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Stepping up the sexy

Research reveals our visual system is a “sensitive lie detector”.

What makes humans attractive to other humans?

Queen’s University Professor Nikolaus Troje (Psychology, Biology, School of Computing) believes that it is the consistency of the whole appearance rather than the attractiveness of the parts.

Nikolaus Troje uses point-light displays like this one to conduct his research.

“Most previous work on attractiveness focused on the effect of isolated features.” says Dr. Troje. “The current study demonstrates how important it is that these features fit together well.”

Participants were shown schematic point-light displays that depict a person using 15 moving dots. The representation conveyed both the individual characteristics of a person’s movements and their individual body shape.

Dr. Troje’s team isolated these two areas and separately measured the attractiveness of individual movement styles as well as individual body shapes based on ratings obtained from his research participants. The researchers then combined the movement style of one person with the body shapes of another person and collected attractiveness ratings from these “hybrid walkers.”

Based on this data, the researchers asked the question: Is the attractiveness of the isolated movement and the attractiveness of the isolated body shape sufficient to predict the attractiveness of the hybrid walker?

It is not; the hybrid walkers are deemed less attractive than predicted by the movement and the shape used to make them.

“We found that attractiveness depends on internal consistency – whether the movement and the shape match each other or not,” says Dr. Troje. “Our visual system is a sensitive lie detector that perceives even the slightest inconsistencies and responds negatively to them.”

The results call for re-examination of earlier research that looked at attractiveness in a piecemeal way.

“They can also be used to formulate advice to people who are working on improving their own appearance,” says Dr. Troje. “What works for one person may not work for another one. If in doubt, just be yourself.”

The research was published in Evolution and Human Behavior.

Sharing the beauty of math

[Kevser Aktas]
Kevser Aktas, a post-doctoral fellow in mathematics, believes that mathematical methods, games and applications can be used to develop creativity and artistic skills, as well as promote an active lifestyle of outdoor activity and sport. (University Communications)

Although her domain of number theory is among the more abstract reaches of maths, Kevser Aktas, a post-doctoral fellow at Queen’s University, has innovated ways of reaching out to show people “the beauty of mathematics” at the same time as mobilizing the problem-solving skills at the heart of that beauty for an astonishing variety of aims.

Dr. Aktas’ belief is that mathematical methods, games and applications can be used to develop creativity and artistic skills, as well as promote an active lifestyle of outdoor activity and sport. In March 2014 she set out to realize this ideal by working with the EU initiative Erasmus+ to host the first offering of “Mathematics for All!!!” This weeklong program in her native Turkey united people between the ages of 18 and 25 from Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands, Spain and UK.

It was a natural step for Dr. Aktas to work with the Erasmus+ Programme, which aims to boost skills and employability for EU youth, as well as modernising education, training, and youth work. During her master’s studies at Turkey’s Selcuk University, she worked as a mathematics teacher in an elementary school. In her PhD at Gazi University in the Turkish capital Ankara, her teaching expanded to undergraduate courses and she also began volunteering with a program for teachers in training who were blind or had visual impairment.

Dr. Aktas’ internationalizing ambitions brought her next to Queen’s University to work with the world-renowned number theorist Ram Murty. Since there’s no learning quite like teaching – in a second language, no less – Dr. Aktas quickly became the first post-doctoral researcher to present at the 3MT competition in March of this year.  Her talk, entitled “The Impact of Powerful Numbers,” was also the first number theoretical research subject to be presented at a 3MT event. The branch of number theory is sometimes called “The Queen of Mathematics” because of its foundational place in the discipline.

“An integer is called a powerful number if a prime number divides it, and then the square of that prime number also divides it,” explains Dr. Aktas. She and Dr. Murty actually made the discovery that pairs of consecutive powerful numbers were predicted by a kind of equation they dubbed the Brahmagupta-Pell Equation. “It is not easy to find all consecutive powerful number pairs, which makes them very special.”

Nor is it known whether there are an infinite or finite number of pairs. But it is worth searching for the answer because of their relationship with prime numbers, which are key to encryption, she says. “The prime factorization of very large integers is used in cryptography,” a practice only becoming more important as digital tech becomes ubiquitous.

