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Science exposed

Four Queen’s graduate students are finalists in NSERC’s national research photo competition.

How does science look like? Researchers across Canada are showcasing their work in compelling images that provide the public with a new perspective on what goes on inside labs or in field research.

Featuring science across all fields, the Science Exposed contest is organized annually by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). In 2022, four Queen’s students are among the finalists, with their images selected for public voting.

“Researchers are being more frequently asked to share their work with the public, and images are an effective, relatable way to share scientific knowledge; they can convey emotion, beauty, and even surprise, while also fostering curiosity,” says the contest webpage.

Public voting is open until September 18 and the image voted as people’s choice will receive a $2,000 award. A jury will also select three winners for prizes of $2,000 each.

Learn more about the images shortlisted from Queen’s:

Blue-green algal blooms

Malignant brushstrokes (Haolun Tian, PhD student, Biology)

Human activity drives the intensity and frequency of blue-green algal blooms, which threaten aquatic biodiversity and the drinking water supply of millions. The transient and rapid emergence of these blooms into our lakes in late summer makes them difficult to monitor on short notice, particularly in smaller waterbodies. This drone image, taken from 100 m above the ground, shows my collaborators collecting water samples from an algal bloom in Dog Lake, a waterbody on the historic Rideau Canal system. The beautiful paint-like whorls seen from above hide a fetid and noxious “pea soup” that will eventually suffocate fish and other aquatic life when it decomposes in the fall. Using a combination of drone and environmental DNA monitoring, we are able to quickly assess the scale, movement and composition of a small bloom at the fraction of the price of satellite imaging or toxin assessment.

Metalens, an array of nanostructure optical elements

Fabricated nanostructures of a metalens (Masoud Pahlevaninezhad, PhD student, Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Metalens, an array of nanostructure optical elements, is a promising technology that could revolutionize optics by replacing conventional bulky lenses. By adjusting the shape, size and position of nanostructures, metalens can be used for complex imaging settings where conventional lenses fail to provide high-quality focusing. Our group, in collaboration with Harvard University, designed a metalens to incorporate into an endoscopic setting for live tissue imaging of internal organs. One-to-one comparisons of tissue images from both metalens and conventional lenses show metalens’ ability to capture images with noticeably higher resolution and more issue details. This research will ultimately enable a more sophisticated assessment of pathological changes, which could otherwise be easily overlooked by conventional lenses, at early stages of diseases like cancer.

Magnesium sulfate salt crystals

Microfluidically generated salt crystal (Phillip Hillen, MSc student, Chemistry)

Microfluidics is the study and manipulation of fluids at a microliter scale. Droplets can be manipulated using a surface with different wetting characteristics. We generated magnesium sulfate salt crystals by evaporating a droplet of salt water on a microfluidically modified surface, and this image shows a perfectly circular salt crystal, five hundred microns in diameter. While the image is coloured as a result of quality enhancements, salt crystals aren’t colourful.

Aletsch Glacier

Deep blue ICE (Wai Yin Cheung, PhD student, Geography)

Since 2016, Queen’s annually organizes The Art of Research, a photo contest to showcase the work done by faculty, students, staff, and alumni. The competition is aimed at providing a creative and accessible method of sharing the ground-breaking research being done by current and past Queen’s community members and celebrating the global and social impact of this work. Click to learn more.

While working as a glaciological student on Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in Europe, I simply enjoyed the freedom of being by myself without the limitations of physical time. I’m amazed by the power of the vast ice field, as it grinds rock off of mountains, erasing the surface of the earth. This experience has taught me to be as firm and as brave as crystal blue ice for any future challenges I may face.

To see other finalist images and cast your vote, visit the Science Exposed webpage.

Pitch competition celebrates a decade of innovation and entrepreneurship

The Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre invites startups to join the competition with up to $100,000 prize pool. 

DDQIC participant makes a presentation on stage in Mitchell Hall
This year's Summer Pitch Competition, hosted by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC), will be held Thursday, Aug. 18 at Mitchell Hall. (Queen's University)

For the past decade, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) has been bringing together emerging entrepreneurs to develop their skills, innovate, and share solutions to modern-day challenges.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the QICSI, this year’s Summer Pitch Competition will be returning to a hybrid format after two years of virtual pitching. With 15 for-profit teams from Kingston, the Queen’s community, and Africa participating, the event will feature the largest slate of competitors to date.

Entrepreneurial teams spent the summer tackling a problem, creating and validating solutions, and building a business venture. Participants will have seven minutes to pitch their business to judges, followed by a six-minute question-and-answer session.

Judges with entrepreneurship experience will assess presentations and business ideas to determine which teams will earn a share of the seed funding and prizes. In addition to the judges’ evaluation, participants will also be partaking in the Wisdom of the Market Award poll, which awards extra seed funding to the team with the most votes.

“I want to congratulate this year’s entrepreneurs for their hard work throughout the summer, regardless of the outcome of the pitch competition,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. “We’re thrilled to be returning to an in-person competition, re-establishing the program’s embeddedness in the Kingston community. Watching the ventures’ performance this summer reminds us of the impact of collaboration and what it truly means to be part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

This year’s teams include startups participating in the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI), Build2Scale Health (B2S), Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellows, and regional ventures. The event will wrap up with an awards announcement where the top ventures will find out who will be awarded prizes from a pool of up to $100,000, including a grand prize of around $30,000 in seed funding.

Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship

Among the participants for the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship are eight finalists who will be pitching virtually from across Africa. The nine-month program helps fellows develop entrepreneurial skills and encourages them to develop the drive to make a social or financial impact.

Build2Scale Health

Build2Scale Health is an accelerator program for entrepreneurs who are responding to unmet needs by developing and delivering new health policies, systems, products and technologies, and services in the health sector. In previous years, the program has led to creative solutions that improve accessibility and quality of care.

Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative

Each year, the Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative selects ambitious individuals with a demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship, innovation, or social impact. Participants gain access to resources and mentorship which provide an environment where ideas can grow into successful startups.

List of Finalists

Pocket Clinic
Founders: Amir Hossein Omidvar, Atena Amanati, and Golnaz Morovati
Pocket Clinic is a smart injection system for insulin-dependent diabetics that is controlled with a smartphone to solve under- and overdosing. The smart injection system adheres to the skin and provides automatic microinjections of insulin as needed by the user.

Foot Truck
Founders: Maria Pieroni and Amanda Pieroni
Foot Truck is a mobile clinic for people who lack transportation and/or have some kind of mobility impairment, allowing them to receive foot care assistance at home.

Arke News
Founders: Abigail Kingswood (Comm‘19), Divya Makkar (MSC‘19)
Arke News is a news aggregator that measures the holistic bias present in the news that users read through their platform, having access to a real-time bias profile personalized to each user's news consumption.

Founders: Alieu Jallow (MMIE’22), Matthew Sordo (MMIE’22), Alex Crawford (ArtSci’22)
InvestA offers an investment portfolio management dashboard tool for Venture Capitalists and Angels. The dashboard allows investors to easily track key metrics of startups.

CO2L Tech
Founders: Tu Nguyen Anh Tran-Ly, and Cao-Thang Dinh
CO2L Tech offers a direct solution for carbon dioxide elimination by making devices to convert carbon dioxide into formic acid and derivatives, which are widely used in feedstock antimicrobials and other industries, using readily abundant solar energy and seawater.

Founders: Adam Steven Clark, Vinicius Porfirio Purgato Robinson Grant (BSC’25), Fabio Ynoe de Moraes
Verus is an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software where hospitals (and potentially other businesses) can automate their processes of billing and registering patients, minimizing the number of human errors, and increasing the overall productivity of doctors and staff.

Armistice Biotherapeutics
Founders: Andrew Lingard (MD ‘19)
Armistice is developing DIPLOMAT, a cell therapy which has been designed to drive tolerance to transplanted tissues. DIPLOMAT cells are modified to appear as if they are undergoing “programmed cell death” or apoptosis, a strongly immunosuppressive state.

Strictly Diabetic
Founders: Fadzai Muramba, Dr. Life Zambezi, and Wadzanai Muramba
Strictly Diabetic helps type 2 diabetics manage their blood sugar levels at a minimal cost to prevent diabetic-related complications in the future. Their services include an online community platform and a 28-day program.

DMB Translation Services Ltd
Founders: Joan Bayega, Namaganda Maggie, Murindanyi Sudi, Mugarura Allan
DMB Translation Services Ltd is a social enterprise working to inspire inclusive societies by creating affordable and modern assistive technologies for persons with disabilities. A sign language translation mobile and web application that translates sign language to speech and text — and vice versa.

Founders: Precious Isola, Isola Tolu, and Sonibare Kayode
The platform enables students to take tests on certificate examinations past questions and get well-detailed answers. We present the solutions in an understandable, conversational, and interactive way with the aid of diagrams and animations to drive home the point. 

Founders: Emmanuel Williams, Naomi Etoni Dango, and Samuel Chinonso Archibong
CampusBuy is an e-commerce venture focused on offering the broadest range of general students’ goods and services on a single platform at the best rates in Nigeria. Students earn, invest, learn, and work while they shop on their platform.

Canva Soap
Founders: Prince Archimedes and Muhoozi Gift
Canva Soap makes both liquid and bar soap for people who have difficulty accessing health products and are victims of the negative impacts of poor health. 

Kwela Brews
Founders: Reitumetse Kholumo, and Qhama Ndaleni
Kwela Brews helps homebrewers of traditional African beer produce their product efficiently and safely by providing a low-cost brewing machine and safe and affordable brewing ingredients for their brewing needs. 

Tawi Health
Founders: Victor Kenneth, Arthur Kennedy, Brenda Nyaringiita, and Dr. Andronick Chebsy
Taxi Health aims to increase equitable and inclusive access to healthcare services in Africa. They provide a software tool to people living with non-communicable diseases to allow them to connect with doctors remotely.

Founders: Ewaoluwa Olasoji, Catherine Olasoji, Seun Denagan, and Amara Udeorji
Lotanna is an Afrocentric fashion company that aims to provide timely solutions to the clothing style needs of professional working women and female business executives. Their clothing is made solely from the diversity of handmade African prints produced across Africa.

The DDQIC originally began as a pilot program launched by the Smith School of Business and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science under the name Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) in 2012. After a successful inaugural running of the initiative, the Queen’s Innovation Connector  (QIC) was created as a new unit at the university to advance entrepreneurship. In 2016 QIC was renamed the DDQIC following a significant gift from the Dunin Foundation and the Deshpande Foundation.

The event will be held in the Mitchell Hall Atrium at Queen’s University beginning at 2 pm on Thursday, Aug. 18 and will also be live streamed through Zoom.

Faculty members honoured for excellence in graduate student supervision

Samantha King and Stéphane Courteau are being recognized for their mentorship by the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Excellence in academic supervision is a hallmark of the Queen’s graduate student experience. Productive supervisory relationships promote a thriving university research culture where students are supported to make meaningful contributions to their field of specialization and address pressing challenges facing our communities and society.

The School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs annually recognizes two leading graduate supervisors with the Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision. The 2021 recipients are Samantha King (Kinesiology and Health Studies) and Stéphane Courteau (Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy).

“We are humbled by the caliber of nominations we receive each year recognizing faculty members who exemplify the highest standards of graduate supervision at Queen’s,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. “The School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs congratulates all nominees for their exceptional commitment to leadership and mentorship, and for their continued contributions to enriching the academic experience of our graduate student community”

Learn more about this year’s recipients:

Samantha King

Samantha KingA professor of Kinesiology and Health Studies where she works on the politics of bodies, health, and sport, Dr. King has supervised 19 master’s students and 14 PhD students since 2003. The research projects completed by these graduate students traverse a diverse range of topics within the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Gender Studies and Cultural Studies, yet share the pursuit of more equitable, inclusive, and accessible conceptions of health, sport, and the body. In addition to working with her own students, Dr. King has served on the committee of a large number of Master’s and PhD students at Queen’s and other institutions.

Dr. King is deeply committed to helping her students succeed, improve, and thrive as researchers, teachers, and, more importantly, as responsible global citizens. She is highly regarded by her peers as an eminent scholar in sport, health and illness, and social movements. Through her advanced program of research, she creates a thriving environment for graduate learning, where her students are able to work collaboratively on scholarly research with social impact. In addition to consistently providing a supportive context for learning, she ensures each student's needs are met and attends to their personal growth trajectories. Students repeatedly comment on her personalized attention to their professional and personal interests, needs, and aspirations.

Many of her students have praised her ability to remain a compassionate and caring supervisor in addition to challenging them academically, often guiding them through difficult times outside of the academic arena. Dr. King values her students outside of their research and works to ensure her students feel fully supported, believing that this has a fundamental impact on their success. 

Stéphane Courteau

With large numerical simulations and the biggest telescopes in the world, Stéphane Courteau, a professor in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy, and his students study the structure of galaxies, the distribution of visible and dark matter in the universe, and develop original tests to elucidate fundamental theoretical and/or empirical puzzles in extragalactic astronomy. He has supervised nine PhD and 25 Master’s students – many of whom have secured permanent positions at major institutions across North America. His very first PhD student won the Plaskett Medal for the most outstanding doctoral thesis in astronomy or astrophysics in 2005. As the Queen's Observatory director since 2009, Dr. Courteau has also mentored numerous observatory coordinators, many of whom have gone on to rewarding careers in science outreach in Canada.

Dr. Courteau's dedication and care for his students, before and after graduation, are well established. His individual mentorship style, fostering a sense of family with all of his students, and research projects tailored to each student, are key to their success. In addition to sharing his passion for astrophysics, science, and discovery, he insists on comprehensive professional development, exposure to scientists in other research centers and the pursuit of intellectual opportunities around the world, creative thinking, and acquiring a global vision for post-graduation success. Through the Astronomy Seminars and Journals Club series, which he has led since his arrival at Queen's in 2004, he encourages graduate students to think about the “big picture'” and the importance of their research relative to the field. Overall, Dr. Courteau has devoted his career to advancing graduate education, providing unique and exciting opportunities for graduate students at Queen's and those across Canada, and, most importantly, advancing the careers of his students.

Drs. King and Courteau will be recognized and presented their award at the 2022 University-wide Teaching Awards Celebration in the fall.

About The Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision

The Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision recognizes supervisors who demonstrate outstanding excellence in advising, monitoring, and mentoring graduate students. Excellence is judged on the quality of supervision and mentorship in facilitating the acquisition of skills and resources needed for students to succeed as scholars and professionals. The criteria for the award reflect supervisors who inspire students to push scholarly boundaries, pursue their career and academic goals, offer quality feedback and guidance, and support broadly a culture of supervisory excellence within their school/faculty and/or university. Preference is given to faculty members who have displayed sustained mentorship activity over many years.

Nominations sought

The SGSPA is currently accepting nominations for the 2022 Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision, deadline to submit packages is Wednesday, Aug. 31. For more information about eligibility and the application process, visit the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs website. 

Founder of Art Conservation program appointed to Order of Canada

Three members of the Queen’s community, including Professor Emeritus Ian Hodkinson, the founder of the Art Conservation program at Queen’s, have been appointed to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest honours.

Governor General Mary Simon (LLD’94), announced the 85 appointments, including an alumna Moira Hutchinson (Arts’64, MA’68) and supporter R. Jamie Anderson, on Wednesday, June 29.

Professor Hodkinson was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of “his pioneering and extensive contributions to the preservation and conservation of Canada’s cultural heritage.”

Professor Hodkinson arrived at Queen’s in 1969 joining the Fine Arts program. In 1974 he founded the Queen’s University Master of Art Conservation Program, which offered interdisciplinary and research-based conservation training. From 1977 to 1979 he served as the Head of the Restoration and Conservation Laboratory at the National Gallery of Canada before returning to Queen’s as Professor of Fine Art Conservation and Program Director. He officially retired in 1995 but remained active in conservation projects across Canada and internationally.

Hutchinson was praised for her work on socially responsible investing, notably through the Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility. The coalition of religious communities, founded in 1975, was one of Canada’s leading anti-apartheid advocates. Hutchinson lobbied treasury and pension funds to take responsibility for the social impact of the companies in which they invested, which included encouraging corporations to withdraw investments from South Africa.

Anderson, a senior adviser with RBC Capital Markets, was honoured for his leadership in Canada’s investment banking sector, as well as his volunteer service. He has served as chair for both the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation and the Loran Scholars Foundation. Anderson, along with his wife Patsy (Artsci’75), have positively impacted their community and Queen’s through volunteerism, leadership, and philanthropy.

The Order of Canada was established in 1967. Queen’s alumnus and Member of Parliament John Matheson (Arts’40, LLD’80) was a driving force in its development. He said the Tricolour Society at Queen’s served as a model for the Order of Canada. Matheson also was a leading member of the multi-party parliamentary committee mandated to select a new flag design for Canada. He and George Stanley (then Dean of Arts at the Royal Military College) collaborated on the design which was ultimately approved by Parliament and by Royal Proclamation and adopted as the National Flag of Canada as of Feb. 15, 1965.

Queen’s boosts postdoctoral programming to support research and teaching

School of Graduate Studies renames to School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Today, Queen’s School of Graduate Studies is launching its new name: School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (SGSPA). The name change is part of a broader strategy aimed at enhancing the visibility and experiences of postdoctoral fellows, who play vital research and instructional roles at the university. 

“Following extensive consultation with current postdoctoral fellows and campus-wide stakeholders, we are proud to announce a new name that better reflects the breadth and depth of our programming and supports,” says Fahim Quadir, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. “Raising the profile of postdoctoral fellows in this way signals an even stronger Queen’s commitment to working to meet their needs as important contributors to the research and teaching missions of the university.”

In addition to the name change, SGSPA also launched increased support for postdoctoral fellows — individuals conducting research after the completion of their PhD — through the creation of a full-time staff position dedicated to postdoctoral affairs. This role allows for greater focus on the coordination of new and existing resources, serving to welcome fellows, provide orientation, and connect them with the broader Queen’s community. 

“At any point during the year, Queen’s has around 200 postdoctoral fellows working in about 40 programs across faculties,” says Nenagh Hathaway, who recently joined SGSPA to serve as Coordinator of Postdoctoral Affairs. “Fellows are at a critical stage in their career, and I look forward to enhancing our professional development resources designed for this group. I encourage fellows and their supervisors to contact me at any time.”

The bolstering of postdoctoral affairs at Queen’s aligns with the institution’s larger strategic goals, as laid out in the Queen’s strategy and the Strategic Research Plan (2018-23), which aim to strengthen the university’s research intensity and prominence in Canada and the world.

"Postdoctoral fellows play an important role in supporting the university’s strategic research and teaching goals,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The school’s new name acknowledges their vital contributions, represents greater inclusivity, and signals our recommitment to attracting top talent and nurturing excellence across our university community.”

More support for postdoctoral fellows and faculty will also increase the university’s ability to recruit and retain top talent from around the globe, further boosting the institution’s commitment to diversity, and to promoting exemplary, ground-breaking, and interdisciplinary research.

To learn more about the new name, as well as SGSPA’s programming and resources, visit the newly launched School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs website.

Capturing the Art of Research

With a reimagined focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the annual Queen's Art of Research photo contest reveals seven winning images.

From photos depicting the nanoscale to the freezing landscape of the Artic, the annual Art of Research photo contest takes us behind the scenes of the everyday research experience at Queen’s. With engagement this year from faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the contest aims to represent the diversity and creativity of research across disciplines and from all contributors to the research ecosystem.

The 2022 contest introduced five new categories inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Guided by the mission and vision of the new Queen’s Strategy and the universal call to action of the SDGs, this year’s contest placed a spotlight on the intrinsic connection between research and social impact. Discover this year’s winners below and to view more contest winners and top submissions from the past six years, explore The Art of Research Photo Gallery.

