Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Research Prominence

Provincial funding supports early career researchers

Four Queen’s researchers receive $100,000 each to build new research programs.

The Government of Ontario recently announced the results for the sixteenth round of its Early Researcher Awards (ERA), which provide early-career scholars across the province with funding to build research teams. Four Queen’s researchers received $100,000 each to structure programs that will investigate topics in machine learning, agriculture, astroparticle physics, and natural products.

“Support for researchers in the early stages of their careers is critical for building strong research teams," says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). "Thanks to programs such as the ERA, our researchers have the tools they need to further explore research questions important to Ontarians."

Tracking cancer metastasis

Amber Simpson
Amber Simpson

Amber Simpson, Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Computing and Informatics and associate professor in the School of Computing and Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, will apply state-of-the art artificial intelligence techniques to analyze 400,000 CT scans aiming to map cancer progression and facilitate metastatic spread predictions.

“Better understanding cancer progression is the first step toward developing targeted approaches to interrupt this devastating stage of the disease,” says Simpson, who is also the director of the Queen’s Centre for Health Innovation. As cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Ontario, this program is key to optimize treatment pathways and improve patient outcomes, reducing both the human death toll and the financial burden on the health care system.

Protecting agriculture

Jacqueline Monaghan
Jacqueline Monaghan

The health of Ontario crops is the focus for Jacqueline Monaghan, Canada Research Chair in Plant Immunology and assistant professor in the Department of Biology. “Microbial diseases and pests place major constraints on agriculture and have significant economic and social impacts,” she explains.

While farmers tend to battle crop diseases with pesticides, there might be environmental-friendlier solutions, like genetically engineering crops that are resistant to disease. Monaghan’s team will investigate plant immunology in species that are particularly relevant for Ontario’s agriculture, like soybeans.



Natural products to treat disease

Avena Ross
Avena Ross

Avena Ross, Queen’s National Scholar in Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry and associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, is interested in the therapeutic potential of molecules produced by marine bacteria. “Natural products, that is, chemical compounds or substances produced by a living organism, have long been an excellent source of drug leads, however, their discovery has been hampered by their limited production under laboratory bacterial cultivation conditions,” says Ross.

Ross’ team will develop laboratory cultivation conditions to mimic the native habitat of Pseudoalteromonas, a family of marine bacteria. Their program could lead to the discovery of new molecules to treat bacterial infections, addressing the global challenge of antibiotic resistance, as well as establishing a platform to advance the broader field of bioactive natural product discovery for drug development.

Unveiling the mysteries of the universe

Aaron Vincent
Aaron Vincent

Understanding the nature and properties of dark matter – the mysterious matter that forms 85 per cent of the Universe – is the goal of Aaron Vincent, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy and member of the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute.

“While significant experimental efforts are underway to detect dark matter in underground experiments, the first hints of its nature may come to us from astronomical observations of a billion stars by the Gaia satellite,” Vincent explains. His team will perform theoretical calculations of the small but measurable effects of dark matter on the Sun and other Sun-like stars, in the hope of discovering dark matter’s true nature.

For more information on the Early Researcher Awards, visit the website.

Diamond mines in the Northwest Territories are not a girl’s best friend

While marketing has made diamond rings a symbol of heteronormative happy endings, women from the Northwest Territories tell a different story about their experiences with the diamond mines.


Two cut diamonds displayed on grey sand.
Canada’s diamond industry lauds itself as an ethical alternative to diamonds from elsewhere, but these gems are mined on Dene land and, in restructuring the lands and livelihoods of northern communities, the diamond industry brings with it a new, and newly gendered, colonial violence. (Unsplash/Bas van den Eijkhof)

Almost three years ago, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) released its final report and among its findings, the report identified resource extraction as a site of gender violence.

The Conversation logoThe relationship between extraction and gender violence has been observed in extractive sites around the globe. And in Canada, this gender violence is shaped by extraction and settler colonial dispossession of Indigenous lands and livelihoods.

What is it about extractive projects that creates the conditions for gender violence?

In Refracted Economies: Diamond Mining and Social Reproduction in the North, I analyze the gender impact of Canadian diamond mines. As a settler researcher who grew up in southern Canada, I partnered with the Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories and spoke with Dene, Métis, Inuit and non-Indigenous northern women about their experiences with the mines.

