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Flags lowered for professor emeritus, former staff member

By Communications Staff

Flags on campus remain lowered for Professor Emeritus Norman Brown and former staff member Carmel Violette.

Professor Emeritus Norman Brown

Professor Brown joined Queen’s Department of Philosophy in 1965. He taught logic and classical and medieval philosophy until his retirement in 1987. Professor Brown was chair of Queen’s faculty board in the 1970s.

Professor Brown’s family will receive friends at the Robert J. Reid and Sons Funeral Home (309 Johnson St.) on Thursday, April 24, 5-8 pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral, (279 Johnson Street) on Friday, April 25, at 10 am. Reception will follow at Robert J. Reid and Sons. Rite of Committal with prayers will take place at 1 pm at St. Mary’s Cemetery (718 Division St.). The giving of flowers is not discouraged, but those who prefer to make a donation may do so to the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

Former staff member Carmel Violette

Mr. Violette retired from Queen’s in 2000. Mr. Violette’s family will receive friends at the Gordon F. Tompkins Funeral Home Centre Chapel (49 Colborne St.) on Wednesday, April 23, from 2-4 pm and 7- 9 pm. Mass of Christian Burial will take place in Our Mother of Sorrows Chapel at Providence Manor (275 Sydenham St.) on Thursday, April 24 at 11 am. Rite of Committal Prayers will occur at Glenhaven Memorial Gardens in Glenburnie. Those who wish can make an expression of sympathy memorial donation to the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation--Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario.

Fine Arts students share work at exhibition

By Hollie Knapp-Fisher, Communications Intern

The largest ever graduating class from the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program is hosting its 30th annual year-end exhibition. Where the Line is Drawn will feature 31 students in a number of different areas of the visual arts that the organizers hope will both impress and inspire.

“In their fourth year the students are in a supervised study where they are supported and guided by staff,” says BFA Program Director Kathleen Sellars. “This artistic freedom allows our students to demonstrate their diversity and broad range of interests. Paintings, sculptures and interactive installations will all be present at the exhibition.”

The exhibition allows Queen’s professors to offer their feedback to the students. And for the first time, professional artists from outside of the department -- Dan Hughes, Don Maynard and Milly Ristvedt --will critique the works. This opportunity allows students to get a different perspective on their work and adds to the experiential learning aspect of the entire event.

Otis Tamasauskas, a professor in the BFA program, says the works in the exhibition has the potential to appeal to people who dismiss art as something they don’t understand.

“This year, in particular, we have a wide variety of different pieces to experience, explore and discover,” says Professor Tamasauskas. “The BFA program at Queen’s is flourishing and the creative spirit of our students will allow for everyone to experience some of what the visual arts can offer.”

Hosting an exhibition of this magnitude required a lot of time and effort on behalf of the students. This year through fundraising efforts the class raised more than $10,000. This money goes towards hosting the event, printing and producing a catalog of the artists and their work as well as the beautiful closing reception.

“Fundraising and preparing for this has been a year-long process,” says Rachael Dodgson (Artsci’14), co-chair of the planning committee. “It has been a lot of work but I’m very excited to present my work alongside all the amazing people I have spent the last four years with.”

The exhibition in Ontario Hall will open April 21 and close on April 26. It will be open from 9 am until 4 pm daily, with tours provided. The closing reception on Saturday will be held between 7-10 pm. The free exhibition is open to the public.

National Scholars will enrich teaching and research

By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

An expert in chemical biology, an accomplished poet and scholar, and a promising historian will join Queen’s faculty as the first winners of the reinstated Queen’s National Scholar (QNS) program. Professors Avena Ross, Armand Ruffo, and Awet Weldemichael will take up their positions at Queen’s this summer.

“The exceptional faculty who teach, mentor and inspire our students are the foundation of the learning experience at Queen’s. The QNS program aims to bring emerging leaders to Queen’s in order to strengthen and renew that foundation,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Each of these remarkable individuals has demonstrated the capacity for innovative research and the potential to be transformative teachers, and I am delighted they have chosen to continue their careers at Queen’s.”

The appointments come after a competitive review process for QNS positions and a broad search for exceptional candidates. While only two QNS positions would normally be awarded in each annual competition cycle, the QNS advisory committee was impressed by the high quality of these submissions and felt that all three should be selected.

Avena Ross, Queen’s National Scholar in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, is a promising researcher in the area of peptide biosynthesis. She received her PhD at the University of Alberta and comes to Queen’s from the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Armand Garnet Ruffo, Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous literatures and languages, is a poet, playwright, writer and scholar of international stature. Professor Ruffo is the author of an award winning poetry collection, a play and a feature film, as well as other works of creative non-fiction and scholarly publications in the area of Aboriginal cultures and literatures. He comes to Queen’s from Carleton University.

