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Research Prominence

Researchers revolutionize cardiac procedure

Queen’s doctors first in Canada to successfully complete operation to treat patients who suffer from common heart condition.

Queen’s University researchers Gianluigi Bisleri (Surgery) and Benedict Glover (Medicine) became the first doctors in Canada to compete a hybrid cardiac ablation procedure. The procedure, which was completed at the Kingston Health Science Centre, is a treatment for patients who suffer from the heart condition atrial fibrillation, an irregular and often rapid heart rate.

The new procedure will help patients heal faster, stop or reduce their use of medication, as well as reduce the number of future hospital visits that they require.

“No other centre or clinician has ever performed this hybrid procedure (combining a closed-chest surgical ablation with a transcatheter mapping) in Canada,” explains Dr. Bisleri. “Furthermore, the use of the Ensite Precision cardiac mapping system makes this procedure even more unique, since maybe only other one centre in the United States may have done this procedure so far.”

Ensite Precision technology provides highly detailed models and maps of the heart: Dr. Glover was the first cardiologist in North America to utilize this technology in late 2016.

"Patients have historically relied on medication along with traditional cardiac ablation procedures to help restore normal heart rhythms. During a traditional ablation procedure, physicians create scars inside the heart which prevent abnormal electrical signals from moving through the heart tissue. This traditional approach is typically performed either by inserting long, flexible tubes with wires into the heart through the patient’s groin or by using more invasive surgical approaches that often require opening the chest and stopping the heart," says Dr. Glover.

With the new procedure, a cardiologist uses digital technology to map the inside of the heart while the surgeon performs ablation on the outside of the heart using another specialized device. This requires only three keyhole incisions to navigate to the heart, removing the need to open a patient’s chest.

“So far, we have performed two cases and we are planning to continue performing two cases per month during the early stages of this newly developed program. We obviously have plans to further expand our volumes in the near future, since a larger majority of patients could benefit from this innovative strategy,” says Dr. Bisleri. “The outcomes have been excellent to date.Both patients underwent the hybrid procedure successfully and without perioperative complications, with a restoration of normal sinus rhythm at almost two months of follow-up.”

According to Dr. Bisleri, this procedure will also help reduce wait times, especially for patients who have received unsuccessful treatments so far.

“We are committed to further expand our understanding of the mechanisms of atrial fibrillation and the effects of ablation on it. We will also analyze the mid-long term outcomes of this patient population, as we envision this procedure has the potential not only to benefit the single patient but the healthcare system overall by reducing the need for repeated hospitalization or the likelihood to develop heart failure in the long term.”

Building research leaders

Queen’s researchers receive more than $1.8 million in research infrastructure funding from Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

Ten Queen’s University researchers have received more than $1.8 million in combined funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund. The fund supports researchers by providing the foundational research infrastructure required to undertake leading-edge research. The investment will allow for advanced research in a variety of fields – from cancer research to new materials for use within nuclear reactors.

“The investment announced today from the John R. Evans Leaders Fund is crucial to ensuring Queen’s researchers have the infrastructure necessary to remain on the leading edge of investigation,” says Dr. John Fisher, Queen’s Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “This funding will allow our researchers to train qualified personnel, collaborate with colleagues across Canada and around the world, and make important new developments in their fields.”

The following Queen’s researchers have received funding:

Janet Dancey (Canadian Cancer Trials Group) has received $197,065 to support the acquisition of a digital histology slide scanner. The scanner will allow CCTG to share digitized scans of slides prepared from tumour specimens to allow expert pathologists across Canada to contribute their expertise in diagnosis and classification of tumours, as well as to detect and quantify new biomarkers that could lead to improved treatments. (Principal users David LeBrun, Lois Shepherd)

Peter Davies (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has received $100,192 to allow his laboratory to purchase an advanced chromatography apparatus that can identify and separate proteins based on a variety of factors – such as size and shape. His research aims to better understand large and elaborate proteins to find new approaches to combatting diseases, by developing targeted treatments to replace antibiotics which fungi and bacteria have become resistant to. (Principal user John Allingham)

Birgit Frauscher’s (Medicine) research focuses on non-invasive EEG markers to identify the effected areas of the brain during an episode of epilepsy. She has received $139,914 to evaluate the role of sleep for novel non-invasive EEG biomarkers, in hopes of improving the ability to diagnosis epilepsy and plot a course of treatment.

