Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Student Learning Experience

Smith School of Business new home for IBM Watson in Canada

[IBM Canada | Smith Cognitive Computing Centre]
Smith staff interact with IBM Watson in the new IBM Canada | Smith Cognitive Computing Centre at Smith’s downtown Toronto campus. (Submitted photo)

Smith School of Business unveiled a new cognitive computing centre at its downtown Toronto campus today.

The new IBM Canada | Smith Cognitive Computing Centre, the first of its kind at a business school in Canada, is a collaborative space that will provide an exclusive artificial intelligence demonstration experience for IBM clients and enhanced access to cognitive computing solutions for Smith students and faculty.

“Integrating the latest in artificial intelligence and cognitive computing into our curriculum further enhances the learning experience for Smith students,” says David Saunders, Dean, Smith School of Business. “Access to the centre will also give our students a competitive edge in the work force and in developing new venture concepts.”

The centre consists of seven interactive wall screens for users to work directly with IBM Watson technologies in a multi-media environment. Under this five-year collaboration, IBM will offer a number of annual internships to Smith students, providing opportunities to work with IBM Watson technologies in a business setting.

Visit Smith’s Facebook page to see more photos of the centre and launch event.

 

Prepared to premiere

[Kento Stratford]
Kento Stratford’s choir and piano arrangement of a hymn originally created by former professor Bill Barnes for Queen’s sesquicentennial in 1991, will premiere Friday at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (University Communications)

This Friday night, Kento Stratford, a second-year music student, will see a major project performed for the first time on the stage of the concert hall at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

As the opening number of the Dan School of Drama and Music’s year-end choir and orchestra concert, Mr. Stratford’s choir and piano arrangement of a hymn that was originally created by former professor Bill Barnes for Queen’s sesquicentennial in 1991 will be premiered.

The piece has five verses and will be performed by a 120-person choir. It was a massive undertaking, says Mr. Stratford. But now, after five months of hard, detailed work, he’s ready to see his creation come to life.

“Hearing it in the Isabel recital hall… the acoustics are so good,” Mr. Stratford says. “Just having my piece played, it’s something I’ve dreamt about, actually. I’m definitely excited to hear it in person.”

The opportunity arose from a meeting with music professor and award-winning composer John Burge to discuss one of Mr. Stratford’s composition assignments. At the end of the meeting Dr. Burge asked Mr. Stratford if he was interested in arranging the sesquicentennial piece as part of the continuing celebrations of Queen’s 175th anniversary.

“It was a ‘in the right place at the right time’ sort of thing,” Mr. Stratford explains. “I said yes, it’s such a great opportunity. Where else would you get that opportunity?”

Through the work Mr. Stratford has gained valuable compositional experience, which will help him as he continues his studies and into his future career.

“Kento has produced a marvelous piece that added greatly to the original words and music,” says Dr. Burge. “Kento possesses a very clear understanding of harmony and counterpoint and this experience has given him a firm foundation upon which to build as he develops his own compositional craft and creativity. Full credit and thanks also goes to Darrell Bryan, conductor of the Queen’s Choral Ensemble, for his support in bringing everything together.”

The Queen's Symphony Orchestra and Choral Ensemble’s year-end concert, featuring Carl Jenkins' The Armed Man, is being held at the Isabel on Friday, March 24 at 7:30 pm. Tickets$15 adults; $7 students/seniors – are available online, by phone at 613-533-2424, or at the door.

Law student encourages deeper understanding of treaty histories

On March 21, the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force presented its final report with recommendations to the university community. The historical milestone was marked with an event that day at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. The Gazette is featuring profiles of Indigenous members of the TRC Task Force. Today, the focus is on Jason Mercredi (Law’18), a member of Queen’s Senate and the Aboriginal representative on the Queen’s Law Students’ Society.

Prospective students will often ask what a university or college will offer them. Jason Mercredi flipped that question when he was considering his post-secondary options a few years ago.

