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Engineering and Applied Science

Queen’s to adopt new academic tool

After extensive consultation and discussions among a variety of groups, Queen’s University has decided to acquire a campus-wide licence for Turnitin, an academic tool that will support student learning and faculty development.

“I am pleased that Queen’s is joining other Ontario institutions that have benefitted from Turnitin,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “The software, available for the fall 2016 term, will provide numerous learning opportunities for both faculty and students.” While the tool is sometimes understood as plagiarism detection software, Dr. Scott says Queen’s will promote it as a formative and developmental opportunity. “Turnitin will help students gain a deeper understanding of academic citation practices while safeguarding academic integrity.”

“Turnitin will enable Queen’s to adopt an educational approach by encouraging students to check for potential issues before submitting their assignments,” says Peter Wolf, Associate Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “In this way, students can learn about ways to ensure they are submitting original work. Over time, supports will be developed for faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students on using Turnitin as an educational tool.”

Representatives from the Office of the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), IT Services and the Queen’s University Faculty Association evaluated the software and recommended its adoption across the university. Ten Ontario universities, including the University of Toronto, McMaster, Western and Ryerson, currently hold a licence for Turnitin. Smith School of Business and the School of Kinesiology, Queen’s Economics Department and the Department of Psychology have been using Turnitin under an opt-in arrangement.

“We saw the opportunity to take Turnitin from an opt-in service that only a few on campus were using to a full, campus-wide application. This is another way ITS is looking to improve and bolster the best experience possible for our Queen’s community,” says Bo Wandschneider, Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice-Principal (Information Technology Services).

A dream come true

P. Kim Sturgess fulfills a lifetime goal of earning an honorary degree from Queen’s University.

Queen’s is reserving its honorary degrees in 2016 for alumni in celebration of the university’s 175th anniversary. Throughout spring convocation, The Gazette will profile all 11 honorary degree recipients and explore how Queen’s has impacted their life and career. 

P. Kim Sturgess has a long list of awards to her name, but she has always held out hope of earning one specific honour. Today, the proud Queen’s engineering alumna fulfilled a longtime dream of accepting an honorary degree from her alma mater.

“Earning an honorary degree from Queen’s has been an aspirational goal for me for a long time,” says Ms. Sturgess (SC’77). “The Order of Canada was for family and country, the honorary degree is for me. This is as good as it gets.”

As a girl raised primarily on Prince Edward Island, Ms. Sturgess was interested in engineering from an early age. She visited one big city campus while trying to decide where to pursue her post-secondary education, but that life wasn’t for her. “I walked on to the Queen’s campus, and I knew I was home. Queen’s has always felt like a family to me.”

A key mentor within her Queen’s family was Professor David Atherton (Engineering Physics). Ms. Sturgess said he was her favourite professor during her time and taught her many important lessons including problem solving.

New Queen's honorary degree recipient P, Kim Sturgess (r) poses with Queen's University Dean of Engineering Kimberly Woodhouse. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Ms. Sturgess graduated from Queen’s with a degree in engineering physics and from Western University with an MBA. She has enjoyed a long and successful career, working as the chief executive officer for a number of technology-based companies. She is also the founder and CEO of Alberta WaterSMART, a services organization committed to improving water management through better technologies and practices.

The list of her awards and honours is extensive. She was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2015, and she received the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal. Queen’s recognized her with the Distinguished Service Award, and the Queen’s University Alumni Association presented her with its highest honour, the Alumni Achievement Award. In 2007, she was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women.

She has also served the Queen’s community in a number of different ways. Most notably, she sat on the Board of Trustees for 12 years. During that time, she chaired the finance committee of the board. “That was how Principal Bill Leggett and I became close. I was a trustee for 12 years and that was a real honour. We worked together and made some tough choices together.”

For the engineering graduates, Ms. Sturgess passed along some savvy life lessons. “I have three key messages for the graduates. One, live where your heart is at. Two, follow your passion and the rest will happen. Three, treasure your Queen’s community, trust in your Queen’s community. She has always been there for me and she will always be there for you.”

Recognizing outstanding research potential

Queen’s welcomes record seven Vanier Scholarship recipients.

Seven Queen’s University students have won the 2016 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship – surpassing the previous record of six recipients set in 2015 and the most in a single year at Queen’s since the scholarship was launched in 2008.

