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Ukraine: Heritage buildings, if destroyed, can be rebuilt but never replaced

Lviv is an important Renaissance and baroque urban centre in Eastern Europe, and its two remaining synagogues survived mass destruction in the Second World War.

The UNESCO-recognized Pechersk-Lavra monastic complex dating from the 11th century comprises multiple monastic buildings and bell towers, and its 600-metre network of catacombs contains chapels, relics and tombs of the monks.
The UNESCO-recognized Pechersk-Lavra monastic complex dating from the 11th century comprises multiple monastic buildings and bell towers, and its 600-metre network of catacombs contains chapels, relics and tombs of the monks. (Unsplash/Sohel Mugal)

The tragic loss of life and desperate living conditions caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine have gripped the world’s attention.

The ConversationHowever, another threat looms for the country’s heritage architecture, including United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage monuments of global significance.

These buildings lie directly in the line of fire as Russian forces advance on Kyiv and increase bombardments near Lviv. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay has called for the protection of these testimonies to the country’s “rich history.”

Medieval, baroque monuments

Among the UNESCO World Heritage monuments in immediate danger of destruction is the irreplaceable 11th-century cathedral of St. Sophia in Kyiv. It is the most important Christian monument of Kievan Rus (862-1242), the first eastern Slavic state, and is dangerously close to Independence Square where trucks have unloaded sand in anticipation of a possible Russian assault.

St. Andrew’s Church (1744-67), a baroque monument of global importance, is 400 metres — a five minute walk — from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, another likely target as Russia has been shelling government buildings.

Sacred to Ukrainian, Russian Orthodox Christians

Some endangered monuments are as sacred to Russian Orthodox Christians as they are to Orthodox Christians in Ukraine. As the cradle of the Russian Orthodox Church, St. Sophia’s Cathedral is as important to Russian Orthodox Christians as St. Peter’s Basilica is to Roman Catholics.

The UNESCO-recognized Pechersk-Lavra monastic complex (begun in 1051) is one of the principal shrines of eastern Europe. It comprises multiple above-ground monastic buildings and bell towers, and its 600-metre network of catacombs contains chapels, relics and monks’ tombs.

A blue and white church with gold detail on the roof and many steps leading up to it.
St. Andrew’s Church, Kyiv, seen in a 2010 photo. (Gauvin Alexander Bailey), Author provided

St. Andrew’s Church, on a precipitous hill in the historic Podil neighbourhood, is believed to have been the place where the Apostle Andrew raised a cross and predicted that Kyiv would become the first centre of Christianity in Slavic lands.

The church, designed by Empress Elizabeth’s court architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1744-61), is an original fusion of Orthodox, Italian baroque and French rococo forms with an interior united by rich, gilded scrollwork.

Mosaics, frescoes

These UNESCO world heritage monuments, and numerous buildings not included in the list, are unique to the world.

St. Sophia was built to rival the greatest church of Orthodox Christianity, Hagia Sophia (now a mosque), in Constantinople — now present-day Istanbul, Turkey.

St. Sophia preserves priceless early medieval mosaics and frescoes, including Christ Pantocrator and The Virgin at Prayer, as well as numerous frescoes of the period. Ukrainian and Russian artists alike have been using The Virgin at Prayer as their Facebook profile photo to protest the invasion.

Later parts of St. Sophia’s exterior and its monastic outbuildings are also outstanding examples of Ukranian baroque (also called “Cossack baroque”). Unique to the region, the 17th- to 18th-century style combines traditional forms with lace-like stuccoes and curvilinear shapes creatively adapted from western models.

Historic buildings of Lviv

In Lviv, one of the most important Renaissance and baroque urban centres in Eastern Europe, buildings and artworks of inestimable heritage value are in danger of obliteration.

Front of a synagogue with six tall and long windows.
The Tsori Gilod Synagogue in Lviv in 2008. (Tomasz Leśniowski/ Wikimedia Commons)CC BY-SACaption

Among the historic buildings of Lviv are Christian and Jewish places of worship. While art historian Ihor Zhuks notes that a mosque may have existed there in the 13th century, this historic building no longer exists. But Muslim communities continue to worship in Lviv.

Prior to the Second World War, Lviv was more than one-third Jewish, but the Jewish community was nearly annihilated in the Holocaust. As historian Jeffrey Veidlinger writes, “German soldiers murdered 1.5 million Jews in the areas that are now Ukraine, often with the collaboration of Ukrainian militias … and with the help of local auxiliary police.”

Many synagogues, including at least 38 in Lviv alone, were destroyed in the Second World War. A memorial plaza built in 2016, the Space of Synagogues, speaks to this destruction. Lviv’s Jewish community is no stranger to the loss of architectural patrimony.

