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Arts and Science

From trash to treasure

  • Julia Fast-Grass (Artsci'20) imagines a forest without trees. (University Communications)
    Julia Fast-Grass (Artsci'20) imagines a forest without trees. (University Communications)
  • Neve Scullino (Artsci'20) brings the smoky skies to life. (University Communications)
    Neve Scullino (Artsci'20) brings the smoky skies to life. (University Communications)
  • Sara Swedberg (Artsci'20) spells out the message of their art - that we must all do our part. (University Communications)
    Sara Swedberg (Artsci'20) spells out the message of their art - that we must all do our part. (University Communications)
  • The team works together to highlight the pollution in their painted ocean. (University Communications)
    The team works together to highlight the pollution in their painted ocean. (University Communications)

It is not an obvious place you pause to look but a dumpster on campus may catch your eye this week. The garbage disposal, belonging to waste hauling company Green for Life, has been painted by a few Queen’s students seeking to remind the community about the importance of reducing the amount of waste they produce.

“We wanted the dumpster to be pretty and something people would enjoy looking at, but that would also cause them to think critically,” says Sarah Swedberg (Artsci’20), one of the artists. “Our goal was that the scenes would look like cheery depictions of life on earth, but that upon second glance show the state of our environment. Although the sad reality can seem ominous, there is hope because a lot of people making change adds up.”

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” is painted in large letters on one side of the dumpster. The other sides show scenes of smoke-filled air, garbage-filled water, and stumps where trees once stood. Ms. Swedberg, Neve Scullino (Artsci’20), and Julia Fast-Grass (Artsci’20) painted the dumpster this past weekend. The three students earned the right to put their artistic skills to this important cause by submitting the winning proposal to a Sustainability Week contest organized by Physical Plant Services.

With the students’ work complete, the beautified dumpster will now be placed in high profile area on campus to engage the community about the importance of environmentalism and their role in contributing to campus sustainability.

“An underlying theme of Waste Reduction Week at Queen’s is the idea that we all have a responsibility to the environment and that, by working together, we can have a more positive impact,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “In keeping with that spirit, this year’s activities include students, staff, our sustainability office, and our waste hauling vendor Green for Life working together towards a goal of a more sustainable campus. I want to thank them all for making this week of reflection and education possible.”

At the same time that the Queen’s community is being challenged, through the art project, with this stark environmental reality, new tools are being unveiled to help put those sustainability ideas into practice.

“Waste diversion is a significant component of the Queen’s Policy on the Environment, and our obligations under the Waste Free Ontario Act,” says Llynwen Osborne, Recycling Coordinator with Physical Plant Services and one of the contest organizers. “We’re excited to use this week, building on what we achieved during September’s Sustainability Week, to help the Queen’s community think about how they can do their part to reduce waste both in their personal lives and here at Queen’s.”

One of the new tools available to help Queen’s employees is a website you can use to help you find supplies that other departments are getting rid of, or post your own unwanted furniture, office supplies, and equipment. Recycle@Queen’s was launched by the Sustainability Office within Physical Plant Services and developed by Stephen Hunt and Paul Hiles of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. Since its launch, 71 items have been listed across campus.

“My personal observation is that Queen’s shouldn’t have to buy another filing cabinet ever based on the number that are available internally for free,” says Mr. Hunt, the Director of Information Technology for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “I’m very interested in promoting the re-use of furniture and equipment on campus as it reduces overall costs for the university, reduces the carbon footprint of equipment being shuffled between offices and storage and back again, and reduces the amount of stuff going to landfill. We all want to work together, but too often the information needed isn’t available easily and widely; I hope the Recycle@Queen’s program will change that.”

To learn more about waste reduction and other sustainability initiatives, visit the Sustainability Office website.

