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    Threatened artist and academic creates new life for her family

    Queen’s Scholars at Risk committee works to welcome first Artist Protection Fund Fellow.

    Canan Altinkas
    Canan Altinkas, a Turkish artist and scholar, is Queen's University's first Artist Protection Fund Fellow. (Supplied Photo)

    After hours of writing, Canan Altinkas stood from her seat, approached jury members at the front of the examination room, and handed in her six-page English assessment. It was 2010 and she had applied for an assistant professorship, so was required to complete the university’s in-house language test to qualify. As an academic in Turkey, she had excelled previously at a mandatory state-issued proficiency test, so she was confident she would do well. She walked immediately back to her desk, quickly gathered her belongings, and headed toward the exit. Passing by the examiners’ table, her chest tightened when she glimpsed a hand scrawling on her test in red ink: failed.

    “Fifteen seconds,” says Dr. Altinkas, a Turkish artist and scholar who, together with her family, left her home country for Canada to escape sustained institutional and state persecution. “Six pages of written answers evaluated in 15 seconds; the time it took me to walk back to my desk and collect my jacket. This wasn’t the first time I was actively blocked from career advancement and it wouldn’t be the last, but with every instance my frustrations grew, and my opportunities diminished.”

    In the years after, Dr. Altinkas and her husband Evren Altinkas – an academic as well – faced increased harassment in their workplaces. The couple had been active in protesting the conservative Turkish government, resulting in backlash from university administrators. Dr. Altinkas faced increasing exclusion, arbitrary administrative warnings, and social media monitoring and harassment. She and Evren were eventually forced to resign their positions.

    “I continued to apply to new positions but received responses citing the ‘impossibility’ of my recruitment due to social, cultural, and political reasons,” she says.

    In 2018, she and her family left Turkey and settled in Guelph, Ont. Her husband had been supported by the Scholars at Risk (SAR) network – of which Queen’s is a member – so he was able to join the faculty and return to his profession. Until now, she has struggled to find work due to restrictions on temporary residents of Canada.

    Artist Protection Fund

    As an artist and a scholar, Dr. Altinkas describes painting as a form of storytelling that captures the struggles of an artist who seeks artistic and academic freedom. Throughout her career, Dr. Altinkas has faced economic challenges that prevented her from pursuing her career as an artist. Instead of giving up, she has always looked for innovative and creative solutions to the production of art pieces.  She used whatever means available, including paper and stain (instead canvas and paint) to tell stories through her paintings. These challenges dramatically affected her style, allowing her to develop new skills and techniques.

    Canan Altinkas' painting "Three Gems of Balance"
    Canan Altinkas' painting "Three Gems of Balance". (Source: artist)

    Dr. Altinkas eventually discovered and applied to the Artist Protection Fund (APF) – an initiative of the Institute of International Education (IIE) that provides fellowship grants to threatened artists and places them with host institutions in safe countries.

    Her application was successful and she was awarded an APF fellowship in September 2020, joining Queen’s University’s Fine Art (Visual Art) Program and Agnes Etherington Arts Centre as an Artist Protection Fund (APF) Fellow in residence.

    Queen’s decision to join the SAR network is based on the university’s commitment to support academic freedom. It was reflective of the initiatives already undertaken by different academic units and associations on campus, including at the Faculty of Health Science through the Medical Students Association.

    Since joining the network in late 2018, Queen’s has formed a pan-university committee, and hosted guest lectures. With the support of the Artist Protection Fund and a generous donation from alumni, Queen’s is thrilled to host its first Artist Protection Fund Fellow in residence.

    “The hosting of Dr. Altinkas is reflective of Queen’s desire to contribute to the common good,” says Fahim Quadir, Dean and Vice-Provost of Graduate Studies and the chair of Queen’s Scholars at Risk Committee. “We are welcoming Dr. Altinkas at a time when the world is witnessing frequent attacks on scholars, writers, and artists. Queen’s is grateful to APF and our donor for their generous support for welcoming a scholar and artist at risk to our campus.”

