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    Queen's hosting Matariki colloquium

    [Gauvin Bailey]
    Gauvin Bailey (Art History), the Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art, is the keynote speaker for the Religion Across the Humanities: A Matariki Humanities Colloquium. (University Communications) 

    The role of religion within the humanities is the focus of an international conference being hosted by Queen’s University from Oct. 1-3.

    Starting Thursday, Queen’s will host Religion Across the Humanities: A Matariki Humanities Colloquium, bringing together scholars from the seven member institutions of the Matariki Network of Universities.

    The highlight of the event is the keynote presentation by Queen’s own Gauvin Bailey (Art History), the Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art. Dr. Bailey will offer up an engaging talk, that is open to the public, entitled “The Spiritual Rococo: Décor and Divinity from the Salons of Paris to the Missions of Patagonia” on Thursday, from 6-6:45 pm in Speaker’s Corner, Stauffer Library.

    In his presentation, Dr. Bailey will address some “fundamental conundrums” that impede the understanding of 18th-Century aesthetics, culture, and religion, including why Rococo, a profane, self-consciously private manner of ornamenting the French aristocratic home turned into one of the world’s most popular manifestations of the sacred and why is Rococo still treated as a decadent nemesis of the Enlightenment when the two had fundamental characteristics in common?

    “I seek to answer these questions by treating Rococo as a global phenomenon and by exploring its moral and spiritual dimensions through the lens of populist French religious literature of the day—a body of work I call the ‘Spiritual Rococo,’” Dr. Bailey says. “I will trace Rococo’s development from France through Central Europe, Portugal, Brazil, and Spanish South America by considering the parallel diffusion of the style itself and the literature of the Spiritual Rococo in these same regions. One of my ultimate goals is to acknowledge Rococo’s essential modernity.”

    He adds that such events hosted by the MNU are important because they bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines but with key interests in common.

    “In this case the colloquium is focussed on religion, a critical aspect of research and teaching in many fields,” he says. “The opportunity for cross-disciplinary dialogue made possible by the Matariki Humanities Colloquium make these connections happen.”

    The MNU is an international group of leading, like-minded universities. Along with Queen’s, member institutions include: Dartmouth College (US); Durham University (England); Uppsala University (Sweden; University of Tubingen (Germany); University of Western Australia; and University of Otago (New Zealand).

    Dr. Bailey also is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Correspondent Étranger, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Institut de France.

    Political platforms just a swipe away

    Want to brush-up on the various election platforms before voting on Oct. 19? Queen’s students have developed Politips, an app that allows users to discover key points from the party platforms without sifting through reams of documents and news coverage.

    [Politips founders]
    Pamela Simpson, Artsci'17, (right) and Kaily Schell, Artsci'15, are the founders of Politips, an app that delivers information about the election platforms of the federal political parties.

    “Our team is passionate about getting more Canadians, especially young people, engaged in the political process,” says Pamela Simpson, Artsci’17, chief executive officer of Politips. “Recognizing that inaccessible information is a major barrier to electoral participation, we decided to create an app to deliver accurate information in an easily understandable and non-partisan manner.”

    Ms. Simpson, who is studying politics, was in class last March when the discussion turned to voter apathy among young people. As she scanned the classroom, she saw her classmates on their cellphones. That’s when she had the idea of creating an app that would appeal to voters her age.

    “We see our app as laying the foundation for discussion. We did a lot of beta testing and found that users want to scroll and get a general idea of the most contested points,” she says.

    [Screenshot of Politips app]
    A screenshot from the Poltips app.

    Ms. Simpson teamed up with Kaily Schell, Artsci’15, who is the chief marketing officer of the company.  Iain McKenzie, Sc’17, is the chief technology officer, while Justin Taub, Artsci’17, is providing research support. Peter Li, a student at OCAD University, is working on the graphic design of the app, and Zach Buck, an alumnus of the University of Toronto, is editing the material.

