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Research Prominence

Canadian research leaders elected to College

Early-career Queen’s researchers honoured by the Royal Society of Canada.

See also:
A Royal Honour
Royal Society of Canada recognizes three Queen’s University faculty members as RSC fellows. (September 7, 2016)

Two Queen’s University faculty members have been named to the Royal Society of Canada’s (RSC) College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists program. The Members of the College are research leaders who, at an early stage in their career, have demonstrated a high level of achievement these elections are indicative of the research excellence fostered at Queen’s.

Katherine McKittrick’s (Gender Studies) research focuses include black studies, gender studies, history and literature while Karen Yeates (Medicine) is focused on bringing healthcare expertise to impoverished areas of Africa including Tanzania.

The New College program recognizes an emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership and seeks to gather scholars, artists and scientists at a highly productive stage of their careers into a single collegium where new advances in understanding will emerge from the interaction of diverse intellectual, cultural and social perspectives.

Karen Yeates

“The College opens the doors of the RSC to early and mid-career scholars and researchers, and provides them an opportunity to contribute to the promotion of learning and research,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The researchers elected as part of the 2017 Membership are great representatives of the diverse range of leading edge and innovative research being undertaken by our younger colleagues on campuses across Canada.”

Dr. Yeates’ implementation science research program brings healthcare expertise to Tanzania and other nations using mobile phone technology. She is recognized as a leader in the field of mobile health research, and she has been praised internationally for her contributions to disease screening and prevention.

“I thought my research program wouldn’t really fit the metric of the scientist but this honour gives me motivation to keep pushing forward,” says Dr. Yeates.

Katherine McKittrick

Dr. McKittrick’s scholarly work looks at the links between the theories of race, liberation and creative texts in relation to the fields of geography, cultural studies, black studies and gender studies where her work on interdisciplinary and anti-colonial intellectual thought is widely recognized.

“I’m still very early in my career so this award is a deep honour,” says Dr. McKittrick. “To have a scholar who works on questions of black liberation recognized by the RSC is very exciting.”

For more information on the New College visit the website.

New era of health research in Kingston

Dr. John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s University delivers speech at event opening ceremony.
John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research), speaks during the opening of the W.J. Henderson Centre for Patient-Oriented Research on Monday, Sept. 11. (University Communications)

Home to one of the country’s top 40 research hospitals and a world-renowned university, Kingston has long been recognized as an important centre for health research in Canada.

That reputation is reaching new heights with the opening of the W.J. Henderson Centre for Patient-Oriented Research. The new centre positions Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), Queen’s University and the KGH Research Institute (KGHRI) as international leaders in partnering with patients to improve health knowledge and outcomes.

The state-of-the-art centre brings together for the first time the facilities, equipment and research projects that require direct patient involvement into a single space. Located within KHSC’s Kingston General Hospital site and adjacent to the Queen’s University campus, the facility is situated to give clinician-scientists, researchers, and research volunteers a safe and accessible environment where patients can be consulted, assessed and monitored as they take part in research studies.

“This centre is the realization of our commitment to patient-oriented research,” says Dr. Roger Deeley, Vice-President of Health Sciences Research at KHSC and Vice-Dean of Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University. “It expands opportunities for patients to take part in the discovery process, and it provides a stimulating environment for collaboration. This will lead to innovation, better treatments and improved outcomes for patients and their families. It also provides the ideal environment for multi-disciplinary approaches to research and a solid training ground for future clinician-scientists and researchers.”

At 10,000 square feet, the centre increases research space at the KGH site by 25 per cent. Facilities include shared research labs and work spaces, patient examination and procedure rooms, comfortable waiting areas for patients and their families, a biohazard Level 2 preparation area, as well as the capability to conduct early stage clinical trials, crucial steps in the development of new drug and device treatments and therapies.

“Research has become an increasingly collaborative pursuit that not only requires clinician-scientists from partner institutions to work more closely together, but also for researchers and patients to become more deeply involved in the discovery process,” says Dr. John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s University. “This new centre will strengthen the collective efforts of Kingston’s world-class scientific community and ultimately provide patients with improved healthcare and quality of life.”