Susan Lord (Film and Media) has received $400,000 to preserve and remediate a diverse collection of audio-visual products created by Indigenous peoples, women and local Kingston artists. Her work focuses on ensuring these archives – consisting of works created by groups whose media histories are often marginalized – are preserved and made available for students, researchers and the public at large, and ensuring that these work are maintained to facilitate discussion of cultural heritage. (Principal users Dylan Robinson, Rosaleen Hill)

Lois Mulligan’s (Cancer Research Institute) research is focused on uncovering signals that contribute to the spread of cancer with the aim of developing new treatments to counteract these signals. To support this research, she has received $124,040 to fund the purchase of new imaging technology that will allow her to track cancer cell motility and tumor growth in real time. (Principal users Andrew Craig, Peter Greer)

Diane Orihel (Environmental Studies) has received $167,602 to support the creation of an outdoor research facility to simulate aquatic pollution in model ecosystems. Through this model, Dr. Orihel will be able to understand more thoroughly the impact of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems and drinking water. Through this research, Dr. Orihel and her team will also play a role in developing solutions to these problems.

Michael Rainbow’s (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) research analyses how variations in our musculoskeletal systems – joint angles, bone shape and ligament stiffness – can lead to increased or decreased risk of injury. He has received $400,000 to support the development of a high-tech lab that will allow him and his team to make detailed measurements of the musculoskeletal system during high-demand movement activities, in order to better understand the factors at play in human motion.

David Rival (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) has received $76,520 to support the development of the Hemodynamics and Energy Mobility (HEMo) Laboratory. The proposed facility, unique in Canada, will use optical and acoustic imaging tools at a variety of scales to provide temporal and special tracking of various types of flow. The findings from this lab will have implications in a wide variety of fields – from biomedical device development (such as artificial heart valves) to renewable energy.

Graeme Smith (Obstetrics and Gynaecology/Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has received $63,540 to support his research into the role that issues in the development of small blood vessels in mothers and their children and the role they play in future development of heart disease, stroke and angina. Previous research has found a correlation between pre-eclampsia (a kind of high blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy) and underlying risk for future heart problems. Dr. Smith hopes to gain further insight into the linkages, as well as develop new screening methods to both prevent disease and improve pregnancy outcomes. (Principal user Amer Johri)

Zhongwen Yao’s (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) research focuses on the development of structural materials for nuclear power applications. He has received a $167,400 grant to support the development and testing of new nuclear cladding materials – which make up the outer layer of the fuel rods, standing between the coolant and the nuclear fuel – for use in nuclear power generation. The funding will support the development of a state-of-the-art fuel cladding research facility at Queen’s.

For more information on the supported projects, or to learn more about the John R. Evans Leaders fund, please visit the website.

Hands-on with innovation at Queen's

  • Mayor Bryan Paterson speaks with a QICSI student team regarding their start-up, during his tour of innovative research and development groups at Queen's.
    Mayor Bryan Paterson speaks with a QICSI student team regarding their start-up, during his tour of innovative research and development groups at Queen's.
  • Mayor Paterson tries out BitDrone programmable matter at the Human Media Lab, as HML director, Roel Vertegaal (Computing) looks on.
    Mayor Paterson tries out BitDrone programmable matter at the Human Media Lab, as HML director, Roel Vertegaal (Computing) looks on.
  • Mayor Paterson tries out the ReFlex bendable smartphone.
    Mayor Paterson tries out the ReFlex bendable smartphone.
  • Andras Lasso, Associate Director of the Perk Lab, demonstrates innovative new surgical equipment that improves recovery and prognosis for patients undergoing surgery for breast cancer.
    Andras Lasso, Associate Director of the Perk Lab, demonstrates innovative new surgical equipment that improves recovery and prognosis for patients undergoing surgery for breast cancer.
  • Mayor Patterson tries out another Perk Lab innovation, which utilizes virtual reality to assist in neurosurgery.
    Mayor Patterson tries out another Perk Lab innovation, which utilizes virtual reality to assist in neurosurgery.

