Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Arts and Science

SNOLAB director reappointed to second term

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

Nigel Smith (Physics) has been reappointed to a second term as the director of SNOLAB, the deep underground science laboratory specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics.

The SNOLAB facility is an expansion of the successful Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment.

The facility is operated by the SNOLAB Institute whose member institutions are Queen’s University, Carleton University, Laurentian University, University of Alberta and Université de Montréal. It is located two km below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ont.

Nigel Smith (Physics) has been reappointed as director of SNOLAB for a second term.

 First appointed in 2009, Dr. Smith says that the second term will allow him to see some results from the major projects currently underway.

“The detectors that we are building take many years to design, construct and operate so a five-year term is enough to get things moving but not really enough to deliver the science from these large-scale experiments,” says Dr. Smith. “What I am looking forward to in the second term is having these projects, which we are now constructing, take data and complete the analysis to get the science out."

“It’s the science that drives everybody here. It’s the rationale for operating this facility,” he adds.

According to Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), Dr. Smith has definitely earned his reappointment.

“SNOLAB is internationally-renowned for its research and discoveries, and directing such a sophisticated and complex research site takes a great level of expertise,” he says. “Nigel has done an outstanding job in his role as director of SNOLAB, and I look forward to seeing its accomplishments continue in Nigel’s second term.”

Under his leadership, SNOLAB has seen an increase in partnerships with other innovation centres across the country while also expanding the areas of study.

“We actually have quite a broad program of science here so the large-scale experiments that we’re building at the moment are augmented by smaller-scale projects, some of which have a sufficiently short life-cycle that we have seen results over the last five years,” says Dr. Smith.

During the next term his aim is to make SNOLAB the “partner of choice” for underground physics projects, providing world-class infrastructure and delivering world-leading science.

Legacy of trailblazing professor lives on in bursary

Jeanna Faul, Office of Advancement, and Teresa Alm, Associate University Registrar, accept a cheque for $50,000 from Marilyn Wilson and Danna Dobson, representatives of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Kingston Club. Supplied photo

This article is printed in the July edition of the Gazette, which is now available. You can get your copy at newsstands around campus.

By Alec Ross

Not many people know this, but a direct connection exists between a certain asteroid, a crater on Venus and Queen’s University. That connection is Dr. Allie Vibert Douglas, one of the world’s first female astrophysicists and Queen’s Dean of Women for 20 years.

Vibert Douglas died in 1988 at the age of 93. A year later, to acknowledge her many contributions to science and Queen’s, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Kingston Club established a scholarship in her name. Since then, through a variety of activities the club’s membership has worked steadily to raise funds for an endowment.

That persistence came to fruition on May 14, when at their annual dinner the club members presented the hard-earned cheque that finally pushed them past their $50,000 target.

The endowment will support the CFUW Kingston Club A. Vibert Douglas Award, which was created in memory of Vibert Douglas and Caroline Mitchell, an outstanding Kingston businesswoman who was one Ontario’s top amateur golfers and a longtime member of the CFUW Kingston Club. Mitchell died in 1978.

The original Vibert Douglas scholarship and a bursary honoring Mitchell existed as separate awards given out by the Office of the University Registrar (Student Awards) until July 2011, when they were combined in a single award.

Marilyn Wilson, chair of the scholarship trust for the Kingston club, says creating the endowment was a practical decision. The club's 50-odd members had been supporting the two awards through their own fundraising efforts, but as many club members were getting older, Wilson says, “We felt we should make a permanent mark and have a permanent endowment.”

Born in Montreal in 1894 and orphaned while young, Allie Vibert and her brother George were raised by their maternal grandmother, whose surname, Douglas, Allie would later adopt. When George enlisted in the army in 1914 the family moved to England. During the First World War, Allie served as a statistician at the British War Office, and for her work she was named a Member of the British Empire – at age 23. She spent her university years at McGill and Cambridge, where she studied under the renowned astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington. After the war she returned to McGill, earned her PhD in 1926 and taught at university for 13 years. She accepted a position as Queen’s Dean of Women in 1939 and remained in the post until 1959, acting as a strong advocate and role model for acceptance of women in professional courses. After her retirement she taught astronomy for six more years in the physics department.

