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    An unfair system

    A new report from Queen’s University law professor Kathleen Lahey shows women in Alberta have been disproportionately impacted by the 2001 shift to a flat tax in the province. As a result, women in the western province face higher income gaps, unpaid work gaps and after-tax income gaps than other women in Canada.

     “From the perspective of both fiscal stability and equity, the changes made 15 years ago to how the Alberta government collects revenues have proven disastrous,” says Professor Lahey. “In moving to a single corporate and personal income tax regime, the government has walked away from at least $6 billion in annual revenues - roughly the size of the forecasted deficit for next year – and actually increased the tax burden for those income-earners at the bottom end of the scale, who are predominantly women.”

    Professor Lahey argues that these tax changes, when combined with a lack of affordable childcare spaces, a series of tax and transfer measures that essentially encourage women’s unpaid work, and the lack of effective mechanisms at the provincial level to implement gender equity commitments, have resulted in a troubling slide in women’s economic equality in Alberta since its peak in the mid-1990s.

    The report concludes with a series of 14 recommendations that Professor Lahey says the government could implement in the upcoming budget to reverse the decades-long slide in gender equality in Alberta. Those recommendations include:

    • Replacing the current flat tax system with graduated corporate and personal income taxes.
    • Rejecting the introduction of new sales taxes or provincial consumption taxes.
    • Restructuring all joint tax and benefit measures that discourage women’s participation in the paid workforce.

    “Alberta’s latest fiscal crisis is actually the perfect opportunity to correct the ill-advised policies of the past that have created the situation Alberta now finds itself in,” says Professor Lahey. “Fortunately, many of the same policies that can finally get the province off of its overdependence on unstable resource revenues can also begin to reverse the shameful lack of economic equality between men and women in Alberta.”

    Professor Lahey is presenting the report, The Alberta Disadvantage: Gender, Taxation and Income Inequality, on Wednesday, March 4 at the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute. For more information, view the report here.

    Gathering the threads of Indigenous culture

    The path that led Armand Ruffo to his position as Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Languages and Literatures didn’t follow the traditional academic route.

    Armand Ruffo is Queen's National Scholar, and teaches in the Department of English Language and Literature and Department of Drama. He was recently featured in (e)Affect. (Photo by Bernard Clark) 

    A lifelong passion for creativity has seen Mr. Ruffo produce poetry, plays, biographies and a feature length film, even as he’s written literary criticism.

    “It’s always a juggle to work in so many modes,” he says. “I have to wrestle to find the time to do it all.”

    It was just that type of wrestling that led him to produce his most recent work, Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird, a biography of the innovative and controversial Ojibway painter. He researched and conducted the interviews for the book over the course of years, finding what time he could from his teaching position at Carleton University and the production of his film, A Windigo Tale.

    Driving Mr. Ruffo’s creativity and productivity is a desire to share the stories and histories of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

    “I’m very interested in the idea of Indigenous history being silenced for so long,” he says. “Indigenous culture — the Indigenous thread — is part of the greater Canadian fabric. Telling those stories is a way of gathering the threads together.”

    Support to tell those stories is something Mr. Ruffo says he’s seen great improvements in, especially as the study of Indigenous literature took off at Canadian universities in the 1990s.

    “I’ve seen the steps that we’ve had to go through to get to where we are now. I have a long enough view back to see that people have been working on this for a long time,” he says. “There are a lot of positive things happening and the fact that I can be here at Queen’s, teaching these Aboriginal literature courses is amazing.”

    Since starting at Queen’s in 2014, Mr. Ruffo has continued the multi-disciplinary juggling act that he does so well. He’s teaching classes in the Department of English Language and Literature and Department of Drama, and has become active with Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre. At Four Directions he’s led writing workshops and serves on their Aboriginal Council. He’s also completed a book of poems inspired by the work of Norval Morrisseau that will come out later this year.

    Though Mr. Ruffo wrestles to find the time to do so many different things, he balances the mental challenge of being creative and being a scholar with a simple trick: he doesn’t think about it.

