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A Union of researcher and artist

A Queen’s graduate student will “exhibit” her research on Nov. 14 in a space usually reserved for sculptures and paintings.

The Union Gallery has invited Carina Magazzeni (MA’16) to discuss the way her research relates to the artworks currently on display at the gallery. The artist will also attend and talk about his work at the same time.

[Jude Griebel, Stepping Out]
Carina Magazzeni (MA'16) will discuss the connections between her research and the work of artist Jude Griebel, including his piece "Stepping Out" (above) that is currently on display at the Union Gallery.

Jocelyn Purdie, the director of the Union Gallery, says Visual Bites in Context was born out of a desire to open up new avenues of interdisciplinary programming at the gallery.

“Visual Bites in Context is a new and exciting way to discover the research taking place within the Queen’s community,” she says. “We hope the event sparks some interesting discussion around the connections between artists and researchers in different disciplines and facilitates a deeper understanding of their work.”

Ms. Magazzeni, a master’s candidate in the cultural studies program, will talk about how her research connects with Jude Griebel’s sculptures, which fuse human anatomy with allegorical counterparts. Ms. Magazzeni’s research focuses on the visual consumption of the non-human animal body through the art of taxidermy, and the changes in perception of those works after they’re removed from a natural history museum setting and placed within an art gallery.

“When I heard about the event, I thought it was a great way to present my research in an intellectual space without the pressure of a large conference,” Ms. Magazzeni says. “I also liked the idea of connecting with people across disciplines, especially artists. It’s been great bouncing ideas off of Jude.”

Visual Bites in Context will take place on Friday, Nov. 14 at 4 pm, followed by the closing reception of the current exhibitions from 5-7 pm. Located on the ground floor of Stauffer Library, Union Gallery is a space where exciting visual art fresh from the artist’s studio challenges and surprises visitors. Exhibitions and events bring together students, faculty, staff and community members to meet the artists and chat among friends about the work on display. 

Jaime Angelopoulos and Derrick Piens who are featured in the other exhibition at the gallery, will give a talk on Thursday as part the fine art program’s 2014-15 Visiting Artist Lecture Series. The Toronto-based artists will present their lecture at 2:30 pm at the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies (28 Division St.), room 100.

Diving deep to uncover history of rocks

[Noel James]
Noel James teaching carbonate sedimentology in Bermuda.

 

[Queen's in the World
Queen's in the World

As a PhD student, Noel James (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering) saw a research opportunity to examine relatively young rocks, especially reef rocks, on and around the island of Barbados.

There was only one problem: he lacked a key skill required to understand reef rocks.

“I had never been a diver before. Literally, I learned to dive so I could work on my PhD in a semi-intelligent way,” he says.

Dr. James was hooked on scuba diving right away, which has allowed him to conduct extensive research on coral reefs, shallow seafloors and open shelves, the birthplace of many ancient limestones. From his original marine work in the Caribbean, Dr. James expanded his scope to innovative research on carbonate sedimentary rocks in the High Arctic, the Rocky Mountains, deserts in the Middle East and Australia’s Red Centre.

His contributions to the field earned him the Sorby Medal, the highest award of the International Association of Sedimentologists. The organization has only awarded the medal eight times over the past 40 years.

“It was a shock when I found out I’d won. I looked back at the previous medalists and they were my heroes. I thought, ‘what am I doing with this group of people?’” he says. “The other awards I have received have been profound but this one really affected me quite deeply because it’s worldwide.”

Dr. James, member of the Order of Canada, shares a connection with previous Sorby medalist Bob Ginsburg. After finishing his PhD, Dr. James worked with Dr. Ginsburg to establish a laboratory at the University of Miami. Their research focused on comparing ancient carbonate rocks such as limestone to modern seafloor sediments formed by the shells of dead calcareous organisms often using research submersibles to probe the deep zones of reef growth.

Dr. James carried on that style of research when he returned to Canada, examining rocks in locations across Canada while continuing his work on the modern seafloor. His passion for field work spills over into his teaching, where he infuses his undergraduate and graduate courses with his experiences. In addition he currently takes exceptional students to the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences each year to let them experience first-hand the complexities of reef growth.