    Dr. Altinkas’ presence at Queen’s will help build an awareness about the importance of protecting artistic and academic freedom and stimulate dialogue and discussion about creating a safe space for threatened artists and scholars to freely share their ideas. As articulated in Principal Deane’s report on the Conversation, the activities of SAR Queen’s will bolster Queen’s image as a globally engaged university.

    “I am pleased to welcome Dr. Altinkas as our first Scholar at Risk at Queen’s,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the university. “This program is so important for supporting academic scholarship across the globe. It exemplifies the power of intellectual pursuits even when facing great adversity and the impact higher education institutions can have when we support and collaborate with another.”

    In her new role as an Artist Protection Fund Fellow in residence, Dr. Altinkas will have the freedom to expand her artistic practice, and gain opportunities to meet fellow artists and grow her network in Canada.

    “Art, for me, is not just a job, it is a lifestyle,” she says, “so, I am deeply grateful to APF and Queen’s University for this opportunity. But, more than that, this is not only about me or my career, it is about helping my family build a new life. This is a dream come true.”

    The Queen’s community will have an opportunity to hear from Canan Altinkas during her time at Queen’s. Upcoming events details will be posted on the Queen’s Scholar at Risk website, Facebook Page and Twitter page.

    A global leadership role

    Principal Deane takes on a lead role with the Magna Charta Observatory of universities committed to academic freedom, and human and societal good.

    Principal Patrick Deane signs the Magna Charta Universitatum during an event hosted at McMaster University on Oct. 17, 2019. (Supplied photo)

    Principal Patrick Deane has been named the next President of the Governing Council for the Magna Charta Observatory, a global association of over 900 post-secondary signatories committed to promoting and defending institutional autonomy and academic freedom in universities. The group’s fundamental values and principles are set out in the Magna Charta Universitatum—a document created in 1988 that celebrates university traditions, like the integration of teaching and research and social responsibility. Last year, Queen’s University became the tenth Canadian school to become a signatory.

    “I am delighted and honoured to be appointed to serve the Magna Charta Observatory as President of its Governing Council,” says Principal Deane. “It has never been more important to strengthen and celebrate university values, as well as the diversity of the global academy, and I look forward to working with colleagues at the Observatory and around the world to do that over the next four years.”

    As president, Principal Deane will oversee the Governing Council, which is comprised of 11 to 15 members chosen for their leading roles in the defense of fundamental university values and rights. He will assume the role in June 2021 for a four-year term.

    In March 2020, the organization prepared and adopted an updated version of the Magna Charta Universitatum to reflect the increasingly global nature of what universities do and the wider range of local responsibilities they bear.

    “While the Magna Charta Universitatum of 1988 beautifully articulated the fundamental values of universities,” says Principal Deane, “the Observatory has this year published an update to that document—one that recognizes the changed and continually changing circumstances within which universities around the world do their critically important work.”

    The update commits members to the original declaration, as well as to strengthening the role of universities in the preservation of the planet and promoting health, prosperity, and enlightenment around the world.

    To learn more about the association, its mandate, and its work, visit the Magna Charta Observatory website.

    An inclusive approach to disability research

    In partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, Queen's researchers Heather Aldersey and Beata Batorowicz are collaborating with youth with disabilities to understand factors affecting their participation in mainstream educational settings in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa.

    [Zoom screenshot of a meeting with Aldersey and Batorowicz]
    Project team members collaborating remotely. (Photo supplied by Dr. Heather Aldersey) 

    Dec. 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD). This year’s theme for the United Nations-sanctioned day is “Building Back Together: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world,” underscoring the continued importance of disability inclusion work in a pandemic-free future.

    Youth with disabilities face significant challenges as they access and navigate mainstream educational settings across Africa, an unfortunate reality that has been further exacerbated by the global pandemic. To effectively include and support talented yet disadvantaged youth with disabilities in their education, we need to know more about the factors affecting their participation.  

    Two researchers at the International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) at Queen’s University are committed to demystifying what those factors may be. Heather Aldersey, Scientific Director of ICACBR and Canada Research Chair in Disability-Inclusive Development, and Beata Batorowicz (School of Rehabilitation Therapy), are currently collaborating on a multi-country participatory action research (PAR) project. Their work, funded by a $330,000 grant (US $250,000) from the Mastercard Foundation, is being conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Gondar, Ashesi University, and the University of Cape Town. The project aims to explore what barriers and facilitators affect education access and inclusion for youth with disabilities in middle school, high school, and university in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa.

    What makes this project unique is how it is being studied. PAR is a research approach that focuses on enabling positive community action as its key objective. PAR researchers work in collaboration with key stakeholders of the research findings, recognizing them as equal partners in the study process. A PAR approach challenges inequality and promotes democracy, helping stimulate social change.

    In this work, Dr. Aldersey, Dr. Batorowicz, and their academic colleagues from Africa are collaborating with youth with disabilities as core members of the research team, incorporating youth insights in all stages of the research process, including design of study components, implementation of focus groups, analysis of collected data, and dissemination of key findings.

    “The youth researchers on our team are a force for change. I am excited to see how they will take our study findings to advocate for lasting change for their own lives and for the lives of others with disabilities in their communities,” says Dr. Aldersey.

    [Photo of a focus group supplied by Heather Aldersey]
    Project team members in Ethiopia piloting a focus group discussion. (Photo supplied by Dr. Heather Aldersey)

    One of these youth researchers is Tewodros (Teddy) Leulseged Mamo, a PhD candidate and teacher educator in Ethiopia. His personal experiences with physical disability and academic interests in interdisciplinary studies and qualitative inquiry have inspired him to dedicate his career to the empowerment of persons with disabilities in Africa and globally.

    “Assuming active roles in research, dissemination, and implementation of such projects is an uplifting experience for disabled researchers,” he says.

    Dureyah Abrahams, a fellow youth researcher from South Africa with interests in universal design and accessibility, adds “[As persons living with a disability], we are the experts and thus we should be the ones pioneering our access and inclusion in this world.”

    Study results will inform cost-effective changes that can be made at every educational level to better support youth with disabilities in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa to reach their full potential. Additionally, Dr. Aldersey and Dr. Batorowicz anticipate that some aspects of students’ experiences in these African contexts may also resonate with students’ experiences in Canada, for example as it relates to stigmatizing attitudes or the need for public policy adjustments here at home.

    Both agree that no country has gotten inclusive education completely right yet. International collaborations and stakeholder partnership, however, are two big steps in the right direction.

    Two Queen’s students earn Rhodes Scholarships

    Matthew Hynes and Jevon Marsh
    Matthew Hynes, a second-year medical student, and Jevon Marsh, who recently earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Queen's, have been selected as 2021 Rhodes Scholars. (Supplied / Mike Ritter/Memorial University)

    Queen’s University students Matthew Hynes and Jevon Marsh have been selected as 2021 Rhodes Scholars, earning each of them a prestigious scholarship to the University of Oxford worth more than $100,000.

    With their selection, Hynes, a second-year medical student, and Marsh, who recently earned a master’s degree in chemistry, bring the university’s overall Rhodes Scholars total to 60.

    “On behalf of Queen’s, I congratulate Jevon and Matthew on this great accomplishment,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Their academic careers, community commitments, and records of achievement are inspiring to us all, and I have no doubt that they will both thrive during their time at Oxford.”

    During his time at Queen’s Hynes has served as co-director for the Medical Variety Night charity show as well as steering committee member on the Canadian Queer Medical Students Association. His current research interests are focused on 2SLGBTQ+ populations and dermatology.

    Hynes completed his BSc at the University of New Brunswick where he performed research in molecular microbiology and co-founded the UNB Lifesaving Sport Team.

    Following Oxford, he intends to complete his MD and pursue a career as an advocacy-oriented physician.

    “I am thrilled to continue my education at the University of Oxford made possible by the Rhodes Scholarship,” Hynes says. “I would like to thank my family, friends, Queen’s Medicine community, and the many incredible mentors from both UNB and Queen’s who have supported me on this journey. I am excited to expand my global perspective and meet fellow advocacy-oriented leaders while completing my MSc in Epidemiology and Master of Public Policy. This opportunity will better enable me to effectively implement social policy changes to further support marginalized communities.”