Standing today are the Jakob Glanzer Shul (1844-46) and the Tsori Gilod Synagogue, also known as Tsori Hilgod. The latter was built by architect Albert Kornblüth in 1925 in a neo-Renaissance style and features a band of semicircular arches at the top, characteristic of early synagogue architecture. It is a precious reminder of Lviv’s Jewish heritage. The Times of Israel reported March 7 that the synagogue has offered refuge to people fleeing Kharkiv.

sculpture seen of a statue of a man on the side of a church wearing a bishop's hat and holding a staff
St. George’s Uniate Cathedral, seen in a 2010 photo. (Gauvin Alexander Bailey), Author provided

The oldest synagogue in Lviv before 1942 was the Gothic-Renaissance Golden Rose (Turay Zahav), built by the Italo-Swiss architect Paolo Italus in 1582. Its ruins were stabilized as part of the Space of Synagogues memorial by an international team.

Also in Lviv, St. George’s Uniate Cathedral built in 1745-70, designed by architect Bernhard Meretyn, includes some of the best-preserved sculptures by Johann-Georg Pinzel (c.1720-62) and combines Germanic baroque and Ukrainian Orthodox forms.

Much of Pinsel’s work was already damaged or destroyed in the Second World War and under Soviet occupation.

Pinzel was the most important sculptor in Galicia, the historic eastern European region spanning present-day western Ukraine and southeastern Poland, and the subject of a 2013 exhibition at the Louvre.

UNESCO-recognized wooden churches

A wooden church with green roof detail.
The Church of St. Paraskeva, built in 1742, is seen at the National Museum of Folk Architecture, Kyiv, in a 2010 photo. (Gauvin Alexander Bailey), Author provided

Ukraine is also home to hundreds of wooden churches of inestimable cultural value. The UNESCO-recognized wooden Tserkvas (churches) of the Carpathian Region (16th to 19th centuries) represent a unique building tradition in Ukraine and Poland.

However UNESCO only recognizes a tiny number of such buildings.

Most are still in rural areas across central and western Ukraine. Others have been relocated to outdoor folk museums near Kyiv and Lviv, which potentially puts them in the path of destruction. The National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine is a priceless collection of traditional 17th- to 20th-century wooden churches from across the country and is close to recent bombardments.

Volunteers rush to protect cultural property

Volunteers have been desperately trying to protect Ukranian monuments from bombardments.

If these buildings are destroyed, can they be rebuilt? Yes, Ukrainians have done it before. Two sprawling medieval churches in Kyiv (St. Michael’s Monastery and the Dormition Cathedral) that were demolished by the Soviets and Nazis were reconstructed in 1999-2000.

Their golden domes and colourful facades look fine at a distance. But up close, their ornament — once among the finest examples of Ukrainian baroque — looks mechanical and impersonal. Once lost, such buildings can be rebuilt. But a replica can never compensate for what has been lost.The Conversation


Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Professor and Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art, Department of Art History & Art Conservation, Queen's University, Ontario

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.

Equitable medical education can be achieved with efforts toward real change

The Conversation: Medical schools need long-term equity planning and built-in accountability measures in order to help realize a larger vision of anti-racist and inclusive health care.

Going beyond window dressing is crticial in promoting equitable medical education.
Going beyond window dressing is critical in promoting equitable medical education. (Unsplash/ArturTumasjan)

There is evidence of ongoing anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in Canadian health care. In 2020, the Toronto Board of Health declared anti-Black racism a public health crisis, acknowledging that race-based health inequities disproportionately affect Black and racialized communities.

The ConversationAnti-Indigenous racism remains present in Canadian health care, as demonstrated by appalling and tragic events like Joyce Echaquan experiencing in-hospital racism that contributed to her death — and persisting poor health outcomes for Indigenous people.

Some medical educators have urged medical schools to produce physicians who not only represent the communities they serve, but who are also trained to address racism and health inequity. This appeal for more equitable and inclusive medical education is an important part of educating a next generation of medical practitioners, and has been present for years. Yet, as we witness persisting inequities in health care and their harms, a sense of urgency remains.

Need for diverse physician workforce

Researchers highlight that a diverse physician workforce can help decrease health inequities, and that establishing such a workforce requires establishing a just and equitable system of medical training.

In the United States, researchers note that Black, Hispanic and Indigenous students continue to be underrepresented in medical schools, and this underrepresentation has not changed significantly since 2009. In Canada, data regarding diversity in medical education remains scarce.

Avoiding false sense of of progress

In today’s world, if an institution posts a statement declaring that it has become more inclusive while it still preserves discriminatory practices in the background, the false reassurance that the problem has been solved could shut down ongoing conversations around race.

The appearance of an inclusive academic environment could initially attract underrepresented applicants, but in fact give them a false sense of security until they experience discrimination. This, once made public, would lead to an institution not only being known as one that stifles diversity and inclusion, but also as one that is inauthentic.

Profound change in medical education will be visible only after years of sustained effort. Diversity is necessary at all levels in medicine, and attention must be given not just to recruiting a diverse workforce but to retaining and promoting a diverse group of faculty and leaders.