In Canada, the first diamond mine opened in the Northwest Territories on Dene land in 1998. Since then, three other diamond mines have opened there, and Canada has become the third largest diamond producer in the world.

The Canadian diamond industry was established amid international concerns around conflict — or blood — diamonds. Canada’s diamond industry lauds itself as an ethical alternative to diamonds from elsewhere, but these gems are mined on Dene land and, in restructuring the lands and livelihoods of northern communities, the diamond industry brings with it a new, and newly gendered, colonial violence.

A pillar of settler development

Resource extraction has long been a pillar of settler development in northern Canada.

Regionally, diamond mines were established on the heels of the longstanding gold industry, and they have reproduced some dynamics of past settler extractive projects. But the diamond mines have also brought with them new characteristics with unique gender impacts.

Unlike mining towns that sprouted up throughout the north in the 20th century, diamond mines are organized through a fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) structure. This means that workers fly in for prolonged mining shifts, and fly out for their time off.

FIFO, or DIDO (drive-in/drive-out), has become the preferred extractive model in Canada and elsewhere. By making long-distance commutes part of everyday operations, the FIFO/DIDO model is an intensified expression of the home/work divide, where home is gendered as feminine space and work as masculine space.

For many women workers I spoke to, the separation of work from home meant that work in the diamond mines was not accessible. This was because workers live away from home for extended periods of time, and weren’t able to care for kin and community.

This “caring divide” exacerbates existing tendencies for hypermasculine mining cultures, or what the MMIWG report calls “man camps.”

Women who had worked at the diamond mines shared stories of intense visibility. These experiences ranged from a general feeling of greater scrutiny from other workers, to overt sexual harassment. While the women I interviewed held a variety of positions at the camps, it was women who worked in housekeeping and positions at a lower pay scale with higher degrees of precarity who described the most explicit and pervasive experiences with gendered discrimination and violence.

Heavy care burdens

The FIFO structure has led to intensified pressure on people, usually women, at home. While mine workers and their families spoke about the financial benefits of mine employment, many female spouses likened the experience of having a spouse at camp to single parenting.

One Dene woman I interviewed said:

“I feel like I live in a community where families are fragmented on purpose. We choose to remove half of the caregivers half of the time. How can this not have a significant impact on raising a family or being in a marriage?”

These heavy care burdens are coupled with new financial inequality within households, with mine workers often bringing in significantly higher wages than other family members.

The women I spoke with shared concerns that inequalities in both caring labours and finances were shaping conditions for interpersonal violence, and making it more difficult for women to leave violent situations.

When women shared their stories of the diamond mines, they did not express the impact as an isolated or unique phenomenon. Instead, I heard stories that wove the experiences of the diamond mines into ongoing processes of settler colonialism, including the intergenerational trauma of residential schools.

Diamonds carry with them heavy imagery of romance and commitment, symbolizing a love that is, as diamond company De Beers puts it, “forever.”

However, while a century of marketing has made diamond rings a symbol of heteronormative happy endings, when I spoke with northern women about their experience with the diamond mines, I heard a different story.

As one research participant said, “Diamonds are said to be a girl’s best friend. I’m not sure which girls they are because it’s certainly not anyone in here.”The Conversation


Rebecca Hall, Assistant Professor, Global Development Studies, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Science Rendezvous Day declared

Queen’s and the Kingston community prepare for popular science festival recently proclaimed an official day on May 7.

Kids participate on hands-on science activities during Science Rendezvous
Leon's Centre in Downtown Kingston will host over 30 hands-on science activities for people of all ages.

From a bird walk across City Park to seeing real fossils of Ice Age creatures, Queen’s will be once again hosting its favourite hands-on science event: Science Rendezvous. After being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and pivoting to virtual in 2021, the Kingston-based science festival is ready for an in-person comeback. Earlier this year, Mayor Bryan Paterson, on behalf of the Kingston City Council, proclaimed May 7, 2022 as “Science Rendezvous Kingston Day” in the City of Kingston.

“I like to say Science Rendezvous Kingston is like a spring garden that bursts into full bloom each May. It is colourful, diverse and waiting to be walked through, discovered and enjoyed,” says Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Education Lynda Colgan, who has been leading the event in Kingston for the past decade.

