SEPTEMBER 2020 Edition

Hiya Folks!

Hello Chemists! Check it out! It’s the first edition of CUSSwords! This newsletter is jam-packed with CUSS updates, puzzles & games, and fun facts about your professors!

Check back each month for our latest edition! (And for clues to score points in the Quarantine Competition!)

Quarantine Games

The Quarantine Games have begun! Kobi, our VP Social, has been working very hard to organize plenty of online events where you can hang out with your chem pals! He’s turned these events into a semester-long competition for prizes!

We’d love to see you at the next event on Wednesday, September 23rd! 🙂 Click on the photo for more info!

Quarantine Clues

Throughout each issue of CUSSwords are clues! 🔎 Keep track of them, and see if you’re able to solve the mystery by the end of the newsletter!

The sooner you crack the case, the more points you’ll score for the Quarantine Competition! 🕵🏼 Happy clue hunting!

This month’s mystery: Use the 2 clues in this issue to determine the common name of a molecule! Email with the correct IUPAC name of this molecule for a shoutout 📣 and extra points in the Quarantine Competition!

CUSS Updates

Hello, nice to meet you, we’re CUSS! As your elected representatives, we’re here to bring you an amazing year and an overall great time in chemistry at McGill!

Come back each month to get to know the members of our exec team a bit better! 🙂

Our U1 Reps are also about to join our council! Keep an eye out for some new faces!


In case your assignments and labs aren’t immersing you in enough chemistry, this section has just the thing for you!

Turn potatoes 🥔 into a fluorescent non-newtonian fluid! Using starch and some tonic water, this “Magic Mud” will act solid when handled, but leave it alone and it turns into a liquid. Follow this video for the instructions!

Get to know your professors!

We ask the teaching staff of the McGill chemistry department a few questions!

Professors are randomly featured each month, so be sure to check back!

Sam Sewall

Currently Teaching: CHEM 267, 367, 493 Lab, 377 Lab, CHEM 120.

I did ultrafast spectroscopy on semiconductor nanocrystals for my PhD research.

What sparked your interest in Chemistry?

I liked the general nature of it as the central science, and also for whatever reason I really like thermodynamics.

Describe yourself in 5 words:

A rockNroll vegetarian chemist.

Do you have a hobby to pass the time outside the academic world?

I enjoy playing guitar- mostly rock/blues. I was once in a Funk band that beat the Arcade Fire in a battle of the bands back in 2001.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Bob Dylan in his first 6 albums philosophically, Mitch Huot practically.

Prof. Maureen McKeague

I am jointly appointed in Pharmacology and Chemistry. This means I do research and teach in both departments! I love my new joint CHEM/PHAR 540 course – where I talk about how chemistry and biology contributes to innovation in industry for the production of pharmaceuticals and materials.

My research involves almost anything to do with nucleic acids (DNA, RNA etc). My diverse and awesome team tries to work on a variety of challenges at the interface of chemistry and the genome – these projects span green chemistry and precision medicine.

What sparked your interest in Chemistry?

I always loved all science – but 2 critical memories of chemistry stand out. First, I remember thinking liquid liquid extraction (in my organic chemistry lab) was the coolest thing ever (side note, it’s still pretty cool)! Second, I worked in an inorganic research lab the summer following “U1”. Here, I was able to make never-made-before compounds and I loved that there was a “reason” for it (in this case for optical coatings). After this, there was no doubt that chemistry was the best!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

busy; mentor; outreach; step-mom; cat-mom

What is your favourite part of McGill?

McGill is my IDEAL combination of awesome scholarship and research, while maintaining collaboration, friendliness, fun, enthusiasm…

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My mom. She finished her PhD (in Economics – yuck) despite having 2 children – in particular the 2nd one was born so sick (my younger brother, not me) that she had to take a whole year off her PhD to live with him in the hospital for 200 days while he nearly died. That’s commitment and perseverance to the max!

10^6 ~~~ 📞 ~~~ 10^6 ~~~📞 ~~~ 10^6 ~~~ 📞 ~~~10^6 ~~~ 📞 ~~~ 10^6 ~~~ 📞 ~~~ 10^6 ~~~ 📞 ~~~ 10^6 ~~~ 📞~~~10^6 ~~~ 📞 ~~~ 10^6

Riddle me this…

a. What did the angry electron say when it was repelled?

b. What would you find at the centre of gravity?

c. What do you do with chemists after they die?

(scroll for answers)

a. Let me atom // b. “v” // c. Barium

Hidden Message

Solve the hidden message by determining which letter should replace each number!

4 8space4 7spac 3 4 6 2 5 5 9

7 9 3 2 8 3 7space9 3 2 8 4 3 7 !

Email your answer to for a shoutout in the next issue!

That’s all folks!

See you back here next month! 👋🏻 😊

If you have anything you want featured in CUSSwords, email!

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