Towards comprehensive solutions

Potential solutions will need to be comprehensive and thoughtful and could include the following:

Institutions must examine themselves deeply and thoroughly. Leaders in medical education need to listen closely to students, faculty and the communities they serve to understand what is truly happening and what has happened in the past in their learning environments. Whatever is found needs to be acknowledged and dealt with so the institution can move forward and improve.

Institutions must actively avoid mismatch between their statements and their actions. Learning about social justice must be paired with the unlearning and undoing of past processes and biases. Adopting an anti-racist framework that includes accountability measures has the potential to help with this.

What meaningful change looks like

Institutions, if they are to achieve it, must have an idea of what meaningful, comprehensive change looks like. In an institution that is truly inclusive there will be:

  1. Inclusive and localized planning. When forging and implementing equity plans that reflect institutions’ visions, and take into account their legacies and pasts, listening to the lived experiences of current racialized faculty and students matters.

  2. Accountability. Actions by faculty or students that go against principles of exclusion can be reported and schools are prepared to take counteraction.

  3. Support for underrepresented students. Students from underrepresented groups will not think twice about applying or attending, as they are guaranteed support and mentorship. Those who are let in through the door must be supported, mentored and promoted for success.

  4. Curricular change. Students from underrepresented communities see their own communities represented in the cases and images presented in teaching.

  5. Representative leadership and faculty. Students from underrepresented communities will see themselves in their role models, faculty and leaders at every level.

Meaningful change cannot occur unless the efforts made toward equitable medical education go beyond window dressing. The good news is that authentic changes in structures and practices are possible and an inclusive medical education is an achievable goal.

Superficial efforts that only improve appearances, but actually overlook deeply entrenched systemic racism in medical schools, are only going to set us back.The Conversation


Mala Joneja, Associate Professor, Division Chair for the Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, 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.

Why gasoline prices have soared to record highs

Gasoline pump fuels a car
Some motorists are willing to pay more for the price of gas. Others are considering trading in gas-guzzling cars for more efficient vehicles. (Unsplash/Dawn McDonald)

Canadians are finally returning to the office after two years of pandemic restrictions, and they’re are making March Break and summer travel plans. They are also being confronted by record-high gasoline prices at the pumps, leaving them wondering: Why is gasoline so expensive? How long will they stay this way? What can be done?

There are obvious and not-so-obvious answers to these difficult questions. The key driver of gasoline prices is the price of a barrel of oil and, like other commodities, oil prices are driven by the dynamics of supply and demand. Right now, supply is very tight.

During the pandemic, oil use plummeted and then slowly recovered. It is only now reaching pre-pandemic levels. In response to that demand plunge, companies mothballed new exploration projects and reduced the production of current ones, cutting supply drastically.

As economic recovery began, companies could not easily ramp up production. Yet prices remained low for most of that period. Moreover, oil wells are not water faucets: they take time to increase production. They also need the money and social license to do so, and both have been lacking of late.

The recent history of oil production

One problem is the increasing political risk of boosting production. Over the past several years, most governments have placed large policy emphasis on addressing the problem of climate change. Central to their efforts are reducing oil use and production and making continued use more expensive. This raises the required return on investment projects, making some new sources uneconomic.

Second, banks, equity investors and other capital providers have become less willing to fund oil and gas projects. They increasingly insist on improved environmental, social and governance performance (ESG) from the companies they invest in.

Some abstain from the oil and gas sector completely: no matter how well an oil company scores on the S and the G categories of ESG, they often score poorly on the E because of the nature of the industry. Consequently, capital acquisition is hard.

Third, regulatory risk — the risk that a regulation change will alter an industry — inhibits more oil and gas investment. Canada’s continuous saga of pipeline development is a case in point. Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden have each reversed their predecessor’s position on the Keystone pipeline.

Other pipeline and oil and gas projects in Canada have been delayed or made more expensive by protracted negotiations, more rigorous environmental reviews and political obstacles.

Regulatory risk is also present internationally. In the United States, President Biden cancelled the Keystone pipeline and has outlawed new drilling leases on federal land. Norway’s Equinor has pledged to decrease its production of hydrocarbons. All of this has made increasing oil production difficult, and contributed to a supply crunch.

Geopolitics and gas prices

Adding to the supply crunch is the second component of high oil prices — a geopolitical crisis in a significant oil-producing area.

Russia is among the world’s top oil and gas producers, habitually ranking in the top three. It supplies Europe with 27 per cent of its oil and 40 per cent of its natural gas.

Many European countries remain dependent on oil and gas for heating, transport and industrial production, and the war in Ukraine has helped expose that reality.

The invasion has generated shock, fear, and outrage. Public condemnation has been almost universal. Economic sanctions on Russia have been powerful and announced with great fanfare. But the flow of Russian oil and gas has not yet stopped. Despite plans to accelerate cuts to fossil fuel use, Europe still needs oil and gas.

The invasion has brought an uncomfortable reality into bold relief. Efforts to reduce carbon consumption have strengthened the geopolitical hand of many oil producing countries.