“The idea of presenting at 3MT was attractive for me because sometimes when you go deep into your research, it is not easy to see the big picture,” says Dr. Aktas. “3MT gave me the opportunity to look at my research from that perspective.”

On the heels of 3MT, Dr. Aktas traveled to present her research at the Canadian Mathematical Society’s Summer Meeting at the University of Prince Edward Island, where she also showed the video of her 3MT presentation.

“Because most of the conference-goers were also coming from universities in Canada they were a little familiar with the competition, but none had participated,” she says. “They liked the concept so much. I believe that these activities are motivating for people who work on pure mathematics.”

Dr. Aktas has also taken advantage of other training activities arranged by School of Graduate Studies and the Office of Postdoctoral Training to improve her professional skills.

“I attended Career Week just three weeks after I arrived to Queen’s,” she recalls, “and I still use the tips from that training, including effective writing for CVs, resumes, and cover letters.”

She also enrolled in SGS 901: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education through the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

These activities have been opportunities for building a social community in Kingston, too.

“Kingston is a very nice place to live, with its history and natural beauty,” Dr. Aktas says. “I will never forget these experiences I’ve had here because of Queen’s.”

This article was first published on the website of the School of Graduate Studies.

Federal government delivers research support

The federal government recently announced the results of the first competition of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).

While Queen’s didn’t receive funding in this round, the university intends to submit proposals for the second round of competition, expected to be announced later this fall.

“We would like to congratulate the institutions that received funding,” says Steven Liss, Queen’s Vice-Principal (Research). “This inaugural competition attracted a significant number of high-quality proposals – including two from Queen’s – vying for a small proportion of the federal government’s investment to support world-class research initiatives.”

As more in-depth feedback arrives over the coming months, we will move forward with proposals that have the potential to advance collaboration between Queen’s researchers and their colleagues as well as strengthen industry partnerships.
– Steven Liss, Queen's Vice-Principal (Research)

The Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) has invited faculties to submit proposals for the second round of the inaugural competition. Application deadlines have not yet been announced, but the second competition is expected to unfold over a longer period than the first.

“The initial comments we received about our proposals have been positive,” Dr. Liss says. “As more in-depth feedback arrives over the coming months, we will move forward with proposals that have the potential to advance collaboration between Queen’s researchers and their colleagues as well as strengthen industry partnerships.”

The federal government launched CFREF in December 2014. The funding program will invest $1.5 billion over seven years to help universities attract and retain some of the world’s brightest researchers who will advance scientific understanding in fields that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.

Visit the CFREF website for complete details or email the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) if you have any questions.

Parkway perilous for at-risk species

Queen’s research finds more than 16,000 wildlife deaths in a seven-month period on the 1000 Islands Parkway.

Researcher Ryan Danby and his former graduate student Lyn Garrah have found that a higher number of vertebrates are killed on the 1000 Islands Parkway compared to other roadways.

According to their research, more than 16,000 vertebrates are killed from April to October each year along a 37-kilometre stretch of the parkway, which extends from Gananoque east toward Brockville in Eastern Ontario and is home to three species of at-risk snakes and four species of endangered turtles. The wildlife killed include a wide variety of frogs, snakes, birds, mammals and turtles – some of which are classified as species at risk.

Lyn Garrah rode 37 kilometres three times a week to record roadkill on the 1000 Islands Parkway. She and Professor Ryan Danby are hoping their research can help save wildlife.

“I was surprised by the numbers,” Dr. Danby says. “We did a comparison with similar studies and found our numbers were higher than the average road. What we learned is roads are having a huge impact on wildlife, particularly endangered species in the Frontenac Arch. That is very concerning.”

One of the main reasons behind the large numbers of road kill is the 1000 Islands Parkway area is one of the main corridors for wildlife moving from Algonquin Park to the Adirondacks. The land surrounding the road is largely undeveloped and the nearby islands function like stepping stones for wildlife migration. All of that leads to an abundance of wildlife, and consequently, roadway fatalities.