2022 Art of Research Adjudication Committee

  • Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research)
  • Kanonhsyonne - Janice Hill, Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation)
  • Nicholas Mosey, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Heidi Ploeg, QFEAS Chair for Women in Engineering, Mechanical and Materials Engineering
  • Ruth Dunley, Associate Director, Editorial Strategy, Office of Advancement
  • Jung-Ah Kim, PhD Student, Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies
  • Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, University Relations
  • Véronique St-Antoine, Communications Advisor, NSERC

[Photo of the SNO+ detector at SNOLAB by Dr. Alex Wright]

Category: Innovation for Global Impact

The SNO+ Detector

Submitted by: Dr. Alex Wright for the SNO+ Collaboration
Faculty, Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy
Location: SNOLAB, Sudbury, Ontario

The SNO+ experiment studies the fundamental properties of neutrinos. The detector consists of an active volume of 780 tonnes of liquid scintillator housed within a 12-metre diameter acrylic vessel that is held in place by ropes and viewed by an array of about 10,000 photomultiplier light detectors. In this image, taken by a camera embedded in the photomultiplier array, the detector is illuminated only by light from the clean room at the top of the vessel neck, producing a beam effect. The SNO+ experiment is currently collecting data, carrying on the work of the Nobel-prize winning Sudbury Neutrino Observatory.

[Photo of 3D vascular trees in animal models]

Category: Good Health and Well-Being

The Tiniest Tree of Life

Submitted byDr. Elahe Alizadeh
Staff, Queen's CardioPulmonary Unit (QCPU), Department of Medicine 
Location: Queen's CardioPulmonary Unit

COVID-19, the second pandemic of the current century, is still an ongoing global health emergency. Its complications and mortality are associated with pneumonia and alterations in the pulmonary vasculature. Acquiring 3D images of vascular trees in animal models provide a useful tool to evaluate the effects of COVID-19 in humans. In our research aimed at finding new drugs for COVID-19 under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Archer, vascular trees of a mouse were pressure perfused to maximal dilation with a radio-opaque material (barium). The heart and lungs were fixed and scanned using VECTor4CT scanner. VECTor4CT is the first tri-modality imaging system equipped with an ultra-high-resolution micro-computed tomography (µCT) scanner at Queen’s University.

[Photo of George Konana collecting ice by Saskia de Wildt]

Category: Creative and Sustainable Communities

George Konana Collecting Ice

Submitted bySaskia de Wildt
PhD Student, School of Environmental Studies
Location: Gjoa Haven, Nunavut

The Inuit practice an ongoing relationship with the land through camping, hunting, and fishing. As part of the BearWatch project, I explore how such knowledge, accumulated over many generations, and Inuit values can be ethically engaged in a community-based polar bear monitoring program. This picture is taken on one of our trips out on the land around Gjoa Haven during spring 2022. It captures George Konana collecting ice from the lake for tea. He traces ice with the right quality to give his tea a nice ‘reddish, brown’ color. At this exact moment, he cracks out a huge piece, enough for a month of tea.

[Photo of a gastropod mummy laying eggs by Ruqaiya Yousif]

Category: Climate Action

Gastropod Mummy

Submitted byRuqaiya Yousif
PhD Student, Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Location: Qatar

This is a picture of a gastropod mummy laying down her egg cases. My research assesses the stable isotope (C and O), clumped isotope (∆47), and trace element compositions of living and quaternary shells from the Arabian/Persian Gulf. The aim is to link these analyses with modern oceanographic data to develop a robust proxy for understanding oceanographic change in the rock record. In other words, I am trying to link the shell chemistry with its surrounding environment and then use this link to assess oceanographic changes over the past 125,000 years. At the time of this picture, we were growing gastropods under laboratory conditions and performing invitro fertilization of oysters.

[Photo of a researcher collecting environmental DNA in a maternal polar bear den by Scott Arlidge]

Category: Partnerships for Inclusivity (Tied)

Polar Bear Denning

Submitted byScott Arlidge
Graduate Student, School of Environmental Studies
Location: Coral Harbour, Nunavut

This photo demonstrates the collection of snow from inside a maternal polar bear den to collect environmental DNA. When the mother digs out the den, skin cells from her paws are abraded and stuck to the snow. Some preliminary research shows that we may be able to identify individual bears by analyzing these snow samples, information which can inform polar bear population management. My research is a pilot of ground-based non-invasive polar bear monitoring techniques, with a focus on Inuit inclusivity. Inuit Elders and polar bear hunters are key knowledge holders and collaborators throughout this research.

[Photo of a mural of the Oasis logo by Riley Malvern]

Category: Partnerships for Inclusivity (Tied)

Aging with Oasis

Submitted byRiley Malvern
Staff, Health Services and Policy Research Institute
Location Kingston, Ontario

Oasis is a program co-developed by older adults to strengthen and sustain their communities to support aging in place. The Oasis Evaluation and Expansion research team has been working with Oasis communities since 2018 to expand the program across Canada and to evaluate a number of health and well-being outcomes. This photo depicts a mural that represents the power of communities coming together. Each square of this mural was designed by an Oasis member from communities across Kingston and Belleville. Together, these squares form the Oasis logo, which was designed by members of the original Oasis community.

[Photo of a crystallized decanoic acid by Dan Reddy]

Category: People's Choice

Crystalline Acid

Submitted byDan Reddy
PhD Student, Chemistry
Location: Chernoff Hall, Queen's University

This photo taken with scanning electron microscopy depicts an extremely small yet precise volume (i.e., nanolitre-sized) of crystallized decanoic acid. We are using these spots of crystalline acid to extract and preconcentrate, or soak-up, chemicals of concern like opioids from wastewater samples. This preconcentration step improves our ability to monitor these chemicals. By doing so, we can improve how we detect these harmful compounds and protect local watersheds.

To learn more about this year’s winners and explore past winners and top submissions, visit The Art of Research Photo Gallery on the Research@Queen’s website.

Inspiring the next generation of Indigenous engineers

Queen’s Indigenous Futures in Engineering program has been awarded $600,000 to expand their K-12 outreach.

[Nicole General, Indigenous STEM Outreach Coordinator with InEng, works with a young student.]
Nicole General, Indigenous STEM Outreach Coordinator with InEng, works with a young student.

Inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers is the motivation behind the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) latest funding announcement. More than $10 million was awarded through the PromoScience and Science Communication Skills grants to organizations that provide youth access to innovative STEM programs and enhance communication and understanding of science for the public. Queen’s Indigenous Futures in Engineering (InEng) was one such program, receiving their most successful funding request to date of just under $600,000.

Established in 2011, InEng (formerly Aboriginal Access to Engineering) is based out of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and led by Indigenous education professionals with expertise in STEM instruction. The initiative is committed to significantly increasing the number of Indigenous engineers in Canada through both supports for students at Queen’s and K-12 outreach programming. By providing opportunities for Indigenous youth in K-12 to engage with Indigenous engineers and engineering students, the program aims to encourage youth to see themselves in the profession and eventually pursue STEM education. The program has also worked with more than 100 Indigenous engineering students at Queen’s since its inception, providing a broad range of resources and support from tutoring to dedicated study spaces to opportunities for national and international networking.  

“We must inspire and encourage young people today if we are to make big discoveries and solve the mysteries of tomorrow,” says the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, who made the federal funding announcement.. “With this investment through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, our government is supporting those who ignite a spark across generations, and encouraging Canadians to help build a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable future for everyone.”

Science Communication Skills Grant
Queen’s researchers Diane Orihel (Biology) and Sarah Yakimowski (Biology) were successful recipients of the new NSERC pilot program focused on supporting science literacy, countering science-related misinformation, and fostering a role for science in evidence-based decision making. Their project, Development of Inclusive Science Communication Training through an Anti-Racist Lens, received $20,000 to develop an intensive training workshop for graduate students and set of online resources. They aim to develop their project as a model for science communication that can be used across Canada.

With support from the PromoScience grant, InEng will deliver their elementary school-based program, Foundations for Indigenous Futures in Engineering, as part of their goal to expand Indigenous STEM outreach. InEng maintains partnerships with several First Nation communities and their education leadership, as well as works with First Nation schools to provide their community-based outreach programs. They aim to expand outreach and training opportunities directly to teachers of Indigenous students by partnering with more schools and offering online programming. InEng’s goal is to significantly increase educator confidence and fluency in STEM teaching through pedagogical training, course design, and lesson modelling to encourage teachers to integrate more hands-on STEM learning into their regular teaching schedules.

“We are very excited at the expansion of our outreach program through this influx of support from NSERC’s PromoScience program,” says Melanie Howard, Director of Indigenous Futures in Engineering. “With the return to in-person programming allowed by this stage of the pandemic, we are actively recruiting three additional Indigenous educational professionals to join our team for the start of the 2022-23 school year later this fall.”

InEng's Foundations initiative is also focused on inspiring Indigenous students at a young age. By encouraging curiosity and exploration in STEM subjects early in their education, InEng aims to develop a pathway for Indigenous students that inspires them to eventually pursue a career in STEM. Some of their in-person programs include designing classroom workshops that align with the Ontario math and science curriculums with specific focus on making STEM subjects culturally relevant for students and incorporating local context and culture. For example, InEng staff have created engineering design projects that centre around key activities in the harvest ceremonies of the Haudenosaunee communities, math workshops that integrate wampum teachings of the southern Ontario Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee, and robotics lessons that incorporate pow-wow dance traditions.

Over the past decade, InEng has engaged with more than 70,000 youth and community members through activities such as drop-in science events, week-long science camps, and professional development training opportunities for teachers. With their goals to expand outreach, InEng will be structured to support and nurture Indigenous youth on their journey through STEM education by offering targeted initiatives and programs that address their needs as they progress from K-12 to university and, eventually, into their careers. 

For more information about Queen’s Indigenous Futures in Engineering, visit the InEng website.

Cast your vote for the Art of Research

The public has until June 2 to vote for their favourite Queen's research photo in the People’s Choice category.

