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Research for a safer Canada

Queen's University researcher David Skillicorn receives NSERC CREATE to train students to help tackle the country's cybersecurity issues.

David Skiloicorn
Queen's University professor David Skillicorn has received $1.65 million from NSERC to tackle cybersecurity issues.

Queen’s University researcher David Skillicorn is receiving $1.65 million over the next six years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program to provide training for students in cybersecurity.

This is the fifth CREATE grant for Queen’s since the program started in 2013.

“Working with Dr. Skillicorn and his collaborators, 75 graduate students will benefit from unique and transferable learning and training opportunities that will advance our nation’s capacity to address issues of cybersecurity,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).

Using the funding, Dr. Skillicorn will assemble a multi-disciplinary team from multiple fields and institutions to train 75 PhD and Master’s students. The program will address the large skills gap that has limited Canada's government, critical infrastructure industries, businesses, and ordinary Canadians' ability to defend themselves from cyberattacks, cybercrime, and online manipulation such as election interference and cyberbullying.

“Canada trains less than half of the skilled people in these industries that are needed, and this shortfall is getting worse,” says Dr. Skillicorn. “The CREATE program allows us to train 75 Masters and PhD students in critical cybersecurity skills

PhD graduates of the program will conduct leading-edge research to keep Canada safer, and will train the next generation of skilled cybersecurity experts. Master’s graduates will play a key role in solving the urgent and important cybersecurity challenges facing government, critical infrastructure, private industry, and individual Canadians.

Dr. Skillicorn adds graduates of the program may earn jobs in their various areas of focus.

“The program integrates technical skills with the social, legal, and political issues that provide a context,” says Dr. Skillicorn. “All students will participate in exercises that simulate cyber-attacks and defence, and strategic thinking in response to a massive cyber incident. Students will also have internships that expose them to real-world cybersecurity and may suggest research directions for them to pursue.”

Co-applicants include eight Queen’s researchers from Electrical and Computing Engineering, School of Computing, Law, Policy Studies, and Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy, researchers from the Royal Military College of Canada, and 20 collaborators from a variety of areas including IBM, Public Safety Canada, Royal Military College of Canada and the Department of National Defence.

For more information, visit the NSERC website.

Lecturer lands spot in international final

Queen’s University PhD candidate Morgan Lehtinen wins inaugural Young Persons’ Lecture Competition.

Queen's University PhD candidate Morgan Lehtinen (Chemistry) is the first Queen's student to win the Canadian Young Persons’ Lecture Competition and earn a spot in the Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition in London, England.

Morgan Lehtinen (Chemistry) won the inaugural Canadian Young Persons' Lecture Competition.

Under the supervision of Guojun Liu (Chemistry), Lehtinen’s research focuses on the development of smart filters and their use in oil and water separation. These new tools could provide a greener option to the current separation methods – especially in regards to oil spills.

“When I began my research career, I knew I wanted to work on an applied project focusing on developing green technologies that could aid in solving one of the many issues our planet faces and make an impact on the world around me,” says Lehtinen. “When the opportunity arose to conduct research with my supervisor Dr. Liu on oil and water separation, I knew it was the perfect fit and combined my passions of scientific discovery with improving the state of our planet.”

The national lecture competition is co-hosted by the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute in partnership with the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3). The competition invites students and professionals aged 28 and under to deliver a short lecture on select materials science and processing subjects. This is the first time the event has been hosted in Canada.

“Both Queen’s and the McDonald Institute are expanding the breadth and range of experience-driven opportunities for grad students in astroparticle physics to engage the public, collaborate with entrepreneurs, and build broad-based skills relevant to careers inside and outside of academia,” says Tony Noble, Scientific Director of the McDonald Institute. “Events like this are wonderful platforms for developing skills in science-translation and public outreach.”

In addition to advancing research into areas such as the mysteries surrounding dark matter and neutrino science, the institute has a mandate for scientific outreach and to develop unique undergraduate and graduate student programming and opportunities.