  • This dumpster has been painted to remind the Queen's community about the importance of waste reduction and environmental protection. (University Communications)
    This dumpster has been painted to remind the Queen's community about the importance of waste reduction and environmental protection. (University Communications)
  • The front and left side of the dumpster show scenes of polluted skies and water. (University Communications)
    The front and left side of the dumpster show scenes of polluted skies and water. (University Communications)
  • The quote on the side reads, “The greatest threat to our planet is our belief that someone else will save it”. (University Communications)
    The quote on the side reads, “The greatest threat to our planet is our belief that someone else will save it”. (University Communications)
  • From the call to action, the viewer is brought full circle to the scene of a forest which has been clear cut. (University Communications)
    From the call to action, the viewer is brought full circle to the scene of a forest which has been clear cut. (University Communications)

Investing in research

QROF supports cancer research 
Last year, 20 Queen’s faculty members received QROF grants, including Parvin Mousavi (School of Computing) whose project is advancing multi-parametric imaging for augmenting the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer. A recipient of the International Fund, Dr. Mousavi is working within the Advanced Multimodal Image-guided Operating (AMIGO) suite at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School.
According to the American and Canadian Cancer Societies, 262,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed annually and these numbers are expected to double by 2025 when the baby boomer generation reaches the age of peak prevalence. Dr. Mousavi’s research will contribute to better diagnoses and risk stratification of prostate cancer, and help decrease its mortality and morbidity.

Letters of intent are being requested for two funding competitions open to researchers and scholars at Queen’s University – the 2017-2018 Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds (QROF) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Grant (SIG) competitions.

The QROF provides researchers and scholars financial support to accelerate their programs and research goals, and offers opportunities to leverage external funding to build on areas of institutional research strength. Through a federal government block grant provided to Queen’s by SSHRC, the recently-redesigned SIG competition supports social sciences and humanities researchers with funding for research project development, pilot study work, or to attend or run knowledge-mobilization activities like workshops, seminars or scholarly conferences.

“Championing research and scholarly excellence is a cornerstone of our mission at Queen’s University,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “The QROF competition allows us to make our largest internal investment in research, scholarship and innovation by supporting researchers striving to take their work to the next level. With SSHRC's recent redesign of the allotment of funding from the SIG, we are poised to reinvigorate research in the social sciences and humanities, further strengthening scholarship in the SSHRC disciplines."

The QROF competition consists of four funds:

  • The Research Leaders’ Fund – for strategic institutional commitments to aspirational research in support of the university’s research strengths and priorities
  • The International Fund – to assist in augmenting the university’s international reputation through increased global engagement
  • The Arts Fund – designed to support artists and their contributions to the scholarly community and to advancing Queen’s University
  • The Post-Doctoral Fund – to both attract outstanding post-doctoral fellows to Queen’s and to support their contributions to research and to the university

The SIG competition provides funding through two granting programs:

  • SSHRC Explore Grants – support social sciences and humanities researchers at any career stage with funds to allow for small-scale research project development or pilot work, or to allow for participation of students in research projects
  • SSHRC Exchange Grants – support the organization of small-scale knowledge mobilization activities in order to encourage collaboration and dissemination of research results both within and beyond the academic community, as well as allow researchers to attend or present research at scholarly conferences and other venues to advance their careers and promote the exchange of ideas

The Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) has issued calls for letters of intent, and successful candidates will be invited to submit a full application. Information on each of the funds and the application processes can be found on the on the website of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research). For more information, email ferrism@queensu.ca.

CFI invests in dark matter and optical science

Two Queen's University physicists awarded $4.8 million in funding.

Queen's University physics researchers Stephen Hughes and Anthony Noble, and their Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) collaborators, were awarded a combined $4.8 million in funding from the CFI Innovation Fund.

Dr. Noble’s team is building a next generation detector, PICO 500L, that will search for dark matter while Dr. Hughes and his CFI collaborators, including co-lead James Fraser, will establish a Queen’s Nanophotonics Research Centre to explore the behaviour of light and light-matter interactions on the nanometre scale.

The funding was announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, as part of a CFI investment of more than $554 million in 117 new infrastructure projects at 61 universities, colleges, and research hospitals across Canada.

Anthony Noble (l) and Stephen Hughes have been awarded $4.8 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

“This funding is critical to ensuring Queen’s researchers are competitive on the global stage and have the tools necessary to continue their innovative research and technology development,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “As one of the top-ranked research-intensive universities in Canada where physics is an area of institutional research strength, Queen’s will benefit greatly from this investment.”

