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Research Prominence

William Leggett receives prestigious lifetime achievement award

Dr. William Leggett.

William Leggett, professor emeritus in the Department of Biology and Queen's 17th principal, has received the H. Ahlstrom Lifetime Achievement Award from the Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society for his contributions to the fields of larval fish ecology.

The American Fisheries Society is the biggest association of professional aquatic ecologists in the world, with over 9,000 members worldwide.

"œIt feels good to be singled out by such large group of people who I respect so highly," says Dr. Leggett. "œI didn'™t expect to receive this award so it'™s a big honour and thrill to get it."

Dr. Leggett'™s research focuses on the dynamics of fish populations and his work as a biologist and a leader in education has been recognized nationally and internationally. A membership in the Order of Canada, a fellowship from the Royal Society of Canada, and the Award of Excellence in Fisheries Education are just some of the awards he has received for outstanding contributions to graduate education and marine science.

The Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society recognized Dr. Leggett'™s "œexceptional contributions to the understanding of early life history of fishes that has inspired the careers of a number of fisheries scientists worldwide and has led to major progress in fish ecology and studies of recruitment dynamics."

The award was recently presented in Quebec City at the 38th annual Larval Fish Conference held in conjunction with the 144th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society.

 

Promising cancer research

Caitlin Miron, Queen’s PhD student, presented with the Mitacs PhD Award for Oustanding Innovation by Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (left) and Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal of Partnerships and Innovation at Queen’s (right).
Caitlin Miron, Queen’s PhD student, presented with the Mitacs PhD Award for Oustanding Innovation by Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (left) and Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal of Partnerships and Innovation at Queen’s (right).

Queen’s PhD student Caitlin Miron was in the spotlight in Ottawa this week when she was presented with the Mitacs PhD Award for Outstanding Innovation for her work in biochemistry. Ms. Miron, a student with the Department of Chemistry, broke new ground by discovering a DNA binder that can essentially ‘switch off’ cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.

The award is given to a PhD student who has made a significant achievement in research and development innovation during Mitacs-funded research. Ms. Miron’s award is one of seven given annually by Mitacs, a national, not-for-profit organization that works with 60 universities, thousands of companies, and government to support industrial and social innovation in Canada.

Ms. Miron was presented with her award by Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovaton, Science and Economic Development, Kristy Duncan, Minister of Science, and Alejandro Adem, Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director of Mitacs.

Ms. Miron’s research focused on identifying a chemical compound that can bind to a specific form of DNA architecture, which has been found in cancer genes. Preliminary results show the compound can stabilize the DNA and thereby stop the cancer from spreading. This research may be useful in anticancer therapeutic agents, either alone or combined with other treatments. 

“You can think about temporarily single-strand DNA as a necklace. You have a chain, which is your DNA, then you have beads that move freely along that chain until they come to a knot. That knot is a guanine quadruplex, which is an unusual form of DNA. Normally that knot can be unraveled, but if someone has put superglue on it, you can’t unknot it. What we found is essentially an excellent form of superglue,” says Ms. Miron. “We care about this in terms of anti-cancer applications because these quadruplexes often form before sequences of DNA that lead to the development of cancer. If we can stop those beads, which are the cellular machinery that’s going to process that DNA, from accessing it, we can potentially stop various forms of cancer development and metastasis. We have fairly promising results in cancer cell inhibition in this field."

Her findings, researched in collaboration with Dr. Jean-Louise Mergny at the European Institute of Chemistry and Biology in Bordeaux, France, during her Mitacs GlobalLink internship, will be published in January 2018. It is also expected to be ready for licensing by pharmaceutical companies within two to five years.

To learn more about Ms. Miron’s research and to watch a video interview with her, visit the School of Graduate Studies website.

New lecture series to celebrate John Meisel

The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies to hold its inaugural event this month.

  • The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies was announced during his 94th birthday party at the University Club. Helping unveil the poster were, from left: Keith Banting (Political Studies, Smith School of Business); Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science; Zsuzsa Csergő, Head, Department of Political Studies; and Tom Hewitt Chief Development Officer, Advancement.
    The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies was announced during his 94th birthday party at the University Club. Helping unveil the poster were, from left: Keith Banting (Political Studies, Smith School of Business); Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science; Zsuzsa Csergő, Head, Department of Political Studies; and Tom Hewitt Chief Development Officer, Advancement.
  • Professor Emeritus John Meisel reacts to the announcement of The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies. The inaugural visiting scholar, Debra Thompson from the University of Oregon, will host a lecture Thursday, Nov. 23 from 4 to 5:30 pm in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
    Professor Emeritus John Meisel reacts to the announcement of The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies. The inaugural visiting scholar, Debra Thompson from the University of Oregon, will host a lecture Thursday, Nov. 23 from 4 to 5:30 pm in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
  • The Queen's community celebrated the 94th birthday of Professor Emeritus John Meisel with a special event Oct. 20 at the University Club.
    The Queen's community celebrated the 94th birthday of Professor Emeritus John Meisel with a special event Oct. 20 at the University Club.

