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Alumnus astronaut safely arrives at International Space Station

[Expedition 55 blasts off]
Drew Feustel and the rest of the Expedition 55 crew launch from Kazahkstan on Wednesday afternoon for a two day journey to the International Space Station. (Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)


March 23, 2018 update: Drew Feustel and the crew of Expedition 55 have arrived at the International Space Station (ISS). The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft docked onto the ISS at 3:43 pm EST after a two day journey from Earth. This was a flawless docking executed by the teams, according to the NASA live feed. Check out footage of the ISS capturing the Soyuz MS-08 below, and other details about the mission, and Dr. Feustel’s many connections to his alma mater.

March 21, 2018 update: Drew Feustel and the crew of Expedition 55 have safely launched into low-Earth orbit and are en route to the International Space Station. They will arrive at the ISS on Friday, March 23, at 3:41 pm EST. Check out the photos below of the launch and the Queen's viewing party, hosted by the Department of Geological Science and Geological Engineering.

  • [Expedition 55 crew prepare for launch]
    Expedition 55 flight engineer Drew Feustel of NASA, top, flight engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA, middle, and Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, bottom, wave farewell prior to boarding the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft for launch, Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
  • [Astronauts keep track of vital systems during launch]
    The Expedition 55 crew keep track of the ship's vital systems during launch. (Photo credit: NASA live feed)
  • [Department of Geological Science and Geological Engineering hosts launch viewing party]
    Students from the Department of Geological Science and Geological Engineering watch the launch of Expedition 55. (University Communications)
  • [Students watch the launch]
    Geological Science and Geological Engineering students got to witness Drew Feustel, an alumnus of their program, launch into low-orbit over Earth. (University Communications)
  • [Alex Braun shows students model shuttle]
    Alex Braun (Geophysics) shows Geological Science and Geological Engineering students a model of the shuttle, with a scale replica astronaut to show the immense size of the spaceship. (University Communications)
  • [Closeup of spaceship and lander model]
    A closeup of the model ship and lander that Alex Braun (Geophysics) brought to demonstrate the scale of the spaceship. (University Communications)

Blasting off to the International Space Station

On Wednesday, Drew Feustel (PhD’95, DSc’16) left Earth and began his journey into orbit as the next Canadian to live and work aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The Queen’s alumnus and astronaut is the Flight Engineer for Expedition 55 and will stay on the ISS for six months, taking over as Commander of the ISS in June for Expedition 56.

“We’re excited for Dr. Feustel’s third mission to space, on an expedition overseeing hundreds of experiments over six months,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “From astroparticle physics to clean tech, many of the tests he and his team will perform will contribute to research here on Earth and align with many areas of research excellence here at Queen’s.  We wish him the best for his expedition.” 

Students will get the chance to ask Dr. Feustel questions during a Queen’s-hosted Education Downlink event, Ask an Astronaut, on April 6. More details about this special event will be available soon.

Dr. Feustel’s journey to Queen’s and beyond

Dr. Feustel grew up in Michigan, and came to Kingston to complete a PhD in Geological Sciences at Queen’s in the nineties. He and his wife Indira, a speech-language pathologist from Ontario, met while both were studying at Purdue University. Dr. Feustel attained his Canadian citizenship while in Kingston, and moved to Houston after his PhD to pursue a career in geoscience. Their children, Ari and Aden, were born in Kingston and the family is still closely connected to the area through family and friends.

Dr. Feustel dreamt of becoming an astronaut since childhood, and became interested in the opportunity after watching the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) astronaut search in 1992. He then reached out to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield while in Houston who encouraged him to pursue his dream. Dr. Feustel applied to become an astronaut with NASA in 2000, and was selected on his first try. Expedition 55 will be his third mission to space.

Back on Earth, Dr. Feustel enjoys auto restoration, car and motorcycle racing, guitar, tennis, and water and snow skiing. It’s still unknown if he’ll bring any of his favourite hobbies with him to the ISS.

