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William Leggett receives prestigious lifetime achievement award

Dr. William Leggett.

William Leggett, professor emeritus in the Department of Biology and Queen's 17th principal, has received the H. Ahlstrom Lifetime Achievement Award from the Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society for his contributions to the fields of larval fish ecology.

The American Fisheries Society is the biggest association of professional aquatic ecologists in the world, with over 9,000 members worldwide.

"œIt feels good to be singled out by such large group of people who I respect so highly," says Dr. Leggett. "œI didn'™t expect to receive this award so it'™s a big honour and thrill to get it."

Dr. Leggett'™s research focuses on the dynamics of fish populations and his work as a biologist and a leader in education has been recognized nationally and internationally. A membership in the Order of Canada, a fellowship from the Royal Society of Canada, and the Award of Excellence in Fisheries Education are just some of the awards he has received for outstanding contributions to graduate education and marine science.

The Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society recognized Dr. Leggett'™s "œexceptional contributions to the understanding of early life history of fishes that has inspired the careers of a number of fisheries scientists worldwide and has led to major progress in fish ecology and studies of recruitment dynamics."

The award was recently presented in Quebec City at the 38th annual Larval Fish Conference held in conjunction with the 144th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society.

 

Marianne Williamson and the religion of ‘spirituality’

 

Democratic presidential candidate and author Marianne Williamson
Democratic presidential candidate and author Marianne Williamson meets with supporters after a recent speaking engagement. (marianne.com)

Marianne Williamson recently burst onto the political scene as a somewhat unconventional candidate vying for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the United States.

While she has never garnered more than two per cent in the polls and did not qualify for the third debate — meaning it’s likely her run will come to an end soon — her remarks during the first two Democratic debates, as well as her personality and unconventional campaign parlance, have provoked many media responses.

What distinguishes Williamson from other candidates is her personal and professional background. Prior to her foray into politics, she was an internationally renowned self-help and spiritual author and speaker, known for penning bestsellers like A Return to Love.

A child of the 1960s, Williamson was significantly involved with the New Age and Human Potential movements, even spending time working at Esalen Institute in California, the American “mecca” of alternative spirituality.

Today, she’s known as Oprah Winfrey’s spiritual adviser, and remains an outspoken advocate of mindfulness meditation, yoga and therapy as ways to achieve spiritual and social transformation.

Calling for an awakening

Williamson unapologetically infuses her interest in spirituality into her political campaigning.

On her website she calls for a “a moral and spiritual awakening” in America, speaking to those who are “seeking higher wisdom.” And in her closing statement at the first Democratic debate, she proclaimed that she will harness love to defeat President Donald Trump.

A number of pundits have mocked Williamson. But the more common reaction is puzzlement: many just don’t know what to make of a renowned spiritual and self-help teacher running to lead the Democratic Party.

I believe this is largely because few are familiar with the history of alternative spirituality in North America and its ties to progressive politics.

We have seen a dramatic rise over the last few decades in the number of North Americans who self-identify as “spiritual but not religious.”

Those in this group, while certainly diverse, have deep spiritual interests, often champion something like the existence of a higher power, remain wary of orthodoxy and place a premium on individual autonomy.

It is these people to whom Williamson appeals. And while they might view themselves as seekers who don’t adhere to traditions, there is a longstanding tradition of alternative spirituality in the West.

Metaphysical movements

In Spiritual but not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America, religious historian Robert Fuller sheds light on the various metaphysical movements that emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries in America.

These include Swedenborgism, Transcendentalism, Spiritualism, Mesmerism, Theosophy and New Thought, each of which — despite being relatively unknown to most people — have significantly shaped the “spiritual but not religious” trend.

These movements were certainly theologically different, but nevertheless, like Williamson and her followers, they postulated the existence of unseen forces and championed the importance of both mystical experiences and individual freedom. If channelled appropriately, those forces could purportedly lead to self-empowerment.

The influence of these movements was far from marginal in American society. They often attracted well-known writers, politicians and artists. Ralph Waldo Emerson, often called America’s national poet, was an avowed Transcendentalist, as was Henry Thoreau, committed civil rights activist and author.

Others who belonged to some of these movements include psychologists William James and Carl Jung, philosopher Rudolf Steiner and biologist Alfred Russell Wallace.

The spiritual is political

Historian Leigh Eric Schmidt of Princeton University usefully traces the historical ties between these movements and progressive democratic politics in the U.S. in Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality.

