Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Learn how Queen's is planning for our safe return to campus.

Arts and Science

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.


Ontario invests in research and innovation

The Government of Ontario is providing $4.3 million in funding for four Queen’s research projects.

The Ontario government is funding Queen’s research to help support the development of homegrown ideas, products, and technologies. Four multidisciplinary Queen’s projects have received a total of $4.3 million in funding through two grant initiatives: the Ontario Research Fund and the Early Researcher Awards program. The funding will be used to cover research operations and infrastructure, ensuring Ontario’s researchers have access to the latest technologies, equipment, and talent.

"Ontario’s universities, including Queen’s, play a key role in advancing research that matters to Ontarians," says Betsy Donald, Associate Vice-Principal (Research). "Thanks to our Government partners, our researchers have the tools they need to further develop these important research questions."

Ontario Research Fund

Pascale Champagne (Civil and Chemical Engineering; Chemistry) and her colleagues have received $3.9 million in funding through Ontario Research Fund-Research Excellence (ORF-RE) for their project titled, "Integrated approaches to characterize, detect, and treat Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in the aquatic environments of Ontario."

CECs are chemicals and other contaminants that are found in consumer products and waste streams and may pose hazards to human health and aquatic ecosystems. Nevertheless, these health and environmental impacts are poorly understood, and CECs remain largely unregulated in Ontario.

Through their project, Dr. Champagne and her team will investigate the origins, transport, and effect of three broad classes of CECs, namely microbial, nanoparticles, and industrial and agricultural products in key sub-systems of the water cycle, such as watershed recharge and runoff zones, recycling systems for agriculture and aquaculture, wastewater and drinking water systems, septic systems, and surface water ecosystems. The team will also work to develop new technologies for the detection and treatment of CECs in these key sub-systems.

This research will lead to the development and commercialization of sensor prototypes for rapid detection of pathogens, bacteria, and toxic biological products as well as treatment technologies for the removal of CECs. Tools created through the study will also innovate engineering consulting services to support investigation and remediation of CEC-contaminated sites in Ontario jurisdictions.

The project is supported by a large consortium of industry, policy researchers, and municipal government partners who are contributing a further $951,000 as well as substantial in-kind contributions that will increase project funding to $11.9 million. As end users, the consortium of key stakeholders will facilitate uptake of research outcomes into industrial and municipal processes to affect real-time change.

The project is an initiative of the Contaminants of Emerging Concern Research Excellence Network (CEC-REN) at Queen’s, an interdisciplinary initiative focused on the detection and treatment of emerging contaminants in the natural and built environment that pose environmental and human health risks.

Early Researcher Awards

Three Queen’s research projects have received Early Researcher Awards valued at $140,000 each:

Joseph Bramante (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy)

Project title: Neutron stars as thermal dark matter detectors

Description: Dark matter has a significant impact on stars and galaxies yet remains a mysterious entity. One of the primary goals of modern physics is to understand dark matter's interactions with visible particles like the proton and electron. Dr. Bramante and his team recently discovered that when dark matter falls into neutron stars, it heats them to infrared temperatures. Now, they are investigating how dark matter interacts with the superdense nuclear fluid in neutron stars. These findings will help transform neutron stars into world class dark matter detectors.

Robert Colautti (Biology)

Project title: Genetics of range expansion in ticks and tick-borne pathogens

Description: Global trade and anthropogenic changes to the environment can facilitate the spread of problematic species (e.g. weeds, pests, diseases). In Ontario, the deer tick (a.k.a. blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis) has rapidly risen in abundance, increasing risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Dr. Colautti and his team are developing a new database and field protocols to reconstruct the geographic spread of deer ticks in eastern Ontario and to identify ecological factors that impact pathogen prevalence. Study results will inform strategies to mitigate exposure to tick-borne pathogens, helping reduce future cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in Ontario.

Jason Gallivan (Psychology)

Project title: Functional mapping and enhancement of brain network function through multi-site neurostimulation

Description: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) was introduced two decades ago as a revolutionary treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Since then, it has been trialed for numerous other neurological illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Despite its initial promise, DBS has failed, in all but a few cases, to improve patient outcomes, reflecting our poor understanding of how it operates and impacts the function of whole-brain networks. Dr. Gallivan and his team will use a multi-disciplinary approach to map how DBS changes the activity of whole-brain networks in vivo. Subsequently, these findings will be used to help improve DBS efficacy.

For more information on the Ontario Research Fund and Early Research Award, visit the website.

