Behavioural Ecology Lab (ABEL). Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach and investigates the evolution of complex breeding systems, social behaviour, reproductive tactics, and decision-making in animal societies.
- Dr. Joe Kim directs the Applied Cognition in Education Lab, which focuses on teaching, learning and technology. Research from the lab works to apply an understanding of cognitive mechanisms to the practical problem of instructional design and the scholarship of teaching and learning.