A lot has changed across this country since John Meisel first took up residence here at Queen’s in 1949 as a lecturer in Political Studies. But one thing that remains a constant is the existence of political controversy and the need for scholars, policy makers, and the public to explore and address it.

This is where a new annual lecture series at Queen’s will come in. The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies is set for Thursday, Nov. 23 from 4 to 5:30 pm in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. The inaugural visiting scholar will be Debra Thompson from the University of Oregon and the title of her lecture is “Trump, Race, and Time”.

“This scholar series is an ideal way for the university to celebrate John’s incredible career and the contributions he has made to Queen’s and Canada in his roles as a professor, public servant, and public intellectual,” says Zsuzsa Csergő, Political Studies Department Head. “He was an important voice in many of this country’s most important debates over many decades, including discussions over the future of Canadian culture and arts, and battles over the constitution, to name a few.”

Professor Meisel was also a pioneer in research into political behavior and he wrote widely on Canadian elections, political parties, Quebec politics, science policy, and cultural policy. He was the founding editor of two prestigious academic journals, the Canadian Journal of Political Science and the International Political Science Review. From 1980 to 1983 he was Chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and later served as president of the Royal Society of Canada.

Recently he celebrated his 94th birthday at the Queen’s University Club where members of the Political Studies department unveiled the scholar series founded in his honour. The event will also highlight the important contributions of Queen’s Political Studies to scholarship and public engagement both nationally and internationally.

The lecture is open to the public and is being sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Science with support from alumni.

For more information visit the Queen’s Political Studies website

Gathering new insights

Queen’s researchers receive $3.56 million in Insight grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

A total of 27 Queen’s University researchers have received a combined $3.56 million in research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight program. The grants, which run between one and five years, serve to support research and research partnerships that will build knowledge and understanding about people, societies and the world by supporting research excellence in all subject areas.

“Queen’s researchers continue to push the envelope in the social sciences, arts, and humanities, pursuing projects that offer the potential for tremendous cultural, social, and economic benefits,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “The success of our researchers in obtaining these grants demonstrates the success of Queen’s researchers in addressing the most complex issues facing our society today. I offer my most sincere congratulations, and look forward to witnessing first-hand the success of these initiatives.”

Successful recipients include:

Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine/Public Health Sciences)

Dr. Bartels proposes an in-depth study of the challenges and life courses of “peace babies” – children born as a result of intimate relations, both consensual and non-consensual, between local women and UN Peacekeepers during the MONUSCO mission in the Congo. Her research will examine the socioeconomic, cultural and security circumstances that lead to the unequal power relationships between peacekeepers and the local population, as well as the life experiences and challenges faced by peace babies and their mothers.

Yolande Chan (Smith School of Business)

Dr. Chan will examine Canadian university entrepreneurship incubators, as well as those in the U.S. and U.K. to determine how to strengthen innovation performance. Her research will look at how digital technology can be used to identify novel ideas or findings stemming from university research and assist incubators in nurturing start-ups with high potential.

Marc Epprecht (Global Development Studies)

Dr. Epprecht aims to reconstruct a social history of the South African municipality of Msunduzi from the late 1950’s through the end of apartheid and into the present day. Msunduzi presents an interesting location to study, as it faces some of the most difficult development challenges in all of South Africa, including high rates of HIV/AIDS, unemployment, crime and poverty. Dr. Epprecht will work in collaboration with leading social historians in the region to promote a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural factors at play.

Mohamed Khimji (Law)

Professor Khimji’s research aims to provide a thorough analysis of shareholder democracy – defined as efforts to promote shareholder participation in corporate governance – in publically-traded Canadian corporations. This project will address the lack of quantitative data on shareholder activism in publicly traded companies in recent decades – examining the extent and effectiveness of activism as a tool in corporate governance.

For more information about the Insight program, visit the website.