About the mission

At least two spacewalks are planned during the mission. Some of the planned experiments during Expedition 55 include:

  • studying thunder and lightning to learn more about the role of severe thunderstorms in Earth’s atmosphere and climate,
  • studying materials, coatings, and components in the harsh environment of space,
  • testing microgravity’s impact on bone marrow, and
  • simulating gravity aboard the ISS and testing on samples such as fruit flies, flatworms, plants, fish, cells, and protein crystals.

An alumni connection through music

Dr. Feustel has another connection with Queen’s: Rob Baker (Artsci’86), lead guitarist with The Tragically Hip.

“About 12 years ago, we were touring in the States and had an upcoming gig in Houston, and we got the call from Drew Feustel, asking if we’d be interested in having a tour of NASA’s facilities,” says Mr. Baker. “It was out of the blue to us, but we grew up in a certain time when the Apollo missions were front and centre in our childhoods growing up, so we were all excited to check it out. We rode the shuttle simulator, got to ask questions and saw them training in this gigantic pool, got a tour of the space arm – it was fantastic, and Drew was amazing with us.”

The two bonded over a shared love for music, and have stayed close friends since.

“He was in a band with a bunch of astronauts at NASA, playing in the same bar that we were. He said they played the greatest hits of the sixties, seventies, and the Tragically Hip,” says Mr. Baker. “I think he gets excited around musicians, but we get pretty excited around an astronaut.”

Mr. Baker wished his friend well on the voyage, and couldn’t wait to hear about everything he’ll get up to on the ISS.

“He’s not just a Canadian in space – he’ll be the Commander of the space station. He’s the king of space! It’s special, and a great connection for Queen’s.”

[Drew Feustel]
Dr. Feustel listens to a reporter’s question during the crew’s final day of qualification exams for Expedition 55 on Feb. 21, 2018, in Star City, Russia.
(Photo credit: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center/Andrey Shelepin and Irina Spektor)
[Drew Feustel with googles]
The Virtual Reality Laboratory at Johnson Space Center is an immersive training facility that provides real time graphics and motion simulators integrated with a tendon-driven robotic device to provide the kinesthetic sensation of the mass and inertia characteristics of any large object being handled.

Follow the journey

Keep this page bookmarked for updates as the launch approaches, and read more at:

Follow Dr. Feustel’s journey on social media:

[Drew Feustel]
Drew is picured here at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, an astronaut training facility located near the Johnson Space Center. Its main feature is a large indoor pool in which astronauts can perform extravehicular activity (EVA).


Provincial funding to strengthen Queen’s research teams

The Ontario government announces funding to support new Queen’s research teams and laboratory operations.

A total of 17 Queen’s researchers are receiving a combined $2,942,914 in funding from the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure programs and Early Researcher Awards – efforts designed to bolster the capacity of research teams and laboratories.

“Today’s funding announcement speaks not only to the ongoing research excellence demonstrated by our faculty, but also to the future potential their work holds in addressing exciting challenges in Ontario,” says John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research), Queen’s University. “On behalf of the university, I would like to thank the Government of Ontario for continuing to support the growth of research capacity and innovation at Queen’s, and at institutions across the province.”

Three of the winning faculty members received Early Researcher Awards, providing up to $140,000 to support the creation and operation of new research teams. This funding is used to hire personnel to assist in research experiments, including undergraduates, graduate students, technicians, associates, and others.

Additionally, 14 researchers were awarded support through the ORF Small Infrastructure Fund which helps cover the cost of acquiring or renewing research equipment, specimens, computer software, and other operational technology for laboratories.

“Innovative research is essential for future economic growth and I am thrilled with the investments being made in projects in Kingston and across Ontario,” says Sophie Kiwala, MPP for Kingston and the Islands. “The world-class research being conducted at Queen’s University is an immense source of pride for myself and our region and I look forward to seeing the results of this funding.”