“The analysis sheds light on several important things to consider when implementing strategies for reducing wildlife road mortality including under passages, fencing, signage and traffic calming measures,” Dr. Danby says. “We want to create eco passages to create safe places for wildlife, and documenting hot spots along the roadway and peak times for travel is important.”

The results from this study are now being used to guide a large study of road mortality along Highway 401. Dr. Danby is also involved in this study, which is happening in partnership with the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative.

“There has to be a higher level of interest in this problem,” Ms. Garrah says. “We need local groups to speak to government officials and the government to take an interest in this. The missing piece of the puzzle is funding.”Ms. Garrah played a key role in compiling the four years of research data. In 2008 and 2009, Parks Canada provided staff to collect the data, but in 2010 and 2011, Ms. Garrah rode the entire 37 kilometres on her bike three times a week, recording the amount of road kill.  The result is the most comprehensive wildlife study of its kind.

Ms. Garrah said biking the course three times a week allowed her to get a better feel for the area and also a different perspective on the traffic in the area. “Biking also allowed me to see more of the small-bodied wildlife that died, easily identify hot spots, and also better understand the traffic patterns.”

The research was published in Environmental Management.

Cutting-edge research earns critical funding

Federal support for new infrastructure key to moving innovative projects forward.

Three Queen’s University researchers have earned funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders fund. The fund allows researchers to acquire infrastructure for their research teams to undertake cutting-edge research.

Alexander Braun (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering) and Robert Colautti (Biology) each received $150,000) while Lindsay Fitzpatrick (Biomedical Engineering) accepted $125,000.

“Funding from the John R. Evans Leaders Fund is critical for advancing Queen’s research projects,” says Cynthia Fekken, Associate Vice-Principal (Research). “Infrastructure support will allow our researchers to continue to make an impact at both international and national levels.”

Dr. Braun is using the funding to acquire a superconducting gravimeter, a technology that will be used for monitoring fluid migration processes in oil, gas and water reservoirs. There are only 12 of these instruments deployed worldwide and by adding a second one in Canada, it increases the potential to monitor mass change in reservoirs to improve production efficiency as well as mitigating environmental hazards.

Dr. Colautti is examining ecological dominance of two of Canada’s most invasive weeds: purple loosestrife and garlic mustard. He is using new genome sequencing methods and globally distributed field research to determine how these species rapidly evolve to invade and proliferate in new environments. Understanding this will help manage the world’s biodiversity in the face of global change.

Dr. Fitzpatrick’s research combines biomedical engineering and innate immunology to understand how our immune cells recognize and respond to medical materials. Upon implantation, biomaterials elicit an inflammatory response that can interfere with the long-term performance of biomaterials and biomedical devices. Identifying the key signaling pathways immune cells use to interact with materials will enable the development of therapies for controlling this inflammatory response and improve the biocompatibility of engineered materials.

For more information on the funding, visit the website.

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

Queen’s scientists receive millions in funding

Seven Queen’s professors earn more than $8.8 million in operating grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Seven Queen’s University researchers have been awarded $8.8 million in operating grants. Their research is studying everything from colon cancer to depression to better treatment methods for serious burns. The funding was announced today by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Open Operating Grants Program.

Leading the way with $5.7 million over five years is Daren Heyland (School of Medicine) and his RE-ENERGIZE study. Dr. Heyland is studying the use of glutamine on patients with severe burn injuries and showing how the use of glutamine could lead to lower morbidity and mortality, as well as reduced health costs.

Daren Heyland has received $5.7 million over five years from CIHR to study treatment of patients with severe burns.

“We are all so excited that we’ve received this funding as it gives us the opportunity to evaluate whether an inexpensive nutritional strategy, glutamine, can save lives and reduce human suffering,” says Dr. Heyland, intensive care unit physician at Kingston General Hospital. “We’ve worked hard to pull together a network of more than 60 ICUs or burn units worldwide to participate in this, the largest trial of burn injured patients ever.”

Studies have shown that glutamine levels decrease acutely during critical illness and low levels of glutamine are associated with immune dysfunction and increased mortality. Dr. Heyland’s research will show the effectiveness and safety of glutamine in a trial of 2,700 burn patients around the world.

Dr. Heyland is working with the Clinical Evaluation Research Unit at Kingston General Hospital, which will function as the coordinating centre for this international trial.