“In a course like Geological Evolution of North America, I can tell the students what I found working in the Arctic on 3-billion-year-old rocks. I can use my own pictures and illustrations,” he says. “It’s nice to see them perk up when you are talking about what you have done. I hope in the back of their minds they are thinking, ‘maybe I can do that, too.’

Dr. James accepted the Sorby Medal at the 19th International Sedimentological Congress in Geneva.

Gift helps build connections, passion with natural world

[QUBS Donation]
A $1 million gift from Jessie Deslauriers, Artsci’87, Artsci’91, is resulting in the construction of a new research and teaching facility at Queen’s University Biological Station. (Supplied photo)

Jessie Deslauriers’ “favourite place in the world” is the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS). She’s honouring the place where she spent so much time while earning her biology degrees with a $1 million gift to build a new research and teaching facility.

The building, which will open officially next spring, has a library named in honour of Ms. Deslauriers’ father, noted journalist Jack Hambleton, four laboratory classrooms and a herbarium.

“QUBS is so important for research and learning, especially now as field stations across the country are much diminished,” says Ms. Deslauriers, Artsci'87, Artsci'91.

Now retired, the Kingston resident earned her degrees by taking one course a year while working full-time as an administrator in a number of Queen’s departments. She also sat on University Council for eight years.

Ms. Deslauriers’ love for biology stretches back to her youth when she roamed through Toronto’s green spaces rescuing injured birds and baby bats.

Her father indulged her enthusiasm for all things wild and natural because he too had a love for nature, as well as being a well-known author and newspaper reporter. The first editions of his published works, which include topics on Ontario hunting and fishing, will have found a home in the Jack Hambleton Library, a key feature of the new facility.

At QUBS, Ms. Deslauriers found her family. Long-time QUBS director Raleigh Robertson (now retired), QUBS manager Frank Phelan, and past assistant manager Floyd Connor became her “brothers.” A cabin in which she stayed while doing her field research, fondly referred to as Bunkie One, became her home away from home.

“Those guys always accommodated me even when my job got in the way of my studies. They found ways to let me continue my research,” she says.

Stephen Lougheed, the current director of QUBS, cannot say enough about Ms. Deslauriers’ generous spirit and what it will do for the station.

“A gift of this magnitude will enrich the lives of hundreds and hundreds of students for years to come. It will help them gain insights into and passion for the natural world,” he says.

In practical terms, Dr. Lougheed sees the new facility as a “capacity building enterprise” that will greatly enhance teaching and research for undergraduate and graduate students, not just from Queen’s but from around the world.

The library, with a view of Lake Opinicon, will be a beautiful and calming space, where researchers can congregate and students will write their papers and theses. The 144,000-specimen herbarium will foster new research in plant ecology and conservation including work on invasive species. The four new laboratories will allow for multiple research groups and classes to work simultaneously.

Dr. Lougheed believes Ms. Deslauriers' gift speaks powerfully to connections people have with QUBS. As one of the premier scientific field stations in Canada, thousands of students have studied and explored the Lake Opinicon area for almost 70 years. They’ve conducted research and participated in courses spanning ecology, evolution, conservation, geography and environmental science. Ms. Deslauriers is creating a lasting legacy for this remarkable place that continues to inspire students seeking to understand the natural world.

Researchers working towards a cure

Four Queen’s University professors have received funding from the Cancer Research Society to continue their research into treatments for cancer. Lois Mulligan, Bruce Elliott, Peter Greer (Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine) and Madhuri Koti (Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) each received a $120,000 grant.

“Queen’s University has extensive expertise in fields of cancer research and treatment, both fundamental and clinical,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “The investment being made is a testament to the strength of our researchers and potential to make a significant difference to a very important health issue. I look forward to watching the progress of these four remarkable researchers unfold with the support of the Cancer Research Society.”

Working in the Queen's Cancer Research Institute, researchers study cancer cells under a microscope.