[Collage of photos with text: Art of Research photo contest]
A selection of Queen's research photos included in the People's Choice vote as part of the Art of Research photo contest.

Voting is now open for the People’s Choice prize in the annual Art of Research photo contest. The public is invited to cast their ballot and participate in promoting the diversity of research happening across Queen’s.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice-Principal (University Relations), the annual contest is an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to mobilize their research beyond the academy. The contest is aimed at providing a creative and accessible method of sharing the ground-breaking research being done by the Queen’s community and celebrating the global and social impact of this work.

Contest prizes

The 2022 contest has been reimagined through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to celebrate the impact of research in advancing these important global goals. Five new categories inspired by the SDGs were introduced for this year’s contest alongside the popular People’s Choice prize.

Images selected for voting in the People’s Choice are entries that generated discussion and were shortlisted by the adjudication committee.

All prizes come with a monetary prize of $250.

Cast your vote

The survey closes on June 2 at midnight. Winners of the 2022 Art of Research photo contest will be announced shortly following the vote.

To learn more about past contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

2022 Art of Research Adjudication Committee

  • Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research)
  • Kanonhsyonne - Janice Hill, Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation)
  • Nicholas Mosey, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Heidi Ploeg, QFEAS Chair for Women in Engineering, Mechanical and Materials Engineering
  • Ruth Dunley, Associate Director, Editorial Strategy, Office of Advancement
  • Jung-Ah Kim, PhD Student, Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies
  • Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, University Relations
  • Véronique St-Antoine, Communications Advisor, NSERC

Science Rendezvous Day declared

Queen’s and the Kingston community prepare for popular science festival recently proclaimed an official day on May 7.

Kids participate on hands-on science activities during Science Rendezvous
Leon's Centre in Downtown Kingston will host over 30 hands-on science activities for people of all ages.

From a bird walk across City Park to seeing real fossils of Ice Age creatures, Queen’s will be once again hosting its favourite hands-on science event: Science Rendezvous. After being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and pivoting to virtual in 2021, the Kingston-based science festival is ready for an in-person comeback. Earlier this year, Mayor Bryan Paterson, on behalf of the Kingston City Council, proclaimed May 7, 2022 as “Science Rendezvous Kingston Day” in the City of Kingston.

“I like to say Science Rendezvous Kingston is like a spring garden that bursts into full bloom each May. It is colourful, diverse and waiting to be walked through, discovered and enjoyed,” says Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Education Lynda Colgan, who has been leading the event in Kingston for the past decade.

Science Rendezvous is part of Science Odyssey, a country-wide science festival powered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to celebrate Canadian research in all STEM areas. This year will mark the 11th annual Science Rendezvous celebrated in Kingston.

The free, family-oriented event at the Leon’s Centre in downtown Kingston will feature Queen’s research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). A large team of volunteers, including many Queen’s faculty, staff and students will be on hand to help the public navigate through the exhibits and answer visitor’s questions. Over 30 interactive displays will be set up, covering topics like space research, the human brain and heart, mining, climate, robotics and more.

Exhibitors include the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute and SNOLAB, the Queen’s Cardiovascular Imaging Network at Queen's (CINQ Lab), the Chemistry Department, the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and the Queen’s Baja Dune Buggy team.

Kids participate on hands-on science activities during Science Rendezvous
Outdoor activities are also part of Science Rendezvous 2022.

That same day, the Kingston Frontenac Public Library will host two different hands-on workshops, “Ice Age”, for grades 4-6, and “Youth Climate Lab Policy Jam,” for secondary students. While these activities are also free, pre-registration is required due to limited space.

Ahead of the big day, the Science Rendezvous team will offer a sneak peek of the activities at Kingston’s Springer Market Square on Wednesday, May 4 from 3-6 pm where the public will have the chance to interact with robots, look inside working beehives, see fossil skulls from pre-historic giant mammals, and operate a ping pong ball cannon.

The program for this year’s science festival also includes virtual presentations and workshops running from May 6-13, including a virtual tour of SNOLAB, Canada’s deep underground research laboratory near Sudbury, Ontario, and a presentation on how robots can improve the daily work of dairy farms. Those virtual activities require pre-registration.

On May 4, the Science Rendezvous Kingston team is also launching STEM on DEMAND, a collection of resources for educators and families to keep STEM learning alive all year long. “With over 30 groups providing videos, activity booklets and instruction sheets, children can learn and have fun to extend the Science Rendezvous experience in many purposeful and engaging ways,” says Dr. Colgan.

For more information and registration links, access the website.

Graduate school initiative continues to build ties in the community

More than two dozen Queen’s PhD students partner with Kingston area businesses to solve pressing community problems.

The latest session of the PhD-Community Initiative has now concluded, highlighted by a virtual capstone event featuring Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane, and Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Mark Green, among others.

The PhD-Community Initiative, which began in 2016 as a pilot program, is led by the Queen’s School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs and fosters partnerships between Queen’s students and community organization within and beyond Kingston, including the City of Kingston. Each year during this initiative, interdisciplinary teams of graduate students are paired with community partner organizations to tackle challenges important to their partner.

