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Arts and Science

Research leaders earn prestigious medals

Queen’s researchers Guy Narbonne and John McGarry were honoured today by the Royal Society of Canada for contributions to geology and political science, respectively.

Dr. Narbonne (Geological Sciences) is the recipient of the Bancroft Award for publication, instruction and research in the earth sciences and his contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of the subject of geology.

John McGarry has won the Innis-Gerin Medal.

Dr. McGarry (Political Studies) is the recipient of the Innis-Gerin Medal for his contribution to the literature of the social sciences. The medal has only been awarded 21 times since its inception in 1967.

“Drs. Narbonne and McGarry have been leaders in their respective fields for many years and these medals are recognition of their outstanding work,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “The fact that Queen’s won two medals out of the 14 available in 2014 caps off a banner year with respect to Royal Society of Canada awards and honours.”

Dr. Narbonne is best known for his research into evolution’s first foray into complex multicellular life, the Ediacaran biota, a group of large, soft-bodied creatures that populated the floor of the world’s oceans 580 million years ago after three billion years of mostly microbial evolution. His multidisciplinary research on the origin of Earth’s earliest animals has been widely reported in the scientific literature and through public outreach.

Guy Narbonne (r) works with David Attenborough at Mistaken Point.

Dr. Narbonne also played a major role in establishing the Ediacaran Period, the first new geological period recognized in more than a century.

“I’m thrilled for the recognition this brings to Queen’s since to win this medal, you have to excel in three different areas – research, communication and tangible contributions to science,” says Dr. Narbonne.

Dr. McGarry is the Canada Research Chair in Nationalism and Democracy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the winner of both the Trudeau Fellowship and the Killam Prize. Since 2009 he has worked as a part-time senior advisor on governance to the United Nations-mediated negotiations in Cyprus. He is viewed by many as one of the world’s leading experts on power sharing, federalism and constitutional design.

“It is thrilling for me to receive an award that is named after two of Canada’s most famous social scientists, and whose first recipient in 1967 was Queen’s own W.A. Mackintosh,” says Dr. McGarry.

For more information on the medals visit the website.

Mind over matter

Tom Hollenstein (Psychology) is running a two-year trial to see if the video game MindLight can help youth cope with and eventually conquer their anxiety.

The Playnice Institute develops video games such as MindLight with the goal of promoting emotional resilience in youth. Left unchecked, anxiety in youth is shown to lead to higher rates of substance abuse, school absenteeism, depression and suicide.

“The game gives kids a chance to practice regulating their emotions at their own pace and in a safe space using a popular tool, a video game. The idea is that through the game, they will learn how to deal with anxiety-provoking situations,” says Dr. Hollenstein, who is using a grant from the Ontario Mental Health Foundation to conduct the research.

MindLight is designed for children aged eight to 16 years old. Players enter a scary mansion and learn their grandmother was abducted by the shadows. They must travel the dark hallways, solve puzzles and avoid frightening monsters to find their grandmother.

Ethan Flanagan plays MindLight under the watchful eye of Tom Hollenstein.

To beat the darkness, players wear Teru the Magical Hat who teaches the player how to use their “mind light” mounted on that magical hat. Players wear a neurofeedback headset called MindWave that measures the player’s level of relaxation or anxiety and that information is incorporated into key features of game play.

“If the trial results are positive, it could lead the way to an entirely new way of treating anxious children and help researchers better understand the power of video games,” Dr. Hollenstein says.

The trial, conducted with the support of Dr. Hollenstein’s co-investigators Sarosh Khalid-Khan (Psychiatry) and Isabel Granic (Psychology), includes two elements. The first takes place through the Mood and Anxiety Treatment Program at Hotel Dieu. For the second part, Dr. Hollenstein’s research team is partnering with local schools to identify at-risk youth and work with them to determine if the game play can help reduce children’s anxiety.

