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    Israeli ambassador visits campus

     In July 2013 Principal Woolf, along with a delegation from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the Association of University Heads, Israel (AUH) in Tel Aviv in order to strengthen ties between academic institutions in the two countries.

    On May 9, Israel’s ambassador to Canada Rafael Barack visited Queen’s in support of this agreement. He toured a number of research laboratories before sitting down with Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer, to discuss co-operation between Queen’s and Israeli researchers.

    Andrew Stokes: Given the memorandum of understanding between the AUCC and the AUH, how are you as the ambassador to Canada supporting the agreement?

    Rafael Barack: [One way is] a symposium happening in Ottawa later this year hosted by the AUCC that we’re excited about. We’ll be sending scientists, government officials and success stories from the high-tech industry to represent Israel and to introduce the Israeli way of innovation. We’ve also invited 15 Canadian university officials to Israel; we want to look for more ways to co-operate, particularly through research and development.

    Ambassador Rafael Barack (left) visited Dr. Peter Davies (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) lab during his visit. (University Communications)

    AS: What were the goals of your visit to Queen’s?

    RB: Canada, and Queen’s in particular, has a long-standing and deep friendship with Israel that spans years. In fact May 11 is the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Israel. There’s a lot of interest and a lot of curiosity in Israel about Canada and we think there’s a lot to be done. I came to Queen’s to get familiar with the authorities in their subjects and meet the people who are already working with Israel. The government can only guide; it’s the researchers that need to act on these relationships. There’s a lot of potential for scientific development and research, particularly long-term agreements that can hopefully contribute to the good of humanity.

    AS: What did you learn while at Queen’s?

    RB: Dr. Steven Liss [Queen’s Vice-Principal (Research)] gave an excellent talk on all the activities happening here at Queen’s and I was really impressed by the work in chemistry, neuroscience and biomedicine I saw happening. Dr. Oded Haklai’s work in the social sciences was great to hear about and Dr. Alice Aiken’s work on post-traumatic stress disorder and veteran’s care is superb.

    AS: Given your work in countries all over the world, in what ways do you think Canada is exceptional?

    RB: Well, a new Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report says that Canada is the best-educated country in the world, and you have more than 100 universities and colleges. A country the size of Israel can’t support the sheer number of institutes you have. Canada has many high achievements in science, and has a number of Nobel Prizes to its name. Your laboratories and research facilities are excellent. We in Israel excel in the realm of the theoretical, and Canada has people doing superb clinical and practical work. This makes for great complementarity between our countries.

    One week of sushi, robots and cultural investigation

    By Wanda Praamsma, Communications Officer

    Queen's in the World

    One week doesn’t sound like nearly enough time to explore Japan.

    But for three Queen’s students, it proved to be plenty to delve into the culture, both academically and socially.

    There over reading week in February, the students spent their days working on a cultural project with Japanese students at the Japan-Canada Academic Consortium (JACAC) forum and the rest of the time wandering the streets of Tokyo, eating the “best sushi,” and making new friends.

    “The experience went far beyond what I expected,” says Cory Bentley (Artsci’14), who attended the forum with Meagan Berlin (Law’16) and Hasina Daya (Artsci’14). “I was so impressed with how the whole week went, but especially the level of connections JACAC cultivated for us.”

    Cory Bentley (second from right) and his JACAC group pose with Princess Takamado (centre) and Mackenzie Clugston, Ambassador of Canada to Japan (third from right), after winning first prize at the forum for best presentation.

    At one event, the students had the opportunity to meet with Princess Takamado, a member of the Japanese Imperial family and widow of Norihito, Prince Takamado, and were notably inspired by her graciousness and confidence. Students also had the opportunity to chat with Mackenzie Clugston, Ambassador of Canada to Japan, and his senior staff. For Mr. Bentley, these meetings were especially significant, as he plans to spend the next year (or more) in Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.

    But, it wasn’t just the high-level connections that captivated the Queen’s students.

    The JACAC forum is designed to bring students from both countries together to exchange ideas about a common topic of interest, and this year students were split into groups to discuss the challenges of an aging society, comparing both Canada and Japan.

    “I really enjoyed the group work with the Japanese students,” says Ms. Berlin. “Everyone took each other’s background into consideration and we worked together to understand one another. Canadians and the Japanese have different styles of communication and at times the Canadians, who are much more direct, had to back off a bit to give the Japanese students the space and time to communicate their views.”