On Thursday, August 10, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson took part in a tour of campus to learn more about the innovative research and entrepreneurship activities taking place at Queen's.

The tour commenced with a visit to participating teams in the Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative, where Mayor Paterson met with students and learned about the problems their new companies aimed to address, as well as the challenges and opportunities they've experienced.

Next, the tour visited the Human Media Lab, where lab director Roel Vertegaal demonstrated many of the lab's leading-edge creations, including a bendable smartphone and "programmable matter".

Finally, the tour visited the Perk Lab, where lab director Gabor Fitchinger (Computing) and his students demonstrated new computer-assisted surgical tools and medical education techniques.

Spring/Summer 2017 edition of (e)AFFECT Magazine

(e)AFFECT Spring/Summer 2017

The Spring/Summer 2017 edition of (e)AFFECT Magazine, Queen's University's research magazine, is now available. Watch for copies on campus, or visit the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) website to download a copy or view past issues.

In this edition:

  • Art of Research: The Power of a Picture: The results of the second annual Art of Research photo contest.
  • Small but Mighty: Professor Stephen Hughes explains the strange behaviour of photons at the nano scale. Did you know you can slow light down to a near standstill?
  • Equality and Voice:  Dr. Heather Aldersey discusses his research in community-based rehabilitation, and how she is working with communities across Africa and southern Asia to build research capacity and guide local research into topics that are most beneficial to people with disabilities and their families.
  • Rediscovering Kingston's Skeletons: Undergraduate Summer Student Research Fellowship recipient Ronen Goldfarb and his supervisor Dr. Laura Murray look into the history of the Swamp Ward and Inner Harbour neighbourhoods.
  • The 2016 recipients of the Prizes for Excellence in Research.

...and many more exciting updates about the leading research being done at Queen's. 

In addition, (e)AFFECT has launched a readership survey. We encourage all members of the Queen's community to participate to help us continue to improve. Take the survey.

Learn more about (e)AFFECT and access the magazine online at www.queensu.ca/vpr/eaffect.

World-class research facility receives funding

SNOLAB receives provincial funding worth $28.8 million.

Today, at Science North, Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, announced $28.8 million in provincial funding over the next five years to support the operation of the Queen’s-affiliated, SNOLAB, a world-class international facility for deep underground science. The laboratory is located two kilometres underground in the Vale Creighton mine in Sudbury.

"Provincial government and Queen's University representatives announce funding for SNOLAB"
John Fisher, Interim VP (Research), Minister Reza Moridi and SNOLAB director Nigel Smith (Physics) explored the underground laboratory prior to the funding announcement.

“SNOLAB is a world-renowned underground laboratory specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics, and our government is proud to continue supporting this important research,” says Minister Moridi. “Through investments in facilities like SNOLAB, Ontario is paving the way for future discoveries that can add to our understanding of the universe, as well as strengthening our province's competitive edge."

Born out of the Queen’s-led Sudbury Neutrino Observatory – for which Queen’s Professor Arthur McDonald was named the co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics – SNOLAB is one of only a handful of underground laboratories worldwide capable of supporting the current and future generations of subatomic and astroparticle physics experiments, seeking to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

The work conducted as part of the SNO collaboration and subsequently at SNOLAB has led to groundbreaking results cementing Canada’s, and Queen’s, reputation as a world leader in the field.  Building on this history of success, Queen’s is home to Gilles Gerbier, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Particle Astrophysics. SNOLAB continues to attract top-flight scientific collaborations, including the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre (CPARC).

"SNOLAB neutrino detector"
A researcher works deep underground in Sudbury.

