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    Research Prominence

    Receiving the prestigious Vega Medal

    Queen’s researcher John Smol has been recognized for his lifetime achievements with the Vega Medal, a Nobel Prize-equivalent in geography, awarded by the King of Sweden.

    [Photo of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Dr. John Smol]
    His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (left) bestows the 2023 Vega Medal to Dr. John Smol (right)

    John Smol has joined the ranks of some of the world’s most adventurous, and well-decorated, scientists. The Queen’s professor and former Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change is now a member of an elite group of explorers, oceanographers, geographers, and anthropologists bestowed with the Vega Medal. Sometimes referred to as equivalent to a "Nobel Prize in Geography," the Vega Medal is awarded by the Swedish Society of Anthropology and Geography (SSAG) every two to three years to an outstanding geographer or anthropologist with international renown. Dr. Smol collected his prize on April 21 from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, the society’s chief patron. When announcing this year’s recipient, SSAG described Dr. Smol as "unquestionably one of the most prolific scientists in paleolimnology, and certainly the most prolific regarding northern lake systems."

    "This is a proud moment for Queen’s and for Canada," says Nancy Ross, says Vice-Principal (Research). "With a career spanning forty years, Dr. Smol continues to advance research that is changing the way we understand human impact on the environment. The Vega is an outstanding recognition of his tireless commitment to research and protecting the planet."

    A prolific career

    [Art of Research photo by Dr. John Smol capturing the Canadian High Arctic]
    Queen's Art of Research photo: Disappearing Ecosystems: High Arctic Ponds Evaporating with Global Warming by Dr. John Smol at Cape Hershel, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut.

    Dr. Smol (Biology) is recognized as one of the foremost experts in the study of long-term global environmental changes to lakes and rivers. He has contributed to our understanding of the impacts of pressing environmental issues, such as lake eutrophication, acidification, contaminant transport, fisheries management, and climate change with a special focus on the Arctic. As a paleolimnologist, Dr. Smol reconstructs the history of lakes and rivers by analyzing their sediment to track the effects of climate change, human impacts, and natural processes. His work not only helped put the discipline on the map with major scientific breakthroughs, but provided a new understanding of humans’ interactions with the environment that would go on to influence policy work and regulations, such as with acid rain. As the founder and co-director of Queen’s Paleoecological Environmental Assessment & Research Lab (PEARL) he also trained numerous students and researchers who have gone on to blaze their own paths in science, policy development, and industry.

    [Photo of Jason LaTorre and Dr. John Smol]
    His Excellency Jason LaTorre, Ambassador of Canada to Sweden (left) congratulated Dr. Smol (right) ahead of the medal ceremony.

    "John has been immensely productive, and his research has covered many of the big environmental issues, such as acidification, eutrophication, and climate change," says Dr. Richard Bindler, Umeå University (Sweden) who nominated Dr. Smol. "He has also mentored individual scientists, from students to early career scientists, but also beyond that with his incredible support to the paleolimnology community as a whole. His contributions to environmental research extend far beyond the boundaries of his own research."

    Over his 40-year career Dr. Smol has been awarded more than 70 awards with international renown. For example, he has won the Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering which celebrates Canada’s most outstanding scientists and awards a grant of up to $1M. Other career highlights include being named a Fellow of the Royal Society (UK) whose members include Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. As well as receiving the Polar Medal in 2019 from Canada’s Governor General for "extraordinary services in the polar regions and Canada’s north." Dr. Smol has also been acknowledged by Canadian Geographic as one of nine “Canadians changing our world” in 2013 and Nature’s Canada’s Top Mid-Career Scientific Mentor in 2010. His prolific contributions to advancing his field include more than 670 journal publications and chapters, 20 books, 1100 conference engagements, and 150 invited keynotes and plenary lectures. Dr. Smol founded and served as Editor of the Journal of Paleolimnology and is currently Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Reviews as well as Series Editor for the Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research Series.

    "I was absolutely delighted and totally surprised by the notification that I had won the Vega Medal, having no idea that I was nominated," says Dr. Smol. "It is totally humbling to see the list of past winners, which includes many of my heroes from childhood, such as polar explorers Ernest Shackleton (1910) and Roald Amundsen (1913), and anthropologists such as Louis Leakey (1963). I am very pleased to see that paleolimnology, which was once seen as a very esoteric scientific field, now has this recognition. In my case, this is because I have always had a remarkably dedicated group of graduate students and other colleagues."

    History of the Vega Medal

    [Vega Medal]
    Dr. Smol's Vega Medal.

    Established in 1878, SSAG has organized expeditions and sponsored research that has helped us to better understand our world and its environment. Welcoming researchers from geography and anthropology-related disciplines, SSAG continues to support research that promotes the development of these fields while stewarding connections between their scientists and the public. The Vega Medal was created in 1881 to mark the anniversary of Adolf Erik Nordenskiold’s Vega expedition as it returned to Stockholm after navigating the Northeast Passage. Since then, there have been 78 recipients of the medal ranging from famous oceanographers to paleontologists, and climate scientists. Other medal holders with a connection to Canada include Sir John Murray, considered the father of modern oceanography, awarded in 1912 and John Ross Mackay, leader in Canadian permafrost studies, awarded in 1986.