Awet Weldemichael, Queen’s National Scholar in African history, was born in the east African country of Eritrea and grew up in a Sudanese refugee camp. He received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and is the author of the acclaimed book Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared. He comes to Queen’s from the University of Kentucky.

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. Recently reinstated, the program will fund 10 new QNS positions when fully implemented, providing each with $100,000 annually for five years.

In addition to these three winners from the first year of the program, four QNS proposals from the program’s second year have advanced to the second stage.

More about the Queen’s National Scholar program

Funding strengthens leading-edge research

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Four Queen’s researchers whose projects range from endometrial health to solar energy to animal biology have received over $500,000 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The fund helps institutions attract and retain Canada’s top researchers.

Anne Croy.

“The CFI, through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund, has provided us with an excellent mechanism for attracting and retaining top-flight researchers,” says Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss. “As a result of this competition, four Queen’s researchers will receive the funding required to develop their innovative infrastructure to enrich the Queen’s research environment and advance leading-edge research.”

The following researchers have received funding:

Praveen Jain (Electrical and Computer Engineering), $400,000 – Dr. Jain’s research focuses on creating a smart microgrid, a green energy generating unit that is the future of the entire power grid network. The funding will allow Dr. Jain to build an experimental setup that accurately depicts smart microgrid dynamics, technical issues and behaviour.

Anne Croy and Chandrakant Tayade (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), $100,000 – The goals of this research project are to improve the basic understanding of the dynamic biology of the reproductive-aged uterus and apply this information to the protection and health of women and their offspring. The funding will allow the researchers to develop a new core lab.

Frances Bonier (Biology), $80,000 – With an eye on conservation, Dr. Bonier is working to understand the influence of environmental challenges on traits related to survival and reproduction in the songbird population. The funding will be used to purchase high-tech field, lab and computing equipment that will assist in her field studies.

For more information visit the John R. Evans Leader Fund website.

Nobody better than Best in 3MT competition

By Hollie Knapp-Fisher, Communications Intern

Mike Best, a PhD student in clinical psychology, will represent Queen’s at the Ontario 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Ten Queen’s graduate students advanced to the final of the competition that required them to clearly explain their research to a panel of non-expert judges in three minutes and using only one slide. Mr. Best emerged victorious for his succinct yet entertaining presentation of his research on the biases toward schizophrenia.

“I wasn’t expecting such a large audience,” says Mr. Best, “but it’s these types of platforms that allow students like me to share their research. It is needed in the post-graduate community.”

Mr. Best said the competition taught him to tell a story with his data and forced him to engage and interact with his audience in order to get the message across. He is looking forward to not only representing Queen’s at the provincial 3MT but also learning about the research happening at other universities.

With topics ranging from the mating habits of female frogs to the state of the performing arts in Ontario public schools, the competition was stiff. All of the competitors completed their presentation in the allotted time and represented their research effectively, which made the final decision very difficult for the judges.

“What a great opportunity to be able to see the diversity of research taking place at Queen’s,” says 3MT judge Peter Milliken (Arts’68), former member of Parliament and Speaker of the House. “All of the presenters succeeded today – they did an excellent job.”

The judges named Mary Chaktsiris, a PhD candidate in the Department of History, the runner-up for her presentation of her First World War research. Sima Zakani, a PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, earned the People’s Choice Award as voted by the audience members for her presentation on engineered hips.

The Ontario 3MT competition will take place at McMaster University on April 24.

If you missed listening to our finalists, their videos will be posted on the Queen’s 3MT website after the Ontario 3MT competition is completed.


Event shines spotlight on Royal Society scholars

The Royal Society Seminar is being held Saturday, April 12 at the University Club, 168 Stuart Street starting at 10 am.

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Four Queen’s professors recently elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) will soon have the chance to share their research with RSC fellows from across the country. Gauvin Bailey (Art History), Praveen Jain (Computer and Electrical Engineering), Carlos Prado (Philosophy) and David Lillicrap (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) were among seven Queen’s professors named fellows of the RSC last November.

“The Royal Society of Canada is important to me as someone who has just moved back to Canada after living abroad for most of my adult life because it is a way for me to meet colleagues across Canada who are doing amazing things,” says Dr. Bailey. “My appointment as fellow also comes at an opportune time for my own research as I am turning my attention toward Canadian patrimony in a book I am writing on the art and architecture of the French Atlantic Empire--it will include a great deal of material about pre-Conquest Quebec and the French missions to the Great Lakes peoples.”

