Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Arts and Science

A matter of physics

It started with a bang (the big bang that is) and ended amongst the stars.

Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus Arthur McDonald delivered the Herzberg Memorial Public Lecture at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Monday, as part of the Canadian Association of Physicists Annual Congress, being hosted at Queen’s May28-June 2.

[Art McDonald]
Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus Arthur McDonald delivered the Herzberg Memorial Public Lecture at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Monday. (Photo by Alex Hanes)

The CAP Congress is the most important physics conference in Canada. Every year, hundreds of Canadian and international physicists descend on the host university to communicate, present, exchange ideas, promote new research, and discuss the role of physics in Canada. This science-filled week also includes a public lecture with a speaker chosen for their merit, his or her impact on the physics community and dedication to inspiring the next generation of young innovators.

The lecture was named in honour of Nobel Laureate Gerhard Herzberg, a longstanding member of the CAP, in recognition of Dr. Herzberg’s known desire to increase public science engagement and appreciation of science amongst the public, and, particularly, youth.

Dr. McDonald continued this theme by appealing to the younger members of the audience with jokes, a promise that “science is fun,” and reminding everyone that they are sitting in a room full of “geeks looking for WIMPs” (weakly interacting massive particles). He also gave an overview of SNOLAB’s new neutrino experiment, SNO+, as well as the current dark matter program underway there. 

Dr. McDonald also discussed the history of the now completed SNO experiment, making sure he gave credit to the more than 270 people who made it possible. He made a point to acknowledge that more than 200 of the collaborators were students and post-docs; reinforcing that contributions from all levels are important.

For their work and discoveries on neutrinos Dr. McDonald and his group were awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics along with Takaaki Kajita of Japan.

After the completion of the SNO experiment the facility was expanded into SNOLAB with funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, a programme designed to “welcome the world to Canada”.

Dr. McDonald reiterated the importance of this initial investment and pushed home the message that “we need to be global in our outlook, in our diversity and our collaborations.”

For more information visit the CAP website.

Building the Super Soldier

Kingston Conference on International Security to examine the future of performance enhancement. 

The 12th annual Kingston Conference on International Security, taking place June 12-14, will bring together academics and military leaders to examine future enhancements to the physical, intellectual and social capabilities of soldiers. Panelists will also discuss the challenges in balancing the need for military effectiveness when enhancing individual performance with a commitment to reflect society’s values and norms.

“Different stakeholders bring with them different perspectives,” says Stefanie von Hlatky, Director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy and co-organizer of the conference. “Academics tend to think longer term, so bringing back the implications of their research to the immediate strategic, operational and tactical impacts is made possible through the conference. For the operational community and military leaders, engaging more analytically with concepts, doctrine and strategy is not something that the rigors of the job always permit, yet those lessons can be tremendously useful.”

Dr. Stefanie von Hlatky, Director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy, says the Kingston Conference on International Security creates opportunities to bring together academics and practitioners to exchange knowledge and examine concepts and strategies in ways that aren't always possible in the separate donmains. (Supplied Photo)

By bringing together perspectives from academia, industry and military operators, the conference allows for a more detailed and nuanced examination of military performance enhancement. Panelists will examine the current and future states of leading-edge research in performance enhancement, as well as the social aspects of the military profession, which includes gender and cultural awareness. The final panel will consider the ethical and moral implications of developing super soldiers, who must later transition back to being citizens when the mission is complete.

The conference is a collaboration between the Centre for International and Defence Policy, the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre, the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College, and the NATO Defense College in Rome. The conference program is jointly developed by the partner groups, with an eye on the implications of international security trends for the armed forces of Canada, the U.S, and NATO allies.

“It is our hope that the attendees gain knowledge and awareness on the multiple facets of the soldier and military performance – including spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, cultural and familial components,” says Major-General S.C. Hetherington, Commander of the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre. “More importantly, I hope they fully leverage this unique and diverse forum to contribute ideas and information on current fields of work and research akin to soldier and military performance. The Kingston Conference on International Security, as a world class international conference, bringing NATO and international perspectives, which are always valuable and informative for the attendees.”

For more information on the Kingston Conference on International Security, or to register to attend this year’s session, visit the website.

