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Partnership boosts undergraduate research

A partnership between the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) and the Faculty of Arts and Science is providing the financial support to promote and expand undergraduate research.

The partnership has resulted in the creation of the Arts and Science Undergraduate Research Fund (ASURF) with the aim of fostering a community of undergraduate scholars and promoting greater investment towards undergraduate research.

The Arts and Science Undergraduate Society and Faculty of Arts and Science are partnering to provide financial support to promote and expand undergraduate research. (SUpplied Photo)

Each year for the next three years ASUS will contribute approximately $30,000 toward the fund through an opt-out student fee of $3.75, while the faculty will contribute $10,000 annually.

Undergraduate research is important because it provides an opportunity to expand the depth and breadth of the student experience, explains ASUS President Darrean Baga, adding that the fund will help improve the process for students and strengthen another pillar of the undergraduate experience.

“Undergraduate research allows students to apply the theories and concepts they have learned in the classroom in the real world, where the processes and results can be messy, unexpected, and complicated. As such, undergraduate research provides students with tangible skills outside of the classroom while at the same time part of the experiential learning process,” he says. “Moreover, undergraduate research is a great gateway for students to think about graduate school and how to further their education.”

Queen’s offers opportunities for undergraduate research through such programs as the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships (USSRF) and the new fund will help build upon the increasing interest.

“The momentum that is building for undergraduate research is amazing,” Vicki Remenda, Associate Dean (Academic). “We are happy to have collaborated with ASUS to begin to highlight the research that is going on at the undergraduate level here at Queen’s.”

The Faculty of Arts and Science and ASUS have also partnered to launch the Undergraduate Research Hub, a website featuring the work of undergraduate researchers, where it can be viewed by peers, potential supervisors, and graduate school admissions committees.

“The undergraduate research website is a very valuable tool for professors in the Faculty of Arts and Science to aid in graduate student recruitment,” says Sharon Regan, Acting Associate Dean (Graduate Students and Research). “The new features highlighting undergraduate researchers will only make this a more powerful and useful outlet for our faculty and students.”

Anyone interested in having their research, or that of their student, included in the Undergraduate Research Hub can contact ASUS.

Moving //Forward

  • Jessica Janes discusses her artwork during a feedback session as part of //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday
    Jessica Janes discusses her artwork during a feedback session as part of //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday
  • Viewers are invited to have a seat and enjoy the immersive experience of Jess Wheelock's installation at Ontario Hall.
    Viewers are invited to have a seat and enjoy the immersive experience of Jess Wheelock's installation at Ontario Hall.
  • Viewers take in the paintings by Anna Bullock at //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday.
    Viewers take in the paintings by Anna Bullock at //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday.
  • 'Runner' by Jess Peterson is a massive oil-on-panel painting that takes up half of one room at Ontario Hall.
    'Runner' by Jess Peterson is a massive oil-on-panel painting that takes up half of one room at Ontario Hall.
  • Nicole Emond's prints are displayed on the fourth floor of Ontario Hall.
    Nicole Emond's prints are displayed on the fourth floor of Ontario Hall.

Ontario Hall has been transformed into an art gallery this week as the graduating class for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) hosts its final exhibition.

//Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition is the culmination of the four-year program and students have been creating work all year for the event.

The exhibition is open for public viewing through to Saturday from 9 am to 5pm, with the exception of Friday when the exhibition opens at noon. The closing reception will be held Saturday from 7-10 pm.

There is a wide variety of works throughout the building including sculpture, painting and printmaking and multimedia installations.

More images of the artwork is available at the exhibition website.

Creating diverse, modern learning spaces

Renovations to develop diverse and modern learning spaces will soon begin in Mackintosh-Corry Hall.

The revitalization of the southern wing of the building – home to the Department of Geography and Planning – marks the second year of Queen’s multi-year commitment to improving teaching and learning environments on campus. The university is investing $1 million per year for three years to upgrade centrally-booked classrooms and other learning spaces.