Science Rendezvous is part of Science Odyssey, a country-wide science festival powered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to celebrate Canadian research in all STEM areas. This year will mark the 11th annual Science Rendezvous celebrated in Kingston.

The free, family-oriented event at the Leon’s Centre in downtown Kingston will feature Queen’s research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). A large team of volunteers, including many Queen’s faculty, staff and students will be on hand to help the public navigate through the exhibits and answer visitor’s questions. Over 30 interactive displays will be set up, covering topics like space research, the human brain and heart, mining, climate, robotics and more.

Exhibitors include the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute and SNOLAB, the Queen’s Cardiovascular Imaging Network at Queen's (CINQ Lab), the Chemistry Department, the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and the Queen’s Baja Dune Buggy team.

Kids participate on hands-on science activities during Science Rendezvous
Outdoor activities are also part of Science Rendezvous 2022.

That same day, the Kingston Frontenac Public Library will host two different hands-on workshops, “Ice Age”, for grades 4-6, and “Youth Climate Lab Policy Jam,” for secondary students. While these activities are also free, pre-registration is required due to limited space.

Ahead of the big day, the Science Rendezvous team will offer a sneak peek of the activities at Kingston’s Springer Market Square on Wednesday, May 4 from 3-6 pm where the public will have the chance to interact with robots, look inside working beehives, see fossil skulls from pre-historic giant mammals, and operate a ping pong ball cannon.

The program for this year’s science festival also includes virtual presentations and workshops running from May 6-13, including a virtual tour of SNOLAB, Canada’s deep underground research laboratory near Sudbury, Ontario, and a presentation on how robots can improve the daily work of dairy farms. Those virtual activities require pre-registration.

On May 4, the Science Rendezvous Kingston team is also launching STEM on DEMAND, a collection of resources for educators and families to keep STEM learning alive all year long. “With over 30 groups providing videos, activity booklets and instruction sheets, children can learn and have fun to extend the Science Rendezvous experience in many purposeful and engaging ways,” says Dr. Colgan.

For more information and registration links, access the website.

Robots to improve human mobility

Queen’s researcher Amy Wu investigates how people walk, building knowledge that can lead to the development of robots that can help people with disabilities.

Researchers interact with the Spot robot at the Ingenuity Labs.
The state-of-the-art Spot robot, a collaborative research tool at Ingenuity Labs, can be used to study topics ranging from autonomous monitoring of remote sites to directly assistance of humans during joint tasks. The robot is capable of walking at fast speeds, on uneven terrain, and up and down stairs, making it highly suitable for test and deployment in the range of environments required for practical applications.

Most people take walking for granted, as this is something they master as toddlers and remains intuitive throughout the rest of their lives. For Amy Wu, the Mitchell Professor in Bio-inspired Robotics in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, walking means much more: human mobility is her object of research.

Dr. Wu pays close attention to how humans move in regular and challenging conditions, looking for insights that will change the way we think and build assistive technologies. Her research blends two interests: biomechanics and robotics, with a focus on locomotion and balance control. In a nutshell, Dr. Wu’s goal is to understand how humans move to help improve human mobility.

“The idea is to study the principles of how humans walk and balance, and use these insights to build better robots,” she explains, noting that there’s a variety of potential applications, from walking robots to wearable devices and exoskeletons that will restore mobility for people with disabilities.

A member of the Ingenuity Labs Research Institute, Dr. Wu’s team uses state-of-the-art technology to investigate human gait and balance. Volunteers in the lab wear reflective markers all over their bodies and walk in front of a high-resolution recording camera and over a platform that measures the force their feet apply to the ground. Additionally, the researchers monitor respiration – specifically, oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide expenditures to better understand the how much energy people exert while walking.

Amy Wu – Queen’s Mitchell Professor in Bio-Inspired Robotics from Queen's Engineering on Vimeo.

Dr. Wu meticulously observes how the human body behaves under different conditions. She pays attention, for instance, to how different joints bend, or how high one needs to lift their feet to avoid tripping, or how a faster or slower gait changes the way the body moves.

“We are also starting to study how people move outside. We monitored volunteers walking in a loop around campus in the summer months and then during winter, looking at how they change their gait to avoid slipping and falling,” says Dr. Wu, noting that there’s not a lot of studies that have looked at stability in walking outdoors – doing experiments in these settings poses some extra challenges to the research, because the environment can’t be completely controlled.