"Our seven new Vanier Scholars have shown their tremendous research potential,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “These are Canada’s most prestigious awards for doctoral students and will put these young scholars on solid footing for future research success. We are very proud of their accomplishments and grateful that these talented trainees have chosen Queen’s. They will no doubt make significant scholarly contributions and, in so doing, advance our commitment to research excellence.”

Anja-Xiaoxing Cui (Psychology) will focus her research on the mechanisms within the brain that allow for us to understand, appreciate and learn about music. By measuring brain activity in subjects as they listen to unfamiliar music, as well as tracking children’s sense of music over the course of lessons, she aims to learn more about how the brain analyzes and learns new music and how quickly new information can be gained.

Exploring the diverse field of rheology – the study of the flow of complex matter, including liquids and so-called ‘soft solids’ – Peter Gilbert (Chemical Engineering) plans to explore the relationship between molecular structure of polymeric liquids and their rheological properties. His doctoral research aims to predict the behaviour of polymers in various conditions or applications; improving our understanding of how these materials behave during the manufacturing process and leading to more effective processing methods.

Fiona Haxho (Biology) intends to study the cell-signalling mechanisms involved in pancreatic cancer. In particular, her research is focused on a mammalian enzyme called neuraminidase-1 and its role in tumour growth, development and resistance to chemotherapy, amongst other things. Her doctoral research aims to target this enzyme and determine its functional role in models of pancreatic cancer.

Jackie Huberman (Psychology) aims to empirically and comprehensively examine a model of women’s sexual response. Her research will specifically evaluate how women’s mind-body connection with respect to sexual arousal and neural responses – including sexual functioning, sexual schemas, and stress – may impact sexual desire. With the knowledge gained from her dissertation, she hopes to help shift society’s conceptualization of female sexual response to reflect more accurately women’s experiences.

Focusing on the issue of human-lion conflict in Africa, Sandra McCubbin (Geography) will explore the politics of lion conservation in Botswana. Home to approximately 3,200 lions, Botswana is the site of intense human-lion conflict – a significant issue in Africa, especially in the borderlands of parks that often overlap with human settlements. Her research aims to explore the network of actors involved in producing this conflict in an effort to understand the issue better and identity where power structures may be renegotiated to enhance co-existence of humans and lions.

Studying under renowned bullying expert, Dr. Wendy Craig, Laura Lambe (Psychology) aims to explore how bullying affects students who witness the aggressive acts as bystanders or intervene as defenders. Her research will address whether certain types of intervention are associated with more favourable outcomes. She also intends to investigate the social contextual factors that predict how students will use different types of defensive behaviour. By more effectively quantifying the effects of intervention, researchers and policy makers will be able to endorse specific, evidence-based defending behaviours that are beneficial for both youth who are victimized and for youth who are defenders.

Jane Thomson (Law) will focus her doctoral research on instances of progressive legal reform achieved using private law doctrine; a goal more commonly achieved through the application of public law legislation, such as human rights legislation or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Currently she is looking at the issue of racism or religious intolerance in private wills and what use, if any, a court may make of the common law doctrine of public policy to void a provision in a will that seeks to discriminate against a beneficiary based on race, or promotes racism in some other way.

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship awards $150,000 over three years to up to 167 doctoral students across Canada every year. It aims to strengthen Canada's ability to attract and retain world-class doctoral students, by supporting students who demonstrate both leadership skills and high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and/or humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health. 

From barista to Dragon

CBC Dragon and tech entrepreneur Michele Romanow, centre, meets with current managers of the Tea Room, Eleanor McAauley and Kristy Tu, during her visit to the ILC in April. Ms. Romanow, a Queen's Engineering alum, founded the Tea Room during her time at the university. (Supplied Photo)

When Michele Romanow (Sc’07, MBA’08), best known as one of the business 'Dragons' on CBC's Dragon's Den, returned to Queen's earlier this year, it was a special, personal kind of homecoming.

This is where she started on the path to becoming a massively successful entrepreneur after all.

“I think the most important thing that happened for me at Queen’s is that I was able to start a business,” Romanow says. “I was able to use what I learned in engineering, go through the approvals process, figure out how to raise a little bit of capital and actually start the Tea Room from scratch. I have so many warm memories of starting my first business here.”