"The provincial support for operations is crucial to Ontario's leadership in high impact fundamental research, the long-term competitiveness of Canada’s research facilities and affiliated universities such as Queen’s,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “The work happening at SNOLAB has, and will continue to have, a real and substantial impact on how we detect and understand the fundamental components of our universe, with a remarkable potential for wide spread impact.”

The funds will be used to employ the 96 staff at SNOLAB and support the operations and maintenance of our world-leading facilities, allowing Canadian researchers and their international partners to undertake world-class research into astroparticle physics, nuclear and particle physics, astronomy, genomics and mining innovation.

“SNOLAB is really delighted to be the recipient of continued operational funding from the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science,” says Nigel Smith (Physics), SNOLAB director. “Coupled with support from the federal government and in-kind support from Vale, our mining hosts, the $28.8 million award from the ministry will allow continued operations at SNOLAB over the next five years. This will allow us to attract and support world-leading experiments and researchers to Northern Ontario and maintain Canadian leadership within the global deep underground research community."

For more information on SNOLAB visit the website.


SNOLAB is an underground science laboratory specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics. Located two kilometres below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine located near Sudbury Ontario Canada, SNOLAB is an expansion of the existing facilities constructed for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) solar neutrino experiment. SNOLAB’s member institutions include Queen’s University, Carleton University, Laurentian University, Université de Montréal and the University of Alberta. Researchers at these institutions are active participants in the SNOLAB research program.

Queen’s student second Canadian to receive a Link Foundation Fellowship

"Queen’s PhD student Matthew Holden sits in front of a microscope at the Laboratory for Percutaneous Surgery"
Queen’s PhD student Matthew Holden has won a Link Foundation Fellowship in Modeling, Simulation, and Training. (Supplied photo)

Queen’s PhD student Matthew Holden has won a Link Foundation Fellowship in Modeling, Simulation, and Training – making Mr. Holden the second ever Canadian recipient of a Link Foundation Fellowship.

Mr. Holden studies in Queen’s School of Computing and his interdisciplinary research was recognized as a perfect fit in the context of the Link Foundation’s mission to support promising, innovative, and well-designed projects in the founders’ fields of interests.

“I am honoured to become a fellow of the Link Foundation and I am looking forward to dedicating myself fully to this research,” says Mr. Holden.

Established in 1953 by Edwin Link, inventor of the flight simulator, and his wife Marion, the Link Foundation offers awards in three major areas – energy, simulation, and ocean engineering and instrumentation research – to support doctoral students who demonstrate leadership and excellence in their respective fields. Fellowships are only available to students enrolled at U.S. or Canadian universities.

“Matthew Holden is an exemplary student and well-deserving of the recognition of the Link Foundation. His research in modeling, simulation, and training has proven to be world-class with this award,” says Gabor Fichtinger, Professor in the School of Computing with cross-appointments in Surgery, Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

As part of the Laboratory for Percutaneous Surgery (The Perk Lab), Mr. Holden is doing research within an interdisciplinary environment, at the intersection between certain scholarships, such as computing, education, and medicine. He’s focusing on ways to assess medical trainees’ competence and to provide them with automated feedback as part of simulation-based training for ultrasound-guided interventions. His work is timely considering the recent move at Queen's to a competency-based medical education model (CBME) across all 29 medical residency programs, as opposed to the traditional time-based model.

The time-based model assumes that a trainee practises procedures for a fixed amount of time. “This framework implies that the trainee is told, for example, ‘Practice this for one week,’ and at the end of the week, the trainee is considered competent. However, in real life, things are not so simple,” Mr. Holden says. “A competency-based model means that you have to practise the procedure until you have reached both a cognitive and technical competence benchmark.”

How should the competency of the trainees be assessed to let them progress to real patient encounters?

“This is the core question of my research,” says Mr. Holden. “In theory, we can have an expert who stands over your shoulder and watches what you are doing. Unfortunately, it is not feasible for many reasons. Alternatively, there is an option to automate the process of assessment. We can use recent medical imaging and tracking technologies to help assess these trainees automatically and relieve the burden on the experts.”

