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    Neuroscience Outreach Program gives back to the community

    Graduate students often want to bring their research to the broader community. The Neuroscience Outreach Program at Queen’s University enables students to do exactly that.

    [Neuroscience Outreach Program]
    A group of young students 'dissect brains' with the Neuroscience Outreach program as part of Brain Awareness Day. (University Communications)

    The student-run volunteer organisation allows students from a variety of disciplines to bring their expertise to several different programs. These include lectures for seniors and the general public as well as short educational programs for kids. Participating students work together in a team, providing an opportunity to get to know their colleagues at Queen’s. They also extend their knowledge and expertise by translating scientific research to diverse groups in a meaningful way.

    Catherine Normandeau, a PhD candidate in neuroscience, co-ordinates the Brain Badge program and trains volunteers. The Brain Badge is a pilot program which allows participating students to visit scout groups in Kingston and other local communities. Each session is adapted to the kids in the group and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. During the session, student volunteers first teach kids about the brain’s function. Kids are then able to participate in a hands-on activity smashing cauliflowers.

    Ultimately, the program teaches kids about the importance of brain safety and wearing a helmet. Ms. Normandeau particularly enjoys interacting with the kids and finds their input highly stimulating and recognizes the importance of fostering a strong connection between Queen’s and the local community.

    Another PhD candidate in neuroscience, Ashley Parr is on the executive team for public lectures and has been speaking to seniors groups for the past four years. She does this in order to spread awareness about degenerative diseases and strokes and to teach the public about brain plasticity and encourage adult learning.

    Like other students in the program, she also helps out during one-off activities such as Brain Awareness Day and the SEEDS enrichment course. Brain Awareness Day is a one-day event where about 160 Grade 5 students learn about the brain through hands-on activities. The SEEDS enrichment course gives about 30 Grade 7 and 8 students the opportunity to learn more intensively about neuroscience over the course of a couple of days.

    Ms. Parr says she hopes the programs will promote the sciences and encourage kids to think about pursuing careers in science. She enjoys seeing both adults and kids getting excited about science.

    By taking part in the Neuroscience Outreach Program, students help the community in a number of ways. The programs for kids both teach about brain safety and encourage those kids who are interested in science. The programs for adults build awareness of degenerative cognitive diseases and help reduce stigma. With students like Ms. Parr and Ms. Normandeau at the helm, the Neuroscience Outreach Program will no doubt continue to thrive into the future.

    This article was first published on the website of the School of Graduate Studies.

    Lawyer joins Queen’s Prison Law Clinic

    After years of serving clients at a range of Ontario institutions, the Queen’s Prison Law Clinic (QPLC) has proven to be a rewarding – and challenging – place to work.

    [Moiz Baig]
    Moiz Baig, right, meets with David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance. (Supplied Photo)

    A recent addition to the QPLC team, lawyer Moiz Baig comes from a background of private practice with people’s rights foremost on his mind.

    “While I was in private practice, I exclusively served clients with disabilities regarding legal battles they had with government decision makers, insurance companies, and private individuals,” he says. “Some of my clients had been involuntarily detained at psychiatric facilities, limiting their freedom in a manner very similar to imprisonment. People with disabilities have also historically been excluded from many aspects of society – and people sent to prison are by definition excluded from society. So some issues and the ways to advocate for their legal rights are similar, even though the legal framework and decision makers are different.”

    One of the draws of clinic work was the opportunity to work in an experiential learning environment – for Mr. Baig, another way to give back.

    “Having been a clinic student during law school and a summer student at another specialty legal clinic, I know the challenges and rewards of experiential learning,” he says. “In many instances, no one else is on the side of the clients we serve at the Queen’s Law Clinics, so I would like to instill in students the value of the work we do here, and try to inspire them to use their experience with the clinic as a springboard for a career in social justice.”

    Among Mr. Baig’s springboards into public justice has been meeting David Lepofsky, Volunteer Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance at Queen’s Park.

    “He’s a lawyer with the provincial government and an inspiring public speaker,” Mr. Baig says. “Mr. Lepofsky is the reason why public transit vehicles in Ontario must have an audio announcement of the next stop, so that people with impaired vision know when to exit.

    “I hope to bring about meaningful change, the way he has, for people who have been excluded from society.”

    This article was first published on the website for the Faculty of Law at Queen's University.

    Controlled gas release at Lower University Avenue and Stuart Street

    Utilities Kingston and Kingston Fire & Rescue are advising residents that a planned release of natural gas is scheduled to take place at Lower University Avenue and Stuart Street during the morning of Thursday, Aug. 13.