    The Politips team scrambled to launch its app after the election writ was issued surprisingly early on Aug. 4. With Ms. Simpson still in Japan on an internship, the team collaborated over Skype. They managed to release the app in late August, and they have been adding platform points as parties unveil them. Jonathan Rose, an associate professor in the Department of Political Studies, has agreed to serve as an advisor on the project.

    Politips also received support from the QyourVenture program offered by Queen’s Innovation Connector. Members of Politips had the opportunity to attend the same lectures and workshops offered to students participating in the QIC Summer Initiative program.  

    The company also worked out of Launch Lab, Kingston’s regional innovation centre, inside Innovation Park at Queen’s University. QIC and Launch Lab have formed a partnership to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship demonstrated by students like those involved in Politips.

    Ms. Simpson says the team has learned a lot over the last few months. The company hopes to expand the app to incorporate future provincial and municipal elections.

    Politips is now available for download through the App Store on Apple mobile devices.  

    Surveillance Studies Centre awarded $2.5 million SSHRC grant

    David Lyon, David Murakami Wood will lead an international research project into big data, surveillance and how it affects our daily lives.

    Queen’s University professor and Surveillance Studies Centre director David Lyon (Sociology) has been awarded $2.5 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for his research into the vulnerabilities generated by big data surveillance.

    David Lyon and the Surveillance Studies Centre have received $2.5 million from SSHRC.

    The Big Data Surveillance Partnership Grant will bring together national and international academic partners, along with non-academic partners from public policy and activism groups including the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. David Murakami Wood, Canada Research Chair (Tier II) and Associate Professor of Surveillance Studies in the Department of Sociology at Queen's University, is also a co-applicant on the grant.

    The new project builds on the Surveillance Studies Centre’s previous project The New Transparency: Surveillance and Social Sorting (2008-2015), and its landmark study, Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada, which exposes nine key surveillance trends now intensified by big data. This new partnership will contribute to an updated grasp of emerging surveillance practices and trends and to ethical and policy engagement.

    “The funding is crucial to our research work because while many across Canada are exploring how big data techniques can be used in areas such as health care, education, welfare or employment, very few are focusing attention on the questions of the ethics of big data or its social, economic, political and cultural consequences,” says Dr. Lyon.

    As part of the research program, Dr. Lyon and his team will document how organizations track activities, habits and locations in real time, how this data is used and how the tracking and anticipating of things like social media use, household consumption or voting in elections affects ordinary people’s daily lives.

    “One problem is the way that big data practices often infer things about people that are then taken to be correct, and if we're trying to predict what people might do -- become terrorists, be struck with cancer or whatever -- this has big implications for how we may end up treating them now,” says Dr. Lyon. “We're researching surveillance situations of many kinds to check that they really serve the common good.”

    Partnership Grants support formal partnerships between researchers, businesses and other partners to improve understanding of critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance.

    “Life in a digital world obliges us to ask new questions about privacy, questions that involve all of us, not just those we imagine are the usual suspects.”

    For more information visit the Queen’s Surveillance Studies Centre.

    Smol awarded International Ecology Institute's top prize

    [John Smol]
    John Smol (Biology) has been awarded the ECI Prize from the International Ecology Institute. (Supplied photo)

    Throughout his career John Smol (Biology) has won numerous awards for his work in the field of ecological history. So the fact that his latest recognition has him visibly excited must mean that it is particularly special.

    Dr. Smol is this year’s recipient of the International Ecology Institute’s (ECI) top award, the ECI Prize, for his “leadership in bringing palaeolimnology to bear so effectively on urgent environmental problems.”

    The award comes with 6,000 euros in prize money and the opportunity to write a book that will be distributed worldwide, but what really excites Dr. Smol is the list of names he will be joining.

    “The award has been given out for a couple of decades, and when I look at the list of awardees it's some of my ecological heroes,” he says. “I look at the list and I see people like E. O. Wilson, who is a name everyone (in ecology) knows. I see Gene Likens, Steve Carpenter, Ramon Margalef. If you look at the list it includes some of the top ecologists, people I've read since I was a student basically, and then all of a sudden you are on the same list as they are. It felt kind of nice.”