It’s that foundational Queen’s engineering education from which Romanow propelled herself to a hugely successful career. From a student enterprise in light refreshment and social space – one that continues a decade later as an integral part of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science student experience – she has become a national figure in commerce and media.

She co-founded consumer deal site Buytopia.ca, then SnapSaves, an online couponing venture sold to Grouponin 2014.  She was consequently named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada in 2015 by the Women’s Executive Network, then one of the Forbes Top 20 Most Disruptive Millennials on a Mission. And last year she earned a spot as a Dragon on season 10 of the popular, long-running CBC television show,Dragon’s Den.

But it wasn’t just a straight shot from espresso machine to boardroom.

“There’s this narrative that if you want to change the world, you go to school, do two things then magically build a huge, huge thing,” Romanow told a crowd at an April 2 return visit to Queen’s. “In my experience, it was never like that. It was much messier than that, much more surprising, and it was certainly much more difficult.”

In one of several early ventures she and her partners noticed, for example, that high-end chefs across North America were hungry from an undersupply of caviar. It was a great businesses opportunity, one they seized. There was a strong start but then the bottom fell out of the luxury goods market with the financial crisis of 2008 and regulatory hurdles made export to US clients untenable. The business lost momentum and Romanow took an executive job with a large retailer. But she and her partners didn’t give up. They used the last of their caviar funds to bankroll SnapSaves, worked on their own time to bring it to market and the rest is history.

Science Rendezvous a record breaker

  • Jennifer McLeod, a master's student in chemistry, performs an experiment during Science Rendezvous Kingston on Saturday, May 7. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Jennifer McLeod, a master's student in chemistry, performs an experiment during Science Rendezvous Kingston on Saturday, May 7. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Visitors to Science Rendezvous Kingston were able to take part in a number of hands-on experiments at the Rogers K-Rock Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Visitors to Science Rendezvous Kingston were able to take part in a number of hands-on experiments at the Rogers K-Rock Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Visitors to Science Rendezvous Kingston were able to try out some interesting gadgets, including the square-wheeled tricycle. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Visitors to Science Rendezvous Kingston were able to try out some interesting gadgets, including the square-wheeled tricycle. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Crowds line up outside the Rogers K-Rock Centre ahead of the opening of Science Rendezvous Kingston on Saturday, May 7. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Crowds line up outside the Rogers K-Rock Centre ahead of the opening of Science Rendezvous Kingston on Saturday, May 7. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Visitors to Science Rendezvous Kingston were able to take part in a number of hands-on experiments at the Rogers K-Rock Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Visitors to Science Rendezvous Kingston were able to take part in a number of hands-on experiments at the Rogers K-Rock Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Members of the Kingston and Queen’s communities gathered once again for a day full of scientific learning and family fun.

The sixth annual Science Rendezvous Kingston drew a record crowd of 4,200 visitors to the Rogers K-Rock Centre on Saturday, May 7, to watch demonstrations and take part in experiments offered by researchers and students from Queen’s University, as well as from the Royal Military College of Canada, St. Lawrence College and a number of community science groups.

The free event included 60 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) stations such as the Math Midway, a bird of prey display, the Chemistry Magic Show,  robots and 3D printers, as well as a special presentation by Queen’s Professor Emeritus and 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics Art McDonald.

Celebrating a historic decade of philanthropy

Funds donated during the Initiative Campaign have furthered the university’s top priorities in teaching, research and athletics and recreation.

Queen’s University is celebrating the success of the Initiative Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in its 175-year history, which concluded on April 30, 2016. Thanks to the collective dedication and generosity of volunteers and donors, more than $640 million has been donated to Queen’s University during the 10-year Initiative Campaign, surpassing the $500 million goal set at the beginning of the campaign in 2006.

Queen's Bands enter during the Initiative Campaign launch event held inside Grant Hall in October 2012. Queen's is celebrating the successful conclusion of the Initiative Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university's 175-year history. (University Communications) 

“This is a proud moment in Queen’s history. The university is enormously grateful to all of our volunteers and donors who recognize the value of a Queen’s education, and have invested in making one of Canada’s top universities even better,” says Daniel Woolf, Queen’s Principal and Vice Chancellor.  