(L to R) Dr. Graham Bell, President of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. David Lillicrap, Principal Daniel Woolf, Dr. Gauvin Bailey, Dr. Carlos Prado, and Dr. John Meisel, Past President of the RSC gathered in early February at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

The topics for the day include:

Dr. Bailey – The Art and Architecture of a Paper Empire: Utopianism and Intransigence in the French Atlantic World

Dr. Jain – Power Electronics for a Sustainable Society

Dr. Prado – Personalizing Religious Faith

Dr. Lillicrap – Hemophilia: A Disease of Royals and Dogs.

“For an academic to receive fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada is a heart-warming accolade and somehow always comes as a delightful, unexpected surprise,” says Pierre Du Prey, co-chair of the event and a professor in the Department of Art History.

The Royal Society of Canada was established by an Act of Parliament in 1882 as Canada’s national academy. The organization helps promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment, and advises governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians on matters of public interest.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is being held Saturday, April 12 at the University Club (168 Stuart St.) starting at 10 am.

Queen’s is also scheduled to host the Royal Society of Canada’s annual general meeting in 2016.

Quebec politics: What's next?

Andre Juneau is a fellow at the Queen's Institute of Intergovernmental Relations.

When Quebec Premier Pauline Marois called for a provincial election in March, the Parti Québécois (PQ) expected to gain a majority government and set the stage for a new referendum on independence from Canada.
Following the victory of the Quebec Liberal Party, Quebec can expect political stability, fewer social tensions and reduced talk of separation, says Andrew Juneau, a fellow at the Queen’s Institute of Intergovernmental Relations.
In an email exchange with Rosie Hales, Communications Officer, Mr. Juneau looks to the future of Quebec politics and how the PQ will recover.

Now that the elections are over, what does the Liberal victory mean for Quebec?

The election of a Liberal majority hopefully means political stability for a few years, and fewer social tensions if Premier elect Couillard is able to deliver on his promise to work collaboratively with the other parties. It means talk of separation will be on the backburner. It means a more balanced approach to economic growth, although results here are another matter.

What do you think is the biggest challenge ahead for the Quebec Liberals?

The biggest challenge will be to deliver on their economic agenda while keeping in mind that the debt load is still high. The Liberals need to understand that no province, or even a country like Canada for that matter, can control all the forces that affect the international economy.

After losing the election, what are the next steps for the PQ?

The PQ, when it recovers from the shock of April 8, will have an internal debate about where to go from their loss and will have to figure out how that plays out in a leadership race. The debate is likely to be brutal with some arguing that in order to achieve the ultimate purpose of the PQ, they actually have to promote it vigorously. Some PQ members may indicate that they need to read the writing on the wall and accept that sovereignty is not in the cards for now. If this mentality is accepted, then what kind of party does the PQ become? A social-democratic one pushing for as much autonomy as possible? That’s not a scenario Pierre Karl Péladeau, a rising star within the party, is likely to accept.

Some PQ members may indicate that they need to read the writing on the wall and accept that sovereignty is not in the cards for now. If this mentality is accepted, then what kind of party does the PQ become?

Some Liberals have suggested that this week’s election signals a generational change in Quebec, where younger voters focus on economic matters over the sovereigntist aspiration of the older generation. Do you think this is true? What does this change in leadership signal about Quebec’s voters?

Polls do suggest that younger voters are less likely to support sovereignty than older voters. My interpretation is that the Charter of the French Language, or Law 101, has a lot to with this. Members of older generations were angered by the dominance of English in Montreal in particular. This is no longer a major issue. Young people in Quebec are much more interested in seeing the world and working abroad than before. In many ways, this is not such a big change in leadership since the Liberals have been in office since 2003 with an 18-month break. I also think that Quebec voters in general have pretty much the same concerns as other Canadians: health, education and the economy.

Quebecers are enduring a 7.6 per cent unemployment rate, and public finances have a projected deficit of $2.5 billion this year. What part can the Liberals play in helping Quebec’s economy recover?

First, a number of the new Liberal members of the National Assembly have strong economic policy credentials with an interesting mix of public and private sector experience. Second, the government will be able to focus on economic issues without being distracted by other goals (other than getting re-elected, of course). Business leaders are looking forward to working with the new government. The union movement is less enthusiastic and there will have to be major efforts to create the positive social atmosphere that is so important to economic progress. 

Research reveals enzyme's helpful secrets

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Findings from an international study led by two Queen’s researchers could lead to safer food sources and provide better protection for crops.

Research emerging from the labs of David Zechel (Chemistry) and Zongchao Jia (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has revealed the secrets of a new enzyme, PhnZ, that can degrade phosphonates, a class of compounds that includes various herbicides. This finding may lead to a new way to remove these compounds from the environment.