    After receiving the Vega Medal from the King, Dr. Smol was then honoured the same day at the Vega Symposium where he gave the opening keynote on "Lakes in the Anthropocene: Using the past to better prepare for the future." To learn more about Dr. Smol’s research, visit the PEARL website.

    Telling their research stories

    Three Queen’s graduate students have made it to the Top 25 in a national Storytellers Challenge.

    [Photo of a microphone]

    Across Canada graduate students are working to advance groundbreaking research every day, but the immediate and long-term impact of this research is not always obvious to the public. For the past ten years, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Storytellers Challenge has asked students to communicate their research creatively, with emphasis on telling compelling and accessible stories about research impact. In either three minutes or up to 300 words, participants must use video, audio, text, or infographic to illustrate how their work is making a difference. Three Queen’s researchers Hannah Hunter (Geography and Planning), Madison Robertson (Health Quality), and Michalina Woznowski (Management) have been selected as Top 25 finalists, out of over 200 entries in the 2023 competition.

    "We are very proud that Hannah, Madison, and Michalina will be representing Queen’s on this national stage," says Betsy Donald, Associate Vice-Principal (Research) and the SSHRC research lead for Queen’s. "Their work effectively captures the mission of the Storytellers Challenge to communicate the value of research and the difference it makes to the lives of Canadians. Queen’s wishes them all the best and we will be cheering them on!"

    Submissions to the Storytellers Challenge are judged on the creativity, persuasiveness, and clarity of their story, with the top 25 entries receiving $3,000 each. On May 29, the 25 finalists will present in front of a live audience at the Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the largest academic gathering in Canada, at York University where they will be narrowed down to a final five and be eligible for additional prizes.

    "This is just another great example of how our graduate students showcase how social sciences and humanities research changes the world for the better," says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies. "The depth of talent we have across disciplines at this level of research is astounding and I join my colleague in congratulating them all."

    Queen’s Finalists

    [Hannah Hunter]Hannah Hunter is a PhD student in Geography and Planning. Her submission, "Listening to Birds at the End of the World," explores the history of wildlife sound recordings and what they can tell us about human-nature relationships, extinct species, and the ecological heritage of the world. Alongside traditional research methods, Hunter is creating a podcast series called Last Call for Lost Birds where she will bring extinct birds back to life using audio storytelling.


    [Madison Robertson]Madison Robertson is a PhD student in Health Quality. Her work "Till Death Do Us Part: Spousal Separation in Long-Term Care" analyzes the effects of separation on spouses who cannot live together in long-term care facilities because of different health needs and care requirements. Using a participatory action research method, she will explore feelings of loneliness and depression in elderly patients who become separated from their significant other while in long-term care.


    [Michalina Woznowski]Michalina Woznowski is a PhD student in Management at the Smith School of Business. Her project "Multicommunicating During Team Meetings and its Effects on Team Functioning" analyzes the positive and negative outcomes that stem from multicommunication in the workplace. Multicommunication is a specific form of multitasking that refers to when, for example, an employee is taking part in a virtual or in-person meeting while also engaging in another form of virtual communication like texting, emailing, or direct messaging. The goal of her study is to support both managers and employees in implementing multicommunication in a way that is beneficial for everyone.

    To learn more about these projects and other Top 25 Finalists, visit the SSHRC Storytellers Gallery.

    $2.5M gift creates ESG professorship at Smith School of Business

    Francisca and Mike Quinn’s gift to Smith School of Business will train future leaders to expertly navigate environmental, social, and governance issues. 

    Donors Francisca Quinn and Mike Quinn (Com’88) stand with Wanda Costen, Dean, Smith School of Business
    Francisca Quinn and Mike Quinn (Com’88), seen here with Wanda Costen, Dean of the Smith School of Business, have made a $2.5-million gift through the Quinn Family Future Foundation to establish the Quinn Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Professorship.

    Mike Quinn (Com’88), and Francisca Quinn believe it is critical for the next generation of business leaders to understand climate change and sustainable development concepts.

    That’s why they have made a $2.5-million gift through the Quinn Family Future Foundation to Smith School of Business to establish the Quinn Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Professorship.

    The professorship will enhance Smith School of Business curriculum to further develop the next generation of business leaders and positively contribute to an inclusive, diverse, and sustainable society where organizations respect planetary boundaries. 

    “Revitalizing our curriculum will better prepare our students to positively contribute to an inclusive, diverse, and sustainable society,” says Wanda Costen, Dean of Smith School of Business. “Smith is a key provider of talent for today’s businesses, so we must offer exceptional learning experiences to equip students to be fluent in sustainability concepts and strategy.”

    Sustainability is already a key strategic goal at Queen’s. The university is committed to furthering the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Queen’s was recently ranked in the top 10 of the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact rankings, which measured the actions of more than 1,500 post-secondary institutions from around the world that are trying to advance the UN’s SDGs. The gift allows Smith School of Business to hire an ESG scholar who will play a leadership role in the development of ESG curricula across programs.

    The Quinns have dedicated their careers to sustainable development. Francisca is the president and founder of Quinn+Partners (a North American Environmental, Social and Governance advisory firm) and Michael is the co-founder of RP Investment Advisors LP.

    “Climate change and social issues are not only significant threats to Canadian business, they can also be tremendous opportunities for organizations and entrepreneurs,” says Francisca Quinn. “We want to equip every student at Smith to expertly navigate ESG – whether in business strategy, accounting, finance, technology, or organizational systems.”

    Mike Quinn’s commerce degree benefited him tremendously in his career and he is happy to help his alma mater by giving back.   

    “I’m very honoured and excited to be able to contribute to Smith School of Business writing its next chapter,” he says.  

    “Thank you to the Quinns for their commitment to finding solutions to some of the challenges facing our world such as climate change and sustainability,” says Queen’s Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand, Artsci’94. “Their gift and this professorship will train future leaders to balance economic growth with environmental responsibility and social progress.”

    VPR hosting grant-writing retreat for faculty members

    The Vice-Principal Research Portfolio is offering a two-day grant-writing retreat for early-career and established faculty members at Queen’s. The retreat will be held at the Donald Gordon Hotel and Conference Centre on May 25 and 26, from 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

    On day one, guest speaker Lorelei Lingard (Western University) will present the workshop ‘It’s not just the Study, it’s the Story’, designed to help researchers improve their grant-writing skills. While researchers usually focus on carefully articulating their research proposal, Dr. Lingard argues that successful applications also present a clear, compelling, and coherent story.

    Day two will offer participants quiet time away from the office to work on their grant applications. Research Projects Advisors will also be available to meet researchers individually to discuss current and future proposals.

    Continental breakfast, beverages, snacks, and hot lunch will be provided. Spaces are limited. To learn more about the program and register, visit the Vice-Principal Research website.

    The speaker

    Lorelei Lingard is a professor in the Department of Medicine and senior scientist at the Centre for Education Research & Innovation, at Western University. For 25 years she has led a research program to understand how team communication patterns shape collaborative healthcare and novice socialization. In 2018, she was the first woman to be recognized with the Karolinska Institutet Prize for Research in Medical Education. In 2021, she was made an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in recognition of the impact of her research on healthcare and medical training in Canada. She is a prolific author with a PhD in rhetoric, which she has leveraged to help other researchers improve their writing for more than a decade.

    Designing the city of the future

    Queen’s researcher Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin has been named a Fellow of a new Canadian program examining the future of cities. 

    [Photo of Dr. Grace Adenyi-Ogunyankin]
    Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin, Canada Research Chair in Youth and African Urban Futures

    The future is closer than we think when it comes to cities. By 2050, more than 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in an urban area. This population boom will transform the city as we know it, compounding the current challenges facing urban development in realizing a livable and prosperous city. The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) has launched a new program, Humanity’s Urban Future, to understand what it will take to build successful cities. Using six locations from around the world as test-cases, researchers will look to the urban past to imagine its future – aiming to transform urban policy and planning, regulation, and infrastructure, inspire collective deliberation, and learn about the process to actualize better urban environments for all.

    Queen’s researcher and Canada Research Chair in Youth and African Urban Futures Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin (Geography and Planning; Gender Studies) has been named a Fellow of CIFAR’s new program. She will join researchers from Mexico, United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Austria, India, and Canada’s York University in studying how metropolitan centres have changed over time and space with the goal to engage policy makers, political advisors, and civic actors for future social impact. CIFAR Fellows are internationally recognized for conducting innovative studies that lead to high-impact advances in their research fields. The Queen’s Gazette sat down with Dr. Adeniyi-Ogunyankin to learn more about this new program and her thoughts on the future of the city.

    Could you tell us more about CIFAR’s Humanity’s Urban Future program and your involvement with the project?

    The central question driving the program is, “what is a good city of the future?” Our endeavor to answer this question seriously takes the connection between the urban past and future into consideration while examining many important factors, including infrastructure (both material and institutional), political divisions, questions of scale, climate change, and other potential crises. The program will use six cities as test-cases: Calcutta, Kinshasa, Mexico City, Naples, Shanghai, and Toronto. I’ll be part of the team conducting research in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    You currently hold the Canada Research Chair in Youth and African Urban Futures and are now a CIFAR Fellow. How are these programs helping to advance your research?

    These programs have led to unprecedented opportunities for collaborative work and interdisciplinary conversations. As a result, my research scope now has more depth than initially imagined. I’m experimenting with different methods and integrating various theoretical frameworks as I think through the role that the intersections of neoliberal urban change, technology, global consumer culture, and labour play in (re)configuring youth identity and providing opportunities for youth to orientate themselves towards the future.

    [Queen's Art of Research photo "Under the Umbrella"]
    Queen's Art of Research 2020 winner "Under the Umbrella" by Dr. Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin.

    You explained that the Humanity’s Urban Future program seeks to study what makes a “good city of the future.” How do you anticipate cities will need to adapt and will the definition of a “good city” vary regionally?