    Queen's students Meagan Berlin (right) and Hasina Daya (second from right) spend some time exploring Tokyo with new friends.

    Ms. Daya agrees: “The Japanese are extraordinarily polite and won’t leap into a conversation like we would. I am someone who talks a lot, and I learned that traditionally, people who talk a lot are not trusted in Japanese culture. The students explained that this applies more to older generations, but it still helped me to better understand the social context.”

    At the end of the week, the groups presented on various aspects of the aging question. Mr. Bentley’s group, who investigated economic short- and long-term solutions to dealing with an aging population, won first prize for best presentation, an honour that garnered his team a photo with Princess Takamado. In addition to the group work and presentations, students also heard lectures from various university faculty on topics such as the challenges, and opportunities, of an aging society.

    The students also went on field trips. A highlight was the trip to Cyberdyne, a Japanese company that specializes in creating robotic suits that strap onto human bodies and work on neuro-electric impulses. The robots are particularly designed to help the elderly conduct daily tasks when their own bodies are failing.

    I wanted to do something academic over reading week, but I was not expecting how beneficial this ended up being. The whole thing blew me away.

    Meagan Berlin (Law'16)

    Outside conference hours, students were free to do their own thing and much of the time they ended up hanging out with their Japanese counterparts, in the morning going out to eat a traditional Japanese breakfast (miso soup, grilled salmon, rice and a raw egg) and in the evening visiting izakayas, where they say much of the Japanese business world gathers after work. On the weekend, Ms. Berlin and Ms. Daya got an early start (2:30 am) to visit the famed Tsukiji fish market, which only admits 120 tourists per day to view the tuna auction.

    “I wanted to do something academic over reading week, but I was not expecting how beneficial this ended up being. The whole thing blew me away – the group work, the quality of the lectures, the connections with Japanese students,” says Ms. Berlin.

    The JACAC forum is held alternately in Canada and Japan each year. Member universities of JACAC are guaranteed one student spot in the forum each year, but this year Queen’s secured three spots. Altogether, 14 Canadian students and 14 Japanese students participated in the forum.

    Learn more:

    Queen’s University Prince Takamado Visiting Student Scholarship

    Visit to Queen’s University by Princess Takamado


    Personalizing cancer treatment with 'big data'

    By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

    David Skillicorn (School of Computing) has been awarded a Big Data, Big Impact Grant from the Cancer Institute of New South Wales and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Australia to help personalize cancer treatment for children.

    The grant, in its second year, will support Dr. Skillicorn and 10 other researchers for work on their project entitled Generating Actionable Knowledge from Complex Genomic Data for Personalized Clinical Decisions. The project will involve a large scale analysis of detailed data about childhood cancer patients suffering mainly from leukemia.

    The project will challenge the previously defined categories that are currently used to determine cancer treatment for the patient.

    “After a cancer diagnosis and some tests, patients would typically be categorized based on the risk and variance of their disease,” says Dr. Skillicorn. “The category would then determine the treatment program. There were always a few patients who didn’t seem to fit their category; they would do well against the odds, or poorly when they shouldn’t have.”

    Current technology, called “high-throughput devices,” collects tens of thousands of marker values for each patient. Patients are then clustered and their eventual treatment is based on their cluster. Dr. Skillicorn’s research could result in a redefinition of these clusters.

    “Patients don’t form clusters,” says Dr. Skillicorn. “The disease almost always looks different from one patient to another. We believe there must be some bottleneck that causes the wide variety of patient configurations to appear as a much smaller set of disease categories.”

    Dean honoured by U.K. surgical society

    By Communications Staff

     Dean Richard Reznick

    Richard Reznick, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, and a professor in the Department of Surgery, has been awarded an honourary fellowship of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland. Reserved for surgeons and other distinguished medical practitioners, it is the highest honour the association can confer. Dr. Reznick is only the second Canadian surgeon to receive the award.

    “I have had a longstanding association with the society, including many excellent collaborations with surgeons from Great Britain and Ireland,” says Dr. Reznick. “It is an honour to be recognized as an honorary fellow.”

    Dr. Reznick, one of North America’s most pre-eminent surgical educators, is also a fellow of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. In 2011, he was awarded honorary fellowships with the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland, and the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, Scotland.

