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Last updated: Dec 12, 2017 6:17 am

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Arts and Science

William Leggett receives prestigious lifetime achievement award

Dr. William Leggett.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Creating a sense of belonging

Students' project seeks to broaden the discussion around diversity and inclusivity at Queen’s.

"Student Diversity Project"
Queen's first-year students Sara Drimmer and Nicole Osayande present the Student Diversity Project at a Fall Preview event in November. (Supplied Photo)

First-year computing student Nicole Osayande (Artsci’21) has only been on campus a few months, but she has already launched a diversity project with her peers, and created a video speaking to inclusivity at Queen’s that is now being shared online with prospective and current students.

“There is literally something for everyone at Queen’s, but some future students may not have that mindset. I can relate, as I, too, came to Queen’s thinking I was going to be outcast as 'the only black girl,’ she says. "I will admit that it’s an easy assumption to make, but that has been far from my personal experience. I wanted to start an initiative to tell prospective students why they should come to Queen’s. I’m all about conversations that allow people to share ideas, because, well, Queen’s can only become more inclusive and diverse, as our spectra of students becomes more varied.”

Ms. Osayande, who attended high school in Toronto, mobilized some of her friends to form the Student Diversity Project. One the group’s first creations is a video that reflects the strength and breadth of the campus community.

“Diversity is about people of colour, it’s about LGBTQ, it’s about introverts and extroverts, it’s about students without families and different upbringings, it’s not a linear construct,” she says. “We need to stop putting our school in a box.”

She approached Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney at an event for major admission award recipients to talk about the project. Ms. Tierney watched the video, and invited Ms. Osayande and her peers to set up a booth at Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment’s November Fall Preview events on campus to show the video, and talk to prospective students and families.

“I have been so impressed by Nicole’s initiative and committment, and we are thrilled to collaborate with the Student Diversity Project as part of our ongoing outreach to all prospective students,” says Ms. Tierney. “We recognize the importance of student voices in promoting an inclusive campus environment with a sense of belonging.”

The video is now posted to Queen’s Undergraduate Admission website. At Fall Preview, the group also gave out information about campus support services, including Student Academic Success Services, peer tutoring, and study groups, and the group created a poster showcasing many of the clubs at Queen’s that reflect diverse interests and experiences.

The Student Diversity Project’s next steps are to set up a Facebook page, and work with current students to help them articulate their experiences and perspectives about diversity and inclusivity at Queen’s.

“We want to ask them: ‘On a broad level: what to say, and how to say it? What bugs you about things people say about the Queen’s community? Is it the approach, is it the question? How do we help you moving forward?’,” says Ms. Osayande. “We want to help more people start conversations and encourage positive change.”

Watch the Student Diversity Project video.


Canada’s first Inuk heart surgeon

"Donna May Kimmaliardjuk"
On her way to becoming Canada's first Inuk heart surgeon, Donna May Kimmaliardjuk (Artsci'11) began her studies in Life Sciences at Queen's University. 

Donna May Kimmaliardjuk (Artsci’11) is completely comfortable doing open-heart surgery every day as a resident at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Being a role model is something the 28-year-old Queen’s Life Sciences grad finds a little more challenging.

Dr. Kimmaliardjuk is Canada’s first Inuk heart surgeon.

The distinction has put her in the spotlight and brought pride to the people in her community of Chesterfield, Nunavut. She has been profiled by national media outlets and recently received an Indspire Award (formerly called the National Aboriginal Achievement Award).

Dr. Kimmaliardjuk is trying to embrace the spotlight but admits the idea of people looking up to her will take some time to get used to. Being regarded as a pioneer among her community while still in the formative years of her career as a heart surgeon can be a difficult position, but she has remained grateful and humble about her accomplishments.

“(Being a role model) is something I am growing into, but I am very honoured by it,” she says. “I am happy to share my story and to be a part of celebrating all Indigenous accomplishments in all different areas of life.”

She was born in Winnipeg and then lived in Nunavut for only a few months as a baby before her family moved to Ottawa, where Dr. Kimmaliardjuk grew up. But many family members still live in the community, so the North remains a big part of her life and culture. After graduating from Queen’s, she went to medical school at the University of Calgary before moving back to Ottawa to do her residency.