Of the world’s top 10 oil producers, only three are democracies. They remain overwhelmingly dependent on oil and gas revenue and are unencumbered by political, regulatory and capital constraints.

The less oil other sources produce, the more they can produce, often at fear-induced elevated prices that generate a revenue bonanza.

Electric vehicle charger
Dependence on oil influences foreign policy. As more alternative energy sources come online, they could alter the future of geopolitics. (Unsplash/Chuttersnap)

What can be done?

What can be done to reduce prices and vulnerability? In the short term, a more diverse supply.

President Biden has released oil from the strategic petroleum reserves, repeatedly called on the OPEC cartel to increase production and is even making overtures to Venezuela.

These will help bring prices down. But these are hardly the measures you would want to base your energy security on.

Fortunately, there are promising signs of relief at the gas pump. The market will do its work — high gas prices will motivate more production, eventually bringing gas prices down.

Yet bubbling underneath will be the ongoing process of energy transition. As other energy sources grow in importance, calibrating the needed oil supply to demand will be even more difficult. Prices will come down, but they will be volatile: consumers should brace for unpredictable gas prices to become the norm.

The longer term answer acknowledges reality. The world will need oil and natural gas for decades yet. Alternative energy sources — wind, solar, more natural gas and nuclear — can reduce that dependence, but will not eliminate it — at least not for a decade or more. The problem of being dependent on oil and gas imports will remain, particularly for Europe.

Oil prices are cyclic, volatile and based on a combination of supply, demand and geopolitical forces. Winston Churchill famously noted that security in oil supply lay in variety, and variety alone. Extending his lesson, cultivating a variety of carbon and non-carbon energy sources is the best way to reduce price volatility and energy vulnerability. It is a lesson we are relearning now.The Conversation


David Detomasi, Associate Professor, Distinguished Faculty Fellow In International Business, 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.

Update Queen’s University Library on your new publications

If you, or a member of your faculty/department have published a monograph (books in print, fiction, or non-fiction) in 2021, Queen’s University Library wants to hear from you.

Queen's University Library compiles an annual list of monographs authored by Queen’s faculty, librarians and archivists. This list will help inform the annual Principal’s Faculty Author Reception on March 30, and confirm library holdings.

You can view our current list on our Queen’s Authors page and submit additional items using our Report Your Publication form.  

Due to pandemic concerns, this year’s event will occur virtually, but there are tentative plans to hold an in-person event in the Fireplace Reading Room in May. Please stay tuned to the library website and social media channels for further updates.

Science Rendezvous Renaissance

After a pivot to virtual offerings in 2021, Science Rendezvous Kingston will once again bring Queen’s researchers and community members together in-person to share in science-based fun.

Dinosaur skeleton in exhibition at the Leon's Centre.
Science Rendezvous Kingston at Leon's Centre in 2019.

Each year, Canada’s national science festival, Science Rendezvous, is held across 30 cities with over 300 events and thousands of hands-on activities. The festival provides participants of all ages with the opportunity to engage with science and to learn about the discoveries being made by Canadian researchers across the nation.

Since 2011, Kingston has been home to one of the most successful local chapters of Science Rendezvous, regularly attracting over 4,000 visitors from across eastern Ontario. Under the leadership of Lynda Colgan, Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Education, Science Rendezvous Kingston is committed to engaging people of all ages with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research, and creating an unforgettable and educational experience for all attendees.

Virtual Pivot

Last year, Science Rendezvous Kingston had to adapt to limitations brought on by COVID-19. Despite the challenges, Dr. Colgan, Science Rendezvous co-coordinator, Kim Garrett, and a small team orchestrated a successful pivot from in-person to online events, developing a unique 16-day Science Rendezvous program that balanced screen-time sessions and kitchen table or outdoor activities. The events reached over 29,000 people from around the globe.

Video capture of a researcher doing an experiment in the lab.
Science Rendezvous Kingston 2021 featured online activities children could do at home, like this strawberry DNA extraction video.

"Although we hosted live webinars and Q&A sessions, the virtual nature of our event meant that we could record the full session. Soon after the 'live' event, we posted each session on our virtual platform for 'on demand' viewing – a feature that proved to be enormously popular with visitors to the site," says Dr. Colgan.

In recognition of their efforts, the Science Rendezvous Kingston team was awarded the COVID Creative Award by the Board of Directors of Science Rendezvous Canada for executing a successful educational experience for their participants and for their resiliency, creativity, and positivity during these challenging times.

Science Rendezvous 2022

This year, Science Rendezvous Kingston’s theme is ‘DISCOVER’. According to Dr. Colgan, the theme was selected to "highlight the leading-edge STEM research that is being done at Queen’s in all domains and encouraging young students to see themselves as future researchers and scientists who are on a quest to discover solutions to problems that face our world."

Science Rendezvous Kingston will have a hybrid design, offering both virtual and in person options for participants. The hope is that visitors will be able to engage in hands-on learning while preserving the best aspects of 2021’s virtual experience.