ORF - Early Researcher Award recipients:

Frances Bonier (Biology) – $140,000
Carlos Escobedo (Chemical Engineering) -- $140,000
Madhuri Koti (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) – $140,000

ORF - Small Infrastructure Fund recipients:

Janet Dancey (Canadian Cancer Trials Group), David LeBrun (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), Lois Shepherd (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) – $197,065
Claire Davies (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) – $125,000
Peter Davies (Biochemistry), John Allingham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) – $100,192
Amer Johri (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) – $120,000
Lysa Lomax (Medicine) – $139,914
Susan Lord (Film and Media), Dylan Robinson (Art History; Cultural Studies), Rosaleen Hill (Art History and Art Conservation) – $400,000
Jacqueline Monaghan (Biology) – $125,641
Lois Mulligan (Queen’s Cancer Research Institute), Andrew Craig (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), Peter Greer (Pathology and Molecular Medicine)  – $124,040
Diane Orihel (Biology/School of Environmental Studies) – $167,602
Michael Rainbow (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) – $400,000
David Rival (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) – $76,520
R. Kerry Rowe (Civil Engineering) – $316,000
Graeme Smith (Obstetrics and Gynecology), Amer Johri (Medicine) – $63,540
Zhongwen Yao (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) – $167,400

More information is available on the Ontario Research Fund – Early Researcher Awards and Research Infrastructure Funds websites.

Recognizing Inuit governance in Canada

Natan Obed, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, shares his experience as head of the national Inuit governing organization and his vision for a future of respect between Inuit, federal, and provincial democracies.

Natan Obed, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, shares his knowledge of Inuit democracy and needs of Inuit communities. (Photo: University Communications)
Natan Obed, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, shares his knowledge of Inuit democracy and needs of Inuit communities. (Photo: University Communications)

Inuit face an uncertain future in the face of climate change, says the leader of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the organization protecting and advancing the rights and interests of Inuit in Canada.

“We’re not just canaries in an arctic coal mine,” says Natan Obed, who delivered the recent Tom Courchene Distinguished lectureship. “We are people with policy positions, and we’re here not just to tell our stories of our climate warming, but also to talk about what we need to do for mitigation and adaption. We work internationally and domestically to ensure we have an arctic to give to our future generations.”

Mr. Obed explored the challenges that many Inuit face today, including nutrition and food security, lack of housing, income disparity, youth suicide and health issues.

He also shared his perspective on the role of Inuit people and governance in Canada. He asked his audience to consider Canada’s current relationship with Indigenous peoples through the rights-based lens of Inuit self-determination.

“Instead of owning and managing resources, such as a mine in Voisey’s Bay – which could have made Nunatsiavut Inuit some of the wealthiest Canadians, with the best school systems the country, revitalized local language, and high economic development – we receive a percentage of tax revenue through the provincial government, and an impact benefit agreement,” says Mr. Obed. “While helpful, these still imagine that Inuit are on the fringes of any natural resource projects or benefit.”

As president of the ITK, Mr. Obed represents Inuit Nunangat, made up of four regions of the Inuit; Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, Nunavut, Nunavik in Northern Quebec, and Nunatsiavut in Labrador. In addition to preserving Inuit rights, culture, and languages, ITK represents the Inuit before the federal and provincial governments.

“It’s important to respect Indigenous governance,” says Mr. Obed. “We have our own governance model, and we haven’t just decided to take on dominant Canadian and western governance models that we don’t necessarily believe in. There is still a long way to go to achieve respect for Indigenous governance. Provinces and territories do not get to decide which Indigenous peoples or representatives are or are not at the table. Indigenous peoples should work together to come to an understanding of how an Indigenous democracy works with a Canadian democracy."

Mr. Obed discusses current issues with attendees during the Q&A portion of the lecture, moderated by Sarah Toole (left, MPA'18). (Photo: University Communications)
Mr. Obed discusses current issues with attendees during the Q&A portion of the lecture, moderated by Sarah Toole (left, MPA'18). (Photo: University Communications)

Inuit health is of great concern, says Mr. Obed. “Our life expectancy is a full 10 years less than that of non-Inuit Canadians. In a developed country, we face a tuberculosis rate of 275 times that of other Canadians born in Canada. This isn’t something that’s just happened – we’ve had an elevated rate of tuberculosis since the 1950s.