Astroparticle physicists investigate elementary particles at matter’s smallest scales to understand cosmological phenomena at matter’s largest scales. Apart from its focus on the nature of matter itself, experimental work in the field requires many novel materials processes to build and operate ultra-sensitive detectors, which motivates the McDonald Institute’s partnership with IOM3. 

With her victory and pending trip overseas for the Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition this fall, Lehtinen says she hopes her work can motivate other young women interested in research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

“I hope to show young women that we all have a seat at the table in the STEM world and if you are passionate about your field of study, do not let anything stop you from pursuing it,” says Lehtinen. “I strongly believe that our planet and society will not improve without the collaboration of all different types of people from various backgrounds with diverse ways of thinking. If I can give one piece of advice, it is to surround yourself with a support system that fosters inclusivity, innovation, and an overall positive learning environment.”

For more information visit the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) website.

Canada-Cuba relations take a sad turn with new visa requirements

Canada Embassy in Havana Cuba.
The Canadian embassy in Havana.

There has been some commotion about the Canadian government’s decision to suspend visa processing for Cubans in Canada’s Havana embassy that will require them to travel to a third country to obtain the document.

The move is part of an overall staff reduction in the wake of an embassy employee lawsuit. Embassy workers believe the government failed to protect them from ailments sustained as a result of the mysterious “Havana syndrome” that has affected diplomats at both the United States and Canadian embassies.

Media reports, rallies in Canadian cities and a widely circulated home-made video released in Havana within days of the recent announcement all focused on the people most directly affected by this change. That’s because few Cubans, with their average monthly salary of US$30, will be able to travel to a third country to obtain the needed documents.

The personal stories highlighted in the video are brutal: Cuban students who can’t take up offers of admission to Canadian universities; Cuban–Canadian couples who must wait even longer to travel freely between their two countries; Cuban grandmothers unable to visit newborn grandchildren.

But this ugly turn in Canadian-Cuban relations has another casualty: decades of creative, productive connections between Cuban and Canadian people.

Canada’s official relationship with Cuba is well known. Canada pursued a different path than the United States. The Canadian government neither blockaded nor invaded. Pierre Trudeau and Fidel Castro went fishing together; Margaret Trudeau brought her youngest baby along to Cuba on a visit.

But formal political ties fluctuate. And Canada, no matter who’s in power, always treads cautiously in the shadow of Uncle Sam. Nonetheless, the story of Canada and Cuba also include countless, less famous but more enduring connections — in education, culture, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and business, to name a few.

Canadian NGO arrived after revolution

The first international NGO Cuba invited in after the 1959 revolution was Canadian University Service Overseas, or CUSO.

CUSO opened a field office in Havana in 1969, and for more than a decade co-ordinated educational and technical co-operation with Cuban schools and research institutes.

CUSO’s most significant program trained a new generation of Cuban engineering professors. In the early 1970s, engineering professors from several Canadian universities taught short courses to technologically hungry Cuban students.

A group of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) instructors from George Brown College accompanied the group, quickly preparing the Cuban students to understand their Canadian professors. In addition, close to 100 Cuban graduate students came to Canada for three-month stints for consultation with their Canadian thesis advisers.

Canadians deemed the project a grand success. The final report and other CUSO documents, available at Library and Archives Canada, is a testament to grassroots development projects.

The project succeeded, wrote the dean of engineering at the University of Waterloo in 1977, because Canadian universities worked as “genuine partners” and did not set the agenda. “The solution to Cuba’s problems could never be found in any Canadian university…. It could only be nurtured in Cuba,” he said.

Noble words, but what did this look like from the Cuban perspective?

Learning opportunities still cherished

For a new book on Canada-Cuba relations, I recently interviewed retired engineering professors in Havana who got their start in the CUSO program.

They had all been trained by Canadian professors in Havana, and spent time in Canadian universities. They reminisced fondly about their student days in Toronto and Winnipeg, making inevitable jokes about the cold, but also spoke seriously about the learning opportunities they still cherish.

Cuban engineering professors educated by CUSO's 1970 project. From left: Antonio A. Martinez Garcia, Vincente Lazaro Elejalde Villargo, Juan Lorenzo Almiral, Roberto Ignacio Ugarte Barazain. (Photo by Karen Dubinsky)

“In that era, we realized we needed to learn to resolve our own problems,” Juan Lorenzo Almiral told me. “The Canadian universities gave us the skills.”