A good night's sleep

New research from Judith Davidson shows behavioural therapy helps fight chronic insomnia.

The battle against chronic insomnia is one that 12 per cent of Canadians fight every night. New research from Queen’s University’s Judith Davidson (Psychology) has shown group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) in a primary care setting is effective in treating insomnia. This is the first study of group CBT-I offered as part of routine care in a North American primary care setting.

New research from Judith Davidson could help fight chronic insomnia.

“These results have important implications for health care across the country,” says Dr. Davidson. “Insomnia, if left untreated, can lead to major depression, Type 2 diabetes, more sick days and car accidents. Medication works in the short term and drugs do help with occasional sleepless nights but we need to properly treat chronic insomnia or it’s never really cured.”

Multicomponent CBT-I typically includes sleep restriction therapy, stimulus control therapy, cognitive therapy and relaxation training provided in five or six sessions. In her study of the first 81 patients who received group CBT-I as part of routine care, 88 per cent reported no clinical insomnia after five weeks of treatment.

While the positive effects of CBT-I are obvious, bringing that therapy to chronic insomnia sufferers across Canada is a challenge, according to Dr. Davidson. The treatment is not covered by provincial health plans and primary care physicians do not have the time to deliver CBT-I therapy in a group setting – despite them often being the first point of contact for people looking for help with chronic insomnia.

“I have been working with the Kingston Family Health Team to provide this treatment right in primary care, but this is rare,” says Dr. Davidson. “Outside of primary care teams, the treatment has a cost which makes it unattainable for many people. This research shows how the treatment can be integrated into primary care and is a starting point for determining how best to bring CBT-I to more patients across the country.”

The research was published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and co-authored by Samantha Dawson and Adrijana Krsmanovic, both doctoral students in Queen’s clinical psychology graduate program.

Queen’s invests in 20 faculty researchers

Queen’s University will be funding the research of 20 faculty members following their successful applications to the Queen’s Research Opportunities Fund (QROF). Launched in 2015, QROF represents a strategic internal investment in areas of institutional research strength that provides researchers and scholars with the opportunity to accelerate their programs and research goals.

“Research is a core component of the mission of Queen’s University, and a key driver of our Strategic Framework,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Through the QROF program, we are making important internal investments that present new opportunities to build on research excellence and to enhance success of our faculty with external agencies and non-governmental organizations. I look forward to seeing the project outcomes for this year’s recipients.”

See the full list of funded projects, and learn more about one of the funded projects, below.

[Dr. Karine Bertrand]
Karine Bertrand, one of this year's recipients of QROF funding. Dr. Bertrand is an associate professor within the department of Film and Media, and teaches a course in Indigenous Women's Film and Media. (University Communications)

Film can be used to educate, to document, and to tell stories. Video works can also spark conversations about topics both inspiring and difficult. In doing so, film can build culture and understanding among different peoples – and, sometimes, we discover we are not so different after all.

This has been one early finding of Assistant Professor Karine Bertrand’s work through her project, “From Arnait Video Productions (Nunavut) to Video in the Villages (Brazil): developing a network of the Americas for Indigenous women filmmakers”. Dr. Bertrand, who teaches in the Department of Film and Media, is working to establish a film database for Indigenous women filmmakers to help them leverage what some call the modern ‘talking stick’ – a way for Indigenous women to make their voice heard on important subjects.

Dr. Bertrand is one of the recipients of funding through QROF 2017 under the category of “Research Leaders.” With this funding, one of her goals is to build a network that will allow Indigenous women filmmakers across North and South America to communicate with, support, and learn from each other. She is partnering with Indigenous filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau, as well as Indigenous elders and Indigenous students at Queen’s, to help bring her vision to life.

“I have been teaching a course on Indigenous women’s film and media for the last few years and looking at a lot of different video works from the Americas and Oceania, and I realized that it is really hard to get a hold of these films,” Dr. Bertrand explains. “And, despite the fact many of these female Indigenous filmmakers are thousands of miles away from each other, they are living the same realities. If they could share and communicate about their experiences, it might be able to help them in the healing process. It is so inspiring to think that maybe we can make a difference for these women.”

