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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.

 

Digital economy’s environmental footprint is threatening the planet

Circuit board
The world’s data centres produce about the same amount of carbon dioxide as global air travel. (Photo by Malachi Brooks / Unsplash)

Modern society has given significant attention to the promises of the digital economy over the past decade. But it has given little attention to its negative environmental footprint.

Our smartphones rely on rare earth metals, and cloud computing, data centres, artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies consume large amounts of electricity, often sourced from coal-fired power plants.

These are crucial blind spots we must address if we hope to capture the full potential of the digital economy. Without urgent system-wide actions, the digital economy and green economy will be incompatible with each other and could lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, accelerate climate change and pose great threats to humanity.

The digital economy lacks a universal definition, but it entails the economic activities that result from billions of everyday online connections among people, businesses, devices, data and processes, from online banking to car sharing to social media.

It’s often referred to as the knowledge economy, information society or the internet economy. It relies on data as its fuel and it is already benefiting society in many ways, such as with medical diagnoses.

Coal is still king for the internet

Rare earth elements form the backbone of our modern digital technologies, from tablets and smartphones to televisions and electric cars.

Preliminary data (p) on the global production of rare earth elements, 1988-2018.  (Natural Resources Canada, 2019)

China is the world’s largest producer of rare earth minerals, accounting for close to 70 per cent of global annual production. The large-scale production of rare earth elements in China has raised grave concerns about the release of heavy metals and radioactive materials into water bodies, soil and air near mine sites.

Research on the life-cycle assessments of rare earth minerals has found the production of these metals is far from environmentally sustainable, consuming large amounts of energy and generating radioactive emissions.

It’s sometimes said that the cloud (and the digital universe) begins with coal because digital traffic requires a vast and distributed physical infrastructure that consumes electricity.

Coal is one of the world’s largest sources of electricity and a key contributor to climate change. China and the United States are the top producers of coal.

Energy hogs

The world’s data centres — the storehouses for enormous quantities of information — consume about three per cent of the global electricity supply (more than the entire United Kingdom), and produce two per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions — roughly the same as global air travel.

A report by Greenpeace East Asia and the North China Electric Power University found that China’s data centres produced 99 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018, the equivalent of about 21 million cars driven for one year.

Satellite image of the Bayan Obo mine in China, taken on June 30, 2006. Vegetation appears in red, grassland is light brown, rocks are black and the water surfaces are green. (NASA Earth Observatory)

Greenhouse gases aren’t the only type of pollution to be concerned about. Electronic waste (e-waste), which is a byproduct of data centre activities, accounts for two per cent of solid waste and 70 per cent of toxic waste in the United States.

Globally, the world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of electronic e-waste a year, worth over US$62.5 billion and more than the GDP of most countries. Only 20 per cent of this e-waste is recycled.

When it comes to AI, recent research found that training a large AI model — feeding large amounts of data into the computer system and asking for predictions — can emit more than 284 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent — nearly five times the lifetime emissions of the average American car. The results of this work show that there is a growing problem with AI’s digital footprint.

Another area of concern is Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which rely on blockchain, a digital ledger with no central authority that continually records transactions among multiple computers. The amount of energy required to produce one dollar’s worth of Bitcoin is more than twice that required to mine the same value of copper, gold or platinum. A 2014 study found Bitcoin consumed as much energy as Ireland.

Blockchain technologies such as Bitcoin are energy inefficient and unless their potential applications are developed sustainably they will pose a serious threat to the environment.

Thinking differently

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The digital economy is accelerating faster than the actions being taken in the green economy movement to counter negative environmental impacts. To move forward fast, we must first start thinking differently.

The world and its intractable challenges are not linear — everything connects to everything else. We must raise awareness about these major blind spots, embrace systems leadership (leading across boundaries), boost circular economy ideas (decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources), leverage an eco-economics approach (an environmentally sustainable economy) and encourage policy-makers to explore the interrelationships between government-wide, system-wide and societal results.