    He has won numerous awards, including the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Medal in Surgery, the Association for Surgical Educators Distinguished Educator Award, the National Board of Medical Examiners John P. Hubbard Award, the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges Young Educator Award, and the Canadian Association of Medical Education Distinguished Contribution to Medical Education Award.

    Dr. Reznick began his five-year term as dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and director of the School of Medicine at Queen’s on July 1, 2010. He also serves as the chief executive officer of the Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Association (SEAMO).


    Bridging the gap between ideas and action for global health

    By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

    Bridging the gap between ideas and action is the focus of the second annual Knowledge Translation for Global Health Summer Institute at Queen’s University. The conference offers upper-level students, graduate students, researchers and professionals an opportunity to learn about global health and social problems and how best to move evidence into action to improve or solve them.

    Co-chair Colleen Davison.

    “We cannot ignore the gap between knowledge and action,” says event co-chair Colleen Davison (Public Health Sciences). “Knowledge translation is important in many areas. We need to move apply knowledge towards improving health in vulnerable populations, food security and even service reconstruction in areas of conflict. This workshop will provide the tools for bridging the gap that so often exists between the knowledge of solutions and their implementation.”

    Based on feedback following the inaugural conference, the organizers have developed a new two-day option this year that is designed to emphasize skill-building. Participants in the two-day workshop will build competences in such areas as deliberative dialogue, partnership building and message communication.

    The original five-day workshop will involve a more comprehensive approach to building knowledge translation understanding through a small group, problem-based learning experience. In addition to attending the skills workshop, students in this option will have opportunities to apply their new skills to a current global health project with the help of an experienced mentor. One of the main goals of the event is to build a supportive community for knowledge translation and mentors who have experience in the field will be available for one-on-one support throughout the week.

    As an opportunity for public participation, there is a free public roundtable discussion titled “Knowledge Translation in Context: Lessons from the Poorest Countries to the Richest.” Keynote speakers include Margaret Biggs, the Skelton-Clark Fellow in the School of Policy Studies and former president of the Canadian International Development Agency, and Ian Graham, former vice-president of Knowledge Translation at Canadian Institutes of Health Research and senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. This event will take place on Tuesday, June 3 from 6:30- 8 pm at the New Medical Building .

    The Global Health Summer Institute runs June 2-6 and early bird registration is now open.

    Queen's professor unveils revolutionary foldable smartphone

    By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

    Queen’s professor Roel Vertegaal and student Antonio Gomes have unveiled PaperFold, a ground-breaking smartphone technology.

    The shape-changing, touch sensitive smartphone allows the user to open up to three thin-film electrophoretic displays to provide extra screen real estate when needed.

    Displays are detachable so users can fold the device into a number of shapes that can range from an ultra-notebook, to a map and back to a smartphone shape.

    “In PaperFold, each display tile can act independently or as part of a single system,” says Dr. Vertegaal, a professor in the School of Computing and Director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s. “Advantages to this technology include better support for performing tasks that would usually have required multiple devices, like a phone and a tablet PC or ultra-notebook in one.”

    The technology was released at the ACM CHI 2014 conference in Toronto – widely regarded as the most important conference on interaction techniques for new technologies.

    PaperFold demonstrates how form could equal function in malleable mobile devices. 
                                                                                                                - Roel Vertegaal

    PaperFold automatically recognizes its shape and changes its graphics to provide different functionality for each shape.

    • For example, a user could search for a building in New York City on Google Maps in three ways.
    • By flattening the three displays, the user changes can view a Google map across all displays.
    • Manipulating the device into a globe-like shape opens a 3D Google Earth view.
    • Folding the device into the shape of a 3D building on the map will pick up available 3D SketchUp models of buildings on that location and turn the device into an architectural model that can be printed in 3D.

    Inspiration for PaperFold came from its namesake: paper. Typically, mobile devices require scrolling or zooming in order to see different parts of a document whereas paper can be folded, detached or combined allowing it to be accessed in multiple documents.

    “The development of electronic paper computers that can adopt similar qualities to paper has been a research goal for our team,” says Dr. Vertegaal. “The PaperFold smartphone adopts the folding techniques that make paper so versatile, and employs them to change electronic views and display real estate on the fly. PaperFold demonstrates how form could equal function in malleable mobile devices.”

    A video of PaperFold is available at the Human Media Lab's Youtube channel and high resolution photos of the new technology can be found on the Human Media Lab's website.