    “It’s a different hat that I put on when I’m working in the creative realm. If I did think about it, I’d probably stop writing creatively. I do try to bring my creative side to teaching though, along with my interests in Indigenous aesthetics and epistemology. Those things help me,” he says, adding with a laugh, “but, I try not to teach my own work.” 

    One size doesn't fit all

    Short, high intensity workouts have the same impact on reducing our waistline as longer, lower intensity workouts, according to new research out of Queen’s University. However, the research revealed high intensity workouts have an added benefit of reducing two-hour glucose levels.

    The findings are significant because two-hour glucose levels, are a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.

    “We showed in our research that short, higher intensity exercise is different than long, slow exercise,” says study lead Robert Ross (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies). “Both methods show substantial benefit in respect to reducing abdominal obesity, a condition associated with great health risks. Only high intensity, though, had an impact on the ability to manage blood sugar.”

    The study examined 300 abdominally obese adults and how their waistline and glucose levels reacted to either short, high intensity workouts or long, lower intensity workouts. All participants also ate a healthy diet during the study but participants did not reduce their caloric intake.

    Dr. Ross and his team found a reduction in waist circumference in all individuals but only the high intensity group shows a nine per cent improvement in their two-hour glucose levels. They also found to the greatest increases in cardio-respiratory fitness in the high intensity group.

    Dr. Ross explains that high intensity workouts don’t have to be extremely taxing for the participant. “Higher intensity can be achieved simply by increasing the incline while walking on a treadmill or walking at a brisker pace. Participants were surprised by how easy it was for them to attain a higher intensity exercise level.”

    The new research shows people have options when it comes to exercise and can tailor their routine to the health outcomes they wish to achieve.

    “The type of exercise you choose to do may depend on the health outcome you are looking to improve.  For reducing your waist line and weight the study clearly shows that people have options. This is good news for both the practitioner as well as the general public. For managing your blood sugar, our results clearly show that higher intensity exercise may be required,” says Dr. Ross.

    The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

    Queen's National Scholar proposals move to second stage

    The Queen’s National Scholar (QNS) advisory committee has selected four expressions of interest, out of 20 submissions, to advance to the second round of the 2014-2015 competition.

    The four applications moving forward are:

    • Bioinformatics (School of Computing and the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences)
    • Creative Industries in the Global City (Department of Film and Media)
    • Biotechnology (Department of Biology)
    • Power Electronics (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering)

    “The advisory committee was again impressed by the quality of the expressions of interest received,” says Laeeque Daneshmend, Deputy Provost, who co-chairs the QNS advisory committee with Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Each of the submissions chosen to advance to the second round were extremely strong and would enhance Queen’s teaching and research expertise in these multidisciplinary fields, in support of areas of strategic importance to the university, and emerging and growing opportunities.”

    Of the 20 initial submissions, 16 came from the Faculty of Arts and Science, including one joint submission with the Faculty of Health Sciences and one with the Faculty of Law. One submission was received from the Faculty of Health Sciences, two from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and one from the Faculty of Education.

    Each of the selected proponents will now undertake a recruitment process and then submit an expanded proposal, including a recommendation of the individual to be appointed. The QNS advisory committee will make a recommendation to the principal as to which nominees should receive an offer for a QNS position. Funding for the program allows for a maximum of two QNS appointments in each annual competition.

    The QNS program provides $100,000 annually for five years for each appointment, and is intended to attract outstanding junior and mid-career professors to Queen’s.  

    Additional information on the Queen’s National Scholar program can be found on the website of the Office of the Provost.

    Book takes flight with awards

    [Bob Montgomerie]
    Bob Montgomerie (Biology) holds up a copy of Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology Since Darwin, the book he co-authored with Tim Birkhead of the University of Sheffield and Jo Wimpenny. The book has recently won a number of awards. (University Communications)

    Much like the plumage of the Bird of Paradise on its cover, a recently-published book on ornithology, co-written by Queen’s University’s Bob Montgomerie (Biology), is garnering a lot of attention. Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology Since Darwin is earning rave reviews and a slew of awards for its depth, reach and readability.

    The book recently was named the best book in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology category of the American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) and was listed by CHOICE, a magazine of the American Library Association, as one of the Outstanding Academic Titles of 2014.