There are vast gaps between the outcomes of Inuit and Non-Inuit in Inuit Nunangat, and they are often driven by policies. The administration of those policies, which are directed towards the improvement of our lives, often don’t flow through our organizations. A key development in the quest for self-determination is to ensure that Inuit have control over where these funds go and how they are spent."

The Policy Speakers Series continues until the end of March. The next named lecture is the Gibson Lecture on Thursday, March 15, presented by Professor Emeritus Robert Wolfe (Policy Studies), titled ‘Renegotiating NAFTA: A new model for North American economic (dis)integration’.

For more information about the rest of the winter term lineup, see the Policy Speakers Series website.

Investing in innovative ideas

Teams of Queen’s and St. Lawrence College students will be receiving internships and other supports to implement their city-building ideas.

Mayor Bryan Paterson (MA’01, PhD’07) poses with Gurraj Ahluwalia, Nick Kuhl, Anna Geladi, and Mac Fitzgerald, members of a winning team from the Master of Planning program. The team pitched a winter cycling network that includes a pilot project for a two-way bike lane along Johnson Street. (Supplied Photo)
Mayor Bryan Paterson (MA’01, PhD’07) poses with Gurraj Ahluwalia, Nick Kuhl, Anna Geladi, and Mac Fitzgerald, members of a winning team from the Master of Planning program. The team pitched a winter cycling network that includes a pilot project for a two-way bike lane along Johnson Street. (Supplied Photo)

The City of Kingston will be investing in projects to potentially make it easier to get around town, and make it easier to find out what’s going on.

On Friday, the winners of the first Mayor’s Innovation Challenge were announced. This new competition was designed to garner innovative ideas which could address local challenges. Postsecondary students from across Kingston were invited to submit proposals and pitch before a panel of judges for the chance to win support for their ideas.  

“We saw wonderfully creative and innovative ideas come forward through this inaugural Mayor’s Innovation Challenge and I am looking forward to seeing the winning ideas come to life through the internships awarded,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson (MA’01, PhD’07). “We have so much talent in our community and I am proud this challenge has allowed us to showcase and harness this talent to address challenges we face while supporting and launching the careers of youth in Kingston.” 

A team of four Master of Planning students took away the top prize through their proposal for a pilot project to develop a multi-seasonal cycling network. The student team, including Anna Geladi, Nick Kuhl, Mac Fitzgerald and Gurraj Ahluwalia, will receive internships with the City, a $10,000 budget and support from City staff to help implement their project.

“The four of us came together to take on the Mayor’s Challenge because of our shared passion for active transportation,” says Mr. Fitzgerald. “It is both exciting and validating to have won the competition, knowing how much work we put into our proposal and that our ideas resonated with the judges and the City. We are all looking forward to seeing some of our suggestions come to fruition this summer and eager to become even more involved with active transportation planning in Kingston through our internship.”

Two proposals, each focused on enhancing local attractions and learning opportunities for youth through event applications, tied to win the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) internship sponsored by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC). During the pitches, it became clear that there were strong synergies and complementary strengths between the two groups, and the judging panel encouraged them to merge and join the QICSI program as a team of four.

These teams, consisting of Queen’s students Skyler McArthur-O’Blenes (Artsci’19) and William Medeiros (Sc’18) and St. Lawrence College students Mark Mathieu and Brandon Crausen, will receive $7,000 stipends per team member for the summer and $4,000 in seed capital for their ideas.

“I'm incredibly excited to have the opportunity and the resources to realize an idea that just a few months ago was nothing more than brainstorming over paper plates of pad thai,” says Mr. Medeiros. “I'm incredibly appreciative to the judges for recognizing the synergy between the original teams and proposing a merger. I think we'll do great work together.”

James McLellan, Academic Director for the DDQIC, was one of the judges and says there was a palpable dynamic of excitement and sense of purpose in council chambers during the pitches.

“I’m very pleased and excited to be working with the City of Kingston on these social innovation projects,” says James McLellan, Academic Director for the DDQIC. “As a “townie” myself, I am impressed and grateful for the commitment that Mayor Patterson has shown to advancing innovation and entrepreneurship in the Kingston region, and I’m excited to see the close collaboration with the City of Kingston growing.”

