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    Research Prominence

    A painful problem

    Statistics and software seem an unlikely combination for addressing chronic pain. But for more than 15 years, Elizabeth VanDenKerkhof, a Professor of Nursing with a cross-appointment in Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and clinician researcher in the Kingston General Hospital Research Institute, has been investigating how data and technology at the point of care can both improve patient care and enhance understanding of the myriad factors behind the complexities of pain.

    A doctorate in public health from Johns Hopkins University who specializes in the epidemiology of pain, Dr. VanDenKerkhof was part of a university-hospital team in the Queen’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine who broke new ground in patient care at the turn of the millennium by developing an electronic documentation tool for use with an acute pain management system.  

    “My role was to make sure the technology captured the data for tracking, management and research into pain,” Dr. VanDenKerkhof explains. Initially developed to care for patients with post-operative and acute pain, the approach has now been adopted at many other points of care, and is in use in hospitals in Montreal and Ottawa.

    Virtually unheard-of in pre-smartphone days, the handheld technology was not initially welcomed with open arms, she says. But the experience of developing and implementing that novel tool opened up new avenues of research, by virtue of its ability to capture and store data in real time. It has also led to numerous investigations into the effects of technology on patient care and professional practice. 

    More than a decade later, the tool continues to contribute to acute and chronic pain research and enhance pain management.

    “We started doing studies in 2001, and we now have 12 years of point-of-care data,” she says. “It enables us to look at statistics, such as the trajectory of pain intensity after surgery and average number of clinician visits – which can be a measure of pain severity -- or to track adverse events such as respiratory depression or allergic reactions. There’s nothing that we know of elsewhere that captures pain data to the same extent at the point of care.”

    Dr. VanDenKerkhof continues to integrate technology, and study its effects, in conjunction with her investigations into chronic pain. Her primary research program looks at the epidemiology of chronic post-surgical pain in women to identify subgroups at high risk for developing chronic pain after surgery, and how those women use health care resources before and after surgery.

    This story is the sixth 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.

    NSERC asking for feedback

    On Friday March 13, Queen’s University will welcome the Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada’s President, Dr. Mario Pinto, for a consultation session on the NSERC 2020 Strategic Plan. The session will provide researchers, students, administrators and stakeholders an opportunity to learn more about Dr. Pinto (Artsci’75, PhD’80) and provide views and feedback on the Plan.

    The draft plan captures the discussions with members of the academic community, associations, government officials and businesses in 2014 and also incorporates the feedback from the NSERC council members, a special steering committee and staff.

    Dr. Pinto is holding the consultation session Friday, March 13 from 10 am until noon in the George Teves Dining Room, second floor of the University Club on Stuart Street. Register on the NSERC website.

    Putting the tech in technicolour

    From left to right, Team Eye3: Zaeem Anwar (Cmp'15), Jake Alsemgeest (Cmp'15), Eddie Wang (Com'18)

    Three Queen’s students have developed a way to make electronic technology more accessible for the 700 million people worldwide who are colour blind.

    The technology, Ciris, took home first prize in the Microsoft Imagine Cup – an international technology competition.

    The winning team, Team Eye3, represented Canada and was made up of Jake Alsemgeest (Cmp’15), Zaeem Anwar (Cmp’15) and Eddie Wang (Com’18). They received first prize in the Blueprint Challenge Phase for the World Citizenship category of the Microsoft Imagine Cup.

    "The power of cross collaboration between faculties at Queen's University really shines here,” says Mr. Wang. “We are absolutely honoured to have been selected as the winners for this challenge, and we can't wait to show the world what's in store for Eye3 and the Ciris technology."

    We are absolutely honoured to have been selected as the winners for this challenge, and we can't wait to show the world what's in store for Eye3 and the Ciris technology.
    - Eddie Wang, Com'18

    Ciris is a real-time colour augmentation overlap for desktop computers and mobile devices that allows colour blind people to see more clearly contrasts between different colours. The team has already enabled Ciris on a video app for mobile devices.