World-renowned architects make their mark at Queen's

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts is now open, hosting classes and performances, and those interested in learning more about how the building was created and designed will get the chance to hear from the lead architect. Craig Dykers of Snøhetta will be speaking at the Isabel on Friday, Sept. 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. The event, which is free and open to all, is organized by the School of Urban and Regional Planning.

[Craig Dykers]
Craig Dykers, founding partner and a principal architect at Snøhetta, will be making a special presentation at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday evening. (Photo University Communications)

They designed the pavilion marking the entrance to the memorial museum at New York’s World Trade Centre site, reimagined Manhattan’s Times Square, and have drawn up the plans for hundreds of innovative buildings around the world, from opera houses to spaces for learning. And with the opening of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on the Kingston waterfront, world-renowned architectural firm Snøhetta marks its Canadian debut.

Home to the Department of Film and Media, the Isabel will also provide learning and working space for the university’s other creative arts disciplines, while housing a film screening room, black-box theatre and a state-of-the-art concert hall.  Snøhetta, who worked in partnerships with Ottawa’s N45 Architecture when devising the building, took a careful look at the university’s plans for the intended structure, while also considering both the users’ experience and the way the building would integrate into the existing landscape.

“Fundamentally, we wanted a place that brought light into (the users’) experience,” explained Craig Dykers, Snøhetta’s founding partner and a principal architect with the firm on a visit to Queen’s in late 2013. “We wanted to establish a strong connection between the landscape and the character of the shore, as well as the broader environment.”

It was for the latter reason that Dykers and his team chose to work with limestone – a building material commonly used in the Kingston area – reimagining it in a more monolithic, or slab-like interpretation so that it might look like it was emerging organically out of the landscape. They also deliberately incorporated two historic limestone buildings that made up the original site.

“We like being able to provide a new perspective on a material that people are already very familiar with,” said Dykers of his rationale. “It’s like being married and still wanting to learn new things about (your partner), even though you’ve lived together for so long.”

When it came to conceiving of the building’s jewel-like interior concert hall, Dykers and his team again turned to local limestone for inspiration. “We came across a beautiful limestone outcropping on one of our early visits to Kingston,” he recalls. “Each layer seemed to depict a different event in the history of this place, laid down over the millennia.”

The solution was to reinterpret the limestone’s subtleties in warm wood, a material that would also pay homage to the instruments that would be highlighted in the acoustically perfected space. The architects also decided to create a hall that is ever so slightly asymmetrical – the result being a room with a slightly more organic feel.

That hall was formally animated for the first time on Saturday, Sept.13 when the JUNO-nominated band Timber Timbre took to the stage as part of the Isabel Goes Alt series. The Isabel’s classical series kicks off on Sept. 21 with a performance by the Afiara Quartet, who will be joined by pianist Maxim Bernard.

For Dykers and his architectural collaborators, it will an opportunity to see Isabel’s spaces – once only imagined – being inhabited and enjoyed by the audiences it was first intended for. “It’s hard to be proud of something before the doors are open and people are using it,” says Dykers. “People are excited about this building.”

The Isabel was made possible by a transformational gift from Alfred Bader (Sc’45, Arts’46, MSc’47, LLD’86) and his wife, Isabel (LLD’07) as well as the financial backing of the federal and provincial governments, the City of Kingston and additional philanthropic support.

Uncovering Herstmonceux Castle's history

For the past seven years, Scott McLean has been analyzing the archaeology of the Herstmonceux Castle estate in East Sussex, England. A new excavation program at the estate aims to uncover the ways medieval peoples adapted when the region went through climate change.

Members of the excavation team worked this summer at a site called Mota Piece.

“Through combined excavations, archival research and environmental analysis we are hoping to reconstruct a better understanding of what the Herstmonceux Castle estate was like during the medieval period,” says Scott McLean, an associate professor of history at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). “With the information we gather, we hope to learn more about how the owners coped with the fierce storms and rising sea levels that constituted this period of climate change.”

