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Undergrads hone research skills during summer program

  • [Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellows]
    Principal Daniel Woolf and Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss with the recipients of the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship.
  • [Principal Daniel Woolf and Emily Gong]
    Principal Daniel Woolf listens as undergraduate student Emily Gong explains her research on the history of art, religion and culture in the Dunhuang Mogao Caves.
  • [Ellen O'Donoghue and Mariah Horner]
    Mariah Horner (right) explains her research on contemporary Canadian performance to fellow student Ellen O'Donoghue.
  • [Steven Liss and Jessica Metuzals]
    Undergraduate student Jessica Metuzals explains her work to Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research).
  • [Undergraduate student Michelle Tam]
    A crowd gathers around Michelle Tam as she explains her research during the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship celebration.

The university hosted a special celebration on Oct. 27 to recognize the 20 students who participated in the 2014 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship (USSRF) program. Principal Daniel Woolf and Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss attended the event and congratulated the students on their accomplishments.

The USSRF program is an opportunity for continuing undergraduate students in social sciences, humanities, business and education to develop research skills under the guidance of a faculty researcher. The program provides meaningful opportunities to engage in discovery-based learning and to develop research and presentation skills. More information

Active learning classrooms making a difference

  • [Ellis Hall Peter Wolf}
    Associate Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) Peter Wolf talks about the active learning classrooms in Ellis Hall during a special event on Monday.
  • [Ellis Hall Alan Harrison]
    Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison speaks during the launch event for the active learning classrooms in Ellis Hall.
  • [Ellis Hall Tom Harris]
    Tom Harris, Vice-Principal (Advancement), relays stories about Drs. Russell and Katherine Morrison and the late Jack McGibbon.
  • [Ellis Hall Active Learning Classrooms]
    A booklet was available for attendees to sign and provide a message of thanks to Drs. Russell and Katherine Morrison.

A special event was held Monday to celebrate the launch of the Ellis Hall active learning classrooms and acknowledge the support of key donors.

Associate Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) Peter Wolf, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison and Tom Harris, Vice-Principal (Advancement) all spoke about the importance of the new classrooms and the crucial roles that Drs. Russell and Katherine Morrison and the late Jack McGibbon played in making them a reality for Queen’s University and its students.

While the Morrisons were unable to attend, a special booklet was available for attendees to sign and provide a message of thanks.

The three newly renovated active learning classrooms in Ellis Hall are designed to enhance students' learning experiences. The classrooms offer configurations and technology – such as whiteboards, moveable chairs and linked screens – that enable instructors to use different teaching and learning strategies.

A video displayed during the presentation provided rave reviews from students and teachers alike.

Resveratrol could reverse benefits of being active

Supplementing your exercise routine with resveratrol may not enhance the effects of physical activity, says Queen's researcher Brendon Gurd.

Contrary to popular belief, use of the supplement resveratrol (RSV) may not actually enhance the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Many news outlets and health blogs have long recommended RSV as a complement to exercise and to enhance performance. However, results from a study by Queen’s researcher Brendon Gurd suggest that RSV may actually impede the body’s response to training.

“The easiest way to experience the benefits of physical activity is to be physically active,” says Dr. Gurd, a professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “The efficacy of RSV at improving metabolic and cardiovascular functions is not as profound as was once thought.”

Resveratrol occurs naturally in the skin of red grapes and has long been associated with the health benefits connected to a Mediterranean-style diet. Recently, it’s become possible to purchase RSV supplements, which are often marketed as “exercise mimics.”

Sixteen participants who engaged in less than three hours of aerobic exercise per week at the time of enrolment were asked to perform HIIT three times per week for four weeks. During this time, participants were administered daily doses of either RSV or a placebo.

Results after the four-week study showed that RSV supplementation may actually oppose the effects of exercise alone. In fact, the placebo group showed an increase in some of the benefits associated with physical activity as opposed to the group taking RSV whose physical fitness didn’t improve.

“The results we saw suggest that concurrent exercise training and RSV supplementation may alter the body’s normal training response induced by low-volume HIIT,” says Dr. Gurd. “The data set we recorded during this study clearly demonstrates that RSV supplementation doesn’t augment training, but may impair the affect it has on the body.”