We must also consider collective problem-solving by bringing together diverse perspectives from both the Global North and the Global South. We should take an inventory of the global and local damages caused by electronic devices, platforms and data systems, and frame issues about the digital economy and its environmental impact in broad societal terms.

Perhaps, the way to move the current discussion forward is to ask: What needs to be done to set the world on a sustainable human trajectory?

We must not only ask what the digital economy can do for us, but what we can collectively do for both the digital economy and the environment.

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Raynold Wonder Alorse is a PhD Candidate in International Relations (International Political Economy of Mining) at Queen's University.

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Wildlife exposed to more pollution than previously thought

Scientists have a new approach to understanding how pollution threatens species-at-risk in Canada.

Air, water, land and wildlife are tainted with thousands of chemicals that we cannot see, smell or touch — and may not be considered a threat to wildlife. (Photo by Andrew Ridley / Unsplash)

Sometimes, pollution is blatantly obvious: the iridescent slick of an oil spill, goopy algae washing up on a beach or black smoke belching from a smokestack. But, more often than not, pollution is more inconspicuous.

Our air, water, land and wildlife are tainted with thousands of chemicals that we cannot see, smell or touch. It may not come as a surprise then, that this unnoticed pollution isn’t considered the important threat to wildlife that it should be.

The planet has entered the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals, according to scientists, and Canada is not immune. More than half of Canada’s grassland birds and aerial insectivores have been lost in only 50 years, and between 1970 and 2014, the more than 500 mammal populations monitored in Canada shrank by an average of 43 per cent.

But the assessments that evaluate species to determine those that are at risk of extinction are underestimating the importance of pollution. The good news is that my colleagues and I think we have come up with a potential solution to this problem.

So many chemicals, so much pollution

The prothonotary warbler was one of the species that had a highly polluted habitat. (Judy Gallagher/flickr), CC BY

Globally, tens of thousands of chemicals exist in commerce today. The global chemical industry exceeded US$5 trillion in 2017, and is projected to double by 2030. These chemicals are used in all facets of our daily lives, from pharmaceuticals and fertilizers to pesticides and flame retardants.

Here in Canada, about five million tonnes of pollutants are produced each year by more than 7,000 industrial facilities. More than 150 billion litres of sewage is discharged yearly into Canadian waters.

Close to 700 pipeline spills over the past decade have led to the release of natural gas, crude oil and other substances into the air, soil and water. More than 23,000 federal contaminated sites — such as abandoned mines, airports, and military bases — are known or suspected to be contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals and other pollutants.

In a nutshell: The current process

Expert opinion is an essential and invaluable part of the assessment process to list wildlife species at risk for extinction in Canada.

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This process relies on scientists to estimate the proportion of a species’ population that may potentially be affected by a pollution source — this is called scope. A small team of scientists with expertise on the species considers scope along with the potential severity of the impact to determine the threat from pollution, along with 10 other potential threats.

However, the breadth of expertise of the team assessing a particular species may not necessarily cover all categories of threats, and based on our experience, ecotoxicologists — the scientists who study the fate and effects of environmental contaminants — are often underrepresented on these committees.

My colleagues and I suspected the committees might be underestimating pollution as a threat to species, and so we set out to find out if this was the case — or not.

What did we do and what did we find out?

We began by mapping all the point sources of pollution in Canada we could find from existing, publicly accessible databases. This included household sewage and urban waste water, industrial and military effluents, agricultural and forestry effluents, among others. We used the same pollution categories as COSEWIC, but we compiled a large database of geospatial information on all known pollution sources.

The phantom orchid is endemic to the Pacific Northwest. There are eight known populations in Canada.(Wikimedia/sramey)CC BY-SA

Next, we secured information on locations of almost 500 terrestrial and freshwater species — including everything from mosses and lichens to birds and mammals — from NatureServe, a non-profit organization that compiles data on species occurrence across North America.

We put these two sources of information — that is, pollution sources and species occurrence — together onto one map, so we could calculate the percentage of the species’ habitat that was covered by pollution. Then, we compared our calculations to those determined by expert opinion in the COSEWIC process.

We found two important things.

First, we found that, on average, more than half of every species’ habitat is polluted in some way. The species that had pollution in most, if not all, of the places they live include the prothonotary warbler, gypsy cuckoo bumblebee, copper redhorse fish, a freshwater mussel called the round hickorynut and several perennial plants, including the American columbo, green dragon and phantom orchid.

Second, we found a very weak relationship between the scope of pollution for a species that we calculated and the scope of pollution scored by expert opinion in the COSEWIC process.

In other words, scientists scoring threats were not particularly good at identifying sources of pollution that may be having negative effects on the species at risk they are trying to protect. Scientists sometimes identified exposure to pollution as negligible even for species whose entire ranges overlapped with pollution sources. This was especially true for vascular plants and terrestrial mammals.

We haven’t yet assessed whether the type of pollution found within the species’ habitat was a known threat to that species. But that is a logical next step for future research.

The path forward

Our work represents a major first step toward a more objective and rigorous assessment of the role of pollution in the decline of species-at-risk in Canada — one that we hope will be adopted.

More broadly, it points to the need for a more holistic approach to protecting wildlife species and their habitats.

The Trudeau government has pledged to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct by securing the necessary actions for their recovery, under its 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada. Yet the high prevalence of pollution we found in the homes of many wildlife species in Canada is a reminder that the government must take a much more proactive approach to the regulation of chemicals in the environment if we are to truly protect Canada’s biodiversity.

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Diane Orihel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and the School of Environmental Studies, and the Queen’s National Scholar in Aquatic Ecotoxicology.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Nobel Laureate earns international honour

Queen’s Professor Emeritus Arthur McDonald named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Queen’s University Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He joins only 15 other Queen’s academics, starting with Alfred Lothrop in 1915, who have earned this honour since the Association was formed in 1848.

Arthur McDonald has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (Photo by Bernard Clark / University Communications)

The world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society, the AAAS has members in more than 91 countries around the globe. This year 443 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Dr. McDonald is being honoured “For leading the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory scientific collaboration in the discovery of neutrino oscillations” and his role in establishing the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), now SNOLAB, located in Vale’s Creighton Mine near Sudbury.

“It is indeed an honour to receive this award for our scientific work from this respected organization,” Dr. McDonald says. “I hope that our success will inspire future scientists in understanding our world at a very fundamental level.”  

Joining Queen’s in 1989 as a professor in the physics department, Dr. McDonald worked as the director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), the world’s deepest underground laboratory. The SNO team discovered that neutrinos – sub-atomic particles considered the basic building blocks of the universe – change from one type to another on their journey to Earth from the sun. This finding confirmed that these fundamental particles have a finite mass and that the current models for energy generation in the sun are very accurate.

For his research efforts, Dr. McDonald was named the co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics for SNO’s research into neutrinos, one of the fundamental particles that make up the universe.  In 2016, he and the SNO Collaboration members were awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, an award that recognizes profound contributions to human knowledge.

After being awarded $63.7 million through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Queen’s University unveiled the new Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute in May 2018. The institute is a partnership of eight universities and five affiliated research organizations headquartered at Queen’s. In total, 100 people, including faculty, staff, and students across the country are members of the institute, all working to advance its research and outreach goals, carrying on the legacy of Dr. McDonald.

Nobel Journey
Interested in discovering more about Arthur B. McDonald’s path to the Nobel? Take the journey into the world of astroparticle physics by visiting Research @ Queen’s.

“Dr. McDonald has created a lasting legacy at Queen’s and inspired a generation of young scientists,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “He has also contributed significantly to our knowledge of the world around us and opened up exciting new possibilities in the study of astrophysics.”

New Fellows will be presented and an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin on Saturday, Feb. 15 during the AAAS annual meeting in Seattle. AAAS is the publisher of the high-impact journal, Science, established in 1848.

For more information about the AAAS Fellows, visit the website.

John Smol appointed president of the Academy of Science, Royal Society of Canada

Queen’s professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change John Smol (Biology) assumed the role of president of the Academy of Science, Royal Society of Canada, for a three-year term, on Sunday, Nov. 24. 