Donation from alumnus provides elite access to research regarding the future of democracy

Professor Jonathan Rose receives a donation of documents from Queen's alumnus Peter MacLeod
Queen’s alumnus Peter MacLeod (MA’02), founder and principal of MASS LBP, a company that conducts citizens’ assemblies, delivers materials that will make up the MASS LBP fonds d'archives on Democratic Innovation and Deliberation at Queen’s University to Jonathan Rose, Head of the Department of Political Studies. (Supplied Photo)

Thanks to a generous alumni donation, Queen’s University Archives is now the proud owner of the world’s largest collection of policy-making chronicles, opening the door for critical research by students on deliberation and the future of democracy.

The donation comes from Peter MacLeod (MA’02), founder and principal of MASS LBP, a company that conducts citizens’ assemblies. MASS LBP helps build bridges between government and citizens by creating ‘civic lotteries’ where citizens participate in providing direction to policy makers through deliberative exercises.

The donation will be known as MASS LBP fonds d'archives on Democratic Innovation and Deliberation at Queen’s University. Spanning almost 20 linear feet and data from more than 40 projects from citizen deliberations, the collection chronicles approximately 55,000 volunteer hours to policymaking in Canada. This collection is the largest of its type globally.

“Fifteen years ago, the governments of British Columbia and then Ontario launched the first citizens’ assemblies,” says MacLeod. “These have served as examples to the world of how citizens can be engaged more deeply in the work of government. Inspired by their example, more than 300 similar projects have occurred throughout the world since. The MASS LBP fonds d'archives on Democratic Innovation and Deliberation is the single largest repository of its kind, containing more than 40 civic lotteries and materials related to citizens’ assemblies and reference panels and we hope it will grow with time. It helps to put Queen’s amongst a small group of universities where critical research on deliberation and the future of democracy will occur.”

MacLeod delivered the donation of 13 years’ worth of data to Head of the Department of Political Studies Jonathan Rose (MA’89, PhD’93), and the Faculty of Arts and Science last week. Included in the donation are demographic data about participants, learning materials, invitation letters, and final reports. It represents the largest single source of these sorts of citizen engagement exercises in the world.

“It has been almost 20 years since I started my MA at Queen’s,” says MacLeod. “It is a delight to return to campus to make what I hope will be a helpful contribution to important research on deliberative democracy.”

Dr. Rose, who both instructed and supervised MacLeod, says the archives will be a boon to researchers who work in the area of citizen engagement.

“This donation is going to be a huge benefit to researchers, and I’m excited it’s being housed here at Queen’s,” he says.

Heather Home, Public Services/Private Records Archivist, will be working on processing the first accrual of materials and then Jeremy Heil, Digital and Private Records Archivist, will work on subsequent accruals, including digital records.

“Peter’s donation comprises approximately 7.5 linear metres of records,” says Ken Hernden, University Archivist and Associate University Librarian. “These unique records will not only be of great benefit to current students and researchers at Queen’s Faculty of Arts and Science and the Department of Political Studies, but also to diverse students and researchers from many disciplines over time due to the records’ enduring archival values. Several of our Queen’s graduate students will be engaging with this material immediately and we are grateful to have worked with Dr. Rose to bring this collection to Queen’s.”

The archives will be made accessible on the Queen’s University Archives database of finding aids, where students and researchers can find more than 3,000 unique research collections representing over 10 kilometres of textual records, 2 million photographs, tens of thousands of architectural plans and drawings, and thousands of sound recordings and moving images.

For more information visit the MASS LBP website and the Queen's University Archives website.

Rethinking our approach to tackling plastic waste

Researchers, manufacturers, and governments are working toward a new paradigm, where plastics will be made from recycled or biodegradable components. (Unsplash / Erik McLean)

What can genomics teach us about the breakdown of plastic? To answer this question, a multidisciplinary team of Queen’s researchers made up of Laurence Yang (Chemical Engineering), David Zechel (Chemistry), George diCenzo (Biology), and James McLellan (Chemical Engineering) have received a $7.9 million grant from Genome Canada for a new project exploring a microbial platform for breaking down and valorizing waste plastic, which can then be repurposed to produce recycled products.

Plastic is a widely used cheap and effective way to store and transport goods. However, its popularity, especially for single-use products, has made it a pervasive environmental contaminant. In Canada, 2.8 million tons of plastic wind up in landfills every year and an additional 29,000 tons leak into our environment and oceans. Waste plastic has devastating environmental impacts, one of which includes the death of 100,000 marine mammals annually, through ingestion or entanglement. Despite this, demand continues to grow and Canadian plastic production is increasing, with an additional 4.8 million tons being produced every year.

