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Graduate Studies

Working together to support the community

Teams of PhD students work together to address key issues facing the Kingston and Queen's communities through the PhD-Community Initiative.

PhD-Community Initiative
Queen's PhD students Nancy Fynn-Sackey helps present her team's project as part of the annual PhD-Community Initiative, hosted by the School of Graduate Studies. 

When Queen’s University and the City of Kingston work together, good things happen.

With both communities facing the new challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual PhD-Community Initiative pivoted to address key issues while at the same time fostering ties between Queen’s and the city with a focus on collaboration, community, and creativity.

Through the program, four teams of doctoral students worked with the City of Kingston on a series of projects related to the priorities of the Mayor’s Kingston Economic Recovery Team (KERT), while addressing the big question: How do we increase the community resilience that is required to support economic and social recovery post-COVID-19?

Participants came from across the university with a wide range of research areas and expertise and were formed into interdisciplinary teams.

“Our students have continuously demonstrated the talent, energy, and enthusiasm needed to fuel positive change by applying the skills and knowledge gained in graduate studies to addressing challenges beyond the academic arena,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “At the same time they are giving back to the community in meaningful ways that will have long-lasting effects.”

Starting in September, the teams met on a weekly basis and have been supported by a mentor, most of whom are retired faculty members. Joined by Mayor Bryan Paterson, the program culminated on Monday, April 19 as each of the teams made their final presentations for their projects to a broad audience from within Queen’s and the wider Kingston community. The capstone event was hosted virtually and the presentations will be available online.

“The Queen’s PhD-Community Initiative has been an important annual opportunity for both students and community organizations to connect and create impact in our community,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson. “With the pandemic, the need is even greater for our community to come together to support each other, particularly those in social and economic distress. The four PhD teams collaborating with our Economic Recovery Working Groups have made significant contributions to advancing recovery and resilience in Kingston. I look forward to continuing to build strong relationships with graduate students at Queen’s.”

Supporting the community

For the participating doctoral students, the initiative not only provides an opportunity to support the community that is their home but also to learn new skills and apply the ones they have developed at Queen’s, while also making new connections within the university and city.

In addition to supporting the community, making valuable connections, and learning new skills, the students participating in the PhD-Community Initiative also complete several workshops designed to enhance their abilities and improve their project outcomes.

Some students have enjoyed their experience so much that they have participated in the program twice. Hannah Ascough, a PhD candidate in Global Development Studies, participated last year as a student and signed up again this year as a co-mentor, and learning new skills around leadership and managing teams.

“I initially involved myself in the program to connect and learn from students in other disciplines, and hear their perspectives on research, school and community engagement,” she says. “The PhD-Community Initiative certainly fostered these rich, lasting friendships; however, my experience was also rewarded by the connections our team made with our community partners. Through our project, I learned firsthand how creative interdisciplinary research is, and saw how it can be mobilized to make positive, long-lasting change. I have loved all my experiences with the initiative, and recommend it for anyone looking to engage with other graduate students, and give back to their community.”

For more information about the PhD-Community Initiative program, visit the Expanding Horizons website.

PROJECTS

PhD United (Resilient Kingston) 
The aim of Resilient Kingston is to encourage and study resilience during the pandemic by offering members of the community a chance to connect with one another and share their experiences and perspectives in online focus groups. Participants discussed their perceptions of Kingston’s response to COVID-19, as well as topics related to making and maintaining social connections, adapting both personally and professionally, becoming more aware of privilege, and finding ways to safely engage with the community and its institutions during the pandemic.

TRIADS (Training and Reskilling Individuals through Actionable Deliverables that are Sustainable)
The TRIADS group’s goal is to empower the Kingston arts and creative community through upskilling opportunities post COVID-19. The group conducted a literature search and conducted interviews with local artists and faculty to determine the needs of the Kingston arts community. The recommendation for the city is an entrepreneurial program containing mentorship, continuous engagement, and experiential learning.

KOG (Kingston Outreach Group)
The pandemic is an excellent opportunity for PhD students to give back to the Kingston community. The KOG team focused on finding ways to better understand and support individuals who are working and yet still living in poverty. 

C5 (Community COVID Concerns Communicated Consciously)
Through a survey completed by more than 2,000 people in the Kingston area, the C5 team investigated consumer habits and associated perceptions of risk during the pandemic and pre-pandemic. It is hoped that the findings will help Kingston businesses (and the city) to better understand the concerns of the community and provide responsive services and support. 

A recording of the event will be available soon on the School of Graduate Studies’ YouTube page.

Transforming the global academy

Principal Patrick Deane on how the SDGs are helping break down silos, provoke dialogue, and unite us all in a common global purpose.

[Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane]
Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University

As a member of the international group tasked with updating the Magna Charta Universitatum – the declaration of university freedoms and principles that was first signed in Bologna in 1988 – I am struck by the extent to which the intervening three decades have altered the global consensus about the nature and function of universities. Where the original document spoke eloquently to the fundamental values of the academy, the new Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 reaffirms those values but also expands upon their social function and utility. I would summarise the shift this way: we have moved from an understanding of universities as defined primarily by their ability to transcend historical contingency to a more complicated view, which asserts that timeless principles such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the platform from which the academy must engage with history.

If the situation in Europe and around the world in 1988 made it important to speak up for the freedoms without which teaching and research would be impoverished, by 2020 it had become equally important to speak of the responsibilities incumbent on institutions by virtue of the privileges accorded to them. The reality of rapid climate change has brought urgency and authority to this new view of universities, as have parallel trends in the social, cultural, and political climate, and “education for sustainable development” has emerged as the increasingly dominant model for global higher education – one which fuses the concerns of environment, society, and economy.  

Recent columns in Times Higher Education have admirably described the diverse ways in which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been intrinsic to this reorientation of the global academy: as a rallying point for students and staff, as an accountability framework, and as a global language for political action, for example. Here at Queen’s University, the SDGs have been an important frame for our current planning process, and in all of those ways have influenced the manner in which we understand and wish to articulate our mission.

At one point in the process, an influential and valued friend of the university expressed some irritation to me about the way in which the SDGs had come to dominate and disrupt the university’s normally untroubled and inwardly-focused dialogue with itself about mission and values. “And in any case,” came the throwaway dismissal, “there’s nothing original or new about aligning with the SDGs.” Of course, that is true in 2021, but is it relevant? If a university is able to maximise its global impact, does the inherent originality or novelty of its planning parameters matter? In such exchanges – still occurring, I’m certain, on campuses everywhere – we can see that the changing consensus about which I wrote at the start is not yet complete.

It seems to me, in fact, that much of the value of the SDGs as an organising framework for universities resides in their not being proprietary or “original” to one institution, or to an exclusive group of institutions. It has often been pointed out that they now provide a shared language which helps universities in diverse geographical, political, and socio-economic locations understand and build upon the commonality of their work in both teaching and research. Adoption of the SDGs, however variously that is done from institution to institution, is turning the “global academy” from a rhetorical to a real construct, and I can’t imagine why it would be in the interests of any university to hold itself aloof from that transformation. Having watched our planning process unfold at Queen’s over the last two years, I can confirm that what the SDGs do at the global level, they do also at the level of the individual institution, providing a common language that provokes and sustains dialogue – not only between disciplines, but between the academic and non-academic parts of the operation.

I want to end by commenting on the excitement generated when siloes are broken open and when people and units understand how they are united with others in a common purpose and in service to the greater good. To cultivate that understanding has been the primary objective of planning at Queen’s for the last two years, and preparing our first submission to the Impact Rankings has been an intrinsic part of that process of learning and self-discovery. Naturally, we are delighted and excited by where we find ourselves in the rankings, but we are energised in a more profound way by the knowledge of what synergies and collaborations exist or appear possible both within our university and in the global academy.

The first 16 SDGs point to the areas in which we want to have impact. The 17th tells us what the whole project is really all about: acting in community for the communal good.

This op-ed was originally published in the Times Higher Education supplement.  

Queen’s community comes together to illustrate social impact

THE Impact Rankings submission measures the university’s overall contribution to global sustainability.

[Graphic image with a "Q" of the Queen's community]

Times Higher Education (THE), the organization best known for its World University Rankings, sees universities as representing the greatest hope of solving the most urgent global challenges. In 2019, they moved to create the Impact Rankings – an inclusive evaluation of post-secondary institutions’ commitments to positive social and economic impact measured against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year, out of more than 1,200 participating institutions worldwide, Queen’s placed first in Canada and fifth globally in the 2021 Impact Rankings. It is the first time Queen’s has participated in this ranking exercise, and our performance is a result of the campus community’s united effort to create a comprehensive submission package for Impact Rankings adjudicators.

THE Impact Rankings

While many traditional ranking processes are designed with research-intensive universities in mind, the Impact Rankings are open to any institution teaching at the undergraduate or post-graduate level. Using the SDGs as a means of gauging a university’s performance, THE developed a methodology involving 105 metrics and 220 measurements, carefully calibrated to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons between institutions across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching.

