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June edition of Gazette available

The June edition of the Gazette is now available around Queen’s campus, as well as a number of off-campus locations.

[Gazette June 9]
Read the Gazette online.

The newspaper is filled with interesting Queen's-focused items including:

  • A feature interview with Mike Condra, who is retiring as director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services.
  • A series of articles on what’s happening at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.
  • A close-up, colourful look at spring convocation.
  • Updates on the latest research, awards and achievements of faculty, staff and students.

The Gazette is published monthly during the summer months; the next edition will hit the newsstands on July 7.

Anyone looking to get a story, photo or information in the Gazette can contact the paper's editor Andrew Carroll or Senior Communications Officer Mark Kerr.

Also visit the Gazette Online for more stories and photos and follow us on Twitter at @queensuGazette.

 

Engineering future success

[Rube Goldberg Machine Contest]
Monika Palinkas, Engineering Outreach Projects Coordinator, left and Scott Compeau, Outreach Coordinator for EngQonnect, hold up a Rube Goldberg machine that Ms. Palinkas built as an example for students who will compete in the upcoming Rube Goldberg Machince Design Contest at Queen's University. (University Communications)

While most engineering design is aimed at making things simpler, a special event on Thursday is asking local elementary students to make a basic task more complex.

It’s called a Rube Goldberg machine, named after the cartoonist and engineer best known for his cartoons depicting intricate gadgets that perform simple tasks in convoluted ways.

The aim of the annual Rube Goldberg design contest, organized by EngQonnect, an outreach program for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s, is to get local youth interested in design and possibly an education and career in engineering.

This first pilot event has students designing and building Rube Goldberg machines that complete the task of turning on a musical device.

The focus of the contest is to introduce young minds to the engineering design process, explains Scott Compeau, Outreach Coordinator.

“That’s what we’re trying to reiterate with this contest. Engineering requires a lot more creativity and innovation, building a prototype, testing it and going through a design process,” he says. “It’s using a lot more of the problem-solving skills that are necessary to become an engineer.”

Some students may be deterred from engineering as they believe it only requires strong abilities in math and science, but it’s more than that, Mr. Compeau says.  Providing an accurate representation of the engineering profession is the goal of the outreach program along with connecting with the community.

“I think that there are a lot of components to engineering that are not necessarily known – creativity, innovation, problem-solving, teamwork and communication skills,” he says. “All of these are essential engineering skills that sometimes get overlooked, but, within the profession, are extremely important.”

Ahead of the event, Mr. Compeau and Monika Palinkas, Engineering Outreach Projects Coordinator and an engineering student herself, have been visiting local schools to spread the word about the contest and get students thinking about a future in engineering.

They want them to know that while engineering is definitely challenging, it can also be a lot of fun.

“The Rube Goldberg contest is a great introduction to the engineering design process because it’s practically impossible to make a machine that’s going to work the first time,” says Ms. Palinkas. “I made one myself and it took me a few days to complete. It’s all about building one step and asking yourself why it’s not working? You figure out the problem and you solve it. There are all these mini-engineering challenges within the whole design process which is why it works so well for exposing engineering to kids.”

Grade 8 students from Calvin Park Public School have been building their machines throughout the week and will be displaying their machines for judging on Thursday, June 11 from 12:30- 1:30 pm in Room 313 within Beamish-Munro Hall.  The Rube Goldberg machines will be open to the public during the final celebration between  6-7:30 pm where all attendees are welcome to actively participate in the event by voting for the “people’s choice” award

Further information can be found on the EngQonnect educational outreach program website or contact the team at eng.qonnect@queesu.ca.

 

Disraeli Project draws to a close

The Disraeli Project, which produces scholarly editions of former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s correspondence, will close in November 2015.

“Over the past several years, we examined different options and pursued a variety of funding sources in an effort to extend the Disraeli Project,” says Susan Mumm, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science. “Despite everyone’s best efforts, we couldn’t find a solution that would support the long-term financial viability of the project. The Faculty of Arts and Science thanks the scholars, groups and individuals who contributed to the project over the past 40 years.”

The Disraeli Project was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, both of which expired in 2014. The Office of Advancement and the Office of the Principal made a concerted effort to increase philanthropic support for the Disraeli Project. However, external funding did not reach a sufficient level to extend the project.

Queen’s remains steadfast in its pursuit of high-quality research in diverse fields. As part of its ongoing commitment to the evolving field of humanities research, Queen’s will participate in a conference on digital publishing in the humanities in conjunction with other members of the Matariki Network of Universities.

Questions about the closure of the Disraeli Project can be directed to the Faculty of Arts and Science at deanartsci@queensu.ca.

A career in caring

Mike Condra was a psychologist at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) in the 1980s when someone asked his then-young son what his dad did for a living. Eoghan replied simply: “My dad talks to sad people and makes them happy.”

Mike Condra arrived at Queen’s University  in 1992 to become the director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS) and, during that time, has focused on mental health education and awareness. (University Communications)

Dr. Condra still likes this description of his work (although he is quick to say that he doesn’t mean for it to sound “trite” or overly simplistic). In essence, it’s what the soft-spoken Irishman has done for the past two-plus decades at Queen’s, working in Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS) after leaving KGH, and taking the helm as HCDS director in 1992.  He’s listened, offered gentle advice, been a friend to thousands, and spearheaded mental health initiatives across campus. When he retires in June, he leaves a mountain of accomplishments and a community he’s held close to his heart – a community he’s helped to shape, heal and grow.

A special Retirement Reception in honour of Dr. Michael Condra will be held Wednesday, June 17, 4-6 pm, at the University Club. Queen's community members are invited to celebrate the many contributions Dr. Condra has made throughout his career.

“I got the job in counselling at Queen’s in 1992, and taking it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” says Dr. Condra. “It’s been a wonderful work environment for me. I’ve always felt supported in what we do in HCDS.”

In 1973, Dr. Condra had just wrapped up a bachelor’s degree in psychology when he and his wife, Eleanor, decided to immigrate to Canada from Ireland. He had thoughts of “maybe going to school” again, and maybe “staying in Canada for two or three years” before returning home. But shortly after arriving, Dr. Condra landed the job at KGH as a psychometrist, working with psychologists to administer psychological tests. It turned out to be a great introduction to Canada’s health-care system.

A couple of years later, he started his PhD at Queen’s. At the same time, Eleanor began studies, first at St. Lawrence College, then at the university – she is a three-time Queen’s grad, holding a BA in sociology as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in education. They had children – two boys, one girl. They settled down, rooting in Kingston in family and work.

“We went back to Ireland six years after coming to Canada, and it seemed, to us, things there had moved on. So had we.”

•    •    •

PARTING WORDS
It’s hard to imagine HCDS or Queen’s without Mike Condra. Mike has been a fixture at Queen’s for decades and for me epitomizes the highest standards of university service. We will miss his quiet wisdom and compassion. I’m especially grateful for all the work he has done in student mental health issues over the past five years.
— Daniel Woolf, Principal

As director at HCDS for over 20 years, Mike has proven himself selfless, caring, honest and kind. His immediate response to a call for assistance at any time of day or night has always ensured individuals in need receive excellent care. Mike is a leader in the field of mental health education, and Queen’s has been most fortunate to have him as a member of its community. It is hard for those of us who work in student services to imagine how we will manage without Mike to guide us through many difficult situations. His is truly wise and compassionate counsel.
— Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs

Mike Condra has been a tireless advocate and supporter of student health and wellness at Queen’s and it will be very difficult to replace him. As a mentor to me and so many others, I am most struck by the care he demonstrates for each individual he works with. I remember being in charge of Orientation Week and coming to Dr. Condra’s office for the first time with a vision for a new event to help address mental health. He took the time to help bring my vision to life, and the next year, he and I were the two speakers at the event’s second-ever occurrence. I will forever cherish that memory and my interactions with this incredibly special man.
— Mike Young, Rector

Move on, he did. His years at Queen’s have been busy, and the last decade especially demanding. Mental health education and awareness, he says, has been the focus of his work over this time. Across the continent, postsecondary institutions have become increasingly aware of the importance of mental health concerns among students. Queen’s is no exception, but the university hit its hardest point in 2010 when Jack Windeler died by suicide. Several more student deaths followed.

