Dear Queen's Supporter,
What characterizes Queen’s graduate students? Two words: curiosity and passion.
If you want to see those qualities in action, you don’t have to look any further than Ryley Beddoe. I wouldn’t call her typical – we don’t have any typical graduate students, though Ryley exemplifies what our graduate experience is all about.
Taking a long canoe trip down the Missinaibi River in 2008, as a break from her MSc in civil engineering, Ryley became curious about the visual evidence of recent mud slides along the river. So curious she began photographing them.
So, when Professor Andy Take suggested she consider a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering, and mentioned that he had a project involving landslides she might want to be involved in, she jumped at the chance. It promised to be more than just an academic exercise. These catastrophic events have claimed more than 32,000 lives in the last 10 years alone. And with climate change bringing increased rainfall and higher water tables, landslides may become even more common in the future.
One of the very conditions that makes landslides so hazardous – their unpredictability – also makes them difficult to study. Fortunately for Ryley, Queen’s had what she needed. Using a flume tank located in the engineering department’s Coastal Engineering Lab, one of the few such facilities in the world, Ryley has been able to create and study scaled-down landslides in a controlled environment.
Ryley’s discoveries are profoundly changing our understanding of these events. A common perception about landslides has been the steeper the slope, the greater the danger. Ryley’s work shows that gentle slopes can be just as dangerous – and what happens when a slide actually hits the base of the slope has important consequences. For example, if enough water is present, the landslide can liquefy with devastating results. Her findings will help prevent future catastrophes.
Transforming passion into purpose
Every one of our students exhibits similar curiosity and passion, whether in history or engineering, sociology or physics. And as with Ryley’s work on landslides, those qualities will help them make a difference in the world.
Our students can’t do it without you. Please add your support to the 2013-14 Queen’s Annual Appeal with a gift to the Dean’s Awards in Graduate Studies Fund, where every gift creates opportunity.
Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies