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Research Prominence

Researcher lands on exclusive list

Communications Staff

Queen’s University researcher Ian Janssen (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Department of Public Health Sciences) has earned a place on Thomson Reuters’ Highly Cited Researchers list. He is the only Queen’s professor to make the list and one of only 88 researchers working in Canada on the 3,215 member list.

The international list includes scientists and researchers whose work is most often cited in other research papers.

Queen's University professor Ian Janssen.

“This is a reflection of the volume and quality of work I have done in my field,” says Dr. Janssen, the Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Obesity. “It shows that the research I have published has had a significant impact on other researchers. It is very gratifying to have made the list.”

Dr. Janssen and other researchers on the list earned the distinction by writing the greatest number of “highly cited papers” as determined by Essential Science Indictors. Those papers rank among the top 1 per cent most cited in their subject field from 2002 to 2012. Dr. Janssen, who completed his master’s and doctorate degrees at Queen’s, has published close to 200 research papers since 1999. He was among 177 people nominated in the general social sciences category.

“Although my name appears on the Highly Cited Researchers list, this honour is primarily a reflection of the many talented and hard-working people I have worked with.  I want to recognize the tremendous contributions made by the 30+ graduate students I have supervised and the dozens of researcher colleagues I have collaborated with.”

The original Highly Cited Researchers list issued in 2001 identified more than 7,000 researchers and the list was updated again in 2004. The latest version features only 3,000 researchers whose work was deemed to be influential internationally.

SNOLAB director reappointed to second term

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

Nigel Smith (Physics) has been reappointed to a second term as the director of SNOLAB, the deep underground science laboratory specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics.

The SNOLAB facility is an expansion of the successful Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment.

The facility is operated by the SNOLAB Institute whose member institutions are Queen’s University, Carleton University, Laurentian University, University of Alberta and Université de Montréal. It is located two km below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ont.

Nigel Smith (Physics) has been reappointed as director of SNOLAB for a second term.

 First appointed in 2009, Dr. Smith says that the second term will allow him to see some results from the major projects currently underway.

“The detectors that we are building take many years to design, construct and operate so a five-year term is enough to get things moving but not really enough to deliver the science from these large-scale experiments,” says Dr. Smith. “What I am looking forward to in the second term is having these projects, which we are now constructing, take data and complete the analysis to get the science out."

“It’s the science that drives everybody here. It’s the rationale for operating this facility,” he adds.

According to Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), Dr. Smith has definitely earned his reappointment.

“SNOLAB is internationally-renowned for its research and discoveries, and directing such a sophisticated and complex research site takes a great level of expertise,” he says. “Nigel has done an outstanding job in his role as director of SNOLAB, and I look forward to seeing its accomplishments continue in Nigel’s second term.”

Under his leadership, SNOLAB has seen an increase in partnerships with other innovation centres across the country while also expanding the areas of study.

“We actually have quite a broad program of science here so the large-scale experiments that we’re building at the moment are augmented by smaller-scale projects, some of which have a sufficiently short life-cycle that we have seen results over the last five years,” says Dr. Smith.

During the next term his aim is to make SNOLAB the “partner of choice” for underground physics projects, providing world-class infrastructure and delivering world-leading science.

Three economists recognized by national journals

Dunning Hall houses the Department of Economics at Queen's.

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

Three members of the Queen’s Department of Economics have been selected for prestigious best article awards by Canadian Public Policy and the Canadian Journal of Economics.

Graduate student Michael Kottelenberg and Professor Steven Lehrer were selected for the John Vanderkamp Prize for the best article in Canadian Public Policy.

Mr. Kottelenberg and Dr. Lehrer won the prize for their article “New Evidence on the Impacts of Access to and Attending Universal Child-Care in Canada.”

“Steven and I were both excited to receive recognition for our contribution to the debate surrounding the provision of universal child care. This paper is one of a series of papers exploring the channels through which large scale subsidization of child care affects developmental outcomes in children,” says Mr. Kottelenberg. “We are hopeful that our work will provide helpful insight into an important policy debate occurring both in Canada and elsewhere in the world.”

Ian Keay, associate professor and chair of undergraduate studies in the economics department, received the Harry Johnson Prize for the best article in the Canadian Journal of Economics. His paper was titled “Trade policy and industrial development: iron and steel in a small open economy.”

The trio received their awards at the 48th annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association (CEA), held recently at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

NSERC funding supports grad student exchange

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

An international research program that includes three Queen’s professors recently received $1.65 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through its Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) grants program.

Nikolaus Troje (Psychology), Doug Munoz and Gunnar Blohm (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) are members of The Brain in Action research group headed by Doug Crawford from York University. The funding will support trans-Atlantic supervision and exchanges of graduate students and research fellows as well as non-academic collaborations and internships.

Niko Troje is part of an international research team working with graduate students.

“The principal investigators are mentors for the graduate students in the program,” explains Dr. Troje. “All of the funding goes to the graduate students to provide them with unique research opportunities working with some of the top experts in the world.”