“The Impact Rankings are unlike any other ranking. They offer a global platform to acknowledge and celebrate the partnerships integral to advancing international initiatives, developing the leaders of tomorrow, and working towards an inclusive, diverse, and sustainable future,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations) and co-chair of the Queen’s Impact Rankings Steering Committee. “On behalf of the Steering Committee, thank you to the community for your support and collaboration in advancing this initiative.”

In their submissions, universities must demonstrate progress toward meeting at least three SDGs, as well as toward SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. THE evaluates each institution’s submission, drawing on the quantitative and qualitative data provided, as well as bibliometric research datasets provided by Elsevier, a data and analytics company.

The Queen’s Submission – A Community Effort

“Participating in the Impact Rankings requires self-reflection. We are asked to contemplate our current impact and think about what we want to achieve for the future,” says Sandra den Otter, Vice-Provost (International) and co-chair of the Queen's Impact Rankings Steering Committee. “These results testify to the work we have done together. I hope this is a moment for recognizing the progress we have made, and to furthering our aspirations as a university and as members of a global community committed to change.”

To lead its submission process, Queen’s established a Steering Committee, Project Team, and Working Group, comprised of leadership, staff, and faculty from across the university. This team set about gathering over 600 unique pieces of evidence, representing the efforts of over 70 departments and portfolios. Queen’s chose to submit evidence in support of all 17 SDGs – a decision that led to top-100 rankings in 14 of 17 SDGs, including top-10 in three categories (Zero Hunger, Sustainable Cities, and Life on Land) and being ranked first – globally – for SDG 1: No Poverty and SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. 

Metrics and measurements were unique for each SDG, with each goal requiring a specific combination of quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative evidence integrated research bibliometric data and key words that measured number of publications, co-authors, and field-weighted citations. Other quantitative measurements looked at water consumption per capita, energy and food waste measurements, university expenditure on arts and culture, the number of first-generation university students, and number of employees from equity-seeking groups.

Qualitative evidence spanned institutional policies and individual courses, to the missions of research centres and institutes, community volunteer initiatives, and strategic plans, all demonstrating how we are advancing the SDGs. Metrics often required evidence of local, national, and global-reaching initiatives to illustrate full impact.

More than 400 internal links pointing to Queen’s websites were supplied as publicly accessible evidence of Queen’s research, outreach, teaching, and stewardship efforts. Additionally, nearly 100 external links were included in the submission, each reflecting the university’s extensive partnerships: internally with student-led clubs, locally with Sustainable Kingston and United Way KFL&A, nationally with the Government of Canada, and globally with the Matariki Network of Universities.

Learn more about Queen’s performance in the Times Higher Education 2021 Impact Rankings.

Science Rendezvous Kingston – At home

Science Rendezvous Kingston has gone virtual this year, inspiring STEM curiosity and discovery from the nature around us to the far-reaches of outer space.

[Promotion graphic - Science Rendezvous Kingston May 1 - 16, 2021 - Virtual Expo @STEMYGK]

Science Rendezvous Kingston is celebrating a milestone anniversary this year and marking it with the largest event to date.

For nine years, Science Rendezvous Kingston has been an exceedingly popular community event, drawing about 17,000 people from across the region to engage with local STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) experts and Queen’s researchers. While the 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19, organizers set their sights on developing the first virtual Science Rendezvous Kingston to mark its return. The enthusiastic response from the STEM community and Queen’s researchers has turned the 10th anniversary event into the largest program offering yet, with live virtual activities from May 1-16, 2021.

“We are very proud of the Science Rendezvous Kingston virtual venue and are excited to know that our activities will have a wider reach than ever because there are no geographical limitations to participation,” says co-coordinator Lynda Colgan (Education). “We expect to have visitors from around the city, province, country, and world joining us — learning and loving it!”

Inspired by the theme of “STEAM Green,” integrating science, technology, engineering, arts, and math with stewardship for the flora, fauna and water systems of our planet, this family-friendly event will combine online experiences with outdoor and “kitchen-table” activities for at-home learning. All programs will be housed on the Science Rendezvous Kingston website where visitors will find both a huge selection of content and special events rolled out during the two-week period. Some of the programs available will be a virtual tour through the Museum of Nature’s Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year exhibit, demonstrations from Queen’s researchers, STEM@Home learning activities, and the Exploratorium, an online STEM gaming environment designed to take users out of this world. Some additional activities added throughout the event will be videos featuring women STEM innovators and influencers, and STEM challenges, such as the Canada-wide Science Chase scavenger hunt and the Million Tree Project.

