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Graduate Studies

Capturing the Art of Research

Celebrating its fifth year, the Art of Research photo contest is open for submissions until March 12.

  • "Love Under the Microscope" by Dalila Villalobos, MD, Resident (Anatomical Pathology)
    "Love Under the Microscope" by Dalila Villalobos, MD, Resident (Anatomical Pathology)
  • "Santa Fina" by Una D'Elia, Faculty (Art History and Art Conservation)
    "Santa Fina" by Una D'Elia, Faculty (Art History and Art Conservation)
  • "A New Light" by Robert Cichocki, PhD Student (Civil Engineering)
    "A New Light" by Robert Cichocki, PhD Student (Civil Engineering)
  • "Window on a Window to the Universe" by Mark Chen, Faculty (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy)
    "Window on a Window to the Universe" by Mark Chen, Faculty (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy)
  • "Platinum Surface Electrochemistry" by Derek Esau, PhD Student (Chemistry)
    "Platinum Surface Electrochemistry" by Derek Esau, PhD Student (Chemistry)
  • "Keep Cool Boy - The Jets Aloft in West Side Story" by Tim Fort, Faculty (Dan School of Drama and Music)
    "Keep Cool Boy - The Jets Aloft in West Side Story" by Tim Fort, Faculty (Dan School of Drama and Music)
  • "Nano-dendrite Collision" by Hannah Dies, MD/PhD Student (Chemical Engineering)
    "Nano-dendrite Collision" by Hannah Dies, MD/PhD Student (Chemical Engineering)
  • "Exploring Worlds at Home" by James Xie, Undergraduate Student (Engineering Chemistry)
    "Exploring Worlds at Home" by James Xie, Undergraduate Student (Engineering Chemistry)

Researchers … ready your cameras. Returning for its fifth year, the Art of Research photo contest is looking to celebrate and creatively capture the research conducted by the Queen’s community.

RESEARCH@QUEEN’S 
Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? From in-depth features to the latest information on the university’s researchers, the site is a destination showcasing the impact of Queen’s research. Discover Research@Queen’s.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice-Principal (University Relations) and open to Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the Art of Research provides a unique and accessible method of sharing ground-breaking research happening at the university. It also represents the diversity of Queen’s research, with winners representing multiple disciplines and submissions highlighting research happening at all career stages.

The contest is an opportunity for researchers to mobilize their research and spark curiosity. Visuals can create a more compelling and accessible research narrative. By looking at research from a different perspective, it is possible to find the beauty and art in any project.

Eligibility and Prizes

Any current Queen’s faculty, staff, student, or alumni are eligible to participate. 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.

In addition to promotion across institutional channels and platforms, prizes of $500 will be awarded for the top submission in each of these categories:

Category Prizes

  • Community Collaborations: Research that partners with or supports communities or groups
  • Invisible Discoveries: Research unseen by the naked eye, hiding in plain sight, or only visible by using alternative methods of perception
  • Out in the Field: Research where it occurs, is documented, or discovered
  • Art in Action Prize: Research that is aesthetically or artistically transformed or research in motion as it happens
  • Best Description: To recognize the most creative and accessible description for an image
  • People’s Choice: Determined by an online vote by members of the Queen’s community

In honour of the fifth anniversary of the Art of Research photo contest, four special prizes of $500 each will be awarded to celebrate the diversity of research happening across the university.

  • The Innovation, Knowledge Mobilization, and Entrepreneurship Prize will be awarded to the submission that best demonstrates research that encompasses a spirit of the applied practices of innovation, entrepreneurship, and knowledge mobilization. (Sponsored by Partnerships and Innovation)
  • The Graduate Studies Prize will be awarded to the image submitted by a Queen’s graduate student or post-doctoral fellow that best embodies the School of Graduate Studies’ motto “Create an Impact.” (Sponsored by the School of Graduate Studies)
  • The Health Sciences Prize will be awarded to the image that best represents the Faculty’s mission of “ask questions, seek answers, advance care, and inspire change.” (Sponsored by the Faculty of Health Sciences)
  • The KGHRI Prize will be awarded to the image that best represents patient-oriented and clinical research. (Sponsored by Kingston General Health Research Institute (KGHRI))

The contest closes on March 12, 2020. The submission form can be found here and winning images from previous competitions are located on the Research@Queen’s website

New internal funding for research

Queen's Vice-Principal (Research) launches Wicked Ideas Competition.

Wicked problems are issues so complex and dependent on so many factors that it is hard to grasp what exactly the problems are or how to tackle them. Wicked ideas are needed to solve these problems, and demand the input of multiple disciplines, multiple perspectives, and relevant practical expertise.

The Vice-Principal (Research) has launched the Wicked Ideas competition as a pilot initiative to fund and support research collaborations that respond to local, national, and global challenges. Aligned with the concept of the Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund – Exploration program, the competition “seeks to inspire projects that bring disciplines together beyond traditional disciplinary or common interdisciplinary approaches by research teams with the capacity to explore something new, which might fail but has the potential for significant impact.” Along with both disciplinary and interdisciplinary funding streams, the competition offers a “global challenge” stream, featuring climate change as a global challenge area.  Teams of researchers are invited to submit notices of intent by Feb. 3, 2020.

“This funding is designed to remove some of the financial barriers to high-risk, high-reward research, allowing scholars to push the boundaries of knowledge into uncharted territory,” says Dr. Kent Novakowski, Acting Vice-Principal (Research). “I greatly look forward to hearing about some of the paradigm-shifting ideas that come out of this new exploratory opportunity.”

Up to 15 teams will be awarded $75,000 each in the first phase of the competition in spring 2020. The 15 teams then will be eligible to compete for one of an additional five awards of up to $150,000 in the 2021 Wicked Ideas competition. The competition is open to all Queen's faculty across all disciplines. Co-investigators and team members also must be Queen's faculty members.

This is just one of several internal funding programs that have been launched by the Vice-Principal (Research) recently.  Other programs include the Queen’s Research Opportunities Fund (QROF) Post-doctoral Fund, as well as the Catalyst Fund – designed to enhance areas of research excellence by giving scholars an opportunity to accelerate their research programs.

A revised Prizes for Excellence in Research competition, which has recognized scholarly achievement at Queen’s since 1980, is set to launch soon.

More information about all of these programs, including terms of reference, is available on the Vice-Principal (Research) website.

Queen’s graduate research goes global with Matariki 3 Minute Thesis

Nevena Martinović, a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at Queen’s, named runner-up in inaugural international competition.

[Matariki Network of Universities 3MT]
Graduate students Amanda Brissenden, third from left, and Nevena Martinović, fourth from left, recently competed in the Matariki Network’s inaugural 3 Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) with Martinović being named runner-up. Congratulating them are, from left, Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science; Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean School of Graduate Studies; and Sandra den Otter, Associate Vice-Principal (International and Research).

Nevena Martinović, a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at Queen’s, recently captured the runner-up award in the Matariki Network’s inaugural 3 Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) for her talk, “Acting your age – Gender & age on the 18th century stage.”

“This was a really great opportunity for me. I keep hearing about how not many students in the humanities take part, but it is a shame as in the English department narrative is so much a part of what we do,” Martinović says. “How to communicate our ideas and get that message across, the 3MT is an extraordinary opportunity to do just that.”

Preparing for the 3MT, Martinović explains, didn’t match how she usually writes but instead was similar to how she teaches.

“I find it easy to come up with contemporary examples for the students to understand and in less formal ways. The 3MT was an opportunity to practice that skill,” she says. “It was a surprise to be runner-up, but it speaks to how each presentation has great moments in them.”

Queen’s is no stranger to the 3MT having run its own event annually since 2012 and participating in the provincial competition since its inception in 2013, which the university hosted. When the Matariki Network asked its members if there was interest in a 3MT competition, it was an easy yes for Queen’s as it is an excellent opportunity to showcase graduate researchers to a broad international audience.

“Graduate research is integral to the research reputation of Queen’s,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean School of Graduate Studies. “It is critical that Queen’s provide ample opportunity for our graduate students to showcase their research in diverse ways to reach a broad audience. The School of Graduate Studies already gives students a chance to speak or write about their work on the radio (Grad Chat), within the community (The Conversation), and now internationally through our membership with the Matariki Network. Such events serve to create a community for our students to share their passion for research and, importantly, to motivate and learn from one another in a safe and encouraging space.”

The format of 3MT is often perceived as more suited to STEM and health sciences, making it a challenge to convince students in other areas, in particular the humanities and social sciences, to present their work. It is hoped that Martinović’s success encourages students from all disciplines to participate.

“I have watched many 3MT competitions over the years and I find it encouraging to see more students in the humanities and social sciences participating in these events in recent years,” says Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science. “Nevena winning the runner-up prize for both the Queen’s and Matariki competitions demonstrates the relevancy of research in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the creativity of our students in showcasing their research. It is important to remember that the primary purpose of the 3MT is to explain your research to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. This is an important skill for all disciplines as well as both academic and non-academic careers.”

As Queen’s is a member of the Matariki Network the new competition was an example of how the university collaborates with its partners.