Dr. Bertrand hopes to launch the database within two years, and is currently consulting with the filmmakers about the best approach and seeking tech-savvy students who could assist. In the meantime, she has successfully reached out to the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, whose elders are from Tyendinaga, and local Indigenous communities, including her community in Kitigan Zibi and the Outaouais region, to seek their blessing on the project.

With the support from the QROF, Dr. Bertrand also aims to establish a Minority Women’s Film and Media Production Centre here at Queen’s, and host a biennial conference showcasing minority women’s cinema with the first conference taking place in 2018. She believes there would be significant interest in the topic – 99 per cent of students enrolled in her Indigenous Women’s Film and Media course are non-Indigenous, and many of her fellow faculty have expressed their support for such a centre.

Below, please find the full list of this year’s QROF recipients. Thank you to all researchers who applied, and congratulations to all recipients.

Research Leaders’ Fund

Crudden, Cathleen


Carbon-based ligands for metal surfaces: a revolution in biosensing


Jessop, Philip


Application of green chemistry concepts to CMF derived biofuels


Lai, Yongjun

Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Novel wearable technology for better vision


Renwick, Neil

Pathology and Molecular Medicine

Accelerating RNA-guided diagnostics through accurate RNA detection in neuroendocrine tumor liquid samples and cell lines


Bertrand, Karine

Film and Media

From Arnait Video Productions (Nunavut) to Video in the Villages (Brazil): developing a network of the Americas for Indigenous women filmmakers


International Fund

Cramm, Heidi

Rehabilitation Therapy/CIMVHR

Military & veteran family health research: a global alliance


Aldersey, Heather

School of Rehabilitation Therapy

Setting priorities for sex and relationship education for women with intellectual disabilities (ID) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and their families


Mousavi, Parvin

School of Computing

Improved diagnosis and prognosis of prostate cancer using deep learning and multi-parametric medical imaging


Cunningham, Michael

Chemical Engineering

Sustainable materials derived from natural polymers as substitutes for petroleum-based synthetic polymers


Ross, Robert

Kinesiology and Health Studies

Exercise and metabolomics – a novel approach to understanding the mechanisms by which exercise improves cardiometabolic health


Fichtinger, Gabor

School of Computing

The integration of the Dartmouth electrical impedance imaging technology with the Queen's NaviKnife real-time electromagnetic breast surgery navigation system


Post-Doctoral Fellow Fund

Mousavi, Parvin - Anas, Emran Mohammad Abu

School of Computing

No Title


Mulligan, Lois - Moodley, Serisha

Cancer Biology & Genetics

Evaluating RET-inhibitors in lung cancer growth and metastasis


French, Simon - Auais, Mohammad

Rehabilitation Therapy

No Title


Arts Fund

Artistic Production

Renders, Kim

Dan School of Drama and Music

Rhinoceros or What's Different About Me


Rogalsky, Matthew

Dan School of Drama and Music

Purchase of specialized loudspeakers for investigation and experimentation on an Indigenous language sound installation project


Anweiler, Rebecca

Fine Art (Visual Art) Program

Animal/Séance: exhibition at Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre's State of Flux Gallery, Kingston, Ontario


Wanless, Gregory

Dan School of Drama and Music

Support for The Eliza Show


Visiting Artist Residency

McKegney, Sam


“Conversation over co-existence: The limitless possibilities of poetic practice”
A Writer’s Residency featuring Karen Solie


Kibbins, Garry

Film and Media

Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens: The golden USB



To learn more about the QROF program, click here.

Looking at the universe with 'New Eyes'

  • Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus Art McDonald helps open the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit on Friday, May 26. The exhibit is open to the public at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre from May 27-July 7.
    Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus Art McDonald helps open the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit on Friday, May 26. The exhibit is open to the public at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre from May 27-July 7.
  • One of the most popular features of the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit is a life-size virtual display of Art McDonald, presenting information about the work of SNO and SNOLAB.
    One of the most popular features of the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit is a life-size virtual display of Art McDonald, presenting information about the work of SNO and SNOLAB.
  • Art McDonald acknowledges the contributions of Gordon and Patricia Gray, the sponsors of the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics, a position he once held at Queen's University.
    Art McDonald acknowledges the contributions of Gordon and Patricia Gray, the sponsors of the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics, a position he once held at Queen's University.
  • Members of the Queen's and Kingston communities tour through the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit during a special opening event at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Friday, May 26.
    Members of the Queen's and Kingston communities tour through the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit during a special opening event at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Friday, May 26.
  • Art McDonald cuts the ribbon to officially open the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit alongside, from left, Principal Daniel Woolf, student Elizabeth Fletcher, MPP for Kingston and the Islands Sophie Kiwala and David Walker, Chair, Executive Committee for Queen’s 175th Anniversary.
    Art McDonald cuts the ribbon to officially open the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit alongside, from left, Principal Daniel Woolf, student Elizabeth Fletcher, MPP for Kingston and the Islands Sophie Kiwala and David Walker, Chair, Executive Committee for Queen’s 175th Anniversary.

Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald helped kick off an interactive exhibit highlighting the discoveries of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) project and the ongoing experiments by Queen’s researchers at the SNOLAB underground facility.

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

A special event was held Friday at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre where the exhibit will be on display from May 27-July 7. Queen’s is hosting the exhibit as part of its 175th anniversary celebrations, which will conclude later this summer.

Dr. McDonald shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for proving that solar neutrinos change their flavour en route to Earth, an important discovery for explaining the structure of the universe and the nature of matter.

The exhibit, which debuted July 1, 2016 at Canada House in London before touring across Canada, features 40 panels presenting the history and development of SNO and SNOLAB, located two kilometres below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury. Video kiosks allow visitors to explore themes and offer a virtual tour of SNOLAB, while, through a life-size virtual display, Dr. McDonald presents information about the work of SNO and SNOLAB and his perspective on the future.

Exhibit artifacts include unique detector components developed especially for SNO, as well as a scale model of the SNO detector.

Admission to the exhibit and the Agnes is free for everyone.

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. 

New hope for cancer patients

Queen’s University researchers successfully synthesize cancer agent thapsigargin.

Queen’s University researchers have successfully synthesized the anticancer agent thapsigargin, which could now open the door to the creation of new cancer drugs.

The team of P. Andrew Evans (Chemistry) and his graduate student Dezhi Chen developed an efficient route to thapsigargin in only 12 steps.

P. Andrew Evans (l) and Dezhi Chen have successfully synthesized the anticancer agent thapsigargin.

“The first successful synthesis of thapsigargin required 42 steps, which was accomplished by at least 10 co-workers over a 10 year period,” says Dr. Evans. “What Dezhi did is impressive by any measure. He devised a new route to this important agent and successfully implemented his idea to complete a 12 step synthesis in only nine months.”

Thapsigargin was isolated from a wild poisonous plant, which is commonly known as the deadly carrot, in 1978. Despite numerous attempts to synthesize, the complexity of the molecule made it very challenging.

A key feature with thapsigargin is that it kills both slow and fast-growth cancer cells by inhibiting an enzyme that controls essential calcium balance inside cells.

With the anticancer drug Mipsagargin entering late-stage clinical trials, Dr. Evans says “it’s estimated that more than one metric ton of thapsigargin will be required per year.”

The prodrug Mipsagargin is being tested for the treatment of some of most challenging cancers, for example liver, brain, kidney and prostate cancer, thereby making it an exciting prospect.

“The efficient synthesis of this molecule is critical as relying on the isolation from a plant growing in the wild is not a sound strategy,” says Dr. Evans.

“The plant is resistant to cultivation in natural or greenhouse conditions, which coupled to the low yielding and tedious isolation makes our approach a timely development.  With our process we can make thapsigargin much more readily available with a more efficient process. We have also opened up this area for the preparation of simplified analogues.”

Dr. Evans confirmed the synthesis of thapsigargin was patented through PARTEQ, the Queen’s University technology transfer office.

The research was recently published in Journal of the American Chemical Society and highlighted in Chemical and Engineering News.

Not your typical history classes

Steven Maynard’s courses in Canadian history are “not your typical history classes.”

Instead of relying on textbooks or readings regarding the past, with students handing in a paper or writing an exam, Mr. Maynard develops a project based around a particular segment of Canadian history that requires students to research, create and present.