Schmidt observes that many of the leaders and spokespeople of these movements were ahead of their time, both socially and politically.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), an important leader of the 19th century women’s rights movement in the United States, is seen in this 1890 portrait.

For instance, Margaret Fuller, an early Transcendentalist and confessed mystic, was also a staunch advocate for women’s rights in the early 19th century. So was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a women’s suffrage activist who sought to claim the privilege of autonomy for the female sex in The Woman’s Bible , published in 1895.

Walt Whitman, the famous American poet and writer - as well as a “curious inquirer into clairvoyance and Spiritualism” - championed, in cosmopolitan fashion, “the good in all religious systems,” according to Schmidt.

Felix Adler, a Reform Jew and founder of the Society for Ethical Culture, published in 1905 The Essentials of Spirituality, wherein he championed the importance of “doing justice to that inner self” in order to do “justice to others.”

Finally, Ralph Waldo Trine, proponent of New Thought and author of the successful In Tune with the Infinite, depicted God as a spirit of infinite life akin to a “reservoir of superhuman power.”

And though Trine’s doctrines were eventually appropriated by entrepreneurial and materialist ministers such as Norman Vincent Peale in the mid-20th century, Trine himself was a staunch progressive and social reformer. He was also a committed vegetarian, playing an active role in the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Why is Williamson so mind-boggling?

In light of this history, Schmidt concludes:

“The convergence of political progressivism, socioeconomic justice, and mystical interiority was at the heart of the rise of a spiritual left in American culture.”

It’s therefore worth asking why a candidate like Williamson so boggles the modern-day mind.

In part, it has to do with the way alternative spirituality developed over the 20th century. The New Age movement of the 1970s was arguably the most prominent. And while the “New Age” label may today be out of fashion, many ideas that were once championed under its banner remain strikingly popular.

In fact, it’s likely that many who call themselves “spiritual but not religious” subscribe to a set of ideas and engage in a variety of practices that were once central to that counter-cultural movement. And carrying forward a long-standing tradition, these ideas tend to appeal to the left.

Religion, after all, is increasingly associated in the U.S. with social conservatism. In turn, for many progressives, especially millennials, “religion” is no longer considered a viable option.

So for those with spiritual interests, the cosmopolitan and inclusive spirituality of Williamson has an obvious appeal.

Of course, one of the tenets of New Age thought, at least in its most radical form, is that politics is a distraction from what really matters: self-transformation and spiritual enlightenment.

This may be why the image of Williamson as president is so difficult to entertain: we tend to think spirituality and politics just don’t mix.

But that’s at odds with the actual history of spirituality in America. Perhaps those who are “spiritual but not religious” will stop drawing a line separating the spiritual from the political. And if this happens, maybe the thought of a Williamson presidency won’t seem so implausible.

____________________________________________________________________________The Conversation

Galen Watts is a PhD Candidate in the Cultural Studies Graduate Program at 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, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

International faculty and staff supports

The Human Rights & Equity Office is holding discussion sessions about developing and strengthening supports for employees coming to Queen's from abroad.

Staff and faculty participating in the first brainstorm meeting
Queen's faculty and staff participating in a brainstorming session about supports for international employees.

The Human Rights & Equity Office (HREO) recently invited international staff and faculty to engage in an initial conversation about what potential supports or groups could be created or strengthened to assist those moving from abroad for employment at Queen’s University.

A group of international faculty and staff gathered on Sept. 30 for a brainstorming session facilitated by Queen's Human Rights Advisor Nilani Loganathan, who guided the group in an exercise to begin to identify gaps in services and programs, and suggest ways that could better support international employees.

“I’m very pleased with the ideas brought forth by those who attended our first session,” says Loganathan. “We touched on a number of areas, including issues concerning relocating to Kingston, settling in at Queen’s, employment and education supports for families, and much more. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation and collecting more feedback that will best inform our path forward.”

Employees who identify as international staff and faculty will have additional opportunities to provide their input. The next session is to take place on Friday, Nov. 15 in Mackintosh-Corry Hall, B176 from 12pm – 1pm. Please email hrights@queensu.ca to confirm your attendance.

A window into our changing environment

The Queen’s University Biological Station shares more than seven decades of field research.