“That shifted everything. It was a really difficult time for all of us at Queen’s. Suicides and suicide attempts are always terribly sad,” he says. “When we are mentally well and we have to deal with a crisis we can problem-solve, think of possible solutions. When a person’s mental health is compromised, problems that they could deal with confidently become overwhelming and seem insurmountable. This is when the risk of suicide can increase.”

At Queen’s, there has always been concern for students’ wellbeing and mental health, Dr. Condra says, but the deaths in 2010 and 2011 spurred new thinking, and many programs and initiatives blossomed. Principal Daniel Woolf put together the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health, generating a plan and guidelines for the university to follow in order to address the changing needs of its students.

“Daniel has done a phenomenal job of leadership in the area of mental health. There is a lot of support for the work we do from the principal’s office and all of the senior administration. The principal has worked to ensure that our efforts in HCDS and in mental health education are supported.”

In particular, Dr. Condra is proud of two workshops offered on a regular basis through HCDS: the one-hour Identifying and Responding to Students in Distress and the three-hour Mental Health: Awareness. Anti-Stigma. Response. He’s also very happy with the two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), but says it’s not always easy for people on campus to devote two full days to the workshop. The other two programs, developed fully by Queen’s (MHFA is a nationwide program provided under the auspices of the Mental Health Commission of Canada), get quickly to the heart of the matter with relevant  information on the experience of mental health and stigma, and offer concrete strategies to help a person who is experiencing a mental health problem.

“It is not difficult to support someone who is dealing with a mental health problem. I’ve found that people really want to help,” he says. “But often they are scared. They don’t want to do the wrong thing. Participants tell us repeatedly that these programs give them reassurance and confidence in helping a person with a mental health problem.”

Dr. Condra, who was given a Queen’s Distinguished Service Award in 2014, is also celebrating the beginning of a new peer-mentoring program on campus for students with mental health problems. M² matches students who have a mental health problem with upper-year trained student mentors who provide personal support and suggest learning and coping strategies through weekly meetings. The findings from the evaluation process will be used to produce a program design and comprehensive resource manual that will be shared with colleges and universities across Ontario, and will also be incorporated into the peer-mentoring program offered through HCDS.

“It has been a wonderful experience. Queen’s has a well-established culture of leadership-development and peer programming. In this context, M² was a natural fit,” says Dr. Condra.  “Our students are enthusiastic, generous and very dedicated. M² advertised for 18 mentors and we received 135 applications. The wisdom and support of an upper-year peer can be very powerful in helping a student who is experiencing a mental health problem. Peer mentors have a lot of credibility.”

•    •    •

Dr. Condra grew up in a big family in Limerick, the sixth of seven children. In part, he says, his desire to be a psychologist grew out of his relationships with his siblings, with his younger brother especially.

His brother was born with a congenital dislocated hip, and while his older siblings did the “hard work” of caring for him in a more practical way, Dr. Condra set about making his brother smile.

“I could cheer him up, with jokes, a funny accent. I am certainly not a standup comic, and again, I don’t mean to trivialize, but I was just his friend.  It seemed to make a difference to him and it certainly made us very close.”

At Queen’s, Dr. Condra has countless stories of community members wanting to help others. He remembers an associate dean contacting him because a student, terrified, had come to her because she didn’t have enough money to buy much-needed pain medication.