    This is no mere “bird book.” Ten Thousand Birds is an in-depth scholarly look at the major scientific advances in ornithology since the time of Charles Darwin.

    The project was started by Tim Birkhead, a zoology professor at the University of Sheffield and a long-time colleague and friend of Dr. Montgomerie. Birkhead had earlier published a book called Wisdom of Birds, looking at the entire history of ornithology, but in the new book wanted to focus on the 20th century, something he had little space for in Wisdom. He knew it would be a tough task so he turned to his friend at Queen’s, who would also bring a North American perspective to the work.

    The initial plan was for Dr. Montgomerie to research, edit and supplement what Dr. Birkhead’s initial drafts, as they had done in other collaborations. They also enlisted the help of Jo Wimpenny, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Sheffield at the time to do some of the background research and interviews. But it soon became apparent that the task of writing was too much for one person. A point of pride for the authors is that no one, not even close colleagues, has been able to tell who wrote what chapter. “The writing was very much a totally cooperative effort,” says Dr. Montgomerie.

    Overall, the project took five years, including a sabbatical year for Montgomerie in 2009. The most difficult part was choosing what to include and what to omit, he says, adding that the team easily had enough material to write 10 volumes. But a multi-volume work wasn’t the goal, and even the most flexible publisher has limits.

    So they whittled their initial 30 chapter plan down to 11, making some tough choices. One obvious chapter that was let go was on birdsong. But as Dr. Montgomerie points out some excellent books had just been published on that topic and they figured they couldn’t improve on those. It was better to stay focused on other areas.

    In the end, research and fact checking took up the most time. Thankfully though, the internet proved to be a timesaver, especially the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a consortium of university and academic libraries that are scanning rare books and historic studies onto the web.

    Without the internet, Dr. Montgomerie estimates Ten Thousand Birds would have been a 30-year project, at least.

    For example, Dr. Montgomerie needed to check a book on avian anatomy written by a German scientist in 1878. He did an online search and quickly found what he needed in about 10 minutes. Until very recently, he figures, the search would have taken a month and at significant cost, including traveling to the library and getting the excerpt translated.

    Other times, he says, he would be looking for rare publication and, after not being able to locate it online, would put the search aside for a while. A month or two later, another search would prove fruitful. There is just that much old material being scanned and made available online.

    At the heart of the book, are the men and women involved in pushing ornithology forward since the time of Darwin. This, perhaps, is why the book is getting the most attention from readers.

    Limited in what they could include in the book, Dr. Montgomerie says they chose to write mainly about people and their discoveries. Some people were obvious, because they are such big names, but they also chose people who were interesting that nobody knows about.

    An example is Hilda Cinat-Thompson, who, living in Latvia in 1927, did a “fabulous study” on mate choice, half a century before it became an important area of study.

    “We’re pretty sure few people had ever heard of her. We couldn’t find out anything about her either but we thought this is the kind of thing we wanted to put in this book that would make people go, ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know about that,’” says Dr. Montgomerie. “We wanted to include a bunch of people who made really great contributions that nobody had heard of. That’s what makes a book like this both interesting and academically useful.”

    Cancer screening concerns

    According to new research, adults in Ontario with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are significantly less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer than the general population.

    Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz, a Queen’s researcher and lead author on the first study of its kind, found that Ontarians with IDD, such as autism and Down syndrome, were almost twice as likely to not be up-to-date with colorectal tests when compared to Ontarians without IDD.

    “As individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live longer, their risk of developing chronic conditions like cancer increases. Suboptimal screening may contribute to a greater cancer burden in this population,” says Dr. Ouellette-Kuntz, professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

    Partnered with Virginie Cobigo, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a scientist with ICES, the study examined Ontario residents between 50 to 64 years of age, with and without IDD.

    Researchers were able to gather that being older, female, having a greater expected use of health care resources, and being enrolled with or seeing a physician in a primary care patient enrolment model were all significantly associated with higher odds of having been screened for colorectal cancer in the IDD population.

    “As colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in Canada and is the second and third leading cause of cancer deaths among Canadian men and women respectively, these findings highlight the need for targeted interventions aimed at making cancer screening more equitable,” says Dr. Ouellette-Kuntz.