[Mackintosh-Corry Hall - south wing]
The south wing of Mackintosh-Corry Hall will undergo renovations, including the development of two active learning classrooms and a renewed student street. (University Communications)

A focus of the Mackintosh-Corry Hall project is to provide a more diverse range of learning opportunities by creating two new active learning classrooms, renewing other classrooms, as well as enlarging the hallways and creating informal learning spaces, says Peter Wolf, Associate Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning).

“We’re basically renovating part of the wing with a recognition that there really aren’t many informal learning spaces in this building, which is a major classroom complex where these types of spaces really are needed,” he says. “We also need more flexible and active learning classrooms and we are doing this by consolidating classrooms that were less used and configured in traditional ways and reworking them to provide more active learning.”

The two new 49-seat active learning classrooms will be constructed in Rooms D201 and D205. A temporary partition between the rooms can be removed to create a 98-seat classroom as well, Mr. Wolf explains. Other classrooms will undergo more minor renovations while the hallways will be widened and informal study areas will be created.

The focus of the multi-year commitment, Mr. Wolf says, is on renewing large classrooms and increasing the proportion of active learning and flexible classrooms.

“The commitment has really given us a tremendous start for what we need to do for our classrooms, to make sure that the classrooms enable the diversity of pedagogies that are being used and are in demand across all disciplines,” he says “We will continue to need lecture spaces and we also need other kinds of spaces. The goal of this project is to renew the classroom database while at the same time making sure that the classroom spaces and technologies provide the diverse contexts that our students need to learn the diverse things they are learning.”

Another important aspect of the overall project is to make learning spaces across campus more accessible.

“A key part of a good learning environment is a fully accessible learning environment,” Mr. Wolf points out. “That includes the technology, layout, stairs and ramps and lighting and good air.”

In the initiative’s first year, major renovations were conducted at Duncan McArthur Hall, including the main auditorium where new lighting, seating and presentation technologies were introduced.

Other classroom projects have taken place in Walter Light Hall, Theological Hall, Kingston Hall and Ellis Hall, where the first three active learning classrooms were introduced in 2014.

More information about active learning classrooms at Queen’s is available online

A dialogue on Indigenous law, song and opera

Queen’s professor leads conversation on the mis-use of Indigenous songs in contemporary classical music.

If the production of contemporary Canadian opera is a rare occurrence, it is even rarer that such work leads to dialogue about the relationship between Indigenous law and song.

Dylan Robinson (Languages, Literatures and Cultures, cross appointed in six departments/programs including Music & Drama and Cultural Studies) played a leading role in a dialogue on the misuse of Indigenous songs in contemporary performances. The dialogue was spurred by the remounting of the opera Louis Riel, which features a Nisga'a mouring song performed in a manner that conflicts with its significance to Nisga'a culture and law.

For Queen’s professor Dylan Robinson (Languages, Literatures and Cultures), the Canadian Opera Company’s remounting of the opera Louis Riel, based on the life of the Métis political leader, was an opportunity not only to address issues of song appropriation, but also the ways in which music organizations across the country might play a role in redressing the history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

“This dialogue is part of a longer conversation that has been going on for quite a number of years between myself and a number of Indigenous colleagues regarding the many uses of our songs within musical compositions,” says Dr. Robinson, a scholar of Stó:lō descent who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts. “I felt it was important that Indigenous musicians, performers, and knowledge-keepers come together to share our views with music organizations on the functions that Indigenous song serves as law, history and medicine. Our songs are much more than simply songs.”

The day before the Louis Riel’s opening, Dr. Robinson led a dialogue to discuss First Nations song protocol and the mis-use of Indigenous songs in Canadian compositions. Represented in the dialogue were Nisga’a and Métis performers and artists, representatives of the Canadian Opera Company, National Arts Centre, Canadian Music Centre, and the executors and advisors to the estates of the composer and librettist, and members of Louis Riel’s cast and stage director.