Organizers have also planned virtual live Q&A sessions meant to further Science Rendezvous Kingston’s mission to inspire curiosity in STEM among students and provide opportunities for them to engage with researchers as role models. Queen’s researchers participating in the live sessions include John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, and Connor Stone, PhD candidate in astrophysics and co-coordinator of the Queen’s Observatory. Keynotes will also be delivered by James Raffan, famous Canadian explorer, Jasveen Brar, conservationist and STEM literacy advocate, and Lindsey Carmichael, award-winning author and Faculty of Education’s Science Literacy Week Author-in-Residence.

Science Rendezvous Kingston is part of NSERC’s Science Odyssey’s national program, supporting free science outreach events across the country. Kingston’s last event in 2019 was honoured with the national STEAM Big! Award and co-coordinator Dr. Colgan was awarded the 2020 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Science Promotion Award, in part, for Science Rendezvous Kingston’s success in promoting STEM among the community.

To learn more about the schedule of events and how to participate, visit the Science Rendezvous Kingston website.

Feedback sought on draft Graduate Supervision Policy

The School of Graduate Studies is seeking feedback on the draft Graduate Supervision Policy

The purpose of the policy is to outline the roles and responsibilities of graduate students and faculty members, leave procedures, and conflict resolution process related to academic supervision. It pertains to all members of the Queen’s graduate community who are stakeholders in graduate supervision including: graduate students registered in research-based graduate programs, graduate academic supervisors, members of supervisory committees, graduate programs, and the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). Note, the policy focuses exclusively on supervision of graduate students’ academic activities (e.g., thesis/dissertation research) in relation to program degree completion and not employment related supervision.

Rationale

In response to a joint board and senate retreat in March 2018, the Working Group on Graduate Student Success was established to investigate the state of graduate training and current graduate student environment across the university. The working group released a final report in 2019, which provided a number of recommendations, one of which included the development of “a graduate supervisory policy based on current School of Graduate Studies (SGS) guidelines, keeping in-line with U15 policies on supervision.” The report found that while the majority of graduate students are satisfied with their supervision, there are also areas of inconsistency and challenge. Both graduate students and supervisors have advocated for the creation of a formal policy given the central role supervision plays in graduate student learning. It is vital that both students and faculty members are well supported in this key area of graduate education.

In Fall 2020, the SGS constructed the draft Graduate Supervision Policy after broad consultation with university partners. This policy is intended to set university-wide expectations for supervision in order to facilitate supervisory success. The SGS now seeks feedback on the draft policy from the Queen’s graduate community: students, faculty, and staff.

Feedback on the draft Graduate Supervision Policy can be provided through this anonymous survey.

Feedback will be accepted during the open consultation period from April 5, 2021 to April 30, 2021 at 4 p.m.

 

Celebrating teaching awards together

For the first time, the Teaching Awards Celebration will bring together award recipients from across the university.

Principal Patrick Deane and Vice-Principal (Teaching and Learning) John Pierce host the 2019 Principal's Teaching and Learning Awards at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre .
In 2019, Principal Patrick Deane and Vice-Principal (Teaching and Learning) John Pierce hosted the 2019 Principal's Teaching and Learning Awards at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Queen's University / Bernard Clark)

Each year, teaching awards at Queen’s University are conferred to educators and staff who have excelled in fostering innovative, interesting, and inclusive learning environments.

In particular, the past year has been particularly challenging for the university’s instructors as the majority of programs and courses had to be switched to remote formats in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a time when collaboration is more important than ever, this year’s Teaching Awards Celebration will bring together recipients from the various teaching awards that are given out by sponsors including the Principal, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), School of Graduate Studies, Queen’s University Alumni Association, as well as the Alma Mater Society (AMS) and the Society for Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS).

It marks the first time in Queen’s 23-year history of the teaching awards that the event will be a truly university-wide sponsored celebration. The event will be hosted online due to COVID-19 restrictions, on Wednesday, March 24, starting at 4:30 pm.

“This year, we combine our efforts as staff, administrators, undergraduate students, graduate students/teaching fellows, and alumni to confer all the university-wide teaching awards together and to celebrate the remarkable efforts and achievements in a teaching and learning environment like no other,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “While this will be a virtual celebration, we all look forward to the day when we can celebrate together in person.”

Celebrate together

The celebration will stream via "Live Premiere" on the Office of the Principal’s YouTube channel at 4:30 pm on March 24, and will remain available afterwards for those unable to attend.

Members of the Queen’s community are encouraged to join the YouTube broadcast while it is streaming, and share the link with any colleagues, family, or friends who might be interested. No registration is required.

The Live Chat function will be enabled to allow attendees to join the celebration of teaching conversation, and to congratulate the award recipients. These congratulations will remain in the comments on the video, after the broadcast.

During the celebration of the university-wide awards, faculty and departmental teaching award recipients will also be honoured and will be listed in the program and at the end of the ceremony.  A teaching awards directory is available on the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.