"This represents a significant milestone in health research at KHSC. The centre will become a major hub for clinical research as we further integrate research between Queen's and our academic hospital partners,” says Dr. Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University. “Ultimately, the work of the centre will translate into improved patient outcomes in our community and will help us to both educate future scientists and recruit leading researchers from around the world.”

Constructed at a cost of $4.2 million, the centre’s creation was made possible through generous gifts from more than 150 donors, including $1 million from the W.J. Henderson Foundation and $1.2 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, awarded to Dr. Stephen Vanner, (Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Unit) and Dr. Douglas Munoz (Centre for Neuroscience Studies).

“This facility reflects a significant commitment by individuals and organizations, including the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, clinician-scientists and researchers, and donors including the W.J. Henderson Foundation. Their support made this centre possible, and we are profoundly grateful to them,” says Dr. Deeley.

For more information on the W.J. Henderson Centre for Patient Oriented Research, visit www.kgh.on.ca/research.

Queen’s researcher recognized for work on toxic algae blooms

The Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (CJFAS) has selected a paper lead by Queen’s National Scholar and researcher Diane Orihel as Editor’s Choice for 2017, an honour that highlights articles of particularly high caliber and topical importance, in recognition of her team’s national study of nutrients that feed algal blooms in Canadian lakes. Algal blooms – the blue-green scums visible on nutrient-polluted lakes – negatively affect not only recreational activities like swimming and fishing, but can put drinking water, property values, wildlife, and human health at risk.

Researcher and Queen’s National Scholar Diane Orihel takes samples of lake water. The Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences has selected a paper lead by Dr. Orihel as Editor’s Choice for 2017. (Supplied Photo) 

“We looked at all of the national data on phosphorous release from sediments of Canadian freshwater ecosystems and saw how important paying attention to the bigger picture can be,” says Dr. Orihel (Environmental Studies, Biology). “I think our research will help us better manage our lakes and wetlands so all Canadians can feel safe to enjoy them.”

Dr. Orihel’s team investigated a process in Canada’s aquatic ecosystems: the recycling of phosphorus between sediments at the bottom of lakes and overlying water. Algae thrives on phosphorous so as it is released from lakebeds harmful accumulations of algae, called blooms, are more likely to form. Across the country tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars are invested every year to manage nutrient pollution – but in some lakes – legacy effects from nutrients deposited years ago can linger and delay recovery.

“Our main goal was to better understand where, when, and why this process occurs so that we can make improvements to how algal blooms are managed and develop realistic goals for lake restoration,” explained Dr. Orihel. “We found that phosphorus release from sediments was a common phenomenon in Canadian fresh waters, but that rates of this process varied dramatically from lake to lake.”

Major case studies featured in the article include Lake Simcoe, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, Cootes Paradise, and Lake Diefenbaker.

Prairie lakes in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were shown to have the highest rates of phosphorous release, while the lowest rates were found in northern Ontario and the Maritimes.

“We found that oxygen levels, pH balance, nutrient status all affected the rate of phosphorus release from sediments,” Dr. Orihel says. “Following this study, it will be important to examine how human impacts, such as climate change and fish farming, affect this process so we can better tailor our efforts to improve water quality.”

The take-home message for the public, according to Dr. Orihel is “we need to stop dumping phosphorus into our lakes, because it’s not only causing problems right now, but in many lakes, it continues to deteriorate water quality for our children and grandchildren”.

The article was published online today in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2016-0500).

Collaborators on the project included Helen Baulch (University of Saskatchewan), Nora Casson (University of Winnipeg), Rebecca North (University of Missouri), Chris Parsons (University of Waterloo), Dalila Seckar (Queen’s University), and Jason Venkiteswaran (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Supporting new scientific discoveries

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has provided a combined $14,808,621 million in funding to over 70 Queen’s researchers through the flagship Discovery Grants, Scholarships and Fellowships, and Research Tools and Instruments Grants programs. The funding received will enable researchers to carry out innovative research projects over the next one to five years in fields ranging from particle astrophysics to mechanical engineering.