Dr. Smol was elected in 2018 (and has since been serving as president-elect) on a platform focused on concerns of a developing crisis in science literacy and communication and, by extension, how science is used to formulate evidence-based policy.

In his inaugural speech to the Academy on Saturday, he said: “It is easy not to engage… (but) I strongly believe this is our fight … If the RSC is not ready to lead the way, then who is?” 

Since 1882, the Royal Society of Canada, as the country’s national academy, has had a mission to serve Canada and Canadians, in part, by mobilizing Canada’s leading intellectuals in open discussion and debate, advancing knowledge, and addressing issues critical to Canadians. Queen’s has long been engaged with the RSC, and currently has 91 affiliated Fellows and Members of the College of New Scholars.

For more information on the Royal Society of Canada, please visit the website.

Showcasing stories of research and discovery

IGnite series logo

The successful IGnite series continues in its second year at Queen’s. Featuring topics from climate change to gender diversity, the events highlight the breadth of research happening at Queen’s to a public audience.

The series is a collaboration between the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute and Queen’s University Relations portfolio. Each event features two researchers from different fields discussing their projects and what ignites their curiosity, while also including interactive demonstrations and poster presentations from students and additional researchers.

The next installment of IGnite will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library’s Central Branch, and will feature Queen’s researchers Lindsay Morcom and Aaron Vincent.

Dr. Lindsay Morcom (Education) holds the Canada Research Chair in Language Revitalization and Decolonizing Education and will present “Niinwi-Giinwaa-Giinwi: Moving from We and You to Us” which focuses on ally-building in teacher education. Dr. Aaron Vincent (Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy) will ask “What is the flavour of a cosmic neutrino?” and take the audience on a journey to understand some of the most energetic particles ever seen in the universe.

At this event, attendees will also hear from two students working in the same areas as Dr. Morcom and Dr. Vincent. The talks will be followed by a reception featuring demonstrations from Queen’s Hyperloop Design Team, Global Physics Photowalk exhibit, Queen’s Art of Research photo exhibit, Queen’s Observatory, the Kingston club of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and dark matter projects affiliated with the McDonald Institute such as NEWS-G and the particle cloud chamber.

Doors open at the Central Branch (130 Johnson St.) at 6 pm with the reception ending at 9 pm.

Registration is free on Eventbrite.

For more information on the series, visit the McDonald Institute’s website

Highlighting interdisciplinary graduate research

[Keynote Speaker, Dr. Matt Hipsey presenting to Beaty Water Research Centre students and faculty]
[Keynote Speaker, Dr. Matt Hipsey of University of Western Australia, presents to Beaty Water Research Centre students and faculty. (Supplied photo)

The Beaty Water Research Centre recently hosted its second annual Research Symposium which provided students the opportunity to highlight their interdisciplinary graduate research and to build research collaborations.

This year’s event was attended by more than 100 participants and showcased 27 student research posters and four oral student research presentations from a variety of disciplines. The keynote speaker was Matt Hipsey, a professor from the University of Western Australia, who provided an international perspective to water research and innovation.

The Beaty Water Research Centre is an interdisciplinary research, education and outreach centre focused on water quality, access, sustainability, resources and governance. Researchers include faculty members from a variety of disciplines in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Faculty of Arts and Science, and Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC).

Creating LEADERS

Earlier in the year, the centre hosted the first LEaders in wAter anD watERshed Sustainability (LEADERS) Symposium. The LEADERS program is led by Stephen Brown, professor in the departments of Chemistry and Environmental Studies at Queen’s. The program is funded – $1.65 million over six years – through the NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) and was launched in 2018.

The first cohort of highly-qualified personnel to the program was recruited earlier this year through a competitive application process and in July these students participated in the first LEADERS Research Symposium and training workshop. This two-day event not only allowed students to present their research, it also provided them with the opportunity to receive feedback from leading researchers in disciplines such as engineering, environmental studies, chemistry, biology, policy studies, business, and public health, and provided a field method workshop at the Kennedy Station, a 200-acre scientific station located on the Salmon River Watershed near Tamworth.