“I understood that Queen’s wasn’t well known for its Aboriginal content, but that the law school wanted to improve its Aboriginal profile,” says Mr. Mercredi (Law’18). “With my experience working with Aboriginal communities to develop programs, I felt I could offer something to Queen’s in the same way the university is offering me a degree.”

[Jason Mercredi]
Jason Mercredi (Law'18) says he found it rewarding serving on Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Task Force. He is hopeful the recommendations put forth by the task force will help Indigenous Peoples feel more comfortable attending Queen's. (University Communications) 

Mr. Mercredi, a Mushkegowuk Cree, was born in Winnipeg. Before applying to Queen’s, he worked with several organizations dedicated to advancing Aboriginal rights, including Treaty 1-11. As part of his involvement with that organization, Mr. Mercredi developed a deep understanding of the treaty histories, which influenced his decision to study law.

“Understanding the history of the treaties is really missing from the education system, and even in law school, we don’t really learn about the treaties,” he says. “People don’t have a full understanding of the nation-to-nation relationship. My goal is to reinvigorate those treaties, and being at a law school, I know what changes I want to make to have those rights recognized.”

Soon after arriving at the university, Mr. Mercredi began working to make Queen’s law students more aware of Aboriginal treaty and inherent rights. He established the Aboriginal Law Students’ Alliance, a group designed to help all Queen’s law students appreciate and participate in Aboriginal legal matters with greater understanding.

In 2016, he and fellow law students changed the Law Students’ Society’s constitution to include a longstanding Indigenous student representative position. Due to the small body of Indigenous students at Queen’s Law, he was subsequently elected to serve as the Indigenous student representative. That same year, Mr. Mercredi was elected as the law students’ representative on Queen’s Senate.

Offering wide knowledge to TRC Task Force

When the Queen’s TRC Task Force was announced in early 2016, Mr. Mercredi felt compelled to serve given his knowledge of treaties and his work experience. As an Aboriginal student liaison with Mothercraft College in Toronto, he worked to ensure the success of Indigenous students enrolled in the early childhood education program, and he also gave guest presentations on Indigenous history. While with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, he assessed the social needs of the urban Indigenous population and helped create programs to address those needs.

“For a period of time, it was quite depressing, because I had to look at what was wrong, and there is so much wrong,” he says. “But that’s what elevated me to come here. That background, understanding, and knowledge is what I wanted to bring to the TRC Task Force.”

Mr. Mercredi says he enjoyed serving on the task force. He found the experience rewarding, with respectful dialogue around the table. “There was a lot of genuine interest in creating equity, which is a healthier approach than creating equality, because with equality you are just absorbed into everything else. You don’t have your real identity.”

As Queen’s now moves to implement the task force’s recommendations, Mr. Mercredi is looking forward to Indigenous identities growing and flourishing across the university in the coming years. 

“I would hope that Indigenous Peoples – First Nations, Métis, and Inuit – can just come to Queen’s and be themselves. I would hope they are able to come to Queen’s and have their own identity without having to promote it or explain it constantly. I would like to see it as a wholesome part of the entire school culture.”

Addressing challenges and creating community

PhD-Community Initiative a win-win for Kingston and Queen’s.

  • The PhD Community Initiative gave Queen's graduate students the opportunity to partner with community groups to solve real-world problems and apply their skills in new settings.
    The PhD Community Initiative gave Queen's graduate students the opportunity to partner with community groups to solve real-world problems and apply their skills in new settings.
  • Team Systema Kingston discuss their experience working to improve volunteer recruitment.
    Team Systema Kingston discuss their experience working to improve volunteer recruitment.
  • The PREVNet team present their report, which focused on anti-bullying knowledge mobilization in local schools.
    The PREVNet team present their report, which focused on anti-bullying knowledge mobilization in local schools.
  • Improving public outreach and use of the Queen's University Biological Station, the team focused efforts on new Canadians - offering a taste of Canadiana.
    Improving public outreach and use of the Queen's University Biological Station, the team focused efforts on new Canadians - offering a taste of Canadiana.
  • The Sustainable Engineering in Remote Areas (SERA) team focused their efforts on recruiting students in non-engineering disciplines - who shared a focus on Indigenous/remote community issues - to expand the reach of the NSERC-supported project.
    The Sustainable Engineering in Remote Areas (SERA) team focused their efforts on recruiting students in non-engineering disciplines - who shared a focus on Indigenous/remote community issues - to expand the reach of the NSERC-supported project.

