Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Research Prominence

Celebrating research excellence

  • John Fisher, interim Vice-Principal (Research), welcomes guests to the celebration of research excellence, held in Stauffer Library's Alan G. Green Fireplace Reading Room. (University Communications)
    John Fisher, interim Vice-Principal (Research), welcomes guests to the celebration of research excellence, held in Stauffer Library's Alan G. Green Fireplace Reading Room. (University Communications)
  • Nobel Laureate Art McDonald speaks about the importance of the Fundamental Science Review, published earlier this year, during Friday's celebration of research excellence. (University Communications)
    Nobel Laureate Art McDonald speaks about the importance of the Fundamental Science Review, published earlier this year, during Friday's celebration of research excellence. (University Communications)
  • Scholars attending Friday's celebration of research excellence listen to Nobel Laureate Art McDonald as he speaks about the Fundamental Science Review. (University Communications)
    Scholars attending Friday's celebration of research excellence listen to Nobel Laureate Art McDonald as he speaks about the Fundamental Science Review. (University Communications)
  • Nobel Laureate Art McDonald chats with Amir Fam, Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies) in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, ahead of his speaking engagement.  (University Communications)
    Nobel Laureate Art McDonald chats with Amir Fam, Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies) in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, ahead of his speaking engagement. (University Communications)
  • The celebration of research excellence event honoured scholars who have received federal and provincial research funding for the first time, funding from the Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds (QROF) program, external research awards, and internal honours such as the Prizes for Excellence in Research. (University Communications)
    The celebration of research excellence event honoured scholars who have received federal and provincial research funding for the first time, funding from the Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds (QROF) program, external research awards, and internal honours such as the Prizes for Excellence in Research. (University Communications)

Queen’s scholars across disciplines were recognized at a celebration of research excellence on Sept. 29, held in the Alan G. Green Fireplace Reading Room in Stauffer Library.

Hosted by interim Vice-Principal (Research) John Fisher, the celebration honoured scholars who have received federal and provincial research funding for the first time, funding from the Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds (QROF) program, external research awards, and internal honours such as the Prizes for Excellence in Research. Notably, over the last year, Queen’s researchers have been the recipients of national and international honours from the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Royal Society of Canada, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

According to Maclean’s magazine, Queen’s scholars are highly decorated – ranking first in faculty awards and accolades from 2003-2012, and have since maintained the second spot.

Attendees also listened to Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald speak about the importance of the Fundamental Science Review (commonly referred to as the Naylor Report), published earlier this year. The report was commissioned by Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan and was developed by a panel of nine non-partisan experts that included Dr. McDonald. The report focuses on the importance of fundamental research support to Canada, and also to its global competitiveness.

Dr. McDonald urged guests to write to their federal Members of Parliament and Ministers to ensure that the recommendations outlined within the report lead to meaningful action. A statement issued by Principal Daniel Woolf in April upon the release of the report also shows Queen’s support for fundamental science advocacy. Resources to assist in writing a letter in support of the Fundamental Science Review can be found on the website of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research).

Queen’s is a member of the U15 group of Canadian research-intensive universities, and our faculty and students are advancing research programs that have real world impact and are addressing global challenges.

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.

How healthy is the Canadian health care system?


File 20170828 1612 bhj9um
Our rapidly aging society will place even greater pressure on the already expensive and mediocre Canadian health-care system. (Shutterstock)

Canada’s health-care system is a point of Canadian pride. We hold it up as a defining national characteristic and an example of what makes us different from Americans. The system has been supported in its current form, more or less, by parties of all political stripes — for nearly 50 years.


Our team at the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies Health Policy Council is a group of seasoned and accomplished health-care leaders in health economics, clinical practice, education, research and health policy. We study, teach and comment on health policy and the health-care system from multiple perspectives.

While highly regarded, Canada’s health-care system is expensive and faces several challenges. These challenges will only be exacerbated by the changing health landscape in an aging society. Strong leadership is needed to propel the system forward into a sustainable health future.