    This research was published in PLOS ONE.

    Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions within Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in science, engineering and health.

    On the hunt

    In an effort to bring research to the public, Queen’s University is once again encouraging participation in the Research Matters Virtual Scavenger Hunt. Hosted by the Council of Ontario Universities, the scavenger hunt targets the public and students to raise their interest in scientific research at the university level.

    Chloe Hudson is representing Queen's in this year's Virtual Scavenger Hunt hosted by the Council of Ontario Universities.

    The Virtual Scavenger Hunt starts today and each weekday until Friday, February 27 new clues will be released on the Research Matters website. Each clue’s answer is just one or two words and relates to a university research project happening somewhere in Ontario.

    This year the Queen’s research clue will be presented by Chloe Hudson, a master’s candidate in clinical psychology on Thursday, February 19.

    “I absolutely love research,” says Ms. Hudson, who is acting as the Queen’s Student Ambassador for the campaign. “I’m a curious person by nature, and I love the process of going from having a question to trying to figure out the answer, and then sharing what you find with a larger audience. I'm hoping that this campaign will get more people as excited about research as I am.”

     “I think the scavenger hunt will get people thinking about different research findings,” says Ms. Hudson. “Hopefully it will get students exploring areas outside of their expertise. This is so important, as we often get wrapped up in our own area and we’re ‘too busy’ to look into other things. It makes us better colleagues to know about other people's research, and it can even contribute to our own research by allowing us to look at our own findings with a new lens.

    Ms. Hudson’s own work looks at the relationship between victimization (e.g., being bullied) and depressive symptoms in adolescents. This relationship is well established in previous literature, but of course, not all children who are bullied go on to experience depression.

    The contest starts today and in order to be entered for the grand prize draw, participants must register and correctly answer each of the scavenger hunt’s questions in an online grid. If the grid is completed correctly, a hidden message will emerge. There are five grand prizes of $500 available to student participants and 21 Research Matters gift bags available to anyone who enters.

    A healthy image

    Just as 3D technologies are revolutionizing the worlds of entertainment and printing, the power of 3D imaging is transforming health care.

    For Amer Johri, assistant professor of echocardiography at Queen’s University and a clinician scientist at Kingston General Hospital, the rapid growth of 3D ultrasound imaging of the heart and vascular system opens up promising opportunities for advancing both patient care and doctors’ clinical skills.

    Amer Johri (centre) demonstrates the use of point of care ultrasound.

    Dr. Johri has made progress on both fronts. Returning to Queen’s in 2010 after completing an advanced fellowship in echocardiography at Harvard University Medical School, he created the Cardiovascular Imaging Network at Queen’s (CINQ) as a way to build existing, but disparate, pockets of strength in heart research into an investigative hub focused on imaging.

    “I saw it as a home for people interested in cardiovascular imaging, as a way to share resources and expertise,” says Dr. Johri, a member of the KGH Research Institute who also holds the distinction of Fellow of the American Society of Echocardiography for his contributions to the field of ultrasound. “I knew what resources were available, what would work, and I had good relationships with the cardiologists. It was fun to start something from scratch.”

    One of the centre’s significant areas of research is in the use of 3D ultrasound imaging of the carotid arteries, the major blood vessels in the neck, to detect heart disease. “Quantifying the buildup of the fatty deposits called plaque in the neck vessels can be a predictor of blockages elsewhere,” he explains.

    It’s a relatively new area of research in which his group has already made an impact, he says. “Our results indicate that complete carotid ultrasound may serve as a simple, inexpensive, and low-risk test to rule out significant atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.”

    CINQ is also looking at measuring heart function through changes in the heart muscle not visible to the naked eye, using an advanced imaging technology known as  “strain” or  “speckle-tracking.”

    A third study, conducted in collaboration with researchers at the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario, will incorporate 3D ultrasound into examining the effects of carnitine, a naturally occurring compound found in the body as well as in some foods, on patients with metabolic syndrome, the multiple conditions associated with heart disease that include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

    The study was awarded a Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada grant and also received support from the Department of Medicine and the Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization (SEAMO).

    A fourth area of research for Dr. Johri's lab is the study of the use of point of care ultrasound and development of training methodologies.