Spurring the dialogue was the opera’s use of a Nisga’a mourning song, the “Song of Skateen,” in an aria sung in Cree by the character Marguerite Riel. Under Nisga’a tradition and law, the song is only to be sung when a community member or chief passes away, or with the appropriate permission of the family who holds the hereditary rights to sing it. Dr. Robinson explains that, in the context of the performance, the song is being utilized in a way that conflicts with its significance for Nisga’a peoples.

“I believe our ancestors shared these songs for safe keeping for our future generations,” explains Dr. Robinson. “Instead, once the songs were recorded, they were then simply ‘filed away’ in museum collections, in the words of the ethnographer Marius Barbeau who recorded “Song of Skateen”. This is where thousands of Indigenous songs remain, often disconnected from Indigenous communities to whom they belong. In some cases, particular songs were also transcribed into western music notation. This made it very easy for contemporary Canadian composers to use them without the knowledge of the families and individuals who still hold the hereditary rights to their use.”

The community consultation, led by Dr. Robinson on April 19, was one of a number of initiatives the Canadian Opera Company committed to in order to address the issue. Another was to host two presentations by the Kwhlii Gibaygum Nisga’a Traditional Dancers led by Wal'aks Keane Tait and the Git Hayetsk Dancers led by G̱oothl Ts'imilx Mike Dangeli and Sm Łoodm ’Nüüsm- Mique'l Dangeli  who explained the true history of the song to the opera’s audience.

Dr. Robinson says a second dialogue is planned in conjunction with the opera’s Ottawa performance, scheduled for June 15 and 17. He says that, while this is the first step in a much larger conversation on how music organizations might address the various issues, the response by the Canadian Opera Company’s director Alexander Neef and Heather Moore of the National Arts Centre’s upcoming Canada Scene gives him reason to be optimistic.

“I feel hopeful, and that’s kind of a new thing for me to say,” he explains. “I have had similar conversations over the years with non-Indigenous composers and music organizations that have fallen on deaf ears. This time, however, the Canadian Opera Company and National Arts Centre moved with agility to address the issue as the serious infraction of Nisga’a law that it is. That has not happened before, and so even though we’re at the beginning, I think that there is some institutional will to bring about meaningful action.”

Faculty of Arts and Science introduces two new plans

[Politics-Philosophy-Economics Specialization]
The Faculty of Arts and Science is introducing two new plans for the 2017-18 academic year: a Politics-Philosophy-Economics Specialization and a major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Following an already busy year filled with launching new initiatives, an additional two new plans are being introduced by the Faculty of Arts and Science for the 2017-18 academic year, just in time for plan selection for first-year students. The two new plans are a Politics-Philosophy-Economics Specialization and a major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Politics- Philosophy-Economics Specialization
By combining the studies of economics, philosophy and politics, students will be prepared for graduate studies in their area of specialization, law, public service, international development, policy design and analysis, or any career path that calls for strong analytical and communication skills. The plan will approach contemporary social issues and how society responds to these issues by bringing complementary intellectual skills together in analytical and critical ways. The plan is structured as an augmented medial, without sacrificing advanced skills areas of specialization. With more than 50 courses to choose from, students will have flexibility to create a degree path that works for them, with a focus that will stand out in the marketplace.

“The three departments involved are very excited about the students who will be attracted to the new PPE plan,” says Ian Keay, Undergraduate Chair, Department of Economics. “The plan’s focus on analytical rigor, critical thinking and communication, applied to a wide range of social issues, will draw intellectually curious students with a broad set of complementary interests and skills.”

To learn more visit the PPE webpage.

Major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures
A new major for the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLCU), the plan builds upon the breadth of the unit which covers Arabic, Chinese, German, Hebrew, Inuktitut, Italian,

Japanese, Mohawk, Portuguese and Spanish languages and cultures, as well as Linguistics and general/minor plans in Indigenous Studies and World Language Studies. The main aim of the new major is to develop students’ intercultural competency, providing them with an understanding and awareness of cultural diversity grounded in second language acquisition. Its strong interdisciplinary and intercultural approach, together with an international perspective and collaboration with the Queen’s University International Centre (students will concurrently earn an Intercultural Competence Certificate) means that it addresses the issues of today’s world in a unique way. The plan’s goal is to provide students with a set of diverse and flexible core competencies, supporting a solid and practical foundation for a remarkably wide range of post-undergraduate careers, graduate degree options, and professional programs.