    Right now, I’m in Lagos, Nigeria – and just behind where I am staying, I can see construction taking place. They’ve filled up parts of the Lagos Lagoon for estate development. And of course, these developments are taking place with a particular vision of the future in mind. It’s definitely not a future that has a wealthy ecosystem and privileges a dynamic co-existence with nature/non-humans. I strongly believe that the question is not so much how will cities need to adapt to the future, but more along the lines of will we adapt/change to ensure there is a viable future?

    And yes, I definitely think the definition of a good city will vary – because context always matters and “good” will have various definitions. Nevertheless, I would like to think that there could be some sort of commonality – that is, for example, a “good city” would be one that rejects extractive capitalism and (neo)colonial norms.

    What do you hope the outcomes of the CIFAR program will be?

    My understanding is that the program will involve more than just academics. For example, in Kinshasa, we will collaborate with local scholars, local planners, NGOs, and other stakeholders. Thus, in terms of outcomes, beyond publications and training of early career scholars, the hope is that the projects we work on, in each test-case city, will lead to policy recommendations and infrastructural changes. We aim to provide insight on best practices for other locales beyond the cities involved in the Humanity’s Urban Future program.

    To learn more about the Humanity’s Urban Future program, see the CIFAR website and visit Dr. Adeniyi-Ogunyankin’s website for more information on her research.

    Transforming low survival cancer outcomes

    Queen’s researchers are among five teams receiving $29 million from the Canadian Cancer Society to jumpstart innovative research and radically change the outcomes for six of the most common and deadly cancers.

    [Art of Research photo Leaving Home depicting a cancer blue]
    Art of Research photo "Leaving Home" by Eric Lian, PhD Student (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) captures his research into cancer cell invasion and migration.

    Over the last few decades, significant progress has been made in Canada to increase the recovery and survival rates for many of the most common cancers. The ability to target investments for innovation and build capacity for research, tools, and infrastructure has played a pivotal role in realizing these advancements. However, where access to these resources has been limited by comparison, progress in the treatment and survivability of certain cancers have not made the same strides. For Canadians, six cancers (pancreatic, esophageal, brain, lung, liver, and stomach) currently have unmet needs resulting in less than 30 per cent survival rates. To accelerate progress and overcome these roadblocks, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) has partnered with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to fund the largest ever collective effort in Canada on changing the outcome of these cancers.

    The Breakthrough Team Grants: Transforming Low Survival Cancers program has provided $55 million in funding over five years to 10 teams of researchers around the country. Across five teams receiving a total of $29 million, seven Queen’s researchers are contributing their expertise to advance innovations in areas from disease detection to treatment and survival.

    Breakthrough Grants

    Chris O’Callaghan (Canadian Cancer Trials Group) is the co-principal investigator on the "Testing new treatments for people with incurable brain cancers" ($1,549,130) project with Keyue Ding (Public Health Sciences) and Harriet Feilotter (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) participating as co-applicants. This project supports Canadian collaboration on an international clinical trial to potentially improve outcomes for people with grade 2 or 3 glioma brain cancers. Currently, the five-year survival rate after recurrence approaches zero per cent for these tumours and there are no clinical trials in Canada testing new and promising treatments for these patients. This funding will support opening enrolment to Canadian patients in a study led by the Australian Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO) and builds on a growing collaboration with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) at Queen’s.

    Maria Aristizabal (Biology) is a co-applicant for "Changing the narrative of lung cancer to improve prevention for non-smokers" ($5,197,879). Lung cancer can occur in people who have never smoked due to exposure to substances such as arsenic, radon gas, and air pollution. This project will examine the effects of environmental exposures in non-smokers to help detect lung cancer earlier and save lives. Currently, in several provinces screening programs for high risk of lung cancer are determined by a person’s age and smoking history. Using state-of-the-art infrastructure, the team will identify biological markers to develop a monitoring system and influence lung cancer screening programs to broaden assessments.

    Sean Bennett (Surgery) is a co-applicant for "Building a national network to drive research discoveries and expand access to immunotherapies for people with biliary tract cancer" ($7,404,250). The project aims to expand access to clinical trials and personalized treatments for people with biliary tract cancers, the second most common liver cancer. Most are diagnosed in Stage 4, when surgery is no longer an option and chemotherapy may extend the duration of life but takes a significant toll on its quality.

    Christopher Mueller (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) is a co-applicant for "Establishing a comprehensive research strategy to improve pancreatic cancer survival" ($7,500,000). The project will leverage existing resources to create a comprehensive pancreatic cancer research program focused on screening, earlier detection, better understanding of the disease biology, and facilitating the introduction of new therapies and personalized treatments to improve survival for one of the deadliest cancers. Dr. Mueller’s project will receive a part of this funding to support the use of his mDETECT blood test for pancreatic cancer to try and detect this cancer earlier, when it can still be treated. The ability to detect pancreatic cancer earlier could significantly change outcomes for the almost 7,000 Canadians diagnosed every year.