This year, six teams, each partnered with a distinct organization, worked to provide meaningful toolkits, recommendations, or research to address a pressing need or issue, helping their partner move forward. The teams are supported in their work by mentors (including retired faculty members and staff), and participate in a series of professional development workshops to enhance their learning throughout the year. The program attracted 26 students from across the Faculties of Arts and Science, Education, Engineering and Applied Science, Health Sciences, and Law.

These projects serve as a valuable opportunity for graduate students to translate their research skills and training into action, creating real impact in our local communities. In addition, many students participate to give back to the community they call home and to develop stronger relationships with other students from across campus – some of these ties last long beyond the end of the program.  

For participating organizations, the fresh, interdisciplinary, and analytical approach graduate students bring to the projects help them to take the next steps towards achieving their goals. The 2021/2022 Projects included:

ABLE2 | Support for People with Disabilities

ABLE2 collaborated with students to review and make recommendations on its volunteer recruitment and retention program, as well as their Volunteer Handbook. Ottawa-based ABLE2 (the first organization to participate outside of Kingston) supports people of all ages across the disability spectrum and their families to live life as valued members of their communities. ABLE2's Matching Program believes that community connection is the way to ensure seniors, people with disabilities and mental health challenges can live a good life and enrich their home community. ABLE2 matches volunteers, also known as Allies, in the community with a person with a disability (Friend) in an intentional relationship. The impacts for the person experiencing disability when someone chooses to be in their life are profound. This connection is shown to reduce loneliness and isolation, develop personal networks, decrease vulnerability, increase self-confidence, and improve mental and physical health.

Little Forests Kingston | Youth-led Neighborhood Climate Resilience Assessment Project

This collaboration aimed to create a toolkit to be used by youth to carry out an assessment of the climate resilience of their neighborhoods. The PhD-CI team worked with Little Forests Kingston’s community team to create/codesign the Neighborhood Climate Resilience Assessment to measure these important parameters. The methodology will be piloted in Summer 2022 in a student employment project, led by a mentor.

Little Forests Kingston is a local grassroots group focused on reforestation of urban spaces with diverse native species inspired by the Miyawaki method. The reforestation is based on local landscape conditions and planted intensively at 300 trees/100 sq meters. Miyawaki forests have shown rapid growth, with beneficial effects on biodiversity, carbon sequestration, management of stormwater and microclimate cooling, thus strengthening the climate resilience of the local ecology. Local communities are involved in planning, planting and caring for the Little Forest.

Higher density neighborhoods with limited canopy are at risk for heat island effects and flooding. Therefore, it is important that these communities understand the impact of the local ecology on the microclimate resilience of their neighborhood and what they can do about it as a community, including reforestation on public lands. Little Forest believes that youth who live in the neighborhood hold a great potential to lead change while centering the needs of their families, neighbors and elders. 

Royal Kingston Curling Club

The Royal Kingston Curling Club (RKCC) asked their team of students to determine how to best utilize its facility and evaluate current services to provide high value for members and attract new members to the club. To better serve the community, RKCC has placed a high value on equity, diversity, inclusivity, and Indigeneity and partnered with PhD students to investigate the needs of its membership and the broader community to further contribute to the club’s mission.

The Royal Kingston Curling Club (RKCC) is a non-profit organization run by a volunteer Board of Directors, established in 1820. The club’s goal is to enhance the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of members and the community as a whole.

Elginburg Public School | Forest School in a Public School Setting

To better meet the needs of its learners, Elginburg Public School (EPS) paired with a group of graduate students for its Forest School program. The team investigated the behavioural impact an extended time outdoors in a natural setting has on children who are at risk of or diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or other behavioural conditions. EPS was interested in a quantitative study that is as scientifically rigorous as possible within the rules and regulations currently in place.

City of Kingston | Social Enterprise Sustainability and Growth

Students involved in the Social Enterprise Sustainability and Growth Program helped build out a ‘social enterprise incubator’ for new groups looking to create impact in the Kingston community. Programs like this play a critical role in the Kingston economy, particularly for socio-economic program delivery. The global pandemic further highlighted the vital contribution of these organizations and the continued need for their services. But there exists a need to provide support (in the form of mentorship, training and skills development, resources- human and financial) to many existing organizations to ensure sustainability, growth, and operational success. This project aligned with Kingston City Council Priorities and Principal Deane’s vision for Queen’s in the Community.

School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs | Community Partner Onboarding and Toolkit

As part of the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs’ efforts to expand and improve the PhD-Community Initiative, students considered how to better support community partners involved in the program. A key time in the cycle of the program is the recruitment and onboarding of new partners each summer. To help ensure partners get the information they need to make an informed decision about their engagement in the program and to help them formulate and frame the “challenges” they’d like students to address, the team working on this project were asked to review current PhD-CI onboarding practices, identifying strengths and areas for improvement.

If you’d like to learn more about past PhD-Community Initiative projects, please visit the program website. If you have any questions about the program, please email Heather Merla.


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