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Graduate Studies

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.

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

This op-ed was originally published in the Times Higher Education supplement in 2021.

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.


Queen’s secures second consecutive top 10 position globally in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

Queen’s places 7th in international rankings out of over 1,500 institutions in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

[7th in the world - 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings]

Capturing 7th position globally, Queen’s is ranked in the top 10 of the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings for the second year in a row. The rankings measure the actions universities are taking to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) both within and beyond their local communities. This 2022 international competition saw participation from over 1,500 post-secondary institutions (up from 1,240 in 2021).

Created in 2019, the THE Impact Rankings are the only international assessment to evaluate how universities’ programs and initiatives align with the SDGs. This set of 17 wide-ranging goals is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a universal call to protect the planet and its people.

"I am incredibly proud of the Queen’s community for this repeat stellar performance," says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University. "The ranking recognizes the sustained impact we are having in our local and global communities, but also serves to inspire future action fueled by our collective intellectual curiosity, passion to achieve, and commitment to collaboration – key to our mission and values."

Using calibrated metrics and indicators across four key areas – research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship – the rankings assess hundreds of data points and qualitative evidence that tangibly measure the impact of higher education institutions in addressing urgent global challenges. Since its inaugural year in 2019, participation in the THE Rankings has increased from 450 institutions to 1,500 participating institutions across 110 countries in 2022. This includes 400 first-time ranked institutions and 24 Canadian universities.

"The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are unique in examining universities’ impact on society, through each of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals," says Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer, Times Higher Education. "Canada is one of the outstanding performers in this ranking, with ten universities in the world top 50 – and it is great to see Queen’s among Canada’s leading institutions, making the world top 10 and excelling in its contribution to SDG 1, and SDG 11, and SDG 16, in particular. It is important to be able to identify and celebrate the work universities do to make the world a better place."

Queen’s performance

Queen’s results once again reflect the cross-university collaboration and partnership of dozens of units across faculties, portfolios, and departments. Highlights from the 2022 rankings include:

  • Queen’s was ranked across all 17 SDGs
  • 2nd worldwide for SDG 1: 'No Poverty.' Queen’s strong performance acknowledged the Commitment Scholars program, which provides financial support for students who are members of underserved or underrepresented groups and who have demonstrated leadership in, and commitment to, racial justice, social justice, or diversity initiatives, and Swipe it Forward, a peer-to-peer program that facilitates the donation of meals to students facing food insecurity
  • 3rd worldwide for SDG 11: 'Sustainable Cities and Communities.' Queen’s supports public access to green spaces, including self-guided tours of the university’s Snodgrass Arboretum, free trail access at Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre, and the castle gardens at the Bader International Study Centre in the UK. State-of-the-art cultural facilities – including the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre – showcase world-class performing arts and collections to the community
  • 2nd worldwide for SDG 16: 'Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.' In addition to significant collaboration with all levels of government and training the next generation of policy makers though the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s supports academic freedom and is a member of the Scholars at Risk program, which arranges temporary research and teaching positions for scholars whose lives, freedom and well-being are under threat
  • Queen’s ranked in the top 100 of 12/17 SDGs and in the top 30 of 8/17 SDGs

Evidence of impact

[Report Cover - Queen’s contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Advancing social impact | 2020-2021]
Read the report: Queen's contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Advancing social impact | 2020-2021 [PDF Report 13 KB]

More than 600 pieces of quantitative and qualitative evidence looked at Queen’s research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship and included:

  • Queen’s partnership with the Karta Initiative to provide educational opportunities to low-income youth from rural India
  • The new Queen’s Institute for Global and Population Health, created to boost research, education, service, and collaborative projects that will help advance and decolonize global health systems
  • Black Youth in STEM, an outreach program engaging Black elementary students in science, technology, engineering, and math programming through fun, hands-on activities in a Black-positive space
  • Leanpath Spark, a program to measure food waste and foster education and inspire action in Queen’s dining halls
  • A new Campus Map focused on accessibility to assists campus visitors in navigating Queen’s buildings and accessible routes, entrances, washrooms, and more
  • The Queen’s University Biological Station, one of Canada’s premier scientific field stations dedicated to environmental and conservation research and outreach
  • Supporting and connecting women of all ages through the Ban Righ Centre, dedicated to diversity and community building
  • Queen’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and meeting its goal for a 35 per cent reduction in emissions between 2008 to 2020
  • A website and report created to illustrate Queen’s commitment to the SDGs and showcase programs and initiatives that address some of the world’s most pressing challenges