[Steven Maynard]
Steven Maynard and his students from HIST 312 attend the opening of the exhibition The Taste of the Library that they created and curated earlier this year  in the Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections located in Douglas Library. (Supplied Photo)  

“The approach I use is called the history of the present. That means a couple of different things but one of them is making the connections between the past and the present,” he explains. “A lot of students, even history students, understand the past as a kind of antiquarian project. It might be interesting to them but not necessarily have a lot of immediate application. So with this idea of the history of the present, I’m trying to get them to think of ways in which you might use the past to answer questions students have about the present.”

For example, as Queen’s devised its policy on sexual violence over the past several years, Mr. Maynard’s students conducted research in archival records to investigate the university’s previous efforts to grapple with the issue.

More recently, students in Mr. Maynard’s HIST 312 Canadian Social History course were tasked with exploring interesting themes in regards to food and what stories cookbooks tell. As with all of his courses, an emphasis is placed on students honing skills in seminar presentation, historiographical critique, and primary historical research.

For HIST 312 this meant digging deep into the cookbooks collection found in the Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections located in Douglas Library. To complete the course, the students created and curated an exhibit highlighting their research called The Taste of the Library.

“The projects I come up with are almost always about making a link with a current issue but even if they’re not doing that I try to design a project where the students present their work in public,” Mr. Maynard explains, adding that he is always trying to answer the question of ‘What can I do with a history degree?’ “I think it’s incumbent upon those of us who teach history to have an answer and one of the answers is to get students to think about ways their research can have a public life rather than just writing a term paper. Presenting your research in public, explaining your work to a live audience or to the media, these are portable skills.”

For encouraging students to use primary sources and engage critically with those resources in his courses. Mr. Maynard was the 2016 recipient of the Promoting Student Inquiry Teaching Award, one of six Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards.

The award is sponsored and coordinated by Queen’s University Library. Queen’s Archives, which is part of Queen’s University Library, is where most of the primary sources used in Mr. Maynard’s courses are found.

“It’s an incredible resource and they are always really helpful when I come along with a new idea,” he says, adding that he does the advance work and then works with an archivist. Students then conduct much of their research through Queen’s Archives.

The Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards, created in 2015, recognize individuals and teams who have shown exceptional innovation and leadership in teaching and learning on campus. The awards are administered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL).

The Promoting Student Inquiry Teaching recognizes innovative instructional design which enables active student engagement in learning.

Nominations for the 2017 award are currently being accepted. All nominations should be sent electronically in PDF form to inforef@queensu.ca no later than Tuesday, Aug. 1, by 4 pm. For more information about the award and the nomination form and process, visit the CTL website

Film student lands Cannes internship

Queen's in the World

Among the gossip and celebrities and champagne on the French Riviera, Diana Zhao might catch herself to smile into the flash of a paparazzo’s camera when she’s not busy at work this month.

“It’s a great networking opportunity, especially compared to other festivals because it’s more exclusive – Cannes is by invitation only,” says Ms. Zhao (Artsci’17), a political science and film and media student who is participating in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival as a marketing intern for the two weeks of its run in May.

The annual festival is held in the city of Cannes, in the south of France, and is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It’s an important showcase for international, but especially European, films, and draws hundreds of celebrities associated with cinema, including famous actors and directors.

Diana Zhao (Artsci'17), a political science and film and media student, is working at the Cannes Film Festival as a marketing intern. (Supplied photo)

Asked whether she’s excited to meet such Academy Award-winning luminaries as Sofia Coppola and Leonardo DiCaprio, who are expected at the event this year, Ms. Zhao humbly concedes, “It’s a great opportunity to meet people in the industry.”

Ms. Zhao has been interested in film since high school, when she attended an arts intensive school, but she also thought about going into journalism. Fortunately, her time at Queen’s allowed her the opportunity to explore different avenues of education and career development.

“Queen’s lets you try out different courses in first year, so I felt like I had an extra year to decide what to do,” she says. Ms. Zhao says she was more inclined to journalism and writing than acting, but was unsure whether the film industry offered such opportunities for people like her. “Before being exposed to the industry, I thought if you want to be in film you have to be either an actor or director. I didn’t know there were actually so many career options.”