Another example of co-operation can be found in the culinary world. Ivan Chef Justo is a well-known restaurant, located in an 18th century house in Old Havana. The food is the draw, but the décor is mesmerizing: a heady mix of photos, art and antiques drawn from Cuban history.

But there are also some oddities: an Ontario licence plate, a postcard from Montreal’s Expo ‘67, Canadian Indigenous art prints.

That’s because one of the owners, Justo Pérez, learned the restaurant business 50 years ago in Montréal. A friend of some of the Canadians who gathered in Havana as CUSO volunteers, Pérez spent a year in Montréal in the early 1970s on a self-styled educational tour of Montréal’s café and restaurant world.

His exit visa — an extreme rarity in those days — was organized by his CUSO friends. After a year, he returned to Cuba, opened the country’s first private restaurant in Varadero, and decades later continues to make his mark on the Havana restaurant scene.

Cuban music

Canadians, like people around the world, love Cuban music.

Luminaries such as singer Omara Portuando and musician Chucho Valdés grace all the important Canadian stages, and there are vibrant communities of talented Cuban musicians in all Canadian cities.

Cuban-Canadian musical ties extend for decades, beginning with bandleader Chicho Valle, who hosted the CBC Radio show Latin American Serenade and was the undisputed king of dance music at Toronto’s Inn on the Park in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Surely the most unusual musical exchange took place in the early 1960s, when Gaby Warren, a Canadian diplomat and now an Ottawa jazz celebrity, smuggled American jazz records into Cuba via diplomatic mailbags to nascent Valdés and Paquito d’Rivera.

Somehow when it comes to Cuba, the American absence rather than the enduring Canadian presence gets more attention.

But personal relations, friendships, joint projects and enduring mutual interests among Cubans and Canadians have created mechanisms for policy and social, economic and cultural development.

These are the connections — past and present — that are endangered by this ill-considered policy by the Canadian government.The Conversation


Karen Dubinsky is a professor of Global Development Studies and History at Queen's University, specializing in Canadian/Global South Relations, Canada/Cuba relations, Cuban cultural studies, Canadian history.

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

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

A Nobel pursuit

[Connor Stone, Queen's Observatory]
Connor Stone, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy and the coordinator Queen's Observatory, will be attending the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 

Connor Stone, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy has found himself in some exclusive company after being selected to take part in the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting from June 30-July 5, an event that brings together Nobel Laureates in physics as well as 580 post-secondary students from 89 countries.

Stone specializes in galaxy physics and is the coordinator of the Queen’s Observatory and says that he is honoured to have been given the opportunity to meet and speak with so many of the world’s top minds in physics.

Queen’s Observatory
The Queen’s Observatory houses a 14-inch reflecting telescope in a dome on the roof of Ellis Hall, used primarily for student training and public demonstrations.
A free public open house is held monthly.
Visit the Queen’s Observatory website or Facebook page for more information.

“I am really looking forward to talking to people who are in a field of physics completely different from mine and understanding the big problems that they are grappling with,” Stone says.

Helping him along the way was Queen’s own Nobel Laureate, Professor Emeritus Art McDonald, who forwarded Stone for consideration as part of the multi-tiered application process, while the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute facilitated the nomination.

Stone’s breadth of interests and his strong physics and calculational ability led to his selection, explains Dr. McDonald.

The selection committee also looks for candidates who, after attending the Lindau Conference, will share what they have learned with their colleagues and the public once they return home.

Stone stood out in this regard. Along with his work at the observatory, he organizes a journals club for the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, as well as a data science group focused upon machine learning and data visualization.

“Since I do the observatory, the journals club, and the data visualization group, I will be able to take what I learn and the connections that I develop, and bring them back to Queen’s and share them with the public, the graduate students and the faculty because I am organizing connections with all of them,” he says. “I already like to connect people between different fields of physics so this is perfect for me.”