According to Dr. Hughes, photonics is the science of generating, controlling, and detecting the fundamental particles of light (photons), and is now poised to be a key technological driver of the 21st century in much the same way that electronics were for the 20th century.

“However, as devices and optical structures continue to shrink, we have started to enter a new realm of optical technology termed 'nanophotonics,' wherein the behaviour of light on the nanometre scale, and of the interaction of nanometre-scale objects with light, is substantially different,” explains Dr. Hughes. “We propose to explore and exploit the optical science that will underpin next-generation nano and quantum optical technologies, while unlocking entirely new regimes of light-matter interaction.”

The PICO 500L detector will be located at the SNOLAB facility for astroparticle physics, located two kilometres underground in Sudbury.

“Building on prior success, the international PICO collaboration has embarked on a program to build a next generation detector,” says Dr. Noble, who is also director of the Canada Particle Astrophysics Research Centre. “This detector, PICO 500L, will employ a unique technology that will give it world-leading sensitivity in the search for the mysterious dark matter, which is known to pervade the Universe but has yet to be observed unambiguously on earth.”

For information on the Innovation Fund visit the website.

True crime book by Queen’s Mafia expert becomes national TV series

Bad Blood actors Tony Nappo, Kim Coates, Anthony LaPaglia, and Enrico Colantoni. (City/Rogers Media)

Bestselling true crime novel Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War by Queen’s University lecturer and organized crime expert Antonio Nicaso has inspired Bad Blood, a six-part television drama that recently premiered on City TV.

Bad Blood stars Anthony LaPaglia (Without A Trace, Empire Records) as Montreal mobster Vito Rizzuto and centres around the kingpin's life and death as researched and recorded by Mr. Nicaso and his co-author, Toronto Star reporter Peter Edwards.

Antonio Nicaso (centre) with actor Kim Coates (left) and producer Mark Montefiore (right)
Antonio Nicaso (centre) with Bad Blood actor Kim Coates (left) and producer Mark Montefiore (right).

“It’s a great feeling to see your book turned into a television show, as it underlines the power of ideas,” says Mr. Nicaso. “I have spent most of my life trying to deconstruct the myth of mobsters to show that the real Mafia is not the one glamorized by Hollywood. I hope this series helps to remove old stereotypes.”

Mr. Nicaso is currently teaching courses at Queen’s on the social history of organized crime in Canada, and on Mafia culture and the power of symbols, rituals and myths.

It took him 20 years of research with Mr. Edwards to sculpt what would become their true crime non-fiction book. “We interviewed around 100 people, ranging from law enforcement and government officials, to people who knew Mr. Rizzuto and our sources within the underworld,” says Mr. Nicaso.

They combed through thousands of judicial documents, police reports, and municipal files to pull together a full picture of Mr. Rizzuto and his operations.

Mr. Rizzuto allegedly led a criminal empire that imported and distributed narcotics, laundered money, facilitated illegal gambling and loans, and contracted the murders of its opponents. More interesting to Mr. Nicaso were the repeated corruption investigations that connected multiple Montreal mayors, provincial politicians, engineering firms, and bureaucrats to Mr. Rizzuto’s illegal activities.

“The most important feature of a mobster is the ability to build relationships in the ‘Upperworld’ - relationships with politicians, businessmen, bankers, builders and union leaders,” says Mr. Nicaso. “The idea with the book, and now the television show, was to demonstrate that organized crime is entrenched in Canadian society, with infiltrations into many sectors of our economy.”

Mr. Nicaso provided expert testimony to the Charbonneau Commission during its 30-month long examination of organized crime and corruption in Quebec. Despite uncovering that corruption in the province was far more prevalent than previously believed, few sweeping changes were implemented after the report’s 2015 release.

“There is no political will to fight the Mafia and corruption in Canada,” says Mr. Nicaso. “We have to nurture a new generation of thinkers who can look past the glorification of the Mafia and who can continue to push for reforms.”

While Bad Blood is the first television show based on one of Mr. Nicaso’s works, he is also the bestselling author of 30 books focused on Mafia and related criminal organizations. He is also an award-winning journalist and regularly consulted by governments and law-enforcement agencies around the world on issues of organized crime.

