Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Arts and Science

Opening the doors to astroparticle physics research

Visitor Centre for the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute unveiled in Stirling Hall.

 

The research being conducted by the newly-launched Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute is providing answers to some of the biggest questions about how the universe works.

And while many people may be interested in the ground-breaking work, it isn’t always the easiest to grasp.

That’s where the institute’s Visitor Centre can help.

Launched on Thursday in concert with the McDonald Institute, named in honour of Queen’s University’s first Nobel Laureate, Professor Emeritus Art McDonald, the Visitor Centre is located in Stirling Hall, the campus home of the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy.

“Education and outreach are very important aspects for the McDonald Institute moving forward. Through the Visitor Centre we can better understand the complex scientific problems and research being conducted by the McDonald Institute in the field of astroparticle physics,” says Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science. “By making the ground-breaking research more accessible we can discover how scientists like Tony Noble, Scientific Director of the McDonald Institute, and his colleagues are working to shed light on a dark universe and discover answers to its many mysteries.”

The Visitor Centre, along with a new website, presents the ongoing research conducted by SNOLAB and the McDonald Institute, such as the discovery that neutrinos have mass and the search for dark matter, with the goal of engaging and connecting visitors to the questions and findings that are fundamental to the very properties of science and our understanding of the formation and evolution of the universe.

In addition to a series of panels highlighting research, facilities, and developments, the Visitor Centre features a virtual reality setup that will allow visitors to travel though space and experience a solar storm. The centre also offers an augmented reality sandbox that will teach guests about gravitational fields in an interactive and tactile manner.

On Thursday attendees of the opening ceremony, including a group of high school students, were the first to tour the Visitor Centre. It was also the first opportunity for the centre to see how visitors interact with the displays.

“The students really gravitated toward the interactive aspects and I think, to some degree, a lot of our interactive displays are also works in progress,” says Nathalie Ouellette, Communications, Education and Outreach Officer for the McDonald Institute. “Moving forward we hope to get more feedback as guests interact with the displays and see exactly how they want to interact with them and what kind of experience they are looking for.”

The Visitor Centre is open Monday to Friday, 9:30 am-4:30 pm. Admission is free.

  • Information panels at McDonald Institute Visitor Centre
    The Visitor Centre for the newly-launched Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute is filled with information panels as well as a number of interactive displays. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Ribbon cutting for McDonald Institute Visitor Centre
    Helping cut the ribbon to officially open the Visitor Centre were, from left: Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science; Nathalie Ouellette, Communications, Education and Outreach Officer for the McDonald Institute; Tony Noble, Scientific Director of the McDonald Institute; and Benjamin Tam, a graduate student in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Virtual Reality set for McDonald Institute Visitor Centre
    The Visitor Centre offers a virtual reality setup that allows users to travel though space and experience a solar storm. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Gravity box at McDonald Institute Visitor Centre
    One of the interactive displays at the Visitor Centre is an augmented reality sandbox that can teach guests about gravitational fields in an interactive and tactile manner. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

African Studies conference focuses on transformation

The Canadian Association of African Studies conference hosted scholars from around the world to discuss issues of change in African countries.

[Conference attendees share a laugh during the conference. (Photo: Faculty of Arts and Science)]
Attendees share a laugh during the conference. (Photo: Faculty of Arts and Science)

The Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) focused their 10th anniversary conference on a broad but important topic: Transformations in African environments.

[Marc Epprecht, Amila Guidone, and Sarah Katz-Lavigne]
President of CAAS and professor in Global Development Studies Dr. Marc Epprect stands at the registration table with Amila Guidone, Research Assistant at Queen’s, and Sarah Katz-Lavigne, PhD candidate at Carleton University. (Photo: University Communications)

“I’m excited to show the progress that Queen’s has made since 2009 when we last hosted the conference. There were many professors retiring then, and it seemed African Studies had had its day here, even though Queen’s was one of the first institutions in Canada to have dedicated, tenured faculty members who taught African topics roughly 50 years ago,” says Marc Epprecht, President of the CAAS and professor of Global Development Studies at Queen’s. “Luckily in the last three or four years, there’s been quite a turn around. We’ve hired new faculty members and there is a new project partnering with the MasterCard Foundation and the University of Gondar in Ethiopia, so we’re getting all kinds of great African talent here with PhD and Masters students. To me, it’s a really exciting time to be studying Africa at Queen’s.”

The conference, held Thursday, May 3 to Sunday, May 6, included panels, round-tables, and a keynote from international scholars and specialists.

Dr. Shireen Hassim, professor (University of the Witwatersrand) and Matina S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Scholar (Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University), gives the keynote speech during the Canadian Association of African Studies Conference. (Photo: University Communications)
Dr. Shireen Hassim gives the keynote speech during the Canadian Association of African Studies Conference. (Photo: University Communications)

Shireen Hassim, professor (University of the Witwatersrand) and Matina S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Scholar (Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University), gave the keynote address on Saturday. Dr. Hassim explored the life of Winnie Mandela and violence under racist capitalism, as well as the history and intersection of racism and sexism in South Africa. She also shared how she introduced a feminist lens into academic discussions throughout her career as a researcher.

Among the many events during the conference, one of the engaging panels was Adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa: From policy to action. Colleen Davison (Public Health Sciences) and Martin Ayanore (University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana) presented on the panel with their colleagues Lydia Kapiriri (McMaster University) and Danielle Mpalirwa (Carleton University).

Dr. Davison focused on ensuring rights for vulnerable populations of adolescents in African countries, such as those living in very poor families, adolescents in rural areas, young people living with disabilities, or adolescents from particular ethnic groups in some countries.

[Dr. Lydia Kapiriri, Dr. Martin Ayanore, and Dr. Colleen Davison pose together]
Dr. Lydia Kapiriri, Dr. Martin Ayanore, and Dr. Colleen Davison pose together  after their panel on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights in sub-Saharan Africa. (Photo: Colleen Davison)

“Almost all of the seventeen sustainable development goals [discussed during the panel] give us opportunity for action related to ensuring that the sexual and reproductive rights for these even more marginalized populations are met,” says Dr. Davison.

Dr. Ayanore discussed Universal Health Coverage and its role in driving the goal of equitable sexual reproductive health rights among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. The discussion centred on how strategic purchasing can be used to improve commodity supplies at national levels.

“There are three dimensions that must fit into the drive towards providing adolescent sexual and reproductive services in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Dr. Ayanore. “Risk protection for vulnerable population groups in terms of access to broad range of reproductive services, context-based evidence for improving services and driving further research, and strong national- and international-level commitments to drive resources to advance better health outcomes.”

Other panels and round tables explored the changing landscape of governance, the coup in Zimbabwe, the struggle against homophobia, the effect of political conflict on sustainable development, ageing research, gender politics, access to disability services, mining, and urbanism in African countries.

To find out about upcoming conferences and events, follow the new Global Development Studies Twitter account.

 

A lifetime achievement

Gregory Jerkiewicz receives title of Professor of Chemical Sciences for Life from president of Poland.

[Gregory Jerkiewicz]
Gregory Jerkiewicz (Chemistry), was conferred with the title of Professor of Chemical Sciences for Life by Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, during a ceremony in Warsaw on April 25. (Supplied Photo)

Gregory Jerkiewicz (Chemistry), an international-leading researcher in the fields of electrochemistry and electrocatalysis, was recently conferred with the title of Professor of Chemical Sciences for Life by Andrzej Duda, President of Poland.

Dr. Jerkiewicz was one of 52 academics to receive the award during a special ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw on April 25. He was one of only two recipients from outside of Poland.

For Dr. Jerkiewicz it was a special moment recognizing the groundbreaking work he has done over his career in developing new clean energy technologies.  

“It’s an incredible recognition for all the work I have done. It’s a culmination of many years of work,” he says, admitting he felt a bit emotional as he took part in the ceremony. “It’s very satisfying because you work on something for 25 years and it’s like putting pieces of a puzzle together and finally after so many years you see the big picture.”

Dr. Jerkiewicz’s research has led to advances in hydrogen electrochemistry and he is considered the world’s leading expert in platinum electrochemistry. More recently his lab has focused on nickel electrochemistry, and received a $4 million research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in 2016.

Originally from Poland, Dr. Jerkiewicz completed his undergraduate and master’s studies at Gdansk University of Technology. It was during this time that he co-founded and became a leader of the Independent Students’ Association, which supported the pro-democratic work of the Solidarity trade union that eventually toppled the communist regime in Poland. However, this work came at a cost. He was imprisoned by the communist government for six months and, fearing for his safety after being released, he moved to Canada in 1985. He remains a dual citizen of Poland and Canada.

After earning his PhD at the University of Ottawa in 1991 he taught at Université de Sherbrooke and then arrived at Queen’s in 2002.

This isn’t the first time Dr. Jerkiewicz has been by the Polish government.

In 2012 he was honoured by the Polish government for his student activism with a Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, an award equivalent to the Order of Canada.

While his latest honour recognizes the work throughout his career, Dr. Jerkiewicz considers himself a mid-career academic and plans on continuing his work for many more years.

A key component is his teaching and work with new researchers through his lab.

“I really like teaching because, very often, when I teach students come to me asking some fundamental questions and I realize ‘Oh, this is not explained in some first or second year textbook and if it is not explained it’s a challenge. But lacking knowledge or being asked about something that is not explained is an opportunity for researchers. Somebody did not explain it, I can do it.”

Visit the website of the Dr. Jerkiewicz Research Group to learn more.

Queen’s and partner institutions launch national research institute

The Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute will advance scientific research and discovery in astroparticle physics.

[logo: Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute]

Queen’s University is cementing its reputation as a world leader in astroparticle physics with the official launch of a new national research network dedicated to understanding some of the universe’s deepest mysteries.

The new Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute is a partnership of eight universities and five affiliated research organizations. Headquartered at Queen’s, the institute came to fruition as a result of the $63.7 million investment the university received in 2016 from the Government of Canada’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund.

[galaxy image]

“The launch of this new institute represents a major step forward for our efforts to create a world-leading astroparticle physics research network, building on an area of research expertise for the university and Canada” says Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf. “We are also honoured today to be naming this new institute after one of Canada’s most accomplished and celebrated researchers, Nobel Laureate and Queen’s emeritus professor Dr. Arthur B. McDonald.”

Over the past year and a half, the institute has been building momentum, appointing a scientific director and recruiting 13 new faculty members (out of 15 designated positions) from around the world. In total, 100 people, including faculty, staff, and students across the country will be members of the institute, all working to advance its research and outreach goals.

“This new institute will bring together unique expertise from across Canada and leverages over $255 million of federal investment, with matching amounts from provincial partners, supporting astroparticle physics research over the last 20 years, including the leading experiments at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and the SNOLAB,” says Tony Noble, Scientific Director of the McDonald Institute. “Although the dimensions of the particles we are studying are minute, the implications of these discoveries are monumental and fundamental to the very properties of science and our understanding of the formation and evolution of the universe.”

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 programing and opportunities.

  • [Art McDonald at the podium]
    Dr. Arthur B. McDonald. (Photo by Lars Hagberg)
  • [Nathan Brinklow offering the Thanksgiving address]
    Nathan Brinklow offering the Thanksgiving address. (Photo by Lars Hagberg)
  • [Dr. Daniel Woolf at the podium]
    Dr. Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's. (Photo by Lars Hagberg)
  • [speakers on stage]
    Pictured (l-r): Sandra Crocker (Associate Vice Principal, Carleton University), Dr. John Fisher, Liz Fletcher, Dr. Art McDonald, Kate Young (Parliamentary Secretary for Science), Dr. Tony Noble, Dr. Marie-Cecile Piro (University of Alberta). (Photo by Lars Hagberg)
  • [John Burge performing his original composition "Oscillations," a piece dedicated to Arthur and Janet McDonald]
    John Burge performing his original composition "Oscillations," a piece dedicated to Arthur and Janet McDonald. (Photo by Lars Hagberg)
  • [speakers on stage]
    Pictured (l-r): Dr. John Fisher, Liz Fletcher, Dr. Art McDonald, Kate Young (Parliamentary Secretary for Science), Dr. Tony Noble, Dr. Marie-Cecile Piro (University of Alberta), Nathan Brinklow. (Photo by Lars Hagberg)

“The McDonald Institute’s extensive research community and availability of funding for undergraduate and graduate students means that students will be able to contribute to the astroparticle physics community and the larger physics community as a whole,” says Liz Fletcher, master’s student, McDonald Institute. “By fostering of an amazing research environment across all of the McDonald Institute partner institutions, there will be an increase in opportunities for students to get involved, especially at the undergrad level, from summer positions to thesis and independent study projects.”