Insight Grant Recipients
Stephen Baron (Sociology) $137,471
Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine/Public Health Sciences) $316,743
Yolande Chan (Smith School of Business) $194,398
Fabio Colivicchi (Classics) $100,000
Christopher Cotton (Economics) $116,924
Peter Dacin (Smith School of Business) $195,980
Evan Dudley (Smith School of Business) $84,971
Marc Epprecht (Global Development Studies) $329,298
Christopher Essert (Law) $85,240
Mohamed Khimji (Law) $155,305
Jean-Baptiste Litrico (Smith School of Business) $124,760
Jeff Masuda (Kinesiology and Health Studies) $236,767
David McDonald (Global Development Studies) $181,909
Allison Morehead (Art History and Art Conservation) $159,344
Morten Nielsen (Economics) $123,805
Susanne Soederberg (Political Studies) $98,460
Wei Wang (Smith School of Business) $70,070

Insight Development Grant Recipients
J. Andrew Grant (Political Studies) $31,547
Gail Henderson (Law) $67,114
Norma Möllers (Sociology) $57,391
Jennifer Tomasone (Kinesiology and Health) $70,267
Benjamin Bolden (Education) $59,972
Theresa Davies (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) $66,000
Sumon Majumdar (Economics) $30,730
Trisha Parsons (Rehabilitation Therapy) $66,383

Partnership Development Grant Recipients
Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine/Public Health Sciences) $199,930
Christopher DeLuca (Education) $199,950

Challenging today's youth

Queen’s-based PREVNet hosting virtual town hall to empower youth to change the culture of bullying.

PREVNet scientific co-director Wendy Craig is hosting a Youth Town Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday that will also be live on Facebook.

Canadian youth are being challenged to support youth who are being bullied and create solutions for bullying.

Queen’s University researcher Wendy Craig, York University researcher Debra Pepler, and the Queen’s-based Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet) are hosting a Youth Town Hall to promote discussion around the prevention of bullying. The event will feature virtual and live components on what healthy relationships look like, and how they can be supported. This event is the culmination of PREVNet's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Partnership Award, and anyone interested in issues of bullying prevention, wellness and the importance of healthy relationships is encouraged to participate.

The virtual town hall runs Wednesday, Nov. 15 starting at 4:30 pm. Members of the public are encouraged to join the conversation online on Facebook. PREVNet's National Youth Advisory Commitee will also officially launch its public education campaign, #Spreadkindness, about the importance of healthy relationships.

Get Involved
The virtual town hall runs Wednesday, Nov. 15 starting at 4:30 pm. Members of the public are encouraged to join the conversation online on Facebook.

Dr. Craig explains over 100 youth have been invited to the event at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa. The event will be moderated by Senator Marc Gold. For 10 years Senator Gold was the chair of ENSEMBLE for the respect of diversity, a not-for-profit organization that works with youth to build a more open and inclusive society.

“It’s absolutely critical that youth lead bullying prevention initiatives and that adults stand behind them,” says PREVNet Co-Director Dr. Craig, one of Canada’s leading bullying prevention advocates. “In 85 per cent of bullying episodes there are other youth there and if they step in within 10 seconds, the bullying stops. Empowering youth to take charge is important and hearing their voices is important.”

PREVNet is Canada’s authority on research and resources for bullying prevention, with a network of 130 leading Canadian research scientists and 60 national youth-serving organizations.

Dr. Debra Pepler, PREVNet’s Scientific Co-Director, outlines a number of challenges that will be addressed at the conference:

  • Canada ranks poorly – 25th of 28 rich countries on the quality of children’s relationships with their parents and peers
  • Canada also ranks poorly on rates of bullying and victimization
  • Bullying leads to genetic changes that result in depression
  • Research shows that the impact of victimization can last over 40 years
  • Involvement in bullying lays the foundation for dating aggression, intimate partner violence, child maltreatment, and workplace bullying
  • Despite 50 per cent reduction in rate of bullying in the past 10 years in Canada, there are still 2 million Canadian school-aged children directly impacted by bullying

“What we are doing is starting to work but there is still work to do,” says Dr. Craig. “This town hall is a unique opportunity to motivate and inspire youth to get involved.”

Five Queen's professors renewed as Canada Research Chairs

Canada Research Chairs program advances the nation’s position as a leader in discovery and innovation.

One of the country’s highest research honours, the Canada Research Chairs program advances the nation’s position as a leader in discovery and innovation and, recently, five Queen’s faculty members were renewed at both Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels. Tier 1 Chairs are recognized by their peers as world leaders in their respective fields, while Tier 2 Chairs are recognized as emerging leaders in their research areas. Queen’s is home to over 40 Canada Research Chairs.