The Mayor’s Innovation Challenge was made possible through partnership and collaboration with Bell Canada, Queen’s Centre for Advanced Computing, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, the Queen’s Centre for Social Impact, Royal Military College, and St. Lawrence College.

Widening the margins of public policy

The Policy Speakers Series featured Marlene Brant Castellano on her experiences advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Marlene Brant Castellano shares her experience advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada with the Queen's community.
Marlene Brant Castellano is the co-chair of the Queen’s Aboriginal Council and a well-respected scholar who provided leadership in the emergence of Indigenous Studies as an academic discipline. (Photo: University Communications)

The latest Policy Speakers Series lecture focused on an important conversation for Canada: How do servants of the public good listen to and account for the marginalized in society?

Marlene Brant Castellano, Professor Emerita and former Chair of Indigenous Studies at Trent University, delivered a lecture that highlighted her experience with the long history of institutional suppression of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, and the role that universities can play in bringing marginalized voices to the forefront of public policy.

“How do we reach out across an apparent cultural divide? How do we learn to trust those who would wish to be allies?” asks Dr. Castellano at the beginning of her lecture. “The visceral responses to threat is fight or flight, but there is also a third possibility: strategic engagement.”

Dr. Castellano is the co-chair of the Queen’s Aboriginal Council and a well-respected scholar who provided leadership in the emergence of Indigenous Studies as an academic discipline. As Co-Director of Research with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) from 1992 to 1996, she laid the groundwork for ethical research of Indigenous people. The overarching mandate of RCAP was to investigate the relationship of Indigenous peoples, the Canadian government, and Canadian society as a whole, and to propose specific solutions to problems faced by Indigenous communities.

“The principals of a renewed relationship, articulated in the final volume of RCAP, were very deliberately framed to connect with values espoused by Aboriginal peoples, and by Canadians: mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing, and mutual responsibility,” says Dr. Castellano. “The RCAP body of work was a beautiful example of carefully researched, thoughtfully argued, values-sensitive advocacy for acknowledging the presence and dignity of Aboriginal peoples in the Canadian federation.”

But for nearly 20 years, the RCAP report was largely inaccessible due to poor archival practices, expensive digital copy charges, and a lack of interest by the then Minister of Indian Affairs to share the report findings. Recently, the enormous information legacy that RCAP had sought to preserve came back to public view with a new life by Library and Archives Canada, following the release of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. It is now considered the first resource to build on to create a policy framework to recognize and implement Indigenous rights.

Dr. Castellano and Emma Esselink, the Masters of Public Administration student host for the event, delve deeper into the topic with a Q&A after the lecture.
Dr. Castellano and Emma Esselink, the Master of Public Administration student host for the event, delve deeper into the topic with a Q&A after the lecture. (Photo: University Communications)

“For the past 50 years, my work has been advocacy – giving voice on issues in forums where Indigenous peoples have no audible voice,” says Dr. Castellano. “My great reward is having strangers approach me with thanks for what I’ve written and spoken about, saying that they knew it, but couldn’t speak on it as I did. Having knowledge is a sacred gift. Sharing it is a sacred responsibility. When truth is uncovered and given breath, carried by your wind spirit, it touches and transforms peoples’ agency – the capacity to make things happen in their own lives and environment.”

The winter lecture series continues until the end of March. The next lecture is ‘Considering Canada’s Renewed Relationship With Indigenous Peoples Through the Rights-based Lens of Inuit Self-determination’ on Tuesday, March 6, presented by Natan Obed, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, as part of the 2018 Tom Courchene Distinguished Speaker Series.

For more information about the rest of the winter term lineup, see the Policy Speakers Series website.

Nobel Prize winner to speak on Einstein, black holes, and gravitational waves

Queen’s public lecture series hosts Nobel laureate to discuss the complex mysteries of the universe.

Illustration of a black hole (Credit: NSF LIGO Sonoma State University)
Illustration of a black hole (Credit: NSF LIGO Sonoma State University)

On Monday, March 5, the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre (CPARC) and the Queen’s Department of Physics will host Barry Barish, co-winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics, for a talk entitled Einstein, Black Holes, and Gravitational Waves. It will mark the first instalment of the new George & Maureen Ewan Public Lecture Series – a program designed to bring world-class speakers to Queen's to discuss their research with students, faculty, and the broader Kingston community.