Knowledge obtained through this in-depth investigation of human motion can be applied in a variety of ways, including the previously mentioned wearable devices, or in the development of legged robots that can walk side-by-side with people to help them out, or even robots built to explore places no human can reach – Traveling to another planet? A location devastated by a natural disaster? One can imagine innumerous possibilities.

But while it is easy to dream of imaginative scenarios, Dr. Wu’s feet are firmly planted on the ground. Part of her research is looking at the practical ways in which robots can move from sci-fi movies and books into interacting and supporting humans in their everyday lives. That includes how to balance function and design to facilitate the interaction between humans and robots, which is crucial in developing robots that will help people in their daily tasks. We need to ensure our assistive robots are easy to operate, safe, and, ideally, affordable.

Queen's Engineering researchers designed an exoskeleton that improves walking efficiency, allowing users to walk further while using less energy. The study was featured in the leading academic journal ScienceLearn more.

There’s also a lot of practical and ethical questions that need to be answered.

“If robots were everywhere, walking with us, carrying our groceries, or working by our side, how would they affect the way we behave? How can we design robots to be more acceptable and integrated with the society?” asks Dr. Wu.

Those are important questions the team keeps in mind while investigating how humans move and how robots can improve mobility in people with disabilities – one step at a time.

Are diet and activity key to managing weight and obesity?

More than 63 per cent of Canadian adults currently live with overweight or obesity, which contributes to chronic health conditions.
More than 63 per cent of Canadian adults currently live with overweight or obesity, which contributes to chronic health conditions.

In a study, recently published by the Canada Medical Association Journal, Robert Ross (Kinesiology and Health Studies) and team investigated whether making small changes to caloric intake and physical activity levels helps prevent long-term weight gain among adults with overweight or obesity.

The randomized, controlled trial involved 320 sedentary adults aged 25–70 years living with overweight or obesity (a body mass index between 25 and 39.9 kg/m2). The mean age of participants was 52.6 years, and 77 per cent were female. The researchers randomly divided participants into two groups: one simply monitored their weight by using a scale with no change to diet or exercise, while the other adapted a small change approach, which involved reducing caloric intake by 100 kilocalories per day or increasing physical activity by 2,000 steps a day throughout the two-year study.

Interestingly, the research team found that the small change approach was not more effective than the weight monitoring approach in preventing weight gain at two years into the study adults with overweight or obesity. Surprisingly, prevention of weight gain was observed in both arms of the trial.

“We thought that through these small changes to diet or exercise, participants would prevent weight gain and this would be sustainable in the long-term and be clinically relevant,” says Dr. Ross. “Although the small change approach led to reduced weight at three, six, 12 and 15 months, by 24 months the prevention of weight gain did not differ from that associated with monitoring alone. This was surprising as we hypothesized that the monitoring alone group would gain weight over the three years.”

The researchers were surprised by the results, which contrasted with those of a previous study that showed the small change approach to diet and exercise prevented weight gain over three years in a large sample of young adults with overweight. However, in a sub-analysis Dr. Ross and colleagues observed that weight gain was prevented in the adults with overweight, but not those with obesity.

As to why this happened, the authors speculate that people who enroll in a trial for weight management may already have some commitment to behavioral changes. Another possibility, they write, is that the effect of regular weight monitoring itself may have influenced the participants’ behaviour during the trial.

More than 63 per cent of Canadian adults currently are living with overweight or obesity, which contributes to chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes.

“We pursued this study because the prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide, and without exception, no country on the planet has been able to demonstrate a decrease in obesity prevalence over the last four decades,” says Dr. Ross. “Because weight gain and obesity are such strong predictors of chronic disease, it is a public health problem.”

Dr. Ross believes we need to help people understand that preventing further weight gain has important health benefits as it is well established that weight gain is associated with an increase in health risk.

“The fact is weight loss is extraordinarily difficult to sustain for most adults,” he says. “So, while many Canadian adults have lost weight, unfortunately, that lost weight has been regained and very often to the point where they gain even more weight.”

Dr. Ross admits managing body weight and waist circumference in today’s hectic society is a challenge. That’s why small changes may be more palatable and sustainable for the broader population, rather than large changes, and that can go a long way in preventing weight gain in the first place.