    The other part that excites Dr. Smol is that the award also recognizes his particular area of study – ecological history. Dr. Smol and his team use the information gathered from core samples of lake sediments to map out the ecological history of an area. To date it often hadn’t been considered part of mainstream ecological studies. The ECI Prize changes that, he says.

    “In some ways it was nice to see the acceptance of the field into a mainstream ecological prize. Whenever I win something, it’s work done by a very dedicated group of graduate students and post-docs. So in many ways it is a group prize,” he says. “But it is also nice for the subject area to be recognized. In some ways it’s recognizing that paleoecology has something quite significant to offer.”

    As Dr. Smol explains, one of the biggest challenges for the field of ecology is that there is a lack of long-term monitoring data. For example, there was no one monitoring for acidification of lakes 100 years ago. Søren Sørenson only introduced the pH scale in 1909, he adds.

    However through paleoecology, Dr. Smol and his team are hoping to change that.

    “We don't have temperature readings going back more than 100-200 years in most areas. We don't have water chemistry. The only way we can get back in time is using the paleo-ecological record to provide that historical context,” he says. “There are 35 people in our lab who are able to push the record back in time using a whole variety of methods.  This information tells them what the environmental conditions were like in the past and where we're going. It reminds us of what we did right, it warns us of what we did wrong.”

    Dr. Smol will travel to Germany, where the ECI is located, to receive his prize in October.

    It's music to her ears

    Lola Cuddy honoured with lifetime achievement award for her pioneering work in music perception and cognition.

    A pioneer in the field of music perception and cognition, Queen’s University Professor Lola Cuddy recently received an important honour from her peers for a lifetime of achievements. Dr. Cuddy was recognized by the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC) after spending 50 years teaching, mentoring and researching at Queen’s.

    The award recognizes her contributions as a researcher, her internationally recognized research findings and the guidance she provided to the society.

    “Dr. Cuddy’s work has made a deep and lasting impact on our understanding of diverse areas ranging from structure in music processing, to musical training and skill acquisition,” says Michael Schutz, SMPC awards committee chair. “More recently her interests have led to contributions related to the processing of music in populations with neurological disorders. Beyond this research, Lola influenced a generation of scholars and her service to the field (in particular, to the growth of academic publications) has proven immensely important in creating the vibrant academic community we enjoy today.”

    Dr. Cuddy started her university career at United College of the University of Manitoba, where she found little opportunity to pursue research in the areas of music perception and cognition. After studying psychology and mathematics, she decided to study clinical psychology in graduate school at the University of Toronto. At U of T the opportunities to study perception and cognition led her to switch her interests to psychoacoustics, perhaps a natural progress for a musician.  

    In 1965, Dr. Cuddy arrived at Queen’s where the 12 faculty members of the psychology department had offices located in vintage houses around campus. In 1969, the psychology department was founded in Humphrey Hall and she was in charge of designing a psychoacoustics laboratory – which is where Dr. Cuddy found her academic home.

    “I recall a sense among researchers that on a day-to-day basis we worked very much alone in our pursuits,” says Dr. Cuddy. “We were not part of the mainstream of psychological inquiry and, although there were exceptions, not given much attention by the field at large. We could not have predicted the burst of conference activity, collegiality and publication results that grew exponentially from 1985.”

    In the early 1980s, as her field of study continued to expand, Dr. Cuddy helped create and develop courses in psychology of music and psychology and the arts at Queen’s.

    “It is difficult to explain the rapid expansion of music perception and cognition research,” says Dr. Cuddy. “One could point to the hard work of its devotees, increased technological facilities for research generally, Internet communication among researchers, and, in a somewhat more speculative vein, increased musical sophistication among students and colleagues in other fields even if they have not been formally musically trained.”

    Now an emerita professor, Dr. Cuddy continues to supervise students and continue her research into dementia and how memory loss relates to music. She says one of her greatest research findings to date is showing how musical memory is often spared in Alzheimer’s patients. She is continuing her research in this area with colleague Jacalyn Duffin (History of Medicine).