    Neil Renwick (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) is a co-applicant for "Killing cancer cells by stopping them from using oxygen and sugar" ($7,500,000). The project will study a novel non-toxic cancer therapy based on two compounds that kill cancer cells without affecting normal ones. If successful, this project could deliver a life-changing, non-toxic treatment to save the lives of people with a large portion of low-survival cancers – without the debilitating side effects of many standard therapies – and put Canadian innovation at the forefront of this field.

    To learn more about these projects and other Breakthrough Team Grants, visit the Canadian Cancer Society website.

    Timely presentations of graduate research

    The Three Minute Thesis competition offers Queen’s graduate students a unique opportunity to present their research… in 180 seconds or less.

    [Group photo of researchers and judges of 3MT)
    About 40 Queen's graduate students participated in the week-long competition, with 12 making it to the finale for the chance to win $1,000.

    At one time or another, we’ve all been asked for our "elevator pitch." The task challenges you to think about how you would share with a stranger the most important aspects about yourself within the brief duration of an imaginary 30-second elevator ride. The Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT) offers a similar exercise with the added benefit of a little more time.

    Developed by the University of Queensland, the 3MT gives master’s and doctoral students 180 seconds to present their research to a panel of non-specialist judges. Working with just one presentation slide, researchers must determine how best to translate and share their work using compelling and captivating storytelling. Participants in the Queen’s competition also vie for a top cash prize of $1,000.

    Brought to Canada in 2012, 3MT has grown in popularity with researchers as a unique opportunity to promote their work and think about their research with new perspectives. Universities host individual competitions with winners then representing their institutions at the regional level. Queen’s has been selected to host this year’s Ontario competition beginning May 17. Those winners then go on to compete at the national and international levels with opportunities to win additional prize money and share their research with even wider audiences.

    To prepare participants, the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (SGSPA) offers workshops and practice sessions to help researchers fine tune the content of their presentations and the way that they deliver them. The 2023 Queen’s 3MT competition recently wrapped up after three heats culminating in a finale on March 22. The final round of the regional competition at Queen’s this year featured researchers from the departments of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy; Nursing; Computing; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Art History; Chemistry; Kinesiology and Health Studies; Pathology and Molecular Medicine; and Neuroscience.

    Queen's finale

    [Photo of El Zahraa Majed accepting her winning prize]
    Queen's 2023 3MT winner El Zahraa Mahjed is a doctoral candidate in Kinesiology and Health Studies.

    The $1,000 top prize was awarded to El Zahraa Majed, PhD candidate in Kinesiology and Health Studies. Her research project "How to Belong? Physical Activity as a Vehicle for Integration," talks about the isolation of immigrants joining new societies, and how it affects their physical and mental health. Majed’s research looks to physical activity to be the bridge between integration and belonging for immigrants relocating to Canada. "Practice makes perfect, I really think that what makes you very comfortable speaking to a large audience depends on how much you have practiced," says Majed. "I practiced in front of my lab mates, friends, family, and to myself as well, constantly, before the competition."

    First runner-up was Martha Whitfield, PhD student in the School of Nursing, taking home $500 in prize money. Her project "Practicing on the Verge: Treatment of the Opioid use Disorder in Primary Care," focuses on the development of patient-centered skills that allow nurses to best treat individuals suffering from opioid use. These skills are becoming increasingly necessary due to the speed at which new street drugs are being produced, which clinical guidelines cannot keep up with.

    Audience members also voted on their favourite with Annelies Verellen, master’s student in Art History, winning the People’s Choice. Her presentation "Painting is a Woman: The Allegory of Painting in Women’s Self-Portraiture," explores the idea of female self-portraiture through the concept of pictura. Pictura emphasizes the woman in self-portraiture as actively at work, showcasing her intelligence, beauty, and admirability.

    Judging this event were a group of successful Queen’s alumni, including Allison Turner, Stacy G. Kelly, and Brandon Tozzo. Turner (MASc’10, Sc’08) is the Co-Founder and Director of product development at PnuVax Incorporated, a biomanufacturing company. Kelly (Artsci’93) is the Executive Director of the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area, which facilitates relationships between donors and community organizations. Tozzo (PhD’12) is the City Councilor for Kingscourt-Rideau in Kingston and a political studies professor at Trent University.

    Preparing your presentation

    For those thinking about competing next year, Majed offers some valuable advice. "I think the biggest challenge was to simplify what I have done in my research so that the audience can understand my work well and feel my material is relatable to them, without simplifying it too much in a way that would make it feel not important," explains Majed. "I took feedback on my script from different individuals from a variety of backgrounds. The SGSPA also have great resources and workshops that really helped me and my peers to improve our scripts and make it to the finals."

    For more info on this year’s 3MT winners and the upcoming Ontario competition, visit the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

    Weaving Indigenous and Western ways of knowing can help Canada achieve its biodiversity goals

    Gathering at a scientific field station for a Water Ceremony led by the Women’s Council of Grand Council Treaty #3. (IISD-Experimental Lakes Area), Author provided
    Gathering at a scientific field station for a Water Ceremony led by the Women’s Council of Grand Council Treaty #3. (IISD-Experimental Lakes Area), Author provided

    The health of wildlife in Canada is socially, culturally and economically important to Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

    The Conversation logoBut in this time of heightened ecological threats, exacerbated by a dizzying variety of human activities, wildlife are facing unprecedented risks and declines. Today, over 40,000 wildlife species are threatened with extinction.