Results observed by the team question the ability of RSV to act as an exercise-enhancing supplement and highlight the need for further research. This research was published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

Ambassadors address Arctic issues

Two Queen’s University students are hoping to make an impact on the Arctic as they attend the first ever Arctic Council Youth Ambassador Summit taking place in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Kristine O’Rielly (MASc) and Erinn Drage (Artsci’17) are two of only 60 young adults across Canada chosen to take part in the summit.

Hosted by Global Vision from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, the summit will see ambassadors from the southern part of Canada and youth from the north meet to discuss Arctic resource development, sustainable circumpolar communities and Arctic shipping.

Erinn Drage (l) and Kristine O'Rielly are joining 60 Canadian students in Iqaluit.

“Two summers ago I spent time in the Arctic as part of the Students on Ice program,” explains Ms. O’Rielly. “Spending time there, I really became passionate about the polar region. Sustainability is a big issue in the Arctic and this summit will give me an opportunity to talk about solutions and policy with other students across Canada.”

The summit provides students a chance to learn more about the challenges in the North and discuss issues facing students living in Northern communities with their peers.

“I have been to Nunavik (Arctic Quebec) – I taught health to high school students,” says Ms. Drage. “I want to attend the summit and focus on social issues in the north, of which health issues are a big part. As an environmental scientist, environmental issues are important to me too and I want to apply what I’ve been learning in class at this summit.”

Recommendations from the summit will be presented to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister for the Arctic Council, and other senior government officials. This gives both Ms. O’Rielly and Ms. Drage extra motivation.

“We are the future of this country,” says Ms. Drage. “The impact of our current practices on the environment will be seen more in our generation than any other. We need to make changes, we need to protect our future.”

“The Arctic is the fastest changing environment in the world and we need to protect that,” says Ms. O’Rielly. “Companies are going to have to listen to the First Nation point of view and we can provide ideas for policies to make that happen. The Arctic is a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to protecting the world for future generations.”

Building bridges with music

While he may be a household name in Cuba, singer-songwriter Carlos Varela may not be as familiar to Canadians. But when he takes to the stage at the Isabel on Oct. 30 that could change. Mr. Varela, who has shared stages with artists like Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt, has been described as “one of Cuba’s most talented and emblematic artists of his generation. He received an honorary degree from Queen’s University in June 2014.

Carlos Varela will be performing at the Isabel on Oct. 30. (Photo Supplied)

“He represents the generation who inherited – but didn’t build – the Cuban revolution,” explains Karen Dubinsky, a professor in the Departments of History and Global Development Studies, who helped organize the concert. “He has been able to express the sense of dissatisfaction and frustration of an entire generation, but he has done it with poetry and metaphor.”

Born in Havana in 1963, Varela taught himself to play guitar at age 15. After attending university, he joined the politically infused Nueva Trova music movement and began performing in theatres and small venues throughout Cuba. In 1989, he gave a legendary concert at the renowned Chaplin Theatre where he debuted his first album. Soon after, he became the first artist of his generation to sell out the 5,000-seat Karl Marx Theatre for three consecutive nights.He now has nine albums under his belt.

“Varela is a spokesperson for bridging conflict, both on and off the island (of Cuba), which is considerable,” says Dr. Dubinsky. “For a long time, Cubans living off the island were seen as cowards and traitors. Nobody thinks like that anymore. And Varela is in a remarkable position of being just as popular off the island as he is in his home country. He illustrates how you can bridge gaps with music in a way that you can’t by just giving speeches.”

Mr. Varela, who lives in Havana, is also the subject of a new book. The English edition of My Havana: The Musical City of Carlos Varela will launch in conjunction with Varela’s performances in Kingston and Toronto. The anthology was edited by Maria Caridad Cumana, Xenia Reloba and by Dr. Dubinsky, and is published by University of Toronto Press. It includes contributions from Cuban and U.S. music scholars, and musician Jackson Browne, among others.  

Carlos Varela performs at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Oct. 30. He will be accompanied by jazz pianist Aldo López Gavilán, and by bassist Julio Cesar El Checo. All songs will be performed in Spanish, but English translation will be provided.  Advanced tickets are $15 for general admission $10 for students.