“The Matariki 3MT is a welcome opportunity to strengthen our engagement with partner universities in the Matariki Network,” says Sandra den Otter, Associate Vice-Principal (International and Research). “Sharing graduate student research enlarges our appreciation of research conducted across the network and gives graduate students an invaluable opportunity to be an integral part of that research exchange.”

The Matariki 3MT complements other research collaborations between Queen’s University and its MNU partners, for example, research projects between Queen’s and Dartmouth in global health, the neural underpinnings of attention and distraction, and the salinity of aquatic ecosystems. The 3MT is just one of the many Matariki Network initiatives that Queen’s is engaged in. Earlier this year, Queen’s hosted the Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program, while the Bader International Study Centre sent students to the Global Citizenship Forum in Durham, UK.

Also competing were Amanda Brissenden, PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering and winner of the 2019 Queen’s 3MT for her presentation “Building Blocks for a Healthier Spine,” and Hannah Dies, PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering and Queen’s People’s Choice winner for “Building the future of sensors: One nanoparticle at a time.”

Matariki member institutions promote excellence in research-led education, in which students receive education from researchers at the cutting edge of their field. Each member institution conducts transformative research across a broad subject base in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. Each promotes a combination of academic learning and personal growth through extracurricular activities in diverse scholarly communities so as to develop rounded citizens of the world and leaders of the future. In addition to Queen’s, institutional membership includes: University of Western Australia (UWA); Tübingen University; Uppsala University; Dartmouth College; University of Otago; and Durham University. To learn more about the opportunities available visit the international page of the Queen’s website and the MNU website.

 

Supporting graduate student success

A new report from the School of Graduate Studies provides recommendations to enhance graduate education. 

Graduate convocation
Graduate students processing during fall convocation in 2018.

Queen’s offers over 140 graduate programs and currently enrolls 5,339 graduate students. These students come to Queen’s from around the world in order to further their education, help teach undergraduate students, and conduct cutting-edge research. 

To help ensure that they all receive an incomparable education at Queen’s, the university recently assembled the Working Group on Graduate Student Success. After months of research, consultation, and planning, the working group has released its report, which outlines strategies for promoting excellence in graduate education across the entire university. As part of its mandate, the working group consulted with faculty, students, and staff and reviewed graduate education across major institutions in Canada, especially schools in the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities. 

Report on Graduate Student Success

Read the report from the Working Group on Graduate Student Success.
 

“Graduate education is a priority at Queen’s, and I am confident that this new report will guide us to strategic improvements that will strengthen the graduate experience,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane.  

Laying out goals for the short, medium, and long terms, the report makes 35 recommendations on how to improve six strategically important areas: student-supervisor relationships, financial support, professional and academic development, wellness and community, research excellence, and communication. One of the largest aspirations that the working group puts forward is the goal to establish a graduate college at Queen’s similar to those found at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. As envisioned in the report, this college would “showcase the best in the Queen’s graduate student experience and include housing and dining and be a hub of intellectual ideas. It would be a place for graduate students to think and grow.” 

The student-supervisor relationship is one of the defining aspects of graduate education, so the report offers several recommendations that would help both faculty and students to make the most of these interactions. Other U15 institutions have developed policies on graduate supervision in order to set expectations for both parties. The report recommends that Queen’s develop a similar policy based on current SGS guidelines that could help guide the student-supervisor relationship. The report also advises that SGS offer workshops on effective supervision and develop supplementary materials that would facilitate communication and planning between students and faculty. 

While Queen’s provides competitive funding packages for its graduate students, the report has identified areas where these practices could be updated. For instance, the report recommends restructuring the international tuition award as well as considering an increase in the minimum funding for PhD students.  

“Many people at Queen’s worked hard to make this report possible, and I am excited to be sharing it with the broader campus community. Our School of Graduate Studies has many strengths, and the recommendations in this report show how we can build on them to make Queen’s an international leader in graduate education,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. 

Committed to the vision laid out in the report, SGS has already begun taking concrete steps to implement the recommendations. The school has set up a working group on graduate student funding and has undertaken a number of new initiatives to strengthen Queen’s culture of positive graduate supervision. SGS is also actively exploring starting special events that would bring attention to the work of graduate students. This programming is expected to be implemented within the following academic year. 

“The Graduate Student Success Working Group is an incredible initiative that really focuses on the contemporary and future issues graduate students will face at Queen’s. The committee took the time to hear the multiple student voices involved in the consultation and committee process, and when reading the report you can see these concerns addressed with concrete action plans,” says Leo Erlikhman, Vice President Graduate, Society of Graduate and Professional Students and member of the working group.

