There was a brisk, lively atmosphere at the corner of Union and Division Street early in the morning of August 24. About 30 Queen’s graduate students from various disciplines were getting together to set out on their journey to the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre (ELEEC). The writing retreat titled “Dissertation on the Lake” was going to start on the shores of the lake for the second time since it had been pioneered in 2014 by the School of Graduate Studies. New campers had to take themselves away for a “five-days-four-nights-long” camp to push their dissertation projects forward.
Graduate students regularly face questions about what they actually “do” in the course of research and study towards their degrees. For those outside the academy, and indeed even from differing faculties, there are often misconceptions about what graduate student research is, how is gets done, and what it's "for." “Curiosity Driven” is a short radio and podcast documentary series about Queen’s graduate students’ research that aims to present their work in an accessible, entertaining format for a wide audience.
Hemophilia A drug immunity is a field of research that Jesse describes as “a black box.” No one really knows why it is occurring and there are “probably only a handful of people studying what this is,” which Jesse finds exciting. In addition, “anti-drug antibodies are not exclusive to hemophilia A,” he says. Some people develop immunity against insulin or some anti-viral treatments, so Jesse is optimistic that his research can someday be applied to treatments for multiple conditions.
Have you ever wished you could know exactly how your part in a conversation was affecting the other person as the experience was unfolding? Despite the seeming mystery of how fleeting expressions and mannerisms can either make a conversation go as expected or take an awkward turn, one researcher is pioneering ways to do just that. Jessica Lougheed, PhD candidate in Developmental Psychology at Queen’s University, is doing what’s called observational research to answer the question: how do people change each other’s emotions? Specifically, most of her studies measure real-time behaviours during interactions in one of the most emotionally intense relationships you could imagine: adolescent daughters and their mothers.
MD/PhD student Alison Michels studies the von Willebrand factor (VWF), which is a glycoprotein involved in platelet adhesion and functions as a carrier protein for the coagulation factor VIII. It received such an "aristocratic" name from the Finnish physician and researcher Erik Adolf von Willebrand, who focused on properties of blood and its coagulation. An imbalance in VWF is associated with abnormal hemostasis that can manifest in bleeding and thrombotic cardiovascular disease.
Bailey Gerrits, a PhD student in Political Studies under the supervision of Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant and Margaret Little, is one of 16 recipients of the award across Canada this year. "It means a lot in that I think it's a booster in confidence around the research topic and my ability to sell it to them as something that matters to the world", says Gerrits.
The Trudeau scholarship is the most prestigious Canadian award of its type. Gerrits had to present her research to a panel of four in an in-person interview after she was short listed for the award. "It was a challenge and I think a really positive challenge to try to communicate to an audience and saying this matter to you," adds Gerrits.
Sarah Rampersad, a fourth-year PhD candidate at Queen’s, investigates peculiar substances that simply do not exist for most people, because they cannot be seen with the naked eye. “Generally, my research is related to the problem of atherosclerosis, which can result in heart attacks and strokes, unfortunately”, Sarah says, “and I examine such threatening conditions through the lens of biochemistry and cell biology.”
Donya Danesh’s PhD work in paleolimnology on a subfield with only a few remaining experts in the world has taken her from the deepest parts of remote Northwest Ontario lakes to the shores of an old world city (Amsterdam), to visit two of those experts at the Paleo Ecology and Landscape Ecology Group at the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) at University of Amsterdam.
Graduate students often want to bring their research to the broader community. The Neuroscience Outreach Program enables students to do exactly that. This is a student run volunteer organisation that allows students from a variety of disciplines to bring their expertise to several different programs.
There is nothing quite like the thrill of standing in front of a historical object that you have spent months researching, finally getting to see it in person for the first time.