Expanding Horizons

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Queen’s Supported Startup Goes International

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 11:18
Queen’s Supported Startup Goes International

Thursday January 18, 2018
By Phil Gaudreau, Senior Communications Officer

Laser Depth Dynamics, founded by Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) and Roger Bowes (Sc’92) in 2012, has been acquired by a leading developer of high-performance fibre lasers and amplifiers.

Welding is an important manufacturing process across many sectors of today’s global economy – from automotive, to aerospace, medical, and consumer goods. When working on products like cars or pacemakers, where lives could be on the line, it’s important that every component is built as intended. This can be a challenge when spending an extra second per part makes a difference to the bottom line.

Enter Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) and Roger Bowes (Sc’92). In 2012, the pair worked with Queen’s to found Laser Depth Dynamics (LDD) and commercialize a technology Dr. Webster co-developed with associate professor James Fraser, who teaches physics. The technology, called inline coherent imaging (ICI), allows for direct measurement of weld penetration depth for laser welding. This is done using a near-infrared measurement beam to ensure high quality in real-time.

“The story of our company is one of bringing the right elements together to create success,” says Dr. Webster, LDD’s chief technology officer and co-founder. “We combined the support of a leading university with strong industry connections and the right intellectual property policies and technology transfer capabilities to create an impactful product which reduces waste for companies and improves product quality for consumers.”

Recently, the Kingston-based company was purchased by IPG Photonics Corporation, the world leader in high-performance fibre lasers and amplifiers. The company aims to incorporate LDD’s technology into its laser welding solutions to drive adoption of this advanced technology throughout manufacturing of metal parts. Becoming part of a bigger, international organization will mean even more global exposure for LDD’s products.

“LDD’s weld monitoring systems and accessories significantly enhance IPG’s portfolio of industry-leading beam delivery products and laser welding solutions,” said Felix Stukalin, IPG’s senior vice president of North American operations. “LDD’s ability to monitor weld quality in real time and ensure process consistency is increasingly important within automated production environments.”

Laser Depth Dynamics was initially formed with support from Dr. Webster’s thesis supervisor, Dr. Fraser; the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy; and PARTEQ Innovations, the university’s technology transfer organization that is now part of the Queen’s Office of Partnerships and Innovation. IPG Photonics was also involved from the early days, supplying equipment for the research and in helping LDD find early market potential.

John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) says success stories like Laser Depth Dynamics demonstrate the value of the research that is conducted at Queen’s.

“This is an example of a research idea, identified and advanced by a student and professor, funded by research grants, and, with support from the university’s technology transfer team, was patented, spun-off as a business, and was successfully commercialized,” says Dr. Fisher. “This story showcases the innovation ecosystem at work here at Queen’s, the important role our Office of Partnerships and Innovation plays in fostering economic growth, and how critical the support of the Ontario government is for our innovation programs. We congratulate the Laser Depth Dynamics team on this exciting news as they become part of a global leader in its field.”

With the purchase, Laser Depth Dynamics will become IPG Photonics (Canada), and will remain in its existing Kingston office location on Railway Street. About half of its employees are Queen’s graduates, and Dr. Webster suggests they may add more Queen’s talent in the future.

IPG Photonics is a global company and the leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance fiber lasers and amplifiers for diverse applications in numerous markets. To learn more about IPG’s purchase of LDD, visit www.ipgphotonics.com.

This article was originally published in the Queen’s Gazette. Reposted with Permission.

Tags: News

Congratulations to Connor Stone

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 14:57
Congratulations to Connor Stone

The School of Graduate Studies would like to congratulate Connor Stone (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) on his placing in the #IAminnovation contest. Please see full press release below from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

#IAmInnovation Twitter contest winners announced
January 8, 2018

OTTAWA, ONTARIO — Canada’s young researchers are curious, ambitious, innovative and collaborative problem solvers. Today, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced that three of these talented young researchers have won its #IAmInnovation Twitter contest, which aimed to showcase how their work in CFI-funded labs is helping them and their research.

The three winners are:

  • PhD candidate Arinjay Banerjee of the Department of Veterinary Microbiology at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, who is researching the potentially high impact of emerging viruses on humans;
  • PhD candidate Krysta Coyle of the Department of Pathology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, who is exploring new drug treatments for cancer; and,
  • Master’s student Connor Stone of the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., who is striving to improve our understanding of the universe’s dark matter.

For the contest, the CFI invited student and post-doc researchers nationwide to tweet an image or video demonstrating their work in state-of-the-art facilities and with cutting-edge equipment funded by the CFI.

“We wanted young researchers to tell all Canadians just how important it is to equip this country’s bright minds with the tools they need to think big and innovate,” says Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO of the CFI. “The CFI knows that tomorrow’s research is being shaped by this new generation of great minds, and we want to highlight their contributions by celebrating and sharing their vision of a better future for Canada.”

The contest ran from October 2 to December 1 and drew submissions from across the country. Winners will have a chance to take over the CFI’s @InnovationCA Twitter feed in the coming weeks, and will be the CFI’s guests at a special event in Ottawa, where they will have an opportunity to discuss their research with MPs, Senators and senior government officials.

The CFI wishes to acknowledge and thank postsecondary institutions for their help in promoting the contest to their students, as well as a number of individuals for producing videos promoting the contest on social media, including the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science.