Six other Queen’s researchers have earned funding from CIHR including:

Christopher Booth (Cancer Care and Epidemiology) - $218,101, over three years – Dr. Booth is studying whether patients with colon cancer are receiving the newest chemotherapy treatments and the quality of care they are receiving. He is also identifying areas where care can be enhanced in an effort to improve the outcome of patients in the future. Dr. Booth is also a medical oncologist at Kingston General Hospital.

Christopher Bowie (Psychology and Psychiatry) - $271,207, over three years - Dr. Bowie will use the funds to examine whether cognitive remediation can improve community functioning and reduce the risk of relapse for people hospitalized for depression. He has developed a program that is remotely deliverable to help reach individuals who might otherwise be unable to attend group sessions in person.

Colin Funk (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) - $539,300, over four years – Dr. Funk’s research is studying the benefits of omega3 fatty acids, good fat found in diets rich in fish oil. Omega3 fatty acids are important for health throughout the body. Dr. Funk’s research with postdoctoral fellow Xinzhi Li aims to understand how omega3 fatty acids via a protein called FFAR4 can improve cardiovascular health and reduce incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Lois Mulligan (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) - $695,582, over five years – Dr. Mulligan is studying a molecule called RET that helps cells grow, move and survive in normal development. However, RET can also help cancerous tumour cells to spread. Her team is working on determining how exactly RET helps cancer spread throughout the body.

Keith Poole (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) - $703,790, over five years – Dr. Poole’s funding will be used to research chronic and lethal bacterial lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Antibiotic resistance is a problem in the treatment of these infections and he hopes his work will assist in the development of strategies for overcoming their antibiotic resistance.

Shetuan Zhang (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) - $713,307, over five years - Dr. Zhang is investigating how a shortage of blood supply to the heart muscle, known as ischemic heart disease, can damage a cardiac ion channel called HERG to causes irregular heartbeats and sudden death. Meanwhile, he is exploring novel means to protect HERG to treat irregular heartbeats and prevent sudden death in patients with ischemic heart disease.

For more information, visit the website.

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

A unique viewpoint

Queen's researcher Amber White gets Aboriginal students to utilize canvas to tell the story of their lives.

“May I borrow your story?”

This was the question asked by Queen’s researcher Amber White when she travelled to Sudbury for a research project. The Master’s of Education student encouraged eight Aboriginal youth in the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre to explain why they left high school before graduation, using nothing but paint, a brush, and a blank canvas.

Amber White's new art show documents the lives of eight Aboriginal young people.

The result is Speaking Through Acrylic: Potholes, Loss and Dreams, an art exhibit created by those eight Aboriginal students that delves deep into their lives and doesn’t pull any punches. From bullying, to teenage pregnancy and loneliness, the eight canvasses are stark and unforgiving.

The show has been mounted in The Studio, located in the Queen’s Faculty of Education.

“I travelled to Sudbury and they trusted me,” says Ms. White. “This was a humbling experience and I hope it resonates. It’s important to know why urban aboriginal youth withdraw from mainstream schools. Without their voices, there won’t be change.”

The name of the show reflects the message the students want to convey. Potholes are symbolic of the roadblocks these youth continue to face and overcome, while loss is something each participant has felt in their lives. Each has dreams for the future; some of these dreams were taken away, while some are still held near and dear. Each of these complexities and emotions come together within the eight pieces of art.

“This is a unique way to tell a story and I hope we listen,” says Ms. White. “The students want their teachers to come to their defense, to understand what they are going through. It’s a serious situation. These students are dropping out of school and some aren’t coming back.”

Going forward, Ms. White has plans to return to Sudbury to continue her research.

“I also want to give back to the community that welcomed me in. Some researchers go and just take and take,” she says. “I want to give them something in return.”

The show opens Tuesday, July 28 with a special Thanks Giving ceremony at 1:30 pm. The show runs every day from 1:30 to 5:30 pm until Friday, Aug. 14.

To learn more about the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre visit the website.

Working to beat breast cancer

Four Queen’s researchers receive funding from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is providing over $1 million in funding to four Queen’s University researchers who are investigating different aspects of breast cancer including testing, metastasis and the immune system.

