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Seminar fosters discussions and lasting connections


[RSC Semninar Speakers]
Three Queen's faculty members – Heather Stuart, John McGarry, and Joan Schwartz – will be presenting aspects of their research at the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar of the Royal Society of Canada on Saturday, April 13. (University Communications) 

Members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities will have the opportunity to hear four of Canada’s leading researchers speak about their experiences and discoveries as the university hosts the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar of the Royal Society of Canada on Saturday, April 13.

For academics in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering, being elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) – either as a Fellow or a Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists – is one of the highest honours they can achieve.

At the seminar, four RSC members – three from Queen’s and one from University of Ottawa – will provide insights into their work and experiences.

The schedule of presentation includes:
- 10 am: Heather Stuart, Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-stigma Research Chair, Queen’s — The Nature and Nurture of Mental Illness Related Stigma
- 11 am: John McGarry, Sir Edward Peacock Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Political Studies, Queen’s — ‘The Diplomat’s graveyard’:  Why Resolving the Cyprus Problem is not Easy
- 2 pm: Jamie Benidickson, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa — Sewage Then and Now: Public Health Challenges and Climate Change Opportunities
- 3 pm: Joan Schwartz, Department of Art History and Art Conservation, Queen’s — Rethinking Discursive Origins: Alexander von Humboldt, Photography, and the Pursuit of Geographical Knowledge

The annual event is organized under the guidance of co-chairs John Burge (Dan School of Drama and Music), a Fellow of the RSC, and Amir Fam (Civil Engineering), a Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

“Each year this seminar brings together researchers who are leaders in their fields and this year’s group is no exception,” says Dr. Burge. “The sharing of intellectual ideas can be a great stimulus for one’s own creativity and this seminar is a great opportunity to broaden one’s horizons and knowledge base.”

Another goal of the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar is to bring together leading researchers and community members to foster fascinating discussions and lasting connections.

“At the heart of the seminar is the common quest for knowledge and the sharing of perspectives,” says Dr. Fam. “By bringing together speakers from across disciplines the seminar helps foster new contacts and new paths of thought for not only the audience but the presenters as well.”

All events take place at the Queen’s University Club (168 Stuart St.) and talks are open and free to the public. Following the first two presentations a luncheon is being hosted by Principal Daniel Woolf. Registration is required for the luncheon, which costs $30. Registration for the luncheon by Friday, April 5 would be appreciated. RSVP by phone, 613-533-6000 x78797 or email: FEAS.ResearchAdmin@queensu.ca.

For more information about the presentations, visit the Royal Society of Canada website.

Department of Film and Media marks 50 years

  • Students in the Department of Film and Media work on a film set at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.
    Students in the Department of Film and Media work on a film set at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.
  • Students in the Department of Film and Media have access to state-of-the-art film-editing technology.
    Students in the Department of Film and Media have access to state-of-the-art film-editing technology.
  • The 90-seat Gordon Vogt Film Screening Room is one of the many modern learning spaces at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.
    The 90-seat Gordon Vogt Film Screening Room is one of the many modern learning spaces at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.
  • Students from the Department of Film and Media work with the state-of-the-art equipment available through the DigiLab.
    Students from the Department of Film and Media work with the state-of-the-art equipment available through the DigiLab.

The Department of Film and Media is marking its 50th anniversary and is hosting a celebration April 5-7 that will bring together faculty from the past and present, alumni, and current students at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

50th Anniversary Events
Friday, April 5
6-9 pm: Wine and Cheese Mixer at the Isabel Bader Centre for Performing Arts, 390 King St. W.
Saturday, April 6
Noon-1 pm: Film and Media Department Tours, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts
1-4 pm: Special Guest Speakers and Presentations, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts
6:30-9:30 pm: 50th Anniversary Gala Cocktail Reception and Dinner, Memorial Hall at City Hall
Sunday, April 7
10 am-Noon: Brunch Reception, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts

Starting off as the Department of Film Studies in 1969, there has been monumental change as the department has had to keep up with the ever-evolving field, points out Blaine Allan, a professor who has taught in the department since 1980 and is an alumnus himself (Artsci’76).

Early on, Dr. Allan points out, the department primarily focused on cinema before branching out to other media forms such as television and advertising. In recent years, the pace of change has increased exponentially – the internet and social media, podcasts and Netflix – and the department has had to keep pace.