“This funding provided by NSERC provides crucial support to long-term, ongoing programs of research,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “This allows researchers the flexibility to pursue promising new avenues and address higher-risk topics with the potential for tremendous rewards. The process is highly competitive, and the success of our researchers in receiving this funding speaks to both the significant potential of their programs and the leading expertise of the researchers themselves.”

NSERC’s Discovery Grants Program aims to promote and maintain high-quality Canadian research in the areas of natural sciences and engineering by fostering excellence and promoting scientific innovation. Notable recipients include Philip Jessop (Chemistry), Ryan Martin (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) and Virginia Walker (Biology).

Dr. Jessop has received $619,400 for a project aimed at developing new means of recycling waste CO2 collected from power plants and other industrial processes. This research could lead to the development of methods to produce needed chemicals in a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable way.

Dr. Martin has received $225,000 to support a team of researchers in developing and testing new particle detectors made of high-purity germanium. These detectors will be used in large-scale particle astrophysics experiments, such as the MAJORANA and MINER experiments, to help answer some of the most challenging questions in particle physics and further cement Canada’s status as a leader in the discipline.

Dr. Walker has received $300,000 to examine the role anti-freeze proteins play in protecting plants and animals from cold-related cell damage and in immune response. She proposes that a more thorough understanding of how these proteins function could assist in developing crops that are better able to withstand freeze damage, as well as improved techniques for the cryopreservation of tissues.

In addition, three Queen’s researchers were awarded Discovery Accelerator Supplements. Valued at $120,000 over three years, these grants serve to provide additional support for researchers who show potential to become international leaders in their fields. The additional funding aims to accelerate their potential progress and maximize the impact of top calibre research. Recipients include Leon Boegman (Civil Engineering), Julian Ortiz (Mining), and Ryan Martin (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy).

Notably, Dr. Mark Chen received $2.6 million from the Subatomic Physics Discovery Grants program, and another 14 researchers received a combined $1.8 million to assist in acquiring tools and equipment necessary to carry out their research.

A further 20 doctoral research students were awarded scholarships with a combined total of $1.9 million over a two to three year period. Nine of these recipients were awarded the Alexander Graham Bell Graduate Scholarship, a prestigious award aimed at nurturing the research leaders of tomorrow.

For the full list of Discovery and Research Tools and Instruments program recipients from Queen's University, see below.

 

Discovery and SAP-Individual/Project Awards:

Andrew, Robert
Banfield, Bruce
Barthelme, Thomas
Boegman, Leon
Chen, Mark
Dean, Thomas
Evans, P Andrew
Fam, Amir
Gallivan, Jason
Gee, Katrina
Genikomsou, Aikaterini
Ghasemlou, Nader
Graham, TC Nicholas
Green, Mark
Hollenstein, Tom
Hudon, Nicolas
Jerkiewicz, Gregory
Jessop, Philip
Lai, Yongjun
Levin, Yuri

MacDougall, Colin
Martin, Ryan
Mosey, Nicholas
Moyes, Christopher
Oko, Richard
Ortiz, Julián
Oteafy, Sharief
Peppley, Brant
Raptis, Leda
Rau, Wolfgang
Robertson, Robert
Rowe, R Kerry
Scott, Neal
Smol, John
Surgenor, Brian
Taylor, Peter
Troje, Nikolaus
Walker, Virginia
Zou, Ying

 

Discovery Accelerator Supplements:
Boegman, Leon
Martin, Ryan
Ortiz, Julian

 

Northern Research Supplement:
John Smol

 

Research Tools & Instruments Awards (RTI) and RTI-SAP Awards:

Amsden, Brian
Beninger, Richard
Cunningham, Michael
Davies, Theresa
Di Stefano, Philippe
Fichtinger, Gabor
Flanagan, John

Hassanein, Hossam
Jessop, Philip
Lafreniere, Melissa
Lougheed, Stephen
Plaxton, William
Smith, Steven
Take, William

 

Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships:
Bagherzadeh, Mojtaba
Bonafiglia, Jacob
Jeronimo, Mark
Lamontagne, Steven
Neeteson, Nathan
Rygus, Jason
Sikora, James
Van De Ven, Cole
Vance, Tyler

 

NSERC Postgraudate Scholarships:
Brault, Andre
Coulson, Jeremy
Fernandes, Suzette
Gushulak, Cale
Mangardich, Haykaz
Peoples, Jacob
Raveendran, Joshua
Sivarajah, Branaavan
Stortini, Christine
Welte, Lauren Kelsey Marie
Wright, Timothy

The colours of Orientation Week

  • Each faculty at Queen's has its own unique traditions as seen with these students and orientation leaders from the Faculty of Arts and Science. (Photo by Tia Wilson)
    Each faculty at Queen's has its own unique traditions as seen with these students and orientation leaders from the Faculty of Arts and Science. (Photo by Tia Wilson)
  • Incoming commerce students gather on Summerhill on Wednesday, the first day of orientation for each of Queen's University's faculties. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Incoming commerce students gather on Summerhill on Wednesday, the first day of orientation for each of Queen's University's faculties. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Incoming students for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science fill Grant Hall during the beginning of their faculty orientation on Wednesday. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Incoming students for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science fill Grant Hall during the beginning of their faculty orientation on Wednesday. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Members of the Queen's cheerleading squad try to sign up new recruits during Queen's In the Park, hosted Wednesday at City Park. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Members of the Queen's cheerleading squad try to sign up new recruits during Queen's In the Park, hosted Wednesday at City Park. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Newly-arrived students take part in a carnival held Wednesday, Sept. 6 on Tindall Field. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
    Newly-arrived students take part in a carnival held Wednesday, Sept. 6 on Tindall Field. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Incoming students are being introduced to university life during Orientation Week – Sept. 3-8 – as well as to some traditions that make Queen’s a unique place.

Wednesday marked the transition from University Orientation to Faculty Orientation, where first-year students connect with their peers and colleagues from the same programs.

For orientation details, visit www.queensu.ca/orientation

Classes begin on Monday, Sept. 11.

A Royal honour

Three Queen’s University professors were granted the honour today of being elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), one of the highest honours for Canadian academics in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

The three fellows, Richard Bathurst, Anne Croy and Robert Morrison, have a wide range of research interests including civil engineering, reproductive sciences and literature, which demonstrative of the range of research expertise and excellence found across campus.

“The three newly elected fellows have made important contributions to their respective fields and represent a diverse mix of areas of study,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Having the RSC recognize these three scholars is an honour and I join the university community in congratulating them.”

Richard Bathurst

Richard Bathurst (Civil Engineering) – Professor Bathurst has made contributions to the advancement and understanding of modern civil engineering geosynthetic reinforced earth retaining structures and slopes. Cross-appointed to the Royal Military College of Canada, his work demonstrates a multi-disciplinary approach to the design, analysis and sustainability of these structures.

“We don’t work for awards so this is a true honour,” says Professor Bathurst. “It’s really a recognition for a lifetime of work in my field. I’m humbled.”

Anne Croy

Anne Croy (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) – Dr. Croy is a world-leader in reproductive sciences and has made seminal contributions with her descriptions of uterine Natural Killer (uNK) cells recruited to the uterus in early pregnancy. Most complications of human pregnancy are linked with incomplete remodeling of vessels called spiral arteries – a process initiated by the uNK cell.

“Only the very best get recognized and I was truly shocked to be nominated,” says Dr. Croy. “This type of award is the crown jewel for my career.”

Robert Morrison

 

Robert Morrison (English) – Dr. Morrison is a leading scholar of British Romantic literature, and the world’s foremost authority on the nineteenth-century English essayist and opium addict Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859).

“I was really gobsmacked to win this award,” says Dr. Morrison. “It’s really a type of validation for my work. I’ve won awards for teaching in the past but this is for research. Being named a Fellow gives me confidence to keep forging ahead.”

The Royal Society of Canada is the senior and most prestigious academic society in Canada. Members represent a wide range of academic fields, including the arts, social and natural sciences and humanities. Candidates can be nominated by existing members, seconded by at least two others, or by one of the society's member institutions. Existing members of the society then vote to elect the next cohort of fellows. Election to the society is considered one of the highest honours in Canadian academia.