Teams of graduate students participating in the Queen’s PhD-Community Initiative delivered reports on the outcomes of their projects with local community groups during a special event on March 22. The reports mark the culmination of nearly five months of teamwork which gave the students an opportunity to apply the skills acquired in their graduate training to address real-world problems.

“The initiative offered our graduate students hands-on experience in applying the skills acquired in their academic programs as well as the opportunity to expand their network of colleagues and community contacts,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “It’s incredibly gratifying to see how they’ve leveraged their complementary strengths and worked so effectively as teams. Each team has accomplished a lot in a short time and their efforts have had meaningful impacts on the partner organizations.  It is truly a win-win situation.”

For the past five months, interdisciplinary teams of Queen’s PhD students have partnered with local community organizations to address specific issues or challenges. By applying their knowledge and skills and offering a fresh, analytical approach, the students have gained valuable experience in solving problems as a team and the partner benefits from their creative solutions and insights helping them to move forward. As an added benefit, the partnerships offered a way to strengthen ties between Queen’s and the community.

“Working with a non-profit organization encouraged me to reach outside my comfort zone,” explains Mavis Kusi, a second-year doctoral candidate in neuroscience.

Seventeen graduate students formed interdisciplinary teams of three to four students and were matched with five organizations that had identified a particular challenge or issue that could benefit from a fresh, outside perspective. The organizations included Sustainable Energy in Remote Areas (SERA), Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) Community Outreach Expansion, Sistema Kingston after-school program, Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet), and Kingston Economic Development Corporation’s (KEDCO) night economy project.

Since mid-fall, the teams worked closely with their partners under the guidance of an alumnus or retiree mentor to identify the scope of the project, develop and implement a plan of action, and present deliverables.

 “I learned a lot about project management and communications from working with our community partners and stakeholders,” says Hasan Kettaneh, a first-year doctoral candidate in education. “It was challenging in the beginning, but we established communications processes and trust and that was key to the success of our project.”

For more information about the initiative, visit the School of Graduate Studies website.

TRC report brings communities together to change course

  • Janice Hill, Director of Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, speaks with lecturer Nathan Brinklow during Tuesday's event marking the release of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Janice Hill, Director of Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, speaks with lecturer Nathan Brinklow during Tuesday's event marking the release of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Principal Daniel Woolf holds up a copy of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report during Tuesday's event at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Principal Daniel Woolf holds up a copy of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report during Tuesday's event at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Marlene Brant Castellano, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Council at Queen's University, and Queen's Native Student Association President Lauren Winkler comment on the release of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Marlene Brant Castellano, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Council at Queen's University, and Queen's Native Student Association President Lauren Winkler comment on the release of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Co-Chairs Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), and Mark Green, Professor (Civil Engineering), welcome guests to the event held at Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Co-Chairs Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), and Mark Green, Professor (Civil Engineering), welcome guests to the event held at Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Members of the Queen's community take part in a Haudenosaunee round dance at the event marking the release of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Members of the Queen's community take part in a Haudenosaunee round dance at the event marking the release of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Members of the Queen's community take part in a Haudenosaunee round dance at the event marking the release of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Members of the Queen's community take part in a Haudenosaunee round dance at the event marking the release of the Queen's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Members of the Four Directions Women Singers – from left, Laura Maracle, Vanessa McCourt, and Melanie Howard – sing an Anishinaabe honour song during Tuesday's event. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Members of the Four Directions Women Singers – from left, Laura Maracle, Vanessa McCourt, and Melanie Howard – sing an Anishinaabe honour song during Tuesday's event. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Laura Maracle, Aboriginal Cultural Safety Coordinator at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, speaks with Laurel Claus-Johnson of the Katarokwi Grandmothers Council during Tuesday's event. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Laura Maracle, Aboriginal Cultural Safety Coordinator at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, speaks with Laurel Claus-Johnson of the Katarokwi Grandmothers Council during Tuesday's event. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

At a special reception Tuesday night to mark the unveiling of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Task Force final report and recommendations, Principal Daniel Woolf told the crowd of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and local Indigenous community members that, “Today, our communities come together to change course.”