    Marsh recently received a Master of Science degree in chemistry from Queen’s after completing his undergraduate studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Outside of academia he is an active volunteer working largely as a mental health advocate, where he helped pioneer a peer support program at Memorial. He is an Alexander Graham Bell National Scholar and has won numerous awards throughout his academic career.

    At Oxford, Marsh will pursue a DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry where he will focus on the development of novel therapies as potential treatments for children with rare brain cancers.

    “I am very grateful to have been selected for the Rhodes Scholarship and I am excited for my next chapter at Oxford,” Marsh says "It is a tremendous opportunity and I look forward to continue growing as a chemist and be a part of a group of inspiring individuals from all around the world. I am so thankful to everyone that has supported me throughout my journey – my parents, family, friends, and the fantastic mentors I have had at Queen's, Memorial and abroad. I am excited to begin my DPhil in Chemistry at Oxford in Autumn of 2021, where I will develop novel therapeutics for rare brain cancers.”

    Funded by the Rhodes Trusts, 11 Rhodes Scholars are selected each year from across Canada. These outstanding students demonstrate a strong propensity to emerge as “leaders for the world’s future.”

    The scholarships to Oxford University are for postgraduate studies or a second bachelor’s degree and cover tuition and fees and provides a stipend to help cover living expenses for two to three years of study while at Oxford.

    Learn more about Rhodes Scholarships.

    Committing to global impact

    Queen’s is participating in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings focused on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

    Image of Earth seen from space.
    Principal Deane is committing Queen's to the Sustainable Development Goals to promote the wellbeing of people and the survival of the planet.

    Universities are communities of teaching and learning, but they are also some of the world’s most powerful engines for driving positive social impact. With this in mind, and as outlined in Principal Patrick Deane’s Report on the Conversation, Queen’s is embracing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the United Nations (UN) in its strategic efforts to articulate a global purpose. These 17 goals were adopted by the UN in 2015 and provide a framework for creating a sustainable future and addressing global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and climate change by 2030.

    To measure its progress toward these goals, Principal Deane has committed Queen’s to take part in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings. THE launched these rankings in 2019 to show how the sector is working toward the SDGs and addressing today’s most pressing challenges. For the 2020 Impact Rankings, THE received submissions from over 850 institutions around the world, including 19 from Canada.

    “As we determine the new strategic framework for our university and our future, we need to consider social impact as one of our top priorities. By aligning our emerging vision with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we will be able to develop a clear sense of social purpose for Queen’s that emphasizes the wellbeing of people and the survival of the planet,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Taking part in the 2021 Impact Rankings demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our institution is focused on the UN SDGs – the hallmarks of which are community, sustainability, equity and internationalization efforts – all integral to our current and future state.”

    How the rankings work

    When submitting to the Impact Rankings, universities must demonstrate the ways in which they are working toward meeting at least four of the SDGs. THE then evaluates each institution’s submission based on metrics and indicators associated with each SDG, drawing on the data provided by the institution as well as bibliometric datasets provided by Elsevier, a data and analytics company. In their assessments, THE considers several different aspects of the mission of higher education, including research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship.

    While other THE rankings are designed with research-intensive universities in mind, the Impact Rankings are open to any institute teaching at the undergraduate and postgraduate level around the world.

    The Queen’s submission process

    To complete its submission, Queen’s has established a Project Team and Working Group comprised of staff and faculty from units across the university, who are responsible for gathering data and evidence and preparing the submission. The process is overseen by a Steering Committee, which meets quarterly and is made up of members of the senior leadership and decanal teams.

    Queen’s will be submitting data on all 17 SDGs. As with all institutions, THE will determine Queen’s ranking based on the 3 SDGs it scores highest in, as well as on SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals. Work is well under way, and the submission is due on Nov. 30.

    Learn more about the THE University Impact Rankings on their website, where you can also find the 2020 rankings.

    For more on the SDGs, see the UN website.

    Queen’s PhD candidate wins Matariki 3MT contest

    Sean Marrs presents during Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.
    Sean Marrs presents on his research into state surveillance in 18th century Paris during the Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

    Sean Marrs, a PhD candidate in the Department of History, has won the Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

    Marrs’s research delves into state surveillance in 18th century Paris and his 3MT presentation connects it to modern day anti-espionage efforts and even COVID-19 tracking.