The specific projects are as follows:

Dr. Koti is working to identify mechanisms in the immune system within the cancerous tumour that might contribute to individual differences in response to chemotherapy. This research will allow a personalized treatment approach for patients living with ovarian cancer.

Dr. Mulligan is focusing on a molecule called RET that helps convey signals to cells allowing them to grow or move. In a growing number of cancers, RET has been shown to help the cancerous tumour grow and spread to other sites. Her research will explore the roles of RET, which will provide tools to understand the system and combat human cancer.

Dr. Greer is studying Arpin, a recently discovered protein that plays a role in the spread of cancer. His research looks at how the disruption of Arpin in breast cancer cells blocks their ability to spread from the breast to other organs such as the liver and lungs. He is working to prove the theory that Arpin inhibition could help prevent the spread of breast cancer.

Dr. Elliott and his team are working to understand the mechanisms of cancer metastasis to the lymph nodes, a key indicator of a poor outcome in cancer patients. He is developing a model to image this metastasis process in real time to provide better understanding of the process. This information will move us a step closer to testing therapies that can prevent early cancer spread to the lymphatic system.

Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in a variety of disciplines.

Bullying expert honoured for changing lives

A Canadian leader in bullying prevention, Queen’s University researcher Wendy Craig was honoured Monday with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Partnership Award. One of five SSHRC Impact Awards, the honour recognizes a SSHRC‑funded formal partnership for its outstanding achievement in advancing research.

Communications Officer Anne Craig sat down with Dr. Craig to talk about her work and what the award means to her.

Anne Craig: Why did you choose this field of research?

Wendy Craig: I fell into what I do by accident. During my PhD I was involved in a study with Debra Pepler where we were looking at aggressive children’s interactions on the playground. When we filmed them to find out what was happening on the playground, we saw that the playground was really aggressive. In that initial study, through naturalist observation, we found that children were bullying each other once every seven and a half minutes and they were aggressive towards each other once every two minutes. That study really defined and launched my career.  It ignited a strong interest in conducting applied research to understand how to support children and youth to develop optimally and have safe, healthy and respectful relationships. 

By working as a researcher and getting that research into the hands of practitioners and people who work with children, I can be more effective in having a larger impact on the health and well-being of Canadian children and youth.

AC: What is the current focus of your work?

WC: In addition to my work as a professor and researcher, I am the scientific co-director of PREVNet along with Dr. Pepler at York University.  PREVNet is comprised of more than 125 researchers across the country and 63 national organizations that work with children and youth. Its goal is to provide practitioners with the scientific information that they need to be more effective in their practice. We also want practitioners to identify the burning questions we should tackle as researchers. My work has become about knowledge mobilization and bridging the gap between science, practice and policy through the process of bringing researchers and organizations together to co-create research, resources and tools.

AC: Why is your work important?

WC: I believe that this work is important because it has to do with the health and well-being of children and youth. We recently finished a study for the Public Health Agency of Canada where we found that high-quality relationships with parents, peers, teachers, adults at school and the community positively impact physical and mental health outcomes, as well as academic and social ones. The concern Dr. Pepler and I had when we did that study was fewer children in Canada are reporting having high-quality relationships with parents, teachers, schools, and in the neighborhood. Bullying is a relationship problem and is related to long-term negative effects.  We have learned that children don’t grow out of bullying; it’s a problem that grows more significant as they get older. Part of what we do is look at how we minimize that long-term impact through prevention and intervention.

AC: What does the Partnership Award mean for you and your career?

WE: The award really recognizes the work of the network. This work could not be as effective without all members of the network contributing their unique skills, expertise, resources, dedication and time. Over time, through the generous funding of SSHRC through the National Centres of Excellence program, we have built a network that has a common vision, and is based on the foundation of trusting relationships. This award celebrates the incredible accomplishments that happen when outstanding organizations, researchers and students come together to co-create projects that are driven by science and meet the needs of our partners. Relationships matter to create an effective network that has conducted more than 200 projects in the last seven years. Creating PREVNet was a dream and we are excited we are now having an impact and making a difference in the lives of Canadian youth.