“By taking steps to ensure that Indigenous histories are shared, by recognizing that we can all benefit from Indigenous knowledge, and by creating culturally validating learning environments, we can begin to reduce barriers to education and create a more welcoming, inclusive, and diverse university,” said Principal Woolf.

The special event, held at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, and the TRC report represent a significant milestone for Queen’s and the local Indigenous communities, signalling a broad and sustained effort to build and improve relations, and to effect meaningful institutional change. The recommendations in the report span everything from hiring practices and programming, to research, community outreach, and the creation of Indigenous cultural spaces on campus. (More detailed list of recommendations below.)

Principal Woolf reiterated his commitment to fulfilling the recommendations in the task force’s final report, and to illustrate that commitment, he announced that the university will be creating an Office of Indigenous Initiatives in the coming months – an announcement met by a loud round of applause from the audience.

“This is just one of the task force’s many recommendations that I am committed to implementing across campus, and because I believe that we are stronger together, I welcome the rest of the Queen’s community to join me in that commitment,” he said.

Principal Woolf also stated his commitment to the TRC recommendations in a special Senate meeting on March 7, where he acknowledged “Queen’s own history as an institution that participated in a colonial tradition that caused great harm to Indigenous People.”

‘We are making history’

Bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members, Tuesday’s event was hosted by TRC Task Force co-chairs Mark Green and Jill Scott and showcased the importance of ceremony – with a traditional Mohawk opening presented by lecturer Nathan Brinklow, presentations by Elder Marlene Brant Castellano and student Lauren Winkler, an Anishinaabe Honour Song performed by the Four Directions Women Singers, and to end the evening, a Haudenosaunee Round Dance, led by performers from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, that brought guests together in a huge circle, hands linked.

“Ceremony reminds us that what we do today is important, impacting the relationships and responsibilities that we carry forward, and woven into our memory as a community,” said Dr. Brant Castellano, a member of the task force, Queen’s alumna, and pioneer and champion of Indigenous rights and education.

“We are making history,” Dr. Brant continued. “In creating the task force, Queen’s has stepped up to ask of itself: What can we do to advance reconciliation? … The task force has brought together voices from the Queen’s community saying: We can do this. We have a responsibility to do this. The report is presented to the principal, who speaks on behalf of the university. In this ceremony, all who are present become witnesses to Queen’s acknowledgement of past errors and commitment to walk together with Indigenous Peoples and others of good mind to restore and maintain a relationship of peace, friendship, and respect.”

“I would like to thank you all here today because by being here, you are showing me that you acknowledge the truths of our past, that you stand in support of these recommendations, and that you will make a commitment to seeing the recommendations through"
​~ Lauren Winkler

Lauren Winkler, student and president of the Queen’s Native Student Association, as well as deputy commissioner of Indigenous affairs for the Alma Mater Society and member of the TRC Task Force, spoke about the experiences of Indigenous students and the challenges and racist encounters they face on Queen’s campus.

"Our education system has failed and is failing to educate our students at the cost of Indigenous students. The university recognizes this – it’s one of the truths in our truth and reconciliation process," said Ms. Winkler, who went on to thank Principal Woolf for his acknowledgements of the history of mistreatment of the Indigenous community and Queen’s role in perpetuating the mistreatment.

"I would like to thank you all here today because by being here, you are showing me that you acknowledge the truths of our past, that you stand in support of these recommendations, and that you will make a commitment to seeing the recommendations through," said Ms. Winkler.

The TRC Task Force’s final report, which includes reproductions of artwork included in the Indigenous art collection at the Agnes, outlines recommendations and timelines for implementation – in particular, the formation of an implementation team that will work with faculties, schools, and shared service units to expedite recommendations. The task force asks for five-year plans from the faculties, schools, and other units to be completed by fall 2017.


