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Lecture honours former chancellor David Dodge

To honour his six years spent as Queen’s chancellor, an annual lecture has been named for David Dodge. Principal Daniel Woolf announced the Chancellor David Dodge Lecture in Public Finance which recognizes the contribution Dr. Dodge, who was Queen’s 13th chancellor from 2008-2014, has made to the university and public policy and finance in Canada.

Chancellor Emeritus Dodge speaking at the "Last Lecture on Earth" series. (University Communications)

“It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work with David Dodge over his six years as chancellor,” says Principal Woolf. “This lecture commemorates the exceptional service he’s rendered to Queen’s and Canada where his leadership and expertise in the financial sector have served to benefit many.”

Prior to his position as Queen’s chancellor, Dr. Dodge served in a number of public service roles including time as national deputy minister of finance (1992-1997) and as governor of the Bank of Canada (2001-2008). Dr. Dodge, whose term as Queen’s chancellor ended in June 2014, has since been appointed chancellor emeritus by University Council.

The inaugural lecture will be delivered by Dr. Dodge himself and is titled “Preparing Canada for our Collective Old Age.”

"I am honoured to have this lecture series in public finance established in my name and particularly pleased to be asked to give the first lecture" says Dr. Dodge. "The public finance implications of the aging of the baby boom generation need to be the subject of a national conversation. We need to plan for the repercussions of this demographic shift on Canadian society, the economy and public policies."

The lecture is open to the public and is being held in the George Teves Room of the University Club (138 Stuart St, Kingston) on Dec. 11 at 7:30 pm.

The Chancellor David Dodge Lecture in Public Finance has been established jointly by the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s School of Business and Department of Economics.

Reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease

Queen’s University researcher Christopher Bowie (Psychology) is one of the lead investigators of a new $10 million project funded by the Chagnon Family and Ontario Brain Institute to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease. Co-led by his colleagues Drs. Benoit Mulsant and Tarek Rajji at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, where Dr. Bowie has a research appointment, the study is the largest ever funded focusing on Alzheimer’s disease.

The research team will study whether combining brain stimulation treatments delays or prevents the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Bowie is combining his cognitive remediation treatment with a process to stimulate the firing of neurons in the prefrontal cortex called transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS).

Queen's researcher Christopher Bowie is working on a method to prevent Alzheimer's Disease.

“This type of remediation enhances the area of the brain responsible for planning, organization and multi-tasking,” says Dr. Bowie. “Right now there is no effective treatments to slow down or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, which is often associated with early deterioration of function in the temporal lobes. Our novel approach is to enhance the connectivity in frontal lobes to improve their functioning. We think this will compensate for deterioration in other brain regions and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Two groups of people known to be at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease will be included in the study: 250 older adults with clinical depression who have been successfully treated with antidepressants, and 125 people with mild cognitive impairment.

The treatments currently available for Alzheimer’s dementia are usually initiated when the patient is diagnosed, at which point the brain is already damaged. By using tDCS to enhance the effects of cognitive remediation, the goal is to improve cognition and then prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia by stimulating neurons in the regions of the brain critical for critical executive functioning skills such as problem solving.

“The project, which has initial funding for five years, will be a success if we can demonstrate a reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease or stop cognitive decline in people who do develop Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Bowie. “With a diverse team of experts studying genetic, blood-based, and other biomarkers, the study will also provide a wealth of data about risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.”

For more information on the study, read the announcement on the CAMH website.

Queen's announces joint program with Tongji University

 

Queen's in the World

Queen’s University today announced the creation of a “two-plus-two” degree program, in partnership with China’s Tongji University.

The program will see Tongji students study for two years at its College of Environmental Science and Engineering in Shanghai, before coming to Kingston for two years of study in Queen’s School of Environmental Studies. Graduates will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science from Queen’s.

“This two-plus-two program will provide an exceptional international experience that will enrich the education of participating students as well as their classmates at Queen’s,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “It is a partnership that builds upon existing collaborations in environmental science between our two universities, as well as Queen’s longstanding ties in China.”

Wu Jiang, Vice-President (Academic) at Tongji University, and Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) at Queen's University, greet each other during the signing ceremony in Shanghai for the new two-plus-two degree program in Environmental Science. 

Queen’s officials, including Provost Harrison, Susan Mumm, Dean of Arts and Science, and Kathy O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International), were in Shanghai this week when the agreement was officially signed at Tongji.

“Queen’s comprehensive international plan identifies China as one of our priority regions for developing academic and research partnerships, as well as student recruitment,” says Ms. O’Brien. “This program will further co-operation between our two institutions and will strengthen the understanding of environmental expertise in both countries.”

The two-plus-two program is the next step in a series of collaborations between Queen’s and Tongji, which also includes a joint field course in Aquatic Biodiversity and Environmental Assessment, as well as the Sino-Canada Network for the Environment and Sustainable Development, a joint research initiative focusing on topics such as low-impact urban development, aquatic ecosystem remediation, and the monitoring of environmental change using remote sensing and geographic information systems technology.

Brian Cumming, the director of Queen’s School of Environmental Studies and the Queen’s co-ordinator of the new 2+2 program, says that participating students will be able to apply their international experience to environmental problems.

“Environmental issues can have both local and global dimensions, and are often impacted by cultural and social circumstances,” says Dr. Cumming. “This program will be an excellent way for Chinese and Canadian students to learn from each other and we look forward to welcoming the first group of students from Tongji.”

The program is expected to draw roughly 15 students to Queen’s annually.  The first contingent of Tongji students will arrive in the fall of 2015.

Expanding the university’s international reach is a strategic priority for Queen’s and a key driver in its strategic framework. China is central to Queen’s international plan, and a senior delegation from the university is currently touring China to meet with partner institutions, alumni and prospective students. Queen’s also recently launched a Chinese webpage to strengthen the university’s connections with prospective Chinese students and their parents.

Commemoration versus contagion

PhD candidate in the Department of History, Matthew Barrett will present his research on the attitudes of the Canadian public towards suicides in the military over the past 100 years. 

In May 1918, Lt.-Col. Sam Sharpe jumped to his death from a window in a Montreal hospital after serving eleven months on the Western Front during the First World War. His death was treated as a combat fatality and the Toronto Globe noted that it was as if he had died on the “field of honour.”

Matthew Barrett, a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Queen’s, notes that had Lt.-Col. Sharpe’s death taken place today, he likely wouldn’t have been included in the casualties number as his death took place in Canada, away from the front.

This observation, amongst others, is discussed in a paper that Mr. Barrett and his supervisor Allan English will present at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research Forum next week.

Lt. -Col. Sam Sharpe
 Lt.-Col. Sam Sharpe

“There are two main perspectives when it comes to how suicide in the military is treated. The first is one discussed by Sen. Roméo Dallaire: if we do not appropriately commemorate the individuals who take their own lives in the military then the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health will continue to exist,” says Mr. Barrett. “Another view is one expressed by Gen. Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, who disagrees and says that if Canada acknowledges suicides as casualties of an entire mission then it may add honour to the act of suicide and cause a contagion effect.”

Mr. Barrett hopes his research on the attitudes of the Canadian public towards suicides in the military over the past 100 years will assist stakeholders in prioritizing their de-stigmatization efforts, as military suicides outnumber combat deaths during the recent Canadian mission in Afghanistan.

“The recent experience of Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan has placed greater focus on issues of mental health in the military. This emphasis on mental health care reflects the public’s focus on the Canadian soldier as a heroic national symbol,” says Mr. Barrett. “When Maj. Michelle Mendes took her own life in Afghanistan in 2009 officials did not make a clear distinction between death by suicide and killed in action. Her body was repatriated to Canada along the Highway of Heroes.”

Maj. Michelle Mendes
Maj. Michelle Mendes

It’s possible that a commemoration approach to military suicides might risk the start of a contagion effect, but it’s also vital to recognize that focusing solely on this idea of contagion and copycat suicides excludes an opportunity for commemoration, notes Mr. Barrett.

“A long-held view about military suicide in Canada is one that stigmatizes the act of suicide, but not necessarily the victims,” says Mr. Barrett. “Ideally, this research may help inform stakeholders of the type of stigma reduction strategies needed.”