“Change happens extremely quickly so we’re dealing with the contemporary media world, but we’re also dealing with a continually changing view of the media world up until that point,” he says.

As an example access to a motion picture camera once kept filmmaking a relatively exclusive endeavour, but now practically everyone now has the ability to ‘make movies’ with their cellphone.

While technology may change, over the department’s five decades the focus has always been on the student learning experience, providing a solid foundation as they move forward with their studies and future careers.

“Peter Harcourt, the founder of the department, was an academic and a critic, but once he got here he also started producing documentary films through the department,” Dr. Allan says. “As the department established itself he acquired and made sure there was filmmaking equipment – cameras, editing facilities – and felt very strongly that students should not only watch films but have an acquaintance with how movies are made, even at an elementary level.”

The result is graduates such as Peter Raymont (Artsci'72) and Brigitte Berman (Artsci'71, Ed'72) who have gone on to award-winning filmmaking careers.

Sharing and comparing these experiences will be a key element of the anniversary celebrations. A number of events will bring together alumni and faculty from the past with current students and faculty members.

“I think one of the best things that we can do is put alumni in situations where they can have contact with our current students. They can learn something from their predecessors, and the alumni can learn a lot from their counterparts,” Dr. Allan says, pointing to a presentation of senior projects as an example. “I think that should be really interesting and I hope eye-opening all around.”

Another highlight is a ‘Greatest Hits’ program put together by retired faculty members Professor Emeritus Clarke Mackey and Derek Redmond that will feature memorable student projects from over the years.

Full details and registration are available online.

Research storytelling events captivate audiences

[IGnite Research poster]

Featuring topics from medical miracles to environmental policy, the IGnite lecture series has showcased the diversity of research happening at Queen’s to a captivated audience of campus and community members. On Thursday, March 28 the public will hear about the future of gender policy in the Canadian school systems and innovative methods to solve environmental problems.

IGnite is a collaboration between the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute and the University Relations portfolio. Each event features two researchers from different fields discussing their projects and research experiences, while also including interactive demonstrations and poster presentations from students and additional researchers. The series offers a public platform where researchers can share what first ignited their curiosity and motivates them to pursue their research.

Lee Airton (Education) is a SSHRC-funded researcher and will present “The future of gender: Policy and practice playing catch-up to an ever-changing phenomenon.” They recently published a popular press book on welcoming gender diversity in everyday life, Gender: Your guide. Dr. Airton has also received a 2017 Youth Role Model of the Year Award from the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity and founded They is My Pronoun (TIMP) and the No Big Deal Campaign

Dr. Airton explains that research should be shared with those it impacts. 

“I study something that is relevant to every single member of the public, but is thought of as something that only transgender people care about: how other people read and respond to our gender expression, every day,” Dr. Airton says. “Events like the IGnite lecture allow me to bring the implications of my research directly to people who might not have thought about how they participate in gender, and encourage them to act on what we know about making gender into a safer and more comfortable experience for everyone.”

Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry Philip Jessop (Chemistry) will discuss his research on carbonated water as it applies to solving environmental problems. An expert in switchable surfactants, Dr. Jessop received the NSERC John C. Polanyi Award in 2008 and is the technical director of GreenCentre Canada.

Dr. Jessop further elaborates that for him IGnite is an opportunity to return the public’s investment in his research.

“Society allows me to do research and it is only fair that in return I let society know what I’m doing,” he says. “I find that many people like to hear about new ways to reduce environmental harm.”

The event, the final in a three-part series for the 2018-2019 academic year, will take place Thursday 6:30-9 pm at the Biosciences Complex at 116 Barrie Street. Registration is free on Eventbrite and light refreshments will be served.

For more information on the series, visit the McDonald Institute’s website.  

Awards Gala to honour trailblazers and community builders

[QUAA Awards Gala recipients]

A former governor of the Bank of Canada, a legal advocate for same-sex couples, and the country’s first Inuk heart surgeon are among the honorees at the upcoming Queen’s University Alumni Association (QUAA) Awards Gala.

“These recipients are trailblazers and community builders,” says Jeremy Mosher (Artsci’08), volunteer president of the QUAA. “Through volunteerism or their jobs, they have made a significant impact on Queen’s, their cities, and the country.”