"Although the dimensions of the particles we are studying are minute, the implications of these discoveries are monumental and fundamental to the very properties of science and our understanding of the formation and evolution of the universe."

Along with the official launch and naming, the McDonald Institute also unveiled a new Visitor Centre located in Stirling Hall at Queen’s along with a new website. The Visitor Centre will feature a virtual reality setup that will allow guests to travel though space and experience a solar storm. The centre will also have an augmented reality sandbox that will teach guests about gravitational fields in an interactive and tactile manner.

MI logoVisit the website:
Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute

“Centres like the McDonald Institute Visitor Centre can help us better understand the world and learn how scientists like Dr. McDonald and his colleagues are working to bring light to a dark universe and discover answers to its many mysteries,” says Dean Barbara Crow. “What is so great about this space is that it makes complex scientific problems and research accessible and understandable for community members, teachers, and students of all ages who are interested in learning more about how the universe works.”

VIDEO: Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute

"With SNOLAB, Canada has become an international centre for the experimental elements of astroparticle physics. Our new Institute adds to that strong international capability through the development of a strong personnel component within Canada – it has created a new generation of researchers in this field.
 

Additionally, the Institute creates an intellectual centre for interaction between theorists and experimentalists on topics at the cutting edge of particle astrophysics. This is already resulting in a number of experiments at the forefront of topics that will help us to understand the world around us and how it has evolved.
 

With the Institute, I am convinced that this will continue and keep Canada and Queen’s as a leader in this area of research."
 

Dr. Arthur B. McDonald
[Dr. Art McDonald]
Dr. Arthur B. McDonald

VIDEO: May 8 Launch Event for the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute

Healthy competition at Science Rendezvous

Queen’s and Heart and Stroke promote heart health through fun, family-friendly games.

On May 12, Queen’s University researcher Kyra Pyke and the Heart and Stroke Foundation will join forces at Science Rendezvous for a heart health exhibit jam-packed with fun, educational games and activities for the whole family.

This year’s displays will mark the fifth year of an ongoing partnership between the organizations designed to promote cardiovascular health research and awareness.

Queen's and Heart and Stroke activities from Science Rendezvous 2017
Queen's University and the Heart and Stroke Foundation continue to offer educational games and activities focused on heart health at Science Rendezvous. (Supplied Photo)

“Learning about cardiovascular health and establishing heart-healthy habits as early as possible is important,” says Dr. Pyke, Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology in the Queen’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “Our joint display with the Heart and Stroke Foundation at Science Rendezvous features games designed to help both children and adults become better acquainted with how their cardiovascular system works, and to engage them with some of the interesting activities that we use to challenge the cardiovascular system in our research.”

One of the games, Cardio Hopscotch, involves a giant schematic of the cardiovascular system mapped out on the floor and divided into its parts – including the heart, lungs, veins and arteries. Children will be able to hop from one element to the next to learn how blood flows through the human body, and will be asked to hop faster or slower to reflect how quickly the blood flows at different levels of rest or activity. It will also include model 'oxygen molecules' that will have to be transported to various points as kids progress through the course.

“Physically moving around a giant map of the circulatory system really helps people visualize how their cardiovascular system and respiratory system move oxygen and other nutrients to the places in the body that need them,” says Dr. Pyke. “Cardio Hopscotch really drives the point home in two ways, because it actually gets the heart pumping while you learn.”

Another family-friendly activity will include a friendly ‘grip strength’ contest, in which participants will squeeze an automated handgrip device used by Dr. Pyke and her colleagues to investigate the effects of handgrip exercise training, which has been shown to lower blood pressure. With each squeeze, the device will display a number indicating the force participants were able to apply, and that number will then be recorded on a scoreboard throughout the day. By the time Science Rendezvous comes to a close, a winner will be declared who will leave with all the bragging rights.

In addition to an array of games, the exhibit will also feature a variety of resources to help inform and inspire families to make heart-healthy living a top priority in their lives.

“We’re very excited to partner with Dr. Pyke to promote the amazing work she and her colleagues in the cardiovascular field are doing to improve the lives of Canadians,” says Cory Watkins, Area Manager of the Heart and Stroke Foundation in Kingston. “This year, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has been very focused on our Ms.Understood campaign to promote women’s heart health, so it’s very fitting that our Science Rendezvous appearance falls the day before Mother’s Day – a day when families work extra hard to recognize and cherish the most important women in their lives.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death for women in Canada, killing five times as many women than breast cancer. Sadly, early heart attack signs are missed in 78 per cent of women, and yet currently two-thirds of heart disease clinical research focuses on men.