The Queen's University’s community of exceptional students, researchers, staff, and alumni all contribute to making a positive contribution to social impact and sustainability. For more information on the THE Impact Rankings and how the university is contributing to the SDGs, visit the Advancing Social Impact website.

[Illustration of Queen's campus and collaborations]

Queen’s impact on world health

On World Health Day learn more about how Queen's researchers and educators are working to advance better global health for all.

This article was originally promoted by the Queen's Health Sciences communications team.

[Art of Research photo: This is EPIC by Monakshi Sawhney, Nursing]
Queen's Art of Research PhotoThis is EPIC: Simulation Education with Patient Actors to Improve Care by Monakshi Sawhney (Nursing).

Queen’s Health Sciences is helping to fulfil the university’s vision to "solve the world’s most significant and urgent challenges with their intellectual curiosity, passion to achieve, and commitment to collaborate."

QHS researchers and educators – and their international partners – are changing the lives of people around the globe in areas such as community-based rehabilitation, cancer care, training, health equity, and humanitarian aid. As the planet celebrates another World Health Day, Queen’s ongoing impact can be felt in places as wide-ranging as Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, Asia, and the Caribbean.

Case in point, a new $89,925 grant recently awarded to researchers in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine – alongside the Department of Public Health Sciences and partners at the University of Rwanda. The International Development, Aid and Collaboration (IDAC) grant from Royal College International will build upon ongoing educational work, and help foster anesthesiology training, mentorship, and sustainable health workforce development.

Meanwhile, Queen’s International Centre for the Advancement for Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) continues to partner on research, educational initiatives, and policy and infrastructure development that improve health and social services for people with disabilities, their families, and their communities.

[Photo of Christiana Asantewaa Okyere with a student]
Queen's PhD candidate Christiana Asantewaa Okyere (Rehabilitation Therapy) with ICACBR working with a student in Ghana.

For example, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is a collaboration between Queen’s and the University of Gondar (UoG) in Ethiopia. Halfway through a 10-year partnership, the initiative is advancing inclusive higher education for young people with disabilities, developing a new occupational therapy undergraduate degree at UofG, and fostering research for inclusive education and community-based rehabilitation. Early success stories include eight collaborative research projects, and the development of a Community Based Rehabilitation certificate program will be offered to 175 Mastercard Foundation Scholars at UoG. Four of the program’s Queen’s graduates have now returned to UoG to establish the institution’s first Occupational Therapy department and first Occupational Therapy clinic.

Elsewhere in Ethiopia, Queen’s University continues to partner with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and Haramaya University to develop new residency programs and a sustainable program of training specialist physicians in Ethiopia (learn more in this video). The Haramaya Project is working to improve access to health services, quality of care, and patient outcomes for the underserved population. Early successes include the recruitment of trained physicians that enabled the establishment of three specialty departments; and launch of two of three planned residency training programs at Haramaya University in 2021: Anesthesiology and Emergency Medicine.

[Art of Research photo: Immnuofluorescence Stain]
Queen's Art of Research Photo: Immunofluorescence Stain by Shakeel Virk and Lee Boudreau, CCTG Tissue Bank.

Queen’s University is an international leader in cancer research thanks to collaborative partnerships, dynamic faculty – including the Global Oncology team – and the campus serving as the proud home of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG). Supporting these groundbreaking efforts, the Canadian Cancer Society recently renewed a $30 million grant for the CCTG. Recent global cancer research highlights include:

  • A 2022 study led by Queen’s and University of São Paulo (Brazil) that saw researchers develop a new tool to help set priorities for building radiotherapy infrastructure – helping to improve access to cancer care.
  • Research published in the fall 2021 by Dr. Chris Booth – in collaboration with the World Health Organization – that showed patients in most countries of the world do not have access to basic cancer medicines.
  • An international group of researchers and physicians based at Queen’s and institutions in Sri Lanka teamed up to develop the first database of cancer patients in Sri Lanka – a project that will make important contributions to cancer care in the South Asian country.
  • Dr. Bishal Gyawali’s ongoing work in Nepal to help establish a training program for primary care doctors – an effort order to build capacity to deliver basic cancer treatment in rural settings.    