Mr. Barrett and Dr. English’s paper, “Absolutely incapable of ‘Carrying on’ – Attitudes of the Canadian Public towards Suicides in the Canadian Military - 1914-2014” will be presented at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research Forum 2014 next week in Toronto.

For more information on Forum 2014, follow this link.

A gut reaction

Queen’s University biologist Virginia Walker and Queen’s SARC Awarded Postdoctoral Fellow Pranab Das have shown nanosilver, which is often added to water purification units, can upset your gut. The discovery is important as people are being exposed to nanoparticles every day.

Nanosilver is also used in biomedical applications, toys, sunscreen, cosmetics, clothing and other items.

Virginia Walker (l) and Pranab Das have shown nanosilver could be causing issues with your gut.

“We were surprised to see significant upset of the human gut community at the lowest concentration of nanosilver in this study,” says Dr. Das. “To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has looked at this. It is important as we are more and more exposed to nanoparticles in our everyday lives through different routes such as inhalation, direct contact or ingestion.”

To conduct the research, Drs. Walker and Das utilized another Queen’s discovery, rePOOPulate, created by Elaine Petrof (Medicine). rePOOPulate is a synthetic stool substitute, which Dr. Petrof designed to treat C. difficile infections. In this instance, rather than being used as therapy, the synthetic stool was used to examine the impact of nanoparticles on the human gut.

The research showed that the addition of nanosilver reduced metabolic activity in the synthetic stool sample, perturbed fatty acids and significantly changed the population of bacteria. This information can help lead to an understanding of how nanoparticles could impact our “gut ecosystem.”

“There is no doubt that the nanosilver shifted the bacterial community, but the impact of nanosilver ingestion on our long-term health is currently unknown,” Dr. Walker says. “This is another area of research we need to explore.”

The findings by Drs. Das and Walker, Julie AK McDonald (Kingston General Hospital), Dr. Petrof (KGH)  and Emma Allen-Vercoe (University of Guelph) were published in the Journal of Nanomedicine and Nanotechnology.

'Aquatic osteoporosis' jellifying lakes

A handful of Holopedium capsules which are replacing the water flea Daphnia due to declining calcium levels in many lakes.

A plague of “aquatic osteoporosis” is spreading throughout many North American soft-water lakes due to declining calcium levels in the water and hindering the survival of some organisms, says new research from Queen’s University.

Researchers from Queen’s, working with colleagues from York University and the University of Cambridge, as well as other collaborators, have identified a biological shift in many temperate, soft-water lakes in response to declining calcium levels after prolonged periods of acid rain and timber harvesting. The reduced calcium availability is hindering the survival of aquatic organisms with high calcium requirements and promoting the growth of nutrient-poor, jelly-clad animals.

In the study, researchers looked at the microscopic organisms (~1 mm) Daphnia and Holopedium – the latter whose size is greatly increased by its jelly capsule.

“Calcium is an essential nutrient for many lake-dwelling organisms, but concentrations have fallen so low in many lakes that keystone species can no longer survive,” says Adam Jeziorski, one of the lead authors of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at Queen’s.

The research team found that when calcium levels are low, the water flea Daphnia, which has high calcium requirements, becomes less abundant.  Importantly, this keystone species is being replaced by its jelly-clad competitor, Holopedium.

“Conditions now favour animals better adapted to lower calcium levels, and these changes can have significant ecological and environmental repercussions,” says Dr. Jeziorski.

[Holopedium]
A close-up image of a Holopedium, whose size is greatly increased by its jelly capsule.

Tiny fossils from lake sediments were studied to determine the pre-impact conditions of the lakes as the calcium decline began before monitoring programs were in place. Using this technique, the team was able to examine the environmental trends from the past approximately 150 years.

“Lake sediments act like a history book of past changes in a lake, recording what happened before the problem was identified,” says John Smol (Biology), Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. “Jelly-clad invertebrates have been increasing in an alarming number of lakes. This is likely a long-term effect of acid rain on forest soils, logging and forest regrowth.”

The increase in jelly-clad invertebrates can have important implications for lake biology, altering food webs, but can also clog water intakes.