“A key focus of my current research is addressing gaps in our understanding of cardiovascular function in women,” says Dr. Pyke. “It is a great pleasure to be partnering with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to promote cardiovascular health with the Kingston community at Science Rendezvous.”

Learn more about Science Rendezvous, Dr. Pyke’s research, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Ms.Understood initiative.

Four Queen’s faculty named Canada Research Chairs

The Canada Research Chairs program advances the country’s position as a leader in discovery and innovation.

Every year, the Government of Canada invests approximately $265 million through the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program to attract and retain some of the world’s foremost academic talent. On May 3, 2018, four Queen’s researchers were appointed to Tier 1 and Tier 2 CRC roles – two of whom have been newly selected and two who were renewed for another term.

“The Canada Research Chairs Program continues to nurture exciting research being conducted at institutions across the country,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Here at Queen’s we are very proud to have not only two of our current Chairs renewed to their roles, but to also have two faculty members appointed as brand new chair holders. Their leadership within their respective academic disciplines represents the research excellence our university strives to achieve.”

Tier 1 Chairs are recognized by their peers as world leaders in their respective fields, while Tier 2 Chairs are recognized as emerging leaders in their research areas. Queen’s will receive $200,000 per year over seven years for each Tier 1 Chair and $100,000 per year over five years for each Tier 2 Chair. Currently, Queen’s is home to over 40 Canada Research Chairs.

Developed in 2000, the CRC program promotes research excellence in engineering, natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

Queen’s new and renewed CRCs are:

Guojun Liu (Chemistry) has been renewed at the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Materials Science. Dr. Liu’s research is focused on the development of nanostructured polymer materials for various applications, including the refinement of filters that may be able to separate water from organic solvents.

 

Zongchao Jia (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has been renewed as the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Structural Biology. Dr. Jia and his team are working to understand and affect the function of several atypical protein enzymes in both bacteria and humans with the aim of developing antibiotic and therapeutic applications.

 

Gabor Fichtinger (Computing) has been newly appointed as the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Computer Integrated Surgery. Dr. Fichtinger’s research program will concentrate on novel technologies for minimally invasive medical interventions that use computational imaging, spacial navigation, and robotics to transcend human limitations, and ultimately improve accuracy and precision.

 

Kyla S. Tienhaara (Australian National University) has been newly appointed as the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment. Dr. Tienhaara is joining Queen’s from the Australian National University, and will be analyzing the merits of ‘Green Keynesianism’ – an economic model in which governments take on more active and regulatory roles to bolster both economic growth and the adoption of climate change mitigating measures.

 

Visit the Canada Research Chair Program website for more information.

Ahmed Hassan receives E.W.R. Steacie award

Professor in the School of Computing is one of only 10 Queen's faculty members to be honoured with this prestigious fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

[Ahmed Hassan with Minister Kirsty Duncan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau]
Ahmed Hassan (School of Computing), back row centre, stands between Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kirsty Duncan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with other recipients of the 2018 E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship, following a meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy the Prime Minister's Office/Adam Scotti)

Canadian leader in software engineering, Queen’s University professor Ahmed Hassan was honored with the 2018 E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship. He is only the 10th Queen’s faculty member to receive this prestigious honour, since the award’s creation in 1965.

The award is presented annually to up to six researchers nationwide by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to enhance the career development of outstanding faculty members who have earned a strong international reputation for their original research. Fellows receive a research grant of $250,000 over two years and are relieved of teaching and administrative duties during this period.

The Gazette recently interviewed Dr. Hassan, who holds the NSERC/BlackBerry Industrial Research Chair in Software Engineering and the Canada Research Chair in Software Analytics at the School of Computing, about this prestigious research award.

What does the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship mean to you and your research?

