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Ranil Sonnadara

Ranil Sonnadara

Special Advisor to the Vice-President (Research)

Director, Education Science & Associate Professor, Department of Surgery

Director, RHPCS

ABB 131B

Office Phone: (905) 525-9140 x24156


  1. PhD Experimental Psychology (Behavioural Neuroscience), McMaster University
  2. MSc Psychology & Physiology, University of Leeds


As Special Advisor to the Vice-President (Research), I provide guidance and leadership on strategic priorities and institutional policies related to research and advanced computing. In this capacity, I also serve as McMaster's primary advanced computing contact with external agencies such as SHARCNET, Compute Ontario and Compute Canada. 

In my role as Executive Director, Research and High Performance Computing, I serve as head of "Research and High Performance Computing Support", and am also the institutional lead for matters related to digital research infrastructure, overseeing all research-related computing support for the University. I also work with researchers to help them use technology to support their work, and support applications for funding. 

In addition to my administrative appointments, I hold academic appointments in the Department of Surgery, the Department of Linguistics and Languages, the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, the School of Computational Science and Engineering, the Program for Educational Research and Development, the Health Research Methodology and Health Science Education programs McMaster University. I also hold scientific appointments in the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind and the Centre for Minimal Access Surgery, and appointments in the Department of Surgery and the Wilson Centre at the University of Toronto.

My lab studies how we learn new skills. Much of our recent work focuses on surgical trainees, but we also use athletes and musicians to try to untangle neural mechanisms which underpin learning new skills. I am particularly interested in how learning and practice help to shape our sensory and motor systems. I also have a strong interest in how we evaluate performance, particularly in complex, high-stakes environments. For a list of current and upcoming research projects, please visit my lab site. To find out more about me, please visit my personal site.