More information is available on the Isabel’s website

Supporting the ‘chance of a lifetime’

[Robyn Finley]
 Robyn Finley (Artsci’15) was able to complete an internship at UNAIDS in Geneva, Switzerland thanks to the support of the Principal’s Student Initiatives Fund. (University Communications)
Queen's in the World

Robyn Finley (Artsci’15) had the “chance of a lifetime” when she was offered an internship this past summer at UNAIDS, the umbrella organization at the United Nations that coordinates worldwide efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.

The problem was that it was an unpaid internship.

And it was in Geneva, Switzerland, one of the most expensive places in the world to live.

Fortunately, the Global Development Studies student was able to find the support that would make the dream a reality.

Ms. Finley found out about the Principal’s Student Initiatives Fund, through the Office of the Principal, applied and received a grant that would help see her through.

While she felt good about receiving the support from her school, she also says she learned more than she could have expected through the internship. She’s now looking to share what she has learned with her classmates and the greater Queen’s community.

The road to the internship had its beginnings in a pair of classes she took last year – Cross-Cultural Research Methods (DEVS 300) and AIDS, Power and Poverty (DEVS 320).

Ms. Finley says she became fascinated with what she was learning in the AIDS course and wanted to apply what she was learning to a project in Research Methods.

“The disease is an epidemic but there is so much more to it than, say, malaria where it is a cause-and-effect kind of medical problem. There are so many social determinants that factor into the HIV epidemic,” she says. “It’ s social, it’s political, it’s groundbreaking and revolutionary in a lot of ways because it makes people question gender, sexuality, identity and all these things, and I think it has moved a lot of discourse forward.”

Ms. Finley looked at different treatment plans in Africa and how the disease is being tackled and settled on a project in Malawi that focused on pregnant women. The difference with this program was that the women take one pill a day rather than the standard treatment of a cocktail of medications taken on a timed basis throughout the day, something Ms. Finley says fits modern Western society much better than it does African.

However, in her research she found a gap within the program as pregnant women were not being given a choice to start the one pill a day regimen. There was no other option. The project was framed as being beneficial to babies as it reduced the risk of vertically acquiring HIV, but in so doing, limited mothers’ autonomy to choose the treatment plan that was right for them.

Wanting to be sure, she contacted the gender team at UNAIDS. The reply she received was that this was exactly the type of issue the team is trying to tackle. They also asked her to send them her project when it was complete.

So she got down to work.

“The project was the hardest thing I’ve ever done for school. I looked at the computer for four full days on the last draft alone,” she says. “It was intense.”

UNAIDS then invited her to apply for the internship, which she did in January. The she waited… and waited a bit more.

“At the beginning of April, classes are done, I’m getting ready for exams and I was eating breakfast one morning when I got an email from the UN asking me to move to Geneva three weeks later and start this internship at UNAIDS with the gender team,” Ms. Finley recalls.

What followed was a whirlwind. She had to cancel her summer job, find a place to live in a city she had never visited and somehow find the funds that would allow her to pursue her dream and be able to return to school for her final year.

However, she had the backing of the Global Development Studies program and the Office of the Principal.

As a result, she gained a learning experience she couldn’t have imagined. On her first day she was responsible for crafting the gender and equality team’s press release regarding the mass kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by extremists.

While she considered a UN job to be the Holy Grail in Global Development Studies, it is far from glorious. There are long hours of basic grunt work, the issues on which your work, but over which you have no control, can consume you, there’s a high divorce rate among employees and the pursuit of a work-life balance is never-ending.

The Principal’s Student Initiatives Fund supports student participation in projects devoted to the principles of personal growth and/or community service. Projects should provide educational opportunities such as participation in competitions, symposia, conferences, festivals and community development projects. For more information contact Christine Berga.

Connecting at Engineering & Technology Fair

  • [Engineering & Technology Fair]
    A group of Queen's students gather around a representative from Aviya.
  • [Engineering & Technology Fair]
    Grant Hall was abuzz with the sounds of students connecting with recruiters from a wide range of employers.
  • [Engineering & Technology Fair]
    A Queen's student speaks with a representative from Geo. A. Kelson Company at the Engineering & Technology Fair.
  • [Engineering & Technology Fair]
    Representatives from Aecon connect with Queen's students at the Engineering & Technology Fair.
  • [Engineering & Technology Fair]
    A Queen's student gets information about Alberici Constructors.