    At COP15 in December, Canada committed to halt biodiversity loss, while highlighting the role of Indigenous Peoples as stewards of biodiversity.

    These commitments can only be realized through innovative approaches to wildlife health in Canada that support the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge.

    In our newly published paper, we examined Canadian studies that wove Indigenous and western ways of knowing to study environmental contaminants and wildlife health. We did this to call attention to the benefits of weaving knowledge systems and co-created research.

    Harms of historical research practices

    In Canada, natural science research has, and continues to, contribute to harms to Indigenous Peoples and communities. We can see this in the many examples of research conducted ‘on’ rather than ‘with’ Indigenous communities.

    These colonial and extractive research practices cause power imbalances and create a lack of trust between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. They undermine the potential good that could arise from a more respectful and inclusive approach.

    Within the last decade, the release of Calls to Action has promoted a shift toward truth and reconciliation in Canada.

    Western-trained, non-Indigenous scientists have been urged by Indigenous scholars, knowledge holders and organizations to incorporate reconciliation in all aspects of research from formulation to completion.

    A good way forward

    Western-trained, non-Indigenous scientists have the choice to reconcile their history by walking down a new path toward a more respectful and meaningful model of collaborative science.

    Indigenous Peoples’ ways of knowing have protected and sustained their relationship with the Earth for generations.

    For example, Inuit hunters from Ivujivik were the first to detect signs of death and disease in common eider birds, which led to carcass collection efforts. Laboratory analysis later confirmed the presence of avian cholera.

    Respectfully coupling — or weaving together — such expertise with western science approaches can increase the rigour of the research process and devise new ways to solve challenging environmental problems.

    As such, weaving knowledge systems enhances our understanding of the various factors contributing to wildlife health issues and thus, enhance wildlife monitoring, management and decision-making.

    It also positively influences policy development and implementation.

    Moving beyond ‘incorporating’

    Weaving knowledge systems is more than just bringing together different ways of knowing. It is a framework to guide the entire research process.

    Because each project, community and individual is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for weaving knowledge systems.

    That said, in any meaningful collaborative research, western-trained non-Indigenous researchers hold ethical responsibilities to promote benefits and reduce harm to Indigenous communities and community members.

    This requires early and continuous engagement, authentic trust and relationship building and placing community needs and interests at the forefront.

    Weaving ways of knowing also requires that the power and authority in decision-making be given to or led by Indigenous communities. More importantly, it requires a willingness to unlearn our colonial ways of thinking and doing and create a new path forward together.

    Looking to the future

    The power of bringing together ways of knowing can ultimately create mutual benefits for all involved.

    These benefits include improved problem solving, answering questions that could not have been answered with one way of knowing alone, encouraging capacity building and promoting inter-generational knowledge transfer.

    To ensure Canada delivers on its COP15 promises and protects the health of the lands, waters, wildlife and all biodiversity, we must adopt innovative and holistic approaches that centre Indigenous-led research, conservation and governance.

    By acknowledging their privilege and position, being flexible and meaningfully working together with Indigenous Peoples, western-trained, non-Indigenous scientists can help improve wildlife monitoring and management in Canada while reconciling relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

    We acknowledge the contributions of our co-authors at Grand Council Treaty #3, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries & Oceans Canada and the University of Victoria.The Conversation


    Lydia Johnson, Indigenous Co-Lead, Aki Kikinomakaywin; Alumni, School of Environmental Studies, Queen's University and Diane Orihel, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology & School of Environmental 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.

    The beauty of Queen's research – photo essay

    With a focus on the UN SDGs and advancing social impact, the annual Queen’s Art of Research photo contest highlights six winning entries.

    From under the stars to on top of the world, the annual Art of Research photo contest brings to life the unseen moments of the research process. Now in its 7th year, the contest has captured the behind the scenes of the everyday research experience at Queen’s and the roles that faculty, staff, students, and alumni play in advancing groundbreaking work.

    The 2023 contest continued to place a spotlight on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the importance of our social impact mission guided by the Queen’s Strategy. A new prize category this year asked the Queen's community to capture their research in motion. In videos of 30 seconds or less, researchers captured the beauty of their research in action from microscopic views to wide aerial expanses.

    In total, six category prizes were awarded to researchers across disciplines. Discover the winners below, and to view more contest winners and top submissions from previous years, explore the Art of Research Photo Gallery.