As SGS works to carry out the recommendations from the report, Dr. Quadir will be meeting with various departments and stakeholder groups from the university to discuss next steps. To learn more about the Working Group on Graduate Student Success or to share your thoughts on the report, please contact Heather Merla at sgscomms@queensu.ca.

International faculty and staff supports

The Human Rights & Equity Office is holding discussion sessions about developing and strengthening supports for employees coming to Queen's from abroad.

Staff and faculty participating in the first brainstorm meeting
Queen's faculty and staff participating in a brainstorming session about supports for international employees.

The Human Rights & Equity Office (HREO) recently invited international staff and faculty to engage in an initial conversation about what potential supports or groups could be created or strengthened to assist those moving from abroad for employment at Queen’s University.

A group of international faculty and staff gathered on Sept. 30 for a brainstorming session facilitated by Queen's Human Rights Advisor Nilani Loganathan, who guided the group in an exercise to begin to identify gaps in services and programs, and suggest ways that could better support international employees.

“I’m very pleased with the ideas brought forth by those who attended our first session,” says Loganathan. “We touched on a number of areas, including issues concerning relocating to Kingston, settling in at Queen’s, employment and education supports for families, and much more. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation and collecting more feedback that will best inform our path forward.”

Employees who identify as international staff and faculty will have additional opportunities to provide their input. The next session is to take place on Friday, Nov. 15 in Mackintosh-Corry Hall, B176 from 12pm – 1pm. Please email hrights@queensu.ca to confirm your attendance.

Championing new thinking

Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie met with a group of promising Queen's graduate students to talk success, failure, taking risks, and the future of research.

Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie at a round table meeting with Queen's University graduate students.
Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie meets with Queen's University graduate students for a round table discussion on the road to research success.

A group of Queen’s University’s most promising graduate students recently sat down with Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie, who shared his stories of achievement and failure in hopes of illuminating and inspiring their journeys toward research success.

Over 35 graduate students and post-doctoral researchers took part in an exclusive round table discussion with Dr. Chalfie during a visit to campus by the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII) – an international outreach program organized by Nobel Media and biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca that strives to connect Nobel Laureates with scientific and student communities at universities and research centres worldwide.

“As researchers, we know that all discovery and progress is built on the push and pull of failure and success,” says Fahim Quadir, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, who introduced the round table discussion. “Advancement in science and society, and the creation of new knowledge, often begins with a leap in the dark, with the courage to risk failure simply in order to propel ourselves one step closer to the goals our research pursuits seek to advance.”

Students from over a dozen disciplines attended the candid, closed-door discussion, which touched on topics ranging from science communication and public perceptions of science, to mental health and multi-disciplinary approaches to research.

“The round table with Dr. Chalfie was enlightening and inspiring,” says Mandy Turner, a third-year PhD candidate and Vanier Scholar in the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences. “Being a graduate student can sometimes feel siloed, so it was comforting to have the opportunity to hear from an accomplished researcher like him, as well as my peers across the university who echoed many of my concerns about the future of science and science careers.”

One of the recurring anxieties expressed by those in attendance centred on a perceived shift in society’s attitude toward the merit of scientific knowledge.

“From time to time, I feel nervous about my pursuit of a career in science, since it seems like hard-earned results and evidence are less and less accepted by the public and policymakers,” says Matthias Hermann, who has just begun his third year as a PhD candidate in Chemistry. “When I expressed my worry to Dr. Chalfie during the round table he reminded us that throughout history there have always been people who deny facts and evidence, which has only served to underline the importance of scientists’ work. I really appreciated this response.”

Many of the round table participants also remarked on Dr. Chalfie’s charisma and candor.

“To have this person who achieved one of the highest honours of a research career be so humble and sincere about his life was very inspiring to me,” says Artur Sass Braga, PhD candidate in the Department of Civil Engineering. “He was so open about his initial failures in academia and shared with us that there is no secret formula or method to becoming a successful researcher. This perspective helps tremendously as it lessens the burden of the expectations graduate students can often feel are placed upon them.”

The round table preceded a sold-out NPII public event at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts featuring Dr. Chalfie in conversation with award-winning journalist and author André Picard, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen’s own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald. Both events also coincided with the launch of a new website highlighting Queen’s University’s vast complement of research pursuits and achievements, much of which involves Queen’s graduate researchers.

“The round table gathering was also about recognizing the enormous contributions our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows make to knowledge production; to championing new thinking and to uncovering groundbreaking discoveries,” says Dr. Quadir. “I am proud of our students and post-docs for their relentless efforts to advance new knowledge that serves the greater public good.”

Learn more about the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event that took place at Queen’s on September 25, 2019, and view a video recording of our online Facebook Live broadcast of the event.