Real-world learning, real-world impact

The following article is the second in a monthly series focused on the work by Queen’s and Physical Plant Services to reduce energy consumption by the university.

[Connor Reed]
Connor Reed (Sc’18) is gaining experience in energy management at Physical Plant Services through the Queen’s Undergraduate Internship Program (QUIP). (University Communications)

When Connor Reed (Sc’18) started his internship at Physical Plant Services, he was amazed by how involved energy management is in the day-to-day business of Queen’s University.

Building standards and specifications, utility management, lighting design, utility costs and forecasting, water and mechanical systems. Over the past nine months he has been involved in projects in each of these areas and more. 

“The amount of detail that goes into lighting and lighting design, I heard 10 new terms each day in the first weeks,” he says of one of his first projects. “Lumens and CRIs and efficiencies… it was 100 per cent learning from the beginning and it continues to be every day.”

Mr. Reed is the fourth student to work with the Energy Management team, and the first intern through the Queen’s Undergraduate Internship Program (QUIP), which provides second- and third-year students with a 12-16 month paid work experience at a partner employer.

The students who work with PPS are key contributors to the energy management efforts at Queen’s and gain real-world experiences that they can carry into their future careers.

They are directly involved in the process.

“The students integrate into our team and take on very complex and important projects,” says Nathan Splinter, Energy Manager, adding that the interns enable the university to push bigger projects forward. “The feedback that we’ve received from the students is that they really enjoy the fact that they are working on things that actually develop into real world projects – construction projects, and changes to how the university functions or operates.”

Mr. Reed agrees. He knows how valuable the learning experience is and that he is making a real contribution to the ongoing energy management effort at Queen’s.

“It is a lot easier to do your job and be effective when you know that what you’re doing has impact,” he says.

Over the past nine months, Mr. Reed has been involved in a number of projects, such as the design work and specifications for the installation of new condensate meters in 35 major buildings on campus. Condensate is water that has condensed back into a liquid after steam has given up its energy to heat the building. The new meters can be monitored in real time and will allow PPS to identify leaks and mechanical malfunctions as soon as they occur.

During this past summer he also was involved in the decision-making process for Electricity Demand Response Days when air conditioning is shut down in many buildings on campus to reduce the university’s electricity demand. 

This included analyzing results from previous years to estimate the financial impact of demand reduction during the summer. Mr. Reed and Mr. Splinter both monitored weather conditions and provincial electricity demand forecasts on a daily basis to help decide whether or not to reduce air conditioning loads. Missing a single ‘peak’ day could have a financial impact of $750,000 or more. Mr. Reed was also responsible for communicating the process to internal and external staff and, as a result, developed more effective communications and presentation skills.

Mr. Reed says he has found it very rewarding to be part of a team that is supportive and effective. He is impressed by the professionalism of the people he works with in PPS and campus partners such as Procurement Services.

It’s something that Mr. Splinter has seen with each of the internships.

“The students are contributing and learning from others, gaining hands-on experience as well a new skill set and a broad-based knowledge,” he says. “The internship here gives the students the opportunity to taste a little bit of some different options and different fields and understand potentially a little more what’s out there, and what different jobs entail.”

 

An ambassador of Canadian science

Stephen Lougheed (Biology) has received the Science Ambassador Award from Partners in Research (PIR). The award recognizes an outstanding Canadian researcher for their body of work over a period of time, their contributions to the field of science, and their promotion of this research to the Canadian public.

“I really like the challenge of articulating what we do in our lab or in the field for a general audience” said Dr. Lougheed. “Moreover, making publically-funded university research accessible and intelligible is incredibly important.”