    2023 Art of Research Adjudication Committee

    • Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research)
    • Christopher Deluca, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs
    • Daniel McNeil, Queen's National Scholar in Black Studies, Department of Gender Studies
    • Ruth Dunley, Associate Director, Editorial Strategy, Office of Advancement
    • Allen Tian, PhD Student, Biology
    • Jake Harris, Undergraduate Student, Global Development Studies and Media Studies
    • Lian Willetts, Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Calgary
    • Michelle Paradis, Communications Advisor, Inter-Agency Communications (TIPS), Government of Canada

    Category: Research in Motion

    Frozen in Time: Unveiling the Mysteries of Turner Glacier through Glaciological Research in Akshayuk Pass

    Researcher: Wai Yin Cheung – PhD Student, Geography and Planning

    Location: Turner Glacier, Akshayuk Pass

    Glaciological research on Turner Glacier in Akshayuk Pass involves studying the physical properties and behavior of the glacier, as well as the surrounding environment, to better understand the dynamics of this glacial system.

    This includes measuring yearly snowfall, melt, and ice thinning to understand ice volume change and sea level contributions over the past 50+ years. By collecting and analyzing data over time, Queen's ICELab glaciologists can identify patterns and changes in glacial behavior, which can inform our understanding of climate change and its impact on northern environments.

    The research on Turner Glacier is part of a larger effort to study glacial systems around the world and develop strategies for mitigating the effects of climate change.

    [Art of Research Winner: Corneal Fingerprint by Cassandra Brand]

    Category: Good Health and Wellbeing

    Corneal Fingerprint

    Researcher: Cassandra Brand – Graduate Student, Translational Medicine

    Location: Botterell Hall, Queen's University

    The cornea is one of the most densely innervated tissues in the human body.

    The high presence of sensory nerve endings makes the cornea extremely sensitive to pain and changes at the eye’s surface. This is particularly important in regulating tear production, a function which is impaired in dry eye disease.

    By analyzing changes in nerve patterns and ion channel expression, we aim to further clarify the role of corneal nerves in spontaneous pain and tear production in dry eye disease.

    This image shows the structural βIII-tubulin component of mouse corneal nerves at their unique convergence point.

    [Art of Research Winner: Lithium Below, Stars Above by Dr. Christopher Spencer]

    Category: Climate Action

    Lithium Below, Stars Above

    Researcher: Dr. Christopher Spencer – Faculty, Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering

    Location: Western Australia

    Lithium is an element that is key to our energy transition away from fossil fuels and plays an important role in the battery technologies for space exploration.

    This photo was taken during an expedition to Western Australia exploring for lithium deposits that have the potential to reshape the global economy and resolve the global climate crisis.

    [Art of Research Winner: Crystallization Pattern by Rachel Korchinsky]

    Category: Innovation for Global Impact

    Crystallization Pattern of a Common Salt Mixture

    Researcher: Rachel Korchinsky – Graduate Student, Chemistry

    Location: Electron Microscopy Facility, Queen's University

    Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are rechargeable energy carriers that power electronic devices such as phones, cars, and hybrid/electric vehicles. The demand for lithium used to manufacture LIBs is expected to grow 30-fold by 2040. Industry primarily extracts lithium from rock ore and brine; however, the methods used are time-intensive and costly. Therefore, we are investigating alternative extraction methods that would reduce the energy consumption, waste production, and time intensity. The image, obtained by microscopy, is of salts that crystallized after evaporation of a lithium-containing brine.

    [Art of Research Winner: Inuit Nunangat by micky renders]

    Category: Partnerships for Inclusivity

    Inuit Nunangat: Where Two Worlds Collide (From the Art and Waste in Pannituuq [Pangnirtung] Project)

    Researcher: micky renders – PhD Student, School of Environmental Studies

    Location: Pannituuq (Pangnirtung), Nunavut

    Inuit Nunangat is a site where differing epistemologies and cosmologies collide. The Arctic waste crisis stems from a culture of wasting that is capitalist and not Inuit. 

    With the delicate Arctic ecosystem degrading due to climate change, escalating resource extraction, the opening of the Northwest Passage, and the expansion of NORAD, unprecedented volumes of waste and contaminants are causing unknowable changes in life, land, sea, and ice. At the intersection of art, politics and activism, the Art and Wastes in Pangnirtung Project challenges assumptions about Inuit and exposes the pervasive nature of settler colonization as the root cause of wastes.

    [Art of Research Winner: Returning the Gaze by Siobhan Speiran]

    Category: Creative and Sustainable Communities

    Returning the Gaze

    Researcher: Siobhan Speiran – PhD Student, School of Environmental Studies

    Location: Proyecto Asis, Costa Rica

    This was taken by Rubén Vargas at the wildlife sanctuary Proyecto Asis in Costa Rica, who captures the most beautiful images of the resident animals. I am standing in front of the capuchin enclosure observing the behaviours of Lulo, Lucy, Soplita, Pablita, and Cappuccino, while guided tours are taking place nearby. It is illegal to own wild animals in Costa Rica; these capuchins have been rescued from their past lives as companion animals or entertainers. While unable to be reintroduced to the wild, they receive life-long care and advocacy in the sanctuary community.

    My research looks at the intersections of animal welfare and conservation in Costa Rican sanctuaries, which are popular sites of sustainable, captive wildlife tourism. Here, the monkey returns my gaze in this photo, blurring the distinction between researcher and subject; I study him while he studies me.