AWARD WINNERS

AMS Awards

Christopher Knapper Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance
• 2019-20 Richard Patenaude, Department of Political Studies
• Fall 2020 Josh Zacks, Department of Chemical Engineering

Undergraduate Research Mentorship Award
• 2019-20 Bhavin Shastri, Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy
• 2019-20 Carolyn Smart, Department of English Language and Literature
• Fall 2020  Matthias Spitzmuller, Smith School of Business

Frank Knox Award
• 2019-20 Stéphanie Martel, Department of Political Studies
• Fall 2020 Stephanie Lind, Dan School of Drama and Music

Society of Graduate and Professional Students Awards

SGPS Teaching Assistant/Teaching Fellow Award
• 2019-20 Taylor J. Smith, School of Computing

SGPS John G. Freeman Faculty Excellence Award
• 2019-20 Shobhana Xavier, School of Religion

Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards

Indigenous Education Award (sponsored by the Centre for Teaching and Learning)
• 2020 Lindsay Morcom, Faculty of Education
• 2020 Melanie Howard, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
• 2021 Armand Ruffo, Department of English Language and Literature

Michael Condra Outstanding Student Service Award (sponsored by the Office of Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs)
• 2020 Joan Jones, Housing and Ancillary Services
• 2021 Lisa Webb, Student Affairs, Ban Righ Centre

Promoting Student Inquiry Award (sponsored by the Queen’s Library)
• 2020 Una D’Elia, Art History and Art Conservation
• 2021 Asha Varadharajan, Department of English Language and Literature

Educational Technology Award (sponsored by Information Technology Services)
• 2020 Ryan Martin, Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy
• 2021 Christian Muise, School of Computing
• 2021 Mohammad Auais, School of Rehabilitation Therapy (Team)
• 2021 Nancy Dalgarno, Office of Professional Development & Educational Scholarship (Team)
• 2021 Julie Cameron, School of Rehabilitation Therapy (Team)
• 2021 Jennifer Turnnidge, Office of Professional Development & Educational Scholarship (Team)
• 2021 Lucie Pelland, School of Rehabilitation Therapy (Team)
• 2021 Klodiana Kolomitro, Office of Professional Development & Educational Scholarship (Team)

International Education Innovation Award (sponsored by Office of the Vice-Provost (International))
• 2021 Isabelle Brent, Bader International Study Centre
• 2020 Jennifer Hosek, Languages, Literatures and Cultures

School of Graduate Studies

Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision
• 2020 Liying Cheng, Faculty of Education
• 2020 Mark Stephen Diederichs, Department of Geological Sciences & Geological Engineering

Queen’s University Alumni Association

Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance
• 2019 Holly Ogden, Faculty of Education
• 2020 Anne Petitjean, Department of Chemistry

Office of the Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning)

Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award
• 2020 Wendy Powley, School of Computing
Wendy Powley is an associate professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science’s School of Computing, where she has taught for more than years. In her work at Queen’s (which has also included teaching with the Faculty of Education and Arts and Science Online), she has consistently demonstrated excellence in instruction and innovation, leadership, collaboration, and the linking of research with teaching. In courses spanning the undergraduate experience, Powley has deeply impacted student learning with thoughtful course designs, substantial curricular development, and important program coordination. She serves as a department leader in teaching with numerous service roles and mentorship of colleagues, both before and during the shift to remote teaching prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also demonstrated a commitment to equity through her work encouraging women in computing in professional and community organizations alike. Powley’s commitment to teaching and learning is an inspiration to students, faculty, and staff at Queen’s and beyond

• 2021 Claire Davies, Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Claire Davies is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. Since coming to Queen’s in 2015, she has consistently fostered a supportive environment for undergraduate and graduate teaching and learning, emphasizing interdisciplinary, experiential, and project-based learning. Dr. Davies has demonstrated a commitment to accessibility, inclusion, and connecting research and teaching through courses that leverage academic resources and her own Building and Designing Assistive Technology Lab to meet assistive technology needs in the community. Through numerous research studies on her blended and active learning teaching strategies, Dr. Davies has deeply impacted student learning at Queen’s and beyond. It is clear that in teaching, research, and service at Queen’s and in her professional discipline, Dr. Davies achieves her own goal of leading by example.

(Note: Any 2020-21 award recipients who were not chosen in time to be part of this ceremony, will be invited to next year’s event.)

Other celebration contributors:
In addition to the conferring of the above awards, there will be special contributions to the 2021 Teaching Awards Celebration by:
• Kanonhsyonne Jan Hill, Director, Office of Indigenous Issues
• Wendy Powley, 2020 Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award Recipient
• Claire Davies, 2021 Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award Recipient
• Mark Green, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)

Share your passion for International Day of Women and Girls in Science

On Feb. 11, Queen’s will recognize the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science by encouraging the campus community to share their passion for STEM by sharing their research contributions on Twitter and tagging @queensuResearch.