    “Music engages many aspects of our lives and has many long-term benefits,” says Dr. Cuddy. “It can protect us against aging and can also be used as an intervention. I’ve learned so much and still have so much to do.”

    Queen's remembers Andrea Mariano

    [Andrea Mariano]
    Andrea Mariano

    Queen’s University regrets to inform the community of the death of Andrea Mariano, 18, from Thornhill, Ont. Ms. Mariano, a first-year student in the Faculty of Arts and Science, died at Kingston General Hospital on Sept. 18.

    Andrea’s family has indicated that the cause of death was related to an anaphylactic allergic reaction.

    “I would like to express my deepest condolences to Andrea’s family on behalf of the Queen’s community,” Principal Daniel Woolf says. “We are saddened by the loss of this promising young woman.”

    Visitations will take place at Fratelli Vescio Funeral Homes, 8101 Weston Rd., Woodbridge, Ont, on Thursday, Sept. 24 from 2-4 pm and 6-9 pm, and Friday, Sept. 25 from 2-4 pm and 6-9 pm. Funeral service will occur at St. Joseph the Worker, 191 Wade Gate, Concord, Ont., on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 9:30 am. Internment to follow at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, 8361 Yonge Street, Thornhill, Ont. 

    Flags on campus will be lowered in Andrea’s memory. Details of an on-campus memorial service will be announced at a later date.

    Anyone in need of support is encouraged to contact Student Wellness Services at 613-533-6000 ext. 78264 and/or University Chaplain Kate Johnson at 613-533-2186. After hours, students are encouraged to contact Campus Security at 613-533-6733.

    Sketch comedy troupe coming back to Queen's

    [She Said What]
    She Said What is an all female sketch comedy troupe made up of four Queen's graduates – from left, Megan MacKeigan, Marni Van Dyk, Emma Hunter and Carly Heffernan. (Supplied photo)

    They’re all women, they’re all graduates of Queen’s and, now, they are all returning to the university.

    Award-winning sketch comedy troupe She Said What will be at Queen’s on Monday, Sept. 21 for a series of workshops with current students of the Department of Drama and Music, as well as a performance at Theological Hall in the evening.

    The troupe is made up of four alumni – Emma Hunter, Marni Van Dyk, Carly Heffernan, and Megan MacKeigan, all Artsci’07 – who met while performing with Queen’s Players. Following graduation, they each moved to Toronto and formed their own group as a way to continue doing comedy and to create their own performance opportunities in Toronto.

    As Ms. MacKeigan explains, the four are very much looking forward to performing again at Queen’s, particularly for the three others who either majored or minored in Drama.

    “It’ll be great to go back and, I didn’t but all the others performed on that same stage so it’ll be quite nostalgic to come back and perform, especially for the Drama 100 class at 1 pm on Monday,” she says. “They all took that class when they started at Queen’s so it’ll be neat to see these budding young students in their second week of class.”

    Ms. MacKeigan studied Applied Economics and is now a lawyer.

    She Said What has performed in the Toronto and Chicago Sketch Comedy Festivals, won the Second City best of the fest at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival and was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for best sketch troupe.

    They were invited back to Queen’s by Director of the Queen's School of Drama and Music Craig Walker. He says it was an easy decision to ask them to come back.

    “She Said What is a very funny, very entertaining sketch comedy troupe. They really put the lie to the stupid old canard that ‘women aren’t funny,’” he says. “So the main reason I invited them is that they will be very entertaining.  But the other reason I invited them is that they are terrific examples of successful alumni.”

    Since graduating, the members of the troupe have had interesting and successful careers, Dr. Walker points out, adding that they have accomplished this by being “resourceful and flexible and often by creating their own work in a remarkably joyous way.”