    While the public may notice a venting flame and/or a gas odour in the air for about an hour during the mid-morning operation, there is no need to be alarmed, a media release from the City of Kingston explained, adding that it is a controlled operation to depressurize a section of pipe to enable Utilities Kingston to make necessary repairs.

    The gas release will not affect Kingston General Hospital or Queen's University.

    Family medicine professors among top-20 pioneers

    [Drs. Birtwhistle and Rosser]
    Richard Birtwhistle, left, and Walter Rosser of the Department of Family Medicine at Queen's University are included in the College of Family Physicians of Canada's list of Top 20 Pioneers of Family Medicine Research in Canada. (University Communications)  

    Two members of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University are included in this year’s Top 20 Pioneers of Family Medicine Research in Canada.

    Drs. Richard Birtwhistle and Walter Rosser, both with the Department of Family Medicine, were among those recognized by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) in its 20th annual list for contributions to advancing health care in Canada and around the world.

    "We are thrilled that both Dr. Birtwhistle and Dr. Rosser are being recognized for their groundbreaking research in Canadian family medicine," says Richard Reznick, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences. "Primary care research is fundamental to improving the interactions between primary care providers and their patients – a crucial step in keeping people healthy and out of the hospital. We are so fortunate to have such high-caliber researchers here at Queen’s who have made  the field of primary care their priority."


    Dr. Birtwhistle is being recognized for his work with the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN), a pan-Canadian network of practitioners with electronic medical records. At Queen’s Dr. Birtwhistle is director of the Centre for Studies in Primary Care and teaches in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology. 

    Professor Emeritus Rosser, a former head of the Department of Family Medicine, is being recognized for his research with Practice Based Research Networks (PBRNs) and research in non-university affiliated practices such as with Ambulatory Sentinel Practice Network (ASPN).

    “While there are many worthy candidates for this honour, 20 researchers have been selected who meet the criteria of what it means to be a pioneer within their respective fields of work,” says CFPC president, Garey Mazowita. “These pioneers have demonstrated the value of research that is informed by doctor-patient relationships, continuity of care, community and population connections, and commitment to teaching - the very attributes that family doctors bring to Canadians on a daily basis."

    The CFPC represents more than 34,000 members across the country. It is the professional organization responsible for establishing standards for the training and certification of family physicians. 

    Gearing up for Homecoming 2015

    Campus may be relatively quiet in the summer, but Queen’s University staff, students and alumni are busily preparing for Homecoming 2015. More than 500 alumni and their guests have already registered for the Oct. 23-25 weekend.

    [Queen's Homecoming]
    Alumni return to Queen's for Homecoming. 

    “Alumni look forward to – and begin planning for – Homecoming, and celebrating milestone reunions, years in advance,” says Vice-Principal (Advancement) Tom Harris. “A great deal of preparation and hard work goes into ensuring that their homecoming is memorable.”

    Homecoming was reinstated as a traditional one-weekend model last year, and alumni response was overwhelming. Faculties and schools engaged their alumni in meaningful and substantive ways; dozens of classes led fundraising efforts as part of celebrating their reunion, most in support of student assistance. In total, 41 classes raised gifts as part of their reunion – almost a 50 per cent increase from 2013.

    “We are very grateful to reunion coordinators and the many, many alumni volunteers who work so hard to support class giving while they plan great activities for their former classmates,” says Vice-Principal Harris.

    This year’s festivities include the return of classes ending in ‘5’ and ‘0’, as well as those who graduated before 1965. The classes of 2010 and 1990 will have signature events to celebrate their fifth and 25th reunions, respectively, as will the Tricolour Guard, which includes alumni celebrating reunions of 50 years or more.  

    The Homecoming football game will feature the Queen’s Gaels taking on the Laurier Golden Hawks on Oct. 24. In addition, dozens of events are being planned by faculties, schools, departments, and student groups. For the second year, the AMS will host the ReUnion Street Festival, offering students and alumni the opportunity to interact and celebrate Queen’s.

    “Homecoming is a unique and special event for Queen’s, and is at its best when it’s a safe and respectful celebration of the Queen’s spirit,” says Vice-Principal Harris. “We’re looking forward to welcoming alumni home.”   

    For more information or to register, visit the Homecoming 2015 website

    Young entrepreneurs ready to make their pitch

    [QICSI Students]
    Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative participant Amy Hamilton constructs her venture’s prototype while teammate Thiago Santarém completes design work. The students are preparing for the pitch competition that will take place on Aug. 20. (University Communications)

    The third floor of Beamish-Munro Hall buzzes with activity one morning in early August. Teams of students cram into various meeting rooms, working furiously to prepare for the Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI) pitch competition that will take place on Aug. 20.