More than 60,000 individual donors, including 35,000 alumni, contributed to the campaign since it was launched in 2006. Funds donated during the Initiative Campaign have furthered the university’s top priorities in teaching, research and athletics and recreation.

Over $85 million has been used to support student assistance programs, including the creation of 473 new student awards and 22 new chairs and professorships. Campuses and facilities at Queen’s have already improved greatly as a result of donations during the Initiative Campaign with further investments to be made in a number of priority areas.

“I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to the volunteers, donors, alumni and supporters who have contributed to the Initiative Campaign over the past 10 years,” says Gord Nixon, Chair of the Initiative Campaign. “Their efforts have contributed greatly to the campaign, and the excitement and momentum that inspires others to make the same commitment to Queen’s.”

Campuses and facilities at Queen’s have improved greatly as a result of donations during the Initiative Campaign. These investments support the university’s programs and its people, including experiences beyond the classroom that enable the Queen’s community to make a significant impact on society as an informed citizenry, nationally and internationally.

In addition to the funds raised, support from the three levels of government provided an additional $94 million that was not included in the Initiative Campaign total. Queen’s partnered with the federal and provincial governments to build Queen’s School of Medicine, and received support from the federal, provincial and municipal governments to bring the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts to fruition. This support was essential in making these projects possible and the university is enormously grateful for these investments.

More than $115 million has been committed in future estate gifts against the university’s parallel goal of $100 million, which is counted outside of the Initiative Campaign total.

Setting the wheels in motion

[Whee-Bike team]
The Whee-Bike project team included Jane Shui, Com'16, Andrew Breslin, Sc'17, Bryce Lomfield, Sc'17, Thiago De Oliveira, Sc'17, Daniel Jones, Sc'17, Callum O'Shaughnessy, Sc'17, Hayden Provias, Sc'17, Jeremie Jollivet, Sci'17, and Korrah Bland, Sc'17, (back row, left to right); Sam Milner, Sc'17, Oda Al-anizi, Artsci'18 and Razvan Vulcu, Com'16. (University Communications)

Oda Al-anizi (Artsci’18) has dreamed for years of a better way to get around in his wheelchair. Public transportation has never really granted him the freedom he desires and a specialized motor vehicle is out of the question because of various obstacles, most notably cost.

An early prototype of the Whee-Bike (Supplied Photo)

As he saw more and more electric bikes and scooters on the road, Mr. Al-anizi wondered if a similar device for wheelchair users might be the answer. He envisioned driving his wheelchair onto a motorized vehicle that would help him get to his destinations more quickly and efficiently.

“I really believe there’s a spot in the market for a device like this,” Mr. Al-anizi says. “For people like me who want to go to work or go to school, it’s too complicated. My hope is that this device is considered an e-bike so you’re not going to need a driver’s licence or insurance and there will be no gas costs. It will be extremely cost effective.”

Mr. Al-anizi reached out to Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC) in January 2015 to make that idea a reality. QIC connected the student with Enactus Queen’s, a student group dedicated to using entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a more sustainable world.

Queen's Innovation Connector

Jane Shui (Com’16) and Razvan Vulcu (Com’16), co-chairs of Enactus Queen’s, were supportive of Mr. Al-anizi’s vision. The co-chairs formed Whee-Bike along with Callum O’Shaughnessy (Sc’17) and Thiago De Oliveira (Sc’17). In addition to the executive, the project team boasts a team of dedicated electrical and mechanical engineering students. As the project has progressed, the team has consulted with occupational therapy and public policy students.

“Working with students from different faculties and disciplines has been a great learning opportunity,” Ms. Shui says. “We don’t get nearly enough chances in our programs to interact with people from different backgrounds.”

Over the past several months, the students have designed a vehicle that resembles a chariot. A person in a wheelchair would board the vehicle from the back using a ramp powered by Bluetooth technology. Once in, the wheelchair would be secured using Q’Straint, a system developed by a team of students and specialists at Queen’s in the 1980s. The person would then operate the electric vehicle using hand controls.