AC: What is your focus for the future?

WE: There is much work to do in Canada to improve children and youth development.  We rank 25 out of 28 on relationships. Given that healthy development depends on healthy relationships, we need to engage and support adults in all the places that children and youth live, learn, work and play.  We will work with our partners to continue to co-create research projects, and develop evidence-based education and training, assessment and evaluation tools, prevention and intervention strategies, and enhanced policy.  Through PREVNet we are leading the world in an unprecedented manner in creating a social-cultural change in reducing bullying through promoting relationships. 

Art, anxiety and 'Awakening'

Exploring Anxiety through Art 

When Athena Mitsilios (Artsci ’17) was asked to make a clay sculpture on the theme of anxiety for her art class ARTF 227 she knew exactly where to start.

Student Jessica Peterson's scultpure of a knotted stomach.

“I knew I wanted to look at social anxiety,” she explains. “I wanted people to know more about what it feels like.”

First she carefully crafted an alien’s head, adding big, bulging eyes she then covered in tinfoil.

“When you have anxiety you feel like everyone is staring at you,” says Ms. Mitsilios, explaining that her alien has a small mouth to suggest the feeling of not being able to breathe. 

Part of the assignment, set out by associate professor Kathleen Sellars, however, included building in a sound component, which Ms. Mitsilios did by recording the sound of laboured breathing and a voice repeating “stop staring, stop staring” in increasingly panicked tones. The sounds for each of the exhibition’s 12 sculptures, which are embedded with mini-speakers, are only audible by plugging a cell phone, iPod or tablet.

“We haven’t really had a chance to do a sound component with an art piece before,” says Jess Peterson (Artsci’17), who also created a piece for the exhibition. “It was interesting. Each sculpture is totally different when you hear the sound component.” 

Ms. Peterson interpreted the theme by creating an organic-looking pink stomach which she encircled with string.

“I was thinking about the physical symptoms of anxiety,” she says. “This is a stomach completely tied up in knots.”

Radha Chaddah: “Awakening”

Alumna Radha Chaddah (Artsci’ 92) grew up torn between art and science.

“My family was always split,” she explains. “One side was in the arts, the other was in the sciences.”

"Flame", from Chaddah's Awakenings
Alumna Radha Chaddah's photography straddles art and science.

By growing stem cells and photographing them using laser light, Ms. Chaddah has drawn a careful path down the middle, creating ephemeral two-dimensional works that look both organically abstract and carefully considered.

“I always knew I wanted to bring the two together and somehow make art about science, among other things,” she explains.

Ms. Chaddah opted to start her education in the arts, which is why she pursued a double major in film and art history at Queen’s. Later, she rounded out her education with an undergraduate degree in biology, eventually choosing to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Toronto some years later. That’s where, working at a neurobiology lab, she found herself drawn to a stem cell project. Disinclined to experiment on animals, she began growing cells in petri dishes, learning a technique called immunohistochemistry. 

“The technique is used to prove the identity of a cell,” Ms. Chaddah explains. “I recognized doing my research that certain antibodies created beautiful images.”

While images cell images are typically reproduced in scientific journals in low resolutions at the size of an inch square, Ms. Chaddah’s high-resolution technique allows her to enlarge images to 40” x 60”. While each image can take up to 30 minutes to shoot, the results are arresting.

For Ms. Chaddah these works are more than just interesting images. She uses her work to ask questions about the world.

“They’re really about where we’re going, and how we are merging all these scientific discoveries as we move towards a place that is interesting and scary, all at the same time,” she says.

While she may have picked up the techniques in graduate school, Ms. Chaddah is quick to credit her Queen’s education for giving her the skills to think critically. She also names a former film professor, Derek Redmond, for teaching her to appreciate light and colour when creating an artistic work.

“His words have stuck with me since then,” she says. “I have become obsessed with light.”

“Awakening” by Radha Chaddah and the anxiety sculptures created by the students from ARTF 227 are on-view at the Art and Media Lab at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts until Nov. 13, 2014.