Crowds of Queen's University students filled Grant Hall on Tuesday to take in the Engineering & Technology Fair, which offered connections to close to 40 employers from a wide range of industries and sectors. The event, hosted by Career Services, continues Wednesday from 10:30 am-3:30 pm

Undergraduate students gear up for medical school

Lauren Chan (right) and Shannon Wong (left) will start at the Queen's School of Medicine next September.

For many in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s, second year marks the halfway point of a student’s undergraduate degree. For Shannon Wong and Lauren Chan (both Artsci’17), however, second year is their final year in Arts and Science before they join the Queen’s School of Medicine next September.

Both Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan are members of the first cohort of students in the Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS) – an educational initiative spearheaded by Richard Reznick, Dean of Health Sciences, which admits 10 students to medical school after only two years of undergraduate study in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s. The pair will join the Class of 2019 next fall.

In addition to their undergraduate classes, Ms. Wong, Ms. Chan and their fellow eight QuARMS students  have been exposed to experiential learning strategies aimed at honing their skills in advocacy, communication, collaboration and professionalism – all of which they will need during medical school and throughout their medical careers.

“For a while I had considered applying to medical school in another country but the Canadian system of medicine really focuses on patient care, and the Queen’s School of Medicine has such a great community, that I wanted to apply,” says Ms. Chan.

Shannon Wong assists in a caesarian section in Winneba Municipal Hospital in Ghana
Shannon Wong assists in a caesarian section in Winneba Municipal Hospital in Ghana

For both Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan, an important part of the QuARMS initiative is the freedom to take a variety of different classes in Arts and Science – their favourite class is their law elective.

“We’re able to pick electives that really interest us and there’s a strong focus on becoming a well-rounded student both in class and extra-curriculars,” says Ms. Wong. “Neither of us feel as though we’re being pigeon-holed into science.”

When it comes to extra-curricular activities, the pair volunteer at Providence Care – Ms. Wong in geriatric psychiatry and Ms. Chan in palliative care. Best Buddies, Free The Children, Soul Food, intramural volleyball and medical research are just a few of the additional activities Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan are involved in at Queen’s.

In addition to their classes and work on the soft skills associated with a career in medicine, Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan spend a couple of hours a week engaging in a mentorship program where they learn from members of the medical community at Queen’s. Students from each year of QuARMS are put into mentorship groups and then assigned two working physicians who mentor them throughout their time in the initiative.

Lauren Chan shows students from Toronto lab techniques at The Hospital for Sick Children.
Lauren Chan shows students from Toronto lab techniques at The Hospital for Sick Children.

A favourite part of the mentorship program for Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan are the fireside chats where members from the Faculty of Medicine at Queen’s share their insight with the 10 QuARMS students.

“One of the things I love about QuARMS is that there are so many people to talk to if you ever need advice. I’ve never felt lost because of all the support made available to us,” says Ms. Chan. “I’ve also met people in all phases of their medical education. Making connections like this has been incredibly valuable to me.”

As Ms. Wong and Ms. Chan gear up for the remainder of their undergraduate education they’re mentoring the new younger class of QuARMS students and working in community organizations as part of their preparation for medical school.

“We’re both nervous for medical school, but also very excited,” says Ms. Wong. “QuARMS has been a great success in preparing us in different, but all applicable ways, for medical school.”

For more information on the QuARMS educational initiative, see the Undergraduate Admission website.

Sexually transmitted infections and monogamy

A unique mathematical study out of Queen’s University has shown individuals are more likely to enter into a monogamous relationship when the result of infection from a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is death as opposed to sterility.

David McLeod

The mathematical study conducted by PhD candidate David McLeod (Mathematics and Statistics) represents the first time a mathematical analysis has been used to determine how STIs might influence monogamy’s evolution.

“Imagine an invisible STI that causes sterility,” explains Mr. McLeod. “You might pair up with a partner with this disease without knowing it, only to find out that the two of you can't produce offspring. You might not catch the STI yourself, but your genes are still out of the gene pool. In this situation, being monogamous disadvantages even healthy individuals.

For the other side of the coin, Mr. McLeod modeled STIs causing death.

“Now imagine an STI that causes death. You might hook up with a partner carrying this STI, but the disease will soon carry your mate away. The partnership may have produced few to no offspring, but you are now free. If you didn't catch the disease yourself, you can go find another partner and try again. A monogamous relationship might protect you if you happen to choose an uninfected partner, but even if you're unlucky, you're only out of the game for a short period.”