“Many lakes we investigated have passed critical thresholds,” says Dr. Smol. “We have been reduced to the role of spectator as these changes continue to unfold. Once again we see there are many unexpected consequences of our actions, most of which are negative.”

This research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

The study is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B and a number of high-resolution images of the organisms and techniques used in this study can be found on the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory website.

Impressive incunabula

Queen’s Library has mounted Incunabula: An Exhibit of 15th Century Printing. The exhibit features material from the Library collection and two works owned by Principal Daniel Woolf, whose research interests include the global history of historical writing. Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer, sat down with Principal Woolf to discuss his incunabula and the other books in his collection. 

  • [Incunabula]
    Featured in the exhibit is a leaf from the Nuremberg Chronicle printed by Hartmann Schedel in 1493, on loan from the private collection of Principal Daniel Woolf.
  • [Incunabula]
    Students, staff and faculty attended the opening of Incunabula: An Exhibit of 15th Century Printing, on Monday, Nov.10.
  • [Incunabula]
    Some of the pieces in the exhibit feature "marginalia," or notes from readers found in the margins of the texts.
  • [Incunabula]
    Incunabula: An Exhibit of 15th Century Printing is on display at the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library through Dec. 1.

MK: What is the significance of the works you have loaned to the Library for the exhibit?

DW: One of them is a whole book, a chronicle that came out in 1481 of which the Library in fact owns a slightly earlier edition printed elsewhere. It’s interesting to compare the two. The other is a leaf from the famous Nuremberg Chronicle that came out in 1493.

The full book, which is missing one or two leaves, was written by Carthusian monk Werner Rolevinck. It’s distinctive as being only the second book since printing was invented to be written by a then-living author. Up to that point, the first books printed were the classics and works such as the Bible.

The Nuremberg Chronicle was the giant history of the world published in 1493 by Hartmann Schedel. That’s not the book’s actual title, but it was called that because Schedel was based in Nuremberg.

MK: Your rare book collection includes many titles besides the incunabula. Can you tell me more about your collection and how you acquire the books?

DW: I have a fair number of books from the 16th century and a lot from the 17th and 18th centuries. Occasionally I stray over into the 19th century.

When I first started out, I was going into antiquarian books shops. That is a relatively slow process if you are looking for particular titles. Over the last few years, it has become much easier to buy unusual books through vendor sites like abebooks.com. But now I am increasingly going directly to individual booksellers who are now well aware of my interests. If they get something interesting, they will dangle it in front of me.

MK: Do you collect rare books as a hobby or for research purposes?

DW: Both. There is a theme to the works I collect. They are all works of history or antiquarian scholarship or antiquarian topography written between the 16th to 18th centuries. I will have at one point used other copies of almost all of them in my research over the last 30 years.

MK: Are there any good stories behind some of the books you own?

DW: Some of them have had very interesting “provenance” in past ownership. One is a copy of an early 17th century printing of an Elizabethan English translation of an early 16th century history of Italy by Francesco Guicciardini. The book itself is a very interesting and important work and it’s a nice early edition. But what gives it added value is the book plate, which indicates it belonged to Victorian poet Matthew Arnold.

Others are interesting because they have all sorts of notes. I have one book in which somebody has interleaved the actual book with lots of other leaves, on which they have added their own notes or “grangerizing” interesting things they found relevant to the book. That process, known as “extra-illustrating,” was very popular in the 18th century.

MK: Why should people visit the exhibit at the Library?

DW: The exhibit is fabulous because these aren’t just old books. They’re among the rarest in the world and they appeared right at the dawn of printing. Just consider how many people have owned those books in their 500 year history. When some of these were printed, Columbus had not yet sailed. They are here now and they will be here 200 or 300 years from now — they are survivors.

Considering it was a new technology, the quality of the printing and the paper was remarkable. The quality of the printing is so much superior to most later printing. If you have seen some 19th century books in the Library, often the pages are not in good shape because they were printed on pulp paper that was treated with an acid, which has made the pages brittle over time. Most of these incunabula were printed on a paper based on rags. It’s much tougher. The books are beautiful works of art.

Incunabula: An Exhibit of 15th Century Printing continues at the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library (Douglas Library) through Dec. 1.

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.

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