Part of the challenge of achieving long-term weight loss is maintaining the significant behavioural changes required. Dr. Ross and his team plan to use the insights from this study to assess whether weight monitoring itself could be an effective means of preventing weight gain.

“Our behavioral colleagues think that there’s some great potential here, especially for adults with overweight. If we could prevent the transition from the overweight category to the obese category, that would be a real advance,” Dr. Ross says.

The study is now available on the Canadian Medical Association Journal website.

Accessing service family supports and needs

Queen’s graduate researchers investigate needed support for families of Canadian public safety and military personnel.

Baby's hands on adults' hands.
PhD students at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy are bridging the gaps on research-based solutions to adequately support families of Canadian Armed Force members and public safety personnel. (Unsplash/ Liv Bruce)

Canadian Armed Forces members and public safety personnel, such as police officers and firefighters, are some of the professionals in our society whose occupations involve risking their lives. The unique demands of their careers can lead to physical and emotional stress, and their family members can be equally affected by the uncertain and stressful nature of these lines of work.

There is currently little research on the experiences and needs of families of these individuals, and adequate support initiatives are required. Uncovering what the needs of these families are and developing research-based solutions will benefit the family members, these professionals, and society.

Aiming to fill these gaps are Queen’s PhD candidates Rachel Richmond and Shannon Hill, both at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy under the supervision of Dr. Heidi Cramm. Dr. Cramm is the lead of the Families Matter Research Group , an interdisciplinary initiative that produces research, builds capacity, and engages with families and stakeholders of military, Veteran, and public safety personnel.

Stressors experienced by loved ones

Richmond’s research looks at the challenges experienced by families of public safety personnel in Canada. She is currently conducting interviews with significant others of police officers, firefighters, paramedics, correctional officers, and 911 dispatchers.

Rachel Richmond
Rachel Richmond

While families feel may find meaning in supporting the work of their loved ones, they worry about safety and the unpredictable nature of these occupations.

Additionally, as many of these professionals have unconventionally long shifts, their significant others often carry the responsibility of childcare and housework, resulting in additional stress.

Richmond has relatives in the military and has seen the support resources available for their families, including mental health resources and programs through Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC). However, there are currently no evidence-based supports, resources, or systems of support in Canada for public safety personnel families.

“My family always emphasized that we had to serve however we could. For my brother, it was the military. For me, it’s to shed light on those families that ensure we’re able to live safely in our communities and provide them with the resources and support they need to keep going,” she says.

Richmond’s preliminary findings are already informing the development of a Public Safety Personnel Families Wellbeing Hub in collaboration with the University of Regina.

Adolescents can face challenges when frequently relocating and changing schools

Hill’s research aims to understand and support the school transition experiences of adolescents living in Canadian military families. Though military families across Canada can access supportive resources like those from MFRCs, policies, and practices to help ease the school transition experience for military-connected students are limited.

Shannon Hill
Shannon Hill

Military members often relocate multiple times throughout their careers, meaning that their children must change schools frequently. While this affords children the experience of travelling and meeting new people, they can also face challenges such as curricular gaps or redundancies, disruptions to friendships, and missing out on opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities. For adolescents, these challenges can become particularly amplified. Additionally, the above challenges can be added onto the difficulties that military families may be experiencing when trying to access healthcare services for children with special needs.

As a certified teacher and having grown up in a military family, Hill has witnessed the impact that limited policy and practice can have on military-connected students and hopes to improve their transitional experiences through her own novel research.

“Given that my study is the first to look broadly at the school transition experiences of Canadian military-connected adolescents, it will make significant contributions across military, education, and academic domains,” she believes.

Currently, the knowledge base on the educational experiences of military-connected students is based on American studies. Hill believes her research fills a gap because it specifically looks at the Canadian sector, where little is known about the educational experiences of military-connected students.

In phase one of her study, Hill collected data from adolescents, parents, and educators. The second phase will aim to develop policy and practice recommendations related to the school transition experiences of military-connected adolescents across Canada. Potential recommendations could include increasing education for teachers about the military lifestyle and the unique set of challenges it can present for military-connected students.

As individuals with close personal connections to military members, Richmond and Hill have a first-hand understanding of the challenges that families of those who serve face and their need for more resources and support. Hill and Richmond’s projects will shed light on these issues, hopefully leading to the creation of supportive resources and policy changes that will greatly improve the lives of thousands of Canadians.

For updates, visit the Families Matter Research Group website. This platform provides families with evidence-based information, emerging research and resources, and opportunities to get involved in the community.

New art installation shines light on migrant workers

Exhibition at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts gives voice to South Asian men working and living abroad.

A plate of biryani.
Biryani, the traditional South Asian dish that inspired the exhibition.

A close up shot of a heaping plate of biryani was the inspiration for what became an multi-media exhibition premiering this Monday (April 25) at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. The project, named This is Evidence, was developed by documentary filmmaker and academic Professor Reena Kukreja (Global Development Studies) and depicts the experiences of South Asian migrant men living in Greece.

The picture that started it all came to Dr. Kukreja’s WhatsApp account from Anayat (pseudonym), an undocumented male migrant from Pakistan. Her curiosity aroused, she texted back, “yeh kya ha?” or “what is it all about?” He called right back and said, “Biryani. I made it. It’s my ammijan or mother’s recipe.” He appeared proud that he had made the biryani the exact way his mother had taught him and that it tasted just as if his ammijan had cooked it.

“The project really started in 2015 when I was visiting Greece with my family,” she explains. “I noticed a large number of South Asian men in the informal tourist economy and, when they approached my daughter and asked if they could buy her a gift, I realized they were lonely, they missed their families. I started to think about love, about family, and the project started to evolve from there. I saw them as people who deserved to be respected and for the world to learn more about their story from their perspective.”

The resulting multi-media exhibition, which took about three years to complete, puts together South Asian migrant men’s voices and testimonies, visual and oral, that they consider important to share with the larger world. All images and videos were taken either by the research collaborator, Dr. Kukreja, at the behest of the men who pointed out what needed to be documented, or by the men themselves with their cell phones which they then shared on closed WhatsApp groups for the project.

There are an estimated 200,000 undocumented migrants from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan living in Greece—most of whom are young, poor men. Despite leaving their homes in search of a better life, their work as agricultural labourers or participants in the urban informal economy is characterized by low wages, and poor living and working conditions.

Compounding the exploitation that many migrant workers experience is the social and political exclusion. Prevailing discourses of Islamophobia and xenophobia have enabled an “us” versus “them” narrative in the Greek political landscape.

Reena Kukreja and an agricultural worker.
Reena Kukreja went to Greece to research the experiences of undocumented South Asian male migrant workers.

“I was able to get them to trust me,” says Dr. Kukreja when asked how she was able to develop the project. “My co-ethnic insider positionality as a diasporic South Asian woman with family roots in Pakistan and India and fluency in the men’s languages, Urdu, Punjabi, and Bangla, has proven valuable in building rapport and trust. It has also allowed me to bridge differences in migrant status, class, and gender identity, and to act as their cultural interpreter.”

This exhibition champions the concerns of migrant men to a wider audience and equips activists to advocate for policy changes to labour migration and family reunification laws. This is critical as the numbers of migrants increases globally while populist backlash against racialized poor migrants gains strength.

The exhibit first premiered in Athens on 11 April where some of the participating men came for the opening and spoke about their experience as undocumented migrant workers. It now moves to Canada, where it will be hosted by the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts from April 25 to May 3. Dr. Kukreja presents an opening talk on April 27 at 5 pm.

Dr. Kukreja’s work was funded by a Connection grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. At Queen’s University, various departments have collaborated for the realization of the exhibition. These include the Global Development Studies, Dan School of Music and Drama, Film and Media, and the Cultural Studies Program.

To learn more about This is Evidence, visit the website.

For The Record – April 21, 2022

For the Record provides postings of appointment, committee, grant, award, and other notices set out by collective agreements and university policies and processes. It is the university’s primary vehicle for sharing this information with our community.

Submit For the Record information for posting to Gazette editor Andrew Carroll.

Applications sought for Chair of the Health Sciences and Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Research Ethics Board

The Vice-Principal Research portfolio is seeking internal applications for the position of Chair of the Health Sciences and Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Research Ethics Board (HSREB).

The Chair has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the research ethics board acts in accordance with all applicable regulations, guidelines and policies governing research ethics boards, and works with HSREB members to review, propose modifications to, approve, reject, suspend or terminate any proposed or ongoing research involving human participants. The Chair ensures the maintenance of integrity and confidentiality in the ethics review process.