Those technologies can also be used to guide trainees through the procedure and provide them with objective feedback after the training is over. “The system will tell them, for example, ‘You scored well on this, and you can perform better by taking these steps.’ We also will use a monitor or a holographic display to visualize the anatomy and show trainees what is going on under the skin.”

Some of the technologies developed in The Perk Lab have already been adopted at the Clinical Simulation Centre at Queen’s. However, getting the training system integrated into the actual training setting may be challenging due to the guidelines associated with medical training.

“There are already a lot of frameworks and guidelines about how medical personnel should be trained and the competencies they should achieve. Researchers in the field need to think about that when designing training systems.”

Mr. Holden credits his colleagues for his success, speaking gratefully about the supportive and encouraging atmosphere in The Perk Lab. “Computers are nice because they behave predictably. You tell them to do something, and they do something,” he says, smiling. “But the key is that we can work together in the lab. We have a great team with diverse skills and act collaboratively.”

Mr. Holden prefers to use ultrasound as a big imaging modality for many reasons. “While operating with ultrasound you can act in real time, see images immediately, and guide some medical instruments like a needle to a particular target. Ultrasound is not harmful to a patient and not expensive. Yet, I am trying not to be short-sighted. Perhaps in 10 years there will be another imaging modelling that will be even better than ultrasound. New applications are always developing, and researchers in the field will always have new things to train people for.”

More information on the Link Foundation Fellowship is available on the foundation’s website.

This story was adapted from a story by Natalia Mukhina, School of Graduate Studies.

Canada and Queen's seeking international scholars


The federal government has launched the Canada 150 Research Chairs program to recruit top-tier researchers to Canada in celebration of our country's 150th anniversary. Queen’s University is participating in hopes of attracting internationally-based scholars and researchers to Kingston. 

"Canada 150 Research Chairs logo"This program aims to enhance Canada's reputation as a global centre for science, research, and innovation excellence by recruiting up to 35 top-tier academics to Canada. To help attract these prominent academics, the federal government will provide Canadian institutions with a one-time investment for non-renewable chair positions, tenable for seven years at either $350,000 per year or $1 million per year.  

“The Canada 150 Research Chairs program provides a significant opportunity for Queen’s to bolster its research capacity and reputation,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Additional research chairs would contribute to our prominence in the knowledge economy and be a fitting commemoration of both the sesquicentennial and our 175th anniversary. On behalf of Queen’s, I want to thank the federal government for this important investment in fundamental science and Canadian research excellence.” 

The university will begin reviewing applicants on July 24 and, per the government’s deadlines, candidates must be registered with the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development by mid-August. Full applications are to be submitted a month later, and successful candidates should be announced before year’s end. Cynthia Fekken, Associate Vice-Principal (Research), says Queen’s has launched a comprehensive campaign to identify potential chair nominees. 

“Every Canadian university is competing for these spots, and there is a huge amount of interest in the program,” says Dr. Fekken. "If we are successful, we hope to make a lasting and significant contribution to the diversity, equity and inclusion goals of both the Government of Canada and Queen's. As part of the process, Queen’s is leaving itself open to the recruitment opportunities which present themselves, rather than prescribing a specific field for the search." 

According to the Canada 150 Research Chairs program criteria, successful candidates will be outstanding scholars with a world class reputation and can be appointed to a tenure stream or a tenured position at the rank of assistant professor, associate professor or full professor. Candidates can be recruited to Queen's from any discipline that is affiliated with an academic department in the Faculties of Arts and Science, Health Sciences, or Engineering and Applied Science. Candidates must hold a PhD degree (or equivalent final degree) and demonstrate a track record of excellence in maintaining an outstanding externally-funded research program, and in teaching and training of highly-qualified personnel as evidenced in an exceptional curriculum vitae and exceptional letters of reference.  

Queen’s has a strong track record in applying for similar federal funding opportunities. For example, the university successfully applied for a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Particle Astrophysics and recruited Gilles Gerbier in 2014. He's one of 47 research chairs now at Queen’s. 