    To learn more about this year’s winners and explore past winners and top submissions, visit the Art of Research Photo Gallery on the Research@Queen’s website.

    Next chapters on neutrino science

    For the first time, SNO+ experiment captures neutrinos produced in nuclear reactors hundreds of kilometres away using pure water.

    The 12-metre diameter acrylic SNO+ detector is filled with 780 tonnes of liquid scintillator and surrounded by 10,000 photomultiplier light detectors. [Credit: Dr. Alex Wright for the SNO+ Collaboration]
    The 12-metre diameter acrylic SNO+ detector is filled with 780 tonnes of liquid scintillator and surrounded by 10,000 photomultiplier light detectors. [Credit: Dr. Alex Wright for the SNO+ Collaboration, Queen's Art of Research]

    Following up on groundbreaking discoveries in astroparticle physics, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), now part of SNOLAB, is moving on to a new phase. SNO+ officially just started running in 2022, but has already published exciting results. While filled with water during the transition period between SNO and SNO+, it detected signals from antineutrinos produced in nuclear reactors situated hundreds of kilometres away.

    Built in the 1990s, SNO is located in the Creighton mine in Sudbury, and was the setting for Nobel-winning research by Queen’s professor Arthur McDonald that showed that neutrinos have mass and change their type while travelling through the universe. Later, the SNO laboratory evolved to include new experiments and became SNOLAB, the deepest cleanest lab in the world, dedicated to research on neutrinos and dark matter.

    Neutrinos are subatomic particles – just like electrons. However, because they have no electrical charge and very little mass, they hardly interact with matter, making neutrinos very hard to spot, even though they are abundant in the universe, including right here on Earth.

    The original SNO experiment was built to address the challenge of observing neutrinos. Situated 2 km underground, it is protected from radiation and other interferences. The equipment consisted of a massive acrylic spheric vessel full of heavy water – denser than regular water and commonly used in nuclear reactors – surrounded by thousands of very sensitive light detectors. The experiment successfully detected neutrinos originating in the core of the sun and that constantly bombard Earth.

    In 2018, SNO developed into SNO+. Instead of heavy water, SNO+ now uses a liquid scintillator (a substance that emits light when interacting with radiation) to detect neutrinos. But for a period of time, while the equipment was being upgraded, the vessel was filled with regular pure water. And that was when the team saw something exciting happen: SNO+ detected antineutrinos (the antimatter version of neutrinos) produced by nuclear reactors situated hundreds of kilometres away, in the Bruce, Darlington, and Pickering generating stations.

    This was the first time such a signal was detected by a water-based detector. The findings, published in Physical Review Letters, demonstrate that it is feasible to build antineutrino detectors using water – an inexpensive, easy-to-handle material – to monitor nuclear reactors.

    Dr. Peter Skensved is the only person to ever access the top of the acrylic SNO+ detector in order to perform a small modification to its surface. [Credit: Dr. Mark Chen]
    Dr. Peter Skensved is the only person to ever access the top of the acrylic SNO+ detector in order to perform a small modification to its surface. [Credit: Dr. Mark Chen]

    “To be able to remotely monitor nuclear reactors by observing the antineutrinos they produce has long been a goal of researchers aiming to apply neutrino technology to nuclear non-proliferation,” says SNO+ director Mark Chen, Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair professor at Queen’s Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy. “In addition to providing a new option for those developing reactor monitoring technology, this result also shows that our detector is functioning very well and makes us excited for the next phase of the experiment.”

    The recently published study demonstrates the sensitivity of SNO+ to antineutrinos from distant nuclear generating stations, a feature that will be exploited with the detector filled with liquid scintillator.

    “Our plan is to make new and precise measurements of how neutrinos change their type as they propagate, further elucidating the phenomenon discovered in the original SNO experiment,” explains Alex Wright, IPP Research Scientist and also a member of SNO+ and Queen’s Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy.

    The future of SNO+

    Since 2022, SNO+ has been up and running, filled with liquid scintillator. The next rare phenomenon scientists hope to observe is neutrinoless double beta decay, a rare radioactive decay that emits no neutrinos.

    Usually, when atomic nuclei undergo fusion in the core of the sun, neutrinos are a byproduct of that reaction. Similarly, in nuclear reactors, antineutrinos are produced in beta decay, that is, the breakdown of a neutron in an atomic nucleus into a proton, an electron, and an antineutrino.

    However, in neutrinoless double beta decay – up to this day, a theoretical possibility – two neutrons in an atom’s nucleus change into two protons and two electrons, but no neutrinos or antineutrinos. This can only happen if the double decay creates both particle and antiparticle, which would virtually annihilate each other.  

    If neutrinoless double beta decay is observed, it will therefore prove that neutrinos are their own antiparticles.

    “This would have great implications to our understanding of neutrinos; in particular, how they came to have very small but non-zero masses,” says Dr. Wright. “It might even help us to explain one of the great mysteries of the Universe – how there came to be more matter than antimatter and, hence, how we can exist.”


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