Indigenous academics share knowledge at Matariki Conference

Matariki participants were educated on the Noongar history of the Swan River area with Noongar Elder Walter McGuire. (Supplied Photo)

A group from Queen’s University travelled to Australia this summer to learn about a topic close to their hearts. Ana Mejicano Greenberg (Artsci’18), Jenna O'Connor (M.Ed’18), and Katrina Brown Akootchook (M.Ed’18), along with Professor Lindsay Morcom from the Faculty of Education, participated in the Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program (MISMP) in July. The 10-day program was hosted by the University of Western Australia, a member of the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU), and focused on sharing the knowledge, history, and customs of Indigenous Peoples.

L-R: Jenna O'Connor, Prof. Lindsay Morcom, Katrina Brown Akootchook, and Ana Mejicano Greenberg at a Matariki Network event in Australia. (Supplied Photo)

“My time in Australia impacted me both personally and professionally,” says Ms. Mejicano Greenberg. “I have taken many courses on Indigenous Studies at Queen’s, but this provided the opportunity to learn more about indigeneity in other contexts and use that knowledge to delve into my own history. It inspired me to learn more about my Indigenous lineage and the Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala.”

The packed program included opportunities to learn about local wildlife and eat traditional foods, experience Australian history through the eyes of its Indigenous Peoples, and explore the city of Perth, among other activities. The four Queen’s representatives were joined by students and faculty members from other MNU institutions in New Zealand, the U.S., and the U.K. For Ms. Mejicano Greenberg, the chance to meet the other participants and learn about their backgrounds stood out as a highlight.

“It was the relationships which provided some of the greatest value,” she says. “The program offered ten days of intense and amazing intellectual and spiritual stimulation, and the opportunities for introspection and reflection were very important. I enjoyed every session.”

Katrina Brown Akootchook is introduced to local culture hands-on as she meets a koala during the trip to Australia. (Supplied Photo)
Katrina Brown Akootchook is introduced to local culture hands-on as she meets a koala during the trip to Australia. (Supplied Photo)

The program was guided by a number of experts, including academics and museum curators. What made this program special, Dr. Morcom explains, was that these academics were educated in Indigenous Studies; they taught classes about Indigenous knowledge and cultures; and they had Indigenous heritage themselves. 

Jenna O'Connor tours an art gallery in Australia as part of the Matariki Network Indigenous Student Mobility program. (Supplied Photo)
Jenna O'Connor tours an art gallery in Australia as part of the Matariki Network Indigenous Student Mobility program. (Supplied Photo)

“They were knowledge keepers, elders, and professors, and it was interesting to see the way these people engaged western academia but in an Indigenous way, with their knowledge held in the same esteem,” says Dr. Morcom. “It was a privilege to learn from them, and to continue the conversation with my fellow faculty members around the dinner table and hear about their research. The most striking thing for me was the similarity of experience, of culture, and of philosophy across these many different groups, and this has inspired me to engage in broader international Indigenous research in the future.”

Queen’s is a member of the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU),an international group of like-minded universities, each of which is amongst the most historic in its own country and recognized as a premier place of advanced learning. The network aims to create opportunities for collaboration in research and education for its seven international members.

The Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program (MISMP) is hosted annually, and will take place at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire in 2018. Applications for this funded opportunity will open in winter 2018. Queen’s 2017 MISMP applicants were assessed by a selection committee of faculty members engaged in Indigenous Studies; the MISMP faculty advisor; and representatives from the Dean’s Office, Faculty of Arts and Science, Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, and the International Programs Office. Shortlisted candidates were interviewed prior to final selection.

To learn more about international opportunities available at Queen’s visit the international page of the Queen’s website and the MNU website.

Queen’s National Scholar wins prestigious Trudeau Fellowship

Norman Vorano giving a lecture.
Dr. Vorano discusses the North Baffin Drawings with guests at Queen's Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

Queen’s National Scholar Norman Vorano has been named as one of only five recipients of a prestigious Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Fellowship – one of the most competitive awards available to humanities and social science scholars in Canada.