This year marks the sixth anniversary of the international recognition day, which promotes full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. According to UNESCO’s Science Report, only 33 per cent of researchers globally are women. International Day of Women and Girls in Science is meant to celebrate and inspire present and future women in STEM disciplines.

Share your content and follow @queensuResearch as we retweet and highlight some of our Queen’s researchers and their contributions to groundbreaking STEM research.

[International Day of Women and Girls in Science]

Recruiting the top international scholars of tomorrow

Queen’s unveils improved financial support for international PhD students.

Photograph of PhD convocation robes
This new policy is one of the first outcomes of the report released by the Working Group on Graduate Student Success in fall 2019. (University Communications.)

International PhD students are an integral part of the life of Queen’s, bringing diverse perspectives to campus and contributing to the university’s research mission. Soon these students will have improved financial support from the university. Starting September 2021, tuition fees for international PhD students will be assessed at the same rate as those of domestic students, which will result in a substantially lower cost to pursue their education.

“With this new tuition policy, we are setting up international PhD students for success and making Queen’s a more attractive choice for graduate education for the most promising emerging scholars from around the world,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). “This decision is a part of a broader set of efforts underway to enhance the overall graduate student experience at Queen’s.”

This new policy is one of the first outcomes of the report released by the Working Group on Graduate Student Success in fall 2019.

“The report on graduate student success has provided us with excellent guidance on how we can strengthen graduate education at Queen’s. This decision on tuition exemplifies our commitment to enhancing our programs by supporting the many contributions international PhD students make to our research,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane.

The Working Group on Graduate Student Success, chaired by Dean Quadir, was established in 2018 after a Board-Senate retreat in March of that year. The Working Group was tasked with assessing the state of graduate education at Queen’s and making recommendations for ways to promote excellence in graduate education and experience. Throughout the process, the Working Group consulted extensively with current graduate students, faculty, and staff, and it examined the policies of other Canadian universities to learn best practices.

In its final report, the Working Group made 35 recommendations focused on six areas of strategic importance: student-supervisor relationships, professional and academic development, wellness and community, research excellence, communication, and financial support.

Following the release of the report, SGS established another working group to focus on graduate student funding. This working group developed the proposal for assessing domestic and international PhD student tuition fees at the same rate, which was then approved by the senior leadership of the university and the Board of Trustees.

“After reviewing the state of funding for international PhD students at Queen’s, we concluded that it needed to be revitalized if we want to remain competitive in recruiting high quality students. This new policy brings Queen’s in line with many of our peer institutions across Canada, including other research-intensive universities in Ontario,” says James Reynolds, Chair of the Working Group on Graduate Student Funding and Associate Dean of SGS.

Along with this tuition change, SGS is working to implement other recommendations from the 2019 report, including a new policy on graduate supervision for which feedback from graduate students, faculty, and other stakeholders will be sought in the coming weeks.

 “We’ve been listening closely to the concerns and ideas of our students to find out what they need to be successful at Queen’s. The recommendations and changes we are making are coming out of these consultations, and we thank our students for the insights they have been providing us,” says Reynolds.

SGS will be holding a town hall for current international PhD students to discuss the new tuition policy. The town hall will be held Wednesday Feb. 3 at 10:00 am EST. Students should email sgscomms@queensu.ca if they have questions about the event.

Learn more about graduate studies at Queen’s on the SGS website, where you can also read the 2019 report from the Working Group on Graduate Student Success.

2020: The Year in Research

A look back at the major initiatives, the funding and awards garnered, and how a community mobilized to respond to and combat COVID-19.

In recent years, we have taken a moment each December to highlight some of the research that has captured our attention over the previous 12 months.

2020 was not a normal year. It challenged us, tested us, and saw our research community pivot in creative and unexpected ways to respond to the global crisis. Through all of this, research prominence remained a key driver for Queen’s and our researchers continued to make national and international headlines for their discoveries and award-winning scholarship.

Join us as we review some of the highlights of 2020.

[Photo of Hailey Poole dispensing hand sanitizer]
A team of Queen’s researchers from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering along with GreenCentre Canada partnered with Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Tri-Art Manufacturing (Kingston) to develop hand sanitizer, producing up to 300 litres of product per week to help meet the needs of Kingston hospitals.