Working towards a sustainable future

Researchers from across Queen’s are making discoveries that help us protect our planet.

Image of Queen's University Biological Station
Queen's University Biological Station (Photo by Allen Tian)

Queen’s recognizes that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, and it is helping to create a more sustainable world through the knowledge and innovations that are being produced by researchers in all areas of the university.

Across Queen’s, faculty members have dedicated themselves to researching questions connected to the environment and sustainability. Taking interdisciplinary approaches to topics as wide ranging as water quality, health, economics, and engineering, Queen’s researchers are making discoveries that will help make the future of our planet greener.

Several Queen’s faculty members are actively exploring the effects that human societies are having on the environment. For instance, Dr. Diane Orihel, Assistant Professor in the Biology Department and Queen’s National Scholar in Aquatic Ecotoxicology, is working to understand how chemicals effect the environment.  Currently, she is the principal investigator on a project that studies the impact of diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” on fresh water.

Similar to Dr. Orihel, Dr. John P. Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, uses lake sediment samples to unravel the history of environmental change in order to improve understanding of human impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Dr. Smol leads an international program in the field of paleolimnology that tracks long-term trends in climatic change and develops new approaches to studying water-quality problems, among other goals.  

Water quality is also a primary focus of the Beaty Water Research Centre, which investigates a variety of issues related to the environment. Four faculty members affiliated with the centre were recently awarded with the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering. Drs. Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering), Michael Cunningham  (Chemical Engineering, Chemistry), Philip Jessop (Chemistry), and Warren Mabee (Geography and Planning, School of Policy Studies) were recognized with this prestigious award for their work in enhancing the value and sustainability of our natural renewable resources through collaboration. With the funding provided by the award, this team of researchers aims to design solutions, such as green industrial processes, to address problems caused by climate change.

Developing innovative solutions that protect the environment also motivates the research of Dr. Kerry Rowe, Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. To help guard the environment from contamination by waste, Dr. Rowe is currently developing new guidelines and techniques for building waste-disposal sites.

In order to tackle the problems of climate change, society will need policy solutions as well as scientific innovations. That is where the work of Dr. Kyla S. Tienhaara, Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment, comes in. Dr. Tienhaara studies government interventions in the economy through public policies that aim to achieve environmental sustainability. Through this research, Dr. Tienhaara aims to increase the environmental outcomes of future government spending initiatives.

Dr. Heather Castleden, Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relationships for Health, Environments, and Communities, is addressing problems created by climate change by bringing together different systems of knowledge. By applying Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to research involving social and environmental justice and health equity, Dr. Castleden’s work aims to reconcile relationships between Indigenous peoples and Settler Canadians as well as society’s relationship with the land, water, and air that sustain us.

Beyond our individual researchers, Queen’s also has a number of research centres and institutes that investigate an array of different issues that bear on the environment and sustainability, such as the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, the GeoEngineering Centre at Queen’s-RMC, and the Centre for Energy and Power Electronics Research (ePower).

To learn more about the many Queen’s researchers who are making discoveries that will help lead to a sustainable future, visit the new Queen’s research website.

Nobel Laureates share their thoughts on research success

Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative excites sold-out audience at Queen’s University.

  • Acclaimed journalist and author André Picard (left) interviews Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie during the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event at Queen's University. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
    Acclaimed journalist and author André Picard (left) interviews Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie during the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event at Queen's University. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Following the one-on-one chat, Picard and Chalfie were joined on stage by Canada's Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen's University's own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald.
    Following the one-on-one chat, Picard and Chalfie were joined on stage by Canada's Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen's University's own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • The public discussion took place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's in front of a sold out audience, and over 2000 online viewers.
    The public discussion took place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's in front of a sold out audience, and over 2000 online viewers. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Dr. Chalfie met with groups of excited audience members following the public discussion.
    Dr. Chalfie met with groups of excited audience members following the public discussion. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Earlier in the day, Dr. Chalfie met with students, faculty, and staff at Ingenuity Labs.
    Earlier in the day, Dr. Chalfie met with students, faculty, and staff at Ingenuity Labs. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Students demonstrated various robotics projects for Dr. Chalfie during his tour of the new Ingenuity Labs space in Mitchell Hall.
    Students demonstrated various robotics projects for Dr. Chalfie during his tour of the new Ingenuity Labs space in Mitchell Hall. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Students, faculty, and staff also toured Dr. Chalfie through cutting-edge new laboratory spaces at the Beaty Water Research Centre.
    Students, faculty, and staff also toured Dr. Chalfie through cutting-edge new laboratory spaces at the Beaty Water Research Centre. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Following the tours, Dr. Chalfie met with a group of Queen's graduate students for an exclusive roundtable discussion on "success and failure at the research frontier".
    Following the tours, Dr. Chalfie met with a group of Queen's graduate students for an exclusive roundtable discussion on "success and failure at the research frontier". (Photo by: Bernard Clark)

A sold-out crowd packed Queen’s University’s Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts for the rare opportunity to hear two Nobel Laureates discuss their roads to research success, together with Canada’s Chief Science Officer Mona Nemer, and award-winning journalist and author André Picard.

Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie, who was awarded the prize for chemistry in 2008, visited Queen’s as part of the first-ever Canadian tour of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII). Organized by Nobel Media, in partnership with biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, the NPII is an international outreach program striving to connect Nobel Laureates with scientific and student communities at universities and research centres worldwide.

Queen's Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane talking with Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie.
Queen's Principal Patrick Deane in conversation with Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie.

“We are honoured to host the Nobel Inspiration Initiative and I’m excited to know that among our live audience and viewers online, we have potential future Nobel Prize Laureates who will be responsible for discoveries that make our world a better place,” says Patrick Deane, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, during his opening remarks. “At Queen’s, we believe in the fundamental value of research and want to create an environment where researchers can push boundaries, test limits, fail safely and take risks to achieve the kind of success talked about here today.”

Picard moderated the engaging and often humorous 90-minute dialogue, which touched on the guests’ own research journeys, and topics ranging from basic research, gender imbalance in science fields, commercialization, and public trust in scientists. Richard Reznick, Dean of the Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences, first introduced Picard and Chalfie, who spoke one-on-one before Dr. Nemer and Queen’s own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald, joined in for expanded discussion and an audience Q&A session.

“The Nobel Prize doesn’t necessarily go to the smartest scientist or the most productive, or the one with the biggest group or most published papers; it goes, in my opinion, to scientists who do things that change the way we do science or we think about the world,” says Dr. Chalfie. “Furthermore, most people don’t sit up at night thinking, How am I going to win a prize? The reward for many of us is in the discovery.”

Queen's University's Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald meets with audience members following the panel discussion.
Queen's University's Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald meets with audience members following the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative public discussion.

Dr. McDonald adds: “The Nobel Prize is the icing on the cake. The real victory is in the breakthrough.”

The panelists spoke at length about the formative years of their careers, discussing early obstacles. Dr. Chalfie brought up an early-career project that did not work out and drove him to abandon the field temporarily, which stood in contrast to part of the NPII public event’s title, Failure, persistence and joy: finding the right balance for research success.

“I was very fortunate to get back into it,” he says. “When I experienced this early disappointment… I didn’t feel I should ask people for help. I didn’t have people telling me that the first time you do things, you’re going to fail. Persistence has to be coupled with mentorship and support.”

As part of the day-long NPII event, Dr. Chalfie sat with some of Queen’s most promising graduate and post-doctoral students, and early-career researchers, prior to the public dialogue for an exclusive roundtable discussion about success and failure at the research frontier. He also toured two cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary research and learning spaces on campus – the Beaty Water Research Centre and Ingenuity Labs at newly-opened Mitchell Hall – meeting with graduate and post-doctoral students, staff, and faculty.

During the public conversation, Picard posed the issue of the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields to the panelists for their comments.

Mona Nemer meets with audience members following the NPII public discussion.
Canada's Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer speaks with audience members following the public discussion.

“I’m uplifted when I look at the audience today and see so many young people,” says Dr. Nemer. “I’m looking at the many women in the audience and I want you all to know there is a place for you in these fields. Don’t let anyone stop you.”

Dr. McDonald agreed, stating that his field – physics—“needs a revolution of women in the discipline”. He also urged current students to try a variety of things while in university to discover where their passions may lie.

“Science is fun. It’s an adventure,” he says. “Embrace it!”

The event coincides with the launch of a brand new website highlighting Queen’s University’s vast complement of research pursuits and achievements. The site tells the stories behind research happening right here at Queen’s and highlights how research affects our lives and helps to shape our collective knowledge about the world.

For those who could not be among those present at the event, or among over 2000 viewers who joined our live online broadcast, you can view a video recording of the event now. A captioned version of the video will be available in the coming days.

Queen’s hosts Nobel Prize Laureates for sold-out public talk

International initiative will connect Nobel Laureates with students, researchers, and Queen’s community, during first Canadian tour.

Nobel Prize replica
The Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative public dialogue, featuring Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie, will also be broadcast live on the Queen's University Facebook page.
WATCH LIVE ONLINE: Tickets to the event are sold out; however you can watch our live online broadcast on the Queen’s University Facebook page or on the Queen’s Livestream site.