As they developed the plans, the students consulted several faculty advisors including Dr. Ron Anderson, who researches vehicle dynamics, and Dr. Kevin Deluzio, who specializes in the biomechanics of human locomotion. The students have accessed 3D drawing software thanks to a sponsorship with Dassault Systemes and have also received financial support from QIC as part of QyourVenture and mentorship from Executive Director Greg Bavington. The team will be participating in the QIC Summer Initiative Bootcamp beginning next week as part of its QyourVenture training.

The variety of resources has given the students the support they need to apply what they have learned in the classroom over the past several years.

“For a lot of the engineering students working on this project, this is our first step outside of academia,” Mr. De Oliveira says. “It’s the first time where we’re not talking about grades, but something that’s real and going to help people. That’s amazing and great.”

The project received positive feedback during a recent Enactus regional exposition held in Mississauga. The team won an impact award and $500 during the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge, a competition that sees students develop and deliver projects that address the needs and opportunities facing youth, as it relates to education, learning skills and lifelong success.

“The award signals that the judges felt the project has the potential to have a significant impact on Oda and other youth,” Mr. Vulcu says. “Just as importantly, we received good feedback from the judges on various aspects of the project and how to polish our presentation.”

Over the summer, the students intend to assemble the prototype. They are also working on meeting the regulatory requirements set out in Ontario legislation and developing a marketing strategy.

If you are interested in learning more about the Whee-Bike Project, please email Mr. De Oliveira.

Choosing a path to grad school

Queen’s Apple Math student Siobhan Powell will be starting grad school at Stanford in the fall. She’ll be working on research into mechanical applications in renewable energy. (Supplied photo)

Fourth-year Mathematics and Engineering (Apple Math) student Siobhan Powell is whip-smart, academically talented and interested in a research field with great currency. She’s capping a very successful undergraduate career at Queen’s University this spring but grad school wasn’t always a foregone conclusion for her.

“I didn’t plan on going when I first came here,” says Ms. Powell. “I remember, in first year when we had to choose our streams, specifically asking people about Apple Math: ‘Do you have to go to grad school or can you go directly into industry?’ because that’s what I thought I wanted to do.”

After second year, she took a summer job in corporate finance. Ms. Powell recalls the experience as an interesting challenge but one that ultimately helped her decide that business was not where her passions lay. Rather, she felt drawn to the research and development ­of renewable energy technologies. For the summer after third year, Queen’s professor Abdol-Reza Mansouri recommended her for a research internship at Inria (L’Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique) in France. There she worked with a group on the interpretation of data signals from MRI machines.

“I spent the first month catching up on all the literature and talking to the PhD students about their projects,” she says. “A three-month summer is very short but I got a taste of the lifestyle and what it’s like to do research.”

That experience, coupled with her own investigation into the fields that hold special interest to her, finally led to the conclusion that research and graduate studies are right for her.

“I developed a strong interest in wave energy and tidal energy,” she says. “I also learned that, for all the leading-edge jobs in that field, you need more than a bachelor’s degree.”

So, armed with a strong transcript and a list of researchers with similar interests, she started the application process. She applied to five of the most prestigious universities in the world, earning and settling on a spot at Stanford University in California.

“The professor is doing really interesting work and was really nice so I thought we would get along well,” says Ms. Powell. “The graduate students really like him and I got better funding for Stanford than any of the other schools. That turns out to be a big factor, too.”

So after a summer of family, rest and travel, Powell is off to her next grand adventure. To anyone considering grad school, she has three pieces of advice:

“First would be to start everything really early,” she says. “It all happens so quickly but you can find out what essays you need to write really far in advance so, if you pick a program early and start writing, you won’t have to during midterms in November.

“Another is that the professors at Queen’s are very happy to help. I needed six references for one application so I talked to a lot of faculty and they’re all so supportive. I felt bad asking them to send so many letters but they were very helpful. I turned to them a lot for advice.

“Finally, I’d say to be ambitious. I never thought I could get into Oxford or Cambridge or these places that sound all very far away and fancy but they want people like us to go there so they’ll pick us and it will be great,” she says with a smile. “I wasn’t very confident applying to these places and I should have been more so. So be ambitious.”

Japan trip an intensive cross-cultural exchange

Two Queen’s engineering students jumped at the opportunity to spend a week in Nagoya and Tokyo through the JACAC forum.

