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    Taking the thesis to the theatre

    By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

    When I Get There written by Tracey Guptill and directed by Liam Karry

    April 24-26, 7:30 pm, April 27, 2 pm (followed by a talk back event)

    Modern Fuel (21 Queen St.) More info

    For many, research is a solitary pursuit. That’s not the case for Tracey Guptill, a master’s student in the School of Environmental Studies.

    Ms. Guptill (MES’14) is collaborating with more than 40 people -- many from the Queen’s community -- on a multidisciplinary theatre project that will serve as a chapter in her thesis. The result of more than a year’s worth of work is When I Get There, a one-act play that runs April 24-27 at Modern Fuel.

    The play incorporates multimedia elements, dance and live music to tell the story of Cara, played by Ms. Guptill, a young woman struggling with the ineffectiveness of her activism as well as her own identity. A search to find her birth father evolves into a much deeper quest to discover and understand what she can and should do to address sustainability issues.

    [Tracey Guptiss]Tracey Guptill (MES"14) is working on a multidisciplinary theatre project that will serve as a chapter in her thesis.


    The Queen’s participants on the project came from a variety of backgrounds including English, education, sociology, drama and environmental studies.

    “The project is so much richer because of their input. I was really impressed by the generosity of others,” says Ms. Guptill. “I also found that academics really enjoyed having a space to express themselves. One person who studies climate change said he felt more positive and hopeful about the environment after participating.”

    Involved in theatre much of her life, Ms. Guptill knew she wanted to draw on that passion for her graduate project that examines public engagement related to sustainability.

    “There is a lot of research around environmental and sustainability issues, but it needs to be disseminated to the broader public. I believe culture is important for moving this knowledge into the practical realm outside of academia,” she says.

    Ms. Guptill began writing a draft of the play before coming to Queen’s in 2012 but set it aside in her first year to concentrate on her course work. In the fall term of her second year, she formed a “coLABoratoy” where Queen’s academics as well poets, dancers and actors came together twice weekly to discuss the themes, read over the script, perform theatre games, and create their own scenes. Ms. Guptill rewrote the script based on that “lab” work.

    For the second phase of the project, the actors trained in physical theatre, devising ways of telling the story through movement and music in addition to dialogue. Jane Kirby, a Cultural Studies PhD student, serves as the choreographer for the production.

    Ms. Guptill says she was careful to avoid a prescriptive approach when writing and staging the play.

    “Through the various characters, I discuss the opportunities that are available to us now that allow us to make a difference. However, as a community of performers and theatre-goers, I hope we can come up with new ways. I truly believe art helps us imagine the possible.”

    More details about When I Get There are available on the co-Lab-oratory website and Facebook page.

    Planning school to join with Geography department

    By Communications Staff

    Principal Daniel Woolf and Provost Alan Harrison announced today that the School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP) will join with the Department of Geography in the Faculty of Arts and Science, allowing both academic units to benefit from synergies within their programs. The move, effective July 1, follows a recommendation from Senate in 2009 that SURP should be located within an academic faculty rather than the School of Graduate Studies, which is an administrative unit.

    “For more than four decades SURP has prepared students for success in the diverse and interdisciplinary field of urban and regional planning,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The greater resources and enhanced linkages within the larger combined academic unit will create new opportunities to expand programs and encourage further collaboration.”

    During a one-year transitional period, until June 2015, it will be business as usual and the school will maintain its hold harmless budgetary position within the faculty, ensuring it receives the same budget allocation as in previous years. David Gordon, Director of SURP, will report to Susan Mumm, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science.

    The greater resources and enhanced linkages within the larger combined academic unit will create new opportunities to expand programs and encourage further collaboration.

    - Principal Daniel Woolf

    A task force, to be chaired by Bob Lemieux, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science, will recommend a structure for the new academic unit.

    “The task force will have representation from both units and will recommend an academic and governance structure to ensure the vibrant academic culture of these two units continues following the merger,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “The new unit will also receive a new name that reflects the identities of the two former units.”

    A search committee for the head of the new unit will be struck in the fall, with a goal of having the head in place by July 1, 2015 when Paul Treitz’s term as head of the Department of Geography ends. Dr. Gordon’s term as director of SURP ends on Dec. 31, 2014, and an interim director will be named for the period from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2015.

    “SURP already has many associations with the Department of Geography, including a number of cross-appointed faculty and an accelerated degree program,” says Dr. Gordon. “In many ways combining these two units is a natural fit, and will lead to further collaboration in academic programs as well as research.”

    The School of Urban and Regional Planning’s rigorous, two-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning program helps students develop the knowledge and skills they require to become leaders in the planning profession and meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving urban environment. The program has been accredited by the Canadian Institute of Planners since it was founded in 1970. The Department of Geography offers outstanding undergraduate and graduate programs and in 2013 was ranked 41st globally in the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

    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.


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