The Deputy Vice-Principal Research in Health Research will establish a search committee advisory to the Principal to support the selection process. The selection process, including recommendation of a preferred candidate to the Principal, is expected to be complete by late May 2022. Appointments are typically for a three-year period. 

Learn more at https://www.queensu.ca/vpr/ethics/hsreb/chair-posting.

Transforming the global academy

Principal Patrick Deane on how the SDGs are helping break down silos, provoke dialogue, and unite us all in a common global purpose.

[Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane]
Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University

This op-ed was originally published in the Times Higher Education supplement in 2021.

As a member of the international group tasked with updating the Magna Charta Universitatum – the declaration of university freedoms and principles that was first signed in Bologna in 1988 – I am struck by the extent to which the intervening three decades have altered the global consensus about the nature and function of universities. Where the original document spoke eloquently to the fundamental values of the academy, the new Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 reaffirms those values but also expands upon their social function and utility. I would summarise the shift this way: we have moved from an understanding of universities as defined primarily by their ability to transcend historical contingency to a more complicated view, which asserts that timeless principles such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the platform from which the academy must engage with history.

If the situation in Europe and around the world in 1988 made it important to speak up for the freedoms without which teaching and research would be impoverished, by 2020 it had become equally important to speak of the responsibilities incumbent on institutions by virtue of the privileges accorded to them. The reality of rapid climate change has brought urgency and authority to this new view of universities, as have parallel trends in the social, cultural, and political climate, and “education for sustainable development” has emerged as the increasingly dominant model for global higher education – one which fuses the concerns of environment, society, and economy.  

Recent columns in Times Higher Education have admirably described the diverse ways in which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been intrinsic to this reorientation of the global academy: as a rallying point for students and staff, as an accountability framework, and as a global language for political action, for example. Here at Queen’s University, the SDGs have been an important frame for our current planning process, and in all of those ways have influenced the manner in which we understand and wish to articulate our mission.

At one point in the process, an influential and valued friend of the university expressed some irritation to me about the way in which the SDGs had come to dominate and disrupt the university’s normally untroubled and inwardly-focused dialogue with itself about mission and values. “And in any case,” came the throwaway dismissal, “there’s nothing original or new about aligning with the SDGs.” Of course, that is true in 2021, but is it relevant? If a university is able to maximise its global impact, does the inherent originality or novelty of its planning parameters matter? In such exchanges – still occurring, I’m certain, on campuses everywhere – we can see that the changing consensus about which I wrote at the start is not yet complete.

It seems to me, in fact, that much of the value of the SDGs as an organising framework for universities resides in their not being proprietary or “original” to one institution, or to an exclusive group of institutions. It has often been pointed out that they now provide a shared language which helps universities in diverse geographical, political, and socio-economic locations understand and build upon the commonality of their work in both teaching and research. Adoption of the SDGs, however variously that is done from institution to institution, is turning the “global academy” from a rhetorical to a real construct, and I can’t imagine why it would be in the interests of any university to hold itself aloof from that transformation. Having watched our planning process unfold at Queen’s over the last two years, I can confirm that what the SDGs do at the global level, they do also at the level of the individual institution, providing a common language that provokes and sustains dialogue – not only between disciplines, but between the academic and non-academic parts of the operation.

I want to end by commenting on the excitement generated when siloes are broken open and when people and units understand how they are united with others in a common purpose and in service to the greater good. To cultivate that understanding has been the primary objective of planning at Queen’s for the last two years, and preparing our first submission to the Impact Rankings has been an intrinsic part of that process of learning and self-discovery. Naturally, we are delighted and excited by where we find ourselves in the rankings, but we are energised in a more profound way by the knowledge of what synergies and collaborations exist or appear possible both within our university and in the global academy.

The first 16 SDGs point to the areas in which we want to have impact. The 17th tells us what the whole project is really all about: acting in community for the communal good.


Queen’s secures second consecutive top 10 position globally in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

Queen’s places 7th in international rankings out of over 1,500 institutions in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

[7th in the world - 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings]

Capturing 7th position globally, Queen’s is ranked in the top 10 of the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings for the second year in a row. The rankings measure the actions universities are taking to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) both within and beyond their local communities. This 2022 international competition saw participation from over 1,500 post-secondary institutions (up from 1,240 in 2021).

