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Introducing our Chem Coffee Chats series

On September 25th, 2019 we hosted our first Chem Coffee Chats event at Ontario Tech and Trent University. This monthly gathering aims to bring students, Faculty and staff together to discuss and celebrate Chemistry!

Nadia Laschuk, OTT-WIC Secretary, welcoming attendees at the Ontario Tech campus.

We started off by sharing our Chem Highlight of the month: videos of chemical reactions at atomic resolution by Nakamura, Harano and colleagues from the University of Tokyo. This work was published in Nature Communications on Aug. 23, 2019.

September's Chem Highlight discussed at the Sept. 25th Chem Coffee Chats event.

Holly Fruehwald, OTT-WIC Co-President, introducing Prof. Masad J. Damha at the Ontario Tech Chem Coffee Chats event on Sept. 25, 2019.

At the Ontario Tech Campus, we were joined by Prof. Masad J. Damha from McGill University, who shared his personal and academic journey with our attendees.


Prof. Damha was born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua and emigrated to Canada in 1978. He completed a BSc in Chemistry and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from McGill University. In 1992, he returned to his Alma Mater where he currently holds the title of Distinguished James McGill Professor in Chemistry.


During the event, Prof. Damha shared some stories about his childhood in Nicaragua, early interest in science, move to Canada and beginnings in Chemistry. Throughout his talk, he highlighted several mentors and friends who played an important role in his journey as well as some of their quotes. As a PhD student, he was supervised by Professor Kelvin K. Ogilvie, developer of the 'Gene Machine' (an automated nucleic acid synthesizer). Prof. Damha still works in the field of nucleic acids, now as PI. The Damha Lab at McGill focuses on bio-organic and bio-medicinal nucleic acid chemistry.

"Science is not to keep it to yourself, but to spread it to others" -Deanna Marcano

Prof. Damha ended the talk sharing a powerful quote by Oprah Winfrey and highlighting the importance of mentorship. This was followed by a great Q&A session where several graduate students had the opportunity to get insight from Prof. Damha.

We thank our attendees for joining us at Ontario Tech and Trent and making this event a success! We hope to see you again. Remember: the Chem Coffee Chats series will take place on the last Wednesday of every month.

The OTT-WIC Team with Prof. Masad Damha. From left to right: Jean-Paul Desaulniers, Renata Barichello, Nadia Laschuk, Allison Jones, Masad J. Damha, Lidya Salim, Holly Fruehwald, Mandie Orr.

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