These year’s virtual events will include presentations from researchers including Queen’s Astrophysics PhD Candidate Connor Stone, a webinar on robotics use on a dairy farm, a virtual tour of SNOLAB, and a live-streamed hook-up with researchers at a lab in the South Pole.

In addition to webinars and virtual presentations, last year’s popular digital resource, the Daily Book Lists including many Indigenous titles, will once again be available during the 2022 festival. Other digital resources for this year include downloadable self-directed activities such as a geological scavenger hunt and an on-line workshop about how to build an anatomical model of the human GI system.

These virtual and at-home activities will be accompanied by in-person events and workshops including a 'STEM Sampler' in Market Square featuring demonstrations by Ingenuity Labs, Queen’s Physics, the McDonald Institute, Limestone Bee Keepers, and Research Casting International. Visitors to the Leon’s Centre will also be treated to hands-on workshops about the Ice Age and climate change, and a Guided Bird Walk with Dr. Fran Bonier and Dr. Paul Martin through City Park.

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2022 will continue to facilitate events to break down barriers between scientists and the public.

"By bringing science, technology, engineering and math to the streets, we make it possible for visitors across all ages to mix and mingle with award-winning scientists and researchers in the absence of intimidation," says Dr. Colgan. "Informal learning environments like Science Rendezvous can spark student interest in STEM, provide opportunities to broaden and deepen students’ engagement, reinforce scientific concepts and practices introduced during the school day, and promote an appreciation for and interest in the pursuit of science in school and in daily life."

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2022 will run from May 6 to May 20. Learn more about the program on the website.

Political polarization is affecting mental health

Even before the pandemic, divisive politics was affecting mental health, and political topics were being raised in therapy. Now, patients want therapists that share their views.

The impact of political stress on mental health needs to be probed more deeply.
The impact of political stress on mental health needs to be probed more deeply. (Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez)

As a psychiatrist, I’ve never talked so much about politics with my patients as I have in the past two years.

It was surprising, though, when the conversations started to shift from more abstract concepts to concrete questions about my personal views on politically charged topics. Patients began to ask about my views on COVID-19 controversies, Donald Trump’s mental health, freedom of speech, the Black Lives Matter movement, and neutral pronouns.

Political topics seem to be everywhere, and do not refrain from knocking on therapists’ office doors. From 24-hour news to social media hashtags, we are all surrounded by never-ending campaigns, discussions and sometimes fights over politics. We may even be involved in some of them.

Political stress

Everyone should take part in the decisions that affect their community. However, a significant number of people are letting stress over politics get so far under their skin that it’s making them sick.

In one study conducted in 2019, almost 40 per cent of Americans said that politics was a source of significant anxiety, insomnia and even suicidal thoughts. The negative impact was more prominent in those who were young, politically engaged, or opposed to the government.

The constant exposure to political stress has been associated with increased risk of anxiety, depression and poor lifestyle choices, as well as deterioration in general medical health.

Part of the impact of the political climate on mental health is polarization, with a relevant proportion of the population clustered around the extremes of the liberal/conservative spectrum. In addition, voices from the extremes seem to be amplified by social media algorithms.

The arrival of COVID-19 found an already divided society. Ideologies and partisan politics ended up shaping perceptions about the pandemic and, consequently, the adherence to preventive measures such as masks, lockdowns and vaccines.

For example, one study conducted in United States in 2020 found that conservatives were more likely to state that the COVID-19 pandemic was receiving too much media coverage and that people were overreacting to the virus. On the other hand, liberals tended to report that government was not doing enough to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Trucks with Freedom Convoy on their bumpers
Constant exposure to political stress has been associated with mental health risks and deterioration in general medical health. (Unsplash/Naomi McKinney)

Politics in therapy

Between polarized politics and disagreements about COVID-19 response, it was only a matter of time before political stress arrived in the offices of psychotherapists, psychiatrists and mental health workers. Since 2019, the political climate has had an unexpected and overwhelming effect on psychotherapy patients. These discussions have occupied the centre of multiple sessions in a way that, for some therapists, has not been seen since 9/11.

It has become more common for people to want to know the political views of their health-care providers, especially those involved in mental health care. A recent American study involving a sample of 604 Democrat and Republican patients found that two-thirds of them reported talking about politics with their therapists, and that a better therapeutic alliance was obtained when they thought the therapist shared their political orientation.

Another study showed that 87 per cent of therapists discussed politics with their patients in sessions and that 63 per cent of them reported disclosing their own views to some degree, which happened more frequently when they perceived their patients as sharing their views.

Health impact of polarized politics

We are currently experiencing a severe health crisis and political division. These not only directly affect mental health, but can lead to extremism.

Because of this, the impact of political stress on mental health deserves to be probed more deeply, especially using systematic approaches. For example, we don’t know yet if political stress causes a health impact similar to the one observed in other situations of chronic stress.