    [QIC Logo]
    Queen's Innovation Connector

    “I’m excited,” says Amy Hamilton, one of 39 students participating in this year’s QICSI.

    “Excited and freaking out a little bit,” quickly adds her teammate Thiago Santarém. They are two of the four St. Lawrence College students selected to join this year’s cohort that includes Queen’s students across all faculties.

    In a small room, Ms. Hamilton puts her seldom-used sewing skills to work on constructing her venture’s prototype while Mr. Santarém busies himself with graphic design work. Elsewhere in the building, the three other members of the venture, known as Scarlet, get marketing advice from a consultant.

    Across the hallway in another meeting room, three members of Impulse Biomechanics work independently on their assigned tasks. 

    As they take a break from their work, a sense of anticipation mixed with weariness fills the small space dotted with Post-it notes that remind the students what still needs to be done before the pitch competition.

    “There’s a bit of stress. If you look down the hallway, we all hope to win money and continue our business after the summer. It’s been really fun to be around so many different people and learn from them, but now it’s more of a competition,” says Kirsten MacMillan, Sc’17. “(The pitch competition has) really worked well for us: we have a deadline on the calendar that we really need to meet and that pushes us to put in the extra hour and make the extra phone call.”

    Eight ventures are vying for up to $30,000 as well as bragging rights as the top venture of this year’s QICSI. The program launched in 2012 to teach students about entrepreneurship, innovation and change management. 

    Last year’s pitch competition winner, Mosaic Manufacturing, went on to further develop its technology at Innovation Park at Queen’s University as part of QIC Acceleration. 

    The venture also won a national pitch competition worth $25,000 in March.

    The students can continue to build their ventures even if they don’t win the pitch competition. In fact, more than 25 companies that started as a result of QICSI continue in various stages of technology development and commercialization.

    “The pitch competition is just one of many great learning opportunities students receive during the summer initiative program,” says Greg Bavington, Director, QIC. “They get a chance to practice their communication and presentation skills in a high stakes environment while at the same time receiving valuable feedback about their companies from our expert judges.”

    Getting exposed to new ideas and knowledge is something several QICSI participants mention when asked what they enjoy about the program.

    “We are learning something new every day,” says Hao Chen Sang, Com’17. “What I am learning this summer will really help me start and run my own business. I now know a lot more about the steps I need to take to make a business successful.”

    QIC will stream the pitch competition live on its website beginning at 1 pm on Aug. 20. QIC will announce the winner on its Twitter account later that evening.

    *    *    * 

    The Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative will conclude on Aug. 20 with a pitch competition where eight teams will vie for up to $30,000 in seed funding. Here are brief descriptions of the eight ventures: 

    Iris Technologies
    Iris Technologies is addressing the negative health consequences LCD screens cause for individuals who suffer from specific medical conditions or who spend a long period of time working at LCD monitors. The solution that Iris is providing is a substitute screen that causes fewer negative health repercussions by using e-paper technology, which is found in devices such as e-readers.

    Impulse Biomechanics
    Impulse Biomechanics wants to change the way people with neurological disorders experience the rehabilitation process. The company is creating a pressure sensing insole capable of tracking various gait metrics of individuals in neurorehabilitation programs, allowing physiotherapists to quantitatively follow patient progress and better target rehabilitation to their specific needs. 

    Apollo helps everyone to turn their ideas into reality and get funded. Creators can obtain feedback, in-kind support, and idea validation while simultaneously raising startup capital. 

    Concierge Connect
    Concierge Connect provides free and secure Wi-Fi access to users through a network of hotspots. The company’s service helps businesses manage their Wi-Fi and connect with their customers through a reliable login process. Users have a unique login that allows them to conveniently access all Concierge Connect hotspot locations.

    Scarlet Smart Fashion is a brand that combines smart technology, functionality and style to provide simple yet powerful solutions for the busy modern professional.  A major focus of Scarlet is to integrate technology into products to simplify and empower the lifestyles of customers. Scarlet’s brand exemplifies the passion, innovation, quality and beauty that it commits to its designs.

    Atria is a mobile application that will pay people to workout. The app uses group accountability and monetary incentives to motivate people to get fit. People can workout on their own, or join group campaigns on the app to raise money for a cause of their choice.

    With the global population expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, conventional livestock production no longer has the ability to feed the world in an environmentally sustainable way. Gryllies’ solution is to harvest crickets as a future-friendly protein source that can be integrated seamlessly into the traditional North American diet.