    Marrs was one of 10 presenters taking part in the second annual competition between Queen’s, Durham University, University of Otago, and University of Western Australia. The virtual competition was judged by a panel of experts from across the international network.

    “The Matariki 3MT brings together the best presenters from several universities across three continents, so winning was unexpected,” Marrs says. “The process has been equal parts fun and challenging. Presenting the significance of your research to a broad audience in only three minutes is a unique prospect. The 3MT forces you to define what is most important about your research and why it resonates with a public audience. It is a challenge like no other.”

    First developed by Australia’s University of Queensland in 2008, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) challenges graduate students to communicate the significance of their projects to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.

    Queen’s was also represented by Alastair Kierulf (PhD candidate, Chemistry) and Alice Santilli (Master’s, School Computing). All three participated in the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis competition earlier this year, where Santilli took first place, followed by Marrs. The recordings from this event were submitted to the Matariki event.

    “The 3MT has become a familiar, well-established event at Queen’s and the expansion of 3MT to include our Matariki partners in Australia, New Zealand and the UK for the second year is an exciting opportunity to share research and to consider its impact,” says Sandra den Otter, Vice Provost (International).

    Through its membership in the Matariki Nework, Queen’s students, faculty, and staff have access to a variety of opportunities to share their research, experiences, and knowledge while also hearing from peers from around the world.

    Second place went to Olivia Johnston of UWA, and Otago’s Victoria Purdy claimed the People’s Choice award. Each participant’s presentation is available on the Matariki Network’s YouTube channel.

    The Matariki Network of Universities is an international group of leading, research intensive universities, each among the most historic in its own country. Along with Queen’s, members include: Dartmouth College (U.S.); Durham University (UK); University of Otago (New Zealand); Tubingen University (Germany); Uppsala University (Sweden); and University of Western Australia. The network celebrated its 10th anniversary early this year.

    Mentorship opportunity builds international partnership

    The Mastercard Foundation Scholars program is currently recruiting supervisors for its incoming fall 2021 cohort.

    Mastercard Foundation workshop participants from Queen's and the University of Gondar gather for a team photo in Ethiopia.
    Participants gather for a team photo following an Occupational Therapy workshop hosted at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia as part of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars program. (Supplied photo)

    In 2017, with the support of The Mastercard Foundation, Queen’s University and the University of Gondar (UoG) entered a partnership to advance inclusive education for young people with disabilities in Ethiopia and other countries in Africa. 

    As part of the partnership, the UoG/Queen’s Mastercard Foundation Scholars program is designed to provide up to 60 of the African university’s students and faculty members the opportunity to pursue graduate training at Queen’s. Now in its fourth year, the program is currently recruiting Queensupervisors for the 2021 cohort of incoming PhD candidates from the University of Gondar.  

    Funding for the program is part of a $24.2 million grant from The Mastercard Foundation. 

    “Queen’s has been fortunate to benefit from the inclusion of UoG faculty members in our classrooms across campus: in the Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Law, and Engineering faculties,” says Heather Aldersey, Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy and Scientific Director of the International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation, which administers the program. “We would love to see this program continue to cut across disciplines to create a diverse cohort of experts on disability inclusion at the UoG. With only two remaining recruitment cycles for this project, I am hopeful that we can continue to make meaningful matches between applicants and potential supervisors.”  

    A rewarding experience 

    Faculty members who have supervised current and previous cohorts of Mastercard Foundation Scholars have found it to be a rewarding experience. Jordan Miller, Assistant Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy and Associate Director of the Physical Therapy program at Queen’s, currently supervises two scholars and will welcome a third this fall. 

    “I’ve learned as much from my students as they have from me, I’m sure,” says Dr. Miller. “Working with them has really opened my eyes to new avenues for research and they have enriched my life and research program in many ways.” 