    "We're really excited about the positive feedback from our professors and the community,” says Mr. Anwar. “We have a real chance to do something helpful for the world and are looking forward to the work ahead."

    Using colour in charts, pictures, graphics and clothing can mean that colour blind individuals miss out on valuable information. Team Eye3 wanted to be able to provide them with a way to translate hard-to-see colours into a visual equivalent that is easier for colour blind individuals to identify.

    “We are extremely excited and thankful for all of the feedback from the community, professors and colleagues,” says Mr. Alsemgeest. “Our team is very excited to continue pushing our limits to have a finished product we are proud of.  We hope to make the world a better place and hope to achieve it through Ciris.”

    The team, which also received a $3,000 prize, was coached by professors Brent Gallupe (School of Business) and Patrick Martin (School of Computing).

    “This is a very talented team.  I think that their combination of technical and business skills helped them win,” says Dr. Gallupe. “Ciris addresses an important problem affecting millions of colour blind people around the world who can’t distinguish colours on their smartphone, tablet and laptop screens.”

    Next up for the team is the Imagine World Cup Semifinals, where the team will compete to win a trip to the finals in Seattle in July. A $50,000 prize goes to the winner at the World Finals.

    “The Microsoft Imagine Cup is a great opportunity for our students to challenge themselves and to apply what they are learning here at Queen's,” says Dr. Martin. “Team Eye3 demonstrated great skill and innovation in coming up with their project and winning the Blueprint Challenge phase. Their project definitely fits the world citizenship theme of the competition.”

    Visit the Ciris Facebook page for more information about the app.

    Steven Liss reappointed vice-principal (research)

    Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf today announced the reappointment of Steven Liss as vice-principal (research) for a second term, from Sept. 1, 2015 to Aug. 31, 2020.

    “Over the past five years, Queen’s has continued to build on its reputation as an outstanding research institution due in large part to the expert guidance of Dr. Liss,” Principal Woolf says. “I am delighted that Dr. Liss will continue to lead our efforts to sustain and enhance Queen’s research prominence.”

    [Steven Liss]
    Dr. Steven Liss has helped build Queen's reputation as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in Canada. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

    During his first term, Dr. Liss led the renewal of the Queen’s Strategic Research Plan (SRP), which outlines research priorities and details the processes and mechanisms for advancing research at Queen’s. During Dr. Liss’ tenure, Queen’s improved its standing among Canadian universities in both research income and research intensity. He also spearheaded efforts to raise the profile of Queen’s research through a variety initiatives including the launch of the (e)AFFECT magazine.

    Quick Links
    Learn more about Dr. Liss on the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) website

    Dr. Liss, a professor of environmental studies and chemical engineering, graduated from Western University in microbiology and immunology, and has a master’s degree and PhD in applied microbiology from the University of Saskatchewan. He is a member or chair of a number of boards and management groups. Recognizing Dr. Liss’ work to advance research and innovation in this country, the Government of Canada awarded him the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

    The university’s Board of Trustees recently approved the reappointment of Dr. Liss.

    Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in 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 a variety of disciplines.

    Dialed in to Tanzanian health care

    Queen’s University researcher Karen Yeates has received $1 million in funding to develop a mobile platform to record and monitor the health of pregnant women. The five-year project will implement and test ways of improving the monitoring of pregnant women in Tanzania for preeclampsia-eclampsia and other important health outcomes.

    One in five maternal and child deaths in Tanzania – one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa – are caused by preeclampsia-eclampsia. This condition is common in both developed and developing countries and is a major killer of women in lower resource settings such as Tanzania.  If unrecognized, and left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to poor outcomes or death in women and their newborns.  Preeclampsia is a condition in pregnancy that is often recognized by the rising blood pressure of a woman in the last few months of pregnancy.

    Karen Yeates examines a women at a clinic in Tanzania.