For early- and mid-career scientists, the ascent toward research success is a rewarding but at times daunting climb. On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Queen’s community will hear from two researchers who have reached one of the world’s highest academic peaks: receiving the Nobel Prize.

As part of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII), Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie will visit Queen’s to engage and inspire students, staff, and faculty. Dr. Chalfie shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on Green Fluorescent Protein. He will share thoughts and insights on research success during a sold-out public discussion with Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen’s own Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald (Physics, 2015).

Award-winning journalist and author, André Picard, will moderate the dialogue, which will be held at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts from 2-3:30 pm that day. Open to the public, the talk is the signature event of the daylong NPII visit to Queen’s – which is one of four universities hosting the initiative on its first-ever Canadian tour.

The NPII is an international outreach program that strives to connect Nobel Laureates with scientific and student communities at universities and research centres worldwide. Organized by Nobel Media, in partnership with biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, the effort allows laureates to shed light on topics of interest to young scientists and the research community at large; including anything from career choices to work-life balance, or how best to communicate their research. Since 2010, the NPII has visited over 30 cities in 14 countries around the globe.

Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative
Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie.

“We are delighted to be visiting Canada with Dr. Martin Chalfie as part of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative. Having already taken the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative to the next generation of scientists on five continents we know that each event brings a new sense of excitement,” says Adam Smith, Chief Scientific Officer, Nobel Media. “We look forward to a fascinating discussion at Queen’s University, where a wonderful group of panellists will be exploring the questions of critical importance to the future of science, including the correct balance between fundamental and applied research, and the factors which influence scientific success.”

Along with the public discussion, Dr. Chalfie will engage in an exclusive, roundtable talk with some of Queen’s most promising graduate and post-doctoral students, and early-career researchers.

“The Nobel Prize has been considered the highest honour for academics, so it’s truly a privilege for the Queen’s community, and particularly our student researchers, to host Dr. Chalfie and the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative here on campus,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University.

While on campus, Dr. Chalfie will also tour two cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary research and learning spaces on campus – the Beaty Water Research Centre and Ingenuity Labs at newly-opened Mitchell Hall – meeting with graduate and post-doctoral students, staff, and faculty.

Queen’s University is recognized nationally for its research and graduate studies, including attracting and retaining accomplished academics and research mentors. Among them, Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald, who, together with Japanese scientist Takaaki Kajita, received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for demonstrating that neutrinos have mass. Stemming from this achievement, Queen’s University, alongside university and institutional partners, launched the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute in 2018. Supported by a $63.7 million investment from the Canadian government, the Queen’s-based institute unites researchers, theorists, technical experts, and students in an effort to understand some of the universe’s deepest mysteries.

“Queen’s demonstrates marked leadership and excellence in the area of fundamental and applied science, a reputation that has been shaped by researchers like Dr. McDonald,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “In sharing their career trials and triumphs, especially in open conversation with students and faculty, Drs. McDonald, Chalfie, and Nemer, will surely help aspiring researchers in charting their own paths to success.”

The Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative public discussion takes place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 2-3:30 pm EST. Tickets are sold out. However, you can still experience the event by watching our live online broadcast on the Queen’s University Facebook page or on the Queen’s Livestream site. To join the event’s wait list or receive a reminder about the livestream, register for tickets on our Eventbrite. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page or bookmark the livestream link for additional notifications when the event goes live. 

Start-ups awarded seed funding in Kingston’s biggest pitch competition

Seven teams win big in annual Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre's summer pitch competition.

  • Backr, the team named by judges to take home the grand prize of $30,000, delivering their winning pitch.
    Backr, the team named by judges to take home the grand prize of $30,000, deliver their winning pitch.
  • Nina Tangri, Member of Provincial Parliament and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade (Economic Development), sharing remarks during the opening of the competition.
    Nina Tangri, Member of Provincial Parliament and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade (Economic Development), shares remarks during the opening of the competition.
  • Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson makes opening remarks at the 2019 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition.
    Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson makes opening remarks at the 2019 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition.
  • Fourteen teams pitched their ventures to a panel of judges over the course of the competition.
    Fourteen teams pitched their ventures to a panel of judges over the course of the competition at Mitchell Hall.
  • Lifted took home $10,000 after winning over the audience with their pitch. They were voted crowd favourite and were recognized with the Wisdom of the Market Award.
    Lifted took home $10,000 after winning over the audience with their pitch. They were voted crowd favourite and were recognized with the Wisdom of the Market Award.
  • Following each pitch, the panel of judges asked questions of the competitors to further explore each team's proposal.
    Following each pitch, the panel of judges asked questions of the competitors to further explore each team's proposal.
  • Cromble was among the seven winning teams that competed in front of the large audience at Mitchell Hall, the new facility that houses the Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre.
    Cromble was among the seven winning teams that competed in front of the large audience at Mitchell Hall, the new facility that houses the Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre.