    Dr. Miller says that through his work with the Ethiopian students, he is building a hub of researchers with cross-cultural expertise in musculoskeletal conditions and pain. He explains that because this field has not been fully developed in Ethiopia, there is the opportunity to help Ethiopian clinicians and researchers avoid some of the mistakes that have been made in North America, such as reliance on imaging and medication for people with musculoskeletal conditions like back pain. 

    Mulugeta Chala, one of the students currently working with Dr. Miller, is studying the lived experience of Ethiopians with low back pain and how healthcare providers can better understand patients and their experience and provide treatment primarily through self-management strategies. The end goal is to design health-care programs specifically for the Ethiopian context.  

    Mr. Chala – already an established physiotherapist and educator at the University of Gondar – says he is pleased with the progress his project is making. 

    “Dr. Miller is an amazing person and helpful supervisor who has always been easy to approach and work with,” says Mr. Chala. “He does not push you, but he will always ask questions that help you move forward. I am really happy with where I am at – he has really helped with designing the project and sticking to a workable timeline.” 

    A unique opportunity 

    Faculty supervisors may be from any field that would permit a PhD dissertation related to disability in Ethiopia (or Africa more broadly). Currently, Mastercard Foundation fellows are studying in fields as diverse as occupational therapy, engineering, kinesiology and health studies, law, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences at Queen’s. 

    For more information about how to become a supervisor of a Mastercard Foundation Fellow, email Heather Aldersey at hma@queensu.ca. For more information on the Mastercard Foundation Scholars program visit the website. 

    Easy-to-build ventilators

    A team of Canadian physicists, led by Queen’s Nobel Laureate Art McDonald, is part of an international effort to design a ventilator to help in the treatment of COVID-19.

    Arthur McDonald
    Nobel Laureate Art McDonald and other Queen’s physics researchers are working as part of an international team developing a ventilator that can be certified and manufactured with off-the-shelf parts. (University Communications)

    A team of Canadian physicists, including Nobel Laureate Art McDonald and other Queen’s physics researchers, are part of an international team working to develop a robust, easy-to-manufacture ventilator that can be certified and manufactured with off-the-shelf parts from established supply chains.

    Nobel Prize
    Queen’s Professor Emeritus, Dr. Art McDonald was co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery that neutrinos, essential building blocks of the Universe, have mass. He is partnering with the nation’s leading particle and nuclear physics laboratories, SNOLAB, TRIUMF and Canadian National Laboratories, to lead the Canadian arm of the Mechanical Ventilator Milano project.

    The ventilator design leverages the collaborators’ collective expertise in the design of gas-handling and electronic control systems used in the search for dark matter, the mysterious substance which makes up more than 80 per cent of the universe. The original design and prototypes were led by Dr. Cristiano Galbiati, a Princeton professor and collaborator on Italy’s DarkSide (Global Argon Dark Matter Collaboration) experiment in response to that country’s desperate need for ventilators.

    Now a multi-national project, the Mechanical Ventilator Milano collaboration aims to design, develop, build and certify a simple mechanical ventilator system that provides a controlled supply of oxygen and air to COVID-19-stricken patients.  Importantly, the mechanical, control, and display systems are constructed from readily available parts, aiding rapid manufacture that can be adopted in different countries.

    “The goal is to develop a ventilator model to meet current needs that can be constructed quickly and reliably in Canada and in other countries,” says Dr. Art McDonald, Professor Emeritus (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy) at Queen’s University and 2015 Nobel Laureate. “This project is an example of how we can harness the capacity and talent of the Canadian nuclear and particle physics community at SNOLAB, TRIUMF, and the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to help combat COVID-19 with our international partners.”

    With Dr. McDonald, the Canadian partners, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, SNOLAB and TRIUMF, have joined an international group of researchers from Italy, the EU and US, working: to develop a common international standard for the machine, modify the design in collaboration with medical clinicians, test the viability of the device in medical environments, secure certifications through national health agencies, and partner with governments and manufacturers to support mass production.

    Today, in his daily media briefing, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, highlighted the project as one of the key examples of how Canadian researchers are working together to provide effective and creative solutions to supply shortages in the COVID-19 pandemic.  The project was also recently highlighted in a Globe and Mail article, Nobel Laureate leads push for simple made-in-Canada ventilator.