“The Canada Research Chairs Program continues to enlist and retain our country’s best and brightest researchers,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Here at Queen’s we are very proud to have five of our most accomplished researchers renewed as chairs, as it speaks to our institution’s pursuit of excellence and leadership across a variety of disciplines.”

Developed in 2000, each year the CRC program invests up to $300 million to attract and retain some of the world's most accomplished and promising minds. Queen’s will receive $200,000 per year over seven years for each Tier 1 Chair and $100,000 per year over five years for each Tier 2 Chair.

Queen’s renewed CRCs are:

Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering) has been renewed as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Bioresource Engineering. A number of Canadian policies have increased incentives for renewable energy generation, bioproduct recovery, and environmentally sustainable approaches to manage water, waste and renewable resources. Dr. Champagne’s research aims to enhance our fundamental understanding of how to lessen environmental impacts of technologies associated with this effort, as well as to use ‘green chemistry’ to establish a future supply of sustainable bio-based energy, fuel material and chemical products.

Will Kymlicka (Philosophy) has been renewed as a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy. Citizenship is often described as tracking social membership but, according to Dr. Kymlicka, many members of society are denied full citizenship based on their linguistic or cognitive capacities. His research will explore new concepts of inclusive citizenship that seek to enable the voices and participation of all members.

Warren Mabee (Geography and Planning) has been renewed as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation. Dr. Mabee evaluates new renewable energy technologies in terms of their economic, social, and environmental performance, and seeks to create tools to link national and regional energy modeling with local initiatives. Ultimately, his research supports increased renewable energy use across Canada.

Morten Nielsen (Economics) has been renewed as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Time Series Econometrics. Dr. Nielsen’s research develops new and improved statistical methods for analyzing time-series data. Such methods are widely used in applied macro-economics, financial economics,
and many other fields.

R. Kerry Rowe (Civil Engineering) has been renewed as a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. The prevention of groundwater contamination at landfill and mining sites is a critical environmental issue. Dr. Rowe’s research will combine modeling and experimental data to investigate long-term performance of various landfill liner systems, and provide new guidelines for the design of anti-contamination systems for future landfills and mining operations.

For more information on Queen’s CRC holders and the program, visit the website.

Forecasting an innovative partnership

A new agreement will see Queen’s become the research and development hub for The PRS Group, a leading firm specializing in quantitative analysis-based risk forecasts

Take a scan of the daily news and you will find a world in motion with each day bringing new developments and new challenges. Trying to weigh all that happens in a day and make a prediction – about whether a particular investment makes sense, or whether a country has become more or less safe – is difficult. Yet, at the same time, technological advances are offering analysts new opportunities to refine and strengthen their predictions, and there is a strong demand for accurate, reliable estimates.

This is why The PRS Group, a leading firm that specializes in quantitative analysis-based risk forecasts, is looking to harness artificial intelligence to augment its products, and PRS wants to partner with Queen’s to help make it happen. Queen’s and The PRS Group recently announced the signing of a five-year Memorandum of Understanding. Under this agreement, Queen’s and PRS will jointly form an Artificial Intelligence Initiative that will harness the strengths of Queen’s, create opportunities for both graduate students and faculty members, and set in motion the development and commercialization of highly sophisticated analytical tools.

“The PRS Group | Queen’s University Artificial Intelligence Initiative unites two innovative partners in support of cutting-edge research and student learning,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s. “This collaboration with The PRS Group will provide faculty and graduate students with valuable opportunities to engage in hands-on learning and research with numerous organizations. Additionally, this partnership establishes Queen’s as the research and development hub for the company, growing our research reputation. I want to thank our Office of Partnerships & Innovation for their efforts in establishing this relationship.”

The PRS Group logo. The tagline reads "Est. 1979 - Challenging Borders, Challenging Risk." (Supplied Photo)

Under this agreement, the company, which is based in Syracuse, New York, will leverage the expertise of Queen’s faculty and graduate students through research contracts and internships, and the expertise and resources of the Centre for Advanced Computing (CAC) to broaden and deepen the company’s analytical capabilities. The PRS Group will also promote its collaboration with Queen’s to attract joint research and service contracts from its roster of international clients, including the world’s largest institutional investors, central banks, sovereign wealth funds, multinational corporations, and leading academic institutions.