Also established at Queen’s, A Research Collaborative for Global Health Equity (ARCH) serves as an interdisciplinary, collaborative platform for conducting and sharing global health research that leads to positive change. One member of the collaborative, Canada Research Chair Dr. Susan Bartels, is primarily focused on areas of the world affected by conflict and disaster. Her research aims to improve the science and practice of delivering emergency medicine and humanitarian aid, and understand health impacts on women and children. Dr. Bartels has studied the effects of civil war on Syrian refugees in Lebanon, sexual misconduct by UN peacekeepers in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as sexual and reproductive health and parenting in adversity across a variety of conflict zones.

Of course, issues such as access to care and reducing disparities in health outcomes locally are also part of the global health picture. Queen’s researchers are addressing domestic patient needs and healthcare inequities through efforts to enable better access to healthcare by bringing a portable MRI scanner to Canada’s north for the first time and bringing interactive ultrasound training to remote communities.

QHS’s ongoing impact on world health also aligns with its own new strategic plan – Radical Collaboration for a Healthier World – which calls for leveraging "unique interdisciplinary strengths to discover and share solutions to the world’s most pressing questions in the health sciences."

Learn more about Queen’s global health initiatives.

Showcase your research … but do it quickly

The Three Minute Thesis graduate student competition tests the ability to present one’s research projects in a clear, concise way in only 180 seconds.

  • Participants and judges gather at the end of the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis competition at Mitchell Hall. The winning presentation was delivered by Amtul Haq Ayesha, who participated remotely. (Queen's University)
    Participants and judges gather at the end of the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis competition at Mitchell Hall. The winning presentation was delivered by Amtul Haq Ayesha, who participated remotely. (Queen's University)
  • Navjit Gaurav, a PhD student in Rehabilitation Science, was selected as the runner-up in the Queen's Three Minute Thesis for his presentation 'What goes inside a designer's mind?' (Queen's University)
    Navjit Gaurav was selected as the runner-up in the Queen's Three Minute Thesis for his presentation 'What goes inside a designer's mind?' (Queen's University)
  • Lydia Johnson, a master's student in biology, delivers her presentation 'Why is two better than one' during the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis final competition at Mitchell Hall. (Queen's University)
    Lydia Johnson delivers her presentation 'Why is two better than one' during the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis final competition at Mitchell Hall. (Queen's University)
  • Provost Mark Green, one of the judges at the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis final competition, listens to Amtul Haq Ayesha, a master's student in computing, as she makes her presentation remotely. (Queen's University)
    Provost Mark Green, one of the judges at the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis final competition, listens to Amtul Haq Ayesha, a master's student in computing, as she makes her presentation remotely. (Queen's University)

It is often challenging for researchers to summarize their findings into a paper to be published or into a short presentation for a meeting, let alone to put years of work into a three-minute pitch. But that’s exactly the challenge proposed by the Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) organized by Queen’s School of Graduate Studies.

Each year, masters and doctoral candidates are invited to present their research and its impact in front of selected non-specialist judges and a live audience. The winner gets to represent Queen’s in an Ontario-wide 3MT event and can be among the few selected to participate in national and international competitions. This year marks the 10th year Queen’s has hosted a 3MT.

On March 24, the 10 finalists who made it through qualifying heats showcased their ability to communicate research in a clear, engaging way. The winner of the $1,000 grand prize was Amtul Haq Ayesha, a master’s student in the School of Computing. She will represent Queen’s at the Ontario-wide 3MT competition to be hosted at the University of Guelph on May 4.