“In addition to learning at least two languages, students will take courses from a variety of multi-, cross-, and inter-disciplinary topics,” says Donato Santeramo, Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.  “These will help students develop an understanding of literary and cultural traditions, and examine the influences of key social, historical, political and artistic developments within varied cultural traditions. The plan is designed to be an excellent platform for study abroad opportunities and for students to gain additional experiential learning.”

To learn more visit the LLCU webpage.

Into the great outdoors

From observing rare species in a tropical rainforest to sitting in an abandoned farmer’s field north of Kingston studying the relationship between plant size and abundance of wildflowers and grasses, there is a wide array of areas of study in field biology.

[Let's Talk Field Biology]
Queen's University Let’s Talk Science is hosting “Let’s Talk Field Biology” on Saturday, April 22, 2-8:30 pm at Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre. (University Communications)

Just what a field biologist does, what the career offers, and a closer look at the world around us will be in the spotlight as Queen’s University Let’s Talk Science presents “Let’s Talk Field Biology” on Saturday, April 22, 2-8:30 pm at Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre.

“Field biology is this amazing field of science that very few people understand or get to experience so this is really just an event that celebrates the fascinating work that is done by field biologists and offers the public a chance to experience something that they may not know even exists,” says Amanda Tracey, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biology and one of the event organizers. “Importantly, the event will also showcase local field biologists and a lot of the work that is done at Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS).”

Activities are planned throughout the day, says Ms. Tracey, one of the Queen’s coordinators for Let’s Talk Science along with fellow PhD candidate and organizer Catherine Dale. Visitors will be able to take part in hands-on events such as building feeders and learning to read the age of trees (dendrology), and hear from field biologists about their work. Also on the schedule is a bonfire chat, led by members of the field biology blog “Dispatches from the Field,” including Ms. Tracey, Ms. Dale and Sarah Wallace, who recently earned a master’s degree and currently works at the Royal Military College, and a night hike.

The event is being held on Earth Day and will provide an inside look at the facilities at Elbow Lake, one of the properties of QUBS.

The free event is open to participants of all ages and is family friendly. Events are scheduled throughout the afternoon and visitors can drop in at any time. However, because Elbow Lake is a working biology station and field research is conducted on the premises, no pets are allowed.

More information is available online or contact talksci@queensu.ca.

Fostering connections at Royal Society of Canada seminar

[RSC Eastern Ontario]
Three Queen's researchers – Elizabeth Eisenhauer, Ugo Piomelli, and Una Roman D’Elia – will be making presentations at the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar of the Royal Society of Canada on Saturday, April 22.

Four members of the Royal Society of Canada will be presenting their ongoing research at an upcoming event being hosted by Queen’s University on Saturday, April 22.

Four researchers – three from Queen’s and one from Carleton University– will provide insights into their work at the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar of the Royal Society of Canada, set for the University Club from 10 am-4 pm.

The schedule of presentation includes:
10 am: Ugo Piomelli, FRSC, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering – Queen’s University “Turbulence simulations: unravelling disorder, one vortex at a time”
11 am: Una Roman D’Elia, College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, Department of Art History and Art Conservation – Queen’s “Donatello and Pygmalion”
2 pm: Elizabeth Eisenhauer FRSC, Department of Oncology – Queen’s “Moving from the lab to the clinic – 30 years of progress in cancer treatment”
3 pm: Donald Beecher, FRSC, Department of English - Carleton “Boccaccio's ‘Tale of Titus and Gisippius’ (Decameron X.8) with a Coda on Friendship from a Cognitive Perspective

Along with presenting the research by Fellows and Members of the New College of Young Scholars Artists and Scientists one of the goals of the seminar is to foster discussion and connections, explains Pierre du Prey, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art History and co-chair with Mike Sayer, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy.