Chancellor Emeritus David Dodge (Arts’65, LLD’02) is receiving the Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honour bestowed by the QUAA. Dr. Dodge had a high-profile career in federal public service, serving as both the deputy minister of health and deputy minister of finance, before being named the governor of the Bank of Canada in 2001. He served as Queen’s chancellor from 2008 to 2014.

Past recipients of the Alumni Achievement Award include NASA astronaut Drew Feustel (PhD’95); former Royal Bank of Canada chief executive officer Gord Nixon (Com’79, LLD’03); and former Princeton University president Shirley Tilghman (Arts'68, DSc'02).

Donna May Kimmaliardjuk (Artsci’11) will receive the One to Watch Award. The former president of the Queen’s Native Students Association is Canada’s first Inuk heart surgeon. She received an Indspire Award and serves as a role model to her community and Indigenous youth.

Kirsti Mathers McHenry (Law’03) is receiving the Alumni Humanitarian Award. She and her wife, Jennifer, are the driving force behind Ontario’s All Families Are Equal Act, which passed in the provincial legislature in 2016. It improved the rights of same-sex parents in a number of ways, including no longer forcing couples who use assisted reproduction to have to adopt their own children.

A total of 11 awards will be handed out. Other recipients include: 

The Queen’s University Alumni Association Awards Gala will take place on April 6 at Ban Righ Hall. For more information or to purchase tickets to the event, visit the Queen’s Alumni website.

Bank of Canada honours Queen’s excellence

​Ryan Riordan receives research grant while three masters students earn scholarships in economics and finance.

Ryan Riordan, an associate professor at Smith School of Business, is this year’s recipient of the Bank of Canada Governor’s Award.

[Ryan Riordan]
The 2019 recipient of the Bank of Canada Governor’s Award is Ryan Riordan, an associate professor at Smith School of Business. 

The Governor’s Award is a research grant for academics who study areas that the Bank of Canada deems important. The grant is worth up to $30,000 a year over two years.

Dr. Riordan, who is also Distinguished Professor of Finance at Smith, says he is delighted to receive the award. While central banks tend to focus on the economy as a whole, his studies delve into the behaviour of individual traders, investors, lenders, borrowers and firms.

“So this award is a confirmation that our research is important to the overall economy,” he says.

Dr. Riordan intends to use the grant to further his research in two areas: the use and misuse of technologies in banking and financial markets; and climate change.

On climate change, Dr. Riordan has teamed up with colleagues from the University of Augsburg in Germany to study how financial markets have responded to the transition to a green economy. They’ve developed a methodology to measure the carbon risk of companies and countries. 

Among their findings to date: the valuation of banks and other financial firms are strongly related to the carbon risk of the firms they finance. And European countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal, as well as Japan, have lower carbon risk than most countries. Canada, South Africa and Brazil have the highest carbon risk.

The Governor’s Award is part of the Bank of Canada’s Fellowship Program. Lawrence Schembri, deputy governor at the bank, says the program aims to “foster collaboration between our researchers and outstanding academics who are advancing knowledge in fields that support the Bank of Canada’s core functions.”

Dr. Riordan joined Smith in 2014. His research into technology’s impact on financial markets has included how high-frequency traders improve stock market efficiency and studying how automated bidders affect the behaviour of human bidders on electronic financial markets and online auctions such as eBay 

In November, Dr. Riordan received Smith’s Research Excellence Award. The annual prize recognizes outstanding research by faculty at the school.

In other news, the Bank of Canada marked International Women’s Day by announcing the recipients of the Master’s Scholarship Award for Women in Economics and Finance. Of the four winners, three are from Queen’s University.

Earning scholarship awards are, from left: Vivian Chu, Sanjana Bhatnagar, Stephanie Renaud. 

Sanjana Bhatnagar is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Economics. Prior to this, she completed a BA Honours in Economics from the University of Calgary and worked at the Bank of Canada as a research assistant. Her areas of research include applied econometrics, macroeconomics and macrofinancial studies.

Vivian Chu is completing a Master of Arts in Economics. She completed a BSc in Financial Modelling at Western University and was a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards recipient for two consecutive years. Her research interests include monetary economics and macroeconomics.

