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Going beyond the books

For graduate students juggling research, writing and teaching, finding time to get job experience can be tough. To help students get a leg up, the Department of English Language and Literature have another option in the curriculum: internships.

Kimberley Adams interned this semester at the McGill-Queen's University Press.

Taken in lieu of a seminar course, the internships require 50 hours of work over the fall semester and can be done at a variety of organizations. In operation since 2012, the internships are now in their third year. For the 2014-15 year, six students have worked at the McGill-Queen’s University Press (MQUP), the Kingston Literacy and Skills program, the City of Kingston’s Municipal Heritage Committee and Kingston WritersFest. In the past, Queen’s Strathy Language Unit has also hosted interns.

“The internship is a good way of changing the thinking about what an MA is,” says Glenn Willmott, a professor in the department who’s facilitating the internships this year. “Rather than the researching, reading and writing of a seminar class, the internships allow students to put their skills and knowledge into practice.”

To take part in the internship, students and the host organizations rank one another according to their preferences, with the English department facilitator finding the best matches.

Kimberley Adams, MA’15, interned this year with the MQUP. She worked with an editor at the press to survey the current trends in the field of sociology, mapping where they think the study is headed.

“We looked into manuscripts currently being written, special issues of journals and the themes of recent conferences to see what’s popular right now,” says Ms. Adams. Analyzing the data gave her an opportunity to hone her research skills and see a side of publishing she otherwise wouldn’t have known. Her research gives MQUP a better sense of the field and allows the press to be more strategic when it comes to making decisions about manuscripts.

“This internship has given me a chance to diversify my education and take part in a process I’ve never seen before,” she says. “I’ve gotten some real world experience and developed some transferrable skills, plus if I’m ever looking to publish something, I have an understanding of the work that’s involved.”

Along with the internship program, the English department also has its graduate students take part in a professionalization class that teaches them the skills needed to work as a professional academic. Along with training in how to mark essays and write grant applications, the course teaches students about hunting for work in the academic job market.

“These internships affirm that there’s a practical and productive side to scholarly life outside academia and getting to take part enriches the student experience,” says Dr. Willmott. 

Flags lowered for Professor Emeritus McTavish

Flags on campus are lowered in memory of David McTavish, a professor emeritus in the Department of Art.

Dr. McTavish began teaching at Queen’s in 1973 and was promoted to full professor in 1989. He is widely recognized, nationally and internationally, as a scholar of the Italian Renaissance with a special interest in the role of drawings.

[David McTavish with graduate students in Vienna]
David McTavish, seen here with graduate students in Vienna last year, continued to engage with a range of professorial duties following his retirement from Queen's in 2013.

Dr. McTavish was head of the Department of Art from 1989 to 1997 during which time the PhD program in art history was inaugurated, the Bader fellowships for PhD students were put in place and the first of two endowed Bader chairs was established. During this time he was also asked to direct the Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s capital project – this included an $8 million fundraising campaign, an architectural competition and the move of the entire collection. He served in this capacity from 1991 to 2001. 

Dr. McTavish retired from the university in 2013 but continued to engage with a range of professorial duties from graduate supervision to research and publication with commitment and dedication. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre published his study of El Greco's The Adoration of the Shepherds earlier this year.

He received his BA (Honours) and MA from the University of Toronto; he completed a PhD at the University of London (Courtauld Institute of Art) in 1978. His scholarly activities mostly have focused on Italian art of the Renaissance through Mannerism to the Baroque period. In his doctoral work, he was principally interested in the relationships between so-called schools of art, in particular those of Venice and Rome in the 16th century; he was fortunate to carry out his doctoral studies under the supervision of John Shearman and Michael Hirst, two of the foremost scholars in the field. 

In 1978, he was asked to chair the first collection committee of the newly formed Department of Prints and Drawings at the Art Gallery of Ontario; he has maintained close ties with the department ever since. Since 2009, he has been an adviser to the acquisitions committee of the board of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

A celebration of Dr. McTavish's life will take place at the University Club on Dec. 7 at 4 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.

Holiday tradition unites voices

The holiday season is all about tradition. For some, it’s about making special meals, visiting far-flung relatives, or decking the halls in whimsical ways. But for others, no holiday is complete without belting out an aria or two from George Frideric Handel’s choral masterpiece, The Messiah. Thanks to the Queen’s School of Music’s Messiah Sing-a-Long, the opportunity to do just that is close at hand.

Queen's students and faculty members will serve as soloists at Friday's Messiah Sing-A-Long. (University Communications)

While traditionally held in the modest foyer of Harrison-LeCaine hall, this year’s Sing-a-Long event will take place in the spacious lobby at the Isabel. It will be the first time the glassed-in space in the university’s brand new arts building will play host to its own musical event.

“That lobby is a place just waiting for music to happen in it,” says Margaret Walker, Director of the School of Music. “I think it will be an excellent acoustic to sing in. I think the voices will go right to the top off those glass walls and reverberate. And whatever the lake is doing outside those windows always enhances anything.”

The Sing-a-Long provides an opportunity for Queen’s students, staff, and faculty, as well as members of the Kingston community, to join together in singing excerpts from the Handel’s popular oratorio, which is frequently performed at Christmas. An orchestra of volunteer student musicians, under the direction of Gordon Craig, accompanies the singers.

“It’s not rehearsed a whole lot,” laughs Dr. Walker. “Whoever is available joins in, and we have a big pile of Messiah score songbooks that we hand out.”

She says students and faculty members who are familiar with the oratorio, which was composed in 1741, will serve as soloists, organized and coached by voice professor Bruce Kelly. Rather than singing all 53 movements, the Sing-a-Long session focuses on popular excerpts, like the “Hallelujah Chorus”.

Dr. Walker says the Sing-a-Long event has long been a popular tradition at Queen’s.

“One year it was cancelled because of a programming conflict, and as we got into November our students noticed that it wasn’t on the calendar. They decided it had to happen, so they got together with a couple faculty members and threw one together. It’s that important!”

She says she hopes the new venue will provide lots of room for people to let their voices ring out.  “It’s really for fun and celebration.”

The Messiah Sing-a-Long takes place on Friday, Nov. 28 at 2:30pm in the lobby of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, 390 King St. W. All are welcome. Musical scores will be available for use. For more information visit the website of the Queen’s School of Music.

 

 

 

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.

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