Dr. Barish, professor emeritus of physics at the California Institute of Technology, was recognized by the Nobel Committee for his decisive contributions to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and the observation of gravitational waves – disturbances in the fabric of space-time first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916.

“We’re very excited to host Dr. Barish as the inaugural guest speaker of the George & Maureen Ewan Public Lecture Series,” says Tony Noble, Scientific Director, CPARC. “It will be wonderful to have another Nobel laureate in physics speaking on campus as it further compliments all of the incredible work in astro- and particle physics taking place at Queen's and with our research partners across the country.”

Queen’s Professor Emeritus Art McDonald was co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2015 for the discovery that neutrinos – subatomic particles so tiny they are even difficult to detect – have mass.

Dr. Barish will be sharing the story of how gravitational waves were first theorized and about how a team decided to put the theory to the test by building the LIGO detector. He will also discuss the major academic strides that have been made since observing them, and what the future may hold for this area of study – and, more importantly, what it all means for our understanding of the universe.

“It took decades of study and literally thousands of scientists working together before gravitational waves were observed and became more than just a grand idea,” says Nathalie Ouellette, Education and Outreach Officer, CPARC. “Dr. Barish has been a crucial part of this historic effort and his contributions have helped turn the study of gravitational waves into one of the most cutting-edge fields in the physics world. His talk will be a really unique opportunity for the people of Kingston to hear from one of the field's leading minds.”

The George & Maureen Ewan Public Lecture Series is made possible by a donation of $100,000 by Queen's Professor Emeritus George Ewan and his wife, Maureen. Dr. Ewan, along with an international team of colleagues, founded the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), a subterranean neutrino observation facility located in a Sudbury, Ontario nickel mine. This facility enabled Dr. McDonald's Nobel-winning neutrino research, a years-long experiment conducted in collaboration with Dr. Ewan and other leading scientists.

With his work recognized at the highest level, the 90-year-old Dr. Ewan now pushes ahead with the goal of influencing the next generation of scientists at Queen’s.

“It is vital that we scientists make our work accessible to the general public,” said Dr. Ewan when the lecture series was first announced. “My dream is to have them come to Queen’s to give lectures on the state of their experiments and especially about their results, and to do it in a way that people without PhDs can understand.”

Attendees on March 5 will have a chance to ask questions of Dr. Barish following his lecture. Doors at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts will open at 6:30 p.m. and the talk will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are free and attendees are encouraged to register in advance.

Branching out into Indigenous research

Alyssa Aiello (ArtsSci’18) participated in the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship program
Alyssa Aiello (Artsci’18) took the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship program as an opportunity to research in a new subject area and expand her geography education.

Alyssa Aiello (Artsci’18) wanted to find a research-based summer job during her second year of her Bachelor of Arts in Geography through the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s. She learned about the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship (USSRF) through one of her professors.

“At first I never thought it was something I could do until my third or fourth year,” says. Ms. Aiello. “Dr. Castleden introduced me to the program, and she had faith in me, so I had faith in myself – so I applied!”

Heather Castleden (Geography and Planning, Public Health Sciences) is the director of the Health, Environment and Communities Research Lab (HEC Lab), a research group co-located between Queen’s University and Dalhousie University. The HEC Lab researches social, environmental, and health equity issues using community-based participatory research. The Lab’s focus on Indigenous issues was of interest to Ms. Aiello, and seemed to be a perfect fit for her independent research project.

“The USSRF program is a great opportunity for intellectually keen undergraduate students; it builds their research skills with hands-on practice in an environment of mentorship, it allows them to earn a line of their academic CV in the category of scholarships - which will help them stand out in future scholarship competitions when they enter grad school, and it allows them to do paid work in an environment that aligns with their academic interests,” says Dr. Castleden. “The USSRF program is also a great opportunity for faculty. We get to bring bright and enthusiastic undergraduate trainees into our labs to help us with our research endeavours.”