[Beaty Water Research Centre symposium award winners]
A number of awards were handed out during the research symposium. Poster winners include Alexandria Cushing, first place  (third from left); Nada Sadeq, second place (not pictured); and Eden Hataley (left) and Katrina Paudyn, third place (second from left). Oral presentation winner David Patch is at right. (Supplied photo)

“The LEADERS symposium broadened my understanding of how my research project has broader implications across disciplines. The field methods workshop provided me with greater understanding of some of the challenges with field research which will help not only with my research, but also in my career post graduation,” says Madeleine Kelly a Master’s of Environmental Studies student in Dr. Brown’s research group at Queen’s.

The centre’s research symposiums and workshops allow students to broaden their understanding of their research through facilitated interdisciplinary networking sessions. 

“The Beaty Water Research Centre encourages collaborative interdisciplinary research, education and outreach, and the research symposium and the LEADERS program truly embodies our vision,” says Beaty Director Pascale Champagne, Canada Research Chair in Bioresource Engineering.

This year’s top poster awards went to Alexandria Cushing (first), Nada Sadeq (second), and Katrina Paudyn and Eden Hataley (third). The top oral presentation award went to David Patch.

Symposium sponsors included Kingston Economic Development Corporation, SHOWA, and Queen’s School of Graduate Studies. 

Gentrified real estate puts squeeze on indie bookstores

 

Aerial view in a bookstre
Independent bookstores are places where culture is collected and disseminated. The gentrification of city centres makes their existence increasingly precarious. (Photo by Kevin Langlais / Unsplash) 

The story is all too familiar – yet it should command more attention from Canadians.

Recently, the Globe and Mail reported the Ben McNally bookstore, located on Bay Street a stone’s throw from Union Station, would close in 2020. Two days later, Rupert McNally, the founder’s son, confirmed the news on the store’s website. It had been open since 2007.

The reason for the closure is simple: the store will be replaced by an alleyway linking Bay Street to the alley behind it. This redevelopment is part of a project that the owner calls (ironically?) “The Bay Street Village.”

It is therefore a stupid example of gentrification that pits a modest shopkeeper against a greedy landowner.

The increase in the value of Toronto’s real estate is not exactly new. But we can see here an example of a paradigm that is not reassuring for the future of large cities: the profitability of businesses devoted to cultural property is hardly compatible with the overbidding in real estate.

Montréal is facing the same problem, and it affects all independent businesses. In August, the City gave the Commission on Economic and Urban Development and Housing the mandate to conduct public consultations on vacant space on commercial arteries. Several of these areas have rates ranging from 10 to 15 per cent.

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A ‘hygienization’ of urban centres

It has already been demonstrated that gentrification is largely based on a city’s ability to offer an interesting and diversified cultural life. Some, such as Richard Florida, have linked this phenomenon to the emergence of a “creative class.”

Geographer Oli Mould, in his excellent book, Against Creativity, published in 2018, attacks the very notion of creativity. He criticizes Richard Florida with virulence by brilliantly showing how “creative” gentrification can also act as a form of hygienization in urban centres that, ironically, hinders spontaneous citizen initiatives. To put it bluntly, once gentrification is completed, culture is more or less eliminated from the central districts.

We are interested in the case of the closure of the Ben McNally bookstore because it shows the consequences of real estate speculation on the vitality of a city and, ultimately, on culture on a national scale. Very quickly, after the announcement by the owners of the bookstore, many players in the Canadian publishing ecosystem expressed serious concerns.

That is because independent bookshops, Ben McNally in particular, do not belong to a large group or chain and aren’t limited to the sole function of selling books. They are truly a place of cultural mediation.

The purpose of booksellers is to introduce readers to more complex works that have received less media attention. In Kingston, Ont., the city where I live, the Novel Idea bookstore is part of the community life. It organizes meetings with local authors and federates a community of readers. In Montréal, bookstores such as Le port de tête, L'Écume des jours and Gallimard also have a clearly established cultural function.