The Herstmonceux estate occupies 600 acres of land adjacent to the Pevensey Levels, an ecologically sensitive region that was repeatedly flooded starting in the 13th century when the world entered a period of global cooling known as the Little Ice Age.

Dr. McLean’s research scope has expanded with the excavation program that draws in collaborators from Queen’s University and the University of Waterloo. The program, which has received a $200,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, will also place a strong focus on training students in archeology, archival research and public history research.

“The Herstmonceux Estate excavation provides an excellent opportunity for fruitful collaboration between experts at the BISC, Queen’s and the University of Waterloo,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Participating in and observing operations at the archaeological sites also represents a unique hands-on learning opportunity for students studying at the BISC.” 

After their first summer of excavation, the team has turned up evidence of an early manor house on the edge of Pevensey Levels. The researchers have also uncovered approximately 100 previously unknown medieval documents related to the castle and estate.

 Excavations at Herstmonceux Estate are planned to continue until 2017.

Research leaders earn academic accolades

Three Queen’s University professors have been named to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists program. The new program recognizes an emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership and seeks to gather scholars, artists and scientists at a highly productive stage of their careers into a single collegium where new advances in understanding will emerge from the interaction of diverse intellectual, cultural and social perspectives.

Queen’s received the maximum allowance of three New College inductees.

“This is an exciting new program that opens the doors of the RSC to early to mid-career scholars and researchers, and provides them an opportunity to contribute to the promotion of learning and research, an important mandate of the RSC,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Equally important is the opportunity for the RSC to connect with younger colleagues representing a wide range of research pursuits and perspectives. Although we were limited to a maximum of three, the Queen’s researchers elected into the inaugural College cohort are great representatives of the diverse range of leading edge and innovative research being undertaken by our younger colleagues across our campus.”

Pascale Champagne (l), Morten Nielsen and Una D'Elia were honoured by the Royal Society of Canada.

The three new members include:

Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering) is an innovative and collaborative researcher rapidly establishing herself as an expert in the development of alternate water and waste management technologies and sustainable environmental approaches with a focus on integrated bioresource management.  “I am honoured to receive this prestigious award,” says Dr. Champagne. “The award will create new collaborative research opportunities and allow me to develop new synergies with other researchers, and contribute to Canada’s ability to manage bioresources in a manner that is both sustainable and supportive of economic development.”

Una D’Elia (Art History), a leading scholar in the elucidation of Renaissance art. Her award-winning and critically acclaimed publications are lauded internationally for revealing new interpretations of such famous artists as Titian, Michelangelo and Raphael.

“I take this award as validation of the importance and relevance of the study of the arts and humanities,” says Dr. D’Elia. “On a personal level, I am particularly proud to be able to have my two girls see their mother receiving this honour.”

Morten Nielsen (Economics), the Canada Research Chair in Time Series Econometrics and the David Chadwick Smith Chair in the Department of Economics. Dr. Nielsen is a research leader in econometrics, the field of study focused on developing methods for the statistical analysis of economic data.

“I am delighted to be inducted into the RSC College. Being recognized by your peers in this way is a great honour, and I am both humbled and thrilled,” says Dr. Nielsen.

For information on the New College, visit the website.

Queen's, Stuttgart to develop dual master's program

KINGSTON, ON – Queen’s University and the University of Stuttgart, Germany, have agreed to work together on the development of a dual master’s program in the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering and physics. The two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to begin the process.

Queen's Provost Alan Harrison and Univeristy of Stuttgart Rector Wolfram Ressel sign a memorandum of understanding for the creation of a dual master's program.

“International research experience can be a significant benefit for many graduate students, both academically and in terms of setting them apart in the job market,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Signing this MOU is an important step in advancing our existing relationship with the University of Stuttgart and providing a valuable international opportunity for Queen’s students.”

Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison signed the MOU on behalf of Principal Woolf, and Wolfram Ressel, Rector of the University of Stuttgart, was at Queen’s to sign on behalf of his institution.