“The dean didn’t have to call me,” he says. “But she wanted to help this student and didn’t know the best route, so we worked it out together. Like many of us in HCDS, I’ve had professors contact me to ask for advice on how to help a student. They are not looking for details about the student and are very respectful of the need for confidentiality. They just want to ensure that they know how to help students. They don’t have to do that, but they get extra marks in my books for taking the time. There is a tremendous amount of kindness and compassion on this campus.”

Asked how he deals with stress and being continuously confronted by other people’s struggles, Dr. Condra takes it back to family, both in Ireland and here, with his wife and three children. During his childhood, the family always sat down together for meals, and that’s important, he says, for developing close bonds.

“Loving, trusting relationships are really important. I’m in a relationship with someone I love, and I have three wonderful children. I have a great home life. Work is important to me, but it is not the only thing.”

•    •    •

At the time of writing this article, Dr. Condra had 10 weeks left at Queen’s before leaving for retirement in June.

“Ten weeks left, and four months of work still to do,” he says, laughing. “The upside of working at a university like Queen’s is that there are lots of exciting things to do. The downside: there are lots of exciting things to do.”

It’s understandable, then, given his busyness in past years, that he is not certain of what retirement will hold for him. “To be honest, I’m not sure. I’ll spend time outdoors, working on our property, an old barn. We’ll travel (his kids live in Edmonton, Lima and London, England). And I’ll probably do some consulting, particularly in the area of risk assessment.”

What’s certain, though, is the great bank of memories he’ll take with him. “It’s been a privilege working with the students, and faculty and staff. I’ve met many people whom I feel I’ve been privileged to get to know. I’m a very fortunate person.”

Tuition Support Plan changing to provide tax savings

Queen’s is making a change to its Tuition Support Plan, which provides financial assistance to help offset the costs of post-secondary tuition fees for the dependant children, spouses or partners of eligible Queen’s employees.

Previously, tuition support payments were made to the employee, but beginning in August they will be made directly to the student. This new payment process and recent changes in the Income Tax Act mean that payments will no longer be considered a taxable benefit to the Queen’s employee.

“Queen’s is proud to be able to support the education of its employees’ family members through the Tuition Support Plan,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “Employees have advocated for this change over the years and the university is very pleased that it can help provide tax savings and a better benefit to students.”

Tuition support payments will now be considered taxable income in the hands of the student, who in most cases will have a lower income and pay less tax than the employee. In addition, the university will no longer be required to withhold tax deductions when making the payment, so the student will receive the full amount of the benefit.

Diane Pointer, Director of Total Compensation in Human Resources, says that while the students will now be paid directly, the employee will still have to apply for the benefit.

“The application process remains largely the same, with employees using the same online system to submit an application,” says Ms. Pointer. “However, they will have to provide some additional information, such as the student’s social insurance number, banking information and address, to enable us to make the payment and issue the proper income tax slips.”

Applications for the Tuition Support Plan open on August 15 for most employee groups. For more information visit the plan’s webpage on the Human Resources website or contact your HR Advisor. Since every situation is unique, if you have questions about your personal tax situation, please consult your financial advisor.

Students recognize teachers who made an impact

[Baillie Award Westbrook]
Marina Westbrook, second from left, an English and drama teacher at Sacred Heart High School in Stittsville, Ont. received the Baillie Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching during a convocation ceremony presided over by Principal Daniel Woolf, left, Chancellor Jim Leech, second from right, and Rector Mike Young. (University Communications)

Teachers can have a lasting, positive impact and graduating students at Queen’s University are able to acknowledge the support they received from their high school teachers thanks to the Baillie Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching.

Each year during spring convocation, Baillie Awards are presented, following a nomination and selection process. The award was established by Chancellor Emeritus A. Charles Baillie and provides undergraduate students in their graduating year the chance to honour educators who have had a decisive and formative influence on them.