Finally, mental health professionals are not immune to the animosity generated around politics. Patients with very different views from their own could potentially present challenges to care. This highlights the need for training in recognition and management of political stress in clinical practice, and the development of evidence-based strategies to deal with it.The Conversation


Elisa Brietzke, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, 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.

Advancing research from lab to market

How a Queen's research team has generated a real-world solution to efficiently capture solar power.

Praveen Jain
Praveen Jain the Canada Research Chair in Power Electronics and founder and CEO of SPARQ Corp 

How can we connect knowledge built in academia to people that need knowledge-based solutions for real-world challenges? In a word: innovation. But the journey from a research lab to hitting a consumer’s radar is not obvious, fast, or straightforward. Transforming research discovery into new products and processes available at market usually requires investment, connections, and patience.

Praveen Jain, professor of electrical engineering and Canada Research Chair in Power Electronics, has navigated both worlds for a long time. Working at the frontiers of academia and industry, the internationally recognized researcher has built the theory and practice of the field of power electronics and holds over 100 patents. In January, Dr. Jain reached a new milestone when his start-up company SPARQ Corp. went public through a listing on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV:SPRQ), after receiving $10 million financing through brokered private placement. 

SPARQ’s main product, the Quad, is a compact microinverter created to improve residential solar energy technology – a solution in tune with the broader goal of a low-carbon future. For the consumer, the new system means increasing energy production while simplifying design and installation. In other words, it means acquiring a cost-effective, reliable solar energy system. 

“Compared to installations that use traditional string inverters, the Quad delivers five to 20 per cent greater energy harvest over the system's lifetime,” explains Dr. Jain. “The Quad is a unique product in the market that can be used in any power grid, conventional or smart, independent of jurisdiction, around the globe.” 

SPARQ is an outcome of years of research conducted by Jain and his team at the Queen’s Centre for Energy and Power Electronics Research (ePOWER). With the aim of increasing the availability and accessibility of solar power, they started from the basics: the development of mathematical algorithms to reduce the hardware complexity of the existing option. This research resulted in a lightweight, compact, cost-effective, and reliable microinverter design.

The work at ePOWER was made possible with support from Canada’s and Ontario’s research funding bodies, including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Ontario Research Fund. “I was also fortunate enough to acquire funding for ePOWER from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and had unparalleled support of the university, particularly Queen’s Engineering,” says Dr. Jain.

Once the team developed the initial concept of Quad, PARTEQ Innovations (now Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation) – a not-for-profit unit created to support Queen's researchers in their commercialization endeavours – was a key partner in shaping SPARQ as a spin-off, playing a key role in start-up funding, intellectual property protection, and commercialization.

Dr. Jain, who started his career in the telecom and aerospace industry, returned to the market as a founder and CEO of SPARQ. 

On Jan. 26, Praveen Jain and team closed the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange in celebration of Queen’s spin-off SPARQ Corp. being listed. Watch the video.

While academia is, in Dr. Jain’s perspective, the place to creatively explore his ideas, his previous experience in industry helped him understand the process of commercialization.

“Industry has taught me how to apply innovation in practical and real-life applications,” he says. 

Now that they have addressed residential solar energy, SPARQ is in the process of developing a multi-purpose microinverter for farms. 

“Currently, in agriculture photovoltaic applications, two distinct inverters are employed: one to feed solar power to the grid, and another to run water pumps for irrigation. The new Quad microinverter will perform the functions of both inverters in one,” explains Dr. Jain. “The multipurpose Quad microinverter will not only help farmers to run water pumps and irrigate their farms, but also to earn extra revenue by selling electricity to the grid when their pumps are not in use.”

For more information on Dr. Jain and SPARQ, visit the website

Queen’s experts weigh in on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

As the world watches the rapidly evolving situation, researchers help us understand the roots of the conflict and the different factors at play.

Over the past month, a range of Queen’s research experts have been focused on the escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine, which has now become a full-scale military conflict. Featured in local, national, and international media, their voices have helped us in understanding the history between the two countries, how this war will be fought and financed, as well as the role sanctions against Russia may play in bringing it to an end.

Here’s a selection of Queen’s experts in major media outlets that are contributing to the fast-moving discussions taking place around the world.

Why Russia is invading Ukraine

Stéfanie von Hlatky (Political Studies)

It has been a few generations since a war of this scale has broken out in Europe. To help support parents and teachers in having important conversations with children about the crisis, Stéfanie von Hlatky collaborated with CBC to create a special online resource for CBC Kids News. In it, Dr. von Hlatky, who is an expert in military alliances and cooperation, breaks down the three main reasons why Russia has invaded Ukraine.

“One reason that Russia is invading Ukraine is because as Russia has struggled since the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO has continued to grow, and Putin sees that as a threat.”

Dr. von Hlatky said Russia sees Ukraine as being historically and culturally part of Russia.

“Putin, who is nearing the end of his political career, may be trying to distract from all the problems happening in Russia, such as the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on the economy.”