For more information visit the RSC’s website.

QICSI venture taking on the world

The SpectraPlasmonics team at the Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition. L-R: Yusuf Ahmed, Malcome Eade, Christian Baldwin, Tyler Whitney, Ryan Picard.
The Spectra Plasmonics team at the Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition. L-R: Yusuf Ahmed, Malcome Eade, Christian Baldwin, Tyler Whitney, Ryan Picard. (James McLellan)

Hot off their strong performance in the 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition, the guys behind Spectra Plasmonics are taking their show on the road. 

Hosted by Singapore Management University, the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition features 36 finalists vying for 15 prizes including cash and services. This year’s competition theme is “Smart Cities”, and entrants will be judged on four criteria: innovativeness of the business idea; commercial feasibility; the impact of the idea including market, societal impact, and sustainability; and capability to execute. 

It was Tyler Whitney (Comm’17, Arts’18) who first heard about the week-long Lee Kuan Yew competition through an exchange opportunity he had in Singapore during his Commerce program. Once Spectra Plasmonics had launched, as part of the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI), he took the idea of submitting an application back to his teammates. Despite the 550 applications to the competition, including applications from ventures at prestigious American universities, Spectra Plasmonics was one of the lucky few accepted. So, Mr. Whitney, along with teammates Ryan Picard (Sci’17), Malcom Eade (Artsci’18), and Christian Baldwin (Sci'19) packed their bags and headed to Singapore, while team member Yusuf Ahmed (Eng'18) tends to the shop back home. 

“Spectra Plasmonics sells an enhancing piece of tech for a chemical detection device which allows for quicker, more accurate detection,” explains Mr. Whitney. “We first heard about the technology through the Office of Partnerships and Innovation when it was pitched to us during QICSI. The technology was invented here at Queen’s in the Chemical Engineering department by Hannah Dies (MSc’21, Meds’21), Dr. Aristides Docoslis, and Dr. Carlos Escobedo, and the product has garnered significant interest from governments and law enforcement agencies. We think this is an excellent fit with the competition theme because our product gives people that live in cities the tools they need to know more about their surroundings and adjust accordingly.” 

Once the technology was developed, the Queen's Office of Partnerships and Innovation began working with Dr. Docoslis and the research team to secure patent protection for the technology and seek opportunities to commercialize it. Ramzi Asfour, the office's Assistant Director for Commercial Development for applied science and information technologies, says the technology was a good fit for QICSI businesses because of its short product development cycle and the nearby access to NanoFabrication Kingston's facilities. 

“This technology has great potential for changing the way Raman Spectroscopy is currently used,” says Mr. Asfour. “It’s a simple, yet sophisticated technique for enabling cheaper yet highly sensitive chemical sensing in a number of applications where more expensive forms of testing are currently used. We are happy with the progress that Spectra Plasmonics has made to date and are looking forward to continuing to help them achieve long term success.”

To prepare for the competition, the team is tweaking their successful QICSI pitch based on the feedback they received, conducting additional research about the Asian market, and researching past winners. The four members who are making the trip headed over to Singapore a week early to meet with some connections, test their technology in the country, recoup from the jetlag, see a few sights, and meet up with some Queen’s alumni. 

“We are excited for the Spectra Plasmonics team and look forward to hearing the final results later this week,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre which organizes QICSI. “Their business unites students from many different faculties at Queen’s with technology developed here at the university, and it demonstrates the kind of collaborations we enable through our centre. Our students are equipped to start their businesses here and, as we’re seeing with Spectra Plasmonics, by the time they graduate the QICSI program they are leading companies which are garnering interest literally around the world.” 

During the week of the competition, the team will be meeting with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, participating in workshops, and readying for their moment in the sun. The thirty six competitors will be whittled down to six in a semi-final pitch competition. The top six ventures will then vie for a cut of $1 million in prizes. 