Stephanie Renaud is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Economics. She completed her BA in Economics at the University of Ottawa and, as part of the co-op program, she worked at the Department of Finance and received the CO-OP Student of the Year Award for the faculty of social sciences in 2016. Her research interests include macroeconomics, fiscal policy, and monetary policy.

The award includes a $10,000 scholarship and is combined with the opportunity for permanent employment at the Bank of Canada upon successful completion of a master’s degree by a recipient.

Tree swallows expose state of our climate

Queen's University research examines local bird population to reveal how weather patterns are changing.

For many of us, birds are an interesting distraction or a sign of spring. For Fran Bonier and her former master's student Amelia Cox, bird populations provide vital data about the health of the world. Their new research adds to growing evidence that the climate is changing – and not for the better.

Established in 1975 by Raleigh Robertson at the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) north of Kingston, a box-nesting population of tree swallows has provided long-term data sets that a number of Queen’s researchers have used. In her most recent study, Dr. Bonier and Cox have determined rainy springs are linked to poor nestling growth in this species.

The data shows that from 1977 to 2017, the nestlings’ body mass has declined substantially and adult body mass, particularly in males, has also been declining.

“We examined 42 years of data and have determined the decline started in the late 1980s,” says Cox, who took the lead on the study. “Tree swallows are avian aerial insectivores, which means they eat flying insects. These insects are inactive during cold, wet, or windy conditions which effectively reduces food availability to zero.”

Looking at the long-range weather data, the researchers also determined that rainfall amounts have increased over the decades and springs are getting cooler. Dr. Bonier says these weather changes, which she attributes to climate change, are affecting more than just tree swallows.

“This isn’t going to affect just one bird species; it’s happening with all aerial insectivores, like bats,” she says. “These populations are important to the entire food chain and their decline could lead to an insect population explosion, which could be critical in many areas.”

Cox adds there are a few simple things we can do to start addressing the threats facing aerial insectivores, including providing good habitat, putting up nest boxes, leaving barn doors open for barn swallows (which are declining even faster) and leaving wetlands alone. But to get to the root of the problem, we must tackle climate change.

“I really enjoy working with huge datasets like this one and I’m hoping, with my experience, I can move on to studying other bird species,” Cox says. “I’m optimistic this research can contribute to the larger conversation on climate change.”

Along with examining the population dynamics of tree swallows, the Bonier Lab has a number of other research foci including the influence of urbanization on birds, the effects of warming temperatures on carrion beetles, and the ways malarial parasites affect a local population of red-winged blackbirds.

For example, in a global citizen science study of birds, she and collaborator Paul Martin discovered that competitive interactions among closely-related birds might be limiting avian biodiversity in cities. Overall, this work is revealing the ways that different animals respond to the challenges they face, including many threats that are increasing because of human activities.

The latest research into the tree swallow population was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Supporting the environment

[City council declare's climate emergency]
Following Kingston city council's declaration of a climate emergency Queen's students Teeghan Niblett-Wilson, Grace Leyden, Mia Berloni, Councillor Robert Kiley, Julia Weder, Sabrina Weber, and Professor Diane Orihel take a moment with Trillium District Councillor Robert Kiley, who forwarded the motion. (Supplied Photo)

Kingston recently became the first municipality in Ontario to declare a climate emergency and a group of Queen’s students helped provide some last-minute momentum for the landmark motion.

During its March 6 meeting, city council voted unanimously in support of the motion that was put forward by Trillium District Councillor and Queen’s alumnus Robert Kiley (Ed’12, MPA’13)

At the meeting a delegation comprised of five students from Diane Orihel’s (Biology, Environmental Studies) fourth-year course ENSC 480 (Communication in Environmental Science) made a presentation  in support of the motion, speaking to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, environmental, and social.

At the end of their presentation the group was asked a question: Why should the individual councillors and the City of Kingston care about their impact when there are other cities contributing so much more to the environmental problem?

For Sabrina Weber (Artsci’19), highlighted the biggest barrier to addressing environmental issues.