A national health insurance model

The roots of Canada’s system lie in Saskatchewan, when then-premier Tommy Douglas’s left-leaning Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) government first established a provincial health insurance program. This covered universal hospital (in 1947) and then doctors’ costs (in 1962). The costs were shared 50/50 with the federal government for hospitals beginning in 1957 and for doctors in 1968.

This new model inspired fierce opposition from physicians and insurance groups but proved extremely popular with the people of Saskatchewan and elsewhere. Throughout the 1960s, successive provincial and territorial governments adopted the “Saskatchewan model” and in 1972 the Yukon Territory was the last sub-national jurisdiction to adopt it.

Read this article in French: Système de santé canadien : un bilan en demi-teinte

In 1968, the National Medical Care Insurance Act was implemented, in which the federal government agreed to contribute 50 per cent toward the cost of provincial insurance plans. In 1984 the Canada Health Act outlawed the direct billing of patients supplementary to insurance payments to physicians.

The five core principles of the Canadian system were now established: universality (all citizens are covered), comprehensiveness (all medically essential hospital and doctors’ services), portability (among all provinces and territories), public administration (of publicly funded insurance) and accessibility.

For the last 50 years, Canada’s health-care system has remained essentially unchanged despite numerous pressures.

Long wait times

The quality of the Canadian health-care system has been called into question, however, for several consecutive years now by the U.S.-based Commonwealth Fund. This is a highly respected, non-partisan organization that annually ranks the health-care systems of 11 nations. Canada has finished either ninth or 10th now for several years running.

One challenge for Canadian health care is access. Most Canadians have timely access to world-class care for urgent and emergent problems like heart attacks, strokes and cancer care. But for many less urgent problems they typically wait as long as many months or even years.

Patients who require hip or knee replacements, shoulder or ankle surgery, cataract surgery or a visit with a specialist for a consultation often wait far longer than is recommended. Many seniors who are not acutely ill also wait in hospitals for assignment to a long-term care facility, for months and, on occasion, years.

Canada ranks 9th out of 11 countries in The Commonwealth Fund ‘Mirror, Mirror 2017’ report.

And it’s not just accessibility that is the problem. Against measures of effectiveness, safety, coordination, equity, efficiency and patient-centredness, the Canadian system is ranked by the Commonwealth Fund as mediocre at best. We have an expensive system of health care that is clearly under-performing.

A landscape of chronic disease

How is it that Canada has gone from a world leader to a middle- (or maybe even a bottom-) of-the-pack performer?

Canada and Canadians have changed, but our health-care system has not adapted. In the 1960s, health-care needs were largely for the treatment of acute disease and injuries. The hospital and doctor model was well-suited to this reality.

Medical care offered in homes can be more efficient and comfortable than hospital visits. (Shutterstock)

Today, however, the health-care landscape is increasingly one of chronic disease. Diabetes, dementia, heart failure, chronic lung disease and other chronic conditions characterize the health-care profiles of many Canadian seniors.

Hospitals are still needed, to be sure. But increasingly, the population needs community-based solutions. We need to “de-hospitalize” the system to some degree so that we can offer care to Canadians in homes or community venues. Expensive hospitals are no place for seniors with chronic diseases.

Another major challenge for Canadian health care is the narrow scope of services covered by provincial insurance plans. “Comprehensiveness” of coverage, in fact, applies only to physician and hospital services. For many other important services, including dental care, out-of-hospital pharmaceuticals, long-term care, physiotherapy, some homecare services and many others, coverage is provided by a mixture of private and public insurance and out-of-pocket payments beyond the reach of many low-income Canadians.

And this is to say nothing of the social determinants of health, like nutrition security, housing and income. None of these have ever been considered a part of the health-care “system,” even though they are just as important to Canadians’ health as doctors and hospital services are.

Aging population, increasing costs

Canada’s health-care system is subject to numerous pressures.

First of all, successive federal governments have been effectively reducing their cash contributions since the late 1970s when tax points were transferred to the provinces and territories. Many worry that if the federal share continues to decline as projected, it will become increasingly difficult to achieve national standards. The federal government may also lose the moral authority to enforce the Canada Health Act.