Traditional methods of curbing plastic pollution are underutilized and only nine per cent of plastic is currently recycled worldwide. Consequently, academics, manufacturers, and governments are working toward a new paradigm, where plastics will be made from recycled or biodegradable components, facilitating transition from a linear use to a circular use model and better enabling a zero-plastic waste future.

To help drive this paradigm shift, Dr. Yang, his colleagues, and their team consisting of multiple universities, industry and municipal partners are working on an economically-viable innovation that harnesses genomics technologies to recover value from waste plastic. Affiliated with the Contaminants of Emerging Concern - Research Excellence Network (CEC-REN) at Queen’s, this project will use metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, whole-genome sequencing, and functional genomics to identify and engineer bacteria and enzymes that can break down plastics into recyclable components or into valuable fine chemicals that can be used for other purposes. A secondary aim of this project involves investigating the impact of these newly-developed plastic biotechnologies on the environment, economy, and society as a whole.

“Our team of 21 investigators from six universities are developing a systems approach to tackling plastic waste: from genomes to new enzymatic processes, fully integrated with environmental, social, economic, and policy research to facilitate uptake,” says Dr. Yang, Principal Investigator on the project. “Our open science framework will allow us to rapidly share knowledge with diverse private and public sector partners, as we collectively innovate toward a zero-waste future where plastics benefit society without causing a negative impact on the environment.”

Plastic biotechnologies could help revolutionize Canadian plastic production and use. It has been estimated that diverting 90 per cent of our national waste plastic from landfills to recycling can reduce 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year in greenhouse gas emissions, save $500 million per year in costs, and create 42,000 jobs in new industries. Globally, a circular economy for plastics is projected to lead to billions of dollars in savings. An environmentally sustainable future may not be one that eliminates the use of plastics altogether, but rather one where plastics are deliberately chosen and circulated as resources, not discarded as waste.

The project funding was announced today as part of an investment of over $60 million from Genome Canada, provincial and federal partners, universities, and industry collaborators for eight large-scale applied research projects across Canada. The projects will harness genomics research and technologies for natural resources conservation, environmental protection, and sustainability. For more on the announcement, visit the website.

The project, titled Open Plastics, is affiliated with the Contaminants of Emerging Concern - Research Excellence Network at Queen's
The project, titled Open Plastics, is affiliated with the Contaminants of Emerging Concern - Research Excellence Network at Queen's.

Belief in touch as salvation was stronger than fear of contagion in the Italian Renaissance

A sculpture of two saints meeting and embracing embodies the importance of touch in Renaissance culture as a form of devotion and ultimately a way to access the divine. (Renaissance Polychrome Sculpture in Tuscany database), Author provided


In 1399, a crowd gathered in the Tuscan city of Pisa, even though people understood that a plague ravaging the area was contagious. Devotees travelled from town to town and carried a crucifix — a sculpture of Jesus on the cross — which the crowd longed to touch.

Authorities tried to ban the group but had to bow to public pressure. A witness exclaimed, “Blessed is he who can touch it!” Those who could not reach the sculpture pelted it with offerings, including candles, so that these objects could touch it by proxy.

That year, in the midst of a plague, often hundreds of people gathered and fought to touch and kiss crucifixes. The belief in touch as salvation was stronger than the fear of contagion.

As we are all too aware now, after over a year of social distancing due to COVID-19, touch was and is a much-desired privilege. In the Italian Renaissance, people longed to touch not only each other, but also religious sculptures — touch was a form of devotion.

Accessing the sacred

Statue bust of a woman's head and shoulders.
Sculpture of St. Anastasia with receptacle embedded in the chest that contains a relic of the saint. Made by the workshop of Matteo Civitale in the 1490s, housed in the Museo di Santa Maria Novella. (Renaissance Polychrome Sculpture in Tuscany database)

Renaissance Italy was home to Jews and Muslims, as well as Christians.

For Christians in the Renaissance, objects could be holy, and so touching them was a way to access the sacred. The cult of relics illustrates this. Relics are physical remains of a saint, either of the saint’s body (such as bones) or of something the saint touched.

These holy physical things are housed in reliquaries, containers to protect and display relics. In the Italian Renaissance, reliquaries took the form of naturalistic sculptures that seemed to bring the saint back to life.

Pilgrims travelled sometimes hundreds of miles on foot to reach these relics — and, for those who could afford it, buy a “contact relic,” which was made by submerging the relic in oil and then dipping a cloth into that oil. By touching that cloth, perhaps wearing it as a talisman, the believer was a part of a chain of physical contact that led to the divine.