Tags: News

Happy New Year

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 23:13
Happy New Year

Here's to a fabulous 2018 for us all

Tags: News

Climb for Mental Health

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 09:56
Climb for Mental Health to Support Stigma Awareness Education at AMHS-KFLA

For Immediate Release

December 11, 2017 – Queen’s University graduate student Shamik Sen (Neuroscience) is climbing a mountain this week to raise awareness and funds for the issue of mental health stigma. Sen left Kingston on December 10 to travel to Tanzania, where he will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  Sen has created a GoFundMe campaign for his climb, with funds raised to support anti-stigma education at Addiction and Mental Health Services, KFLA (AMHS-KFLA).

This past year, as part of his graduate work with Dr. Roumen Milev and Dr. Heather Stuart at the Centre for Neuroscience Studies at Queen’s, Sen facilitated anti-stigma education with AMHS-KFLA’s Cooking Connections program.  Cooking Connections is a community collaboration with Loving Spoonful and HIV/AIDS Regional Services that delivers a 10-week program combining cooking classes with discussion and training on overcoming stigma to those experiencing mental health problems and social isolation. The program has been a great success, and Sen’s Climb for Mental Health will help ensure the program continues to support individuals in reaching their wellness goals.

Says Sen, “Just because a mountain doesn’t exist in plain sight, does not mean someone is not currently climbing one. AMHS-KFLA have been an instrumental partner to the efforts of my studies and I would like to invite you to aid their efforts in mitigating the stigma of mental illness.”

AMHS-KFLA staff and volunteers are delighted by the awareness and support being raised by this innovative climb, helping to end stigma one step at a time!  For more information, visit https://www.gofundme.com/climb-for-mental-health-stigma

Media Contacts:

Shamik Sen, Climb for Mental Health - s.sen@queensu.ca

Kristiana Clemens, AMHS-KFLA - kclemens@amhs-kfla.ca  /613-544-1282

Tags: News

Congratulations Colette Steer!

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 14:17

Colette receives her award from Principal Woolf

Congratulations Colette Steer!

December 7, 2017

Today we congratulate Colette Steer, a recipient of a Special Recognition Award for Queen’s Staff.  Colette joined the School of Graduate Studies in 2007 and her limitless positive energy, excellent organizational skills, and genuine care for everyone she works with have had a significant impact on Graduate Studies at Queen’s. 

Colette puts her heart and soul into all that she does - from organizing the Three Minute Thesis, our lakeside writing retreats, Career Week, or as CJ the DJ talking with students about their research. She is committed to promoting community among graduate students and increasing the visibility of Graduate Studies.

With her Australian charm and enthusiastic can-do attitude Colette is a wonderful colleague to have as part of the SGS team. We proudly celebrate her success in receiving this award!

Read more about the award ceremony in the Queen's Gazette.


A big thank you to Colette for all her fantastic work!




Tags: News

Michael Pitblado: A Student and a Teacher

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 15:39
Michael Pitblado

PhD Student, Eduation

Michael Pitblado

Michael Pitblado: A Student and a Teacher

by Adenike Ogunrinde, December 2017

  “How do high school history teachers approach teaching difficult history? More specifically, how do they approach teaching the history of the Holocaust?” As both a PhD student in Education and a practicing high school history teacher, Michael Pitblado is able to shine light on this topic from both ends of the academic spectrum.    Michael’s love of history began as a teenager travelling on family vacations to various corners of the world. During his BA at Queen’s, Michael continued to travel, completing a semester abroad at the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in southern England. This experience not only stirred his love for history, but also piqued his interest in experiential learning. “When you go to the Castle,” Michael says, “your classroom isn’t just a classroom – it’s the beaches of Normandy, or the memorial at Vimy Ridge. You’re learning on the spot, and you have an emotional response to the history before you dig into the significance of the details.” For Michael and his Castle classmates, learning at the same sites as the history that had unfolded there was both moving and powerful.    Michael went on to complete a Master’s degree in History at the University of New Brunswick where he focused his research on the history of the Second World War. It wasn’t until he was given the opportunity to teach undergraduate history courses, however, that he realized where the most significant impact of pure history can be felt: in the classroom. Consequently, Michael returned to Queen’s to earn his B.Ed so that he could shift his focus from solely doing historical research to working through historical thinking with students. Now that Michael is in his PhD, he combines his dual passions for history and pedagogy by researching how history is taught and what decisions teachers make when they introduce emotionally charged historical content in their classrooms.   Teaching a unique grade 11 elective titled Genocide in Crimes Against Humanity is one way Michael explores this concept first-hand. The course challenges students to consider human behavior and moral dilemmas through historical inquiry into three twentieth century genocides: the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and the genocide in Rwanda. Michael believes that, “if we are going to understand why these events happened, we need to get students to wrestle with the moral dilemmas and choices of the perpetrators.” Accordingly, Michael is constantly on the hunt to find the most effective classroom strategies to help students understand why these acts of genocide occurred. In practicing what he preaches, Michael has the opportunity to model successful strategies – not only in his high school classroom but also for his students in the Queen’s B.Ed program – and apply broader insights to his doctoral research.    With a few years of teaching experience under his belt and extensive research at the doctoral level, Michael has more strategies up his sleeve to help enrich the learning of teacher candidates enrolled in the B.Ed program than when he was a first-time teaching assistant (TA). For this reason, I asked what advice he had for new TAs. Michael advised being proactive in seeking out resources to assist in teaching, both online and on campus, highlighting the Center for Teaching and Learning at Queen’s as an example: “it has great resources you can lean on for knowledge and materials that can help you plan your next tutorial or lab”.    On the topic of graduate work in the Faculty of Education, Michael says “it’s very interdisciplinary – whether you are interested in quantitative or qualitative methods there is so much you can get into”. Michael is in the Curriculum Theorizing stream because his interests lie in instruction and classroom teaching, but many of Michael’s friends and colleagues are exploring topics related to assessment and evaluation, special education, cognition and literacy. “There’s a lot of room in Faculty of Education for different kinds of research,” he said; “If you take a look at what’s happening there are so many possibilities.”    As a final note, Michael stressed the feasibility and benefits of having a family while pursuing a doctoral degree. Not only is Michael completing his PhD in the Faculty of Education, but his wife is as well, and they have a 4-year-old son together. Finding the work-life balance is critical and doable. “There is extra juggling,” he says, “but you find the time. Other PhD students have children as well. I feel that having a family enriches the doctoral experience rather than detract from it.”  