A second challenge has been the increasing cost of universal hospital insurance. As economic growth has waxed and waned over time, governments have increased their health budgets at different rates. In 2016, total spending on health amounted to approximately 11.1 per cent of the GDP (gross domestic product); in 1975, it was about 7 per cent of GDP.

Overall, total spending on health care in Canada now amounts to over $6,000 (US$4,790) per citizen. Compared to comparably developed countries, Canada’s health-care system is definitely on the expensive side.

Canada’s aging population will apply additional pressure to the health-care system over the next few years as the Baby Boom generation enters their senior years. In 2014, for the first time in our history, there were more seniors than children in Canada.

The fact that more Canadians are living longer and healthier than ever before is surely a towering achievement for our society, but it presents some economic challenges. On average, it costs more to provide health care for older people.

In addition, some provinces (the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and British Columbia in particular) are aging faster than the others. This means that these provinces, some of which face the prospects of very modest economic growth, will be even more challenged to keep up with increasing health costs in the coming years.

Actions we can take now

The failure of our system to adapt to Canadians’ changing needs has left us with a very expensive health-care system that delivers mediocre results. Canadians should have a health-care system that is truly worthy of their confidence and trust. There are four clear steps that could be taken to achieve this:

1. Integration and innovation

Health-care stakeholders in Canada still function in silos. Hospitals, primary care, social care, home care and long-term care all function as entities unto themselves. There is poor information sharing and a general failure to serve common patients in a coordinated way. Ensuring that the patient is at the centre — regardless of where or by whom they are being served — will lead to better, safer, more effective and less expensive care. Investments in information systems will be key to the success of these efforts.

2. Enhanced accountability

Those who serve Canadians for their health-care needs need to transition to accountability models focused on outcomes rather than outputs. Quality and effectiveness should be rewarded rather than the amount of service provided. Alignment of professional, patient and system goals ensures that everyone is pulling their oars in the same direction.

3. Broaden the definition of comprehensiveness

We know many factors influence the health of Canadians in addition to doctors’ care and hospitals. So why does our “universal” health-care system limit its coverage to doctors’ and hospital services? A plan that seeks health equity would distribute its public investment across a broader range of services. A push for universal pharmacare, for example, is currently under way in Canada. Better integration of health and social services would also serve to address more effectively the social determinants of health.

4. Bold leadership

The ConversationBold leadership from both government and the health sector is essential to bridge the gaps and break down the barriers that have entrenched the status quo. Canadians need to accept that seeking improvements and change does not mean sacrificing the noble ideals on which our system was founded. On the contrary, we must change to honour and maintain those ideals. Our leaders should not be afraid to set aspirational goals.

Chris Simpson, Professor of Medicine and Vice-Dean (Clinical), School of Medicine; David Walker, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Executive Director of the School of Policy Studies; Don Drummond, Stauffer-Dunning Fellow in Global Public Policy and Adjunct Professor at the School of Policy Studies; Duncan Sinclair, Professor of Health Services and Policy Research; and Ruth Wilson, Professor of Family Medicine.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Celebrating a unique international partnership

Representatives from the University of Gondar, Queen’s University and the Mastercard Foundation highlight US$24 million collaboration 

  • Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf, Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning, Mastercard Foundation and Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar exchange university flags to mark the partnership. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf, Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning, Mastercard Foundation and Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar exchange university flags to mark the partnership. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
  • PhD student Molalign Adugna, Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar, chat with Principal Daniel Woolf and Marcia Finlayson, Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director of School of Rehabilitation Therapy. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    PhD student Molalign Adugna, Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar, chat with Principal Daniel Woolf and Marcia Finlayson, Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director of School of Rehabilitation Therapy. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
  • A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony was part of the celebration, featuring freshly roasted beans. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony was part of the celebration, featuring freshly roasted beans. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
  • Guests at the launch event, held at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, also enjoyed Ethiopian bread and other traditional foods. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    Guests at the launch event, held at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, also enjoyed Ethiopian bread and other traditional foods. (Photo by Stephen Wild)

It takes plenty of behind the scenes work to get a 10-year, multi-million dollar program up and running. Over the past nine months, people at the University of Gondar and Queen’s University have been working closely with the Mastercard Foundation to put in place all the supports needed to launch the unique international academic and research program.