Research vessel at Queen's University Biological Station
A research vessel at the Queen's University Biological Station

For over 70 years, the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) has been fertile ground for researchers studying the environment, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Experts in fields as diverse as limnology, ecotoxicology, invasive species biology, conservation biology, remote sensing, and pollination ecology have all come to QUBS from a variety of Ontario universities, and institutions from across Canada and around the globe to study the myriad plant and animal species and the heterogeneous landscape that define the station.

Now, this research has been assembled and made available to anyone in the new searchable QUBS research projects portal. This archive assembles over 1,000 peer-reviewed journal articles that were published between 1952 and 2019, and it will be continually updated as new articles are published. Users can find a rich diversity of topics in the archive, ranging from the ecological impacts of invasive species to caterpillar communication to the causes and consequences of declining animal populations.

The breadth and depth of research featured in this archive can provide insights into the ways that habitats and species in Eastern Ontario have changed since the 1950s in response to shifting environments. This makes the Research Projects online archive an important resource for researchers who are investigating the effects of climate change on Ontario over that timeframe.

Long-term data collected at QUBS can provide pivotal insights into the consequences of environmental changes on local species. For instance, Dr. Frances Bonier, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, along with MSc student Amelia Cox, Queen’s Professor Emeritus Raleigh Robertson, and collaborators, recently used egg laying and fledgling data that they gathered at QUBS from 1975 to 2017 to evaluate the effects of climate change on a local population of tree swallows. With the launch of this new online archive, this type of research will be more accessible to anyone interested in studying our changing environment.

“For decades QUBS has been fortunate to host incredible researchers from many universities” says QUBS Director Dr. Stephen Lougheed. “This online portal brings all of this amazing research together within a single searchable archive, making it more accessible to professors, students, and the public.”

Situated about 35 km north of Kingston within the Frontenac Arch UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, QUBS encompasses over 3,400 hectares of land and provides access to a wide variety of habitats, including nine small lakes, extensive shoreline on Lake Opinicon and Hart Lake, abandoned farmland, and mature second-growth forest. These habitats feature remarkable biodiversity with a wonderful juxtaposition of northern and southern flora and fauna. For many species there, QUBS also serves an important role in their conservation. 

Researchers have come to QUBS from many institutions, including Tongji University, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, Virginia Tech, Ithaca College, and Western University. The interactions among researchers and students at QUBS contribute to its reputation as a vibrant and stimulating place to conduct fieldwork.

Beyond hosting researchers, QUBS has provided terrific experiential learning opportunities for generations of students. Every year, many students from the undergraduate to doctoral levels use QUBS for their own research projects. Many students also work as research assistants or in science outreach. The station also welcomes doctoral students from universities across Ontario each July for The Lake Shift, a week-long writing retreat. Earlier this year, it also hosted the 2019 Summer Institute for the Indigenous Mentorship Network of Ontario.

The vital work done by Queen’s researchers at QUBS is a part of the university’s broader commitment to research on the environment and sustainability. Learn more about the discoveries Queen’s researchers are making to help protect our planet on the new Queen’s research website.

Championing new thinking

Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie met with a group of promising Queen's graduate students to talk success, failure, taking risks, and the future of research.

Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie at a round table meeting with Queen's University graduate students.
Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie meets with Queen's University graduate students for a round table discussion on the road to research success.

A group of Queen’s University’s most promising graduate students recently sat down with Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie, who shared his stories of achievement and failure in hopes of illuminating and inspiring their journeys toward research success.

Over 35 graduate students and post-doctoral researchers took part in an exclusive round table discussion with Dr. Chalfie during a visit to campus by the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII) – an international outreach program organized by Nobel Media and biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca that strives to connect Nobel Laureates with scientific and student communities at universities and research centres worldwide.

“As researchers, we know that all discovery and progress is built on the push and pull of failure and success,” says Fahim Quadir, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, who introduced the round table discussion. “Advancement in science and society, and the creation of new knowledge, often begins with a leap in the dark, with the courage to risk failure simply in order to propel ourselves one step closer to the goals our research pursuits seek to advance.”

Students from over a dozen disciplines attended the candid, closed-door discussion, which touched on topics ranging from science communication and public perceptions of science, to mental health and multi-disciplinary approaches to research.

“The round table with Dr. Chalfie was enlightening and inspiring,” says Mandy Turner, a third-year PhD candidate and Vanier Scholar in the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences. “Being a graduate student can sometimes feel siloed, so it was comforting to have the opportunity to hear from an accomplished researcher like him, as well as my peers across the university who echoed many of my concerns about the future of science and science careers.”