“Our agreement with Queen’s University establishes The PRS Group as the only quant-driven political risk firm that combines four decades of independently back-tested proprietary risk data with sophisticated algorithms and artificial intelligence”, says Christopher McKee (PhD’94), CEO of The PRS Group. “Our initial work with the Centre for Advanced Computing at Queen’s has delivered very insightful analyses, and attracted significant global interest.”

The Cognitive Development Hub of the CAC and PRS hope to work together to find ways artificial intelligence could be used to identify risk factors faster and more accurately, thus providing PRS and its clients with insights to help direct future investments. The Queen’s Economics Department (QED) is also interested in engaging with The PRS Group in the future, and more Queen’s departments may take advantage of this collaboration down the line.

“Several faculty members have interest in empirical cross-country, economic and political issues and use-related data, others are engaged in work on financial risk management and regulation, and several faculty and students are focused on developing new methods for analyzing time-series and cross-sectional data,” says Huw Lloyd-Ellis, head of QED. “We look forward to the opportunities still to come through this new collaboration.”

To learn more about The PRS Group, visit www.prsgroup.com

A cut above

Public lecture will highlight cutting-edge surgical tool that will change the way tumours are removed.

Researchers from Queen’s University, Kingston Health Sciences Centre, and Imperial College in London, England are breaking new ground with a cutting-edge technology that could transform the way tumour removal surgery is performed.

Zoltan Takats (r) discusses the benefits of the iKnife, an innovative surgical tool that can detect cancer by analyzing or ‘smelling’ smoke created during surgery. (Photo by Matthew Manor)

The Intelligent Knife or ‘iKnife,’ developed by researchers at Imperial College London, is an innovative tool that can detect cancer by analyzing or ‘smelling’ smoke created during surgery. With a global reputation for work in developing image-guided surgical interventions that could enhance use of the iKnife technology, Queen’s has been asked to join a consortium to advance the tool’s capabilities.

“Surgeons and researchers from Queen’s University have joined a consortium of three academic partners and a corporate sponsor to investigate the possible uses of the iKnife,” says Dr. John Rudan (Head, Department of Surgery). “The iKnife has the potential to revolutionize the surgical treatment of cancer. Queen’s expertise in image-guided surgery and cancer research provides unique expertise important to the further development of the iKnife.”

At this time, the iKnife is an investigative research and surgical tool. Kingston will become the first city in North America to have access to the technology, joining a small number of centres in Europe. Intensive research will be done over the next several years at Queen’s with the iKnife being used in the operating rooms.

The iKnife was invented by Zoltan Takats, a member of the Department of Cancer and Surgery at Imperial College London, who is visiting Queen’s from Nov. 6 to 10 as the Dr. Andrew Bruce and Margaret Bruce Visiting Scholar in Surgical Innovation. Established by Dr. Andrew and Margaret Bruce, the endowment will be used to support the hosting of prominent scholars at Queen’s. These visiting scholars will bring special expertise in the area of surgical scholarship, introduce new research and ideas, teach new methodologies to Queen’s medical scientists and clinicians, and provide new concepts to Queen’s students.

The public is invited to hear Dr. Takats present a talk entitled, What Do the Molecules Tell Us? - The quiet revolution of chemical information, on the importance of molecular imaging in surgery, at a public lecture on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 4:30 pm at the Britton Smith Lecture Theatre in the Queen’s Medical Education Building on Arch Street.

A scientific success

Post-doctoral fellow Kelly Suschinsky is one of only five Canadian women honoured with a research award from L’Oréal and UNESCO.

Kelly Suschinsky, a post-doctoral fellow at Queen's University, has been awarded one of the top awards in Canada for women working in the scientific research field. Dr. Suschinsky has been awarded a L’Oréal-UNESCO 2017 Excellence in Research Fellowship, awarded to support major post-doctoral research projects undertaken by young Canadians.

A post-doctoral fellow working in the Sexuality and Gender Laboratory (SAGE), Dr. Suschinsky’s research focuses on relationships between sexual desire and arousal.

Kelly Suschinsky has earned a L'Oreal-UNESCO 2017 Excellent in Research Fellowship.

“A lot of past research has focused on men’s sexual arousal and desire and suggested desire was spontaneous,” says Dr. Suschinsky (Psychology). “What we are finding by studying women is that desire for women isn’t necessarily spontaneous. It tends to be triggered or cued by sexual arousal.”

The $20,000 in funding will allow Dr. Suschinsky to start a new research project in the SAGE Laboratory at Queen’s.