Working on methods to allow remote measuring of vital signs – heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and others – using online video calls, Ayesha has dived deep enough into technical knowledge to understand how challenging it can be to talk about her research in a way non-experts can engage with.

“When you have spent such a long time on one project, everything in your mind is crystal clear. This makes us think that whatever we are talking is very simple to understand,” she says. “But when someone hears your subject for the first time, it takes time to absorb and understand. That is the most challenging part – to infer how much a person hearing about it (and for only three minutes) comprehends. As presenters, we want the audience to understand everything clearly”.

Ayesha believes participating in 3MT helped her practice “the art of explaining the technical jargon in such simple words that the audience relates with it” – an ability she foresees being very useful in her journey as a researcher.

Watch Ayesha's winning presentation:


Lessons learned on how to communicate research

Another presenter that stood out to the judges was PhD candidate Navjit Gaurav (Rehabilitation Science), the runner-up for this year’s competition. He presented his project on new ways to design schools in India to promote inclusion of children with disabilities.

For Gaurav, the main challenges of the research communications exercise were managing time, speaking in a jargon-free way, and knowing what not to communicate.

“Most of the time we have a lot to convey, and we think each piece of information is indispensable. We had to reflect on what is the most important thing that we want the audience to know about our research,” he explains.

To prepare for his presentation, Gaurav practiced with family members who are not familiar with his area of expertise. He believes this was very useful to help him craft his pitch in plain language to engage non-expert audiences.

Watch Gaurav's presentation:


People’s choice voting is open

The 10 finalists that participated in Queen’s 3MT final event are now competing for a People’s Choice prize. Voting will be open today from 4 p.m., until April 6 at 4 p.m. For more information and to cast your vote, visit the website.

Science Rendezvous Renaissance

After a pivot to virtual offerings in 2021, Science Rendezvous Kingston will once again bring Queen’s researchers and community members together in-person to share in science-based fun.

Dinosaur skeleton in exhibition at the Leon's Centre.
Science Rendezvous Kingston at Leon's Centre in 2019.

Each year, Canada’s national science festival, Science Rendezvous, is held across 30 cities with over 300 events and thousands of hands-on activities. The festival provides participants of all ages with the opportunity to engage with science and to learn about the discoveries being made by Canadian researchers across the nation.

Since 2011, Kingston has been home to one of the most successful local chapters of Science Rendezvous, regularly attracting over 4,000 visitors from across eastern Ontario. Under the leadership of Lynda Colgan, Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Education, Science Rendezvous Kingston is committed to engaging people of all ages with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research, and creating an unforgettable and educational experience for all attendees.

Virtual Pivot

Last year, Science Rendezvous Kingston had to adapt to limitations brought on by COVID-19. Despite the challenges, Dr. Colgan, Science Rendezvous co-coordinator, Kim Garrett, and a small team orchestrated a successful pivot from in-person to online events, developing a unique 16-day Science Rendezvous program that balanced screen-time sessions and kitchen table or outdoor activities. The events reached over 29,000 people from around the globe.

Video capture of a researcher doing an experiment in the lab.
Science Rendezvous Kingston 2021 featured online activities children could do at home, like this strawberry DNA extraction video.

"Although we hosted live webinars and Q&A sessions, the virtual nature of our event meant that we could record the full session. Soon after the 'live' event, we posted each session on our virtual platform for 'on demand' viewing – a feature that proved to be enormously popular with visitors to the site," says Dr. Colgan.

In recognition of their efforts, the Science Rendezvous Kingston team was awarded the COVID Creative Award by the Board of Directors of Science Rendezvous Canada for executing a successful educational experience for their participants and for their resiliency, creativity, and positivity during these challenging times.

Science Rendezvous 2022

This year, Science Rendezvous Kingston’s theme is ‘DISCOVER’. According to Dr. Colgan, the theme was selected to "highlight the leading-edge STEM research that is being done at Queen’s in all domains and encouraging young students to see themselves as future researchers and scientists who are on a quest to discover solutions to problems that face our world."

Science Rendezvous Kingston will have a hybrid design, offering both virtual and in person options for participants. The hope is that visitors will be able to engage in hands-on learning while preserving the best aspects of 2021’s virtual experience.