“Participants, including our four speakers each year, make fruitful contacts among each other and the audience; contacts which stretch between the four universities represented and which cross disciplinary lines,” says Dr. du Prey. “Overarching themes emerge as if by magic from the diverse papers presented and the discussion that follows them. In this way arts and science become reunited by the common quest for knowledge.”

After 12 years at the helm, Dr. du Prey and Dr. Sayer are handing over direction of the forum, confident that it is set on a stable course, and bound for exciting new destinations. Hosted by Queen’s and actively encouraged by the RSC, it gives New Scholars and Fellows of the Society, as well as members of the general public, a chance to benefit from discourse at the highest level. The presentations are open and free to the public.

RSVP by April 19 at sayerm@queensu.ca, or 613-531-4853. 

Bound for BISC

Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Benoit-Antoine Bacon has announced the appointment of J. Hugh Horton as vice-provost and executive director, Bader International Study Centre (BISC) and Herstmonceux Castle Enterprises (HCE) for a five-year term effective July 1, 2017.

[Hugh Horton]
Hugh Horton has been appointed vice-provost and executive director, Bader International Study Centre (BISC) and Herstmonceux Castle Enterprises (HCE).

“I am very pleased that Dr. Hugh Horton has accepted this appointment,” says Dr. Bacon. “Hugh has extensive international experience as well as an impressive academic and leadership record. Hugh has a deep understanding of both the BISC and Queen’s and will bring tremendous personal integrity, conscientiousness and commitment to this role.”

Dr. Horton is a professor of chemistry and is currently serving as the interim vice-dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Over the past seven years, he has held a number of leadership positions within the faculty, including associate dean (studies) and associate dean (international).

In his current role, Dr. Horton is responsible for six academic departments while retaining responsibilities for the international portfolio of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He has worked as the academic liaison between the BISC and Arts and Science, notably leading the development and launch of the first-year science program at the BISC. He has led several Queen’s delegations to China to negotiate 2+2 programs and study abroad agreements. He was also responsible for introducing the Queen’s Undergraduate Internship Program in the Faculty of Arts and Science. 

Dr. Horton will work with the current BISC management team, who will continue in their respective roles, towards building on their remarkable accomplishments over the past few years.  

Exhibit offers interactive look at Nobel Prize-winning research

The Queen’s and Kingston communities will soon have the opportunity to see where Nobel Laureate Art McDonald and his team conducted their ground-breaking physics experiments without travelling two kilometres underground. 

[Dr. McDonald with SNOLAB collaborators]
An upcoming exhibit will explore the new experiments that current Queen's researchers and students (pictured above) are conducting at the SNOLAB underground facility in Sudbury. (Photo by Bernard Clark) 

The interactive exhibit, New Eyes on the Universe, is coming to Queen’s University this spring. The exhibit highlights the discoveries of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) project. Dr. McDonald shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics for this experiment that proved that solar neutrinos change their flavour enroute to Earth, an important discovery for explaining the nature of matter and the structure of the universe.

New Eyes on the Universe also explores the ways in which the current SNOLAB facilities and experiments continue to push the frontiers in particle astrophysics.

“The exhibit is a wonderful way to bring the Queen’s community closer to the work our team did in Sudbury as well as the research that continues at the facility,” Dr. McDonald says. “We are excited to share the exhibit with the local region as well as with many of our colleagues who will come to campus for the annual congress of the Canadian Association of Physicists in June.”

[Queen's 175th logo]
Queen's 175th anniversary

Queen’s is hosting the exhibit as part of its 175th anniversary celebrations, which will conclude later this summer.

New Eyes on the Universe is a fitting way to cap our 175th anniversary,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “Over the past year, we have reflected on Queen’s monumental contributions, while also contemplating what the future holds for the university. Similarly, this exhibit allows visitors to celebrate Dr. McDonald and his colleagues’ outstanding accomplishments and learn about the ways in which Queen’s researchers, now and in the future, will play a leading role in unlocking the mysteries of the universe.”