Tags: News

Award winning research on Grad Chat

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 11:40
Award winning research on Grad Chat

Last week Chemistry PhD student Caitlin Miron was awarded the Mitacs PhD Award for Outstanding Innovation for her work in biochemistry. She broke new ground by discovering a DNA binder that can essentially ‘switch off’ cancer cells and prevent them from spreading. Listen to her interview with CJ the DJ on Grad Chat and find out more about her research.

Tags: News

Congratulations to Academic All Stars!

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 15:16
Congratulations to Academic All Stars!

November 2017

Graduate student All Stars at the table with Associate Dean Marta Straznicky

Queen’s Athletics and Recreation honoured the 2016-17 Academic All-Stars at a breakfast reception held Wednesday morning in Grant Hall. The breakfast event marks the sixth year Athletics and Recreation has undertaken this initiative to honour the academic and athletic excellence of its student-athletes.

Twenty-four of the athletes are graduate students who are competing at the varsity level and achieve excellence in their chosen sport and their academics.

The School of Graduate Studies congratulates the following All Stars:

Football - Men: Niclas Bembenek (Kinesiology & Health Studies) Soccer - Men: Henry Bloemen (Urban & Regional Planning) Basketball - Women: Gemma Bullard (Civil Engineering) Ultimate Frisbee - Women: Sarah Cain (Geological Sciences & Geological Engineering) Soccer - Women: Laura Callender (Kinesiology & Health Studies) Ultimate Frisbee - Women: Amanda Cicchino (BIology) Rowing - Women: Katherine de Klerk (Public Administration) Triathlon - Women: Madeleine Driver (Mechanical & Materials Engineering) Squash - Men: Evan Garfinkel (Urban & Regional Planning) Football - Men Tanner: Gennaro (Civil Engineering) Squash - Women: Hanna Grover (Neuroscience) Mountain Biking - Men: Kevin Keresztes (Urban & Regional Planning) Rugby - Women: Amelia Labenski (English Language & Literature) Rugby - Men: Angus MacPhail (Geological Sciences & Geological Engineering) Mountain Biking - Men: Cameron McPhaden  (Mechanical & Materials Engineering) Water Polo - Men: Ian Pinchin  (Urban & Regional Planning) Golf - Men: Michael Reaume (Public Health Sciences) Swimming - Men: Lukas Schiller (Political Studies) Cross Country - Women: Taylor Sills (Education) Cross Country - Women: Julie-Anne Staehli (Kinesiology & Health Studies) Ultimate Frisbee - Men: Fraser Titley (Kinesiology & Health Studies) Wrestling - Men: Michael Tremblay (Philosophy) Ultimate Frisbee - Women: Emma Webb (Geography) Soccer - Men: Kristian Zanette (Electrical & Computer Engineering)


Tags: News

Caitlin Miron – Recipient of the 2017 Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation (PhD)

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 14:38
Caitlin Miron

PhD, Chemistry

Caitlin Miron receiving the award from Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development., and Jim Banting Assistant Vice-Principal (Partnerships and Innovation), Queen's University

Caitlin Miron – Recipient of the 2017 Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation (PhD)

by Adenike Ogunrinde, November 2017

Caitlin Miron is the recipient of the 2017 Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation. This award is given to a PhD student who has made a significant achievement in research and development innovation during Mitacs-funded research. Last year, Caitlin received a Mitacs Globalink Research Award which funded a collaboration with Dr. Jean-Louis Mergny at the Institut Européen de Chimie et Biologue in Bordeaux, France. This collaboration was the second of two with Dr. Jean-Louis Mergny, and collectively, these collaborations have not only propelled Caitlin’s PhD thesis forward but also merited the receipt of the Mitacs Outstanding Innovation award.

Though Caitlin pursued a BSc in biochemistry, it was chemistry that she fell in love with over the course of her undergraduate degree. In her second year, she began volunteering in Dr. Anne Petitjean’s lab – a supramolecular chemistry lab which explored using organic chemistry to make molecules that could be assembled into intricate architectures through the use of metal ions, for eventual applications in biological systems. This is where Caitlin discovered the enjoyment she took in creating at the bench and in dabbling in a wide variety of chemistry-based experiments. Consequently, Caitlin went on to pursue a Master of Science degree in this lab and ultimately rolled-up into the PhD program.