These year’s virtual events will include presentations from researchers including Queen’s Astrophysics PhD Candidate Connor Stone, a webinar on robotics use on a dairy farm, a virtual tour of SNOLAB, and a live-streamed hook-up with researchers at a lab in the South Pole.

In addition to webinars and virtual presentations, last year’s popular digital resource, the Daily Book Lists including many Indigenous titles, will once again be available during the 2022 festival. Other digital resources for this year include downloadable self-directed activities such as a geological scavenger hunt and an on-line workshop about how to build an anatomical model of the human GI system.

These virtual and at-home activities will be accompanied by in-person events and workshops including a 'STEM Sampler' in Market Square featuring demonstrations by Ingenuity Labs, Queen’s Physics, the McDonald Institute, Limestone Bee Keepers, and Research Casting International. Visitors to the Leon’s Centre will also be treated to hands-on workshops about the Ice Age and climate change, and a Guided Bird Walk with Dr. Fran Bonier and Dr. Paul Martin through City Park.

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2022 will continue to facilitate events to break down barriers between scientists and the public.

"By bringing science, technology, engineering and math to the streets, we make it possible for visitors across all ages to mix and mingle with award-winning scientists and researchers in the absence of intimidation," says Dr. Colgan. "Informal learning environments like Science Rendezvous can spark student interest in STEM, provide opportunities to broaden and deepen students’ engagement, reinforce scientific concepts and practices introduced during the school day, and promote an appreciation for and interest in the pursuit of science in school and in daily life."

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2022 will run from May 6 to May 20. Learn more about the program on the website.

Combating misinformation and fake news

Two upcoming workshops with The Conversation Canada will highlight how Queen’s researchers can help bridge the gap between academia and the public

The Conversation Canada and Queen's University workshops

As we enter the third year of a global pandemic, we are facing what the World Health Organization calls an infodemic – too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak. In this scenario, the importance of fact-based, expert commentary has never been clearer, and not only in relation to COVID-19: research-informed analysis is a powerful tool in supporting critical thinking and daily decision-making related to climate change, health, politics, technology, the economy, and many other topics.

The Conversation and Queen’s

The Conversation, an online news platform created in Australia in 2011, aims to combat misinformation by paring academic experts with experienced journalists to write informed content that can be shared and repurposed by media outlets worldwide.  Following its success in Australia, regional editions began appearing worldwide and, in 2017, The Conversation Canada launched with support from some of the country’s top universities, including Queen’s, and Canada’s research funding agencies.

As a founding member of The Conversation Canada, the Queen’s research community has embraced the platform as a unique tool for sharing their research expertise and engaging with the media. Over 240 Queen’s researchers have published more than 380 articles that have garnered over 7 million views via The Conversation Canada’s website. Through the platform’s Creative Commons Licensing and newswire access, 100s of major media outlets, including The National Post, CNN, TIME, The Washington Post, The Weather Network, Today’s Parent and Scientific American, have republished these pieces.

From cryptocurrencies to extinct bird species, Queen’s researchers have written on a variety of timely and timeless topics. Some of our most-read articles looked at the rising popularity of spirituality without religion, the negative effects of salting icy roads on aquatic ecosystems, a study of depression in adults with autism, wine consumption and cardiovascular health, and COVID-19 tests and terminology. Each of these articles have reached over 127,000 readers.

“Key to our research promotion and thought leadership strategy, The Conversation is a powerful tool for community engagement, bolstering the efforts of our researchers to share their expertise and build profile,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “We have seen participation from every faculty, and Queen’s continues to show leadership in contributing to the platform among Canadian peers.”

The workshops: How to write for The Conversation

The Conversation Canada and Queen’s University Workshops*
Wednesday, March 9, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Limited spaces. Click to register.
* The workshops will be held via Zoom.

On March 9 and 22, Queen’s will welcome Scott White, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Conversation Canada, for two workshops targeted to faculty and graduate students interested in writing for the platform. The virtual, hour-long program will highlight the changing media landscape, the role of The Conversation and researchers as credible news sources, and how to craft the perfect pitch. Participants can bring pitch ideas to the workshops to receive real-time editorial feedback.