At the Lindau Conference the young scientists have the opportunity to hear from the Nobel Laureates and there are activities and opportunities for the students to interact. For example, Stone will be taking part in a Science Walk guided by a Nobel Laureate that will tour sites of scientific relevance.

“I think some of the more casual interactions will be the most important,” Stone adds. “These are the best people for me to network with, either at the top of their field or up and coming.”

The Lindau Conference is an amazing opportunity for the attendees, says Dr. McDonald.

“In my discussions with previous attendees they all said that the opportunity to hear from Nobel Laureates spanning all fields of physics, the chance to interact with them personally and the presence of nearly 600 excellent students from across the world, leads to a truly unique educational and personal experience,” he says.

Cognitive dissonance: Canada declares climate emergency and approves a pipeline


[Aerial view of Trans Mountain marine terminall]
A aerial view of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C.

On June 18, the Government of Canada declared a national climate emergency. The next day, the same government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX), which will be able to move almost 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the Port of Burnaby in British Columbia.

If this seems like a contradiction, you are not alone.

To date, Canada is the largest single jurisdiction to have declared a national climate emergency, following nations like Scotland, regions like Catalonia in Spain and cities like Vancouver and San Francisco.

Climate emergency vs. state of emergency

Altogether, 83 million people, living 623 jurisdictions, are now living under a state of climate emergency. The vast majority of these declarations have occurred in the last six months. The term climate emergency intentionally evokes a state of emergency — and implies imminent action on the part of the government.

Declaring a state of emergency gives governments the powers needed to respond to the emergency, from closing roads or bridges in the case of flooding to calling out the army to manage security threats.

By comparison, the declaration of a climate emergency is far less powerful. While governments may commit to actions when declaring a climate emergency, these actions usually amount to creating plans and engaging with their citizens. Yet this is not what concerned citizens and non-governmental organizations expect in response.

They demand radical action: the dramatic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, commitments to keep fossil fuels in the ground, the end of subsidies to fossil fuel producers and support for the rapid expansion of renewable energy. The TMX approval suggests that radical action is off the table — at least for now.

The climate lens approach

Governments can take a more pragmatic approach when facing a climate emergency. They can apply a “climate lens” approach to vet future policy decisions.

A climate lens forces government to address the environmental impacts of their decisions. For example, Infrastructure Canada now uses a climate lens to assess both greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation and climate change resilience associated with any new project.

Using a climate lens approach, every investment should get you closer to a cleaner future. Does this logic hold up with the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

In his announcement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged every dollar in federal revenue derived from the Trans Mountain expansion project to investments in clean energy and green technology. He was, essentially, making more than $500 million a year in taxes available for these types of projects as the pipeline becomes operational, which is expected in 2022.

This level of investment may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase Canada’s resilience to climate change, allowing the government to safely claim some progress. It remains to be seen, however, if Canadians will accept this offer as a good deal.

An orca swims along the Strait of Georgia, off the coast of British Columbia. (Unsplash/Ryan Stone)

A good deal for Canada?

There are many reasons that Canadians may balk. It is not a particularly large amount of money; Canadian subsidies to the fossil fuel sector total $3.3 billion annually, almost seven times greater than the government pledge.

It is also not necessarily a competitive offer: the additional carbon emissions from the production of oil to fill the new pipeline are estimated to be between 14-17 million tonnes per year. This means the government is pricing its taxes at the equivalent of about $29 per tonne of carbon, considerably less than the $50 per tonne target price.

Canadians are also highly aware that greening the world’s economy will mean dramatically reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. This doesn’t mean that oil must be completely phased out, particularly in the short term, but carbon constraints, including taxes and regulations will change the way oil is produced and used.

Canadian oil will be subject to significant scrutiny by prospective buyers around the world, who have to meet increasingly stringent carbon rules. The risk of stranded assets in the Canadian oil and gas sector is real and significant: if the country is going to build a pipeline, it should also take steps to ensure that the product that flows through it is what potential customers will demand.

Canada’s options moving forward

There is a major disconnect between declaring a climate change emergency and approving a major oil pipeline. The government could address this in one of two ways.