If the university is successful in securing Canada 150 Research Chairs, it will be addition to the Principal’s faculty renewal plan. It was announced earlier this year and will see Queen’s hiring up to 41 new tenure track faculty in 2017-18, and up to 200 new faculty over five years. When faculty turnover is taken into account, the net result is expected to be the addition of about 10 new faculty per year to Queen’s.

The Principal identified faculty renewal as a high priority for reinvestment by the university and it will support Queen’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and enable the hiring of promising early- and mid-career faculty.

To learn more about Queen’s recruitment efforts related to the Canada 150 Research Chair program, visit the faculty recruitment website. You may also learn more about the Canada 150 Research Chair program on the Canadian government’s website. 

International students offered taste of grad studies at Queen’s

Queen's in the World

Students from around the globe got a glimpse of life as a graduate student at Queen’s at a recent event held through the School of Graduate Studies (SGS).

Every summer, SGS invites students participating in the Mitacs Globalink international research internships to visit Queen’s and Kingston. During their day-long visit, the undergraduate students – who are spending the summer working on research projects at various Canadian universities (including Queen’s) – take a campus tour, meet with graduate students and professors from various fields, and take a trolley bus tour through Kingston.

“It’s an opportunity for them to learn about research opportunities at Queen’s and the advantages of studying and living in Kingston,” says Kim McAuley, Acting Vice-Provost and Dean, SGS.

Several international students visited Queen's last week, exploring graduate studies options, and touring campus and Kingston (with Kingston Trolley Tours, above). 

“The interns make personal connections with our faculty and current graduate students so they can envision studying as future master’s or PhD students at Queen’s. The interns see that current international graduate students are working on interesting research projects with talented professors. Globalink helps Queen’s attract top international graduate students with external funding from Mitacs.”

For Daniela Iribe Gonzalez, the Queen’s visit was a chance to explore Queen’s research program and see if it would be a good fit for her and her studies in geodetic engineering.

“I’d heard that Queen’s is really good at research. I enjoy the research and I want to do more,” says Ms. Iribe Gonzalez, a student from Mexico who is spending the summer on a Globalink internship at the University of Ottawa. While she hasn’t made any decisions on where she’ll apply to graduate school, she was impressed with what Queen’s offers. “People are very welcoming and the campus is beautiful,” she says.

Jiaqi Chen, from China, is currently a research intern at Queen’s, working with Professor Mark Daymond in Mechanical and Materials Engineering. He’s considering graduate studies in Canada, but has yet to make any firm application decisions.

“I’ve only been here about 10 days. The work I’m doing is different than I expected, but it’s interesting,” he says. “I find Kingston and Queen’s to be a quiet and beautiful place. Life is slower here than in China and the people are very nice. I’ve never been abroad before, and my English is not always great, but so far, I think everyone understands me and they have been helpful."

In total, Queen’s hosted seven Mitacs research interns and 13 undergraduate Globalink students from other universities at the event. Currently, seven Mitacs Graduate Research Fellows study at Queen’s, and this summer, the university is hosting nine undergraduate Globalink research interns. Many of them attended the event as well. More info about the organization’s internships and scholarships is available on their website.

Through existing and developing research collaborations, student mobility programs, and international activities at home, Queen’s continues to expand its global reach and offer students and researchers a diverse and enriching environment that pushes their thinking and offers them opportunities to create a lasting impact on their communities, and the world as a whole. Learn more on the International website.



Five Queen’s students earn Vanier scholarships

Five Queen’s University doctoral students have earned Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships designed to help Canadian institutions attract and retain highly qualified doctoral students. The five winners’ areas of study include breast and lung cancer, exercise training programs, pre-cancerous cells, emotions, and persistent genital arousal disorder.

The scholarships provide each student with $50,000 per year for three years during their doctoral studies.

“These are Canada’s most prestigious awards for doctoral students and they will put these young scholars on solid footing for future research success,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “Our five new Vanier Scholars have shown their tremendous research potential. They are also role models for other students at Queen’s, and will mentor their colleagues and peers. We congratulate them on their success.”