The Brain in Action program allows graduate students to study the connection between perception and action and to apply these findings to real world settings. For example, some students are studying how eye movement and vision work while walking outdoors.

Internships will allow students to apply their knowledge of vision and eye-hand co-ordination in areas including advertising and smart phone design.

The Brain in Action team includes 11 researchers at Queen’s, York and Western University and 11 primary investigators from Justus-Liebig-Universitat Giessen and Philipps-Universitat Marburg in Germany.

Engineering lab a real blast

By Communications Staff

A new video (above) invites viewers inside the Alan Bauer Explosives Laboratory in the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining. Queen’s is the only university in Canada with a well-equipped explosives test facility, which is located 50 km north of Kingston on 400 acres of land.

The facility includes a bunker with an ultra-high-speed framing camera, digital oscilloscopes and data acquisition systems, a high-speed camera and two blasting chambers for the study of dust explosions and detonation products. The laboratory is named after Dr. Bauer, the former head of the Department of Mining Engineering, who developed the facility in the 1970s.

The student media team within the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science filmed and edited the video. Visit the faculty's YouTube channel to view more videos on engineering and applied science laboratories.
 

James Low, six alumni named to Order of Canada

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Queen’s University emeritus professor James Low has been named a member of the Order of Canada for his contributions as an academic and as the founder of the Museum of Health Care.

The award is the second highest honour of merit in Canada and is given to those who make a major difference in Canada through lifelong contributions in their field.

“The award is actually more for the museum than for me,” says the ever-humble Dr. Low, who has volunteered at the museum since it opened as a non-profit institution in 1991, served as its executive director until the end of 2012, and now works as its advancement officer. “We have created a unique cultural resource.”

James Low poses with one of the only remaining original iron lungs used at Sick Children's Hospital in 1937.

Dr. Low was also the head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Queen’s from 1965 to 1985.

“This is the only mission-specific museum of health care in Canada,” says Dr. Low. “We have two missions: develop a complete collection highlighting all health care disciplines, and tell the health care story to enhance public understanding. The past is the foundation on which the present is built. Preserving the health care legacy is important.”

In his role as advancement Officer, Dr Low works with the museum's Board of Directors to find new patrons and donors which help preserve the museum's history.

“James Low has contributed greatly to Queen’s University and its medical program since coming to Kingston nearly 50 years ago,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “Earning the Order of Canada is a true honour and rewards the years Dr. Low spent establishing the Museum of Health Care, the only one of its kind in Canada.”

Six Queen’s alumni were also appointed to the Order of Canada. Named as officers of the order are:

Harold Jennings, OC,  MSc’61, PhD’64 (Chemistry), Distinguished Research Scientist, National Research Council of Canada,  for his contributions to carbohydrate chemistry, notably in the development of a pediatric vaccine used internationally to prevent the most common strain of meningitis.

Veena Rawat, OC, PhD’73 (Electrical Engineering), past president of the Communications Research Centre, for her contributions to telecommunications engineering and for her leadership in establishing the global regulatory framework for radio spectrum management.

Shirley Tilghman, OC, Artsci’68 (Chemistry),  DSc’02, a molecular biologist and past president of Princeton University,  for her contributions to molecular biology, for her leadership in university education and for her influential efforts to champion women in science and engineering.

Named as members of the order are:

Jim Leech, CM, MBA’73,  former president and CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and current Queen’s chancellor, for his contributions as an innovator in pension management, for his writings on the subject of retirement funding, and for his community involvement.

Bruce McNiven, CM,  Artsci’76 (History), lawyer and founding member and treasurer of the Trudeau Foundation, for his broad and sustained commitment to the preservation and flourishing of Montreal culture and heritage.

Donna Stewart, CM, Meds’67, chair of women’s health for the University Health Network and U of T, for her contributions to women’s health as a nationally renowned leader in the field.

Alumnus to lead Canadian research organization

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Queen’s alumnus Mario Pinto has been named the new president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

“I really wanted to do something for Canada. I want Canada to occupy a more prominent place on the world research stage,” says Dr. Pinto (Artsci’75, PhD’80).

Mario Pinto is the new head of NSERC.

A Toronto native, Dr. Pinto has strong ties to Kingston. Along with earning two degrees at Queen’s, he met his wife Linda (Artsci’75, MSc’78) while registering at the Jock Harty Arena in 1971 and, as a graduate student, helped establish the Grad Club as a meeting and socialization space.

After receiving his PhD, Dr. Pinto did his postdoctoral work at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France and the National Research Council Canada in Ottawa before moving to Simon Fraser University (SFU) in 1983. He started his academic career as an assistant professor then became the Chair of Chemistry for five years before becoming Vice-President, Research, a position he held for 10 years.

With a busy career at SFU, Dr. Pinto says the decision to become the NSERC president wasn’t taken lightly. The presidency is a five-year term and Dr. Pinto has goals and objectives he wants to reach during that time.