This week, representatives from all three organizations gathered in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre to celebrate accomplishments so far and to highlight the opportunities the

[Mastercard Scholars Foundation logo]

Learn more about The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program

US$24 million partnership will bring. Its overarching aim is to create outstanding and inclusive educational opportunities for young people with disabilities in Ethiopia and other countries in Africa under the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. At the same time, Queen’s will be welcoming University of Gondar faculty members who are dedicated to pursuing their PhDs or Masters.

“I want to acknowledge the vision of the Mastercard Foundation and particularly commend their leadership for choosing a program with such great social purpose,” said Daniel Woolf, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “It is the beginning of a partnership and the beginning of an exchange of cultures and knowledge that will benefit all of us.”

Under the partnership, 450 African students will become Mastercard Scholars and receive a high quality education at the University of Gondar. In total, the University will provide 290 undergraduate and 160 master’s level degrees in multidisciplinary fields that will encompass health sciences, law, education, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences, taking special care to recruit young people with disabilities, as well as young people from conflict-affected countries.

The University of Gondar will also deliver an annual Summer Leadership Camp for Scholars across the program, as well as a robust, practicum-based experiential program focused on giving back to community, through service and leadership skill development in the field of community-based rehabilitation.

For its part, Queen’s will be providing 60 University of Gondar’s faculty members with an opportunity to study here -- 16 in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program and 44 in PhD programs in various disciplines across the university. All faculty members who will study at Queen’s will enhance their skills in innovative pedagogy and in topics related to disability and inclusion on the continent.

The project will also offer funding for collaborative research to be conducted jointly on disability, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), and inclusive education, with co-Principal Investigators from the University of Gondar and from Queen’s.

The University of Gondar and Queen’s University will also collaborate to develop Ethiopia’s first Undergraduate Occupational Therapy program and will create a CBR certificate program for Mastercard Scholars at the University of Gondar.

“Along with the Mastercard Foundation, I would also like to thank Queen’s University for being an exceptional partner in providing high-caliber expertise in the areas of faculty development, research, and community based rehabilitation,” said Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic at the University of Gondar. “Global partnerships such at this are crucial to realizing our ambition to change the world for the better.”

Also sharing their thoughts at the event, were the first two University of Gondar faculty members to arrive at Queen’s to begin work on their PhDs.

“From my experience in teaching and administration, I have observed there is a great need for inclusion, visibility and equal access to education and employment for students with disabilities in Ethiopia,” said Molalighn Adugna, PhD Student. “I am very excited to be one of the 60 faculty who will receive further training here at this remarkable institution in order to return and support the vision of the University of Gondar to serve the community.”

Both students arrived in June and will be here for the next two years, before heading back to UoG to complete their dissertations.

“When I complete my study, I will pass my knowledge, skills and experiences to the next generation through teaching, research and most importantly by serving my community through strengthening clinical care,” said Mulugeta Chala, PhD student. “I want to thank the Mastercard Foundation for realizing this need and creating the opportunity for African youth like me to learn and prosper.”

Worldwide, the Mastercard Foundation runs a network of 28 Scholars Programs that provide education and leadership development for nearly 35,000 bright, young leaders with a deep personal commitment to changing the world around them.

“There are more than 80 million people across Africa who are living with disabilities and these young men and women deserve an inclusive education that’s designed to help them thrive, and professors and faculty that are committed to ensuring that they develop their skills,” said Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning, Mastercard Foundation. “The Mastercard Foundation played a role in bringing your institutions together based on common objectives, but your vision, commitment, and your passion for working together has truly exceeded all of our expectations.”

Over the coming weeks, the Gazette will continue its coverage of this partnership with a look at some of the experiences of students and faculty taking part in the program so far.

Visit Flickr to see more photos of the Mastercard celebration.

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.

Queen’s surgical pioneer receives top health science award

Queen’s University researcher John Rudan (Surgery) has been formally inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Fellowship, one of Canada’s premier academic honours. An internationally recognized trailblazer in orthopaedic surgery, Dr. Rudan was selected for his global leadership, academic performance and scientific creativity.