Created in 2019, the THE Impact Rankings are the only international assessment to evaluate how universities’ programs and initiatives align with the SDGs. This set of 17 wide-ranging goals is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a universal call to protect the planet and its people.

"I am incredibly proud of the Queen’s community for this repeat stellar performance," says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University. "The ranking recognizes the sustained impact we are having in our local and global communities, but also serves to inspire future action fueled by our collective intellectual curiosity, passion to achieve, and commitment to collaboration – key to our mission and values."

Using calibrated metrics and indicators across four key areas – research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship – the rankings assess hundreds of data points and qualitative evidence that tangibly measure the impact of higher education institutions in addressing urgent global challenges. Since its inaugural year in 2019, participation in the THE Rankings has increased from 450 institutions to 1,500 participating institutions across 110 countries in 2022. This includes 400 first-time ranked institutions and 24 Canadian universities.

"The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are unique in examining universities’ impact on society, through each of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals," says Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer, Times Higher Education. "Canada is one of the outstanding performers in this ranking, with ten universities in the world top 50 – and it is great to see Queen’s among Canada’s leading institutions, making the world top 10 and excelling in its contribution to SDG 1, and SDG 11, and SDG 16, in particular. It is important to be able to identify and celebrate the work universities do to make the world a better place."

Queen’s performance

Queen’s results once again reflect the cross-university collaboration and partnership of dozens of units across faculties, portfolios, and departments. Highlights from the 2022 rankings include:

  • Queen’s was ranked across all 17 SDGs
  • 2nd worldwide for SDG 1: 'No Poverty.' Queen’s strong performance acknowledged the Commitment Scholars program, which provides financial support for students who are members of underserved or underrepresented groups and who have demonstrated leadership in, and commitment to, racial justice, social justice, or diversity initiatives, and Swipe it Forward, a peer-to-peer program that facilitates the donation of meals to students facing food insecurity
  • 3rd worldwide for SDG 11: 'Sustainable Cities and Communities.' Queen’s supports public access to green spaces, including self-guided tours of the university’s Snodgrass Arboretum, free trail access at Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre, and the castle gardens at the Bader International Study Centre in the UK. State-of-the-art cultural facilities – including the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre – showcase world-class performing arts and collections to the community
  • 2nd worldwide for SDG 16: 'Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.' In addition to significant collaboration with all levels of government and training the next generation of policy makers though the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s supports academic freedom and is a member of the Scholars at Risk program, which arranges temporary research and teaching positions for scholars whose lives, freedom and well-being are under threat
  • Queen’s ranked in the top 100 of 12/17 SDGs and in the top 30 of 8/17 SDGs

Evidence of impact

[Report Cover - Queen’s contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Advancing social impact | 2020-2021]
Read the report: Queen's contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Advancing social impact | 2020-2021 [PDF Report 13 KB]

More than 600 pieces of quantitative and qualitative evidence looked at Queen’s research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship and included:

  • Queen’s partnership with the Karta Initiative to provide educational opportunities to low-income youth from rural India
  • The new Queen’s Institute for Global and Population Health, created to boost research, education, service, and collaborative projects that will help advance and decolonize global health systems
  • Black Youth in STEM, an outreach program engaging Black elementary students in science, technology, engineering, and math programming through fun, hands-on activities in a Black-positive space
  • Leanpath Spark, a program to measure food waste and foster education and inspire action in Queen’s dining halls
  • A new Campus Map focused on accessibility to assists campus visitors in navigating Queen’s buildings and accessible routes, entrances, washrooms, and more
  • The Queen’s University Biological Station, one of Canada’s premier scientific field stations dedicated to environmental and conservation research and outreach
  • Supporting and connecting women of all ages through the Ban Righ Centre, dedicated to diversity and community building
  • Queen’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and meeting its goal for a 35 per cent reduction in emissions between 2008 to 2020
  • A website and report created to illustrate Queen’s commitment to the SDGs and showcase programs and initiatives that address some of the world’s most pressing challenges

The Queen's University’s community of exceptional students, researchers, staff, and alumni all contribute to making a positive contribution to social impact and sustainability. For more information on the THE Impact Rankings and how the university is contributing to the SDGs, visit the Advancing Social Impact website.

[Illustration of Queen's campus and collaborations]


Subscribe to RSS - Research Prominence