Dr. Vorano, assistant professor in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation and curator of Indigenous art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, was recognized for his work with Indigenous communities in the Canadian Arctic to record, understand, and share Inuit art history. Through innovative public outreach, his career-long efforts have sought to transcend cultural and generational boundaries so Indigenous voices are central in shaping how their history is shared.

Dr. Norman Vorano
Dr. Norman Vorano

“I am truly honoured to receive this fellowship from the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation,” says Dr. Vorano. “I am also humbled by the task ahead, to continue to build a collaborative research network of individuals and communities across the North who share in the belief that our public museums, schools, and universities can do more to promote cross-cultural understanding, empathy, reconciliation, and community health.”

This unique recognition speaks to the nationally important collections curated by Dr. Vorano and heightens awareness of Indigenous art in Canada.

“I want to congratulate Dr. Vorano on being named a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Fellow,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “This major award speaks to the quality and significance of his contributions to arts and culture in our country. His collaborative work with Northern communities to preserve and share these collections stands as a shining example of how history can and should be written to reflect the experiences of all Canadians.”

In 2017, Dr. Vorano debuted a travelling exhibition of Inuit sketches originally collected by Terry Ryan, an arts advisor in Cape Dorset who journeyed to three North Baffin communities in 1964 and invited people to use pencil and paper to record their traditional knowledge before encroaching Southern influences transformed their way of life.

The exhibition featured a selection of sketches created around Clyde River, Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet alongside video and audio commentary that Dr. Vorano collected from some of those very same artists, their descendants and communities more than 50 years after the drawings were made.

Dr. Vorano in Clyde River, Nunavut. (Aug. 2015)

“Showcasing this collection, particularly in Northern venues, has been a vital first step in reconnecting communities in Nunavut with this vast and profoundly important record of their heritage,” says Dr. Vorano, who will use the $225,000 Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Fellowship to fund the second phase of the project. “The next step is to work with the communities to build a culturally-appropriate reciprocal network that links this collection, and possibly other Arctic collections from museums around the world, to their communities of origin.

The creation of this ‘Arctic Cultural Heritage Research Network’ (ACHRN) is premised on the understanding that access to cultural heritage promotes health and well-being. The ultimate goal of this digital platform is to provide all Inuit, including educators and heritage workers in Nunavut, access to heritage collections stored in southern museums – collections from which they are largely alienated.

Every year, the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation awards up to five fellowships to individuals recognized for their productivity, their commitment to communicating their findings to the public and their ability to devise innovative solutions to some of the major issues facing Canada and the world.

Bringing Queen’s economic rigour to the social sector

"Based at Innovation Park, the Limestone Analytics team includes, from left: Caroline Godin; Jay MacKinnon; Jordan Nanowski; Jenny Watt; Bahman Kashi; Alexandra Galvin; Aalisha Lakdawala, Christopher Cotton."
Based at Innovation Park, the Limestone Analytics team includes, from left: Caroline Godin; Jay MacKinnon; Jordan Nanowski; Jenny Watt; Bahman Kashi; Alexandra Galvin; Aalisha Lakdawala, Christopher Cotton. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

The Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Collaborators series profiles regional innovations, startups and collaborations that are flourishing and which engage Queen’s faculty, staff and/or students.

Bahman Kashi slides the mouse in his right hand back and forth on the table top, clicking on the long columns of numbers and graphics displayed on his computer. To the casual observer, seeing these long ranks of columns on a wall screen in a boardroom at Innovation Park, what he is working with looks like a long, complex, and not easily understandable spreadsheet; in fact, these numbers are part of a sophisticated analysis that his company, Limestone Analytics, is carrying out aimed at improving health outcomes in hospitals in Cameroon, specifically saving children’s lives. 

Important, interesting work. But what has earned Kashi and his firm a spot at Innovation Park, Queen’s University’s incubator for startups (usually of the high-tech variety), is what lies behind the numbers – what Kashi refers to as Limestone’s “methodology.”