Queen's biology professor Dr. Stephen Lougheed has received the PIR Science Ambassador Award, in recognition of his contributions to the field of conservation biology as well as his dedication to community outreach and knowledge dissemination. (Supplied Photo)

Dr. Lougheed’s research has made significant contributions to our understanding of how historical climate change, shifts in vegetation, mountain uplift and fluctuating sea levels during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs (from 5.3 million to 11,700 years ago) affected the diversification of species in North and Latin America. He has authored more than 100 refereed journal articles and book contributions, and his work on biogeography and evolutionary genetics have been cited more than 3500 times. In December 2016, Dr. Lougheed and his northern and university collaborators received a $9.2 million grant for a project combining leading-edge genomics and Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to develop a non-invasive means of tracking polar bear responses to environmental change.

“Dr. Lougheed is a leading scientist in the field of conservation biology, who has demonstrated both a dedication to fundamental research and to disseminating information to the public at large,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “This award is a wonderful acknowledgment of Dr. Lougheed’s accomplishments and a testament to the excellence of Queen’s researchers and faculty.”

In addition to his research and teaching responsibilities, Dr. Lougheed has made outreach and public engagement a focus of his career. Since associating with the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) in 1994, he has taught over 45 field courses at QUBS and at other locales spanning four continents. He became the station director in 2012, and with his dedicated staff he has dramatically increased the station’s public outreach activities through public lecture series, programming for school and community groups, augmented on-line resources, and a camp for youth.

“Some of my most cherished moments at QUBS have been showing young people a creature like a ratsnake or musk turtle or giant water bug, and talking about their unique ecologies,” stated Dr. Lougheed, “or talking with school groups about how we might contribute to the conservation of one of our many species at risk.”

PIR is a registered Canadian charity founded in 1988 to help Canadians understand the significance, accomplishments and promise of biomedical research in advancing health and medicine. Since its genesis, PIR has broadened its scope to encompass science, technology, engineering and mathematics as fields of discovery and study for Canadian students.

Dr. Lougheed will receive the award at the Partners in Research National Awards Ceremony, held in Ottawa in May.

Out of the classroom, into the wild

Queen’s biology course goes hands-on in the forests of Mexico.

Queen's in the World

From Feb. 14-27, a group of Queen’s biology students had the experience of a lifetime during a two-week field course in Jalisco, Mexico.

A collaborative effort between Queen’s and the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, this combined undergraduate and graduate course provided students with the rare opportunity to explore the rich biological diversity of western Mexico’s cloud forests and dry tropical forests, and to study a range of exotic animals and plants in their native habitats.

Drs. Lougheed (Biology), Wang (Biology) and Ortiz (Universidad Michoacana) are photographed on Isla Pajarera - Bird Island. The three co-led the field course, which gaves students from Queen's and Universidad Michoacana the opportunity to spend two weeks hands-on with a wide array of plants and animals in two Mexican field stations. (Supplied Photo)

Stephen Lougheed (Biology) led the course along with Queen’s colleague Yuxiang Wang (Biology) and Javier Salgado Ortiz, a Queen’s biology alumnus and now professor at Universidad Michoacana. Dr. Lougheed says the course allowed both Canadian and Mexican students to experience first-hand ecological interactions and species that they may have studied in the classroom, as well as learn about other cultures and research from other regions of the world.

“One of the highlights for students was interacting with professors and fellow students in a field context from dawn to well past dusk,” says Dr. Lougheed. “I think that changes the perspective a lot – seeing not only the tremendous research being conducted, but some of the challenges faced by field biologists as well.”

Students pose in front of the sign at Estación Cientifica Las Joyas - one of two field stations visited during the course. (Supplied Photo).

During their two weeks in the field, the class visited two field stations: Estación de Biología Chamela and Estación Cientifica Las Joyas. In Las Joyas, the students explored the cloud forests – a type of evergreen montane tropical forest famous for its high humidity, low-level cloud cover, and unique diversity. The students studied aspects of the ecology of some of the animals and plants inhabiting the forest, gathering data that will be evaluated for a final project they will complete upon their return.

Students also visited Isla Pajarera – Bird Island – where they observed American oystercatchers, magnificent frigate birds, brown boobies, and other varieties of birds associated with these coastal environments. Dr. Lougheed says that, while the logistics of traveling to remote research locations can be a challenge, these immersive learning opportunities more than make up for it.