“The MOU provides an optimal framework for the graduate students of both institutions. International exchange and sharing of knowledge is important for the young scientists,” says Wolfram Ressel, “The memorandum promotes a sustainable relationship between the University of Stuttgart and Queen´s University.”

The University of Stuttgart was founded in 1829 and today has an international reputation for excellence in a range of disciplines, including the physical sciences, engineering, and mobile and information technology.  Around 26,500 students are enrolled in the courses of the university offered by 150 institutes in 10 different faculties. Queen’s has a long standing relationship with Stuttgart, both as a frequent research collaborator and as an exchange partner.

“International research experience can be a significant benefit for many graduate students, both academically and in terms of setting them apart in the job market,”

– Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

“A growing number of Queen’s faculty members collaborate with colleagues overseas, including those at Stuttgart, on significant research projects. This MOU will lead to further opportunities to share expertise through our graduate students,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), who hosted Rector Ressel and the Stuttgart delegation. “The next step will involve both institutions working out the specific details of the academic program over the coming months.”           

Founded in 1841, Queen's University is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities, renowned for fundamental advances in health care, the environment, materials and energy, as well as its contributions to public policy, economics, law and culture. Queen’s attracts students from across Canada and from more than 90 countries around the world.

Students get up-close look at the Isabel

  • [Isabel Open House - Wind Ensemble]
    Members of the Queen's Wind Ensemble practice during the student open house held the Isabel.
  • [Isabel Open House - Ceremony]
    Queen's Principal Daniel Woolf speaks following the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the student open house at the Isabel.
  • [Isabel Open House]
    A special open house for students was held at the Isabel on Saturday, Sept. 13.
  • [Isabel Open House - Sound Lab]
    Visitors explore the Isabel's new sound lab during the student open house on Saturday.
  • [Isabel Open House - Wood Press]
    Students use a wood press during the student open house held at the Isabel.
  • [Isabel Open House - Dan Tremblay]
    Wind Ensemble director Dan Tremblay works with ensemble members during the student open house held at the Isabel.
  • [Isabel Open House - Theatre]
    Vickie Sprenger performs in front of Craig Walker and Tim Fort of the Department of Drama.

Queen’s students got an inside view of all the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts (also known as “the Isabel”) has to offer on Saturday during a special open house.

Visitors were able to tour the recently-completed building while also taking in performances by fellow students held in the state-of-the art concert hall, rehearsal hall, film screening room, as well as other locations.

There also was a hands-on aspect to the day as visitors could learn how to operate a wood press and find out what is happening on campus at the Performing Arts Clubs Fair, held in the lobby.

The open house wrapped up with a concert by Polaris Music Prize-nominated band Timber Timbre, part of The Isabel Goes Alt concert series. 

Go online to find out more about the Isabel.

LIVES LIVED: Seeing the big picture and the tiny brushstrokes

Alec Stewart, was a native of Saskatchewan and studied at Dalhousie and Cambridge universities.

[Alec Stewart]
Dr. Alec Stewart

Alec was lured back to Canada from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1968 as Queen's Head of Physics. The department saw rapid expansion during his six-year headship. His appreciation of all aspects of the department was legendary. Alec saw not only the big picture but all the tiny brush strokes that go to make up the whole canvas.

He nurtured the young people he hired stressing the professorial virtues of dedication to teaching, excellence in research and service to the department, the university and the broader community, while his wife Alta helped to establish the new young families in Kingston and is fondly remembered. The social gatherings hosted by Alec and Alta at their home helped to mold the department into a vigorous community.

His research addressed important questions in physics. Collaboration at Chalk River with Nobel Laureate Bert Brockhouse developed the study of atomic motion in crystals using slow neutrons, and he pioneered the use of positron annihilation as a tool to study condensed matter and as a diagnostic tool in materials science. He was instrumental in organizing the first two international conferences on positron annihilation and he was the first chairman of the International Advisory Committee for Positron Annihilation. He also applied his knowledge to the public interest, including in a Royal Society of Canada study of the safety of nuclear power reactors and the development of emergency response plans, and in the expert panel on the possible risk posed by electromagnetic fields from power lines.