For more information visit the Isabel’s website.

Helsinki visiting professorship will help further study

Susanne Soederberg (Global Development Studies and Political Studies) has been appointed to a prestigious visiting professorship at the University of Helsinki. The value of the award is $190,000.

[Susanne Soederberg]
Susanne Soederberg (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Through the Jane and Aatos Erkko Visiting Professor at the Collegium for Advanced Studies, set for the 2015-2016 academic year, Dr. Soederberg will be conducting research on a new project focused on shelter finance and housing rights for slum dwellers around the world.

Dr. Soederberg says the position will allow her to “research in an interdisciplinary and international environment with emerging and established scholars from both Europe and in the Global South.”

In her study, Governing Shelter Finance for Slum Dwellers: A Comparative Study of Mexico City, Manila, and Mumbai, Dr. Soederberg will initiate the first comparative study of shelter finance in three of the world’s largest slums: Cuidad Nezahualcóytl in Mexico City, the Tondo District in Manila, and Dharavi in Mumbai.

“One billion people – a number still rising – live in slums. Notwithstanding its status as a basic human right, most slum dwellers lack safe and secure shelter,” Dr. Soederberg says. “The United Nations has responded by endorsing Goal 7, Target 11 of its Millennium Development Goals (MDG 7) to ensure the adequate housing of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.”

However, she points out, demand for affordable housing continues to rise unabated while funds from governments and public donors have been insufficient. At the same time the various forms of shelter financing – such as commercialized mortgages, shelter microfinance, and community investment funds – have barely been explored.

“With only several years remaining to meet the 2020 MDG-7, it is crucial that scholars, practitioners, and policymakers possess a more complete knowledge base about the present scale, scope, and future sustainability of shelter finance as well as the power dynamics involved in its governance,” she says. “To this end, the core questions driving the project are: who benefits from shelter finance, and why? And, how have different forms of governance influenced which slum dwellers are able to gain access to certain types of shelter financing and which are excluded?”

The significance of the appointment is recognized by her Queen’s colleagues as well.

“What a great opportunity for Dr. Soederberg,” says Marc Epprecht, Professor and Head of Department, Global Development Studies. “Though we will miss her here in DEVS, where she is not only a great scholar but a well-loved teacher, we are proud of her achievements and of the nature of her research – making a difference to the lives of people in some of the most stressed communities in the world.”

The Collegium for Advanced Studies is an independent institute within the University of Helsinki. The Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, which finances the Visiting Professorship, was established in 2002 to support high-level international research, arts and culture.

Bullying expert earns top honour

A Canadian leader in bullying prevention, Queen’s University researcher Wendy Craig was honoured today with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Partnership Award. The Partnership Award is one of five Impact Awards SSHRC presents annually to the top researchers in the country.

The Partnership Award recognizes a SSHRC‑funded formal partnerships for its outstanding achievement in advancing research, research training or knowledge mobilization, or developing a new partnership approach to research and/or related activities.

Wendy Craig has earned one of SSHRC's top awards.

Along with working as a researcher at Queen’s, Dr. Craig is the co-scientific director of the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet).

“The award really recognizes the work of the network, which is co-led by Debra Pepler at York University,” says Dr. Craig. “I think the award is significant because it celebrates the great things that happen when outstanding organizations, researchers and students come together. Creating PREVNet was a dream and I am excited we are now having an impact and making a difference in the lives of Canadian youth.”

With the funding from the Impact Award, Dr. Craig says they will continue to engage in knowledge mobilization efforts with the PREVNet partners.  The team plans to focus on working with PREVNet's youth to develop tools to address cyberbullying.

"Through PREVNet, Dr. Craig has developed a unique partnership model along with effective knowledge-mobilization tools and bullying prevention resources that have a demonstrated influence both within and beyond the academic community,” says Dr. Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research).  “This national honour from SSHRC is indicative of the impact of PREVNet in addressing one of the biggest challenges facing today's children and youth in Canada and around the world.”

To read the full story, visit the SSHRC website.