 Caitlin’s doctoral dissertation is titled: Dynamic recognition of unusual nucleic acid architectures by cation-responsive switches and other metallo-organic platforms. In sum, DNA has been found to adopt unusual architectures. One type of architecture, called a guanine quadruplex, has been shown to form in the promoter regions of oncogenes (cancer genes), and is implicated in cancer. Caitlin’s research involves finding molecules that stabilize quadruplexes, thereby blocking the expression of these oncogenes, in the hopes that these molecules can be used as anticancer therapeutic agents, either alone or in combination with other treatments. In her first internship in Dr. Mergny’s lab, Caitlin tested a library of potential binders originating from the Petitjean lab and identified a compound that shows some of the best stabilization of quadruplexes that has been seen over the past 30 years. During her second internship (funded by the Mitacs Globalink program), Caitlin explored the effects that small modifications of the lead compound’s structure might have on guanine quadruplex recognition. By taking these compounds from expert to expert, she was able to identify suitable biophysical techniques that she has since brought back to her lab at Queen’s to further her research. Since then, preliminary results suggest that these compounds inhibit cell growth in several human cancer cell lines, and earlier this month, a patent was filed on the novel compounds Caitlin first investigated in France. These results serve as but a case example of rewards made possible by the financial support of funding agencies such as Mitacs.

When I asked Caitlin what skills have helped her during her PhD, she listed good communication, time management and perseverance. “Research doesn’t always go smoothly, so you need to be able to sit back and figure out how to fix things.” Caitlin also recommends ensuring you select a supervisor that will support you throughout the process of graduate school, and pursing opportunities that meet your needs – for example, Caitlin didn’t focus on maximizing her opportunity to teach in the undergraduate course setting during her PhD because she knew she did not want to pursue an academic career.

 When it comes to scholarships, Caitlin said it’s important to always apply for them, even if you don’t think you will win the competition. Applying gives you practice in writing scholarship applications and that is an important skill to hone in academia. What’s also important is having a supervisor who is willing to put in the time to help you hone those skills.

As a final note, Caitlin recommends getting into labs with big names in their respective fields, if possible. Dr. Mergny is one of the top researchers in Caitlin’s field. For Caitlin, conducting research in Dr. Mergny’s lab and having access to experts has enabled her to develop a better understanding of her work and accelerate her research.

After completing her PhD, Caitlin is looking to complete an industrial post-doctoral research position in order to bridge her experience between academia and industry. Caitlin’s long-term goal is to pursue an industrial research career, one slanted towards health applications or perhaps the development of pharmaceuticals. Given Caitlin’s positive attitude and astounding success thus far, I have no doubt she will continue to make great contributions to health-care oriented research in the future.

Incredible news in the field of cancer research this week – congratulations to the Canadian PhD student Caitlin Miron for her groundbreaking work!

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 24, 2017

Back To All Stories - From a Student's Perspective Tags: News

New program aims to ‘Flip the Script’ on sexual assault

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 13:25
New program aims to ‘Flip the Script’ on sexual assault

Friday November 17, 2017
By Andrew Carroll, Gazette Editor

Graduate students and peer facilitators Catrina Mavrigianakis, left, and Natalie Brown, along with Luissa Vahedi, are responsible for delivering the modules of theEnhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) sexual assault resistance education program at Queen's. (University Communications) 

A new program aimed at providing first-year, female-identified students with the tools to prevent and resist sexual assault is being introduced to the Queen’s community this fall.

An initiative of the Human Rights Office, the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) sexual assault resistance education program is an evidence-based program developed by University of Windsor professor and researcher, Charlene Senn.  Known on campus as “Flip the Script,” the program has a focus on addressing acquaintance sexual assault.

Dr. Senn, who leads the Sexual Assault Resistance Education (SARE) Centre, has researched, developed, and tested the program over a 10-year period and now EAAA is being shared with universities across Canada and around the world.

At Queen’s, the EAAA program is being led by Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator, Barb Lotan and Human Rights Advisor, Margot Coulter. The pair traveled to Windsor earlier this year to attend a train-the-trainer session and become thoroughly familiar with the project. Work over the summer included hiring and training three peer facilitators who are responsible for delivering the modules to the students. In addition to Ms. Coulter and Ms. Lotan, the five-person team now also includes graduate students Catrina Mavrigianakis, Natalie Brown and Luissa Vahedi.

The program is 12 hours in length with sessions being delivered over four evening or two full-day sessions on a weekend. This fall, weekend sessions are being offered on Nov. 18-19 or Nov. 25-26. 

The two-day sessions are divided into four main sections: providing information, skills, and practice in assessing risk; overcoming emotional barriers in acknowledging danger; engaging in effective verbal and physical self-defence; and exploring one’s own sexual values, boundaries, and rights. Using conversation, interactive activities and videos, young women can explore the topics in a safe and comfortable environment.

The Flip the Script program is part of a comprehensive approach to preventing sexual violence at Queen’s. A variety of other programs running on campus, including  Bystander Intervention Training and RAD, are complementary to this program.  

Statistics show that as many as one in four female university students will experience either an attempted or completed sexual assault before they graduate. The aftereffects can be devastating and providing support to the survivor is vital.

All of those involved in delivering Flip the Script are committed to making a difference and creating opportunities for young women to change the conversation about sexual violence.

“People who are sexually assaulted often suffer adverse consequences in terms of mental health and can have a really difficult time focusing on school. It can really take a toll on your academics,” Ms. Brown says, adding that the majority of sexual assaults involve a male acquaintance, an important focus of the EAAA program. “We want women to be as successful as possible in all of their endeavors, so our goal is to reduce obstacles that prevent that from happening. This program is one vehicle for doing that.”

Statistics also show that a female student is most likely to experience an attempted or completed sexual assault during their first year at university – a time of transition, new situations and new acquaintances.

By providing information on danger cues, assessing risk in various situations, and how to react or respond, the program aims to help female students navigate the dangers they may face. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power.