    Ms. Hunter has appeared on CBC's Mr. D as well as CTV's Spun Out, Pop Quiz, Match Game. Ms. Heffernan is also a Second City alumni and now writes and teaches with the company as well as a number of television shows. She also is a very active voiceover actor. Ms. Van Dyk  is a television producer, writer and producer of short films. She is also an actor on a number of web series and other television shows. Ms. MacKeigan is the new chair of the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, vice-president Queen's Players Toronto and a partner in a law firm.

     She Said What will perform at Theological Hall at 8 pm. Tickets are $5 at the door.

    Two Queen’s researchers receive Royal Society medals

    Duo honoured for their achievements in environmental science and public awareness.

    Two Queen’s University professors are being recognized by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) for their contributions to the environment and the public awareness of science.

    Professors John Smol and Kerry Rowe
    (Pictured L-R) Professor John Smol and Professor Kerry Rowe have been honoured by the Royal Society of Canada for their contributions to the environment and the public awareness of science.

    Kerry Rowe, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, has been awarded the Miroslaw Romanowski Medal for his research and expertise in improving barrier systems for solid waste landfills, practice standards for protecting land and water resources from contamination and the rectification of past poor practices.

    "I am of course delighted by the award,” says Dr. Rowe. “However, I see it not as an award for me but for my team of outstanding past and present graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, without whom the work could not have been conducted, and to my incredible colleagues in the Geoengineering Centre for their support and collaboration over my 15 years at Queen's."

    Dr. Rowe is recognized by his peers as one of the pioneers in the field of geosynthetics, who combines theory, lab work and field studies to find solutions for practical engineering problems.

    John Smol, Professor, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and 3M Teaching Fellow, is also being honoured by the Royal Society of Canada with the McNeil Medal for public awareness of science. 

    “I am deeply honoured to win this medal from our national academy for science communication,” says Dr. Smol. “I have always believed that, if research is knowledge creation, then teaching –whether it is to students, policy makers, or the public-at-large –is knowledge communication. There is little point in doing one without the other.

    “After all, the public has largely paid for the research we do in the first place, so they deserve our efforts in communicating science effectively,” says Dr. Smol.

    This is the third RSC Medal Dr. Smol has received, having previously received the Miroslav Romanowski Medal for the environmental sciences and Flavelle Medal for biological sciences. His research has made profound and lasting contributions to identifying changes to the environment caused by humans, as well as greater public understanding of environmental issues.

    The Miroslaw Romanowski Medal and McNeil Medal are two of 20 awards bestowed by the Royal Society of Canada for making an outstanding contribution to a particular field of study. They are awarded annually, biennially or at irregular intervals, depending on the nature of the award. For more information about the Royal Society of Canada’s awards, visit the website.

    Close relationships can ease emotional stress

    Queen’s researcher finds evidence of emotional “load sharing” in close relationships.

    “Sharing the load” is often thought of in terms of physical tasks, but new research out of Queen’s University suggests that load sharing can be applied to emotional burdens as well. According to researcher Jessica Lougheed, a PhD candidate in Psychology, a strong relationship with a loved one can help ease stress in difficult situations.

    Jessica Lougheed
    Jessica Lougheed, PhD Candidate at Queen's University, has co-authored a study that found evidence of emotional "load sharing" between close partners in stressful situations.

    “We wanted to test a new evolutionary theory in psychology called Social Baseline Theory, which, as psychologists Lane Beckes and James Coan found, suggests that humans adapted to be close to other humans,” says Ms. Lougheed. “The idea is that individuals function at a relative deficit when they are farther away from people they trust. This is a provocative idea in psychological science, because it is often assumed that people can demonstrate optimal functioning whether or not they are near trusted relationship partners.”

    In their study, Ms. Lougheed and co-authors measured the stress levels of 66 adolescent girls during a spontaneous speech task, particularly looking at whether having a close family member nearby mitigated some of their stress.

    Before the speech performance, mothers and daughters rated the quality of their relationship. During the speeches, researchers tracked the participants’ level of stress via galvanic skin response (measuring the level of skin perspiration). To account for the effect of physical – rather than purely emotional – closeness, the participants’ mothers were instructed either to hold or not hold their daughters’ hand.