    Graduating students fly the coop for international project

    By Hollie Knapp-Fisher, Communications Intern

    Hasina Daya and Gabrielle Armstrong anxiously await to hear if their proposal was accepted by the Pathy Family Foundation. 

    With the end of their undergraduate careers in sight, Gabrielle Armstrong (Artsci’14) and Hasina Daya (Artsci’14) chose to follow their passion and commitment to international development. They came together to form Team Impact with the goal of creating a co-operative chicken farm in Piave, a small rural village in Kenya. Their proposal recently earned them the support of the Pathy Family Foundation (PFF) Community Leadership Fellowship to implement their project.

    “We are going into this endeavor with an idea but not a plan,” says Ms. Armstrong. “Plans can be very rigid and often affect our ability to see what the real problem is. We want to listen to the needs of the people and adjust our plan to fit those needs.”

    They will live in Kenya for 10 months and work on the “Co-operative coop,” that is being built with the intention of generating income and financial support for the local residents.

    Queen's in the World

    “We are both very excited to see the money being generated from this coop and our project put to community growth and development,” says Ms. Daya. “The money will be allocated in three ways. First, the money will be reinvested in to the farm, to support its growth and sustainability. Second, the local laborers will receive a stipend which will enable them with purchasing power. Lastly, the money will be used to support people living with HIV/AIDS and orphans and vulnerable children in Piave. We’re looking to break the cycle of poverty in a sustainable manner”

    “No idea is too small to start change,” Ms. Armstrong adds. “In a rural village like Piave developing a chicken farm will significantly change their way of living. The community will have the opportunity to develop new skills and make money which gives them stability.”

    Ms. Armstrong and Ms. Daya, graduates of the global development studies program, have a previous connection to Kenya. Ms. Armstrong travelled to the country last summer with the Reach Out to Humanity (ROTH), a non-governmental organization that works to improve the capacity of existing community groups in several different developing countries. Ms. Daya’s mother and brother were both born Kenya and witnessed the impact of international aid. Their professors have been a driving force in the development of this project, and they are grateful for the support they have received.

    During their stay in Kenya, they will write a blog to keep friends, family and the university informed about developments with the project.

    The program is funded by the Pathy Family Foundation, a private foundation that invests in leadership and education initiative, and administered by the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC). Established in 2010, the program supports undergraduate and graduate students as they carry out an international project over an eight to 12-month period. More information about the PFF Community Leadership Program is available on the QUIC website.

    Teacher candidates reach out to the world

    The Technological Education Expo is being held in Duncan McArthur Hall from 11 am to 3 pm Tuesday, April 29.

    By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

    Amid the buzz of drills, the pop of the welding torch and the smell of sawdust, there is an undercurrent of excitement inside the Technological Education workshop at the Faculty of Education.

    After months of work, the teacher candidates in the Technological Education Program are putting the finishing touches on projects that will impact people in the local community and around the world. The projects include a human-powered lathe for underprivileged youth in the Dominican Republic, a culinary partnership that raises money for a health clinic in South Africa, and a new mail cart that will help a Queen’s staff member living with a disability deliver mail more easily and efficiently.

    “As part of the teacher education program, students research a need for a project or a service – the sky is the limit,” says instructor Ena Holtermann (Education). “I ask them, what kind of world do you want to create for your students and how can you improve the human condition? We want these experiences to be real-world and authentic – we want to bring the world into the classroom.”

    Students had to find a business, person or group that fit with the curriculum they will teach and identify a project that would provide a direct benefit to their target audience. They then had to find support for their project from a community partner including supplies, promotional materials or consumables.

    Scott Lewis (Ed’14) took this challenge to heart. A student in one of his practicum classes told him about taking baseball gloves with him on a trip to the Dominican Republic, which gave Mr. Lewis an idea for the project. His group designed a human-powered lathe capable of making baseball bats, a popular sport in the Dominican Republic.

    He and partners Eric Foster (Ed’14) and Chris Darnell (Ed’14) then headed to Veron, Dominican Republic, where they rebuilt a workshop at a school, installed the lathe (which is powered by bicycle pedals), and taught the students how to use it. “This wasn’t just a handout,” says Mr. Scott. “The kids really did all the work. They were really excited.”

    “They can also use the technology to make other projects because power is very expensive and this was a very poor area we were in,” says Mr. Foster.