“Economists love models,” says Kashi, himself a PhD in the field and an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Economics. With good reason. A mixture of data, assumptions and formulae, economic models are powerful tools, useful for determining the costs and benefits of business decisions, government policies or development programs such as the one that Kashi and his colleagues are working on. But the typical model is anything but user-friendly. Experts on a program or economic sector often build extensive models across a series of interconnected spreadsheets, making it nearly impossible for anyone else to update their analysis, let alone understand the details of the calculations being performed. Very much the idiosyncratic product of one mind, “it’s easier,” says Kashi, “for a second person to rebuild it from scratch than understand what had been done.” 

To cap it off, says Kashi, “Economists aren’t the best at communicating.”

Not surprisingly, given the somewhat artisanal fashion in which these models are constructed (they can take literally hundreds of hours), hiring an economic consultant is an expensive proposition. Kashi wondered if there might not be a more efficient and less expensive way to do it, one which would make modeling more accessible to a larger group of potential users. “An architect can draw a plan and pass it to a builder,” he says. Why not do something similar with modeling?

The result is what he is displaying on-screen. It looks like a spreadsheet because it is a spreadsheet. But baked into it, so to speak, are the economist’s assumptions and formulae – relating to costs and benefits, the social impacts, the stakeholders. Different people can work on different parts of the model – a health economist could create the model, essentially a series of equations; a programmer could then incorporate the equations into Excel; and a research assistant (who might be an undergraduate, not a PhD) could track down statistics and enter them in an Excel table that the programmer set up to feed data into the underlying model. Making changes can be done quickly, he says, in a “matter of hours, not a week,” as might be the case with a more conventional model.

Kashi was interested in bridging the gap between the social sector and the world of academic economics. He knew people in the social sector from teaching at Queen’s, where they would approach the department for help with their projects. Largely lacking in economic training, they didn’t have the right conceptual tools to evaluate a program or choose between two competing ones. 

Founded in 2016, Limestone Analytics specializes in economic modeling, as well as the design, monitoring and evaluation of international development and social sector projects. Working with Kashi and his firm gives NGOs (among them World Vision, one of the world’s largest), a sophisticated analysis of potential or ongoing projects. For their part, Limestone Analytics gets real, hands-on examples to help them hone their methodology further. Those real-world examples are key, says Kashi. “We would be making fools of ourselves if we just went into a room for a year and a half, and then came out and said, ‘Here’s the model.’” 

One of Limestone’s recent projects, focused on an analysis of the Haitian electrical sector, undertaken for the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a Danish think tank. Limestone’s project was chosen as the number one submission by an expert panel created by the Center to look at ways to help the Caribbean country climb out of poverty.

Most firms involved in consulting work similar to that done by Limestone Analytics tend to locate in Toronto or Ottawa, or even Washington. Limestone plans to stay in Kingston, at Innovation Park. 

There are, says Kashi, a number of reasons for this. 

“One is academic rigour. Very often these social-sector analyses are critiqued as poor quality, so we want to maintain our relationship with high-quality academic partners in the Queen’s Department of Economics.” 

Thanks to the university connection, they also receive funding from MITACS, which reduces the costs for them to hire graduate students. Other faculty members in the partners in the Queen’s Department of Economics are also regularly involved with Limestone’s projects, helping ensure that they adhere to the highest standards of academic quality.

“The other point is if we were in Washington, say, we’d be flooded with jobs. But you don’t want that if you are trying to change the very way things work. And we wouldn’t get the support we get here,” he says. Now up to eight people, Limestone Analytics has recently moved into a larger, more private footprint within the incubation space at Innovation Park, which continues to provide the company with access to numerous resources such as business advice from Launch Lab, and match-making services and intellectual property guidance from the Queen’s Office of Partnerships and Innovation. (Limestone Analytics can also draw on resources in Toronto and Ottawa.) One of the key proposals Limestone is working on now is a direct outcome of an international event that took place at Innovation Park in June. “Even getting into MaRS (Toronto’s startup incubator) for a desk you’d have to wait a year or two,” he laughs.

“We are not the first to have tried this,” says Kashi of the idea of creating a development-specific economic model. Both the United Nations and the World Bank have tried, but earlier attempts proved unsuccessful. “The problem is that earlier attempts have either tried to create a complex model to fit all situations, or restricted their assumptions to the degree that their work is no-longer useful. Our way is different. We are trying to develop a streamlined approach to the modeling process, while still allowing the models themselves to be flexible in their design and assumptions.” 