“The Baillie Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching is a wonderful opportunity for graduating students to honour a high school teacher who supported them on their path to higher education at Queen’s,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “The university is grateful to Mr. Baillie for establishing this program in recognition of the positive influence that so many secondary school teachers have on their students.”

One of this year’s recipients is Marina Westbrook, an English and drama teacher at Sacred Heart High School in Stittsville, Ont., who was nominated by Charlotte Orzel (Artsci’15). Ms. Orzel says she applied the writing, analytical and critical thinking skills she learned from Ms. Westbrook throughout her time at Queen’s and credits her former teacher with igniting her understanding of the importance of storytelling in life and society.

“Whenever someone asks why I study film, I don’t tell them about my favourite director, a formative viewing of Bergman, or even a compelling lecture from Film 110,” Ms. Orzel says. “Instead, I tell them about my high school English teacher.”

This year’s recipients also include:

  • Francesco Malfitano, Physical Education, Religion, and Geography teacher at St. Joseph’s College School in Toronto, nominated by Jennifer Taylor, (Sc’15)
  • Brian Rowe, History, Canadian and World Studies teacher at Brock High School in Cannington, Ont., nominated by Joshua Jones (Artsci’15)
  • William Code, Chemistry, Science and Music teacher at West Carleton Secondary School in Dunrobin, Ont., nominated by Hailey Ventola, (Artsci’15)
  • Andrew Culberson, Independent Study teacher and Guidance Counsellor at Fredericton High School in Fredericton, N.B, nominated by Alisha Virmani, (Artsci’15)

More information about the Baillie Awards is available on the Student Affairs website.

 

Honorary degrees recognize outstanding work

[2015 Honorary Degrees]
Among those receiving honorary degrees from Queen's University during this year's spring convocation ceremonies are, from left, Alan Broadbent, Eric Windeler, Michael Kirby and David Reville. (Supplied photos)

As Queen’s University’s spring convocation ceremonies enter a third and final week, the remaining four of the 10 honorary degree recipients are being honoured at Grant Hall.

For 157 years Queen’s has been conferring honorary degrees to people who have made remarkable contributions to the lives of people throughout the world in academia, business, politics, science and the arts.

The following is a brief description of the final four honorary degree recipients at this spring convocation.

Alan Broadbent

Alan Broadbent is chairman and founder of Maytree, and chairman and CEO of Avana Capital Corporation. He co-founded and chairs the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement, Diaspora Dialogues, and the Institute for Municipal Finance and Governance at the Munk Centre, University of Toronto.

Dr. Broadbent will receive his honorary degree (LLD) Monday, June 8 at 2:30 pm.

Eric Windeler

The founder and executive director of Jack.org, Mr. Windeler graduated from Queen’s University in 1982 with a B. Comm (Hons.) and enjoyed nearly 30 years of business success, first as a consultant with Accenture, and then as an entrepreneur in the automotive and software sectors. In 2010, Mr. Windeler and his wife Sandra Hanington got a call that would change their lives forever. Their 18-year-old son, Jack, a first-year student at Queen’s, had died by suicide. Following Jack’s death, Mr. Windeler put aside his business interests to found and lead Jack.org, a Canadian charity dedicated to raising awareness and reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Mr. Windeler will receive his honorary degree (LLD) Tuesday, June 9 at 2:30 pm.

Michael Kirby

Michael Kirby was first appointed in 1975 as a deputy president of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Soon after, he was seconded as inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-84). His appointment to the High Court of Australia came in 1996 and he served 13 years. In later years, he was Acting Chief Justice of Australia twice. When he retired from the High Court of Australia on Feb. 2, 2009, Mr. Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge.

Mr. Kirby will receive his honorary degree (LLD) Wednesday, June 10 at 2:30 pm.