One of the recurring anxieties expressed by those in attendance centred on a perceived shift in society’s attitude toward the merit of scientific knowledge.

“From time to time, I feel nervous about my pursuit of a career in science, since it seems like hard-earned results and evidence are less and less accepted by the public and policymakers,” says Matthias Hermann, who has just begun his third year as a PhD candidate in Chemistry. “When I expressed my worry to Dr. Chalfie during the round table he reminded us that throughout history there have always been people who deny facts and evidence, which has only served to underline the importance of scientists’ work. I really appreciated this response.”

Many of the round table participants also remarked on Dr. Chalfie’s charisma and candor.

“To have this person who achieved one of the highest honours of a research career be so humble and sincere about his life was very inspiring to me,” says Artur Sass Braga, PhD candidate in the Department of Civil Engineering. “He was so open about his initial failures in academia and shared with us that there is no secret formula or method to becoming a successful researcher. This perspective helps tremendously as it lessens the burden of the expectations graduate students can often feel are placed upon them.”

The round table preceded a sold-out NPII public event at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts featuring Dr. Chalfie in conversation with award-winning journalist and author André Picard, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen’s own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald. Both events also coincided with the launch of a new website highlighting Queen’s University’s vast complement of research pursuits and achievements, much of which involves Queen’s graduate researchers.

“The round table gathering was also about recognizing the enormous contributions our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows make to knowledge production; to championing new thinking and to uncovering groundbreaking discoveries,” says Dr. Quadir. “I am proud of our students and post-docs for their relentless efforts to advance new knowledge that serves the greater public good.”

Learn more about the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event that took place at Queen’s on September 25, 2019, and view a video recording of our online Facebook Live broadcast of the event.

Inspiring future generations

Queen’s University philosopher Will Kymlicka earns top Canadian honour for the social sciences

Will Kymlicka
Will Kymlicka, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy

Queen’s University researcher Will Kymlicka has earned the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Gold Medal, one of the highest honours for the social sciences in Canada. It is awarded to an individual whose sustained leadership and dedication have inspired students and colleagues alike. We sat down with Dr. Kymlicka to discuss his research and what the honour means to him.


Q: In a nutshell, tell me about your research on multiculturalism and minority rights? How are we viewing these issues differently as a result of your work?

A: Like other Western democracies, Canada is a “liberal democracy,” which means that we put a strong focus on the rights of individual citizens. The Canadian constitution also recognizes some group rights, but these have often been seen as anomalous, and perhaps even dangerous to liberal values. My work has tried to understand how we can make room in liberal philosophy for the rights of groups, and in particular the rights of minorities because they are the ones that need certain kinds of protections. 

When I started my work in the mid-1980s this topic was surprisingly neglected: there was barely any discussion in the literature about how a liberal democracy can recognize group rights. Today, there is a now a flourishing debate, in Canada and internationally, about what is sometimes called “liberal multiculturalism”.

I think this is a particularly important issue for Canada. Indeed, the very survival and success of Canada has depended on recognizing some group rights – for the Québécois, for Indigenous peoples, and for immigrant-origin ethnic groups. I have always thought of Canada as a kind of evolving experiment in how a liberal democracy can deal with issues of group rights, and I’ve tried to identify some of the important lessons we’ve learned over the years.


Q: In your career you’ve received more than 25 honours, fellowships and prizes. You’ve been called one of the world’s most influential philosophers. What does this award from SSHRC mean to you?

A:  It’s a special award, for several reasons. For one thing, it’s a Canadian award, and that means a lot to me. I’ve always wanted the work I do to be useful to my fellow Canadians, to help us better understand our collective experience and our future possibilities. I’d like to think that this award is a reflection of that.

Secondly, this award is interdisciplinary. This also matters a great deal to me. I want to do the kind of philosophy that is intelligible and useful to people in other disciplines as well, whether in political science, law, sociology or the humanities. I think philosophy has a lot to contribute to wider fields of research, but figuring out how to articulate philosophical ideas in a way that is both rigorous and accessible is a challenge. And here too I’d like to think the award is a sign that I’ve reached out beyond narrow disciplinary boundaries.


Q: Tell me about your early career. What started you on this path? What inspired you to look into these research areas?