    Another project addressed a need much closer to home. A staff member with a disability in the Faculty of Education is finding it harder and harder to do his job delivering mail due to his disability. The group of James Poortinga (Ed’14), Allison Posthumus (Ed’14) and Thomas Bruce (Ed’14) took up the challenge of building a new mail cart that was designed specifically for his needs.

    The biggest thrill for the teacher candidates working on the project? The new mail cart is a surprise that will be revealed to the staff member at the Expo.

    “The mail cart before was noisy and hard to push and he had to bend down to push it which put strain on his back,” says Mr. Poortinga. “We created a cart that was much higher with a kids bicycle tire as the back wheel and two wheelchair wheels for the front wheels. The cart is lighter and much easier to push and will make his job easier.”

    The community is invited to see these projects and much more during the Technological Education Expo Tuesday, April 29 from 11 am to 3 pm. Visitors will have an opportunity to use some basic shop equipment, sample food projects and experience hands-on learning. All of the projects will also be on display.

    National Scholars will enrich teaching and research

    By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

    An expert in chemical biology, an accomplished poet and scholar, and a promising historian will join Queen’s faculty as the first winners of the reinstated Queen’s National Scholar (QNS) program. Professors Avena Ross, Armand Ruffo, and Awet Weldemichael will take up their positions at Queen’s this summer.

    “The exceptional faculty who teach, mentor and inspire our students are the foundation of the learning experience at Queen’s. The QNS program aims to bring emerging leaders to Queen’s in order to strengthen and renew that foundation,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Each of these remarkable individuals has demonstrated the capacity for innovative research and the potential to be transformative teachers, and I am delighted they have chosen to continue their careers at Queen’s.”

    The appointments come after a competitive review process for QNS positions and a broad search for exceptional candidates. While only two QNS positions would normally be awarded in each annual competition cycle, the QNS advisory committee was impressed by the high quality of these submissions and felt that all three should be selected.

    Avena Ross, Queen’s National Scholar in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, is a promising researcher in the area of peptide biosynthesis. She received her PhD at the University of Alberta and comes to Queen’s from the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

    Armand Garnet Ruffo, Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous literatures and languages, is a poet, playwright, writer and scholar of international stature. Professor Ruffo is the author of an award winning poetry collection, a play and a feature film, as well as other works of creative non-fiction and scholarly publications in the area of Aboriginal cultures and literatures. He comes to Queen’s from Carleton University.

    Awet Weldemichael, Queen’s National Scholar in African history, was born in the east African country of Eritrea and grew up in a Sudanese refugee camp. He received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and is the author of the acclaimed book Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared. He comes to Queen’s from the University of Kentucky.

    The QNS program was first established in 1985, with the objective to “enrich teaching and research in newly developing fields of knowledge as well as traditional disciplines.” Since then, over 100 QNS appointments have been made in a wide variety of disciplines, and the appellation of Queen’s National Scholar has become synonymous with academic excellence. Recently reinstated, the program will fund 10 new QNS positions when fully implemented, providing each with $100,000 annually for five years.

    In addition to these three winners from the first year of the program, four QNS proposals from the program’s second year have advanced to the second stage.

    More about the Queen’s National Scholar program

    Queen's joins global network of research-intensive universities

    By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

    Queen's in the World

    Queen’s and the other members of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities recently signed the Hefei Statement on the Ten Characteristics of Contemporary Research Universities, joining the pre-eminent global network of research universities from America, Europe, Asia and Australia that addresses issues facing research-intensive universities around the world.

    “Research-intensive universities such as Queen’s are drivers of creativity, innovation, and competitive advantage,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “By signing the Hefei Statement, Queen’s and the other U15 institutions commit to working with our international partners to promote a policy environment in which university-based research can thrive.”

    The statement articulates 10 characteristics that make a research-intensive university effective, including:

    • A major research effort which has both breadth and depth
    • A commitment to undergraduate and graduate teaching
    • The responsible exercise of academic freedom
    • A tolerance and recognition of competing views and perspectives
    • Open and transparent governance arrangements

    In addition to Canada’s U15, the global network of signatories to the Hefei Statement include the Association of American Universities, League of European Research Universities, The Russell Group, the China 9 grouping of leading Chinese universities and the Australian Group of Eight research-intensive universities.

    Queen’s is also a partner in the Matariki Network of Universities, which is an international group of leading research-intensive universities with a commitment to excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching.

    Read more about the U15 and the Hefei Statement.


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