"John Rudan"
John Rudan (Surgery) has been inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Fellowship, one of Canada’s premier academic honour, for his global leadership, academic performance and scientific creativity. (University Communications)

“I am extremely honoured to be elected as a fellow to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences,” says Dr. Rudan, Head of the Department of Surgery at Queen’s and the Britton Smith Chair in Surgery. “Throughout my career I’ve remained focused on the innovative clinical outcomes of research so as to improve quality of life for patients sooner. I owe this recognition to an interdisciplinary approach that brought together a variety of expert perspectives to solve complex problems.”

Notably, Dr. Rudan helped to establish the Human Mobility Research Centre (HMRC), which engages experts in tissue biology, kinematics, biomaterials and imaging to improve clinical practice in orthopaedics. Within this group of clinicians, basic scientists, and electrical, mechanical and software engineers, he was able to pioneer many new treatments and technologies.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Rudan has engineered several procedures, including the design and implementation of computer-assisted surgeries – even performing the world’s first-ever computer-assisted knee re-alignment.

“Dr. Rudan is an accomplished researcher whose clinical research innovations have greatly improved patient health and mobility,” says John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s University. “This recognition speaks to his research excellence, his forward-thinking approach to surgical science and his desire to continually improve operative and post-operative care. On behalf of Queen’s, I extend my sincerest congratulations on this important award.”

Dr. Rudan’s efforts to integrate computer-assisted procedures into the operating theatre have generated over 240 peer-reviewed publications and over $20 million in grant funding.

Impressively, Dr. Rudan is also a named inventor on 23 patent applications and 20 patents worldwide – a testament to his ability to identify and fix clinical problems using an approach that expedites the manner in which technologies are prototyped and clinically validated.

“My philosophy in orthopaedics recognizes that as much as it is my personal goal to improve the mobility and function of my patients, surgical intervention will never fully recreate the exquisite engineering of the human skeleton,” says Dr. Rudan. “That said, by drawing on expertise across disciplines we can continue to design solutions that will vastly improve patient care.”

Canada’s largest STEM scholarships name Queen's recipients

Schulich Leader Scholarships names four Queen’s University recipients.

Four Queen’s University students have been named recipients of Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) scholarships, the Schulich Leader Scholarships.

Seymour Schulich spoke at Queen's University last year at the opening of a new rare book collection.

Johann Sapim of Toronto, Ontario and Laure Halabi of Whitby, Ontario are studying engineering and will each receive $100,000 over their four years of study. Ryley Molloy of Lindsay, Ontario and Jacob Meadus of Conception Bay South, Newfoundland will each receive $80,000 towards their undergraduate studies at Queen’s. Mr. Malloy and Mr. Meadus are both pursuing their Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree.

Created in 2011 by Canadian business leader and philanthropist Seymour Schulich, this annual scholarship program encourages high school graduates to embrace STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in their future careers.

Laure Halabi

“Schulich Leader scholarship recipients are the best and brightest STEM students in Canada,” says Mr. Schulich.  “I truly believe that many of these students will make great contributions to society, both on a national and global scale. With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurriculars, and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of technology innovators.”

This year, there were over 1,300 Schulich Leader nominees from across Canada vying for 50 scholarships, valued at up to $100,000 each. Since inception, 270 students have received this scholarship.

Jacob Meadus

“The Schulich scholarships are another example of Seymour Schulich’s outstanding commitment to post-secondary education in Canada,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “This award is highly competitive and we are proud to have four winners again this year. This is a perfect example of the high quality of first-year students studying at Queen’s University.”

Mr. Molloy says he felt a great feeling of relief with the lifting of the financial burden associated with post-secondary studies which enhances his ability to succeed while Ms. Sapim says the scholarship shows that people can achieve their goals through hard work.

“Receiving the Schulich Leader scholarship has served for me as a confirmation to this idea. I hope that my experience can inspire others to never give up on their goals, their ideas and most of all themselves. Everyone has the potential to accomplish great things; you just have to be willing to set your mind to it,” says Ms. Sapim.