After weeks of preparation, teams of emerging entrepreneurs stood before a panel of esteemed judges at the 2019 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition and made their case as to why their start-up businesses are ready to take the next big step.

Fourteen teams, all but one of which was comprised of students from Queen’s University, took part in the competition, each vying for a piece of $100,000 of total seed funding available to be won. The annual contest is the largest of its kind in Kingston, and past Queen’s winners have included ClimaCube (2018) and SpectraPlasmonics – who have gone on to compete internationally.

“I want to congratulate this year’s teams on their outstanding pitches, and commend their determination and drive to become Kingston’s next generation of innovators,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC). “We know that access to seed capital is so important for fledgling companies, and that a vote of confidence from our judging panel can go a long way toward growing opportunities. We continue to be excited and proud to host this thrilling competition every summer.”

Teams had only a few minutes to make their business’ case for support, after which the judges asked a series of questions of each group about anything from product development to corporate strategy and financing. Sitting on the judging panel this year were Raj Melville, Executive Director of the Deshpande Foundation; Benjamin Barrows, Founder and CEO of technology and data firm Cabot 7; Allison Turner, co-founder and Director of Product Development at PnuVax; David Lloyd, CEO of Post Beyond; and Shelby Yee, CEO of RockMass Technologies, the grand-prize winning company for the 2016 Summer Pitch Competition.

“The Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition has made tremendous progress over the years both in the quality and breadth of solutions pitched as well as the general interest from a worldwide audience, thanks in large part to the efforts of the DDQIC Staff,” says Melville. “The teams have worked really hard and it showed in the polished presentations that highlighted key business opportunities and issues facing them. We congratulate the teams and look forward to seeing them succeed and grow.”

Following the judges’ deliberations, seven teams walked away with seed funding, with Backr securing the largest sum — $30,000 — to support their online tool to help online content creators better engage their fans.

“We are thankful to the DDQIC for supporting entrepreneurship in the Queen's and Kingston community. It was our privilege to pitch alongside so many terrific teams,” says Duncan Cameron-Steinke, on behalf of the Backr team. “For our company, we can now apply the funds towards accelerating our product development and arrive sooner to market. This is just the beginning for us and we are thankful to the judges who believed in our team and in our vision.”

Cameron-Steinke, a recent graduate of engineering physics, is one of 45 Queen’s students who competed on teams this year, from across multiple disciplines, including Business, Engineering and Applied Science, Arts and Science, and Graduate Studies. Other competitors included entrepreneurs from the Kingston region and from the Royal Military College of Canada.

The competition was held in the atrium of Queen’s University’s recently-opened Mitchell Hall — the new home of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. Queen’s Interim Provost and Vice-Principal Tom Harris, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson and MPP Nina Tangri, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade (Economic Development), delivered remarks to open the day’s events.

“Businesses are the backbone of Ontario’s economy,” says MPP Tangri to the competing teams in her opening remarks. “All of you have come here today with innovation, and whether your venture aims to impact your local community, address social issues, support other business and people, or make advancements in science and technology, you should all be proud of the work you have done to be here today.”

To learn more about the competition, visit the 2019 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition website.
 



2019 DDQIC Summer Pitch Competition Results:

Backr - $30,000
Backr created a tool that promotes fan engagement while creating revenue for online creators. The group works alongside creators' existing social platforms and reward fans for every act of engagement, motivating them to do more.

HeroHub - $15,000
HeroHub is an online platform that creates a greater social impact by connecting local charities and non-profits to individuals or businesses seeking volunteer opportunities, charity events, and to donate new or gently-used items.

Cromble - $15,000
Cromble works to divert 100 per cent of wasted spent grain — a byproduct of beer brewing — and use it in creating a wide range of products, including health foods.

Red Gold of Afghanistan - $10,000
This team is helping female farmers in Afghanistan achieve financial independence by building their capacity in saffron cultivation and connecting them to global markets.

Research Stream - $5,000
Research Stream is a digital platform that connects researchers and participants for human subject research.

Big Spoon Lil’ Spoon (BSLS) - $5,000
BSLS is a social venture that provides healthy living programs and life skills workshops to people with disabilities and their siblings. BSLS’s goal is to help teach participants of all ages learn to be self-sufficient and lead a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Lifted - $10,000 (Wisdom of the Market Award)
This team, selected as a winner by audience vote, created a bra company that strives to redesign the lingerie industry to be more diverse and inclusive.

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