Before I talk about what it means, let me briefly tell you about what I do. My research uses machine learning and data analytics to dig into the rich, yet rarely explored, stores of information associated with software systems. We analyze not only the computer code of these systems, but every piece of information gathered during their development and operation: design notes, prior code changes, user reviews, debugging histories, online discussions, and logs. By mining through these rich yet rarely-leveraged information sources, we can intelligently guide and support the evolution of these complex systems. For example, we can figure out that a system is not performing as expected even though no one ever documented the expected behaviour, or truly knows it (such is the case for most complex large-scale systems nowadays). We can also foretell future troubles long before they impact users. This line of work is called Mining Software Repositories (MSR), a field of research that I co-founded around 15 years ago.

[Ahmed Hassan]
Ahmed Hassan always tells his students to never underestimate their ability to change the world. (Photo courtesy NSERC)

The Steacie Fellowship is a huge honour and an incredible acknowledgment of not only my team’s work but also of the whole MSR field. Each year NSERC awards six Steacie Fellowships across all science and engineering fields nationwide. In the past 50-plus years, only 13 computing researchers ever received this great honour. Hence, the fellowship is a great recognition of the impact of our work and the importance of the MSR field on software systems and society in general. The award is also a huge vote of confidence for other Canadian researchers in the MSR field, given Canada’s commanding position in this field.

I am very grateful for the wonderful support from everyone at the School of Computing and many others throughout Queen’s. It feels great to have Queen’s at the podium.

As one of the top software engineering researchers in Canada, what is your most important contribution so far and what was its impact?

Research results in any engineering discipline are best judged by their impact on practice, a good amount of my team’s innovations are already adopted in practice and are in use on a daily basis. However, over the years I have come to the realization that people are really what shapes a field more than our greatest ideas. I am very grateful to the continuous support and hard work of my team.  

The work I am most proud of is growing and nurturing a very vibrant and top-notch team of international leaders. Over the years, I strived to ensure the diversity of my team, the Software Analysis and Intelligence Lab (SAIL), with members coming from all over the world – Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, just to name a few. It is truly an amazing experience seeing such diverse backgrounds working together and exceling on the world stage.

Today, many of them are leaders at very successful companies in Canada, including IBM, BlackBerry, and Amazon. Being a professor, myself, I am particularly proud of the ones who became professors. Seventeen of my prior lab members are now tenured or tenure-track professors at research-intensive universities on every continent except South America. To put things in perspective, over the past five years, half of all new software engineering faculty positions in Canada (eight out of 16) and Australia (three out of six) are from SAIL at Queen’s. These researchers continue to have a strong and demonstrable impact on software research and practice worldwide through their own trainees and by serving important leadership roles in some of computing’s top conferences and journals.

What goals are you setting for yourself in regards to research?

My goals remain the same – doing top research with a strong and measurable impact on practice. That said, the Steacie Fellowship gives me the freedom to think of the next big step and to take much higher risks than I would usually take so we can ensure that Canada maintains its leadership in software engineering research and practice worldwide.

What advice do you have for students starting their careers in computer science?

Never underestimate your ability to change the world. Computing is a young and very welcoming field. Your chances of meeting and interacting with the researchers from your textbooks are high, and these people are friendly, supportive, and quite often willing to take great chances and risks on you. I co-founded MSR as a PhD student and I became Canada’s youngest Industrial Research Chair with support from NSERC and BlackBerry, thanks to people who are willing to take big risks on a younger me.

Anyone can produce world-leading research as long as they are committed and are not afraid to tackle the hard problems. Canada is a software engineering powerhouse and a leader in computing. We are shaping and enabling many of today’s innovations (from deep learning to mobile email). There are many amazing opportunities and tons of hard problems waiting for you, so come join us as we shape the future of our world.

Queen’s professor honoured for three pillars of academia

John Smol earns award for his passion for teaching and dedication to his students.

Queen’s University professor John Smol has earned some of the highest research honours in Canada and internationally, but the Lee Lorch Award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) might be one of the most significant based on what it represents to him – acknowledgment of his work as a teacher and a mentor to students, as well as the public-at-large.

The CAUT reserves the annual Lee Lorch Award for members whose teaching, research, and service have contributed significantly to the lives of students, to their institution, to their field of study, and to the community.

“Frankly, it feels odd to receive a reward for doing something that I love,” says Dr. Smol, a professor in the Department of Biology and the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. “I have always believed that it is a privilege to be a professor. I love universities because they are keepers and interpreters of our past collective knowledge. I love universities because they are also the place where we create new knowledge; knowledge that can be used to make our lives better.”