She describes her Queen’s experience as “very happy.” The four years she spent in Kingston were formative and she was very involved in campus life. She was president of the Queen’s Native Student Association for two years and also served as the undergraduate representative to the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University.

“The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre had a big role in my life at Queen’s – a much bigger role than I ever thought when I first went there. I met such amazing women that I now consider family, role models and mentors who helped shape me into who I am today,” Dr. Kimmaliardjuk says. “Queen’s Life Sciences was the perfect program for me. It prepared me and exposed me to what to expect at medical school.”

While it may be surprising to some that Dr. Kimmaliardjuk is the first Inuk heart surgeon, she notes that modern western civilization was slow to come to the North. People were focused on living off the land, not thinking about traveling thousands of kilometres south to get a university degree. Even today, many barriers to higher education remain for people in the North – such as socioeconomic as well as the culture shock of living in a big city.

“To put it in perspective, my mother’s parents were literally born in igloos. So that is only two generations ago,” Dr. Kimmaliardjuk says. “It is pretty remarkable that we went from people living off the land to me working in a major hospital doing open-heart surgery every day.”

This article was first published on the Queen's Alumni website.

Making employment equity inroads

Every year the Equity and Human Rights Offices recognize individuals and groups that are working toward making Queen’s University a more inclusive and welcoming place.

Wendy Powley
Wendy Powley, a continuing adjunct in the School of Computing and the Faculty of Education, was the inaugural winner of the Employment Equity Award. (University Communications) 

The annual Tri-Awards not only celebrate the achievements of Queen’s community members in the areas of employment equity, human rights, and accessibility, but also reinforce the importance of the work being done.

In 2011, Wendy Powley, a continuing adjunct in the School of Computing and the Faculty of Education, received the inaugural Employment Equity Award, which recognizes the achievements of individuals, groups or organizations that go above and beyond legislated requirements or their institutional mandate to help Queen’s become a truly representative and inclusive workplace.

The recognition, she says, didn’t just validate the work she is doing in introducing young women to the male-dominated field of computing on a personal level, it also opened the eyes of colleagues and administrators in her department and across the university to the importance of such efforts.

“I thought that receiving the Employment Equity Award was great because it recognized the things that I was doing in my spare time, to have it validated and also to raise awareness,” she says. “It was validating that people cared about what we are doing in the School of Computing. I view it as a departmental award, it wasn’t just for me. The School of Computing has done a lot to increase the number of women in our department, so being recognized for that was great for our School.”

The award also recognized Ms. Powley’s work organizing and promoting conferences such as the Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing (CAN-CWIC) and playing key roles in groups such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). As a result of her efforts, thousands of young women across the world have been introduced to the field of computing and learned that there is most definitely a place for them.

“It was great to know that the university actually values equity efforts.  I think many people don’t understand the reasons behind these efforts.   In our field, young women are missing out only because of lack of information, not lack of interest or ability.  They have often not been exposed to the field of Computer Science” she says. “So, for people it’s an opportunity to stop and think for a while about why we have a women's group or why we do outreach.  I think the award really made that happen in our department.  Everyone celebrated the award and in doing so, they recognized what we are doing is important.   I definitely have the support of my department and my colleagues and the equity award certainly contributed to that.”

Nominations for the Tri-Awards are currently being accepted. The deadline is Jan. 12, 2018.

The awards will be presented on March 20, 2018 at the Diversity and Inclusion Round-Table Discussion and 2017 Tri-Awards Celebration. Register online early as spaces are limited for this event.

Nomination forms and further information on the Employment Equity Award, Steve Cutway Accessibility Award, and Human Rights Initiative Award are available on the Equity Office website. Questions can be directed to the Equity Office at 533-2563 or equity@queensu.ca.

Promising cancer research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New lecture series to celebrate John Meisel

The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies to hold its inaugural event on Thursday, Nov. 23.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information visit the Queen’s Political Studies website

Gathering new insights

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

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

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

Successful recipients include:

Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine/Public Health Sciences)

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

Yolande Chan (Smith School of Business)

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

Marc Epprecht (Global Development Studies)

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

Mohamed Khimji (Law)

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

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

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

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

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

Challenging today's youth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Queen's professors renewed as Canada Research Chairs

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

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

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

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

Queen’s renewed CRCs are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forecasting an innovative partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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