    Advancements in ultrasound are also making a difference in how doctors examine their patients. In collaboration with Anthony Sanfilippo (associate dean, undergraduate medical education) the CINQ lab in 2010 began training medical students to use portable hand-held ultrasound during their physical exams of cardiac patients, making Queen’s School of Medicine one of the first  to apply the emerging technology to clinical practice.

    “All of the above are made possible because of KGH’s commitment to patient-oriented research,” says Dr. Johri. “It’s why I love the idea of the KGH Research Institute, because it supports the idea that research is important.”

    You can follow Dr. Johri on Twitter @amerjohri.

    This story is the fifth in a series on the KGH Research Institute, a collaboration between Queen’s and Kingston General Hospital, and the clinician-scientists recruited to work in the centre.


    At the leading edge of heart and stroke care

    [Dr. Chris Simpson
    Dr. Chris Simpson, chief of cardiology at Queen’s University, medical director of the cardiac program at Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital and president of the Canadian Medical Association, says that advances in technology and treatment have improved the chances of survival and recovery from cardiovascular disease. (University Communications)

    February is Heart and Stroke Month, so the Gazette is reviewing some of the research and innovative new methods being conducted by physicians in the Faculty of Health Sciences who practice at Kingston General Hospital.

    Advances in recent years have drastically changed the outlook for those suffering from cardiovascular disease. A host of new technologies, medications and procedures have increased survival rates and have smoothed out many of the bumps that were once a common part of the recovery process.

    “Cardiovascular disease is no longer the number one cause of death in Canada,” says Dr. Chris Simpson, Chief of Cardiology at Queen’s. “All of the advances, both in technology and treatment, have improved the chances of survival and recovery.”

    One of the areas where Dr. Simpson has been making strides is the utilization of new leadless pacemakers. The current generation of pacemakers are implanted surgically under the skin, with a long wire feeding from the pacemaker into the heart, delivering a pulse when necessary. The new generation have been miniaturized, compressing all of their hardware into a small, thin capsule which screws right into the heart.

    They’re so small that the pacemakers can be implanted without major incisions, going through a vein in the groin and travelling up to the heart. The process creates no scars, requires no stitches and the pacemaker isn’t visible from outside the body.

    “The Achilles heel of pacemaker insertion has always been infection, which will be drastically reduced with the new models,” says Dr. Simpson.

    It’s just one of the many modern improvements to heart treatment happening at KGH-Queen’s.

    Breathing easier

    Dr. Christine D’Arsigny (Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine) is treating arterial hypertension with new medications and has had very encouraging results.

    “These new therapies we’re using have led to a dramatic impact on quality of life for those affected,” she says. “We’re continuing to learn more about the disease and perfecting our medication treatments.”

    Pulmonary hypertension is an increase in blood pressure in the blood vessels within the lungs. Those afflicted are often struck by shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting and have a high death rate from the disease, if left untreated. Previously, treatment was limited to IV-therapy and organ transplantation, often not an option for people who were too sick to undergo surgery. This is also true for chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, another cause for pulmonary hypertension

    The new drugs Dr. D’Arsigny is prescribing work to dilate the pulmonary vessels and change cell signalling, resulting in better blood flow through the lungs, a decrease in shortness of breath and alleviation of other symptoms. The end result is improved quality of life and improved survival.

    “These oral medications have provided an excellent treatment option,” Dr. D’Arsigny says. “The improvements I’ve seen in some of my patients have been dramatic —I have had some patients go from barely walking without getting short of breath to thinking they can go skiing again.”

    Solving the mystery of strokes

    Promising new research has shed light on one of the longstanding mysteries of strokes. For nearly 30 per cent of stroke victims, the cause of the stroke is not readily apparent after medical examination. A new study, co-authored by Dr. Albert Jin (Neurology) and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, takes a big leap forward toward understanding the problem.

    “We typically perform an electrocardiogram that runs for 24 hours, and it’s often not adequate” says Dr. Albert Jin.

    He instead made use of a new cardiac monitoring method that tracked heart behaviour continuously for 30 days. This revealed that many of the strokes were caused by atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm.

