Fall Lectures 2020

October 7th to November 4th
10 am to noon

The Auditorium, The Royal Botanical Gardens
680 Plains Rd W
Click on Location Map

Understanding the 21st Century

How do we begin to understand the 21st century? Our world is a very complex and confusing place where change is happening at an ever faster pace. The speakers will cover a range of topics providing insights into this century’s problems and possibilities.


Lectures are now available for viewing at the link below each speaker.

October 7th

Bill Scarth

For the past 25 years, federal fiscal policy has focused on a program of short-term pain to achieve long-term gain – debt reduction intended to insulate future average living standards from the hit that would otherwise be suffered as a result of the aging baby-boom generation. Now we face two additional challenges –a further need to accept short-term pain (to address climate change), and the need to give up some of the achievement on debt-reduction  (to address the pandemic). This lecture by considering these transfers from one generation to another provides some perspective on the challenges facing our economic policy makers. 


Bill Scarth is Professor Emeritus in the Economics Department at McMaster University. He has received both the President’s Award for Excellence in Instruction and several McMaster Students Union Teaching Awards including the MSU’s highest honour – their Lifetime Achievement Award for Teaching.
In addition to publishing many articles in academic journals (in the areas of macroeconomics, labour economics, international trade and public finance), Bill has authored four textbooks, and he has been a Research Economist at the C.D. Howe Institute, Canada’s leading non-profit policy institute, for over 20 years. Some of his recent work concerns how globalization affects the ability of governments to provide support for those living on low incomes – a subject he discussed with the HTAL community in 2015.

October 14th

Tim Davidson


This talk will review the main features of the fifth generation of the internet (5G), specifically its control of fast reaction time systems, the applications of massive connectivity, the creation of a ‘’network of things’’ and ‘’mission critical’’ communication.


Tim Davidson received the B.Eng. degree in electronic engineering from the University of Western Australia (UWA), Perth, in 1991 and the D.Phil. degree in engineering science from the University of Oxford, U.K., in 1995. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, McMaster University, and  Chair of the Department. He previously held the (Tier II) Canada Research Chair in Communication Systems (from 2004-2014), and has served as Acting Director of the School of Computational Engineering and Science for two years and Associate Director for three years. His research interests lie in the general areas of communications, signal processing, and control. He has been nominated for a (faculty-wide) undergraduate teaching award and a (university-wide) graduate supervision award at McMaster University.

He has served as an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, the IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, and the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II, and has served as a Guest Co-Editor of issues of the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, the IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Signal Processing, and the EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing. He was a General Co-Chair of the 2014 IEEE International Workshop on Signal Processing Advances in Wireless Communications, a Technical Co-Chair of the 2014 IEEE Global Conference on Signal and Information Processing, and the Technical Chair for the 2015 Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems and Computers. Dr. Davidson has previously served as the Chair of the IEEE Signal Processing Society’s Technical Committee on Signal Processing for Communications and Networking. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a Registered Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario

October 21st

Greg Rutledge


We are all living through the Pandemic of COVID -19. The effect of this Coronavirus world-wide and on our Hamilton community will leave us with indelible memories. As an Emergency Department Physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Urgent Care Facility I will discuss : A day in the life of an Emergency Department Physician during the COVID-19 Crisis.


A graduate of McMaster, Dr. Greg Rutledge in 2009 joined St. Joseph’s in Hamilton  where he has earned a reputation as a highly skilled clinician, and an effective and highly respected leader and administrator. In 2014 Greg was appointed Deputy Chief of Emergency Medicine, a role he held until his appointment as Interim Chief in 2018. As Interim Chief, Greg has shown strong leadership in successfully bringing his colleagues through the Dovetale implementation and has played a key role in working with the Psychiatric Emergency Service to bring new approaches to the care of patients with acute mental health problems. His ability to bring people together and to bring calm in difficult situations is widely acknowledged by his nursing and physician colleagues and by the Hospital leadership. In addition, Greg has implemented an effective recruitment plan for the Department which has seen key positions filled in the areas of quality improvement, educational and simulation.
From an academic and teaching perspective, Greg has played important roles in the McMaster Department of Family Medicine as its CCFP (EM) Program Director between 2009 and 2017, and is an examiner with the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Greg also plays important roles in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario where he acts as physician supervisor and physician assessor. To round things out Greg is also the Head Team Physician for the Toronto Marlies and is an on-site physician for the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club.

October 28th

John Mighton



Drawing on my experience with the Jump Math program and organization, I will argue that math study is an ideal starting point to break down social inequality and empower individuals to build a smarter, kinder, more equitable world.


Dr. John Mighton is a playwright turned mathematician and author who founded JUMP Math as a charity in 2001. His work in fostering numeracy and in building children’s self-confidence through success in math has been widely recognized. He has been named a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year, an Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Canada, an Ashoka Fellow, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has received three honorary doctorates.
John had to overcome his own “massive math anxiety” before making the decision to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Toronto. He was later awarded an NSERC Fellowship for postdoctoral research in knot and graph theory. He is currently a Fellow of the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and has taught mathematics at the University of Toronto. He has also lectured in philosophy at McMaster University, where he received a master’s degree in philosophy.
As a mathematician and a playwright, John believes that there are more connections between the arts and sciences than people generally see, as mathematicians are often led by a sense of beauty or elegance in their work. His own plays have been performed across Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States, and he has won several national awards including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, the Dora Award, the Chalmers Award, and the Siminovitch Prize. In a twist of fate, he played Matt Damon’s math tutor in the 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting.
In 2020 he released his new book ” All Things Being Equal: Why Math Is the Key to a Better World”



November 4th

Gerry Wright


Antibiotics are well known for the treatment of many infections but they also enable many otherwise risky medical procedures from heart surgery to cancer chemotherapy to hip and knee replacements. These miracles of modern medicine though are increasingly at risk as bacteria become resistant to all our current antibiotic drugs and the pharmaceutical sector is unable, and unwilling, to invest in new ones. The result is a growing crisis that threatens the way medicine is practiced. How we got here and what we can do about it will be the subject of the lecture.


Gerry Wright is the Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and the David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery. He is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University and holds the Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Infection and Anti-Infective Research and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Antibiotic Biochemistry. From 2001-2007 Gerry served as Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster. Gerry was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2012) and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2013). He is the recipient of a Killam Research Fellowship (2011-1012), R.G.E. Murray Award for Career Achievement of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists (2013), and the NRC Research Press Senior Investigator Award from the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (2016), Premier’s Research Excellence (1999) and the Polanyi Prize (1993). He is the co-founder of the Canadian Anti-Infective Innovation Network (www.cain-amr.ca). He has trained over 70 graduate students and postdocs, is the author of over 270 manuscripts and is a member of the editorial boards of several peer-reviewed journals. Gerry is the co-founder of Symbal Therapeutics. In 2016 he was named a McMaster Distinguished University Professor, the highest academic honor at the university. His research interests are in the origins and mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and the discovery of new anti-infective strategies, in particular focusing on the application of microbial natural products and synthetic biology towards this goal.

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