Intimate and Interactive

The exhibit’s 40 panels present spectacular images of the history and development of SNO and SNOLAB, which is located two kilometres below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ont. Video kiosks let visitors explore themes and offer a virtual tour of SNOLAB. Through a life-size virtual display, Dr. McDonald presents information about the work of SNO and SNOLAB and his perspective on the future.

The exhibit also includes a section on the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics, which Dr. McDonald shared with Japanese physicist Takaaki Kajita. There are images from Nobel Week in Stockholm and a display of the Nobel Medal, citation, and artwork.

Exhibit artifacts include unique detector components developed especially for SNO, as well as a scale model of the SNO detector. Another area of the exhibit shares interviews with young scientists who started their scientific careers with SNO.

New Eyes on the Universe will be on display in the atrium of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre from May 27-July 7. Admission to the exhibit and the Agnes is free for everyone.

The New Eyes on the Universe exhibit is owned and circulated by SNOLAB. The exhibit debuted on July 1, 2016 at Canada House, Trafalgar Square in London, and it is touring across Canada this year.

The SNOLAB Institute is operated under a trust agreement between Queen’s University, Carleton University, University of Alberta, Laurentian University, Université de Montréal, and Vale, and includes external and international membership from both academic and industrial sectors. 

More than a pinch of trouble

Researchers examine increased salt levels in North American lakes.

New research, co-authored by Queen’s doctoral candidate Jamie Summers (Biology), has determined that salt levels in many North American lakes are increasing.

[Jamie Summers]
Queen's doctoral candidate Jamie Summers (Biology) has co-authored a study on salt levels in North American lakes. The study found that  as little as one per cent of the surrounding surface area of a lake being paved substantially increased the risk that the lake's salt levels would be elevated, and that over one quarter of fresh water lakes are at risk of ecological damage due to increased salt.

The study also determined that a paved surface area of only one per cent around a freshwater lake substantially increased the risk that the salinity (chloride concentration) of the water would increase. Over a quarter of freshwater lakes in the United States had sufficient paved or impervious surface area within 500 metres of their shores to put them at risk of increased salinization.

“We found, across a fairly large region, that many lakes are becoming elevated in salt concentrations and that the run-off from a relatively small amount of development near a lake likely contributes to this,” Ms. Summers explains. “With our population becoming increasingly urbanized, and urban environments expanding, there is a salt threat to our freshwater lakes.”

The researchers examined long-term trends in salinity levels as measured in lakes and reservoirs across North America, with attention paid to the northeastern United States and the province of Ontario – the North American Lakes Region. The team examined lakes with salinity data dating back a minimum of 10 years, and excluded lakes that varied greatly in water levels.

As many of these lakes are in regions that experience cold winters, the team considered road salt as a source of the elevated lake salinity. The percentage of paved surface area within 500 metres of the lakeshore was used as a proxy for salt inputs. The study found a strong relationship between lake salinity and the percentage of paved surface area, with increasing salinity trends in lakes with as little as one per cent of the land area being paved within the 500-metre buffer.

The researchers estimated that more than 7,770 lakes in their U.S. study region were at risk of elevated salinity, with road salt applications as a likely source. Ms. Summers says these figures are likely a conservative estimate, due to often incomplete lake data. The research team further determined that 14 lakes were on track to reach the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s aquatic life threshold criterion for chronic chloride exposure by 2050.

“We have known for a long time that human activities, such as applying road salt can have an impact on lake ecosystems, but seeing the extent of the problem and how much of an effect urbanization and road salting can have on lakes is an eye-opener,” Ms. Summers says. “A small amount of development in a watershed can yield substantial risks for important fresh waters.”

The paper is the result of a collaboration between the fellows of the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) and data contributions from dozens of sources. An international grassroots network of researchers, GLEON organizes and completes research on lakes and reservoirs all over the world to examine how lakes are responding to a changing global climate. The fellowship consists of 12 PhD candidates who receive 18 months of funding and logistical support to collaborate on a research project in a diverse international team.

The complete study, titled Salting our freshwater lakes, is available online from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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