“We really hope that we can make their transition to university life a little easier, make them feel a little more comfortable in their own skin or give them the tools to navigate the complex situations that do arise in social and sexual settings, and give them the sense that they can trust themselves,” says Ms. Mavrigianakis. “And it is also about what danger cues look like in men, what dangerous situations look like and feel like and giving women the space and the confidence to trust their intuition.”

Implementation of EAAA/Flip the Script on Queen’s campus is part of ongoing research being done by Dr. Senn and her team at the SARE Centre. 

Space is still available in the upcoming November session. More sessions are scheduled for March 2018. There is no fee to participate. Participation is limited to first-year, female-identified students enrolled at Queen’s. Contact the team at eaaaproject@queensu.ca for more information and to register, while a Facebook page is available as well.


This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette. Republished with permission.

Tags: News

How to integrate active learning pedagogy into political theory tutorials

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 23:00
Michael Murphy

MA Graduate, Political and Legal Thought

Michael Murphy

How to integrate active learning pedagogy into political theory tutorials

The “thesis-building carousel” ignites intellectual curiosity to hone essay-writing skills

by Natalia Mukhina, November 2017

It looks like a game. “You come in a class, divide the students into groups, and each group goes up to its whiteboard to write down a theme relevant to the tutorial topic and assigned reading,” tells Michael Murphy, describing a political theory tutorial that he led as a teaching assistant. “When all the groups have written their theme, you ask them to move to the next board. The groups now have to write a question on the theme that the previous group has introduced.”

Again, after all the groups have finished with their questions, they move to the next board and give a short answer to the question the prior group has left for them. This answer is considered a working thesis to think on further. Then, all the students move around again and reach the next board – the last station – where they develop a draft of the argument on the working thesis they see on the board. Ultimately, each group presents the question and answer to the class, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of the working thesis. 

Clearly, this is not the type of learning activity which normally occurs in a hushed silence. “Certainly, not,” agrees Murphy. “The instructor encourages the students to walk freely through the classroom, discuss things collectively in the group, share the ideas, teach each other, and give peer reviews. Such a classroom is a messy space, in the best sense of the word ‘messy’, where students are encouraged to be active instead of just sitting all lecture long behind the desk.”

Called the “thesis-building carousel”, this teaching strategy is a form of active learning pedagogy – a student-centered approach to instruction that rethinks the role of students in the educational process. Active learning methods include a wide range of activities to involve students in doing things and reflecting critically on them.

Asked to describe his understanding of what active learning pedagogy is, Murphy first answers in the negative: what active learning is not. “The way the universities have worked for centuries is that you have a professor in the front who has a big bag of knowledge. The professor scoops it out for all the students in a lecture. It is a very passive thing from the students’ perspective. On the contrary, active learning pedagogy says, ‘Let’s get the students engaged at moving around, talking, working through the ideas instead of just hearing about what the ideas are.’”

As Murphy stresses, being a teaching assistant for the introductory political theory course has been one of the highlights of his time as an MA student. “My parents are teachers, so it must be in my blood,” says Murphy with a smile. For him, the thesis-building carousel is a good way to extend the constructs of active learning ideology into the political theory tutorial.

Politics is another thing that is in Murphy’s blood along with teaching. “When I was about 3, my mother and I were walking through our neighbourhood. That was just after the teachers’ strikes in Ontario in the late 90s. I walked onto the lawn trying to reach an election sign. My mom stopped me saying, ‘What are you doing?!’ and I answered, ‘That man made us go on strike,’” Murphy tells this funny story, which his mother, a teacher, loves to recall. He became fascinated by politics early in life, and this passion ultimately brought him to the MA program in Political and Legal Thought at Queen’s.

Due to his specialization in political theory, Murphy realizes that introductory political theory courses may be challenging for undergrads. “The political theory course is built on a number of theoretical texts,” explains Murphy. Students must conceptualize those texts to be able to write the final paper, which is an essential part of their success. “Writing the theory paper is a tough thing, and the thesis-building carousel helps enhance learning and develop essay-writing skills”.

Murphy taught in one of the active learning classrooms at Queen’s. “All of those spaces are very bright,” recalls Murphy. “Most of them have three walls full of very large whiteboards or blackboards. When you are going in there, there is no front of the class. Students do not feel like they have to play the role of passive students who are just going to listen.”

As described before, the thesis-building carousel is a few concrete steps that someone can use to come up with an essay outline at the end. “A part of a writing block is not knowing what to say. After you come out of the carousel, you have something to say, definitely”. Another advantage of the method is that in the carousel-like rotating process, the students are free to criticize the arguments because they will not be offending anyone. “Everyone is worked down together. It gives students the opportunity to give feedback in a friendly manner.”

Murphy believes some active learning strategies, including the thesis-building carousel, can be widely implemented in the educational environment. If you work in a traditional classroom where there are no opportunities for students to move around, you still can divide the students into groups and give each group a piece of paper that will be passed around.

“Obviously, no university in the world has the budget to have classes of 10-20 students. But having the traditional instructive lectures along with active learning tutorials is a good way to balance the strengths and limitations of both types of teaching,” argues Murphy in conclusion.

For a more detailed look at the thesis-building carousel strategy, see: Murphy, Michael P. A. "Using Active-Learning Pedagogy to Develop Essay Writing Skills in Introductory Political Theory Tutorials." Journal of Political Science Education DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15512169.2017.1328683


Tags: News

Merging passions and research - PhD Student Rebecca Stroud Stasel

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 09:38
Rebecca Stroud Stasel

PhD in Education

Rebecca Stroud Stasel

Merging passions and research 

by Natalia Mukhina, November 2017

Rebecca Stroud Stasel has been fortunate to be able to incorporate her lifelong passions into the world of academia. Her master's and current PhD research both have come from a love for arts, traveling, and teaching.

