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McMaster librarians are transforming how we think about science A storytelling event brought new perspectives to the nit and grit of STEM as a part of a year-long initiative

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Photos C/O Steel City Stories

By: Neda Pirouzmand

Abeer Siddiqui, McMaster’s librarian and adjunct lecturer for the school of interdisciplinary science, partnered with Steel City Stories to create “Science: an evening of true, personal stories about science,” an event held on March 12 featuring personal stories told by STEM professionals to community members.

Hamilton storyteller Lisa Hunt, a member of the Steel City Stories Planning Committee, met Siddiqui through the LIFESCI 4L03 course. This new course was designed and implemented just this past fall by Siddiqui and her co-instructor.

Hunt introduced students to the art of oral storytelling through a guest lecture and provided feedback to students in the class.

Speakers at the story-telling event last week included Roopali Chaudhary, the owner of a cake business called (C6H12O6)^3. Her first order came from the McMaster’s biology department. Chaudhary made them a Madagascar hissing cockroach cake for a retiring entomologist who supposedly loved the insect.

The department of biology now commonly orders cakes from her online business.

Chaudhary promotes her creations by bringing awareness to the importance of communication in science. Her passion is driven by a goal to combine art and science in an edible form.

The story she shared revealed the path that led her to where she is today.

“My story was inspired by a critical moment in my life as a post-doc that completely changed how I viewed science as a whole,” said Chaudhary. “It led me to quit my research position, but also allowed me continue doing everything I loved about science without organizational constraints that had been holding me back. Now I get to bake cakes too, and I am happy.”

Rodrigo Narro Perez shared his story of immigrating to Canada at a young age. He highlighted the first decade of his rocky journey to learn English and integrate with Canadian culture.

“My first day of school is vivid in my mind. My parents decided to enroll me in primary school just three days after arriving in the frigid cold of Canada’s November,” said Perez. “When they introduced me to my teacher Ms. Smith, I did what every good Peruvian boy would do and I tried to kiss her on the cheek. I will never forgive my parents.”

As a sessional instructor for McMaster’s school of geography and earth sciences, Perez piloted a field course to bring 10 McMaster students to his home of Peru. As the liaison between two countries, he is responsible for the translation of documents and conversations crucial to his research on the retreat of South American glaciers.

“The fact that my two homes are collaborating in the pursuit of greater knowledge is extremely meaningful to me. I have fully embraced that Peru and Canada are a part of me, not one is more and not one is less,” he said.

McMaster university librarians built on their momentum from the story-telling event and continued to celebrate contributions to STEM by by giving away about 3,000 pies in H.G. Thode Library, Hamilton Hall and Mills Memorial Library for Pi day.

On April 24, an open house will give students a first-hand look at iconic scientific texts, dating from the 12th century to present day.

 

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