    The project continues to evolve. The Gazette will continue to follow this project and keep the Queen’s community updated on progress and further developments. Please visit the Mechanical Ventilator Milano website for more information.

    Ventilator design
    The Mechanical Ventilator Milano collaboration aims to design, develop, build and certify a simple mechanical ventilator system that provides a controlled supply of oxygen and air to COVID-19 patients.


    Queen’s experts rise to the challenge

    More Confronting COVID-19 Stories

    How the university's researchers are sharing their expertise to help us understand and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Empty interview room with microphones
    Queen's researchers are sharing their expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering commentary and analysis. (Unsplash / Austin Distel)

    As the world grapples with the uncertainties surrounding a global pandemic, we seek to understand more about the virus, its spread, and social and economic impacts. We also search for strategies for how we, as individuals and communities, can cope and be resilient in these challenging times.

    However, as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies, so does exposure to a virulent combination of misinformation, disinformation, and amateur analysis. In this time of crisis, fact-based and research-informed commentary is necessary, highlighting the critical contribution that researchers and academics can make to informing the conversation

    Since the coronavirus pandemic became an increasingly global concern in January, Queen’s researchers across disciplines have been active in offering commentary and analysis on COVID-19-related issues –  from understanding symptoms and spread of the virus to the impact the pandemic is having on Canadian oil prices and the global economy.

    “At Queen’s, we have a wealth of leading research expertise that can be applied to how we understand the coronavirus and evaluate impacts of the crisis economically, socially, and politically,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “Key to our research promotion strategy and integral to our media relations approach during this time is to help our researchers share their expertise through the national and international media.”

    Mobilizing research: Confronting COVID-19

    As part of the Confronting COVID-19 series in the Gazette, as well as in an effort to build prominence for our researchers as media experts, the university’s Integrated Communications team is working daily across our research community to develop COVID-19-related stories.

    The team also shares with media a growing list of Queen’s experts who are ready to comment on COVID-19 related issues.  Many of these experts have been featured at the local, national and international level, reaching millions through traditional and social platforms.

    Highlights in the last few weeks include: Sharry Aiken (Law) commenting in the National Post on how Immigration slowdown could add to the economy's woes as coronavirus pressures mount, Duncan Hunter (Public Health Sciences) reflecting in the Globe and Mail on how Canadian governments have employed an earlier and more coordinated response to COVID-19 compared to the U.S., and Anne Ellis (Medicine) speaking to CTV News about why having asthma under control helps people  handle COVID-19.

    Leading The Conversation

    The Conversation logoQueen’s researchers are also taking advantage of the university’s relationship with The Conversation, to provide expert commentary on the crisis. This news platform, which has 10 international editions, including Canada, sources content from the academic research community and delivers it directly to the public and media through Creative Commons Licensing. The Conversation is currently seeing unprecedented engagement with their sites and content.

    As a founding member of The Conversation Canada, the Queen’s research community has embraced the platform as a unique tool for sharing their research expertise and engaging with the media, producing more than 225 articles with 3.5 million reads over the last two years.

    Recently, Roberta Lamb (Education and Music) and Robbie MacKay (Dan School of Drama and Music) provided an analysis of how music played and shared during isolation demonstrates how the arts connect us and builds community.  In his 7 tips we can learn from hockey, Stephen Archer (Medicine) outlined how lessons learned from Canada’s favourite game can offer wisdom during the pandemic.

    PhD candidate Korey Pasch (Political Studies) looked at how coronavirus is fueling mistrust, fear, and racism, similar to experiences with other diseases, such as Ebola and SARS viruses. The Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment, Kyla Tienhaara (School of Environmental Studies) provided commentary on the need for governments to consider a full green stimulus to combating the ecological crisis that is pending.

    Call-to-action for researchers

    “Canadians and global citizens are looking for answers and advice that is fact-based and that they can trust,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “This is where the Queen’s research community can take a leadership role. Across disciplines, we have research expertise that can be mobilized and applied.”