It could use carbon taxes (not corporate taxes) to support a low-carbon economy. The carbon tax raised more than $2.6 billion in 2018-19, and this will likely grow to more than $5 billion as carbon prices hit $50 per tonne in 2022. If the carbon price attached to every barrel of oil was invested in GHG emission reduction and climate mitigation, this would make a major difference — on par with current government subsidies for the fossil sector.

Another approach would be to ensure that every barrel of oil that goes into the new pipeline meets stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions intensity — the amount of carbon dioxide equivalents released in the production of each barrel. Canada introduced the Clean Fuel Standard in 2016 to incentivize the domestic use of low-carbon fuels. A similar policy could regulate the emissions associated with fossil energy production, forcing industry to adapt, yet safeguarding an important economic sector from global change.

Many Canadians are struggling with the federal government’s actions over recent days. It may be that the pro-environment and pro-industry sides are too divided to find common ground.

We need policies that acknowledge the urgency of the climate emergency and work to address the critical issues that have led to this emergency — a solution that works for all.The Conversation


Warren Mabee is the Director of the Queen's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, Canada Research Chair in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation, and, as of July 1, 2019, will be the Associate Dean and Director of the School of Policy Studies . 

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

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Powerful pollen

Queen’s University researcher P. Andrew Evans has uncovered a new process to deliver antibiotics using pollen to shield them.

Antibiotics are powerful medication that are used to fight infections, but the ongoing and well publicized issues with resistance has made the search for new medicines critical to human health.  

Queen’s University researcher and Canada Research Chair in Organic and Organometallic Chemistry, Dr. P. Andrew Evans (Chemistry), in collaboration with groups from the universities of St. Andrews and Hull, has discovered a new way to deliver light sensitive drugs that could combat the problem of antibiotic resistance.

P. Andrew Evans has discovered wrapping antibiotics in pollen could protect them from light.

Dr. Evans has shown that wrapping a new class of antibiotics, called the marinomycins, in the outer shell of plant pollen can protect these antibiotics from rapid decomposition in the presence of light. Antibiotics are normally handled in light, so it would be impossible to avoid exposure – much like taking 35 millimetre film out of a old fashioned camera on a sunny day.

“Everyone is likely going to get an infection at some point during their life-span and will require an antibiotic,” explains Dr. Evans. “There is an urgent need for new antibiotics to tackle the rising tide of microbial resistance in existing antibiotics. We have taken a powerful and potentially useful new antibiotic that disintegrates in sunlight within seconds and packaged it into a pollen shell, which then protects the antibiotic for hours against UV radiation.”

Different sized pollen spores are produced by different plant species, which can potentially be used to protect and deliver different drugs. Dr. Evans says all the allergens are removed from the pollen first to make space for the binding and protection of the drug molecule.

Pollen has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for oral consumption, which makes this a very attractive strategy for drug delivery.

“The World Health Organization has recognized antibiotic resistance as a priority,” says Dr. Evans. “We are facing the possibility of a future without effective antibiotics, which would fundamentally change the manner in which modern medicine is practiced.  Additionally, there are other drugs that have been abandoned because of light-sensitivity issues that could be reexamined using this strategy.”

This research is published in Chemical Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s peer-reviewed flagship journal. It also appeared as the “Pick of the Week” in the same journal.

Marketing Queen’s a collaborative effort

The Marketing MUSE Conference brings together the university’s marketing and communications professionals for a day of development and inspiration.

  • Marketing MUSE Conference 2019
    Graeme Owens of LinkedIn discusses how to 'Creating Killer Content' during the lunch keynote presentation of the Marketing MUSE Conference.
  • Marketing MUSE Conference 2019
    Lindsey Fair, Director, Marketing, Communications, and Recruitment for the Faculty of Arts and Science leads one of the many workshops offered at the Marketing MUSE Conference.
  • Marketing MUSE Conference 2019
    Andrew Ashby, Accessibility Coordinator, Queen's Equity Office, discusses the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) during a presentation titled 'Legalities, Licensing, and Must Dos.'
  • Marketing MUSE Conference 2019
    Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations), welcomes the close to 200 participants to the Marketing MUSE Conference.