Ryley Molloy

Mr. Meadus calls the Schulich Scholarship his “golden ticket” adding the funding will make all of his life aspirations accessible and possible. Living on campus, studying abroad, attending such a prestigious institution as Queen's, all of these things – once vivid pipe dreams – are now my reality. I am truly blessed.”

Johann Sapim

“I cannot begin to describe how much this scholarship has changed my family's life and mine. It has provided me with the foundation and support that I needed to fulfill my dream of becoming an engineer and change the world. My family and I are forever grateful for this incredible opportunity,” says Ms. Halabi, who was born in Lebanon and speaks English and Arabic.

“Both Seymour Schulich and Queen’s University want to help develop the leaders of tomorrow, and we are delighted to welcome these four exceptional students to campus. We are grateful to the Schulich Foundation for its commitment to supporting these students in their post-secondary pursuits,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs.

For more information on the scholarships and full profiles of the Queen’s recipients visit the website.

New scientific director for Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) has a new scientific director with David Pedlar being appointed for a five-year term beginning Dec. 1.

"David Pedlar"
David Pedlar begins his five-year term as scientific director of CIMVHR on Dec. 1 (Supplied Photo)

Dr. Pedlar brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and leadership to CIMVHR and, since 2002, held the position of national director of research for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

CIMVHR is partnered with 37 universities across Canada. The institute acts as a channel between the academic community, government organizations, industry and similar international organizations to address the health and well-being of military personnel, veterans and their families. 

Dr. Pedlar built VAC’s research capacity by founding and growing the department’s research directorate, executed numerous research programs on veteran health, and led the groundbreaking Life After Service Studies program of research in partnership with Statistics Canada and the Department of National Defence.

At Queen’s, Dr. Pedlar will join the School of Rehabilitation Therapy as a professor in the physical therapy program. He previously held the positions of adjunct professor at both the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Prince Edward Island and the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University. In 2015, he was named the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Military Social Work at the University of Southern California where he continues as an International Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families.

For further information see the news release announcing Dr. Pedlar’s appointment.

Queen’s student venture victorious in Singapore

They travelled to the other side of the world to put their business plans to the test, and in the end the Spectra Plasmonics team came up victorious at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition.

"Spectra Plasmonics Team Members"
The Spectra Plasmonics team is comprised of, from left: Yusuf Ahmed, Malcome Eade, Christian Baldwin, Tyler Whitney, Ryan Picard. (Photo by James McLellan)

As part of their winnings, the team will receive $125,000 in cash and tens of thousands of dollars in services, prizes, including legal, corporate and marketing support.

The competition was hosted by Singapore Management University and the Queen’s team was up against 35 other teams flown in specially for the competition.

The Spectra Plasmonics team is made up of Tyler Whitney (Comm’17, Artsci’18), Ryan Picard (Sc’17), Malcom Eade (Artsci’18), and Christian Baldwin (Sci'19) and Yusuf Ahmed (Sc’18). This past summer they took part in the Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition at Queen’s where they developed a chemical sensor that can be used for food safety, forensics, and law enforcement. With state-of-the-art capability, this device saves time and money in detecting trace levels of harmful compounds in complex mixtures.

“The win by Spectra Plasmonics is a testament to the character and effort put in by the team, to our strong academic programming and the leading edge research underway at Queen’s, and to the resources we have in place at Queen’s to support student entrepreneurs,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. “Congratulations to the entire Spectra Plasmonics team, and the Queen’s researchers behind the chemical detection technology, on their outstanding accomplishment.”

This venture demonstrates the success of the Foundry Program, developed together by the Office of Partnerships and Innovation and the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre to provide the opportunity for researchers who have intellectual property with commercial potential to work with students who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurship. Spectra Plasmonics is building a venture around some of the surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy intellectual property that Hannah Dies, Aris Docoslis, Carlos Escobedo and Josh Raveendran - all of the Chemical Engineering department - have been developing. 

Learn more about the team, their technology and their trip to Singapore, in this previous Gazette story. You can also meet Mr. Picard and Mr. Ahmed and learn more about their business in this short video.

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."


Subscribe to RSS - Research Prominence