“This is the exact mentality that we need to combat in our current society. The belief that individual action is insufficient and will be insignificant is arguably the largest contributor to environmental concerns. If everyone passes off the blame and does not take responsibility for environmental issues at hand, then there is no accountability, and improvements will not be made,” she says. “The City of Kingston made a brave decision, to admit our wrongs, and make movements to become more accountable for our actions. To make policy decisions through a climate change frame of mind, and to make climate change mitigation an urgent priority.”

Shortly after the Queen’s group’s presentation, a vote was held. It was unanimous – all 13 members of city council voted to declare a climate emergency.

For Dr. Orihel it was an important moment not only because Kingston set a precedent for other Ontario municipalities to follow regarding climate issues but also because the students provided valuable information that led to the unanimous vote.

“These five young women did a phenomenal job delivering a powerful delegation to city council: they were courageous, passionate, articulate, and professional. The councillors asked them thoughtful questions and referred to their delegation several times during their discussion of the motion prior to the vote,” Dr. Orihel says. “A number of the city councillors remarked to me that if it had not been for the student’s delegation, the vote would not have been unanimous.”

The focus of the ENSC 480 course is to teach undergraduate students to communicate environmental science to non-expert audiences, such as media, policy makers, and the public. A few weeks before the city council meeting Dr. Orihel invited Kiley to be guest speaker. At that time he informed the class he would be presenting a motion to council to declare a climate emergency. Not surprisingly, there was great interest in seeing the motion get passed and Kiley suggested that the group make a presentation to city council.

Overall, it has been a valuable learning experience for all involved says Mia Berloni (Artsci’19). While five students were in the presenting group, all 18 students in the class were involved in brainstorming and conducting research.

“The reaction to the delegation’s involvement and presentation has been extremely positive. Dr. Orihel has been instrumental in facilitating this positive experience,” Berloni says. “Through encouraging and facilitating class participation in this amazing experiential learning opportunity she has allowed us all to grow not only as communicators but as advocates. I did not expect that our delegation would help result in a unanimous vote in favor of a climate emergency. This experience has helped show me that advocacy and effective communication can have an impact on decision makers.”

The Conversation: Echoes of 2008 – Could climate change spark a global financial crisis?

Increasingly severe losses for insurers due to climate change could result in a global financial crisis.


[Forest Fire]
A forest fire rages in Klamath National Forest. (Photo by Matt Howard/Unsplash)

The dire climate change situation continues to make headlines and inspire actions like the Sunrise Movement.

Recently, United States congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey pushed the debate about addressing climate change forward by introducing resolutions for a Green New Deal to transform the American economy.

[The Conversation]The Green New Deal is supported by politicians currently seeking the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Proponents of the proposed deal, like Ocasio-Cortez, rightly point out the pressing urgency to implement policy to reduce the impact of climate change. She likened this effort to other massive undertakings in U.S. history, such as the moon landing and the civil rights movement. The Green New Deal represents an endeavour on a similar scale aimed at addressing climate change.

But despite all the climate change buzz, its impact on the insurance industry has been largely absent from discussion. This is especially significant considering the importance of insurance in managing risk. It’s surprising that media coverage on the Green New Deal has not included some mention of insurance especially because insurers, and particularly American insurers, enable and invest in the fossil fuel industry. All of the largest U.S. insurance companies, including AIG and Berkshire Hathaway, continue to invest in and underwrite the coal industry.

The intersection of insurance and climate

A recent report from Cambridge University has underlined just how necessary it is to have conversations about the intersection of insurance and climate in the context of the Green New Deal. The Cambridge report was produced in partnership with top global insurance and reinsurance firms.

Alarmingly, the report highlights that increasingly severe losses for insurers due to climate change could result in a global financial crisis. Given the historical precedent for economic crises caused by insurance losses, the industry is justifiably concerned.

The history of insurance is in fact the history of crisis. Since its inception, the insurance industry has had to grapple with its exposure to catastrophe. The traditional way it’s done so is by transferring catastrophic risk to reinsurance companies —firms that specialize in providing insurance coverage to insurers and spreading the risk globally so as to dilute its impacts.

However, these efforts are not always successful, and massive catastrophes continue to result in the bankruptcy of insurers.

As I discussed in a previous article written in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, significant changes have occurred in the insurance industry in an attempt to better insulate primary insurance companies from catastrophic risk.

These changes have largely been focused on increasing the amount of what’s known as reinsurance capital available to cover insurers’ exposure to catastrophe.