A: Yes there was a very specific inspiration. I had planned to work on other issues in my graduate work at Oxford, but in 1985 I went to a talk given by Charles Taylor, the great Canadian philosopher (and, as it happens, the first winner of the SSHRC Gold Medal!). Taylor said that Canada’s existence depends on the recognition of group rights, but he also argued that there was no way to reconcile the recognition of group rights with the kind of liberal political philosophy that was dominant in the field. So he basically said we need to choose: do we endorse group rights or do we endorse liberal political philosophy? We can’t have both.

I thought that this was a powerful challenge, and I was taken aback that all the philosophers on the panel essentially agreed with him. Even the liberals on the panel agreed that there is no room for group rights in liberal theory. This didn’t make sense to me. After all, if we think about Canadian society over the past 50 years, it has become much more liberal, yet has also strengthened the protection of group rights, and in my naïve view, the recognition of group rights was part and parcel of this broader liberalization. So I didn’t see the inherent conflict or contradiction. So then and there, I changed my intended research topic, and took up the challenge of exploring how group rights fit into liberal theory.


Q: Your work has been translated into several languages and read around the world. What do you think your research legacy will be?

A: My work is part of a much broader debate about how we understand the liberal-democratic tradition. The liberalization and democratization of society has brought enormous benefits, I believe, but the liberal tradition of philosophy has often been narrowly individualistic. (Taylor calls it “atomistic”). I’m one of several people that are trying to develop a more “social” conception of liberalism, one that highlights how liberal values fit into complex and diverse social realities.


Q: Do you have any advice for young researchers and academics starting their own journey? Do you have any insights that could start them on the path to success?

A: I typically give my graduate students two pieces of advice. The first is to work on issues you care passionately about. Academia can be draining and frustrating, and you need to have a real commitment to an issue in order to get up every day and do the work.

The other piece of advice, particularly for young political philosophers, is that we need to get outside of disciplinary silos. If our work is to be useful, we need to be in conversation with other disciplines. In my work, I’ve drawn extensively on law, political science, history and social psychology. When political philosophers just talk to each other, the conversations quickly become arcane and disconnected from the real-world issues that require philosophical analysis. So that requires intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness.


Q: You have recently moved into a new area of research, on animal rights. Can you say a bit about that?

A: For the past 10 years or so, together with my partner Sue Donaldson, I’ve been working on how to bring “the animal question” into political philosophy. The lives of animals are often minutely governed by humans, but political philosophers have rarely discussed how we distinguish legitimate from illegitimate forms of governing animals, or how we can include animals in our conceptions of democracy or representation or citizenship. Animals are part of the “diverse social realities” I mentioned earlier, but they are invisible in political philosophy. So Sue and I are working to encourage research on how we relate to and govern the lives of animals in our society, including establishing an animal politics research group here at Queen’s. I think this will be a central issue for the future of political philosophy, and indeed for the fate of the world as a whole.

For more information visit the SSHRC website.

Funding on the cutting edge

MPP Steve Clark announces $930,000 in funding for five new research projects and two researchers.

  • ORF funding announcement group shot
    A total of $930,000 in new provincial investments in local research projects was announced on Monday. Attending the event were, from left: Farhana Zulkernine (Computing); Michael Rainbow (Mechanical and Materials Engineering); Bhavin Shastri (Physics); Kingston and Thousand Islands MPP Ian Arthur; Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane; Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark; Interim Vice-Principal (Research) Kimberly Woodhouse; Laura Wells (Chemical Engineering); and Sheela Abraham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences). (University Communications)
  • Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) applauds the announcement of new funding
    Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) applauds the announcement of $930,000 in new funding through the Ontario Research Fund. (University Communications)
  • Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane speaks at announcement
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane speaks about the importance of the new funding received by Queen's University through the Ontario Research Fund. (University Communications)
  • Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark speaks with Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).
    Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark speaks with Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). (University Communications)
  • Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark announces new support through ORF
    Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark makes the funding announcement at Mitchell Hall on Monday, Sept. 30. (University Communications)

Queen’s University welcomed Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark who announced $930,000 in new provincial investments in local research projects.

The university receives $650,000 for five research projects through the Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure program and Michael Rainbow (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) and Laura Wells (Chemical Engineering) were awarded $280,000 in  Early Researcher awards to help them build research teams for their work in the areas of foot function and cataract surgery.