Others touched reliquaries. A relic of St. Anastasia is embedded in a glass covered receptacle buried in the chest of a lively, blushing sculpture, so that the faithful could see it. The lucky few could reach forward and touch the jewel-like container, as the martyr would seem to look with heavily lidded eyes, almost bemused at this rather intimate gesture.

Sculptures with joints

Sculpture of Christ on the cross showing arm hinges.
Movable joints can be seen in this crucifix, which allowed devotees to take the figure of Christ down and embrace and kiss it. Sculpted by Donatello, c. 1408, housed in Santa Croce, Florence. (Renaissance Polychrome Sculpture in Tuscany database)

People also longed to touch sculptures that did not have relics, including life-sized crucifixes, which in the Renaissance were sculptures of a muscular Jesus, whose body is covered only by a small loincloth. Before Michelangelo, crucifixes were the public nudes in Renaissance cities. Many crucifixes hung high in churches, and Renaissance writers describe saints miraculously elevated, so that they could embrace and kiss the sculpted body of Christ.

Some sculptures have joints in the shoulders, so that at the annual commemoration of Christ’s death (on Good Friday) devotees could take part in a sacred drama, in which the figure of Christ was taken down from the cross and mourned, wrapped in a shroud and placed in a tomb.

During this re-enactment, a lucky few believers could embrace and kiss the sculpture and feel as if they had the ultimate privilege of touching Jesus’ body, reciting the prayer: “I, a sinner, am not worthy to touch you.”

In the home

A woman in a headcovering embraces a baby.
Sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus, originally kept in a home for private devotion. Made in c. 1400-1450 by Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi or Nanni di Banco, and currently housed in the Museo Bandini in Fiesole. (Renaissance Polychrome Sculpture database)

Wealthy families had sculptures that they could touch at home, such as small crucifixes, which often have feet worn down by repeated touch so that the toes are barely visible.

Young women getting married or becoming nuns were given painted wooden life-sized sculptures of baby Jesus or another infant saint, which they would tend as if they were real infants, dressing them in luxurious clothing.

Meditational handbooks told women to imagine that they were fondling baby Jesus.

Anyone who could afford it would have an image of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus in the bedroom. These sculptures place emphasis on touch, as Mary and Jesus’ limbs are gently intertwined.

But wealthy parents rarely touched their children – infants were sent away to live with a wetnurse until about the age of three, and handbooks on child rearing warned parents not to embrace their children when they returned home. So, in some cases, mothers may have touched sculptures of babies more than they touched their own children.

Interacting with sculptures

Though devotional touch was a privilege for the wealthy, practices of interacting with sculptures as if they were bodies of flesh and blood cut across social classes.

A pair of life-sized painted terracotta sculptures of the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph watched over a stone crib at Florence’s orphanage, the Ospedale degli Innocenti. Abandoned infants were placed temporarily in the care of these sculpted parents.

A woman in a simple red dress with hands folded in prayer next to a kneeling man.
Babies abandoned at Florence’s orphanage were placed in a stone crib between these statues of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. Made by Marco della Robbia in c. 1500, and now housed in the Museo degli Innocenti in Florence. (Renaissance Polychrome Sculpture in Tuscany database), Author provided

The figure of Mary was sculpted only with a simple red under dress, with no cloak or veil, and so was likely dressed in fabric clothing, probably donated by a local woman. Women would have also dressed and undressed this sculpture and others like it as an act of devotion, as it would be scandalous to have a man be so intimate with a sculpture of the Virgin Mary.

Sculpted bodies inhabited cities

Sculpted bodies inhabited Renaissance cities along with living people, filling Renaissance churches, watching over the streets and gracing the bedrooms of even moderately wealthy patricians.

In a society that was ambivalent about the proprieties of touching living flesh, touching sculpted bodies could offer comfort or even salvation.

Renaissance philosophers and clergymen argued that touch was sensual and earthy and that supposedly weak-minded women and children were more in need of such physical aids in their devotions than educated men.

But ultimately, touching art was a privilege, a way of touching the divine.The Conversation


Una Roman D'Elia, Professor, Art History and Art Conservation, 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.

Extreme heat waves are putting lakes and rivers in hot water this summer


Trout swim in water
River fish like trout swim close to the river surface as water temperatures rise. (Unsplash / John Werner)

Extreme heat waves have blanketed the Pacific Northwest, Siberia, Greece, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other regions this summer, with temperatures approaching and exceeding 50 C.