New strategies involve the introduction of alternative sources of reinsurance capital provided by bringing capital market investors into the insurance sector. This process has been accomplished through the packaging of risk into insurance-linked securities, and then selling those securities to institutional investors like sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and dedicated hedge funds specializing in catastrophic risk.

Pattern repeating

The scenarios raised in the Cambridge report about a global financial crisis brought on by the collision of climate change and insurance fit the historical pattern of the industry.

Changes to the insurance industry since the mid-1990s, along with the proliferation of alternative reinsurance sources through the integration of capital markets and institutional investors, are significant. That’s why initiatives like the Green New Deal must take into account the changes occurring in the insurance industry.

The primary source of systemic risk outlined in the Cambridge report stems from rising global temperatures and untenable losses to insurers as a result. For example, the authors warn that if climate change is left unchecked, the world will witness the tripling of catastrophic losses on property investments over the next 30 years.

Eerily reminiscent of 2008

While this is a shocking and extremely disturbing finding, there are other equally troubling ways that the intersection of insurance and climate change could produce global financial systemic risk.

That’s due to the transformation of risk into securities which are then sold to capital market investors.

The creation of insurance-linked securities to increase the availability of reinsurance capital to primary insurers — and better protect them from catastrophic risk — creates at the same time a perverse incentive structure. It’s very similar to the mortgage-backed securities that formed the underlying risky assets that caused the 2008 crisis.

With the growth of alternative reinsurance capital in the sector and massive government programs, as well as global institutions turning towards the securitization of catastrophic risk in response to climate change, another global financial crisis is certainly a possibility, just as the authors of the Cambridge report warn.

While massive and courageous transformations to our economies and societies like the Green New Deal are necessary in the face of climate change, we must broaden our conversations to include the increasing integration of insurance and finance.

If we don’t, strategies adopted to address climate change, like the buying and selling of catastrophic risk, could produce calamitous outcomes themselves.The Conversation


Korey Pasch is a doctoral candidate in the fields of international relations and comparative politics in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University  

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

Building research infrastructure

Queen’s University researchers have secured more than $1 million in research infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

“Through this support, researchers will be able to build the foundational research infrastructure required to conduct cutting-edge research, and contribute to important new developments in their fields,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research).

 A total of nine Queen’s researchers will receive the federal funding in a variety of fields, from the ongoing search for dark matter to investigating stem cells, to probing the transition from suicide ideation to attempts to establishing a mobile-inclusive music theatre makerspace.

The following Queen’s researchers have received funding:

Sheela Abraham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has received $162,500 to further the study of cancer stem cells in relation to chronic myeloid leukaemia using systems biology. With the funding, she plans to investigate cell signaling events outside cells controlled by extracellular vesicles and look into if these extracellular vesicles may be key controllers in the aging of stem cells and how this could lead to cancer. Dr. Abraham will also investigate the possibility of using extracellular vesicles as biomarkers for chronic myeloid leukaemia, which would help doctors detect the disease more efficiently, and improve patient treatment and survival.

Joseph Bramante (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy) has received $49,970 to better determine dark matter’s origin, character, and connection to known physics. Novel new physics search techniques are being developed alongside identified techniques, including using thermal emission of neutron stars as a signature of dark matter, searches for multiply interacting massive particles at underground laboratories, the abundance of elements like gold in dwarf galaxy as a tracer of so-called “asymmetric” dark matter, and charting dark matter’s interaction with neutrinos.

Julia Brook and Colleen Renihan (Dan School of Drama and Music) has received $40,800 to create a music theatre makerspace in order to examine the development and implementation of music theatre activities with underserved populations, such as students in rural and on-reserve communities as well as seniors and adults with cognitive exceptionalities. Participants will work with facilitators to develop music theatre activities using acoustic and digital music tools as well as custom made sets and costumes from the makerspace.

Kenneth Clark (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy) has received $189,951 to develop a scintillating bubble chamber to support the ongoing search for dark matter. Direct detection involves the interaction of dark matter in a purpose-built detector such as that used by the PICO collaboration. This group has produced world-leading results for a spin-dependent interaction of dark matter with the backgrounds being the largest issue. The scintillating bubble chamber would identify these backgrounds, leveraging the current efforts for a significant improvement in the dark-matter hunt.