“I want to ensure that our researchers are better supported to make a greater scholarly impact. It’s time to stand back and ask how we can be more efficient and more effective in supporting the entire ecosystem from ideas to innovation.”

“On behalf of everyone here at Queen’s, I’d like to congratulate Dr. Pinto on his new role with NSERC,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “The council will surely benefit from his leadership and expertise in research administration, and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity.”

The appointment comes into effect this fall.

Women’s health research earns Basmajian Award

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette Editor

An associate professor at Queen’s whose research is focused on women’s health is this year’s recipient of the Mihran and Mary Basmajian Award for Excellence in Health Research.

Chandrakant Tayade’s most recent work has primarily focused on endometriosis, a painful gynecological disorder. He is also researching how fetuses are lost during gestation.

Dr. Chandrakant Tayade

Dr. Tayade receives a $5,000 grant but more important is the recognition from his peers at the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences who select the winner each year. The Basmajian Award is handed out to the full-time faculty member “judged to have made the most meritorious contribution to health research during the previous year or several years."

“I am actually humbled and quite thrilled that we got recognition from the Faculty of Health Sciences. It’s a good feeling, it’s absolutely rewarding,” says Dr. Tayade, who recently marked five years at Queen’s. “This award is very special as you are working at Queen’s and it’s the Queen’s peers that thought you were doing something meaningful that deserves to be rewarded. I think that’s a really great feeling.”

As Dr. Tayade points out, there remains no solid treatment for endometriosis and that even with surgery to remove the lesions more than 50 per cent of women will see a recurrence of the disease.

“There is an absolute need to develop new therapeutic strategies and what we are doing is targeting the blood vessels, that the endometriotic lesions need in order to develop,” Dr. Tayade says. “If you target that then probably lesions won’t survive and if they don’t survive you won’t hopefully get the disease. That is the long-term futuristic approach we have.”

The award was established by Dr. John Basmajian, former head of the Department of Anatomy at Queen’s, in memory of his parents.

Funding supports research and innovation

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Fifty-eight Queen’s researchers have been awarded a total of $11.7 million in research grants from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for 2014. The funding will help advance research projects in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Support from NSERC and other partners is vital to facilitating new discoveries and innovations at Queen’s,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “In a competitive funding environment, the fact that so many of our faculty members, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers have received these awards is a testament to the high quality of research happening on campus.”

Fifty-eight Queen's researchers have earned NSERC funding.

Receiving a sizeable portion of the funding is Mark Boulay (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) who is being granted $836,000 over two years for his dark matter search experiment located underground at the SNOLAB in Sudbury.

Along with the research funding announcements, Queen’s researchers Christopher Eckert (Biology), Noel James (Geological Sciences), Kurtis Kyser (Geological Sciences), Yan-Fei Liu (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Roel Vertegaal (School of Computing) were selected for a Discovery Accelerator Supplement designed to provide additional resources to accelerate progress and maximize the impact of superior research programs.

The supplements are valued at $120,000 over three years.

These grants are awarded to researchers whose projects explore high-risk, novel or potentially transformative lines of inquiry, and are likely to contribute to groundbreaking advances.

The final NSERC announcement is the Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral along with the Postdoctoral Fellowships. The Postdoctoral Fellowships Program provides support to a core of the most promising researchers at a pivotal time in their careers while the scholarships provide funding to the researchers of tomorrow. Twenty-three of these were awarded to Queen’s for projects in a variety of disciplines.

Visit the NSERC website for more information.

He's a man in motion

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Twenty years of research into how the human brain processes visual information has earned Nikolaus Troje (Psychology, Biology, School of Computing) the Humboldt Research Award, an honour established by the German government to recognize a lifetime of achievement.

 “I feel very honoured having received a lifetime recognition award without having a single grey hair yet,” says Dr. Troje, who was nominated for the award by colleague Karl Gegenfurtner from the University of Giessen.

Using the sensors shown below, Nikolaus Troje uses motion capture technology to study how people move.

Dr. Troje operates the Biomotion Lab at Queen’s, studying visual perception and cognition using motion capture technology. The goal of his research is to answer questions concerning social recognition including processing visual information contained in the way people walk and move, specifically the subtle nuances that signal emotions and personality.

Dr. Troje started his career working on visual systems of insects, and later on face recognition in humans. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, he met Queen’s professor Barrie Frost during a conference in Germany who invited him to come to Queen’s and study visual recognition in pigeons. He spent two years in Kingston before moving back to Germany where he founded the Biomotion Lab at Ruhr University. In 2003, Dr. Troje accepted the position of Canada Research Chair in Vision and Behavioural Sciences at Queen’s where he continues his research today.

The motion sensors used in his research.

“Understanding how our visual system obtains information about other people from the way they move is just one example of the amazing ability of our perceptual systems to turn neuronal activity in response to external energies into the objects and events that form our perception of the outside world,” he says.

Dr. Troje is now preparing for a one year sabbatical in Germany where he will spend time at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen and at the JustusLiebig University in Giessen.

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