Queen’s is always looking to add to its roster of authors taking part in The Conversation. Researchers interested in learning more about the platform are encouraged to register for the March workshops or contact researchcommunications@queensu.ca. 

Visualizing impact with the Art of Research

The Art of Research photo contest has been reimagined to highlight research that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals.

[Collage of past winners of the Art of Research photo contest]


The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest is returning for its sixth year with a new focus. The 2022 contest has been reimagined through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action and framework for social impact. This change also aligns with the mission and vision of the new Queen’s Strategy and our participation in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure an institution's impact on society, based on their success in delivering on strategies that advance the SDGs. Queen’s ranked first in Canada and fifth in the world in the 2021 Impact Rankings. Photo submissions will be accepted from Feb. 28 to April 13, 2022. 

SDG Action and Awareness Week
As a new member of the University Global Coalition, Queen’s is participating in the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Action and Awareness Week and highlighting the contributions of the Queen’s community to social impact within and beyond the local community. Learn more.

For the past five years, the Art of Research has been an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to share their work through compelling visuals and engage the public in seeing their research in new ways. In aligning this year’s contest with the UN SDGs, we celebrate the impact of Queen’s research in advancing these important global goals.

“The Art of Research showcases the diversity of Queen’s research in a creative and innovative way,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “By aligning the contest with the SDGs, we can further demonstrate the impact of our research in addressing the challenges of society at home and around the world. I encourage members of our research community to participate.”

Eligibility and prizes

Hosted by Queen’s University Relations, the photo contest is open to Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Research depicted in the submissions must have been completed at Queen’s or while the submitter was affiliated with the university. More information about contest rules can be found on the Research@Queen’s website.

Five new SDG-themed categories will be offered this year. These, along with the popular People's Choice Vote, add up to a total of six prizes of $250 each for the top submission in each category. Photos from the contest are highlighted across university research promotion initiatives.

2022 categories:

Good health and well-being

Research that advances our understanding and the improvement of human health and supports the well-being of all global citizens.

Inspired by SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), and 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)

Climate action

Research that seeks to protect our planet’s natural resources, including water, biodiversity, and climate for future generations.

Inspired by SDGs 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water), and 15 (Life on Land)

Creative and sustainable communities

Research that helps us to understand our past and present to help build resilient, sustainably-focused, and creative communities.

Inspired by SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions)

Partnerships for inclusivity

Research that promotes just and inclusive societies through partnerships and community-based research.

Inspired by SDGs 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and 10 (Reduced Inequalities)

Innovation for global impact

Discovery- and curiosity-based research and innovations that addresses wicked, complex global challenges.

Inspired by SDGs 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals)

People’s choice

Determined by an online vote by members of the Queen’s community.

The contest closes on April 13. To submit an entry and explore winning images from previous contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

On Feb. 11 Queen's is encouraging the campus community to share their passion for STEM to celebrate and inspire present and future women in STEM disciplines.

[International Day of Women & Girls in Science]

On Feb. 11, Queen’s is recognizing the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science by encouraging the campus community to share their passion for STEM and showcase their research by tagging Queen's on Twitter @queensu and Instagram @queensuniversity.

This year marks the seventh 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.

Showcase your research and follow Queen's University on Twitter and Instagram as we share and highlight some of our researchers and their contributions to groundbreaking STEM research.

“Love Under the Microscope.” Dalila Villalobos, Pathology Researcher. Submitted to the Art of Research.
Art of Research Photo: Love Under the Microscope by Dalila Villalobos, Pathology Researcher
As pathologists in training, we are constantly reminded that both human cellular responses and the most deadly medical conditions can be unexpectedly beautiful under the microscope. We are trained to be detail oriented and to understand disease in all its forms because abnormalities will only present to the eye that knows what to look for. This photo captures a normal prostatic gland with its characteristic double layer and irregular branching. The moment we diagnose a benign condition in a patient that is anxiously awaiting results is always rewarding. But, if, on top of that, we see heart-shape glands, it is inspiration.



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