“We want to ensure the brilliant researchers here at Queen’s and across Ontario who are making discoveries that could help cure diseases, inventing new technologies, and creating whole new industries and jobs have the support, tools and facilities they need to do their work,” says Clark, who made the announcement on behalf of Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

In his research Dr. Rainbow is using recent advances in 3D x-ray imaging to measure the foot’s complex function during walking and running. The work will provide fundamental information necessary to design more effective footwear, prosthetics, and orthotics for Ontarians.

Dr. Wells is examining how cells interact with intraocular lens which are used to treat decreased vision due to cataracts. In many cases patients who need a second cataract surgery or pediatric patients are not eligible for intraocular lenses. Her research will help develop new materials to improve outcomes for these patients.

“The research being conducted at Queen’s is cutting-edge and contributes directly to improvements in the lives of Canadians,” says Queen’s University Principal, Patrick Deane. “This funding is critical, helping to support new research facilities and providing spaces for our faculty, students and staff to continue to push the boundaries of science and exploration.”

The five projects receiving Research Infrastructure program funding include:

Ali Etemad (Electrical and Computer Engineering) $125,000 - Developing methods for smart homes and smart vehicles to ambiently monitor users via sensing and wearable technologies.

Farhana Zulkernine (Computing) $80,000 - Building a smart framework to address real-time processing and storage of multi-modal big data.

Sheela Abraham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) $162,500 - Investigating normal healthy stem cells as they age, and how malfunctions in cell signaling events eventually contribute to leukaemogenesis.

Madhuri Koti (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) $150,000 - Improving cancer immunotherapy outcomes by examining genetic features of tumours that dictate anti-tumour immune response, for the optimal design of patient specific treatment combinations.

Bhavin Shastri (Physics) $132,500 - The proposed brain-inspired processors will fundamentally leverage the strengths of nanophotonic devices with neuromorphic architectures, to outperform current microelectronics in energy efficiency and computational speeds, which currently limit hardware scaling in digital electronics.

“Ontario’s investments are helping researchers build strong teams, and ensure that they have the modern facilities, equipment, tools, and resources they need to complete their work.  The funding announced today will lead to discovery and innovation, attract future investment to the province, and have a direct impact on the economy," says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).

Working towards a sustainable future

Researchers from across Queen’s are making discoveries that help us protect our planet.

Image of Queen's University Biological Station
Queen's University Biological Station (Photo by Allen Tian)

Queen’s recognizes that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, and it is helping to create a more sustainable world through the knowledge and innovations that are being produced by researchers in all areas of the university.

Across Queen’s, faculty members have dedicated themselves to researching questions connected to the environment and sustainability. Taking interdisciplinary approaches to topics as wide ranging as water quality, health, economics, and engineering, Queen’s researchers are making discoveries that will help make the future of our planet greener.

Several Queen’s faculty members are actively exploring the effects that human societies are having on the environment. For instance, Dr. Diane Orihel, Assistant Professor in the Biology Department and Queen’s National Scholar in Aquatic Ecotoxicology, is working to understand how chemicals effect the environment.  Currently, she is the principal investigator on a project that studies the impact of diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” on fresh water.

Similar to Dr. Orihel, Dr. John P. Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, uses lake sediment samples to unravel the history of environmental change in order to improve understanding of human impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Dr. Smol leads an international program in the field of paleolimnology that tracks long-term trends in climatic change and develops new approaches to studying water-quality problems, among other goals.  

Water quality is also a primary focus of the Beaty Water Research Centre, which investigates a variety of issues related to the environment. Four faculty members affiliated with the centre were recently awarded with the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering. Drs. Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering), Michael Cunningham  (Chemical Engineering, Chemistry), Philip Jessop (Chemistry), and Warren Mabee (Geography and Planning, School of Policy Studies) were recognized with this prestigious award for their work in enhancing the value and sustainability of our natural renewable resources through collaboration. With the funding provided by the award, this team of researchers aims to design solutions, such as green industrial processes, to address problems caused by climate change.

Developing innovative solutions that protect the environment also motivates the research of Dr. Kerry Rowe, Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. To help guard the environment from contamination by waste, Dr. Rowe is currently developing new guidelines and techniques for building waste-disposal sites.

In order to tackle the problems of climate change, society will need policy solutions as well as scientific innovations. That is where the work of Dr. Kyla S. Tienhaara, Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment, comes in. Dr. Tienhaara studies government interventions in the economy through public policies that aim to achieve environmental sustainability. Through this research, Dr. Tienhaara aims to increase the environmental outcomes of future government spending initiatives.