In particular, FILM450, a special topics course designed this year by instructor Alex Jansen around “The Business of Media,” was a formative experience for Ms. Zhao and opened her eyes to the many ways she could get involved in the film industry, as well as to how she could apply her skills.

Among the course’s many lessons, Ms. Zhao says “it taught me how to network, how to break into the industry, how to contact someone from the industry, and how to write a profile.” One beneficial assignment required tapping into the Queen’s alumni network and contacting two recent graduates of the film program, both of whom had a similar educational background to hers and are now successfully working in advertising and PR companies.

Leaping into festival work

The jump from FILM450 to the Cannes Film Festival is shorter than might be expected. Ms. Zhao’s résumé already includes an internship as a marketing assistant with the Kingston Canadian Film Festival in 2016, in which position she designed promotional material, managed social media platforms, and handled communications with sponsors and film producers.

While still enrolled in the course, she heard about opportunities to get involved with major film festivals from a few other former Queen’s film students, and filed an early application to the Creative Mind Group, a U.S.-based foundation that is dedicated to developing the next generation of film and television professionals and building their networks. They connect students and young professionals like Ms. Zhao to entertainment festivals and markets all over the world. At Cannes, she has been assigned a variety of administrative duties, which will include greeting clients as they arrive and running such errands as delivering premier tickets to clients before shows begin.

Ms. Zhao, who spent a semester studying at Tsinghua University in China during her degree, is also gearing up for her involvement with an entrepreneurial start-up this summer through the Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI) program and is also preparing for her master’s of management degree at UBC, which she will begin in September.

“I’m interested in working in PR, marketing, and working with distribution companies. After talking to industry professionals for FILM450, it’s definitely an industry I’m interested in. Once I get my MA in management, I’ll be ready to enter.”



Renewable energy and reconciliation

Queen’s researcher receives CIHR grant for interdisciplinary research program on Indigenous leadership in renewable energy development.

Queen’s University researcher Heather Castleden (Geography and Planning/ Public Health Sciences) has received a $2 million team grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to lead an interdisciplinary research program on Indigenous leadership in renewable energy development for healthy communities.

Dr. Castleden hopes that the project will bring to light new and restored understandings of integrative health by sharing our stories, resources, and tools with Indigenous and Settler governments, industries, ENGOs, universities, and beyond. (Photo Credit: Jon Aarssen)

The program of research, titled A SHARED Future: Achieving Strength, Health, and Autonomy through Renewable Energy Development for the Future, will bring together more than 75 Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics, as well as representatives from various Indigenous and settler governments and organizations across Canada, to examine how fostering Indigenous leadership in renewable energy development has the potential to deliver positive community benefits and spur efforts towards reconciliation.

“Much of my research has involved a Two-Eyed Seeing framework – something I learned from Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshal and his colleague, Cheryl Bartlett, who is a retired biologist and former Canada Research Chair in Integrative Science,” explains Dr. Castleden, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities. “The guiding principle of Two-Eyed Seeing is to bring the best of Indigenous and Western knowledge systems together to try to answer research questions more comprehensively and whole-istically.”

Through this program of research involving multiple projects, Dr. Castleden and her colleagues will examine stories of success in renewable energy development. Amongst other criteria, the research will determine whether Indigenous communities, governments, and organizations are using a business-as-usual model, a joint venture model, a co-operative, or an Indigenous leadership model in their collaborations. The team will also examine how these efforts have the potential to lead towards new and restored understandings for integrative health by reconciling and healing relations between the Indigenous and settler communities, as well as the relationship with the environment.

“For the past 15 years, Dr. Castleden has partnered with Indigenous communities across Canada in conducting community-based, participatory research on issues such as social and environmental justice and health equity,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “This project will not only bring about a better understanding of the impacts of renewable energy development on Indigenous communities, it will also foster a deeper understanding of the requirements necessary to overcome barriers that address relationships and support for Indigenous populations and their communities,  in order for Canadians to pursue meaning reconciliation.”

Indigenous Ways of Knowing will play a central role throughout the design of the program and its various projects, in conceptualizing the team’s research approach, organization and methodology. Dr. Castleden explains that doing so allows the research team to consider issues in a broader and more whole-istic nature. She adds that Indigenous leadership and efforts towards self-determination and autonomy have led to broader inclusion of Indigenous perspectives and knowledge in academic research.