In 1947 Vibert Douglas was elected president of the International Federation of University Women, the first and only Canadian to occupy the post. She was elected president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada that same year – becoming its first female president – and helped to establish the society’s Kingston chapter.

The International Astronomical Union named an asteroid and a Venusian crater after Vibert Douglas in 1988.

The CFUW Kingston Club A. Vibert Douglas Award is given to a Bachelor of Science student who demonstrates both financial need and academic achievement. First preference is given to students in third or fourth year of a physics program, and second preference is given to female students.


Three economists recognized by national journals

Dunning Hall houses the Department of Economics at Queen's.

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

Three members of the Queen’s Department of Economics have been selected for prestigious best article awards by Canadian Public Policy and the Canadian Journal of Economics.

Graduate student Michael Kottelenberg and Professor Steven Lehrer were selected for the John Vanderkamp Prize for the best article in Canadian Public Policy.

Mr. Kottelenberg and Dr. Lehrer won the prize for their article “New Evidence on the Impacts of Access to and Attending Universal Child-Care in Canada.”

“Steven and I were both excited to receive recognition for our contribution to the debate surrounding the provision of universal child care. This paper is one of a series of papers exploring the channels through which large scale subsidization of child care affects developmental outcomes in children,” says Mr. Kottelenberg. “We are hopeful that our work will provide helpful insight into an important policy debate occurring both in Canada and elsewhere in the world.”

Ian Keay, associate professor and chair of undergraduate studies in the economics department, received the Harry Johnson Prize for the best article in the Canadian Journal of Economics. His paper was titled “Trade policy and industrial development: iron and steel in a small open economy.”

The trio received their awards at the 48th annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association (CEA), held recently at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Painting under pressure

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

Twelve painters will enter the studio, but only one will emerge as Kingston’s champion.

The regional final of Art Battle, a live painting competition that sees artists vie for audience votes, will take place on July 5. The previous four Art Battle competitions have featured Queen’s students and staff, and this year is no different.

Ania Ochocinski poses with her winning painting at February's Art Battle. (Photo Supplied) 

Ania Ochocinski (ConEd’14), a staff member at the Queen’s Learning Commons, is one of 12 finalists competing on Saturday. She advanced to the regional round after winning the monthly competition in February.

Just as with other Art Battles, Ms. Ochocinski was given brushes, acrylic paint and 20 minutes to create a masterpiece. With her canvas set among a circle of others, she painted as the audience slowly swirled around the easels.

“It’s exciting for the audience to see the creative process as it happens because they’re the ones voting — they have the final say,” she says. “Art Battle is part performance, part finished product, so their perception can be impacted by how you paint.”

The performance aspect is what makes live painting so interesting for Ms. Ochocinski. “There’s an adrenaline rush to it, which makes for a much different experience than painting alone,” she says. “Unlike a medium like singing where you can stand in front of a crowd and really pour your heart out, paintings are typically considered as a static, finished product. Art Battle lets you see the passion and the process behind the piece. You get to put your energy on display.”

While relatively new to Kingston, Art Battle was started in Toronto five years ago. Following its success there, it spread out to other cities, reaching the West Coast in 2012.

The winner of Saturday’s competition will get to compete at the national level later this month at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto against 20 other artists from across the country. A share of Art Battle’s proceeds go to the Sick Kids Foundation.

More information about this Saturday’s show can be found on the Art Battle Kingston website.

Alumnus to lead Canadian research organization

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Queen’s alumnus Mario Pinto has been named the new president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

“I really wanted to do something for Canada. I want Canada to occupy a more prominent place on the world research stage,” says Dr. Pinto (Artsci’75, PhD’80).

Mario Pinto is the new head of NSERC.

A Toronto native, Dr. Pinto has strong ties to Kingston. Along with earning two degrees at Queen’s, he met his wife Linda (Artsci’75, MSc’78) while registering at the Jock Harty Arena in 1971 and, as a graduate student, helped establish the Grad Club as a meeting and socialization space.

After receiving his PhD, Dr. Pinto did his postdoctoral work at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France and the National Research Council Canada in Ottawa before moving to Simon Fraser University (SFU) in 1983. He started his academic career as an assistant professor then became the Chair of Chemistry for five years before becoming Vice-President, Research, a position he held for 10 years.

With a busy career at SFU, Dr. Pinto says the decision to become the NSERC president wasn’t taken lightly. The presidency is a five-year term and Dr. Pinto has goals and objectives he wants to reach during that time.

“I want to ensure that our researchers are better supported to make a greater scholarly impact. It’s time to stand back and ask how we can be more efficient and more effective in supporting the entire ecosystem from ideas to innovation.”

“On behalf of everyone here at Queen’s, I’d like to congratulate Dr. Pinto on his new role with NSERC,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “The council will surely benefit from his leadership and expertise in research administration, and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity.”

The appointment comes into effect this fall.

Funding supports research and innovation

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Fifty-eight Queen’s researchers have been awarded a total of $11.7 million in research grants from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for 2014. The funding will help advance research projects in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Support from NSERC and other partners is vital to facilitating new discoveries and innovations at Queen’s,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “In a competitive funding environment, the fact that so many of our faculty members, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers have received these awards is a testament to the high quality of research happening on campus.”

Fifty-eight Queen's researchers have earned NSERC funding.

Receiving a sizeable portion of the funding is Mark Boulay (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) who is being granted $836,000 over two years for his dark matter search experiment located underground at the SNOLAB in Sudbury.

Along with the research funding announcements, Queen’s researchers Christopher Eckert (Biology), Noel James (Geological Sciences), Kurtis Kyser (Geological Sciences), Yan-Fei Liu (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Roel Vertegaal (School of Computing) were selected for a Discovery Accelerator Supplement designed to provide additional resources to accelerate progress and maximize the impact of superior research programs.

The supplements are valued at $120,000 over three years.

These grants are awarded to researchers whose projects explore high-risk, novel or potentially transformative lines of inquiry, and are likely to contribute to groundbreaking advances.

The final NSERC announcement is the Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral along with the Postdoctoral Fellowships. The Postdoctoral Fellowships Program provides support to a core of the most promising researchers at a pivotal time in their careers while the scholarships provide funding to the researchers of tomorrow. Twenty-three of these were awarded to Queen’s for projects in a variety of disciplines.

Visit the NSERC website for more information.

High demand for Queen's programs outpaces Ontario university trend

By Communications Staff,

The number of students choosing Queen’s University is outpacing the provincial trend, reflecting strong demand for Queen’s undergraduate education and quality programs.

According to data recently released by the Ontario University Application Centre, the number of confirmations—students who have accepted Queen’s offer of admission—is up 11 per cent for the 2014 academic year. That compares to an overall decline of 1.3 per cent across Ontario universities. Queen’s continues to have one of Canada’s highest entering averages at 88.4 per cent.

“Top students choose Queen’s not only because of its world-class academic programs, but also because we offer a welcoming community where faculty and staff do everything they can to ensure our students succeed,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Thanks are due to our recruitment staff, faculty and alumni who talked to prospective students about our outstanding living and learning environment and the benefits of a Queen’s education.”

Queen’s is highly regarded for its student learning experience, performing very well in the National Survey of Student Engagement’s (NSSE) key benchmarks, including enriching educational experience and level of academic challenge. 86 per cent of senior-year Queen’s students surveyed by NSSE report their entire educational experience as “excellent” or “good”, which puts Queen’s among the top institutions in Ontario.

“Queen’s offers a unique value proposition to prospective students,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “We have all of the benefits of a mid-sized, residential university focused on an exceptional undergraduate education, within the context of a research-intensive institution where innovation happens on a daily basis.”

The growing interest in Queen’s extends beyond Canada’s borders, with international students expected to make up 6.3 per cent of the 2014 incoming class.

He's a man in motion

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Twenty years of research into how the human brain processes visual information has earned Nikolaus Troje (Psychology, Biology, School of Computing) the Humboldt Research Award, an honour established by the German government to recognize a lifetime of achievement.