A recent pan-university conference brought together close to 200 marketing and communications staff from across Queen's for a successful day of skills development, sharing of experiences, and a bit of inspiration.

Organized by University Relations and the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Marketing MUSE Conference is delivered by and for staff and faculty from across Queen’s University and offers professional development for those engaged in marketing and communications activities.

“The theme that inspired us along for this conference was the importance of collaboration and finding new ways to foster it across the university,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “Whether we are attracting students, recruiting new faculty, promoting research breakthroughs, or talking to governments, we are all supporting and building the Queen’s brand at all times. It’s important work.”

Sessions were divided into three tracks – beginner, intermediate, and advanced – with attendees able to select from a variety of topics throughout the day, from fostering organic social media and branding and design trends to writing a memorable speech or creating integrated communications plans and campaigns, and much more.

The day is also an important networking opportunity for Queen’s community members who may be working in similar jobs but in very different fields.

“The world of marketing and communications is continually transforming as a result of the advances in digital and social communications,” says Helen Vasilevski, Interim Associate Vice-Principal (Communications). “By bringing so many people together the conference participants were able to learn from their colleagues and contribute further to the ongoing effort in telling the Queen’s story.”

Participants represented a broad cross-section of the university, with members of all of Queen’s faculties attending, as well as the majority of departments. 

“We are happy see the Marketing MUSE Conference continue to grow,” says Lindsey Fair, Director, Marketing, Communications, and Recruitment for the Faculty of Arts and Science, and the organizer of the first four conferences. “The ongoing success of the conference shows what can be accomplished when you bring the innovative and creative people here at Queen’s together.”

Two new initiatives were also announced at the conference:

  • The development and future launch of Queen’s University Brand Central , an online resource  that will bring together information and links to such things as the Queen’s Visual Identity Guide, AODA guidelines, social media guidelines, Queen’s Style Guide, and web publish resources, to ensure that Queen’s is being represented in a consistent effective, and accurate way across all platforms.
  • The launch of a HR Certificate Program in Marketing , comprising seven  courses that can be completed over a two-year period, to enhance Queen’s employees’ knowledge of marketing fundamentals).

More information on both initiatives will be published by the Gazette when available.

Inspiring an amazing academic journey

Claire Gummo and Stefanie vo Hlatky
Rhodes Scholar Claire Gummo (Artsci’17) nominated Stéfanie von Hlatky, her former professor in the Department of Political Studies for the Rhodes Inspirational Educator Award. (Supplied Photos) 

When Claire Gummo (Artsci’17) arrived at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 2017 it was a dream come true.

Along her academic journey there was a lot of hard work and dedication and as well as support, including from Stéfanie von Hlatky, an associate professor of political studies at Queen’s University and the former director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP).

Two years later, remembering her invaluable encouragement and mentorship during her time at Queen’s as an undergraduate student, Gummo nominated Dr. von Hlatky for the Rhodes Inspirational Educator Award. Recently, it was announced that the Rhodes Trust agreed with Gummo.

Making the decision to nominate her former professor was easy, Gummo says. She knows that she wouldn’t have become a Rhodes Scholar without Dr. von Hlatky’s guidance and support.

“Dr. von Hlatky was my biggest advocate in the Rhodes Scholarship selection process. Beyond writing a recommendation letter in support of my application, she ran practice interviews with me, provided encouragement at key moments when I doubted myself, and helped me to select my program at Oxford once I learned I had received the scholarship,” she says. “For me, this piece around encouragement was most crucial. I have, like many young women, a tendency to doubt my own abilities, making something like the Rhodes Scholarship feel like an impossible dream. Dr. von Hlatky pushed me to embrace opportunities and be confident about my own potential and intellect. She did this not just in her words but also by acting as a role model, providing a clear example of what professional excellence and strength look like.” 

Dr. von Hlatky says that while Gummo is strong academically, what set her apart during her time at Queen’s was her level of engagement on campus and her commitment to helping other students, particularly her work and advocacy on sexual violence prevention.