Zongchao Jia

“Our research has revealed the molecular details behind the powerful reaction catalyzed by PhnZ. This sets the stage to engineer PhnZ to destroy compounds of concern, including herbicides on our major crops,” says Dr. Zechel.

Genetically modified plants currently resist herbicides used to control insects and weeds. With the discovery of PhnZ, the enzyme could be added to crops that, when sprayed with herbicides, would neutralize the herbicide, making it safe for human consumption.

The enzyme PhnZ was originally discovered a few years ago by a research team from MIT.

“Through extensive study and research, we have gained a good understanding of how this enzyme really works,” says Dr. Jia.

David Zechel

The group’s research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research; it was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Student storytellers enjoy success

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Showcasing innovative research from Queen’s University has earned three students an opportunity to showcase their storytelling talents for a national audience.

Political Studies students Justin Mathews and Nikolas Lopez as well as Cultural Studies PhD candidate Jessica Jacobson-Konefall ranked among the top 25 participants in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s “Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers” student challenge.

Mr. Mathews (Artsci’14) and Mr. Lopez (Artsci’14) were the first undergraduate students ever to have placed in the top 25. They chose to showcase the research of Queen’s professor Heather Bastedo, Royce Koop (University of Manitoba) and Kelly Blidook (Memorial University). The SSHRC-funded research studies the lives of members of Parliament and how they work with and represent their constituents. The unique video features a wide range of Queen’s students talking about the research in small, scripted clips.

“We saw an opportunity to focus on that research team because there has been little research done in the area of Canadian municipal politicians,” says Mr. Mathews. “We wrote a speech about the research and created a video with students speaking about the research and why the research matters.”

The duo’s story was selected because it fit the criteria of explaining where the research is taking Canada, what the research story is, and how it impacts Canadians.

Ms. Jacobson-Konefall’s video showcases her research at Urban Shaman: Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery in Winnipeg.  Her work, funded by a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, studies Indigenous new media art and the ways in which these artworks shape and defy perceptions of Canadian cities.

“In this video, I wanted to explain how art historical research can contribute to urgent discourses of Indigenous social justice, and advance strategies of productive Indigenous-settler collaboration,” she says.

The three students have qualified for the next competition at SSHRC’s 2014 Congress in May at Brock University, with the top teams there advancing to the national competition.

Visit the SSHRC website for information on “The Storytellers” student challenge. 

Researcher finds Canadian policing costs too high

Christian Leuprecht is a professor in the School of Policy Studies and the Department of Political Studies at Queen's.

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

According to a study by Queen’s researcher Christian Leuprecht, if the cost of policing in Canada is to become more sustainable there must be a discussion surrounding the extent of police service and how these are delivered.

A debate about the extent and delivery of police services must take place immediately, according to a study by Queen’s researcher Christina Leuprecht.

“The current business model for police services in this country is unsustainable, especially considering there is no evidence that greater expenditure has either made the country any safer or improved the quality of service,” he says.

Dr. Leuprecht, a professor in the School of Policy Studies and Department of Political Studies at Queen’s, says Canada spent $12 billion, or nearly 1 per cent of gross domestic product, on policing in 2012. He recommends prioritizing police responsibilities to reduce that expenditure.

“The scope of policing has expanded greatly in recent decades,” says Dr. Leuprecht. “Order is integral to freedom. But in a liberal democracy that is premised on limited state intervention, we should be debating ‘what kind’ of policing instead of ‘how much.’”

The study features other ideas for containing the costs of police services for Canadians.

“We need to place a much higher emphasis on quality over quantity when it comes to policing,” says Dr. Leuprecht. “As well, we need to shift the emphasis of police work away from law enforcement and towards ‘peace officer.’”

Order is integral to freedom. But in a liberal democracy that is premised on limited state intervention, we should be debating ‘what kind’ of policing instead of ‘how much.’

In his study, Dr. Leuprecht makes a case for economies of scale and reducing overhead, for example through greater use of technology by police in Canada to cut costs. This includes sharing court records online instead of using paper and cutting down on administrative work by using electronic messaging techniques (such as email or text messaging) to send minor offence notices. 

However, Dr. Leuprecht suggests that with up to 90 per cent of police budgets spent on salaries, core and discretionary policing activities will have to be triaged to become more efficient, effective, productive, affordable and sustainable.

“In 2012, Canada spent $12 billion, or nearly 1 per cent of gross domestic product, on policing alone,” says Dr. Leuprecht. “The current business model for police services in this country is unsustainable, especially considering there is no evidence that greater expenditure has either made the country any safer or improved the quality of service.”

The study, The Blue Line of the Bottom Line of Police Services in Canada? Arresting Runaway Growth in Costs, was released by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and can be found here


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