Stroud Stasel’s M.Ed. thesis was written as a full-length play. “I wrote a more traditional thesis first, and it was so boring to read,” says Stroud Stasel, a teacher with extended experience in working with teenagers. Inspired by arts-based pedagogy, Stroud Stasel explored an experimental theatre project in which high schoolers used drama as a sociocultural tool to express their views about the world. She co-created the project with an artist from India and was a director of the theatre troupe for 3 years.

How does Stroud Stasel manage to think creatively and academically at the same time? “It is a big secret for me as well,” she says smiling. What Stroud Stasel has learned from her master’s project is that there is space in the academy for academic thinking through artistic media. This is a legitimate and important avenue that some people can pursue in academia.

“While I am directing plays is probably when I feel the most alive,” says Stroud Stasel and adds that the theatre project has had a powerful transformative effect on her own teaching practices and values. For this work, she was awarded the state-wide “Ethics in Education” teaching award and also the Annual Thesis in Education Prize. 

Stroud Stasel notes that those awards emphasize the importance of experimental work in schools. “If you don’t take the chance, you won’t have that discovery. Encouraging teachers to follow their passions and link it to professional opportunities can result in promising teaching strategies.” 

Stroud Stasel’s PhD work has a different focus than her M.Ed. thesis, but one thing is constant—her current research is linked to her other passion, which is travel. As a K-12 teacher, she worked in rural, suburban, and urban Ontario, in Minnesota, and also in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Teaching overseas, she became curious about some of the obstacles that Canadian-trained teachers must navigate culturally and personally to thrive in international schools.

What is it to teach a child, be this craft or a skill,

unlock these imagination ciphers: guarded or just paucity?

To teach rather than give fish, to inspire, to invoke reciprocity,

To shift the classroom from a drill to a thrill.*

These lines from Stroud Stasel’s poem on her decision to enter teaching two decades ago perfectly introduce the type of thoughts every teacher reflects upon. Teaching is a rewarding but stressful occupation. Canadian K-12 teachers, who are the specific focus of Stroud Stasel’s research, are highly recruited throughout the world. Yet, how do you deal with the unexpected in a new country while still being a good teacher for your students?

For Stroud Stasel, there are some hurdles teachers will undoubtedly face if they take a job in another country. Besides cultural and practical ones, there are psychological hurdles such as living in isolation and as a minority. “In the past, those hurdles have been framed as a disease like culture shock,” explains she. “However, it can also be understood as a growth opportunity to build your own sense of self-advocacy and your capacity.”

While reading on culture shock or the terms she prefers to use such as sojourner adaptation or adjustment because of their more positive emphasis, Stroud Stasel has discovered the experiences of missionaries, nurses, development workers, and business and military people who go overseas to work. However, she has not uncovered a lot about her topic of interest.

“I am interested in seeing a body of literature emerge about teachers’ experiences. There are probably many similarities and at the same time there may be some unique things about teachers’ experiences. It is hard to make generalizations in this field.” On the bright side, this inspires her because more research is required in her area.

It is very hard to depict any one international school as indicative of what is seen throughout the globe, as there is such incredible diversity. Stroud Stasel has come across literature about teachers who broke their international contracts. “It can be very damaging professionally, and personally too. It seems that some adjustments are more difficult for teachers than others, and I’d like to learn more about that.”

Stroud Stasel hopes that her research will help the international school community inform their leaders about some aspects of organizational life that ought to be considered when hiring international teachers, as well as how to best support them once in their new environments. “We live in a globalized world where mobility is a key factor. Knowledge of how to thrive outside of our own comfort zone would be beneficial for both Canadian teachers and their international students.”



Stroud Stasel, R. (2017). New teacher’s calling. In B. Kutsyuruba & K. D. Walker (Eds.) The bliss and blisters of early career teaching: a pan-Canadian perspective (pp. 65-66). Burlington, ON: Word & Deed Publishing.


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“The harder I work, the luckier I get” - MSc student Laura Callender

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 15:20
Laura Callender

MSc. in Physical Activity Epidemiology

Laura Callender

“The harder I work, the luckier I get”

by Natalia Mukhina, October 2017

At 8:30 AM on most days, MSc. student Laura Callender is already in the lab, where she examines the role of physical activity on the health of children and youth under the supervision of Dr. Ian Janssen. Late in the afternoon, Callender – also a captain of the Gaels women’s soccer team – goes to soccer practice and stays afterwards to do some free kicks and shooting. Later, at night, doing homework and reading before going to bed complete her regular day.

“I love both these parts of myself,” says Callender. The opportunity to combine research and sport allows her to enjoy the full scope of life. “Queen’s is an amazing place for student-athletes. It is such a perfect fit academically and athletically and a really tight knit community. I am really happy to be here.”

We met shortly after Callender’s return from Taipei City, Taiwan, where she represented Team Canada at the 2017 Summer World University Games. Known as Universiade, this prestigious international multi-sport event was established by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). It is the leading competition for university athletes.

“After a strong 2016 season with the Gaels, I was invited to try out at the national level,” she says. “No words can express how excited and honored I felt when realized that I will compete in Taipei alongside other players from all over the country.”

Callender came to soccer by chance. She started doing rhythmic gymnastics with her sister and eventually switched to soccer because her best friend played it. “I just wanted to be on her team. I did a tryout for the competitive team when I was 9. Then, I joined a high-level team, made a provincial team a few years later, and ended up playing at Queen’s,” she recalls, smiling.