    The University Relations team is looking for research experts who can help us to understand the virus, its spread and its variable impacts. If you are interested in becoming a media expert or in writing for The Conversation Canada, please contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives at knoxm@queensu.ca or Anne Craig, Media Relations Officer, at anne.craig@queensu.ca.

    Queen’s celebrates swearing-in of 65 new Canadians

    New Canadians and Black History Month feted during community roundtable and formal ceremony hosted by Queen’s and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

    • After taking their oath of citizenship, new Canadians were congratulated by Judge Marie Senécal-Tremblay, Queen's Elder-in-Residence Wendy Phillips, Principal Patrick Deane, Associate Vice-Principal Stephanie Simpson, and ICC Managing Director Amy Matchen.
      After taking their oath of citizenship, new Canadians were congratulated by Judge Marie Senécal-Tremblay, Queen's Elder-in-Residence Wendy Phillips, Principal Patrick Deane, Associate Vice-Principal Stephanie Simpson, and ICC Managing Director Amy Matchen.
    • New Canadians crossed the stage to sign and receive their certificates of citizenship.
      New Canadians crossed the stage to sign and receive their certificates of citizenship.
    • New Canadian citizens share stories from the roundtable discussion with the larger group.
      New Canadian citizens share stories from the roundtable discussion with the larger group.
    • Even the youngest new citizens shared their stories about coming to Canada.
      Even the youngest new citizens shared their stories about coming to Canada.
    • Stephanie Simpson, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion), spoke to the audience about Black History Month and the many accomplishments and experiences of Black Canadians from around the world.
      Stephanie Simpson, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion), spoke to the audience about Black History Month and the many accomplishments and experiences of Black Canadians from around the world.

    Canada welcomed dozens of new citizens during a moving celebration held at Queen’s Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Organized by the university in partnership with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), the event welcomed 65 local citizenship candidates from 24 countries, their families, and members of the university and Kingston communities to mark the occasion and to join in enriching conversation about what it means to be, and become, Canadian.

    “I want to congratulate you all and thank you for the opportunity to be with you in this celebration,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “I join with you in a feeling of great excitement and anticipation of what the future will bring to all of you, and to all of us as Canadians.”

    Billed as an enhanced citizenship ceremony by the ICC – which partners to host 75 such events across the country each year – the celebration included a roundtable community discussion with citizenship candidates and Queen’s students, staff, and faculty, as well as the formal citizenship ceremony, and a special reception for new Canadians and their invitees.

    “It is wonderful to hold this event on a university campus, because I think there is no greater force for the formation of a good, just, and equitable society than education and the personal development that comes with it,” says Principal Deane.

    Co-founded and co-chaired by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, and essayist and novelist John Ralston Saul, the ICC seeks to inspire inclusion and create opportunities to connect and encourage active citizenship through efforts like enhanced citizenship ceremonies.

    Championing Black history

    Each enhanced citizenship ceremony adopts a special theme through which celebrations and roundtable discussions can take on deeper and meaningful dimensions for the community. The Feb. 26 event at Queen’s marked Black History Month, providing community members, including new Canadians, an opportunity to recognize, reflect, and champion the experiences, achievements, and contributions of Black community members and families.

    “The abilities and talents of people from all over the world are vital to our growth as a country and our sense of who we are as a community,” says Stephanie Simpson, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion), who joined the lively roundtable discussions. “It is such a pleasure to hear people speak about their journeys from so many different places as we also celebrated Black History Month and reflected on the journeys and experiences of people of African descent.”

    Citizenship Judge Marie Senécal-Tremblay, who presided over the oath of citizenship ceremony, further recognized Black History Month during her opening remarks. She drew special attention to the lives and careers of Jean Augustine, the first Black member of Canada’s Parliament; and of renowned Queen’s donor and alumni Robert Sutherland, who was not only the first Black university student and graduate but also the first Black lawyer in British North America.

    “We are pleased to partner with Queen’s University to recognize Black History Month at this special citizenship ceremony,” says Amy Matchen, Managing Director of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. “Today, we celebrate new citizens who come from all corners of the globe, and the contributions of Black Canadians to this country that we all call home."

    For more on the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and enhanced citizenship ceremonies, visit the ICC website.


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