    “Many women in Tanzania deliver their babies outside of a health centre, usually at home, and have limited access during the pregnancy for health-care providers to detect rising blood pressure and its complications,” Dr. Yeates says. “Making the diagnosis of preeclampsia through blood pressure monitoring and treating it appropriately is a key step in preventing maternal deaths and poor outcomes in newborns.”

    Dr. Yeates already has a research program in Tanzania that is using mobile phone technology to connect people with high blood pressure to health-care providers and the health-care system.  She hopes to use this knowledge and her mobile platform to reach women who do not have good access to perinatal health-care services. In fact, African countries have been widespread “adopters” of mobile technology and 80 per cent of people in sub-Saharan African have access to cellphones and one third of those devices are smartphones.

    “Using a mobile health platform, we are going to tackle this issue,” Dr. Yeates says. “We want to connect women with health-care providers to monitor blood pressure and general health of pregnant women and their babies. Our team will try to close the health-care gap using technology.”

    Dr. Yeates is working with Graeme Smith (Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology), Chandra Tayade (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) and Jessica Sleeth (Office of Global Health) from Queen’s University and partnering with Godfrey Mbaruku, an obstetrician working with the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania. The Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare are also involved in the project.

    “During the first year we will be conducting a health system appraisal to learn how a pregnant woman currently navigates the health system and figuring out the logistics to determine how best to make this program work,” Dr. Yeates says. “Once the five years is finished, the success of the program will be based on how many lives were saved.”

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last week that Dr. Yeates’ project and 19 other projects would each receive $1 million to focus on improving maternal, newborn and child health on a global scale. The $20 million funding announcement is part of a seven year, $36 million program administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

    New policy to expand access, mobilization of research results

    Grant recipients who receive funding from the three federal granting agencies after May 1, 2015 must make their peer-reviewed journal publications freely accessible online within 12 months of publication.

    The Tri-Agency – the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) – recently announced the open access policy on publications. The new policy requirements do not pertain to other research outputs – for example, books, chapters or creative writing.

    “The Tri-Agency’s open access policy recognizes that the value, use and application of research outputs increases as they are made available more broadly to, for example, the global research community, non-governmental organizations and society as a whole,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Furthermore, open access fosters knowledge and technology transfer and stimulates innovation and collaboration.”

    "Open access fosters knowledge and technology transfer and stimulates innovation and collaboration."
    Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research)

    Queen’s faculty, researchers, staff and students can choose one of two options for making their journal articles freely accessible.

    • Route A – Free deposit to QSpace (Green Open Access): Researchers deposit their peer-reviewed, author-accepted manuscript at no cost in QSpace, Queen’s permanent and secure online archive of research works, or an open access subject repository of their choice.
    • Route B – Pay to Publish (Gold Open Access): Researchers publish in an open access journal, which involves paying article processing charges. Queen’s University Library has agreements with a number of publishers or open access supporter schemes that give Queen’s authors discounts on open access publication fees.
    Quick Links
    Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications
    More information for complying with Tri-Agency Open Access Policy

    “Queen’s University Library and University Research Services believe that depositing works in QSpace, via the Green Route A, is the easiest and most cost-effective means for Queen’s researchers to meet this new requirement,” says Martha Whitehead, Vice-Provost and University Librarian. “Authors can gather traditional citation metrics as well as additional alternative metrics on journal publications that are deposited in QSpace. Furthermore, perpetual access to research results and key usage metrics in QSpace provides a ready mechanism to demonstrate policy compliance in future grant applications.”

    For more information on the Tri-Agency open access policy and how to make your research publications open access, visit the resource page on the Queen’s University Library website.

    Inquiring minds want to share

    Peter Wolf, the associate vice-provost (teaching and learning), is looking forward to attending his first Inquiry@Queen’s Undergraduate Research Conference.