Ultimately, their goal is to refine their methodology and scale it up, which will give them a real product that they can sell to the World Bank, or other large and small organizations that deal with investments in infrastructure and social projects. 

“It’s a niche market,” says Kashi, “but there’s lots of demand for it."

Canadian research leaders elected to College

Early-career Queen’s researchers honoured by the Royal Society of Canada.

See also:
A Royal Honour
Royal Society of Canada recognizes three Queen’s University faculty members as RSC fellows. (September 7, 2016)

Two Queen’s University faculty members have been named to the Royal Society of Canada’s (RSC) College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists program. The Members of the College are research leaders who, at an early stage in their career, have demonstrated a high level of achievement these elections are indicative of the research excellence fostered at Queen’s.

Katherine McKittrick’s (Gender Studies) research focuses include black studies, gender studies, history and literature while Karen Yeates (Medicine) is focused on bringing healthcare expertise to impoverished areas of Africa including Tanzania.

The New College program recognizes an emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership and seeks to gather scholars, artists and scientists at a highly productive stage of their careers into a single collegium where new advances in understanding will emerge from the interaction of diverse intellectual, cultural and social perspectives.

Karen Yeates

“The College opens the doors of the RSC to early and mid-career scholars and researchers, and provides them an opportunity to contribute to the promotion of learning and research,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The researchers elected as part of the 2017 Membership are great representatives of the diverse range of leading edge and innovative research being undertaken by our younger colleagues on campuses across Canada.”

Dr. Yeates’ implementation science research program brings healthcare expertise to Tanzania and other nations using mobile phone technology. She is recognized as a leader in the field of mobile health research, and she has been praised internationally for her contributions to disease screening and prevention.

“I thought my research program wouldn’t really fit the metric of the scientist but this honour gives me motivation to keep pushing forward,” says Dr. Yeates.

Katherine McKittrick

Dr. McKittrick’s scholarly work looks at the links between the theories of race, liberation and creative texts in relation to the fields of geography, cultural studies, black studies and gender studies where her work on interdisciplinary and anti-colonial intellectual thought is widely recognized.

“I’m still very early in my career so this award is a deep honour,” says Dr. McKittrick. “To have a scholar who works on questions of black liberation recognized by the RSC is very exciting.”

For more information on the New College visit the website.

New era of health research in Kingston

Dr. John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s University delivers speech at event opening ceremony.
John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research), speaks during the opening of the W.J. Henderson Centre for Patient-Oriented Research on Monday, Sept. 11. (University Communications)

Home to one of the country’s top 40 research hospitals and a world-renowned university, Kingston has long been recognized as an important centre for health research in Canada.

That reputation is reaching new heights with the opening of the W.J. Henderson Centre for Patient-Oriented Research. The new centre positions Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), Queen’s University and the KGH Research Institute (KGHRI) as international leaders in partnering with patients to improve health knowledge and outcomes.

The state-of-the-art centre brings together for the first time the facilities, equipment and research projects that require direct patient involvement into a single space. Located within KHSC’s Kingston General Hospital site and adjacent to the Queen’s University campus, the facility is situated to give clinician-scientists, researchers, and research volunteers a safe and accessible environment where patients can be consulted, assessed and monitored as they take part in research studies.

“This centre is the realization of our commitment to patient-oriented research,” says Dr. Roger Deeley, Vice-President of Health Sciences Research at KHSC and Vice-Dean of Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University. “It expands opportunities for patients to take part in the discovery process, and it provides a stimulating environment for collaboration. This will lead to innovation, better treatments and improved outcomes for patients and their families. It also provides the ideal environment for multi-disciplinary approaches to research and a solid training ground for future clinician-scientists and researchers.”

At 10,000 square feet, the centre increases research space at the KGH site by 25 per cent. Facilities include shared research labs and work spaces, patient examination and procedure rooms, comfortable waiting areas for patients and their families, a biohazard Level 2 preparation area, as well as the capability to conduct early stage clinical trials, crucial steps in the development of new drug and device treatments and therapies.