 “I feel very honoured having received a lifetime recognition award without having a single grey hair yet,” says Dr. Troje, who was nominated for the award by colleague Karl Gegenfurtner from the University of Giessen.

Using the sensors shown below, Nikolaus Troje uses motion capture technology to study how people move.

Dr. Troje operates the Biomotion Lab at Queen’s, studying visual perception and cognition using motion capture technology. The goal of his research is to answer questions concerning social recognition including processing visual information contained in the way people walk and move, specifically the subtle nuances that signal emotions and personality.

Dr. Troje started his career working on visual systems of insects, and later on face recognition in humans. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, he met Queen’s professor Barrie Frost during a conference in Germany who invited him to come to Queen’s and study visual recognition in pigeons. He spent two years in Kingston before moving back to Germany where he founded the Biomotion Lab at Ruhr University. In 2003, Dr. Troje accepted the position of Canada Research Chair in Vision and Behavioural Sciences at Queen’s where he continues his research today.

The motion sensors used in his research.

“Understanding how our visual system obtains information about other people from the way they move is just one example of the amazing ability of our perceptual systems to turn neuronal activity in response to external energies into the objects and events that form our perception of the outside world,” he says.

Dr. Troje is now preparing for a one year sabbatical in Germany where he will spend time at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen and at the JustusLiebig University in Giessen.

New Queen's National Scholars announced

By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

Heather Aldersey and Norman Vorano have been appointed as the newest Queen’s National Scholars (QNS).

“The QNS program is a signature piece in the university’s commitment to ongoing faculty renewal, designed to attract early- or mid-career faculty who demonstrate exceptional promise as researchers and teachers,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “Both Drs. Aldersey and Vorano are exceptional individuals who will bring compelling, interdisciplinary research programs to Queen’s in support of two growing fields.”

Heather Aldersey, Queen's National Scholar in international community-based rehabilitation. (Photo supplied)

Dr. Aldersey has been appointed Queen’s National Scholar in international community-based rehabilitation and will join the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. She brings significant international research and field experience, having undertaken extensive study of disability and support in African contexts. She holds an interdisciplinary PhD from the University of Kansas and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at McGill’s Douglas Mental Health University Institute, where she is studying the experience of recovery from severe mental illness among Montreal’s culturally diverse populations.

Dr. Vorano has been appointed Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous visual and material cultures of the Americas and will join both the Department of Art and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. He earned a PhD from the University of Rochester’s program in visual and cultural studies and brings an impressive track record of fieldwork, research, teaching and curatorial work with a focus on Inuit art. He is currently curator of contemporary Inuit art at the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization) where he has led major research projects resulting in scholarly publications, exhibits and public programing.

Norman Vorano, Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous visual and material cultures of the Americas. (Photo supplied)

The QNS program was first established in 1985, with the objective to “enrich teaching and research in newly developing fields of knowledge as well as traditional disciplines.” Since then, over 100 QNS appointments have been made in a wide variety of disciplines, and the appellation of Queen’s National Scholar has become synonymous with academic excellence.

The 2014-15 round of the QNS program is now open for initial expressions of interest, which can be submitted by academic units no later than Nov. 3. More information on making submissions, including the expression of interest template, is available on the Office of the Provost’s website.

Doors open QUBS

By Communications Staff

The Queen’s University Biological Station invited the Queen’s and local community to tour some of its facilities during its annual open house on June 22. The public had the chance to view displays of ongoing research projects and get up close and personal with several animal species including turtles, snakes and frogs. As a way of recognizing their generosity, Queen’s Office of Advancement invited Campus Community Appeal donors to enjoy a private lunch and lecture by QUBS Director Stephen Lougheed before the open house.

QUBS, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year, is centred on the shores of Lake Opinicon approximately 50 km north of Kingston. The facility spans more than 3,200 hectares with habitats ranging from abandoned farmland to mature second-growth forest. QUBS provides opportunities for teaching and research in biology and related sciences. It also plays an active stewardship role, using best management practices to conserve local terrestrial and aquatic environments and biodiversity in the area.


Subscribe to RSS - Arts and Science