    “Our detection rate increased sixfold, showing us that 18 per cent of people had atrial fibrillation," he says. "That translates to hundreds if not thousands of Ontarians each year that now have a recognized cause of stroke that we can treat.”

    Another of the major causes of stroke is the formation of blood clots which restrict circulation to the brain. Dr. Jin is taking part in another new study that seeks to better treat these strokes. Current treatment focuses on medications which target and break up the blood clot; the new study supplements this treatment with ultrasound waves which help to further dissolve the clot.

    By applying ultrasound waves to the brain, Dr. Jin is able to specifically target the clot, complementing the work of the medication. Though there are safety risks for ultrasound waves in lower frequencies (think of the booming bass of car stereo), the study makes use waves in a higher frequency.

    “There’s been ample safety work done and it’s been demonstrated that ultrasound waves tuned to a higher frequency are safe,” Dr. Jin says.

    Though the new study is only just beginning, work being done at KGH-Queen’s is making the prognosis for stroke victims brighter.

    Better data

    Treatment for strokes and heart-related health problems has long been hindered by a lack of information. When searching for the causes of a stroke, for example, technological limitations meant that doctors could only track a patient`s heart pattern for 24 hours at a time. They then had to project that information into the future, assuming the heart would function the same way for weeks at a time. That made heart monitoring a difficult process, says Dr. Adrian Baranchuk (Cardiology).

    “The patient would have to reconnect to the monitor every day. It was inconvenient, it irritated the skin and people had to plan their lives around access to the heart monitor.”

    That’s why Dr. Baranchuk has been eagerly putting into practice new technology that makes the whole process more reliable, safer and less invasive. He’s begun fitting his patients with a new monitor called the Reveal LINQ by Medtronic. At less than two inches in length, the monitor is so small that it removes the need for serious surgical insertion.

    In a procedure that only takes about two minutes to conduct, Dr. Baranchuk makes a minor incision, inserts the monitor and bandages the patient up. The incision’s small size drastically reduces the risk of infection, removing the need for stitches and antibiotics and the monitor can function for three years, providing steady heart rhythm data.

    “As a global approach, heart rhythm monitoring allows you to detect arrhythmias and decide whether someone needs medication, a pacemaker or other treatment,” says Dr. Baranchuk. “This is going to be future of heart monitoring.”

    Project grants promote partnerships

    Two Queen’s researchers have received Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Strategic Project Grants.

    Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry, $596,870) and her team are working on the production of hydrogen from water using solar energy. James Fraser (Physics, $408,914) and his team are improving the 3D laser manufacturing process.

    Both hydrogen and oxygen need to be generated in water-splitting approaches for the generation of hydrogen fuel in the automotive industry. Dr. Crudden’s team including J. Hugh Horton (Chemistry), Pierre Kennepohl (University of British Columbia), Heinz-Bernhard Kraatz (University of Toronto) and Martin Albrecht (UCD Ireland) is designing a supported catalyst, a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected, to help complete the cycle for hydrogen generation.

    “The development of viable catalysts for production of hydrogen from water using solar energy is the holy grail of energy research, and when accomplished, will revolutionize the way we generate energy, and virtually eliminate pollution from the transportation sector,” says Dr. Crudden.

    Dr. Fraser is working in the field of 3D laser writing. The process scans an intense focused laser beam over a material (such as metal powder) to create a 3D metal component layer by layer directly from a computer drawing. Dr. Fraser is trying to improve this often imperfect technique.

    “This type of manufacturing builds a part up layer by layer and is generally slow,” says Dr. Fraser. “If there is a defect in an early layer, for example an air gap, this might not be detected until the part was completed. The challenge is that there is a lot going on in the laser melting process –hundreds of watts of laser light, glowing liquid steel, occasional sparks and powder being ejected— so it is challenging to see with micron precision.”

    To combat this problem, Dr. Fraser’s team will create and use a coherent imaging technique that views the sample through the same lens that the processing laser uses and can measure the location and changes to the surface of the part. This will reduce the component processing time. The funding also allows the training of nine researchers and students in a key field in Canadian manufacturing.

    For more information on the Strategic Project Grants visit the NSERC website.


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