“Research has become an increasingly collaborative pursuit that not only requires clinician-scientists from partner institutions to work more closely together, but also for researchers and patients to become more deeply involved in the discovery process,” says Dr. John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s University. “This new centre will strengthen the collective efforts of Kingston’s world-class scientific community and ultimately provide patients with improved healthcare and quality of life.”

"This represents a significant milestone in health research at KHSC. The centre will become a major hub for clinical research as we further integrate research between Queen's and our academic hospital partners,” says Dr. Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University. “Ultimately, the work of the centre will translate into improved patient outcomes in our community and will help us to both educate future scientists and recruit leading researchers from around the world.”

Constructed at a cost of $4.2 million, the centre’s creation was made possible through generous gifts from more than 150 donors, including $1 million from the W.J. Henderson Foundation and $1.2 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, awarded to Dr. Stephen Vanner, (Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Unit) and Dr. Douglas Munoz (Centre for Neuroscience Studies).

“This facility reflects a significant commitment by individuals and organizations, including the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, clinician-scientists and researchers, and donors including the W.J. Henderson Foundation. Their support made this centre possible, and we are profoundly grateful to them,” says Dr. Deeley.

For more information on the W.J. Henderson Centre for Patient Oriented Research, visit www.kgh.on.ca/research.

Queen’s researcher recognized for work on toxic algae blooms

The Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (CJFAS) has selected a paper lead by Queen’s National Scholar and researcher Diane Orihel as Editor’s Choice for 2017, an honour that highlights articles of particularly high caliber and topical importance, in recognition of her team’s national study of nutrients that feed algal blooms in Canadian lakes. Algal blooms – the blue-green scums visible on nutrient-polluted lakes – negatively affect not only recreational activities like swimming and fishing, but can put drinking water, property values, wildlife, and human health at risk.

Researcher and Queen’s National Scholar Diane Orihel takes samples of lake water. The Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences has selected a paper lead by Dr. Orihel as Editor’s Choice for 2017. (Supplied Photo) 

“We looked at all of the national data on phosphorous release from sediments of Canadian freshwater ecosystems and saw how important paying attention to the bigger picture can be,” says Dr. Orihel (Environmental Studies, Biology). “I think our research will help us better manage our lakes and wetlands so all Canadians can feel safe to enjoy them.”

Dr. Orihel’s team investigated a process in Canada’s aquatic ecosystems: the recycling of phosphorus between sediments at the bottom of lakes and overlying water. Algae thrives on phosphorous so as it is released from lakebeds harmful accumulations of algae, called blooms, are more likely to form. Across the country tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars are invested every year to manage nutrient pollution – but in some lakes – legacy effects from nutrients deposited years ago can linger and delay recovery.

“Our main goal was to better understand where, when, and why this process occurs so that we can make improvements to how algal blooms are managed and develop realistic goals for lake restoration,” explained Dr. Orihel. “We found that phosphorus release from sediments was a common phenomenon in Canadian fresh waters, but that rates of this process varied dramatically from lake to lake.”

Major case studies featured in the article include Lake Simcoe, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, Cootes Paradise, and Lake Diefenbaker.

Prairie lakes in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were shown to have the highest rates of phosphorous release, while the lowest rates were found in northern Ontario and the Maritimes.

“We found that oxygen levels, pH balance, nutrient status all affected the rate of phosphorus release from sediments,” Dr. Orihel says. “Following this study, it will be important to examine how human impacts, such as climate change and fish farming, affect this process so we can better tailor our efforts to improve water quality.”

The take-home message for the public, according to Dr. Orihel is “we need to stop dumping phosphorus into our lakes, because it’s not only causing problems right now, but in many lakes, it continues to deteriorate water quality for our children and grandchildren”.

The article was published online today in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2016-0500).

Collaborators on the project included Helen Baulch (University of Saskatchewan), Nora Casson (University of Winnipeg), Rebecca North (University of Missouri), Chris Parsons (University of Waterloo), Dalila Seckar (Queen’s University), and Jason Venkiteswaran (Wilfrid Laurier University)


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