An elite opportunity

Queen’s University professor Jean Côté is joining an elite group of international researchers and members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week to discuss training and development in youth sport.

The handpicked group of 16 researchers, along with members of the IOC, will evaluate the current science and practices related to developing young athletes. From that discussion, the group will draft recommendations and guidelines to ensure young athletes progress in a healthy manner.

Jean Côté is off to Switerland to work with the IOC.

Dr. Côté will present to the group his research on effective coaching.

“I will argue that we need to relax the structure of youth sports in general – youth organized sport is over-coached and over-structured.  The achievement of long-term participation, elite performance, and personal development through sport are objectives that are compatible and do not require specialized programs and complex structures” he says.

One of the biggest challenges at the conference, Dr. Côté anticipates, will be reaching a consensus decision with such a wide range of expertise in the same room. The participants are presenting on a variety of topics including athlete development frameworks, talent identification, scheduling and overload, injury prevention and eating disorders. By April 2015, the group must have a consensus paper on youth athlete development ready for publication in the IOC-supported injury prevention and health protection edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“There are going to be a lot of conflicting ideas presented at the conference, but we have to focus on our goal of youth development and work past that,” says Dr. Côté. “It’s exciting to be associated with this level of research and it also shows the IOC cares about the development of youth. We are looking at the whole child and that is a very healthy approach.”

The conference takes place from Nov. 5-7 at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Nobel laureate explores connection between arts and science

Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Prize laureate and Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Emeritus at Cornell University, delivered this year’s Alfred Bader Lecture on Oct. 30. Communications Officer Andrew Stokes spoke with Dr. Hoffmann about his lecture and lengthy career in the arts and sciences.

Andrew Stokes: Can you tell me a bit about the topic of your lecture?

Roald Hoffmann: The lecture was about the commonalities between the arts and sciences. English chemist and novelist CP Snow argued in the 1950s that there were two distinct cultures between artists and scientists and that the two were incapable of really communicating with each other. With that in mind I looked at examples from chemistry, poetry and painting to note the deep similarities they have.

Along with winning the 1981 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, Dr. Roald Hoffmann has written poetry, plays and philosophy.

AS: Why did you pick this topic for the lecture?

RH: This topic is important to me as both an artist and a chemist, because I’m interested in the interface between the two. The arts penetrate to important questions that aren’t necessarily scientific but that nonetheless trouble us all. I picked this topic especially because of its connection to Alfred and Isabel Bader. I’ve known the Baders for nearly 40 years and I’m a great admirer of Alfred – this lecture is really for the two of them who are strong believers in the importance of both arts and science.

AS: Have the two of you worked together in chemistry?

RH: When we first met one another years ago, we took an instant liking to each other. We’ve never worked together professionally, but our shared love of paintings, music and chemistry has led to a long friendship between us. We’re also both European immigrants; Alfred came shortly before World War Two, while I’m a childhood survivor of the Holocaust and came to America in 1949.

AS: You’ve had a prodigious career in chemistry, but can you tell me about your work in the creative arts?

RH: Around midlife I started writing creatively. I began writing poetry, and now have four books of poetry in English and one in Spanish and Russian. I’ve also written essays, short fiction, philosophy and have now started writing plays. My creative writing allows me to express myself in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to do.

AS: How did a career in science affect your creative work?

RH: It’s had a very strong effect on my creative work. I write on some of the traditional topics, like nature, relationships and love, but I try to make use of the language of science. It isn’t easy, but I try. One of the plays I’ve written is about the discovery of oxygen and what it means to be a scientist. My work in the arts has affected my science too. When I write a chemistry paper, I try to bring an artistic sensibility to it. I’ve never tried opening a paper with a poem because I don’t think it would get past the gatekeepers, but stylistically I’ve tried to bring about a greater humanization of science writing. I think it’s worked well in that my papers are viewed by people as being a more complete image of the thing they discuss.

The Bader lecture, organized by Dr. Victor Snieckus and the Office of Advancement, is delivered in honour of Alfred Bader’s contributions to Queen’s University and the field of chemistry.

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