Tomas Babak (Biology) has received $446,575 over three years. Dr. Babak is working on uncovering the causes of breast cancer that act by disrupting gene regulation and using this information to develop a diagnostic test. This will help guide a therapeutic course of action.

Tomas Baldassarre and Binbing Ling have earned fellowships through the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Peter Greer (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) has received $450,000 over three years. Dr. Greer’s research explores interactions between cancer cells and the immune system. He is working to coax the immune system back into action and stimulate cancer immunity against invading cancer cells using oncolytic viruses.

Two trainees in Andrew Craig’s lab (Cancer Biology & Genetics) also received fellowship awards after their research projects were selected as two of the top research projects in Ontario. Tomas Baldassarre received a doctoral fellowship worth $35,000 and Binbing (Erica) Ling earned a post-doctoral fellowship valued at $45,000.

“It’s not easy to earn these fellowships as we are competing against students from across Ontario,” says Mr. Baldassarre. “This funding takes the financial burden off of us and allows us to concentrate on our research.”

Mr. Baldassarre is focusing on the driving forces behind breast cancer metastasis and to develop better therapies against this deadly stage of the disease. His research has identified a protein called endophilin that promotes breast cancer metastasis, and he will attempt to target this pathway to provide better treatment options.

Dr. Ling is working to develop antibodies that block the key components that drive breast cancer progression and metastasis leading to the development of more effective and selective therapies to treat the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

“I’ve been researching breast cancer since 2007 after I had a friend go through it,” says Dr. Ling. “This award recognizes my work and allows me to focus on moving my research forward.”

Supervisor Andrew Craig is understandably proud of his trainees and the opportunities the funding provides.

“Portions of the students’ stipend can now be redirected towards research now that Erica and Tomas have earned these fellowships. We can leverage the new funds into more vibrant research projects,” says Dr. Craig. “Winning these awards is an incredible honour. It shows our overarching research program is moving in the right direction to stop breast cancer in its tracks.”

For information about the CBCF visit the website.

Fishing for the future

Queen’s researchers lead an ambitious project to help sustain healthy fish stocks in Nunavut.

A lack of affordable, nutritious food and uncertain employment opportunities in Nunavut have led to the creation of a new project headed by Queen’s University researchers Virginia Walker, Peter Van Coeverden de Groot, Stephen Lougheed, Carleton University researcher Stephen Schott and James Qitsualik and William Aglukkaq from Gjoa Haven Nunavut.

Towards a Sustainable Fishery for Nunavummuit has received $5.6 million cash and in-kind from Genome Canada and multiple other organizations. The goal is to develop a science-based fishing plan for arguably the last unexploited fishery in the Northern Hemisphere, creating opportunities for employment and economic benefits for Nunavut along with greater food security.

Virginia Walker and Pranab Das are researching the health of the fish stocks in Nunavut.

“Things are changing rapidly in the Arctic and this is our opportunity to help,” says Dr. Walker (Biology). “Seventy per cent of people living in Nunavut communities are living with food insecurity. This project, done well, will go a long way towards mitigating that situation. The Nunavummiut should benefit from the resources on their own land.”

The team will work together with their longstanding colleagues from Gjoa Haven and other Nunavut communities to integrate traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) with leading-edge genomic science to gain an understanding of the fish and shrimp populations. This work will provide critical baseline data to allow monitoring of impacts of future climate change and other disturbances (for example increased shipping) and help create strategies to maintain genetically diverse and healthy stocks.

Dr. Van Coeverden de Groot will work in the field alongside Mr. Quitsualik and other colleagues using TEK and modern day science to evaluate fish and shrimp populations for sustainable Inuit harvest.

“The challenges of fieldwork are daunting but working with James, George, William and others - with whom we have been working for more than 10 years using their TEK and experience in the cold and on the sea ice -  means that our chances of success are great,” says Dr. Van Coeverden De Groot (Biology).

Dr. Lougheed’s team will do genomics work to help designate distinct fish stocks. Dr. Walker’s group will work to assess that the fish are healthy, which will generate confidence in the stocks and lead to higher commercial prices.