As temperatures near outdoor survival thresholds, individuals who do not have easy access to air conditioning or cooling stations, or are unable to flee, may succumb to heat waves.

These climate extremes are becoming more frequent. But as tragic as they are to human health, they are only part of a larger climate catastrophe story — the wide-scale damage to the ecosystems that people depend upon, including agriculture, fisheries and freshwater.

Most wildlife cannot seek refuge from extreme heat. An estimated 1 billion marine animals may have perished during the heatwave this past June in the Pacific Northwest alone.

Fisheries in hot water

Many people may perceive lakes and rivers to be refuges from unprecedented heat, but freshwater systems are no less sensitive. Heat waves have killed thousands of fish in Alaska as temperatures exceeded the lethal limit for coldwater fishes.

This year’s hot and dry summer could collapse the salmon fishery in the Sacramento River in California. In British Columbia and Yukon, salmon numbers have declined by as much as 90 per cent and have led the federal government to shut down 60 per cent of the commercial and First Nations communal salmon fishery.

Coldwater fish, such as trout and salmon, are being squeezed out of their cool, well-oxygenated, deep-water habitat. As water contains less oxygen at higher water temperatures, this forces the fish to move into nearshore regions. While these shallower waters may be better oxygenated, they are even warmer and may exceed thermal tolerances of coldwater species.

By the same token, invasive fishes such as smallmouth bass are thriving in warmer temperatures and displacing native Canadian fishes like walleye and lake trout.

The dry bed of an evaporated pond in Arctic Canada.
Beach Ridge Pond, from Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, now completely evaporates in the summer because of accelerated climate warming. (MSV Douglas), Author provided

Water is on the move — too little and too much

The combination of a warming climate, drought and human activities, including irrigation for agriculture, can have drastic consequences for both the quality and quantity of our freshwater supply — ultimately leading to shortages of potable water.

By the end of the century, evaporation is projected to increase by 16 per cent globally. Lakes closer to the equator, which are already experiencing the highest evaporation rates, are expected to experience the greatest increase.

In regions with seasonal ice cover, evaporation rates can increase with warmer air temperatures and when ice cover is shorter or lost completely. This essentially “lifts the lid” on a lake during winter and could potentially lead to year-round evaporation, accelerating the rate at which water is lost. Salts and nutrients are concentrated in the remaining water, leading to further decline in water quality.

Potable water in countries with limited freshwater are seeing their supply dwindle even further, including the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and Lake Chad in central Africa. Lake Poopó was once the second-largest lake in Bolivia with an area of 3,000 square kilometres, but dried up completely in 2015. Even in water-rich areas like the Arctic, shallow ponds, including some ponds formed when ice-rich permafrost thaws, are already drying out.

On the other hand, ice-dammed glacial lakes in both polar and alpine regions are sensitive to outburst floods as dams melt, potentially flooding downstream ecosystems and the communities that depend on them, including population-rich areas such as in the Himalayas and Andes. Climate change is a crisis multiplier and threatens to make water scarcity or flooding an impending reality for increasingly more people.

A lake near Parry Sound, Ont., covered in algal bloom.
An algal bloom in a lake near Parry Sound, Ont., located on the Canadian Shield. (Andrew Paterson/Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks), Author provided

Algal blooms on the rise

Warmer summers, coupled with intense storms that deliver large quantities of nutrients and pollutants in bursts, are creating the perfect conditions for earlier, more frequent and intense algal blooms. Harmful toxin-producing cyanobacteria (blue-green algae that frequently form floating surface blooms) can lead to mass mortality of fish and birds, as well as pose a serious health threat for cattle, pets, wildlife and humans.

In 2014, over half a million people could not use their water supply in Toledo, Ohio, because of a toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie. Lake Taihu, China, which supplies water to 40 million people often has blooms so large that they can be detected from space and leave millions of people in a drinking water supply crisis.

In Ontario, there are now reports of algal blooms in formerly pristine northern lakes occurring as late as November. Study after study now links warmer conditions and the associated lake changes as important contributing factors to toxic blooms.

Rapid change requires rapid responses

Climatic extremes are now occurring more frequently and with greater intensity than were predicted by even the most pessimistic climate models. We are already crossing ecosystem thresholds and tipping points that were not even projected to occur until the end of this century.

Climatic extremes will not appear gradually, but impacts will be felt quickly and often without warning, leaving little time for adaptation. We need to immediately develop and implement evidence-based climate adaptation plans, so that we are prepared for the inevitable emergencies already underway, including massive wildfires, coastal and local flooding, disruption of food supplies and freshwater shortages.