Independent bookstores are places where demanding literature or radical essays can find readers. In short, the exact opposite of a virtual library where algorithms – certainly effective – guide readers’ tastes. There is no doubt that these algorithms favour books that are already selling well, regardless of the careful work of smaller publishers.

For a ‘bibliodiversity’

Why defend the independence of Canadian literature? Out of pure nationalism? Not exactly.

Rather, it is a question of how the bookstore can, in an era of advanced globalization, be a place of defence for the diversity of cultures, what some have referred to as bibliodiversity: a diversity of languages (in the case of Canada, English, French and Aboriginal literatures), but also socially equitable modes of production and dissemination. In this case, it ensures that cultural property produced with our public funds finds takers.

To put it simply, a book in Canada will sometimes be subsidized at the time of writing through creation grants, in its production through operating grants to publishers, and then sold by Amazon or, in the worst case, unsold due to a lack of suitable distribution locations. The Canadian book system provides a relatively good framework for its authors and publishers to deal with the horrors of the free market, in a spirit of cultural and economic protectionism. But in the current configuration, booksellers seem to be abandoned.

Make the less visible visible

But it is not simply a matter of defending a blurred Canadian identity. It is also a matter of making a diversity of identities visible. Think of the Racines bookstore in Montréal North, which highlights the culture and history of racialized authors. Or, the bookstore L'Euguélionne, which, by settling in the gay village in Montréal and adopting a cooperative structure, has made it its mission to offer a wide selection of literature on women and LGBPT2QIA groups.

An independent bookstore is therefore a meeting place for people from the neighbourhood but also, possibly, for affinity groups. Bookstores can be, in some contexts, sources of resistance. André Schiffrin states in L'argent et les mots – the third volume of a trilogy essential to understanding the effects of cultural globalization – that the number of New York bookstores has been divided by 10 since the post-war period.

Capitalism has its own rhythm, but also its own specific geography. Urban space is profoundly transformed by financial capitalism. Urban spaces are becoming expensive, and the closure of cultural spaces is, metaphorically and by extension, a reduction in the space for ideas and expression.

Julien Lefort-Favreau is an assistant professor of French Studies at Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Queen’s graduate research goes global with Matariki 3 Minute Thesis

Nevena Martinović, a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at Queen’s, named runner-up in inaugural international competition.

[Matariki Network of Universities 3MT]
Graduate students Amanda Brissenden, third from left, and Nevena Martinović, fourth from left, recently competed in the Matariki Network’s inaugural 3 Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) with Martinović being named runner-up. Congratulating them are, from left, Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science; Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean School of Graduate Studies; and Sandra den Otter, Associate Vice-Principal (International and Research).

Nevena Martinović, a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at Queen’s, recently captured the runner-up award in the Matariki Network’s inaugural 3 Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) for her talk, “Acting your age – Gender & age on the 18th century stage.”

“This was a really great opportunity for me. I keep hearing about how not many students in the humanities take part, but it is a shame as in the English department narrative is so much a part of what we do,” Martinović says. “How to communicate our ideas and get that message across, the 3MT is an extraordinary opportunity to do just that.”

Preparing for the 3MT, Martinović explains, didn’t match how she usually writes but instead was similar to how she teaches.

“I find it easy to come up with contemporary examples for the students to understand and in less formal ways. The 3MT was an opportunity to practice that skill,” she says. “It was a surprise to be runner-up, but it speaks to how each presentation has great moments in them.”

Queen’s is no stranger to the 3MT having run its own event annually since 2012 and participating in the provincial competition since its inception in 2013, which the university hosted. When the Matariki Network asked its members if there was interest in a 3MT competition, it was an easy yes for Queen’s as it is an excellent opportunity to showcase graduate researchers to a broad international audience.

“Graduate research is integral to the research reputation of Queen’s,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean School of Graduate Studies. “It is critical that Queen’s provide ample opportunity for our graduate students to showcase their research in diverse ways to reach a broad audience. The School of Graduate Studies already gives students a chance to speak or write about their work on the radio (Grad Chat), within the community (The Conversation), and now internationally through our membership with the Matariki Network. Such events serve to create a community for our students to share their passion for research and, importantly, to motivate and learn from one another in a safe and encouraging space.”