Stay tuned for an update regarding Spectra Plasmonics’ performance in the competition. For more information on the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition, please visit: www.smu.edu.sg/lky

Investigating the genes and proteins behind bleeding disorders

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research awards substantial funding to professor David Lillicrap.

Queen’s University professor and one of the leading researchers in common inherited bleeding disorders David Lillicrap has received a $3.55 million Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Foundation Grant.

“This funding will be used to support our program of research focused on the molecular science of the two most common inherited bleeding disorders – hemophilia and von Willebrand disease,” says Dr. Lillicrap (Pathology and Molecular Medicine). “These studies involve the application of a range of molecular approaches to understand the pathological basis, enhance the detection and improve the treatment of these conditions.” 

David Lillicrap has earned a Foundation Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dr. Lillicrap’s research focuses on the genes and proteins that are deficient or defective in hemophilia and von Willebrand disease. Both conditions are lifelong bleeding disorders in which blood doesn’t clot correctly. Until recently, the treatment of these disorders has involved frequent injections of the missing clotting factor protein, but work conducted by Dr. Lillicrap’s group has shown that gene therapy is a feasible approach to deliver long-term benefits and a possible cure of the bleeding problem.

“Dr. Lillicrap’s research has led to innovative strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of the world's most commonly-inherited bleeding diseases,” says Dr. John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).  “His novel findings, now being applied to clinical care worldwide, are improving the quality of life for patients with inherited bleeding disorders, and this significant investment from the CIHR will help to further this work.”

Dr. Lillicrap says the funding is the most significant operating grant his laboratory has received and will allow him to establish and complete more long-range goals. It will also enhance his work with the Queen's Clinical and Molecular Hemostasis Research Group, run by Dr. Lillicrap and Paula James.

“Many of our studies involve interactions between our two laboratories and include the exchange of knowledge, reagents and valuable research resources,” says Dr. Lillicrap. “We believe that our program is successful in part because we have complementary areas of research interest - the Lillicrap group is focused more on basic/molecular aspects of these diseases and the James group more on clinical and population based research.”

“Both groups share an overlapping interest in certain aspects of molecular and cellular pathology - one example being how blood vessel lining cells (endothelial cells) function in these bleeding diseases.”

He joins three other Queen’s faculty members who currently hold Foundation grants. The grants are designed to contribute to a sustainable foundation of established health research leaders.

For more information visit the CIHR website.

In-depth innovation tour

  • Mayor Bryan Paterson and Principal Daniel Woolf speak with Shahram Yousefi, co-founder of Canarmony and the acting head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
    Mayor Bryan Paterson and Principal Daniel Woolf speak with Shahram Yousefi, co-founder of Canarmony and the acting head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • The tour visited the offices of Spectra Plasmonics - an innovative forensics company founded during the 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative.
    The tour visited the offices of Spectra Plasmonics - an innovative forensics company founded during the 2017 Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative.
  • Mayor Bryan Paterson and Principal Daniel Woolf meet with Shyra Barberstock, a Queen's master's candidate and co-founder of Okwaho Equal Source. Okwaho, an Indigenous social enterprise, has become a highly sought-after global leader and change agent in Indigenous-inspired social finance, social enterprise, social innovation, and social procurement for the Canadian and Australian public and private sectors.
    Mayor Bryan Paterson and Principal Daniel Woolf meet with Shyra Barberstock, a Queen's master's candidate and co-founder of Okwaho Equal Source. Okwaho, an Indigenous social enterprise, has become a highly sought-after global leader and change agent in Indigenous-inspired social finance, social enterprise, social innovation, and social procurement for the Canadian and Australian public and private sectors.

On Thursday, Aug. 31, Principal Daniel Woolf welcomed Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson to Innovation Park to meet with companies and teams at the forefront of Kingston's innovation ecosystem. Joined by representatives of the Office of Partnerships and Innovation and staff from the City of Kingston, the tour visited the offices of several leading edge companies, including Canarmony, Limestone Analytics, Okwaho Equal Source. A testament to the strength of Queen's committment to fostering innovation, all of the companies toured have a Queen's connection - founded by, or working in close partnership with, Queen's students, researchers and faculty.