The current season is her 6th year on the women’s soccer team. Callender played for the Gaels during her undergrad at Queen’s while completing the bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, and continued in graduate school. “I had an excellent first year with the team in 2012, reaching the National Championship game,” Callender says.

But then, unfortunately, everything changed dramatically. Laura tore a ligament in her knee and was not able to play, requiring surgery and a long rehabilitation time.

“It was the first major setback I had in my life. Being so much focused on soccer and not being able to play… It was really tough. On the bright side, it taught me a lot of perseverance and eventually made me stronger. Any setback now seems minor,” she explains.

As for the Summer Universiade, Callender describes her time in Taipei as a unique experience in practicing international soccer and realizing how to improve her performance further. “We eventually came in 8th place, which was a little disappointing, seeing as our goal was to make the podium. But there is a saying I like, ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’ I believe that a lot of luck comes from working harder and smarter. With my Queen’s team, we focus on what we can control and continue working every day. It is the best tactics, I guess.”

The ability to see benefits in hardship helps Callender get more things done and stay positive. It is tricky to balance grad school and soccer, “but I think this makes me a more organized person,” she argues and adds that her athletic experience strengthened her love of physical activity and this now comes in handy in her current research.

As part of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, Callender is looking at how physical activity and sedentary behaviour influence children’s health. “We have just finished a big study in our lab where we looked at the physical activity patterns of children,” Callender says. “They wore a device that tracked how physically active they were as well as a GPS watch. We could see where they wore them and what they were doing when they were being active.”

She refers to the study “Physical Activity Levels in Kingston Children”, and I immediately felt a strong personal interest in what Laura is talking about: my son participated in this research and was extremely proud to do something “in the name of science.”

“This is a new approach in our field,” Callender continues. A lot of the time, what kids are doing is self-reported. Conversely, the research was an objective measure. The investigators could see kids on the soccer field and knew they were participating in the sports program. And when kids were in the playground after school, Callender & team knew they were playing on their own in an unstructured activity.

What do the preliminary findings show? “A lot of people think that kids don’t participate in enough organized sports like soccer practice or dance classes. But from what we have seen, we need to encourage kids to get outside and play more on their own. It doesn’t have to be an organized activity or something that parents should pay for. Just getting kids outside playing tag on the playground on their own, and cardio-metabolic risk factors will decrease”.

Thinking forward on her career, Callender wants to stay focused on physical activity in children. “I was fortunate to have coaches who encouraged us to play because we liked it. They taught us to love the physical activity regardless of whether it was competition or just practice to increase our health and have fun. That is the right message.” 


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International partnership celebrates first graduate

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 15:14
International partnership celebrates first graduate

Thursday October 19, 2017
By Phil Gaudreau, Senior Communications Officer

Matthias Hermann (MSc’17) poses with his invention – a device which detects cadmium in drinking water. (University Communications)

A quick glance at Matthias Hermann’s resume shows he’s not afraid of the occasional international adventure.

Since beginning his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in his native Germany in 2011, Mr. Hermann (MSc’17) has conducted short-term research projects in China and Australia, as well as his home country. Recently, he added Canada to the list after completing a dual degree master’s program in Chemistry – a partnership between Queen’s University and Universität Stuttgart.

“I planned on spending some time abroad as part of my master’s, and when I heard about this program I knew it would be a good fit,” says Mr. Hermann (Sc’17). “I wanted a longer term abroad, exposure to a different academic and cultural environment, and a chance to improve my English. Through this program I got all of that – plus I graduated with two master’s degrees.”

Mr. Hermann recently successfully completed his thesis defense, earning his Queen’s Masters of Science in Chemistry and becoming the first graduate of the dual degree program. At the same time, he earned his Master’s of Chemistry degree through his home university in Germany as part of this two-year partnership program. Mr. Hermann’s thesis revolved around a device to detect cadmium in drinking water in a way that is portable, easy-to-use, and affordable.

Mr. Hermann had to adjust to differences in the Canadian higher education system – at Stuttgart, for example, master’s theses don’t require a defense. Adding to the pressure, representatives from both Queen’s and Stuttgart were present for his defense.

During the visit by Stuttgart, their Dean of Chemistry, Cosima Stubenrauch, held an information session for Queen’s students about the dual master’s degree program.

“About a dozen students attended, and when I asked them to raise their hands if they thought this was something they might want to do every one of them raised their hand,” says Hans-Peter Loock, head of Queen’s Chemistry department. “We are hoping to increase our international footprint, and agreements like these help our students gain a wider variety of experiences in high performing environments.”

Before the visit by Stuttgart representatives, Cally Li (Artsci’17) had already made up her mind. She started in the MSc degree program at Queen’s this fall, and will be heading to Germany in 2018.

“I was looking for a way to stay at Queen’s one more year, but I was also looking for a way to move on and try something new next year,” says Ms. Li. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to build some international connections and try something new. I have heard a lot of good things about Stuttgart’s labs and their standard of work.”

Students from Stuttgart are also emailing Dr. Loock to learn about life in Kingston. Dr. Loock says, ideally, they would like to see multiple students from Stuttgart studying at Queen’s and vice versa each year.

“Successful research groups must be internationally networked – it’s part of doing science,” Dr. Loock says. “Setting up these agreements takes effort and buy-in, but exchanging students with a top German university like Stuttgart allows our graduate students to get the best of both worlds. And, as I discovered when I was an international student in Canada: you stay at a place long enough and sometimes it becomes home.”