Ms. Aiello worked in the HEC Lab, and created a research project focused on the ways Indigenous leaders were portrayed in national news media on renewable energy in 2016.

“I wanted to see how Indigenous leaders were being portrayed in the media to understand the conversation happening in the general public, and how that influences further development and policy,” says Ms. Aiello. “I chose to study news coverage in 2016 because the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report was released in 2015. I wanted to use that as a benchmark to see how they were portrayed post-report.”

Ms. Aiello analyzed four national news organizations: CBC, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), The National Post, and the Globe and Mail. She created a comparative media content analysis of their coverage of Indigenous leaders discussing renewable energy projects, policies, and budgets. She found that across all news sources, Canadian national news media portrayed Indigenous leadership in three primary roles; as protestors, partners, and participants. The Indigenous news source also portrayed Indigenous leaders as demonstrating stewardship, action-oriented involvement, and community-based in nature.

“This research can be a starting point for the HEC Lab. We brainstormed that it could go on to be a ten-year study, to see how the conversation around Indigenous voices in renewable energy is shaped, and how that could impact decisions over time," says Ms. Aiello.

In the fall after her fellowship, Ms. Aiello attended the Canadian Association of Geographers – Ontario Division (CAGONT) Conference in Kingston and presented her findings as a poster. She won the CAGONT Best Student Poster Award and enjoyed the opportunity to meet peers in her field, and present her findings to her local community.

“Being able to branch out into a new subject, research my own project, and get paid was very beneficial. Having the opportunity to conduct research in my undergrad, without the risk of grade-based consequences, made the process a lot less stressful,” says Ms. Aiello.

To learn more about the USSRF, visit the Queen’s University Research Services website. The application deadline for the 2018 summer program is March 9, 2018.

Unprecedented grant awarded to Queen’s Art Conservation

Prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding for Queen’s Master of Art Conservation program increases focus on Indigenous material culture.

The internationally-recognized Master of Art Conservation program at Queen’s has received a grant of $632,000 over five years from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop conservation research and online courses with a focus on Indigenous material culture.

Specifically, the new funding will help initiate and implement comprehensive change to the program’s curriculum and research activities and will help advance the university’s goals of diversity, equity, anti-racism and inclusion. 

Art Conservation student Paige Van Tassel  at work on a piece of art
Conservation student Paige Van Tassel is mechanically surface cleaning a 19th century Iroquois beaded frame. Photo by Marissa Monette

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to a heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Importantly, this is the first time the United States-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has funded a Canadian art conservation project.

“We are very grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support for this project,” says Rosaleen Hill, Director of the Art Conservation Program. “We are excited to have this opportunity to engage with the broader community, nationally and internationally, in curriculum diversification. This project will have a significant and lasting impact through the development of online courses and the creation of an international network of colleagues focused on diversity."

Founded in 1974 as Canada’s only graduate program in art conservation, the Queen’s program has established key priorities, including an increased focus on Indigenous material culture and ethics. As graduates from this program go on to care for objects and artworks in public and private collections, this project will have a fundamental influence on how these objects are preserved and accessed in future.

The new five-year project also focuses on developing strengths in research and curriculum on both Indigenous material cultures and modern media and is designed to increase course accessibility through the use of web-based learning.

The proposed activities of the project include:

  • Symposiums to engage the Canadian and international conservation communities, and the broader field of cultural heritage, in an open discussion related to the challenges involved in the development of new curriculum
  • Hosting visiting scholars to build local, national and international networks which include Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers, to support curriculum diversification focusing on Indigenous material and modern media
  • Web-based courses to maximize access to new curriculum content
  • Increasing diversity in the conservation profession through engagement with under-represented groups, coordination with heritage institutions with Indigenous youth programs to provide a pathway to graduate studies in art conservation

“One of our institutional research strengths, the Art Conservation program is internationally recognized for excellence in scholarship and for the development of graduates who go on to work in the world’s leading museums, archives and galleries,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). "This support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow the program to better diversify and support a more inclusive and global approach to preservation, such as exploring new and innovative ways to recognize and incorporate traditional knowledge.”