Two important factors attracted engineering students John Lenz and Victoria Clark to the annual Japan-Canada Student Forum (JACAC): the theme of the week-long event, “Energy and Society,” and the fact that it was being held in Japan.

Engineering students John Lenz and Victoria Clark visited the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo as part of the JACAC forum. Groups of Japanese and Canadian students gave presentations at the embassy to an audience that included Princess Takamado and Ambassador Mackenzie Clugston (MPA'77).

“I felt passionate about the topic,” says Mr. Lenz (Sc’16), who studies electrical and computer engineering, and has worked in the nuclear industry. “I thought I could share some of my experiences in the energy sector. And I’d never been to Japan, and wanted to have that opportunity.”

Ms. Clark echoes those sentiments. She’s worked in the oil and gas industry, and while her family has lived all over the world (Brunei, Syria, the United States, Oman and Canada), she had never travelled to Japan.

“There was definitely a feeling of culture shock when we arrived, especially when we travelled to Tokyo, but everyone was so welcoming, and the forum itself was very well organized,” says Ms. Clark (Sc’17), a third-year chemical engineering student.

The JACAC was held in February in Nagoya, the capital of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture. The forum, which is hosted alternately in Japan and Canada every year, brings together students from member institutions in the two countries for a week of cross-cultural exchange (this year, 28 students from 20 schools). The aim is to provide students with the opportunity to interact with their peers from a different culture, to gain insight into their current areas of academic interest, and to encourage a flow of ideas between Canada and Japan.

“It was interesting to hear the different perspectives – because of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, there is, understandably, no support for nuclear energy in Japan, and all of their reactors are shutting down,” says Mr. Lenz. “I think I was able to shed some light on working at a successful nuclear power plant (Darlington), and the focus on safety.”

Students heard presentations on topics such as energy efficiency and quality of life, and the oil era and its implications for international politics. They also went on several field trips – to Satoyama-Sugenosato, a rural village developed around principles of conservation, biodiversity and efficiency, and to the Toyota Museum of Industry and Technology.

While in Tokyo, students visited the Imperial Palace. From left, Sayjon Ariyarathnam (York University), Tristan Masson (Concordia University), John Lenz (Queen's), and Victoria Clark (Queen's).

Throughout the week, students worked in groups to improve an existing energy policy, or design a new one. The work culminated in each group giving a presentation at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, with several notables in attendance, including Princess Takamado and Ambassador Mackenzie Clugston (MPA’77), a Queen’s alumnus. The Princess is the widow of Prince Takamado, a member of the Japanese royal family who studied at Queen’s from 1978-81. He died in 2002 at the age of 47. Each year Queen’s welcomes an undergraduate student from Japan on a one-year term of study through a scholarship that bears his name.

“It was an incredible experience to present the work we did at the embassy. We put a lot of work into our presentations, and it was great to see it all come together at the end of the week,” says Ms. Clark. “Coming home and giving presentations in engineering classes seems like nothing now that we’ve presented to Princess Takamado and the ambassador!”

This opportunity is available to Queen’s students due to the university’s membership in the Japan-Canada Academic Consortium (JACAC). More information


There's no place like home

Queen’s honorary degrees will be reserved for alumni in 2016 in celebration of the university’s 175th anniversary.

[Logo for the 175th anniversary]
Queen's 175th Anniversary

This year’s spring convocation ceremonies at Queen’s University will give the honorees the feeling of coming home. The 11 recipients this spring are all Queen’s alumni and feature musicians The Tragically Hip, journalist Ali Velshi and former Queen’s University Chaplain Brian Yealland among others.

“Bestowing honorary degrees on Queen’s University alumni as we prepare to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the university is very fitting,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “This year we are celebrating the university’s unique legacy while recognizing our leaders in academia, business, science and the arts.”

The ceremonies get underway Thursday, May 19 and wrap up Friday, June 10. The recipients include:

Hailing from Kingston, and with close ties to the Queen's community, The Tragically Hip formed in 1984. Consisting of lead singer Gordon Downie, guitarist Paul Langlois, guitarist Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay, The Hip has released 12 studio albums, two live albums, one EP and 54 singles. The group has won 14 Juno awards and nine of its albums have reached No. 1 in Canada. In addition to their musical contributions, the band members are also significant for the ways in which they have given back to local and national communities and agencies, contributed to international aid, and helped preserve the environment. Thursday, May 19 at 2:30 pm.