The format of 3MT is often perceived as more suited to STEM and health sciences, making it a challenge to convince students in other areas, in particular the humanities and social sciences, to present their work. It is hoped that Martinović’s success encourages students from all disciplines to participate.

“I have watched many 3MT competitions over the years and I find it encouraging to see more students in the humanities and social sciences participating in these events in recent years,” says Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science. “Nevena winning the runner-up prize for both the Queen’s and Matariki competitions demonstrates the relevancy of research in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the creativity of our students in showcasing their research. It is important to remember that the primary purpose of the 3MT is to explain your research to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. This is an important skill for all disciplines as well as both academic and non-academic careers.”

As Queen’s is a member of the Matariki Network the new competition was an example of how the university collaborates with its partners.

“The Matariki 3MT is a welcome opportunity to strengthen our engagement with partner universities in the Matariki Network,” says Sandra den Otter, Associate Vice-Principal (International and Research). “Sharing graduate student research enlarges our appreciation of research conducted across the network and gives graduate students an invaluable opportunity to be an integral part of that research exchange.”

The Matariki 3MT complements other research collaborations between Queen’s University and its MNU partners, for example, research projects between Queen’s and Dartmouth in global health, the neural underpinnings of attention and distraction, and the salinity of aquatic ecosystems. The 3MT is just one of the many Matariki Network initiatives that Queen’s is engaged in. Earlier this year, Queen’s hosted the Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program, while the Bader International Study Centre sent students to the Global Citizenship Forum in Durham, UK.

Also competing were Amanda Brissenden, PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering and winner of the 2019 Queen’s 3MT for her presentation “Building Blocks for a Healthier Spine,” and Hannah Dies, PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering and Queen’s People’s Choice winner for “Building the future of sensors: One nanoparticle at a time.”

Matariki member institutions promote excellence in research-led education, in which students receive education from researchers at the cutting edge of their field. Each member institution conducts transformative research across a broad subject base in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. Each promotes a combination of academic learning and personal growth through extracurricular activities in diverse scholarly communities so as to develop rounded citizens of the world and leaders of the future. In addition to Queen’s, institutional membership includes: University of Western Australia (UWA); Tübingen University; Uppsala University; Dartmouth College; University of Otago; and Durham University. To learn more about the opportunities available visit the international page of the Queen’s website and the MNU website.

 

Research Feature: Dark Matter Detectives

Three Queen’s astroparticle physicists are leaders in the international hunt for the missing mass of the universe.

[Dark Matter Day Image]
Illustration by Zachary Kenny 

Not all detectives wear trench coats and carry a notepad and magnifying glass to solve mysteries.

Gilles Gerbier is using a helium-filled copper sphere, containing a tiny ball at the centre attached to a rod, to search for an elusive signal from an enigmatic, invisible particle that might rule the universe. 

RESEARCH AT QUEEN’S
Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? The new site highlights Queen’s research strengths, research outcomes and impact, leveraging a variety of different storytelling techniques. Visit: queensu.ca/research

Wolfgang Rau is using detectors made of germanium and silicon crystals, cooled close to absolute zero, to detect tiny increases in temperature that may indicate a rare, very weak interaction with this elusive particle, which has yet to be found.

Tony Noble is using the world’s most sophisticated bubble chamber, filled with a superheated, fluorocarbon fluid, to look for a bubble formation pattern that signifies fluorine interacting with this extraordinary particle – one that doesn’t shine like regular matter but is the most abundant form of matter in the universe.

These three Queen’s particle astrophysics researchers are detectives and leaders in the international hunt for dark matter, which makes up about 85 per cent of matter in the universe, although no one knows what dark matter particles look like or their physical properties. Gerbier, Rau and Noble are each directing or playing key roles in large collaborative teams of Canadian and international researchers conducting three competing, but complementary experiments that use different tools to seek, find and ultimately understand the nature of dark matter.

Continue the article on the research website.

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