Supporting the future of research

Federal Minister Kirsty Duncan visits Queen’s to make major national funding announcement in support of graduate and post-doctoral research.

Federal Minister Kirsty Duncan visits Queen’sThe Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, announces more than $35 million in funding for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and the Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowships during a special event at Queen's University's Mitchell Hall on Thursday, May 16. (University Communications)

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, visited Queen’s University to talk about the promising future of university research across the country. At a special event, inside the newly-opened Mitchell Hall, the minister officially announced more than $35 million in funding for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (166 in total) and the Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowships (70 in total). This includes support for four Queen’s researchers who have earned Canada’s most-coveted prizes for PhD and post-doctoral scholarship.

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship program provides funding to help Canadian universities attract high-profile doctoral students from across the country and around the world. While the Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship program provides funding for the best post-doctoral applicants, both internationally and nationally.

The national announcement, which was livestreamed, highlighted the work of the Queen’s recipients Krista Clement, Alex Veinot, and Megan McAllister who have earned Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, while Jeremy Strachan has earned a Banting Post-doctoral Fellowship.

Dimensions EDI
Prior to the announcement event, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf signed the Dimensions EDI charter. Announced last week by Minister Duncan, the Dimensions EDI program is a pilot, made-in-Canada approach to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion in the post-secondary sector. The Charter will also help drive change within the research ecosystem. For more on the Charter and Queen’s implementation of its principles, watch the Queen’s Gazette in the days to come.
Showcasing our research and innovation initiatives 
Following the announcement, the Minister and podium party toured the state-of-the-art research facilities in the Beaty Water Research Centre in Mitchell Hall. The BWRC is an inter-disciplinary research centre dedicated to water-related environmental issues and is committed to fostering an environment that encourages collaborative research spanning both traditional water-related disciplines, as well as non-traditional and emerging disciplines. The Minister also had the chance to visit the interdisciplinary cohort participating in the Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre (DDQIC)’s Summer Initiative Program. The program offers a valuable opportunity for individuals to start their own business or further their current venture while being paid and receiving seed funding.

“In many ways, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are the lifeblood of the research ecosystem. Support through initiatives such as Banting and Vanier allow Canada to retain and attract highly-qualified persons to our institutions to actively contribute to scholarship and discovery in our country,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University. “My sincere congratulations to the recipients at Queen’s and across Canada.”

Queen’s Vanier and Banting recipients will focus their research projects in a number of different areas:

Krista Clement (Environmental Studies) - Canada is facing environmental challenges due to pollution, invasive species, habitat fragmentation, and increasing threats posed by climate change. Clement is conducting a case study of the Ottawa River Watershed and she will examine how Indigenous knowledge is reflected in this work.

Megan McAllister (Kinesiology and Health Studies) - In her research, McAllister is studying if people have an inherent preference for moving in symmetric ways or if symmetric movements are preferred because they are the most efficient. The work will help explain how the nervous system controls movement and could help form new rehabilitation programs and robotic aid designs.

“As graduate students, we are the life of the research in our lab – we are involved in the challenges and help in answering tangible questions that have a great impact on Canadians,” says McAllister, who spoke at the announcement. “The federal support will create opportunities for me to travel abroad, serve as a visible role model to other young women in science, and one day become a world-class researcher and leader in my field.”

Alex Veinot (Chemistry) - Copper metal is used extensively in the manufacturing of electronic devices. Devices are becoming smaller, which presents a challenge when introducing a thin film of copper to the device. Veinot’s research involves developing new strategies to produce thin copper films of superior quality for use in microelectronic devices.

Jeremy Strachan - Since the 19th century, composers have resourced the songs, stories, and cultural wealth of Indigenous people. Unfortunately, these acquisitions have often occurred under duress and without proper consent. Strachan’s research aims to open new paths towards Indigenous cultural sovereignty by facilitating processes of redress for the misuse of Indigenous song by settler composers, and to develop frameworks for partnerships and protocols between composers, institutions, and stewards of traditional intellectual and cultural property.

“As a settler scholar of music, I’m grateful for this chance to contribute to the decolonization of Canadian music history,” says Strachan, who also spoke at the announcement. “Perhaps more than ever, as emerging scholars and creators navigate an increasingly uncertain terrain, federal support for research in the humanities and social sciences remains vital for new ideas to thrive.”

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and the Banting Post-doctoral Fellowships are funded through the three federal research granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada(SSHRC). These annual programs are both administered through CIHR.

“Our government is proud to encourage innovative Canadian researchers who are building a better Canada,” says Minister Duncan. “Our goal is to create the right conditions so that they can access a wealth of opportunities including good paying jobs, where they can use their hard-earned skills and knowledge to solve global challenges and strengthen our communities.”

Full list of Vanier Scholars and Full list of Banting Fellows across Canada.

Note: This article orginally appeared in the Queen's Gazette.