    The researchers found that physical closeness allowed the participants to manage their stress more efficiently, regardless of how close the mother-daughter pair reported being. However, when physical contact was removed from the equation, only the participants who reported higher relationship quality showed signs of load sharing.

    “In line with Social Baseline Theory, our results suggest that we are better equipped to overcome challenging situations when we are closer – either physically or in terms of how we feel in our relationships – to people we trust,” says Ms. Lougheed.

    Participants who had reported the lowest level of mother-daughter relationship closeness and lacked physical contact during the task were the least efficient in managing emotional stress.

     “We were somewhat surprised to find that mothers’ stress did not vary by physical closeness – after all, it can be stressful for parents to watch their children perform, but being able to offer physical comfort might have lessened the mothers’ stress,” says Ms. Lougheed.

    “Thus, emotional load sharing in this context was not a function of the mothers’ stress level, and we expect that it occurred instead through the daughters’ perceptions of how stressful it was to give a speech. That is, higher physical and/or relationship closeness helped the daughters feel like they could overcome the challenging situation.”

    The team’s results suggest that physical contact can overcome some difficulties associated with relatively low relationship quality, or that being in a high-quality relationship is helpful for managing emotions in the same way as the physical comfort of a loved one. The researchers note that the general level of relationship quality was relatively high in their sample, and that physical contact may function very differently in distressed families. The researchers also caution against generalizing these results to other partnerships – such as a relationship between romantic partners, platonic friends and other family members – and suggest that more research be done to determine the effect of socioeconomic status and gender, amongst other factors.

    The study, Sharing the burden: the interpersonal regulation of emotional arousal in mother-daughter dyads, was published in the journal Emotion.

    Curtain rises on School of Drama and Music

    For years, drama and music scholarship have been regarded as separate fields of study. Slowly, though, that’s changing, and Queen’s School of Music and the Department of Drama have come together to take advantage of that trend.

    The School of Drama and Music officially came into existence on July 1 after years of planning. Queen’s Senate approved the merger in April.

    [Craig Walker and Ireneus Zuk]
    Craig Walker (left) will serve as the interim director of the Queen's School of Drama and Music while Ireneus Zuk will become the interim associate director.

    “Collaborations between music and drama are natural, and dialogue between these scholarly fields is now increasing,” says Craig Walker, who will serve as interim director of the new school during the transition period. “While the merger arose in part by the need to use resources more efficiently and boost the units’ profile within the Faculty of Arts and Science, it’s really an aspirational move rather than one of desperation. We want to become an innovative unit that provides enhanced teaching, research and creative work at the intersection of music and theatre.”

    The two departments have collaborated in the past. Before the merger, the units worked together to offer a musical theatre course. Furthermore, faculty members collaborated on a number of independent study courses and on some research projects.

    The merger will allow for an expansion of that work and support excellence in the study of musical theatre.

    “Musical theatre is rife for innovation as it enjoys a rapid international expansion and embraces new forms of cultural exchange,” Dr. Walker says. “We want to look at musical theatre in an integrated way that gives student opportunities to explore different areas of the endeavour.”

    One major initiative made possible by the merger is a new Bachelor of Musical Theatre program Queen’s is developing with St. Lawrence College. The school is also looking at creating a graduate diploma in arts leadership in collaboration with staff at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. In fact, the opening of the Isabel further spurred on the merger, which had been discussed for several years.

    “The world-class teaching and performance spaces in the Isabel have enhanced the learning experience for both drama and music students,” Dr. Walker says. “We believe that by working together, we can elevate our programs to match the professionalism and prestige that comes with sharing quarters in that beautiful building.”

    All degree plans in Drama and Music will continue to be offered in the new school. Dr. Walker notes that he expects they will be enhanced by the merger as students will now have more opportunities to branch out and take different courses. Ireneus Zuk will serve as interim associate director of the new school during the transition period. Dr. Zuk is a professor and renowned pianist.


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