    LUMOS Energy Strips deliver an innovative solution to an everyday problem: tiredness. Conventional energy solutions are high calorie, high volume, and often high cost. LUMOS has created a thin strip containing naturally-sourced caffeine that dissolves in a person’s mouth for a quick boost equivalent to half a cup of coffee.

    Update on renovation work at Macdonald Hall

    On Wednesday, Aug. 5, a crew from Christmas Steel began repair work on the interior stairwell that leads from the basement level to the second floor of Lederman Law Library within Macdonald Hall. There will be intermittent noise disruptions and dust resulting from this work in the coming days.

    Any questions or concerns regarding this project should be directed to Fixit by phone at extension 77301 or by e-mail.

    Construction work ongoing at Beamish-Munro Hall

    Beginning on Friday, Aug. 7, Emmons and Mitchell Construction will begin repairing/replacing the elevated terrace at the east entrance to the second floor of Beamish-Munro Hall. Fencing will be erected around the work area for safety purposes and storage of equipment. There may be intermittent noise interruptions associated with the cutting and craning of concrete. Work is expected to be completed on Thursday, Sept. 10.

    Other entrances through Beamish-Munro Hall, Goodwin Hall and Dupuis Hall remain open. For more information see the Campus Accessibility Guide.

    Any questions or concerns regarding this project should be directed to Fixit by phone at extension 77301 or by e-mail.

    Temporary hot water shutdown planned for Nicol Hall

    There will be no hot water available in Nicol Hall on Thursday, Aug. 13 between 8 am and 12 pm while repairs are completed to a hot water line. Cold water will remain available for the standpipe system and domestic use (hand washing, flushing toilet, eyewash stations, etc.) while this work is completed.  

    Any questions or concerns regarding this planned work should be directed to Fixit by phone at extension 77301 or by e-mail.


    A world of experience on the international stage

    [Team Walkly]
    Team Walkly – Julie Lycklama (Cmp’17), Riley Karson, (Cmp’17), Christopher Thomas (Cmp’17) and Anastasiya Tarnouskaya (Cmp’17) – recently competed in the world final of the Microsoft Imagine Cup. (University Communications)

    While they didn’t win the Microsoft Imagine Cup, Team Walkly is returning to Queen’s University having gained valuable experience that will help them reach the next level.

    The Canadian representatives at the prestigious international event –  Riley Karson, (Cmp’17), Julie Lycklama (Cmp’17), Anastasiya Tarnouskaya (Cmp’17) and Christopher Thomas (Cmp’17) – created the Walkly app with the aim of providing a safer walking experience for everyone, anywhere, anytime by combining the power of social media and smartphone technology.

    Winners or not, Ms. Tarnouskaya says the team had a “fantastic experience” in Seattle and benefited greatly by meeting their peers from around the world and learning from their projects and ideas at the Imagine Cup, an international technology competition that provides teams of students from various areas of study the opportunity to use their creativity to change the way we live, work and play.

    Among the key things the foursome learned through the process – having competed at the regional and national levels before making it to the worlds – were being able to adapt to the changing environment quickly, working as a team and being able to handle increasing levels of pressure.

    “One of the most important things was learning quickly. We had to learn everything quickly because it was the first competition we had done – from development to just being able to work with each other,” Ms. Tarnouskaya says. “So I think teamwork was a very important aspect of our learning experience because we had to rely on each other. Also being able to deal with deadlines and work under pressure. We wanted to do a good job and make Canada proud.”

    With the app, the user chooses a destination through a mapping feature and an estimated time of arrival. The app then tracks the user and lets the user’s trusted network see if they are safely on their way. If the user doesn't get to their destination by the set time, the network is notified and can take action, such as a phone call. If a user arrives on time, the app’s automatic check-in feature will notify the network.

    In the finals, the team had to make a 10-minute presentation before the judges as well as a large crowd. The event was livestreamed worldwide.

    Ms. Tarnouskaya says that while the team was satisfied with their presentation, a number of others had already brought their product to market, giving them a key advantage when it came to some of the scoring such as usability.

    Getting Walkly in app stores for Android and iOS platforms and raising awareness is the next step but the team is also looking to get more Queen’s students competing in similar events.

    “Honestly, these competitions are so incredible, they are so much fun and a fantastic learning experience. We really want to inspire other students to get involved in these competitions because Queen’s has so much talent and we want people to be able to use that talent and do great things and get recognized for their capabilities on a world scale,” Ms. Tarnouskaya says, adding that the team is hoping to run presentation workshops based on their experiences. 


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