As a professor, Dr. von Hlatky aims to convey her passion to her students when teaching or discussing her research. Receiving this award, she says, has provided an opportunity to think about how to teach with purpose moving forward with an increasingly diverse student body in mind. 

“As professors, we teach and provide training to students but at Queen’s, there are fantastic opportunities for genuine mentorship relationships to emerge,” Dr. von Hlatky says. “This is the case not only because our students are very active in student clubs and continuously involve their professors, but also thanks to programs like Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships (USSRF). For me, involving undergraduate and graduate students in my research projects has been a great way to provide mentorship that goes beyond the classroom.”

Not only has Dr. von Hlatky been a mentor for Gummo but she’s also a role model. Dr. von Hlatky is as equally talented a researcher as she is an educator, Gummo says, with compelling work on topics including gender mainstreaming, contemporary security trends especially within NATO, and military cooperation, that has shaped her own academic thinking in critical ways. 

“I am struck and inspired by the way Dr. von Hlatky’s confidence and intelligence never fails to command the respect and admiration of her colleagues – both military and civilian,” Gummo wrote in her nomination letter. “In this way, she has acted as a crucial role model for me in my own life, shaping my approach to professional and academic endeavours. However, what truly sets Dr. von Hlatky apart is that this boldness is matched with a remarkable generosity of spirit. She goes above and beyond to mentor her students, especially young women, even founding Women in International Security Canada, which has provided support to more than 600 young academics. Taken together, these two disparate yet complementary elements of her character – boldness and generosity – have greatly inspired me, as they have every student who is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn from, and with, her.”

Gummo was named Queen’s University’s 57th Rhodes Scholar in 2017. At Oxford she completed a one-year master’s in Global Governance and Diplomacy, followed by a second one-year master’s in Public Policy, where she specialized in gender mainstreaming and practical feminist ethics.

Each year 11 Canadians are selected for Rhodes Scholarships, the most prestigious academic awards in the world. Created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, the scholarships cover all costs for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. The scholarships are awarded to students on the basis of high academic achievement and personal integrity, who are also expected to emerge as “leaders for the world’s future.”


Queen’s is deeply engaged internationally with strong academic and research ties around the globe including the university’s Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in the United Kingdom, that offers high-quality programs in humanities, social sciences, business and law. Queen’s has more than 220 student exchange partners in more than 40 countries and numerous education abroad experiences available.

Sources of inspiration for new graduates

  • Faculty of Law Convocation 2019
    Honorary degree recipient Fiona Sampson (Artsci’85, Law’93) is hooded by Dean Bill Flanagan during the convocation ceremony for the Faculty of Law on Thursday, June 6. (Queen's University/Garrett Elliott)
  • Faculty of Law Convocation 2019
    Honorary degree recipient Fiona Sampson shakes hands with Bill Flanagan, Dean of the Faculty of Law, as Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Rector Alex Da Silva look on.
  • Faculty of Law Convocation 2019
    Graduates from the Faculty of Law are hooded while Erik Knutsen, Associate Dean (Academic), struggles with a hood during the convocation ceremony on Thursday afternoon.
  • Sir Richard Evans honorary degree
    British historian and author Sir Richard Evans receives his honorary degree from Queen's University during Thursday morning's convocation ceremony. (Queen's University/Lars Hagberg)
  • Sir Richard Evans honorary degree
    Sir Richard Evans speaks to the graduands from the Faculty of Arts and Science after receiving an honorary degree at Grant Hall on Thursday, June 6. (Queen's University/Lars Hagberg)
  • Sir Richard Evans honorary degree
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Rector Alex Da Silva share a funny moment on the stage at Grant Hall on Thursday. (Queen's University/Lars Hagberg)
  • Faculty of Education Convocation
    Two graduands from the Faculty of Education are hooded during the Spring Convocation ceremony on Thursday afternoon at Grant Hall. (Queen's University/Garrett Elliott)
  • Faculty of Education Convocation
    Elder-in-Residence for the Faculty of Education Deb St. Amant presents a blanket to a graduate during Thursday afternoon's convocation ceremony. (Queen's University/Garrett Elliott)
  • Faculty of Education Convocation
    A group of graduates from the Faculty of Education celebrate outside of Grant Hall on Thursday, June, 6. (Queen's University/Garrett Elliott)

Queen’s presented two more honorary degrees on the sixth day of Spring Convocation at the university.