Dr. Heather Castleden, Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relationships for Health, Environments, and Communities, is addressing problems created by climate change by bringing together different systems of knowledge. By applying Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to research involving social and environmental justice and health equity, Dr. Castleden’s work aims to reconcile relationships between Indigenous peoples and Settler Canadians as well as society’s relationship with the land, water, and air that sustain us.

Beyond our individual researchers, Queen’s also has a number of research centres and institutes that investigate an array of different issues that bear on the environment and sustainability, such as the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, the GeoEngineering Centre at Queen’s-RMC, and the Centre for Energy and Power Electronics Research (ePower).

To learn more about the many Queen’s researchers who are making discoveries that will help lead to a sustainable future, visit the new Queen’s research website.

Nobel Laureates share their thoughts on research success

Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative excites sold-out audience at Queen’s University.

  • Acclaimed journalist and author André Picard (left) interviews Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie during the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event at Queen's University. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
    Acclaimed journalist and author André Picard (left) interviews Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie during the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event at Queen's University. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Following the one-on-one chat, Picard and Chalfie were joined on stage by Canada's Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen's University's own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald.
    Following the one-on-one chat, Picard and Chalfie were joined on stage by Canada's Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen's University's own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • The public discussion took place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's in front of a sold out audience, and over 2000 online viewers.
    The public discussion took place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's in front of a sold out audience, and over 2000 online viewers. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Dr. Chalfie met with groups of excited audience members following the public discussion.
    Dr. Chalfie met with groups of excited audience members following the public discussion. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Earlier in the day, Dr. Chalfie met with students, faculty, and staff at Ingenuity Labs.
    Earlier in the day, Dr. Chalfie met with students, faculty, and staff at Ingenuity Labs. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Students demonstrated various robotics projects for Dr. Chalfie during his tour of the new Ingenuity Labs space in Mitchell Hall.
    Students demonstrated various robotics projects for Dr. Chalfie during his tour of the new Ingenuity Labs space in Mitchell Hall. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Students, faculty, and staff also toured Dr. Chalfie through cutting-edge new laboratory spaces at the Beaty Water Research Centre.
    Students, faculty, and staff also toured Dr. Chalfie through cutting-edge new laboratory spaces at the Beaty Water Research Centre. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Following the tours, Dr. Chalfie met with a group of Queen's graduate students for an exclusive roundtable discussion on "success and failure at the research frontier".
    Following the tours, Dr. Chalfie met with a group of Queen's graduate students for an exclusive roundtable discussion on "success and failure at the research frontier". (Photo by: Bernard Clark)

A sold-out crowd packed Queen’s University’s Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts for the rare opportunity to hear two Nobel Laureates discuss their roads to research success, together with Canada’s Chief Science Officer Mona Nemer, and award-winning journalist and author André Picard.

Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie, who was awarded the prize for chemistry in 2008, visited Queen’s as part of the first-ever Canadian tour of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII). Organized by Nobel Media, in partnership with biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, the NPII is an international outreach program striving to connect Nobel Laureates with scientific and student communities at universities and research centres worldwide.

Queen's Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane talking with Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie.
Queen's Principal Patrick Deane in conversation with Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie.

“We are honoured to host the Nobel Inspiration Initiative and I’m excited to know that among our live audience and viewers online, we have potential future Nobel Prize Laureates who will be responsible for discoveries that make our world a better place,” says Patrick Deane, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, during his opening remarks. “At Queen’s, we believe in the fundamental value of research and want to create an environment where researchers can push boundaries, test limits, fail safely and take risks to achieve the kind of success talked about here today.”

Picard moderated the engaging and often humorous 90-minute dialogue, which touched on the guests’ own research journeys, and topics ranging from basic research, gender imbalance in science fields, commercialization, and public trust in scientists. Richard Reznick, Dean of the Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences, first introduced Picard and Chalfie, who spoke one-on-one before Dr. Nemer and Queen’s own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald, joined in for expanded discussion and an audience Q&A session.

“The Nobel Prize doesn’t necessarily go to the smartest scientist or the most productive, or the one with the biggest group or most published papers; it goes, in my opinion, to scientists who do things that change the way we do science or we think about the world,” says Dr. Chalfie. “Furthermore, most people don’t sit up at night thinking, How am I going to win a prize? The reward for many of us is in the discovery.”