David Reville

David Reville is a former politician in Ontario. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1985 to 1990, and was later an advisor to the government of Bob Rae. Mr. Reville was the first (and only) chair of the Ontario Advocacy Commission. He received an award from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities in 2001. He now operates David Reville & Associates in Toronto, specializing in social research and community development. In 2004, Mr. Reville began teaching for the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University; one of his courses is called A History of Madness and the other Mad Peoples' History.

Mr. Reville will receive his honorary degree (LLD) Thursday, June 11 at 2:30 pm.

An earlier story introduced the first six honorary degree recipients.

Queen's holds a special place in Cuddy's heart

This article is the second of three being written by Queen's Rector Mike Young on his experiences as he presides over Spring Convocation.

  • [Jim Cuddy honorary degree]
    Jim Cuddy speaks after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University, his alma mater, on Wednesday, June 3.
  • [Jim Cuddy honorary degree]
    Jim Cuddy speaks after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University, his alma mater, on Wednesday, June 3.
  • [Jim Cuddy honorary degree]
    Jim Cuddy receives his honorary degree from Queen's University Chancellor Jim Leech on Wednesday, June 3.
  • [Jim Cuddy honorary degree]
    Singer Jim Cuddy waits to receive an honorary degree from Queen's University, his alma mater, on Wednesday, June 3.
  • [Jim Cuddy honorary degree]
    Singer Jim Cuddy took some time on Wednesday to speak with Rector Mike Young about his experiences at Queen's University.

“You’re going to use your experiences at Queen’s in ways that right now, you can’t really fathom.”

That was Jim Cuddy, Artsci’83 and now LLD’15, when asked what he would want Queen’s students to know as he prepared to receive his honorary degree on Wednesday.

Beyond his life as an icon in Canadian music, Mr. Cuddy is an admirer of English literature, and says he is honoured to have the chance to share some wisdom with this year’s graduating class.

It was a homecoming of sorts for the Blue Rodeo co-founder and he says that Queen’s has helped shape his world in many different ways.

Kingston has been a regular stop for Mr. Cuddy over the years, whether it be to play a show, visit his son (who graduated last spring), or to play hockey in a beer league with some buddies, and he says each visit elicits the same feeling of nostalgia of a great fondness for his alma mater.

While at Queen’s, Mr. Cuddy was an extremely focused and diligent student and artist.

“It was a very productive time for me,” he says. “I played a lot of guitar and had a small group of friends. I had a really beautiful and peaceful time. It was the coming together of a lot of things for me.”

Harkening back to his time living on William Street, he described how his good friend and current Vice Chairman at MasterCard, Walter Macnee (Artsci ’77, B.Ed ’78), was one of the best musicians he’d ever met, and how Macnee served as one of his most impactful musical mentors.

“I would sit on his porch and wait for him to come home,” Mr. Cuddy explains, “and I begged him to give me lessons… I’d just get him to show me one thing, so I’d practice that all week, and I’d show up on the porch again.”

It was connections like this that Mr. Cuddy made while at Queen’s that served as the building blocks to his career as a musician.

Perhaps more surprising than his musical growth at Queen’s was the adoration he developed for the literature of Shakespeare and the Renaissance. When asked what he came away from Queen’s with, Mr. Cuddy cited a love for literature and time as the two most significant gifts.

“Time was very important because it allowed me to play guitar and contemplate all of these things I was learning,” he says. “But I think the really unexpected thing was that I really, really loved my studies.

“When I was in high school, I just did (my work) because you had to do it. But when I was here (at Queen’s)… I really was inspired by my professors… I did not think that I would get so wrapped up in it. I even contemplated, for a very short time, being an academic.”

Speaking about his related love for studying and developing the poetry and literature of music and lyrics, Mr. Cuddy feels that his love for literature and music are closely linked.

His being celebrated by Queen’s with an honorary degree is meaningful for him and he says that he is beginning to cherish the awards that look beyond the music and that celebrate, “how we’ve conducted our lives.”

Queen’s holds a special place for the Cuddy family as they pile up degrees and memories.