“We have been trained in academia to specialize in our fields, which makes it very difficult to see a problem from multiple generations back or forward, to translate from the individual to the community and beyond – that’s where Indigenous knowledge systems bring the breadth of the issue to light,” she says. “This is especially true with health research. There is, with many Indigenous knowledge systems, the ability to see health issues as being not just about physical health or mental health but also emotional health, cultural and spiritual health and well-being of people. We don’t tend to do that in Western science, so again that’s what makes this make sense.”

Dr. Castleden and her team are one of nine team grants to receive funding under the CIHR Environments and Health Signature Initiatives program. The program aims to support researchers and teams investigating how various sectors can collaborate to promote healthy environments and reduce exposure to the causes of poor health.

For more information on the A SHARED Future project, please visit the HECLab website.

Award provides opportunity for return to Queen's

Queen’s to host Professor Werner Nell – Distinguished German professor and John G. Diefenbaker Award recipient.

Queen's in the World

A leading researcher in the field of German literature and culture, Werner Nell has received the prestigious John G. Diefenbaker Award from the Canada Council for the Arts. Nominated for the award by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Queen’s, Dr. Nell will spend the 2017-2018 academic year in Kingston – collaborating with Queen’s faculty and conducting research on the concepts of rurality, urbanity, and migration.

Dr. Nell will utilize his time in Kingston to conduct research on the changing concepts of rurality and urbanity and their cultural reflections in both Canada and Germany. (Supplied Photo)

“It is a tremendous honour to receive the Diefenbaker Award and have the opportunity to return to Queen’s,” says Dr. Nell. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my previous visits to the university, and look forward to continuing my research and reconnecting with my Queen’s colleagues.

Dr. Nell has a long-standing relationship with Queen’s, dating back to 2007 when he spent a semester as a visiting professor in the former German department. He was instrumental in establishing an exchange program between Queen’s and the Germanistisches Institut, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, which has provided students from both institutions with a unique cross-cultural learning experience.

“Introducing new perspectives and avenues for collaboration, which are accompanied by internationalization, provides new opportunities for faculty and students alike,” says John Fisher, Queen’s Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Dr. Nell has worked tirelessly to build and strengthen the ties between our two institutions – creating opportunities for research collaborations and international student exchange. We are proud to welcome him back to Queen’s and offer our most sincere congratulations on receiving this prestigious and competitive Canadian honour.”

While in Canada, Dr. Nell will conduct research on the changing concepts of rurality and urbanity and their cultural reflections in both Canada and Germany. His research will focus on furthering the understanding of how social communities influence, change and challenge the way people live, as well as how they conceptualize themselves, their relationships with political bodies, and navigate and utilize institutions. Attention will also be paid to what he refers to as the “contradictions of modernity,” or the need to reconnect with themes and values from our rural past to solve the issues of the modern age.

“We are extremely pleased that our nominee, Dr. Nell, was granted the prestigious Diefenbaker Award,” says Donato Santeramo, Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. “Dr. Nell embodies, in many ways, our department’s unique transcultural and intercultural curricula. His research project “Urban Villages in the Arrival City” aims at examining the impact of the “migrants” transition from a rural setting to a metropolitan one, with the goal of reinforcing the values of tolerance and democracy, which permeate both German and Canadian identity.  It will be an honour to host Dr. Nell and we look forward to having the opportunity of working with him during his tenure at Queen’s.”  

Established in 1991 in memory of former Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker, the award allows a distinguished German scholar in the humanities to conduct research in Canada and spend brief periods gaining further experience at American institutions. It is the counterpart to the Konrad Adenauer Award, established in Germany in 1988. Both awards aim to encourage exchange between the university communities of Canada and Germany.

For more information on the John G. Diefenbaker Award, please visit the website.

Queen’s researchers and students are collaborating with colleagues around the world to develop innovations and advance research that has the potential to bring myriad benefits to society. The university is committed to increasing global engagement by developing new international research collaborations and building sustained multinational partnerships. These activities foster an environment where resources and expertise can be shared and knowledge can be mobilized and translated.


Subscribe to RSS - Arts and Science