CBC Kids News: https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/russia-declared-war-on-ukraine.-heres-why


Principal’s statement
Principal Patrick Deane has shared a message of solidarity with universities in Ukraine on behalf of Queen's. In his message to the Queen’s community, he highlights the important role institutes of higher learning must play in supporting democracy in all parts of the world.

Christian Leuprecht (Policy Studies)

The war may be on the other side of the Atlantic, but in our interconnected world, Russia's efforts to spread misinformation will easily find their way to Canadian viewers. Christian Leuprecht, an expert on security and defence and political demography, talks to CBC News about how Canadians need to be wary of falling for fake reports as Russian disinformation campaigns are expected.

“The average Canadian should be concerned about disinformation, misinformation and information laundering, all of which the Russians are actively propagating,” he says. “Many people continue to work from home, so that makes them inadvertent conduits for bad actors to try to infiltrate corporations… So every Canadian in a way has a role to play here. ”

CBC News: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cyber-russia-cse-1.6362878

Oil and gas

Thomas Hughes (Political Studies)

The war in Ukraine is having an impact on consumers here in Canada and around the world.  Thomas Hughes, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Queen’s University who has researched the political effects of military exercises in Europe, talks to Global News about how Canadians will likely see an increase in the price of oil and gas. Russia is one of the world’s leading exporters of oil on the international market.

“Of primary concern for Ontario is Russian oil export,” he says. “The reality is, we are going to see a deficit in oil and gas. It is going to be a challenge for Russia. The extent of that, to be confirmed.”

Global News: https://globalnews.ca/video/8647643/russian-ukrainian-wars-local-economic-impact/

David Detomasi (Smith School of Business)

Countries around the world have a strong reliance on Russian oil and gas, and many are wondering whether U.S. production can instead help meet the demand. David Detomasi, an expert in the geopolitics of oil, explains to the Spokesman-Review why calls for the U.S. to boost oil and gas production and impose sanctions on Russian fossil fuel exports face challenges. Dr. Detomasi says the idea that the U.S. could transport enough gas to Europe, which would be limited to transportation on ships, to substantially relieve its dependency on Russia is not plausible at this time.

Dr. Detomasi says the Ukraine crisis should be a wake-up call for the United States and its allies that a tight energy market gives countries like Russia leverage they can exert to get their way, perhaps even in war.

“It is a stark reminder of how dependent the world remains on oil and natural gas… The more we have robust, ethically produced oil and natural gas in the world, the less folks like Putin and others can play this geopolitical card.”

The Spokesman-Review: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/feb/27/northwest-republicans-call-on-biden-to-boost-us-oi/

Cryptocurrency and crowdfunding

Erica Pimentel (Smith School of Business)

Earlier in February, there were reports of Ukrainian NGOs and volunteer groups embracing cryptocurrencies to help fund the defence of their country in anticipation of a war. Erica Pimentel, who has researched the challenges in auditing blockchain based assets, explains to Today U.K. News how cryptocurrency provides an alternative to traditional fundraising platforms.

“Social movements will eventually raise money through blockchain-based crowdfunding platforms,” she says. “I think that, going forward, using decentralized forms of financing that are difficult for governments to interfere with will become the norm.”

Today UK News: https://todayuknews.com/crypto-currency/bitcoin-at-the-barricades-ottawa-ukraine-and-beyond/

Canada’s sanctions on Russia

Christian Leuprecht (Policy Studies)

Canada has imposed some sanctions on Russia, but many believe there is more to be done. Christian Leuprecht wrote an op-ed for the National Post that examines how Canada is enabling Russia by opposing pipelines and protecting money launderers. Dr. Leuprecht writes that the federal government’s sanctions against Russia are largely performative because Canada’s relations with Russia are already so limited.

“If Canada’s federal government were to adopt Australian-style foreign interference legislation and U.K.-style Unexplained Wealth Orders, it could actually start to go after dirty Russian money that has long sloshed around in Toronto’s real estate markets.” 

“Canada has ample supply of natural gas to liquify and export. Yet, Canada lags way behind in that game because it naively has no sense for geopolitics. Make no mistake: Canadians who oppose construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, and pipeline capacity to enable liquified natural gas exports from Canada’s East Coast to Europe, are aiding, abetting, and condoning Putin’s behaviour.”

National Post: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/christian-leuprecht-canada-enables-russia-by-opposing-pipelines-and-protecting-money-launderers

Queen’s University encourages its research experts to add to the global conversation as the situation continues to rapidly evolve. If you are interested in contributing to the conversation, please contact media relations officer Victoria Klassen (victoria.klassen@queensu.ca or 343-363-1794).

Combating misinformation and fake news

Two upcoming workshops with The Conversation Canada will highlight how Queen’s researchers can help bridge the gap between academia and the public

The Conversation Canada and Queen's University workshops

As we enter the third year of a global pandemic, we are facing what the World Health Organization calls an infodemic – too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak. In this scenario, the importance of fact-based, expert commentary has never been clearer, and not only in relation to COVID-19: research-informed analysis is a powerful tool in supporting critical thinking and daily decision-making related to climate change, health, politics, technology, the economy, and many other topics.