For more information on the Queen’s program, visit the website.

  • Art conservation professor and students work to restore baskets.
    Amandina Anastassiades, Assistant Professor, Artifact Conservation, works with students restoring a selection of unique woven baskets.
  • Alison Murray, Associate Professor, Conservation Science, discusses techniques with a student of the Master's of Art Conservation program at Queen's.
  • A student of the Master's of Art Conservation program
    A student of the Master's of Art Conservation program works on restoring a painting. The program has received a grant of $632,000 over five years from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • An art conservation student works with an old photograph.
    Students of the Master's of Art Conservation program work with a range of media, including artistic objects, paintings, and photographs.

Residency a homecoming for soprano

Susan Gouthro returns to Kingston and Queen's as artist-in-residence at the Dan School of Drama and Music, will perform at The Isabel on March 9.

Susan Gouthro returns to Kingston and Queen's as Artist-in-Residence at Dan School of Drama and Music, will perform at The Isabel on March 9.
Soprano Susan Gouthro (Artsci'99) will be artist-in-residence at the Dan School of Drama and Music from March 5 to 10 and will perform at The Isabel on March 9. (Supplied Photo)

When Canadian soprano Susan Gouthro arrives at the Dan School of Drama and Music as the artist-in-residence from March 5 to 10, it will also be a homecoming for the Queen’s University alumna.

After graduating in 1999 with a Bachelor of Music, Ms. Gouthro then completed her formal training with a Master’s of Music from Western University. Her training then led her to Europe and she took up a permanent soloist position with the Kiel Opera House from 2002-2014, performing roles including Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème, Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Rosalinde in Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.

During her Queen’s residency, Ms. Gouthro will visit several classes, lead a vocal master class and will be available for consultation with students or faculty. The residency will culminate with a public recital with Queen’s alumna and pianist Allison Gagnon, at the Isabel Bader Centre on Friday, March 9 at 7:30 pm. The program includes works by Poulenc, Wolf, Burge, Harbison and Yeston.

She is certain that returning to Queen’s, and her hometown Kingston, will be special.

“I haven’t had much contact at all with the university since I left. I had been toying with the idea of doing a concert in Kingston or at Queen’s for years but it just hadn’t come to fruition since I was always working in Germany,” she says. “I’ve never really sung professionally in my own country, let alone hometown.  Therefore, despite singing professionally for 15 years, many of my friends and family have not had the opportunity to see me perform live. So, doing this concert at Queen’s enables me not only to perform for the university and music community, but also for some dear friends and family members.” 

Dr. Gagnon has led an outstanding career both as a pianist and an educator. She currently directs the Collaborative Piano Program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and appears in recital with both instrumental and vocal colleagues. Before joining the UNCSA faculty in 1998, she taught at Queen’s and was staff pianist at McGill University.

Recently, Gouthro moved to Harrisonburg, Va., where she is pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance, Pedagogy and Literature at James Madison University.

However, Queen’s will always be a special place for her, thanks to the friendships she developed as well as finding her love of music even though she started off in English studies.

“My time as a student at Queen’s is very full of fond memories,” she says. “I remember vividly switching into the School of Music and just being amazed at how I was learning something new each day that I had never heard of before.  You see I fell into music and did not have a background of musical training. Starting at 21 is late indeed – but it worked. I was fascinated with the idea of performing and so drawn to it.  I am so grateful to have found the opportunity to have that nurtured at Queen’s.” 

Concert information and tickets are available at The Isabel website. Further information about the performers is available online.

Gouthro’s residency is supported by the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund and the Faculty of Arts and Science Visiting Scholar program.

Karilee Whiteway: 1960-2018

Karilee Whiteway

Karilee Whiteway, a research administrator for the School of Computing, died Feb. 5. She was 58.

Ms. Whiteway had a lasting, positive impact on her friends and colleagues at Queen’s and will be greatly missed.

During her time at Queen’s she was honored with the Special Recognition for Staff Award and the inaugural Queen’s School of Computing Distinguished Service Award.

A brief obituary is available online.


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