Vahid Fallah (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) has received $125,000 to support research into improving the process of selective laser melting, also called metal 3D printing. In this research program, the selective laser melting processing of reactive/sensitive metals will be optimized for more stability and a less reactive build environment. The former will be achieved by optimizing the laser optics assembly, and the latter will be realized by strictly controlling the build atmosphere through an innovative build enclosure design.

Madhuri Koti (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has received $150,000 to support her research program’s goals of identify tumour-specific genetic features that specifically associate with the anti-tumour immune responses and whether these could aid in decision making for combination immunodulatory treatment; design optimal combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy approaches for use with immune stimulating drugs; and  develop markers of chemotherapy-specific host immune alterations for future design of biomarker guided clinical trials to improve patient outcomes.
Bhavin Shastri (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy) has received $132,500 to establish a facility with an experimental test and measurement platform and an optical probe station to demonstrate photonic integrated circuits for neuromorphic computing. Photonic neuromorphic processors have the potential to outperform microelectronics in energy efficiency and computational speeds by seven- and four-orders of magnitude, respectively.

Jeremy Stewart (Psychology) has received $100,000 to support research into identifying factors that predict the transition from suicide ideation to attempts. This transition is a pivotal target for suicide prevention, but little is known about which youth will make this shift and what processes are involved.  The research will employ electrophysiology, laboratory-based behavioural observation, and real-time, daily Smartphone-based assessments to gain novel insights into the processes involved.

Aaron Vincent (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy) has received $50,000 for his research into developing novel ways to search for and detect dark matter, using its effect on stars such as the sun, and how to use neutrinos as probes of new physics beyond the Standard Model. This research relies on computer simulations of particle physics and astronomical systems such as stars, clusters, and the cosmos, as well as statistical methods aimed at exploring the many possible models of new physics to compare them with data from dozens of different experiments conducted in underground laboratories, ground-based observatories, and in space.

For more information on the supported projects, or to learn more about the John R. Evans Leaders fund, visit innovation.ca.

Find out more about research at Queen’s.

Don’t miss out on research funding opportunities, subscribe to the University Research Services Funding Opportunities listserv. 

When world-class education meets world-class arts

  • Film editing room
    Students from the Department of Film and Media work in the state-of-the-art sound studio at the Isabel.
  • Students learn about film theory and criticism in one of our three new classrooms at the Isabel
    Among the learning spaces offered at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts are three bright, modern classrooms.
  • Student Lounge
    Queen's students, staff, and faculty can relax in the Henry Preston Courtney and Lillian Courtney Lounge overlooking Lake Ontario. (Photo by Suzy Lamont)
  • Film class in session in our 90-seat Gordon Vogt Film Screening Room at the Isabel Bader Centre
    A film class is held in the 90-seat Gordon Vogt Film Screening Room at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, one of the many modern learning spaces.
  • Theatre performance
    The Power Corporation of Canada Studio Theatre is a 100-seat black box studio theatre designed to provide the theatrical equivalent of a blank slate.
  • Performance Hall
    With a 566-seat capacity and world-class acoustics, the Performance Hall of the Isabel offers Queen's students and artists from around the world a performance experience like no other.

From the moment planning began on the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, it was envisioned the facility would play a leading role in transforming Queen’s University.

A world-class performing arts centre and learning facility, built thanks to a donation from Alfred and Isabel Bader, the overall focus on excellence was aimed at drawing acclaimed artists from around the world, provide Queen’s students with a transformational learning experience, while at the same time fostering innovation and acting as an incubator for new work and thought. 

“Dr. Alfred Bader was a visionary man who transformed the tragic adversity of his young life into a tremendous vitality for life and a celebration for the highest potential of humankind,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel. He set his vision and standards high.”

Opened in September 2014, the Isabel was designed by award-winning architecture firms Snøhetta and N45 Architecture Inc., in collaboration with acoustic and audiovisual consultants ARUP and theatre design consultants Theatre Projects Consultants. The result is a performing arts centre with no peer at a Canadian university. The Isabel is home to the Department of Film and Media and the Dan School of Drama and Music.

Now in its fifth season, Baldwin says the centre is meeting, and even exceeding, this original vision. Queen’s is a better educational institution now, she says, providing students with unique learning opportunities, whether in the concert hall, the theatre, or the classroom. 