COVID-19 Response: Mobilizing as a Community to Confront COVID-19

In the early days of the pandemic, Queen’s researchers across disciplines were active in offering commentary and fact-based analysis on COVID-19-related issues – from understanding if DNA is key to whether you get COVID and helping to diagnose unusual symptoms related to COVID stress to suggesting 5-min workouts you can do at home. Many of these analyses were carried on national and international news platforms, demonstrating the critical contribution that researchers and academics can make to informing the conversation.

When news of PPE and ventilator shortages and test wait times hit international media, research and student groups across campus leveraged their skills to come up with innovative solutions. Here are a few examples:

  • A team of researchers from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, along with GreenCentre Canada, partnered with Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and Tri-Art Manufacturing (Kingston) to make 300 litres of hand sanitizer per week to help meet the needs of Kingston hospitals
  • Researchers from Queen’s University and KHSC partnered with Public Health Ontario Laboratories and Hamilton Health Sciences Center to develop an in-house COVID test that can provide results in 24 hours
  • Faculty and students at the Human Mobility Research Centre and Ingenuity Labs joined forces with KHSC health professionals to take on the Code Life Ventilator Challenge, a global call to design a low-cost and easy-to-manufacture ventilator that can be created and deployed anywhere around the world
  • Queen’s Noble Laureate, Dr. Arthur B. McDonald, led the Canadian arm of the Mechanical Ventilator Milano project, which aimed to create an easy-to-build ventilator that can help treat COVID-19 patients. In May, the Government of Canada announced an agreement with Vexos to produce 10,000 Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) units and in September the ventilators received Health Canada approval
(Photo by Matthew Manor / Kingston Health Sciences Centre)
Queen’s University and Kingston Health Sciences Centres (KHSC) partnered with Public Health Ontario Laboratories and Hamilton Health Sciences Center to develop an in-house test for COVID-19 that can be completed in large volumes and provide results in 24 hours. (Photo by Matthew Manor / Kingston Health Sciences Centre)

The Vice-Principal (Research) Portfolio also quickly mobilized to offer Rapid Response funding, which was awarded to advance 20 research projects supporting medical and social coronavirus-related solutions. Queen’s researchers also partnered with industry to transform pandemic decision-making and healthcare through two Digital Technology Supercluster projects, Looking Glass and Project ACTT, focused on predictive modelling and cancer testing and treatment. The projects received over $4 million in funding from the Government of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster’s COVID-19 program.

Funding Future Research

Queen’s continued to attract leading researchers and competitive funding and awards through a number of national and international programs.

[Rendering of the MVM Ventilator]
A team of Canadian physicists, led by Queen’s Nobel Laureate Art McDonald, is part of an international effort to design the MVM Ventilator. With support from Canadian philanthropists and Queen's alumni the project was able to progress, leading to an order of 10,000 units from the Government of Canada.

Hundreds of grants for new projects and research infrastructure were secured through CHIR, SSHRC, NSERC and CFI, Canada’s national funding agencies. Seven multidisciplinary Queen’s research projects received $1.7 million in support from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) 2019 Exploration competition, a program that fosters discovery and innovation by encouraging Canadian researchers to explore, take risks, and work with partners across disciplines and borders. Additionally, The Canadian Cancer Trials Group, SNOLAB, and Canada’s National Design Network, all of which are Queen’s-affiliated research facilities, saw a funding increase of over $60 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Major Sciences Initiatives fund. The Institute for Sustainable Finance received a boost of $5 million from Canada’s big banks to support ISF’s mission of aligning mainstream financial markets with Canada’s transition to a lower carbon economy.

The university welcomed and appointed seven new and two renewed Canada Research Chairs (CRC) in two rounds (September and December 2020) of CRC competition announced this year. One of the country’s highest research honours, Queen’s is now home to over 50 Canada Research Chairs. Queen’s also welcomed seven promising new researchers through the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholars and Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship programs.

Recognizing Research Leadership

2020 saw Queen’s researchers win some of Canada’s top awards and honours for research excellence and the university continues to rank second in Canada for awards per faculty member (2021 Maclean’s University Rankings).

[Photo of Leach’s storm petrel chick by Sabina Wilhelm]
Queen's researchers, from graduate students to Canada Research Chairs, continue to make an impact on our understanding of the world. (Photo by Sabina Wilhelm

Queen’s had a successful year earning fellowships within Canada’s national academies. Nancy van Deusen and Cathleen Crudden were elected to the Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, while Amy Latimer-Cheung and Awet Weldemichael were named members of the organization’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Health research leaders Janet Dancey, Marcia Finlayson, and Graeme Smith were inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and Michael Cunningham and Jean Hutchinson were elected to the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

While our researchers were recognized with dozens of honours throughout the year, below are a few highlights: David Lyon secured Canada’s Molson Prize for pioneering the field of surveillance studies. Education researcher Lynda Colgan received the NSERC Science Promo Prize for her efforts in promoting science to the general public. Heather Castleden was awarded a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa to engage with Native Hawaiians about their leadership in renewable energy projects. A lauded steward of the environment, John Smol received Canada’s Massey Medal for his lifetime of work in studying environmental stressors. The first Indigenous midwife in Canada to earn a doctoral degree, health researcher Karen Lawford was named one of this year’s 12 outstanding Indigenous leaders and received the Indspire Award for Health.