“It will allow me to conduct a new study around the relationships between sexual desire, arousal, and goals in women,” says Dr. Suschinsky. “We know women who have higher desire tend to engage in sex for different reasons than other women. We want to uncover why.”

Since 1998, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation and UNESCO have been committed to increase the number of women working in scientific research. Since the program began, it has supported more than 2,700 women from 115 countries, including Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Ada Yonath, who went on to win a Nobel Prize.

Dr. Suschinsky talks about the challenge facing women researchers, specifically working in scientific research.

“Women in 2017 still encounter challenges when they are in a scientific field," she says. "We tend to go to school for long periods of time and the careers we chose tend to be fairly demanding. It’s difficult to determine if you want to start a family and to balance those commitments with continuing a research program. Sometimes it is difficult to find a balance between those two competing interests.”

The award was presented by Liette Vasseur, President of the Natural, Social and Human Sciences Sectoral Commission of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

“Tonight, we honor women of science, because the L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO have a conviction that is also obvious: the world needs science and science needs women, because women of science have the power to change the world,” says Frank Kollmar, President and CEO of L’Oréal Canada. “These five young researchers represent the future of scientific excellence in Canada and the advancement of our society.”

Investing in research = investing in people

Symposium highlights the importance of research in the development of highly qualified personnel.

People are the key. In particular, highly qualified personnel (HQP) are a key part of the equation for scientific discoveries, evidence-based decision-making, and for building a foundation for economic growth and social progress. Stakeholder recognition of the value to society from training HQP is more important than ever before: the next generation of researchers will tackle the world’s most pressing issues and we must make sure they are prepared.

Investment in people was the dominant theme in The Importance of Research in the Development of Highly Qualified Personnel, a Queen’s University-hosted symposium as part of the Canadian Science Policy Conference, Nov. 1-3 in Ottawa. The symposium featured remarks from Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Art McDonald, Queen’s professor emeritus and 2015 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, and a keynote from Cathleen Crudden, Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry. Each echoed the sentiment that research training at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels is critical to the development of the HQP needed by Canada’s knowledge economy, and that Canada has not kept pace internationally regarding investments in this area.

“We cannot do more with less,”  Dr. Crudden says. “A substantial increase in support for investigator-led funding is extremely important and will provide a major source of enhanced support for students and training of HQP across the ecosystem.”

A panel, moderated by Ted Hsu, former Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, featured representatives from academia, government and industry, developed into a dynamic discussion on the return on investment for training of HQP and the importance of effectively communicating this value proposition to decision-makers and industry leaders.

“We cannot do more with less. A substantial increase in support for investigator-led funding is extremely important and will provide a major source of enhanced support for students and training of HQP across the ecosystem.”
                   – Cathleen Crudden, Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry

“The symposium was stimulating and thought provoking,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “The symposium highlighted the fact that Canadian universities need to tell a better story about the remarkable value and impact of research in terms of generating what the government calls 'highly qualified personnel.' HQP are the talented individuals who emerge from research training to drive our knowledge economy and routinely produce commercializeable products. We need to highlight the impacts that HQP are making and how they are dependent on investment in fundamental research.”

Investing in fundamental science = investing in people

The symposium was inspired by advocacy efforts to encourage the federal government’s implementation of the 35 recommendations outlined in Canada’s Fundamental Science Review, Investing in Canada’s Future: Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research.

Commonly referred to as the “Naylor Report” after its lead author, the review was commissioned by Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan and was developed by a panel of nine non-partisan experts, including Dr. McDonald. The report, released in spring 2017, focuses on the importance of fundamental research support to Canada, andalso to its global competitiveness.

The university supports the review’s recommendations and is committed to working collaboratively with the government to advance Canada’s leadership in fundamental science. In addition to a statement of support and an op-ed in University Affairs penned by Daniel Woolf, the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) developed resources to aid those wishing to #supportthereport. Individual researchers have also added their voices to the discussion: last week, Andrew Craig (Cancer Research Institute), penned a piece for The Conversation Canada, subsequently repurposed in the National Post, Maclean’s and other media outlets, stressing that “Science in Canada needs funding, not photo ops.”

“The review’s recommendations have been presented to government and we are hopeful for a positive response, said Dr. Art McDonald.  “Federal investment in fundamental science has slumped in recent decades, especially support for individual researchers, who are key. If we want Canada to become a global research powerhouse, we need to invest in the people – the HQP – who will elevate our competitive advantages.”

For more information on Queen’s advocacy efforts and how you can #supportthereport, please contact the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research).

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