This was the second Queen's stop on the Mayor's Innovation Tour. In early August, Mayor Paterson visited the main Queen's campus to learn more about innovative research, as well as to meet with participants in the Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative.

Innovative research project at the BISC combines art and science

Herstmonceux Castle is more than just a campus – it is a living piece of history. The campus, which Queen’s operates as the Bader International Study Centre (BISC), is a Bronze Age castle which has been continuously inhabited for over 600 years. This history provides a unique opportunity for Queen’s University and University of Waterloo researchers to study the way people lived hundreds of years ago – yet, up until a few years ago, the site had only received sporadic research attention.

The Herstmonceux Project is an archaeological effort which aims to increase our understanding of climate change by examining how changes in temperature and weather conditions have impacted the castle’s site since its founding.

“Since we received our initial Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant, we have spent four years digging up the past and, along the way, this has provided excellent opportunities for students to work hands-on with a unique archaeological site,” says Steven Bednarski, University of Waterloo professor and medieval scholar. “There have been dozens of research trips to the site which have helped these students practice their research skills and will hopefully one day enable them to contribute to future climate change solutions.”

Queen’s has made a number of contributions to the project, including the assistance of two Queen’s Undergraduate Summer Student Research Fellowship recipients each year. This fellowship provides an opportunity for any continuing undergraduate students at Queen’s to develop their research skills under the guidance of a faculty researcher. Up to two of the fellowships offered each year take place at the BISC. This year, Abby Berry (Artsci’18) did ‘double duty’ while working for the Herstmonceux Project, says Dr. Bednarski. Part of Ms. Berry’s role this summer has been to digitize and catalogue the project’s archives – a task that aligned with her Queen’s education and personal interests.

Queen's University study Abby Berry leads a project presentation at the Bader International Study Centre. (Supplied photo)

“In my first two years at Queen's, I constantly found myself searching for intersections between my major in art history and my minor in mathematics,” says Ms. Berry. “It wasn't until my third year that I learned that there was a discipline called digital humanities that merges both science and art. I was interested in the Herstmonceux Project because it allowed me to explore both sides of my degree. There is an endless amount of research that can be performed when you ask yourself what computer programming can do for the arts and what the arts can do for computer programming.”

The opportunity to work on the research project has been a positive experience for Ms. Berry and she says, after graduation, she plans on continuing her research in the digital humanities.

“I'm really interested in how my computer programming background can be used to enhance our understanding of medieval art and architecture,” she adds. “I want to continue working on research projects that allow art to be accessible, not only to the top one percent, but to the general public – this can be achieved through 3D printing, high-resolution images, or computer models.”

Some of uWaterloo Professor Steven Bednarski's students work on a dig site at the Bader International Study Centre. (Supplied photo)

In addition to the undergraduate student researchers, the Herstmonceux Project researchers are provided access to the campus grounds, they stay at the BISC during their visits, and the archaeological finds are physically stored and digitally catalogued at the castle. Queen’s graduate researchers, at the masters and doctoral levels, have also worked at Herstmonceux to oversee undergraduate students, and to conduct their own original research. Meanwhile, in Kingston, project collaborators in Queen’s Art History and Art Conservation department, including faculty member Amandina Anastassiades and now-retired faculty member Krysia Spirydowicz, worked with their own master's candidates to preserve and study the most fragile artifacts. These MA candidates produced reports and studies on the materials recovered at the castle, and several of them delivered a scholarly paper at an October 2016 conference in Waterloo.

The years of research work at the BISC recently led to a major award for Dr. Bednarski. He received a 2017 D2L Innovation in Teaching and Learning Award from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, in part because of the Herstmonceux Project and for a digital research lab he has established at the University of Waterloo connected to the project. Dr. Bednarski credits the support of his research team and the project partners – including Queen’s University, the BISC, the University of Waterloo, and St. Jerome’s University (which is federated within University of Waterloo), and SSHRC – for the success of The Herstmonceux Project, and says he accepted the award on behalf of all involved.

To learn more about the project, visit www.medieval-environment.com

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