“To be honoured by an institution that graduated my parents, my wife, my son – my parents were married here by Padre Laverty – it’s very moving,” he says. “I have a very strong attachment to Queen’s. It means a lot to me.”

He wanted to leave Queen’s students with the following message:

“You have to appreciate that the way life is ordered now is not the way it’s going to end up being… You don’t know where life will lead you, but you will be ready.”

Queen's helps organize first Great Lakes Water Festival

  • [Great Lakes Water Fesitval]
    Grade 4 students from schools in the Kingston area learn about water conservation and stewardship with the help of Queen's students at the Great Lakes Water Festival.
  • [Great Lakes Water Fesitval]
    Grade 4 students from schools in the Kingston area learn about water conservation and stewardship with the help of Queen's students at the Great Lakes Water Festival.
  • [Great Lakes Water Fesitval]
    Grade 4 students from schools in the Kingston area learn about water conservation and stewardship with the help of Queen's staff and faculty at the Great Lakes Water Festival.

Elementary school students from across the Kingston area gathered at Lake Ontario Park on Thursday, June 4, for a day of fun and information on a broad range of topics involving water at the first Great Lakes Water Festival.

Through interactive and hands-on activities, students learned about water conservation and protection, water health and safety, water science and technology as well as water and society . 

Queen’s University helped organize the event along with KFL&A Public Health, Utilities Kingston, Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, Limestone District School Board, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Ontario Provincial Police, Sustainable Kingston and the Katarokwi Indigenous Grandmothers Council.

Queen's student the People's Choice at national 3MT

Cara (Chenman) Yin has given Queen’s University its first award at the national level of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT).

[Cara (Chenman) Yin]
Queen's University's Cara (Chenman) Yin has won the People's Choice Award at the national competition of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT).

Ms. Yin, a master’s student in physics, captured the People's Choice Award for her presentation “Seeing the world at the tip of a laser beam,” which encapsulates her ongoing research into using lasers to cut bone and improve outcomes in brain surgery. Voting for the award was conducted online.

Making the win all the more impressive is that Ms. Yin is an international student, who, when she first arrived in Kingston for her undergraduate studies, spoke very little English.

In the 3MT, competitors have just three minutes and one static slide to convey their research to the judges and audience.

Having advanced through the preliminary and final rounds at Queen’s, as well as the provincials, before reaching the national competition, Ms. Yin says she entered the 3MT as a fun challenge for herself. Although she says she was nervous to begin with, she gained strength and refined her presentation with each round.

“By the time of the Queen's finals, I was more confident about what I had to say in that three minutes. And I am very lucky to have family, friends and the Queen's physics department to cheer me on which really calmed me,” she says. “For the Ontario final, I really wanted to do well because I am not just representing myself but also Queen's. Queen's School of Graduate Studies helped me prep for the provincial competition which was extremely valuable.”

Judging for the national competition was based on videos of the presentations at the provincial competition.

Her accomplishment is also being lauded by the university.

“We are delighted that Cara has been recognized with the People’s Choice Award in the Canadian Three Minute Thesis competition. She represented Queen’s University brilliantly with her clear, informative and engaging presentation that landed her the majority of the more than 2,000 votes submitted from across the country,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “ In three minutes Cara has educated many people about how lasers may be used as a neurosurgical tool with the potential to improve outcomes and she has provided a glimpse into the incredible research that our graduate students are doing.”  

Ms. Yin is grateful for the support she received from the Queen’s community and beyond.

“Winning the national People's Choice Award was a nice surprise. I should thank those who used social media like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word,” she says. “I am very grateful for the whole 3MT experience and highly encourage other graduate students to participate in future years.” 

First place went to Elizabeth Watt, a physics and astronomy student from University of Calgary, while second went to Rebecca (Delong) Dielschneider who is studying immunology at the University of Manitoba.

The announcement of the results and videos of all 11 presentations can be viewed at the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies website.

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