The apocalyptic future, once portrayed only in books and movies, is becoming our reality and the time for assessing our options is running out. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Human innovation and originality, coupled with a sense of urgency, are required to lessen future impacts.

Without mitigation efforts, we must prepare for the fallout of the developing climate catastrophe and protect our citizens and ecosystems.The Conversation


Sapna Sharma, Associate Professor and York University Research Chair in Global Change Biology, York University, Canada; Iestyn Woolway, Research Fellow, Climate Office, European Space Agency, and John P. Smol, Distinguished University Professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, 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, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Queen’s students awarded national scholarships

Eight doctoral students earn prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships for exceptional scholarly achievement and leadership skills.

Collage of Vanier scholars
Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recipients (clockwise from top left): Ryan Kirkpatrick, Emmanuelle LeBlanc, Isabelle Grenier-Pleau, Shannon Clarke, Stephanie Woolridge, Saskia de Wildt, Maram Assi, and Hannah Hunter.

Eight Queen’s students have earned Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, one of Canada’s most prestigious awards for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. Jointly funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), these scholarships recognize individuals who have demonstrated exceptional scholarly achievement and leadership skills in a variety of fields. Scholars receive $50,000 per year for three years of study and research.

“We are honoured and excited to host this year’s Vanier recipients, scholars who have left their mark on their respective fields by ascending to new heights of academic excellence and leadership achievement,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “Queen’s is delighted to play its part in supporting our Vanier scholars by providing them with new opportunities to refine their research skills, advance their academic and professional goals, and engage with our vast network of researchers spanning the globe. I look forward to getting to know our scholars and learning of their plans to continue working towards the betterment of society during their time with us and beyond.”

This year’s recipients span numerous specialties and departments. They include:

CIHR-Funded Projects:

Emmanuelle LeBlanc (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) - Developing glycan-based antiviral prophylactics to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections

Ryan Kirkpatrick (Neuroscience) - Detecting eating disorder biomarkers in youth via video-based eye tracking

Stephanie Woolridge (Psychology) - Improving diagnostic accuracy in early psychosis: Differentiating the neuropsychological profiles of cannabis-induced and primary psychotic disorders in a 12-month follow-up study

NSERC-Funded Projects:

Isabelle Grenier-Pleau (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) - Investigating the role of extracellular vesicles in hematopoietic stem cell maintenance

Maram Assi (Computing) - Developing an intelligent bug fix recommender system

SSHRC-Funded Projects:

Saskia de Wildt (Environmental Studies) - Exploring polar bear research as ethical space, practice, and process of engagement

Shannon Clarke (Geography and Planning) - New spaces, new subjectivities: Caribbean women in Canada and Black diasporic productions of space

Hannah Hunter (Geography and Planning) - Listening to birds at the end of the world: A historical geography of bird sound recording and a sound art project for human-avian futures

For more information about the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship Program, visit the website.

Academic Calendar goes digital

Students can use the digital Academic Calendar to view courses and degree plans, as well as deadlines, academic regulations, and policies.

Queen’s University is excited to announce the launch of its new digital Academic Calendar. The new calendar moves away from PDF files and provides an engaging, richly informative, and responsive student experience for course selection registration and degree planning. It also amalgamates into one place all of the calendars, previously published independently by the faculties and schools. Students use the calendar to view courses and degree plans, as well as deadlines, academic regulations, and policies.

“Courses are at the heart of every student’s academic experience,” says Jenn Stephenson, Associate Dean (Academic), Faculty of Arts and Science. “This is where the new digital calendar will have a huge impact. Students will easily be able to look at their plan requirements and click on a core course and be taken directly to the course description. Students will be able to work backwards from their graduation requirements to easily identify what pre-requisite courses they will need for each academic year. Mapping your academic journey will be easy and transparent.”

Associate Dean Stephenson adds the calendar will also enable students to follow their passions by allowing students to search focus areas such as sustainability or poverty, including key terms that align with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Every course description that includes that word will pop up for the student to review.

“I am very excited about the potential of this new tool in allowing students to imagine their academic future and to forge their own paths,” Associate Dean Stephenson adds.

The project began in the Faculty of Arts and Science in Winter 2019 with the idea of helping students better understand their degree requirements, regulations, and course details. It quickly became apparent that a new tool would be required. After extensive consultations with other faculties and schools, the Office of the University Registrar and IT Services, Arts and Science found keen and willing partners, and, as the largest and most complex academic unit on campus, was tasked with leading the project on behalf of the University.

The new Academic Calendar supports the development of Queen’s digital infrastructure, and is a major milestone towards supporting the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Strategic Plan priorities of enriching the student experience and supporting our people.