Queen's University's Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald meets with audience members following the panel discussion.
Queen's University's Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald meets with audience members following the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative public discussion.

Dr. McDonald adds: “The Nobel Prize is the icing on the cake. The real victory is in the breakthrough.”

The panelists spoke at length about the formative years of their careers, discussing early obstacles. Dr. Chalfie brought up an early-career project that did not work out and drove him to abandon the field temporarily, which stood in contrast to part of the NPII public event’s title, Failure, persistence and joy: finding the right balance for research success.

“I was very fortunate to get back into it,” he says. “When I experienced this early disappointment… I didn’t feel I should ask people for help. I didn’t have people telling me that the first time you do things, you’re going to fail. Persistence has to be coupled with mentorship and support.”

As part of the day-long NPII event, Dr. Chalfie sat with some of Queen’s most promising graduate and post-doctoral students, and early-career researchers, prior to the public dialogue for an exclusive roundtable discussion about success and failure at the research frontier. He also toured two cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary research and learning spaces on campus – the Beaty Water Research Centre and Ingenuity Labs at newly-opened Mitchell Hall – meeting with graduate and post-doctoral students, staff, and faculty.

During the public conversation, Picard posed the issue of the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields to the panelists for their comments.

Mona Nemer meets with audience members following the NPII public discussion.
Canada's Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer speaks with audience members following the public discussion.

“I’m uplifted when I look at the audience today and see so many young people,” says Dr. Nemer. “I’m looking at the many women in the audience and I want you all to know there is a place for you in these fields. Don’t let anyone stop you.”

Dr. McDonald agreed, stating that his field – physics—“needs a revolution of women in the discipline”. He also urged current students to try a variety of things while in university to discover where their passions may lie.

“Science is fun. It’s an adventure,” he says. “Embrace it!”

The event coincides with the launch of a brand new website highlighting Queen’s University’s vast complement of research pursuits and achievements. The site tells the stories behind research happening right here at Queen’s and highlights how research affects our lives and helps to shape our collective knowledge about the world.

For those who could not be among those present at the event, or among over 2000 viewers who joined our live online broadcast, you can view a video recording of the event now. A captioned version of the video will be available in the coming days.

Faculty of Arts and Science creates first strategic plan

[Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, right, discusses the faculty’s first strategic plan with student Kate Li.]
Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, right, discusses the faculty’s first strategic plan with student Kate Li. (University Communications)

The Faculty of Arts and Science is set to unveil its first strategic plan.

The five-year plan clearly sets out articulated pathways to strengthen and expand the faculty's vision.

LAUNCH EVENT
The Faculty of Arts and Science’s strategic plan will be launched at a special event on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 2 pm in Mackintosh-Corry Hall. All are welcome.
Register Now

Development of the strategic plan began in the fall of 2018 and involved a series of consultations including online surveys, formal submissions from academic departments and student associations, as well as focus groups and town halls involving staff, undergraduate and graduate students, new faculty members, program coordinators and department heads, faculty board members, the Dean’s Council, and alumni.

Two working groups were also established – Strategic Planning and Equity Advisory – and were tasked with reviewing and synthesizing the wide-ranging submissions received through the consultation process.

“The process of creating the first strategic plan for the Faculty of Arts and Science was incredibly exciting and it was fantastic experience. There are many people who contributed to the plan’s creation and I would like to thank them all,” says Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science. “Thanks to their efforts and dedication, our faculty now has a clear vision and a set of principles, priorities, initiatives and metrics to guide us through the next five years.”

The strategic plan has four guiding principles:

  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion including anti-racism, decolonization and Indigenous resurgence
  • Excellence in teaching, research and service
  • Transparency, accountability and fairness
  • Continuous learning, professional development, and global engagement

Also set out as part of the strategic plan is the faculty’s vision of being a “thriving, equitable and inclusive scholarly community committed to innovative disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and teaching. Our goal is to inspire is to inspire curiosity and to collaboratively engage with multiple forms of knowledge that span local and global contexts.” 

Four strategic priorities – Strengthen our research prominence; Enrich the student experience; Support our people; Transform our spaces – were set out to support this vision. A total 50 measurable initiatives touching upon everything from experiential learning and collaborative research to digital infrastructure and wellness, have also been clearly outlined in the document.

The Strategic Plan is available online.

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