This year's recipients include:

Taha Azad

Taha Azad - Mr. Azad has developed a light emission-based biosensor tool to detect interactions between proteins involved in Hippo signaling. The Hippo signaling pathway is involved in restraining cell proliferation. The tool allows the discovery of regulators, which are capable of promoting cancer cell proliferation and metastasis. Mr. Azad is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


Elina Cook

Elina Cook - Ms. Cook’s work aims to enable earlier surveillance and treatment for blood cancer development in the elderly. For Canada’s aging population, this may facilitate a shift toward more targeted, preventative medicine. Additionally, this means that aggressive, often unsuccessful cancer therapies could be avoided in an already frail population, which would improve individuals’ quality of life and the healthcare burden overall. Ms. Cook is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


Kalee De France

Kalee De France - Ms. De France is exploring emotions and how individuals learn to regulate emotions in order to operate in line with social norms and to prevent emotions from impeding social and academic functioning. She is exploring three questions: what are the differences in regulation across adolescence; what external mechanisms are responsible for this change; how do changes in adolescent emotion regulation relate to well-being. Ms. De France is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.


Jacob Bonafiglia

Jacob Bonafiglia - Mr. Bonafiglia and his supervisor Brendon Gurd (Kinesiology and Health Studies) are exploring genetic responses to acute exercise, skeletal muscle responses to training, and the use of progressive statistics to characterize individual exercise responses and better understand the potential of non-responders. Mr. Bonafiglia is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


Robyn Jackowich

Robyn Jackowich - The main goal of Ms. Jackowich’s study is to improve our understanding of the complex nature of persistent genital arousal disorder by examining psychosocial function, sensory characteristics (including sensitivity to touch and heat), and blood flow processes in a controlled study framed by the biopsychosocial perspective. She is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


The Government of Canada awards up to 167 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships each year for highly qualified doctoral students who demonstrate academic excellence, research potential, and leadership. For more information on the awards and this year’s winners, visit the federal government’s website.

A rock solid career

Dr. Heather Jamieson (middle) working at her first geological job in 1971.

At a time when women didn’t often work in the engineering field, a teenage Heather Jamieson was already working as geological field assistant for Noranda Inc. back in 1971. It’s pioneering efforts like these that earned Dr. Jamieson the Peacock Medal from the Mineralogical Association of Canada.

She’s only the third woman to receive this honour from the professional society. The medal is awarded to a scientist who has made outstanding contributions to the mineral sciences in Canada.

“I knew both of the other women, so being named in the same category as them is very meaningful,” says Dr. Jamieson (Environmental Studies, Geological Sciences). “I’m honoured by this award.”

Born and raised in the mining town of Rouyn-Noranda, Dr. Jamieson had an early interest in geology. In 1971, as a high school student, she was hired to work as an assistant to Susan Atkinson, one of the first women hired by the local mineral exploration company. She did her undergraduate work in geology at the University of Toronto when only five to 10 per cent of her class were female.

“A lack of women in our discipline was always a topic of discussion and there were also practical issues when it came to field trips,” says Dr. Jamieson. “There were some barriers but it was also fun to be a pioneer. We opened doors for other female students and Queen’s undergraduate numbers in my discipline are now split about 50/50.”

Over the years, Dr. Jamieson has developed into a world leader in environmental mineralogy when it comes to trace elements at active or abandoned mines. She has advanced and redefined the sub discipline of mineralogy by incorporating cutting-edge analytical techniques. The impact of her science is truly international - spanning academia, industry, government and First Nations. She and her graduate students are currently working at the Giant Mine in Yellowknife on arsenic contamination of soils, lake sediments and dust.

And involving her students in her work has been a key to her success, she says.

“I like working with young people and challenging them in their research,” says Dr. Jamieson. “I’ve had about 50 students graduate that I supervised that are now working in their fields. They are all contributing to the solution for environmental problems and environmental contamination. I also appreciate all my colleagues and collaborators that helped me earn this award.”

For more information visit the Mineralogical Association of Canada website.


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