“This is a key initiative outlined in the Faculty of Arts and Science Strategic Plan 2019-2024 that also demonstrates our collaborative spirit,” says Dean Barbara Crow. “We are excited the entire university has joined us on this journey to a more digital world that will enhance the experience of our students.”

Despite the challenges of working from home amidst a pandemic, Queen’s teams reached across silos to work together and unify around an enhanced student experience, explains Kevin O’Brien, Project Lead and Arts and Science’s Associate Director, Student Services (Registration, Admissions, and Service).

“Everyone’s collegiality and teamwork, despite the adversity of the pandemic and heavy workloads, is a testament to the Queen’s spirit and commitment to student success,” he says “The Faculty of Arts and Science took a leadership role in this project as a way to support our students and make their academic journey easier to navigate. Students are tech-savvy, and too busy to navigate multiple websites and documents to find out what they need for registration. I believe they should have an intuitive way to understand what’s expected of them when making decisions about their academic future. If it’s available on their smartphone – all the better.”

The launch is the first of a three-phase project. The second stage involves implementation of a web-based curriculum management solution.The third phase features the introduction of planning, advising and registration solutions, which will modernize class search and registration by providing students with tools and features to discover and plan their pathway to graduation.

Visit the new Academic Calendar at queensu.ca/academic-calendar.

Queen’s experts provide insight into our post-pandemic future

On June 29, multimedia journalist and Queen’s alumnus Elamin Abdelmahmoud will moderate a candid discussion on how we can move beyond COVID.

[Road to Recovery: Reintegration - Queen's Virtual Event]

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our health, economy, and society. It has challenged individuals and institutions to think creatively about how they can harness their resources to help confront the crisis, politically, economically, and socially. As vaccination rates rise, cases drop, and businesses reopen, Canadians and global citizens are attempting to return to so-called “normal life.” This has led to myriad questions related to reintegration and reconnection – What does integration back to the classroom and office look like? What are the implications for our physical and mental health and how can we address them? How has society changed over the past 18 months and what have we learned about ourselves and each other?

To help answer some of these questions, University Relations, Advancement, and the Faculty of Health Sciences have joined forces to host Road to Recovery: Reintegration. This free, open-to-the-public event will be held virtually on Tuesday, June 29 at 11 a.m. EDT and will feature a panel of Queen’s alumni and research experts who will share their views on work, social norms, and life in a post-pandemic world.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Elamin Abdelmahmoud (Artsci’11) and host of CBC’s weekly pop culture podcast Pop Chat, co-host of CBC’s political podcast Party Lines, and culture editor for BuzzFeed news. In a recent interview about the series, Abdelmahmoud explained some of his reasons for hosting the event, saying, “When it comes to reintegration, I have a lot of questions. I am anxious to return to some semblance of normality but I don’t know what that looks like anymore. I would love to get some answers from people who study these questions for a living.”    

During Tuesday’s discussion, Abdelmahmoud will be joined by a number of experts in health care, education, research, and policy-making at the local, national, and international levels. They are:

  • Tina Dacin – Stephen J.R. Smith Chaired Professor of Strategy and Organizational Behaviour and the Director of the Community Impact Research Program in the Smith School of Business
  • Gerald Evans – Chair, Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University and Attending Physician in Infectious Diseases at Kingston Health Sciences Centre
  • Allyson G. Harrison – Clinical Neuropsychologist and the Clinical Director of the Regional Assessment and Resource Center at Queen’s
  • Scott McFarlane, BA/BPHE’97, BEd’98, MEd’07 is a Vice-Principal with the Limestone District School Board 

To register for the event and join the discussion, visit the website.

Pride and prejudice: With only nine LGBTQ criminal record expungements, what's to celebrate?

The Conversation: The government needs to expand the Expungement Act to move toward a more meaningful response to historical and ongoing policing of queer people in Canada.

[Photograph of Pride flag and Canadian flag]
The Expungement Act was a centrepiece of the federal government's apology LGBTQ2+ Canadians in 2017. (David Tran/Adobe Stock.)

This Pride Month marks the third anniversary of the “Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act,” which allows people to clear their record of past offences involving consensual same-sex activity, convictions now considered unjust.

The act was a centrepiece of the federal government’s apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians in 2017. But figures obtained from the Parole Board of Canada via e-mail indicate that in the three years since the act came into effect, only 41 applications have been received and, of those, only nine people have successfully had their convictions cleared. 

The small handful of expungements falls far short of the act’s intent and calls into question the apology’s substance.