The Conversation and Queen’s

The Conversation, an online news platform created in Australia in 2011, aims to combat misinformation by paring academic experts with experienced journalists to write informed content that can be shared and repurposed by media outlets worldwide.  Following its success in Australia, regional editions began appearing worldwide and, in 2017, The Conversation Canada launched with support from some of the country’s top universities, including Queen’s, and Canada’s research funding agencies.

As a founding member of The Conversation Canada, the Queen’s research community has embraced the platform as a unique tool for sharing their research expertise and engaging with the media. Over 240 Queen’s researchers have published more than 380 articles that have garnered over 7 million views via The Conversation Canada’s website. Through the platform’s Creative Commons Licensing and newswire access, 100s of major media outlets, including The National Post, CNN, TIME, The Washington Post, The Weather Network, Today’s Parent and Scientific American, have republished these pieces.

From cryptocurrencies to extinct bird species, Queen’s researchers have written on a variety of timely and timeless topics. Some of our most-read articles looked at the rising popularity of spirituality without religion, the negative effects of salting icy roads on aquatic ecosystems, a study of depression in adults with autism, wine consumption and cardiovascular health, and COVID-19 tests and terminology. Each of these articles have reached over 127,000 readers.

“Key to our research promotion and thought leadership strategy, The Conversation is a powerful tool for community engagement, bolstering the efforts of our researchers to share their expertise and build profile,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “We have seen participation from every faculty, and Queen’s continues to show leadership in contributing to the platform among Canadian peers.”

The workshops: How to write for The Conversation

The Conversation Canada and Queen’s University Workshops*
Wednesday, March 9, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Limited spaces. Click to register.
* The workshops will be held via Zoom.

On March 9 and 22, Queen’s will welcome Scott White, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Conversation Canada, for two workshops targeted to faculty and graduate students interested in writing for the platform. The virtual, hour-long program will highlight the changing media landscape, the role of The Conversation and researchers as credible news sources, and how to craft the perfect pitch. Participants can bring pitch ideas to the workshops to receive real-time editorial feedback.

Queen’s is always looking to add to its roster of authors taking part in The Conversation. Researchers interested in learning more about the platform are encouraged to register for the March workshops or contact researchcommunications@queensu.ca. 

Visualizing impact with the Art of Research

The Art of Research photo contest has been reimagined to highlight research that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals.

[Collage of past winners of the Art of Research photo contest]


The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest is returning for its sixth year with a new focus. The 2022 contest has been reimagined through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action and framework for social impact. This change also aligns with the mission and vision of the new Queen’s Strategy and our participation in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure an institution's impact on society, based on their success in delivering on strategies that advance the SDGs. Queen’s ranked first in Canada and fifth in the world in the 2021 Impact Rankings. Photo submissions will be accepted from Feb. 28 to April 13, 2022. 

SDG Action and Awareness Week
As a new member of the University Global Coalition, Queen’s is participating in the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Action and Awareness Week and highlighting the contributions of the Queen’s community to social impact within and beyond the local community. Learn more.

For the past five years, the Art of Research has been an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to share their work through compelling visuals and engage the public in seeing their research in new ways. In aligning this year’s contest with the UN SDGs, we celebrate the impact of Queen’s research in advancing these important global goals.

“The Art of Research showcases the diversity of Queen’s research in a creative and innovative way,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “By aligning the contest with the SDGs, we can further demonstrate the impact of our research in addressing the challenges of society at home and around the world. I encourage members of our research community to participate.”

Eligibility and prizes

Hosted by Queen’s University Relations, the photo contest is open to Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Research depicted in the submissions must have been completed at Queen’s or while the submitter was affiliated with the university. More information about contest rules can be found on the Research@Queen’s website.

Five new SDG-themed categories will be offered this year. These, along with the popular People's Choice Vote, add up to a total of six prizes of $250 each for the top submission in each category. Photos from the contest are highlighted across university research promotion initiatives.

2022 categories:

Good health and well-being

Research that advances our understanding and the improvement of human health and supports the well-being of all global citizens.

Inspired by SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), and 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)

Climate action

Research that seeks to protect our planet’s natural resources, including water, biodiversity, and climate for future generations.

Inspired by SDGs 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water), and 15 (Life on Land)

Creative and sustainable communities

Research that helps us to understand our past and present to help build resilient, sustainably-focused, and creative communities.

Inspired by SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions)

Partnerships for inclusivity

Research that promotes just and inclusive societies through partnerships and community-based research.

Inspired by SDGs 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and 10 (Reduced Inequalities)

Innovation for global impact

Discovery- and curiosity-based research and innovations that addresses wicked, complex global challenges.

Inspired by SDGs 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals)

People’s choice

Determined by an online vote by members of the Queen’s community.

The contest closes on April 13. To submit an entry and explore winning images from previous contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.


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