Sir Richard Evans, a British historian and author, was presented with his honorary degree during the morning ceremony at Grant Hall. Throughout his academic career Sir Richard has received a number of key appointments, including as Regius Professor of History in 2008 until retiring in 2014, and as president of Wolfson College, Cambridge from 2010-2017. He is currently Provost of Gresham College in the City of London, which has been offering free lectures for the general public since 1597. Sir Richard is the author of more than 20 books. His three-volume history of Nazi Germany (The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power, and The Third Reich at War) has been translated into 15 languages.

Fiona Sampson (Artsci’85, Law’93) was recognized during the afternoon ceremony for dedicating her 20-plus year career to seeking justice for society’s disadvantaged: disabled persons, refugees, Indigenous persons, and victims of violence. Sampson founded the equality effect, an NGO that uses international human rights law to make girls/women’s rights real and, as CEO, led her team to the landmark 160 Girls High Court victory in Kenya. She has published widely relating to women’s and girls’ equality and has received many awards and much recognition for her human rights work.

A total of seven honorary degrees are being conferred by Queen’s during convocation.

Spring Convocation will resume on Tuesday, June 11 with two ceremonies being held at main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC).

A total of 18 ceremonies are being held for Spring Convocation, with the final one scheduled for Wednesday, June 12. The full schedule of the ceremonies is available online.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

More information about Convocation at Queen's is available on the website of the Office of the University Registrar.

More photos can be viewed at the Queen’s University page on flickr.

Solving crime through chemistry

Queen’s University chemist Diane Beauchemin earns lifetime achievement award for her cutting-edge research.

Queen’s University researcher Diane Beauchemin has spent years working on techniques to help law enforcement solve crime and to more pragmatically assess food safety.

Thanks to her efforts, Dr. Beauchemin has earned the Canadian Society for Chemistry's Clara Benson Award, recognizing a woman scientist who has made a distinguished contribution to chemistry while working in Canada. In 2018, she was the first woman in Canada to receive the Gerhard Herzberg award from the Canadian Society of Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy and the Maxxam award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry in 2017.

Professor Diane Beauchemin

“I am working in a variety of areas of chemistry and I hope the work I am doing has impact on people’s health and safety and society in general,” says Dr. Beauchemin. “I’m also very focused on my students and how to help them in my lab so that they can contribute the science.”

One of her most unique areas of research is developing new and revolutionary tools to help Canadian law enforcement agencies solve crime.

One promising area of her ongoing research involves analyzing head hair to determine gender and ethnicity. She recently discovered a new method where the root of the hair isn’t needed for proper analysis. This work has caught the attention of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as it provides a new tool to use to solve new crimes and cold cases.

Dr. Beauchemin adds it may also be used to identify the gender of incomplete skeletons, even if only a small piece of head hair is available.

Along with that work, Dr. Beauchemin has developed a process to analyze paint scraping which could offer a new way to identify vehicles involved in hit and runs. And she is also working in her lab to identify solder left at crime scenes following a blast caused by an improvised explosive device. Her tool can determine the solder used and possibly even the type of soldering iron, which will help investigators identify the culprit if the solder and soldering iron indicated by her method match what was found in a suspect’s home. 

Diane Beauchemin demonstrates how she analyzes human hair.

Currently, Dr. Beauchemin is working on risk assessment of food safety. This includes chemicals in staple foods like rice, wheat, couscous, bread, and corn.

“Not only did my group develop a realistic method taking into account the bio-accessibility and the chemical forms of, in particular, arsenic and chromium in food but we are also looking at ways for consumers to protect themselves,” says Dr. Beauchemin. “For example, simply washing rice before cooking it can remove a large fraction of toxic arsenic.”  Her on-going work on how the cooking method may affect the levels of toxic components aims at identifying the safest way to prepare staple foods. 

For more information about the award visit the website.


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