Mr. McLeod’s researched was recently published in the Proceedings of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Four new Canada Research Chairs for Queen's

Canada Research Chairs. Top row from left to right: Mark Daymond, Christopher Booth, Dylan Robinson. Bottom row from left to right: Jeffrey Masuda, David Murakami Wood, Tucker Carrington.

Four outstanding Queen’s professors have been named Canada Research Chairs, and two current Queen’s chairholders have had their positions renewed.

The Canada Research Chairs program invests approximately $265 million per year to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development. Chairholders are leading researchers in their areas and improve Canada’s depth of knowledge in the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

“Queen’s success in earning four new Canada Research Chairs and two renewals is indicative of our leadership in the research behind some of the most pressing matters in the world today,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “We’re very proud and fortunate to be able to support some of the world’s most accomplished and promising researchers.”

The university’s new chair recipients are Christopher Booth, Mark Daymond, Jeffrey Masuda and Dylan Robinson. Tucker Carrington and David Murakami Wood have had their appointments renewed.

Christopher Booth (Oncology) has been named the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Population Cancer Care. Dr. Booth is a medical oncologist with Kingston General Hospital, a clinician-scientist at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario and an associate professor at Queen’s. The focus of Dr. Booth’s research program is to evaluate the effectiveness of new therapies in the general population and the quality of care delivered to patients in routine clinical practice.

“Being awarded the Canada Research Chair in Population Cancer Care is a tremendous honour and will make a major contribution to our research program,” says Dr. Booth. “I am fortunate at Queen’s to work within the Division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology, which is a world-class research unit dedicated to the study of cancer care and outcomes in the ‘real world.’”

Mark Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) has been named the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Mechanics of Materials. Dr. Daymond’s internationally recognized research focuses on the microscale interactions of collections of crystals or grains that compose many practical engineering materials and the processes that occur in these materials when they undergo changes in stress or temperature. His goal is to improve both component lifetime and performance.

Jeffrey Masuda (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies) has been named the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Environmental Health Equity. Dr. Masuda is a health geographer and specialist in participatory research in environmental health and in equity-focused knowledge translation.

“The Canada Research Chair program provides me with an amazing opportunity to increase the visibility of pressing environmental health inequities that Canadians face. As a Tier 2 Chair, my research program will be significantly accelerated,” says Dr. Masuda. “My aim in the next five years is to leverage the power of community-based research to uncover new pathways toward healthier environments for all Canadians, regardless of who they are or where they live.”

Dylan Robinson (Indigenous Studies) has been named the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts. Dr. Robinson’s current research on Indigenous art in public spaces focuses on three areas: sound art, social arts practices and artworks that use Indigenous languages. He is currently completing a book titled Songs Taken for Wonders: The Politics of Indigenous Art Music that examines the roles First Peoples play as performers, composers and artistic collaborators in the creation of art music in North America.

"I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to help develop Indigenous studies at Queen's in my new role as Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts. There is much exciting synergy between the kinds of interdisciplinary work happening across a number of programs at Queen's and my own work as a scholar and artist,” says Dr. Robinson. “I am greatly looking forward to working with the academic and Aboriginal communities to find ways to further expand the support for Indigenous arts research and artistic practice."

Tucker Carrington (Chemistry) has been named the returning Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Computational Quantum Dynamics. Dr. Carrington’s research focuses on understanding the motion of atoms. This includes the development and application of new methods of computing rate constants, vibrational and rotational-vibrational spectra, and photodissociation cross sections.

“I am pleased that the CRC was renewed and look forward to continuing to work with talented and hard-working students and postdocs at Queen's and contributing to the community of scholars at  the university,” says Dr. Carrington.

David Murakami Wood (Sociology) has been named the returning Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies. Dr. Murakami Wood is spending the next five years working on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant-funded critical study on surveillance and ”smart city” initiatives in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

For more information on Canada Research Chairs, follow this link.

The Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program has stood at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development since 2000. The CRC program invests approximately $265 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Canadian universities both nominate Canada Research Chairs and administer their funds. For each Tier 1 chair, the university receives $200,000 annually for seven years and for each Tier 2 chair, the university receives $100,000 annually for five years.

Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions within 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 science, engineering and health. 

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