“The Department of Fisheries requires solid data to provide commercial fishing licences,” says Dr. Lougheed (Biology). “We also need to know how healthy the fish are and how many there are. By working alongside our northern colleagues, we can learn from them, and hopefully they can learn something from us.”

The goals for this project are many and include understanding the dynamics of fish and shrimp populations, creating a fishing plan that won’t deplete the stock, working on obtaining a commercial fishing licence for the, and providing training to monitor and maintain the health of the fish population.

“A lot of fisheries around the world have been exploited and we don’t want that to happen here,” says Dr. Lougheed. “We have a chance to do this right and if we do, it could be a model that is used in other places around the world.”

Queen’s hosts joint sustainability workshop with Tongji University

[International]
Queen's in the World

Queen’s and China’s Tongji University further deepened their academic connections during the first-ever Sino-Canada Workshop for Aquatic Environmental Sustainability.

Queen’s hosted the delegation from Tongji University, which is based in Shanghai, during the three-day workshop that took place both on campus and at the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) last week.

“Our partnership with our friends at Tongji will continue to provide students from both institutions with unique experiential learning opportunities and access to cutting-edge research facilities,” says Yuxiang Wang, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and Director of the Environmental Physiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Lab at Queen’s.

[Environmental station plaque]
Dr. Hugh Horton, Associate Dean (International) in the Faculty of Arts and
Science with Dr. Jianfu Zhao, Professor at the College of Environmental
Science and Engineering, Jiaxing Tongji Institute for the Environment, standing
with the newly unveiled sign for Tongji's new environmental station.

Participants in the workshop discussed Sino-Canada environmental education and research co-operation, environmental monitoring and pollution control/rehabilitation.

“Aquatic science at Queen’s is very highly regarded internationally,” says Dr. Wang. “We’ve approached our partnership with Tongji with a focus on building meaningful relationships that are sustained through meetings, workshops, student and scholarly exchange, and collaborative research and development such as this one.”

Both universities hope to hold the workshop every year in an effort to facilitate further dialogue about pressing national and international environmental issues.

“Our environmental issues in China are not just China’s – they’re global,” says Jianfu Zhao, past dean and current professor at the College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Jiaxing Tongji Institute for the Environment and the CEO of the new Tongji-Hongkou Technology and Innovation Park. “I trust this and future workshops will serve to bolster ongoing fruitful collaborations between our universities.”

Last week’s workshop kicked-off with the unveiling of a plaque for China’s new environmental station. The Yangtze River Environmental Specimen Bank, which is a sister station to QUBS, will reside in Jiaxing, Zhejiang, China, and will house opportunities for students to interact intimately with Chinese ecological research and samples that will be collected in the field.

“Whereas most networks like Sino-Canada focus on either teaching, research or industry, we’ve been able to establish something that is multi-faceted and interdisciplinary,” says Hugh Horton, Associate Dean (International) in the Faculty of Arts and Science. “We continue to make our teaching, research and industry efforts work to support one another within this unique partnership.”

[Sino Workshop]
Participants from Queen's University with delegates from Tongji University 
at the first Sino-Canada Workshop for Aquatic Environmental Sustainability.

Presenters at this year’s workshop included Yuxiang Wang (Biology) and Professor Rongchang Wang (Tongji University), as well as QUBS Director, Professor Stephen Lougheed. Also actively involved in the collaborative research with Tongji are Professor Brian Cumming (Environmental Studies and Biology), Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), Professor Dan Lefebvre (Biology), Professor Stephen Brown (Chemistry) and Professor Kathryn Stewart (Tongji University). 

The Sino-Canada Network for Environment and Sustainable Development was established in 2013, a year after Queen’s and Tongji formalized their relationship by signing a memorandum of understanding. Last year, Queen’s and Tongji established a “two-plus-two” degree program whereby Tongji students complete two years of study at their home institution before coming to Queen’s for their final two years. The first batch of Tongji students are scheduled to arrive on Queen’s campus in the fall of 2015. Expanding the university’s international reach is a strategic priority for Queen’s and China is one of the university’s areas of focus for developing academic and research partnerships.

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