    “I am curious to see what questions students have asked and how they’ve gone about answering them,” says Mr. Wolf, who joined Queen’s in October 2014. “I can’t wait to see the excitement the undergraduate students bring to the table. I think that can be really inspiring and rejuvenating.”

    [Inquiry at Queen's]
    The Inquiry@Queen's Undergraduate Research Conference gives students the opportunity to practice their presentation skills in a welcoming and supportive environment.

    The ninth annual edition of the conference, which occurs March 5-6, features a variety of oral presentations and poster displays of undergraduate student scholarship. Mr. Wolf is delivering the keynote address on March 5 with a focus on how undergraduate research connects with teaching and learning.

    “I believe it’s important for undergraduate students to tackle questions and not just consume the answers,” Mr. Wolf says. “A big part of the university experience is to shape and nurture students’ curiosity, which will ultimately help them make sense of the world.”

    While Mr. Wolf is new to Inquiry@Queen’s, Nicole Persall (Artsci’15) is a veteran presenter at the conference. Ms. Persall is participating in Inquiry@Queen’s for the fourth time. During her previous experiences, she presented research from course work and study projects, and last year she shared her thesis project.

    Inquiry@Queen’s Undergraduate Research Conference
    March 5-6
    Queen’s Learning Commons in Stauffer Library
    Conference Agenda

    The psychology student, who will graduate this spring, says she originally saw the conference as a great way to practice presenting her research in public. As she prepared for her first conference, she enrolled in a Learning Strategies workshop that helped her develop her presentation skills.

    Ms. Persall says Queen’s professors provided her with the knowledge base and guidance to ask research questions and formulate a method for answering them. Needless to say, she has enjoyed having a venue like the Inquiry@Queen’s conference to share that work.

    “I tell students all of the time that they should participate. It’s a really supportive environment where people are interested in hearing about your research.”

    International program fit for Queen’s

    Two Queen’s University projects received funding from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) program, an initiative that aims to develop young global leaders.

    Funding from the program, which honours the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne, will allow 35 Queen’s students to pursue an internship or study-abroad opportunity and eight students from Commonwealth countries to undertake graduate studies at Queen’s.

    “The QES program is a remarkable initiative that will create exceptional international experiences for participating students and expand Queen’s research connections around the world,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Queen’s is grateful to the many benefactors who have made the program possible.”

    Daniel Layton-Matthews and Heather Aldersey.

    The International Centre for the Advancement of Community-Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) and the Queen’s Facility for Isotope Research (QFIR) received QES funding.

    “The QES program supports the university’s commitment to providing international academic and experiential learning opportunities for students,” says Kathy O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International). “Queen’s students participating in these two projects will gain valuable experience in an international setting, combining academic study, research and community service.”

    The scholarships will create new opportunities for Queen’s occupational therapy students and master’s and PhD candidates in rehabilitation science to engage with ICACBR’s ongoing community-based rehabilitation work in Bangladesh. It will also fund four community-based rehabilitation leaders from commonwealth Asian and African countries to study at Queen’s in the PhD program in RHBS. 

    “The scholarships will provide the opportunity for Canadian students in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy to expand and apply their learning, through on-the-ground engagement with international community-based rehabilitation activities,” says Dr. Heather Aldersey, an assistant professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. “The scholarships will also provide important capacity development and networking opportunities for rehabilitation and community development leaders from Asia and Africa.”

    The funding will also allow 16 undergraduate and graduate students within the QFIR laboratory to travel to Zambia and Australia to work co-operatively with partners on site.

    “By facilitating our connections with university and industry partners in those countries as well as the United Kingdom, the QES program will help us develop a complete understanding of the mobility of elements in buried mineral deposits in climatically diverse field sites,” says Daniel Layton-Matthews, an associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering and a researcher in QFIR.

    For more information on the scholarships, visit the website.

    The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program is a joint initiative of the Rideau Hall Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. It was created through unique contributions from the Government of Canada, provincial governments, the private sector and individuals worldwide.

    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.” 


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