In addition to attracting internationally-acclaimed and top emerging artists, the Isabel has branched into socially-engaged art in a powerful fusion of the arts and social justice with its Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival and the Ka’tarohkwi Festival of the Arts. 

“We imagine a university where socially-engaged art is an experiential approach to human rights, which helps future citizens transform political realities. We see artists as the cultural agents of change who bring issues of the minority into the field of vision of the majority – in a way that resonates,” Baldwin says. “The role of the arts is especially important right now in interpreting the contemporary ‘politics of identity’ that are fueling both the right and left sides of the political spectrum worldwide.

“What is the new dimension that has come in to the university experience as a result of having a world-class performing arts centre as part of the lifeblood of this institution?” she asks. “It actually expanded the architecture in our own minds and because it’s multi-disciplinary, it has started to create some really interesting collaborations that would have been different if we had just a film centre, a music centre, and a drama centre.”

And that, she believes, is the genius behind emphasizing excellence in the centre itself, as well as combining disciplines. The result has been creativity and innovation.

From the start, it was clear that The Isabel is a fantastic performing arts centre, with the concert hall in particular acting as a beacon for world-class acts as word of the stellar acoustics and performance experience spread.

As a result, the Queen’s and Kingston communities have been able to take advantage of these concerts, competitions, and festivals to see performers that otherwise may not have come to Kingston. The true beneficiaries, Baldwin points out, have been students of the performing arts who have been able to meet a wide range of artists and experience the same world-class facilities on a daily basis. 

“A great hall, like a great instrument, enables you to be the best that you can be,” she says, pointing to the excellence of the Isabel, from the architecture to the programming to the artist and audience experience. “That is very influential in life. In order for Canada to thrive we actually have to have a group of graduates who are shooting for the stars and not saying ‘good enough.’”

At the same time there has been a particular focus on bringing in emerging artists, both from across Canada and around the world. One example is Jeremy Dutcher, performer, composer, and member of the Tobique First Nation, who was awarded the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. Previously Dutcher, who sang in Professor Dylan Robinson’s Songs of Sovereignty program at the 2017 Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival, grabbed the attention of those at The Isabel including Baldwin. Taken by the acoustic quality of performing arts centre, Dutcher returned to record his Polaris Prize winning album at The Isabel

Dutcher returns to The Isabel to perform in the inaugural Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts curated by Dylan Robinson and being held throughout March, an event that builds on the social engagement first sparked through the human rights festival.

The influence on students, and others in the Queen’s and Kingston communities, is already clear.

“There is nothing like when, as a student, you witness a world-class artist. We’ve really focused on attracting emerging artists, these young artists that are coming through are so fantastic, who have just gone for it and worked really hard,” Baldwin says. “That actually influences how you see the world because you are exposed to someone of your own generation, who has that laser-beam focus and has gone for it. I think that is a really great influence and also to have that international view rather than a parochial view to say these are the best artists in the world of different genres and different cultures.”

Away from the stage, The Isabel is also a world-class education facility. A hub of interdisciplinary exchange, The Isabel offers students and faculty members state-of-the-art facilities including an art and media lab, rehearsal hall, studio theatre, a 92-seat screening room, and film editing suites along with modern classrooms, a film and media resource library, and a student lounge overlooking Lake Ontario. 

Where to from here? 

“The next mountain to climb for the Isabel is to get immersed in the virtual reality and augmented reality world as it is integrated with live performance,” Baldwin says. “This will be an important door of entry into the arts for the next generations of artists and audiences to imaginatively engage in the arts.” 

Since its opening, The Isabel has grown and evolved along with the students and artists who walk it halls. These accomplishments could not have happened without the generosity of Alfred and Isabel Bader.

While Dr. Bader passed away on Dec. 23, at the age of 94, his legacy will live on through the continuing artistic and education excellence at The Isabel Bader Performing Arts Centre.

“Alfred Bader has enabled the university to be ambitious in the best sense of the word for itself,” Baldwin says. “He would not have supported something that did not transform the university. He wanted students to get a world-class experience and that is the bigger gift that is the Queen’s experience.” 

Learn more about The Isabel online, including upcoming performances and festivals.


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