Perhaps that will be Mr. Hermann’s experience, as he recently decided to complete his PhD in Chemistry at Queen’s. 

This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette. Republished with permission.

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Keeping up The Conversation

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 00:00
Keeping up The Conversation

Friday October 20, 2017
By Communications Staff

Queen's is a founding member of the Canadian national affiliate of The Conversation and, since its launch earlier this year, 33 articles by Queen's experts have been published.   

It’s a simple, but powerful, formula. Take one part leading academic research, add a dash of journalistic flair, and mix in a robust digital presence. It is this winning recipe that has earned The Conversation, an academic journalism website, the participation of thousands of researchers worldwide, and captured the attention of millions of citizens interested in news with a healthy dose of academic rigour.

After a successful soft launch this summer, the Canadian national affiliate of The Conversation is running at full steam, having published hundreds of researchers’ articles, including a number from Queen’s. The university is a founding member of the national news platform.

“Our participation in The Conversation relays the importance and impact of disseminating and promoting the leading-edge research and scholarship happening at Queen’s University,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “The Conversation is a powerful tool for community engagement and is already bolstering the efforts of our researchers to share their expertise and build profile.”

Over the course of the summer, over two dozen Queen’s academics contributed to The Conversation, sparking dialogue about the business of marijuanahow to improve the skills of tomorrow’s doctors, , recruiting more women to join the military, how to prevent irregular heartbeats, the meaning of The Tragically Hip’s lyrics, and more. These faculty and graduate students suggested topics, wrote columns, and submitted them to The Conversation. From there, professional journalists helped edit the articles to ensure consistency and clarity.

The Conversation’s unique model puts the researchers in the driver’s seat when sharing their expertise,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “It is increasingly important that we convey the impact of our research and ideas beyond the academy, and we believe tools such as The Conversation are filling that gap in a powerful way.”


The 33 articles published to date by Queen’s experts have garnered a combined 167,000 reads and 166 comments on The Conversation’s website. One of the most popular, and possibly most controversial, pieces was an article by David Maslove, Clinician Scientist with the Department of Medicine and Critical Care Program, about the need to regulate journalism in the same way his profession is regulated.

“Working with The Conversation’s editorial team was great, with turnaround times between drafts that were much faster than what I’m used to in traditional academic publishing,” says Dr. Maslove. “It was really gratifying to see the piece we created reach a wider audience and stimulate debate.”

Another notable Queen’s submission included Sarita Srivastava’s (Sociology) “I wanna be white!’ Can we change race? – a piece analyzing a recent controversy on transracialism. Dr. Srivastava’s piece led to an invitation for her to speak during a symposium on the matter held at the University of Alberta.

“Writing for The Conversation has been a wonderful opportunity to reach a wider audience and to comment on current events as they are happening,” says Dr. Srivastava. “Their editor was extremely skilled in working with me to write in a more journalistic style, while maintaining scholarly content. Within days of my article’s publication, I was invited to speak at an upcoming symposium on the same topic.”

Once the articles are posted to The Conversation’s website, they are shared with a large network of Canadian and international media organizations through a “Republish” feature and posting via The Canadian Press Wire service. The work of Queen’s academics has gone on to be featured in major North American newspapers such as The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News and The National Post, magazines like Scientific American, and national dailies as far away as Australia, where The Conversation was originally founded.

“In our first three months of publication, content from The Conversation Canada has been viewed almost two million times. Combining academic expertise with journalistic storytelling means we are reaching a wide audience across Canada and around the world at a time when the public is thirsting for reliable, fact-based information,” says Scott White, editor-in-chief of The Conversation Canada. “We're very pleased that Queen's has been with us from the very beginning, including a Day One story, as well as important articles on the country's health care system and the beauty of song lyrics, to name just a few.”

The Conversation is regularly seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca

This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette. Republished with permission.

Tags: News

Fourth Annual Career Week Networking Reception

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 15:36
Fourth Annual Career Week Networking Reception

October 16, 2017

Queen’s School of Graduate Studies hosted the fourth annual Career Week Networking Reception on October 13 as part of the 2017 Homecoming celebrations. Alumni and community partners were invited to meet Queen's graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and share their personal experiences and tips for transitioning from graduate training to career. Kingston's Mayor Bryan Paterson - himself an alumnus of Queen's Graduate Studies - welcomed attendees and shared his own career advice.

Over 100 guests gathered in the beautiful Agnes Etherington Art Centre for this Graduate Studies Homecoming Tradition.

Mayor Bryan Paterson welcomed attendees to the reception

Mayor Paterson mingling with students at the reception

Students networking with David Hyndman ( Assistant Director of Industry Partnerships)



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Inaugural Banting-Vanier Lectures

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 14:46
Inaugural Banting-Vanier Lectures

October 16, 2017

Queen’s School of Graduate Studies hosted the inaugural Vanier-Banting lecture series event on October 14 as part of the 2017 Homecoming celebrations. This red carpet event was a preview of some of the best graduate and post-doctoral research at Queen’s, covering a diverse range of subjects from mutated blood cells, cancer-fighting fireflies, and the “pedagogic skills” of the devil in one of Byron’s plays.

The Homecoming event was the beginning of a series to showcase the work of our talented trainees – stay tuned for the next preview in 2018!

Banting Post-Doctoral Fellow Nicolle Domnik presenting her work

Vanier Scholar Taha Azad mingling after the lectures

The persenters (front to back): Emma Peacocke, Sarah Yakimowski, Taha Azad, Jacob Bonafiglia, Elina Cook, and Nicolle Domnik



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