Internally, researchers were honoured with the university’s Prizes for Excellence in Research (Yan-Fei-Liu, Michael Cunningham, and Gabor Fichtinger) and the Distinguished University Professor (Audrey Kobayashi, David Bakhurst, Julian Barling, Glenville Jones, John Smol, Kathleen Lahey) title.

Major Initiatives

The Discover Research@Queen’s campaign was launched to build engagement with the Research@Queen’s website and encouraged 1000s of key external stakeholders to learn more about the research happening at the University. Our community continued to mobilize their research through fact-based analysis on The Conversation Canada’s news platform. In 2020, 79 Queen’s researchers published 85 articles that garnered over 1.9 million views.

[Illustration of the scales of justice by Gary Neill]
Queen's University researchers Samuel Dahan and Xiaodan Zhu are using AI to level the legal playing field for Canadians, including those affected by COVID-19 unemployment.

This year marked the fifth anniversary of the Art of Research photo contest with over 100 faculty, staff, students, and alumni submitting engaging and thought-provoking research images. Ten category and special prizes were awarded.

The WE-Can (Women Entrepreneurs Canada) program through Queen’s Partnership and Innovation (QPI) celebrated one year of supporting women entrepreneurs in Kingston and the surrounding area, through programs such as Compass North and LEAD.  The QPI team also marked one year at its new downtown Kingston location, the Seaway Coworking building, which allows easy access for the community and partners.

To support researchers thinking outside of the box to solve some of humanity’s most complex problems, the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio launched the Wicked Ideas competition to fund high risk, high reward projects with interdisciplinary teams that are not easily supported through traditional funding opportunities. Twelve projects received funding in round one and researchers can now apply for round two.


Congratulations to the Queen’s research community for their resilience and successes this year. We look forward to seeing what new research and opportunities 2021 will bring. To learn more about research at the university, visit the Research@Queen’s website, and for information about research promotion, contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives.

[Art of Photo by Hayden Wainwright]
2020 Art of Research Photo Contest Winner: Hayden Wainwright (MSc Biology), Nature's van Gogh (Category: Out in the Field)

Internal funding for global impact

The Wicked Ideas research competition is now open for applications with notice of intent due Jan. 6.

The Vice-Principal (Research) is offering close to $2 million in funding for Queen’s researchers who are thinking outside of the box to solve some of humanity’s most complex problems.

[Wicked Ideas Graphic]

The Wicked Ideas Competition is open for its second year as an initiative to fund high risk, high reward projects with interdisciplinary teams that are not easily supported through traditional funding opportunities. The goal is to provide Queen’s researchers with the initial support to collaborate and apply their expertise towards wicked problems, issues so complex and dependent on so many factors that it is hard to grasp what exactly the problem is or how to tackle it. This year the initiative supported innovative approaches to cleantech, Lyme disease, and microplastics.

The Competition

This year’s competition will have two application streams. A minimum of 10 teams will be funded through the Interdisciplinary Stream where team members will be from multiple disciplines. The Discipline Specific Stream will fund a maximum of five teams where members can be from within a given discipline. The competition is open to all Queen’s faculty members, and teams can also leverage the expertise of students, post-doctoral fellows, and community members, to name a few, as members. Up to 15 teams successful in the first phase of the competition will be awarded $75,000.

To compete for the second phase of funding, teams will be invited to pitch their projects to an adjudication panel made up of researchers, community members, industry, and other partners. Up to five successful teams from this round will receive an additional $150,000. Projects can concentrate on local, national, or global challenges and should focus on novel approaches (high risk) and disruptive or transformative thinking (high reward). Participating teams will also be asked about their potential knowledge mobilization outcomes and how this research could impact the community or lead to further partnerships for implementation and collaboration.

"The first Wicked Ideas competition supported exciting projects that are addressing complex issues in creative and innovative ways with the potential to lead to additional funding through the government’s New Frontiers in Research program," says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research). "I very much look forward to the response of the research community to this year’s opportunity."

Notice of Intent

Notice of Intent applications are due Jan. 6, 2021. For more information on the initiative and how to submit your project, see the Vice-Principal (Research) Office.

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