“We try to teach these courses in locales that are somewhat remote and relatively pristine,” explains Dr. Lougheed. “Located on the border between the Neotropic and Nearctic biogeographic realms, Jalisco has exceptional diversity and a unique mix of species. There is some terrific ecological research being done here by Mexican scientists, as well as important conservation initiatives.”

While the course may sound like a vacation, the students and professors were kept plenty busy with seminars, field exercises, long hikes, and research for their final assignment.

Throughout the course, students posted daily summaries of the course to a course blog. To learn more about field course offerings, please visit the Queen’s Biology Department website.

Queen’s offers a number of opportunities for students to undertake international study experiences – through field courses abroad, exchange programs, or studying at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). For more information, please visit the Queen’s University International website.

 

An inside view of Queen's

  • Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development Sheldon Levy visited Queen’s on Thursday, March 9 as part of a provincial tour of post-secondary institutions.
    Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development Sheldon Levy visited Queen’s on Thursday, March 9 as part of a provincial tour of post-secondary institutions.
  • Rector Cam Yung asks a question of Sheldon Levy, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, during a roundtable discussion at Richardson Hall.
    Rector Cam Yung asks a question of Sheldon Levy, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, during a roundtable discussion at Richardson Hall.
  • During his visit to Queen's on Thursday, March 9, Sheldon Levy participated in a roundtable discussion with students and administrators on how universities can maximize graduate outcomes and ensure student success.
    During his visit to Queen's on Thursday, March 9, Sheldon Levy participated in a roundtable discussion with students and administrators on how universities can maximize graduate outcomes and ensure student success.

Sheldon Levy, Deputy Minister of the province’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, visited Queen’s on Thursday, March 9, as part of a pan-Ontario tour of post-secondary institutions.

The visit highlighted a number of innovative teaching and learning initiatives being advanced at Queen’s, including experiential learning opportunities and the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre.

Mr. Levy also toured the Ellis Hall Active Learning Classrooms and participated in a roundtable discussion with students and administrators on the question: how can universities maximize graduate outcomes and ensure student success?

Making a major decision

[Majors Night 2017]
First-year students in the Faculty of Arts and Science fill Grant Hall for Majors Night on March 1. The event is a partnership between Career Services, the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS), the Arts and Science Departmental Student Councils and the Faculty of Arts and Science. (Photo by Laura Wyatt)

For first-year Arts and Science students at Queen’s, it’s one of the biggest decisions they will make in undergrad: choosing a degree plan.

The third annual Majors Night, held March 1, was a major success, as Grant Hall was packed with over 1,300 students seeking out the best program for them.

“This event aims to provide as many touch points as possible to help first-year students make an informed decision,” says Miguel Hahn, Project Lead for Career Services.

Majors Night is a partnership among Career Services, the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS), the Arts and Science Departmental Student Councils and the Faculty of Arts and Science.

“Our 28 undergraduate departments were there, representing over 90 different degree plans,” says Lindsey Fair, Associate Director in the Faculty of Arts and Science. “Students had the opportunity to interact with upper-year peers, staff and faculty members to help them in making this significant decision. The Major Maps were also a popular item at the event and helped students see how their degree plans would align with everything else they do at Queen’s.”

First-year students say the event is very helpful.

“I got a lot of advice from upper-year students and staff about how to decide on a specific major,” says Derrick Wang. (ArtSci’20). “I also got some information about internships at Queen’s and exchange opportunities, which helped me create a clear plan for university life."

A new addition to this year’s event was the presence of the Experiential Learning and Employer Team of the Queen’s University Internship Program (QUIP). First-year students were able to interact with current interns, learn about what they are experiencing in their internships, and speak to program coordinators about opportunities to pursue their own hands-on work experiences in the future.

“This is the second year that students in Arts & Science have had the option of a 12-16 month internship, and we are seeing a lot of interest,” says Kristen Eppel, QUIP coordinator, Career Services.

“It was wonderful to talk to students who are thinking about taking advantage of this new opportunity.”

For more information about QUIP, visit careers.queensu.ca/quip

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Student Learning Experience