Donald Creighton Rae Sobey

Donald Creighton Rae Sobey (Com’57) joined the board of Empire Company Limited in 1963. In 2004, he retired as Chairman of Empire Company Limited and retired from the Board in 2015. He was inducted into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame and Canadian Business Hall of Fame, and is a member of the Order of Canada. Mr. Sobey established the D & R Sobey Atlantic Leadership Scholarships at Queen’s University, which are awarded to Atlantic Canadian students who demonstrate academic achievement and leadership. He also serves on the Smith School of Business Advisory Board at Queen’s University. Monday, May 30 at 2:30 pm.


P. Kim Sturgess

P. Kim Sturgess (Sc’77) is the founder and CEO of Alberta WaterSMART, an organization committed to improving water management through better technologies and practices. In 2007, she was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and in 2012 was named the Business Woman of the Year in Calgary. She also earned the Queen’s Alumni Achievement Award. Ms. Sturgess is a member of the Order of Canada. Wednesday, June 1 at 2:30 pm.

Ronald McCallum

After teaching law at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, for 18 years, Ronald McCallum (LLM’74) was appointed to a full professorship at the University of Sydney. This appointment made Mr. McCallum the first totally blind person to be appointed to a full professorship at any Australian or New Zealand university. He served as Dean of the University of Sydney Law School between 2002 and 2007. Friday, June 3 at 2:30 pm.

Eileen Hutton

Eileen Hutton (NSc’74) is currently the Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Director of Midwifery at McMaster University. She was the first midwife member of the Council of the Society of Obstetrician and Gynecologist of Canada. She is the first midwife ever to hold a professorship in the Netherlands. The Association of Ontario Midwives recently awarded her the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her role in education, research and contribution to the profession. Monday, June 6 at 10 am.

Piers Handling

Piers Handling (Artsci’71) has been the director and CEO of Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a charitable cultural organization with a mission to transform the way people see the world, through film, since 1994. Under Mr. Handling’s direction, the organization has grown to become an internationally renowned cultural institution. In 2014, Mr. Handling was invested into the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest official honour, by Lieutenant-Governor David Onley. Monday, June 6 at 2:30 pm.

Debra Pepler (PHE’73, Ed’74) has been a member of the Department of Psychology at York University since 1988 and works closely with Queen’s professor Wendy Craig as co-scientific director of Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet). This is a collaborative and interdisciplinary initiative that brings together 62 researchers from 27 Canadian universities and 49 national organizations. Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 10 am.

Ali Velshi

Ali Velshi (Artsci’94) graduated from Queen’s with a degree in religious studies. He was most recently the host of Ali Velshi On Target, a nightly primetime show on Al Jazeera America. He’s also reported from the U.S. presidential campaign trail, as well as covering ISIL and the Syrian refugee crisis from Turkey, the days leading up to the nuclear deal from Tehran, the debt crisis in Greece, and the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Tuesday, June 7 at 2:30 pm.

Brian Yealland (MDiv’72) was ordained a United Church minister the same year as his graduation. Following the retirement of Padre A. Marshall Laverty, Rev. Yealland worked as the Queen’s University Chaplain from 1983 until 2013. He is the recipient of the Queen’s University Distinguished Service Award, the John Orr Award from the Queen’s Toronto Alumni Branch, and the Queen Elizabeth ll Diamond Jubilee Medal. Wednesday, June 8 at 10 am.

Wendy Jane Crewson

Wendy Jane Crewson (Artsci’77) graduated from Queen’s and moved on to study theatre in London. She has worked all over the world and her career includes more than 100 titles including The Santa Clause with Tim Allen and Air Force One with Harrison Ford. She also continues her role as Dr. Dana Kinney on Saving Hope. Wednesday, June 8 at 2:30 pm.

Stephen H. Safe

Stephen H. Safe (MSc’62) graduated from Queen’s and was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to study for his doctorate at the University of Oxford in England. His scientific career has covered several different areas of research that include his early studies on the chemistry of pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). His work has helped regulate and reduce levels of this compound in wildlife, humans and food. Friday, June 10 at 10 am.


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