Dr. Smol’s research focuses on Arctic and alpine ecosystems, water pollution, and climate change and he is the founder and co-director of the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL) based at Queen’s.

Winning the Lee Lorch award brings Dr. Smol’s teaching and mentoring award total to 13 – something he’s incredibly proud of.

“A large part of our jobs as professors is to take our knowledge creation and communicate the products of that knowledge,” he says. “Academic institutions remind me about how important it is for our society to have well-informed, articulate, socially active, and especially thoughtful graduates to meet the challenges ahead. This is partly what we do – or at least try to do – in universities.  Namely, mentoring graduates who are ready to tackle the problems that the world has created.”

Brian Cumming, Head of the Department of Biology and former student of Dr. Smol, nominated him for the award.

“The Department of Biology is extremely proud that Dr. Smol will be the recipient of the 2018 CAUT Lee Lorch Award,” says Dr. Cumming. “It recognizes his extraordinary contributions to all aspects of being a professor including: being a leading researcher; teacher and communicator; and his administrative responsibilities. He is especially engaged in explaining how science works, and the contributions that science can make to public policy and decision making, and why we all need to communicate the significance of our findings.”

Dr. Smol received his award on Saturday, April 18 in Ottawa.

Queen's Remembers Nobel plinth now installed

A plinth commemorating the Nobel Prize-winning neutrino discoveries of the team at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) scientific collaboration has been installed between Ontario and Grant Halls.

[Nobel Plinth]A plinth commemorating the Nobel Prize-winning neutrino discoveries of the team at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) scientific collaboration led by Dr. Art McDonald, Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics Emeritus in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy at Queen’s, has been installed between Ontario and Grant Halls.

The plinth was recently unveiled at a special event held at the Agnes, but at the time it could not be permanently installed due to the weather. To learn more about the Nobel plinth, please see this Gazette article.

The plinth is a part of the Queen's Remembers series. Previous Queen’s Remembers plinths have recognized the traditional inhabitants of the Kingston area—the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee peoples—and the 5th Field Company, a group of soldiers primarily comprised of Queen’s students and faculty who served and gave their lives in both World Wars. To learn more about the Queen’s Remembers initiative, visit the Queen’s Encyclopedia.

An (un)titled exhibition

  • Leigha Stiles, student co-chair of the Bachelor of Fine Arts graduating show (Un)titled.
    Leigha Stiles, student co-chair of the Bachelor of Fine Arts graduating show (Un)titled, created wearable sculptures for her exhibition (un)wavering.
  • Alyssa Dantes, (un)censored
    Alyssa Dantes, (un)censored
  • Carrie Emblem, (un)bounded
    Carrie Emblem, (un)bounded
  • Jordan Thompson, (un)alien
    Jordan Thompson, (un)alien
  • Victoria Kim, (un)bearable
    Victoria Kim, (un)bearable
  • Eliane Findley, (un)breakable
    Eliane Findley, (un)breakable

Ontario Hall is filled with the artwork of the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) program graduating class, transforming the stalwart century-old building into an art gallery for a week.

A total of 19 graduating students have staged their pieces throughout the building for (un)titled., with each having their own exhibition space. The pieces range from large canvas paintings to small sculptures to multimedia installations filling an entire room.

For the artists it is an opportunity to stage their own exhibition, bringing together the experiences they have gathered over their years at Queen’s, says Leigha Stiles one of the student co-chairs of the event.

“There’s a sense of pride in our program and what we’ve accomplished this year, and for all four years I have been here,” she says, standing amongst her wearable sculptures. “It’s very exciting but also sad in a way since (our time at Queen’s and in the program) is ending.”

Each student's exhibition displays a research-based body of work that they have devoted an entire academic year to, points out Alejandro Arauz, Lecturer and exhibition liaison for the BFA program.

“If you look at the individual works there is an interesting array of relevant, present and past issues that are elaborated upon through visual art,” he says, adding that he is impressed by the students’ overall efforts in coming together to prepare for the show as well as the high standard in their individual practices. “The works that they make contribute to various discourses and human understanding. It’s like a thesis paper except here it’s a visual thesis contribution.”

Further information and images of the artwork are available at the exhibition website.

More information about the program is available at the Fine Art (Visual Art) Program website.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Arts and Science