Problems with the legislation

In November 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons he was proud to introduce the Expungement Act as a remedy for past wrongs, including the government’s purge of queer people from the Canadian military and public service.

The prime minister also said the act was meant to address the ways “discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities was quickly codified in criminal offences like ‘buggery,’ ‘gross indecency,’ and bawdy house provisions.”

There were over 6,000 Canadians with convictions for “buggery” and “gross indecency” in RCMP databases as of 2016 - so why such a slow uptake of the expungement process?

Back when the bill was before parliamentary committee, I was part of a group of historians who pointed to serious problems that persist in the legislation, including onerous requirements for documentation, an unequal age of consent and an overly restrictive schedule of eligible offences. These help explain the low number of expungements to date.

In the archives

The act requires an applicant to obtain, at their own expense, a copy of the court and police records of their conviction, an often-daunting research process. The case of Everett Klippert, the trigger for Pierre Trudeau’s 1969 partial decriminalization of buggery and gross indecency, speaks to the challenges.

In 1965, during an investigation by police in the Northwest Territories into a supposed arson, Klippert was asked about and admitted to homosexual relations. Homosexuality was illegal in Canada at the time and Klippert found himself charged with gross indecency, convicted and declared a “dangerous sexual offender.” In 1967 he unsuccessfully appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Like many others with unjust same-sex convictions, Klippert died before benefiting from the Expungement Act. Brian Crane, the lawyer who represented Klippert during his unsuccessful appeal, applied last year on behalf of Klippert’s family for an expungement.

Crane points out in an interview with me, that because Klippert’s case went to the Supreme Court, it generated a thick case file, the contents of which were integral to the successful expungement application.

Most historical convictions for same-sex offences, however, have been dealt with by lower-level courts, the records for which, if they still exist, may or may not have made their way into a public archive. If they have, the backlog of unprocessed court records in many archives would make it very difficult to locate a record. If the documents cannot be found, applicants must produce a letter from the court explaining why.

Even in Klippert’s case, Crane says it took considerable effort, including a second lawyer assigned to the case, to research and assemble the required documentation and to advocate on Klippert’s behalf to the Parole Board.

The ever-shifting age of consent

Even after partial decriminalization in 1969, the age of consent for homosexual sex was set seven years higher than for heterosexuals – 21 instead of 14 (it was later lowered to 18 in 1988).

This was a lesson Cliff Everton told me he learned the hard way.

In 1979, Winnipeg police showed up at Everton’s door, claiming to be conducting a survey of the gay community. Everton, in his 20s, answered police questions, including intimate details about his relationship with his 18-year-old live-in boyfriend. Because the boyfriend was under 21, police charged Everton with buggery.

In the subsequent trial, the judge gave Everton a two-year suspended sentence and criticized the methods used by the police in their investigation.

Four decades after his ordeal, Everton began the expungement process by searching for his record in court archives, but nothing turned up. He eventually found a copy of the court decision in the University of Manitoba Archives and his expungement was granted.

Had the age of consent for homosexuals been made equal to heterosexuals, something that only happened two years ago, Everton would not have been charged with this offence in the first place.

When it comes to age, the Expungement Act perpetuates queer injustice. Although concerned with historical convictions, the Act uses the current age of consent of 16 established in 2008. This means that anyone whose same-sex offence occurred before 2008 will be held to a different standard than straight people for whom the age of consent before 2008 was 14.

Found-ins and vagrants

The act allows for the expungement of only a small fraction of offences used historically to police same-sex relations.

Toronto resident Ron Rosenes explained to me that he remembers the night in February of 1981 when police raided the city’s bathhouses and charged him with being a “found-in,” meaning he was arrested in a common bawdy house.

Rosenes applied for an expungement but can’t get one because the act does not include bawdy house offences — despite Trudeau’s explicit reference to them during his apology.

The act does allow for other offences deemed unjust or unconstitutional to be added. And yet, even though bawdy house laws were repealed in 2019, they still haven’t been added to the list of expungable offences. Neither has vagrancy, which has been used to police lesbians, sex workers and transgender people.

Historically, police have made liberal use of Criminal Code provisions to police same-sex relations and gender expression. The government needs to expand the list of expungable offences while easing the documentary requirements and fixing the unequal age of consent. Only then will Trudeau’s apology and the Expungement Act move beyond mere words to a more meaningful response to the historical and ongoing policing of queer people in Canada.

_______________________________________________________The Conversation

Steven Maynard, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of History, 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, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.


Subscribe to RSS - Arts and Science