He contributed to the Canadian and international scientific communities through his work with the Royal Society of Canada for which he served as President of the Academy of Sciences, with the NRC and NSERC and with the Canadian Association of Physicists over which he presided. In recognition of his many contributions he was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001.

Alec and Alta raised three sons – James, Hugh and Duncan. After losing Alta to cancer, Alec married Annabel and together they enjoyed 10 years of happy marriage.

– Malcolm Stott joined the Department of Physics at Queen’s University while Alec Stewart was head of the department. The two worked with together for several years and latterly shared an office.

This article is published in the Sept. 9 edition of the Gazette. Pick up your copy of the newspaper at one of the many locations around campus. Follow us on Twitter at @queensuGazette.

New courses focus on experiential learning

The 2014-15 academic year comes with a host of new course offerings from the Queen’s faculties, many of which have been adapted to new teaching subjects and practices.

“Queen’s makes providing students a transformative learning experience a top priority,” says Dr. Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “We’re proud that our faculties are constantly enhancing their offerings, whether in terms of bringing in new research in the field, integrating transferable skills or expanding experiential opportunities in the classroom. Every semester brings fresh ideas and innovative pedagogies.”

The following are a selection of new Queen’s courses.

Faculty of Arts and Science

HIST 212 - Experiential Learning in Historical Practice
Offers credit for non-academic work in historical practice at locations such as museums, archives, historic sites, etc. Students must write a proposal prior to the work experience and a report after its completion.

RELS 268 - Religion and Bioethics
Studies the moral and religious norms of ethical judgment in bio-medicine; specific issues will be chosen such as population control, abortion, genetic control, experimentation, consent, behaviour control, death and euthanasia.

Faculty of Education

GDPI 811 – Innovation in Teaching and Learning
Helps students develop a foundational understanding of innovation in the workplace grounded in exploration of historical, sociological, and philosophical contexts and frameworks. Student will explore case studies and develop a plan of action rooted in the particular needs of their workplace.

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

APSC 223 – Global Project Management at the Castle
Covers the knowledge areas and processes of project management with a focus on a practical and applied approach. The course utilizes the global city of London, its engineering firms, experts, practitioners and massive engineering undertakings (The Shard, Cross-Rail, the Eurotunnel, the Thames Barrier, etc.) to investigate the problems, challenges and successes of managing global engineering projects.

CIVL 372 – Water and Wastewater Engineering
Introduces the general concepts of water/wastewater engineering for the protection of human and ecosystem health. Alternative and innovation urban water management strategies will be discussed and emerging issues for water managers will be introduced.

Faculty of Health Sciences

The Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS) program has been improved for its second year of operation. Along with a full slate of courses in an Arts and Science Honours degree program, QuARMS students now have access to additional courses in topics like Population and Global Health and Skin and Special Senses. Continuing this year will be the First Patient Project, where students are partnered with and learn from a patient in the community, as well as Patient Contact in Internal Medicine, where students work with an internal medicine physician on the examination and observation skills. 

Faculty of Law

LAW 527 – Queen’s Family Law Clinic
Students provides services at the Family Law Clinic, providing legal advice, assistance, information and representation to low income individuals in the Kingston area involved with the family justice system. Instruction is provided through lectures and class discussion, simulation exercises in interviewing and advocacy and individual supervision of student casework by the clinic’s project director.

School of Business

COMM 356 – Gender and Diversity in Organizations
Studies diversity and difference in the workplace, and emphasizes the importance of equity and inclusivity in modern organizations. Classes are discussion-focused and will help students grow comfortable discussing, addressing and managing issues of gender and diversity in their careers and organizations.

COMM 433 – Marketing Analytics
Explores the technological and marketing innovations that have been enabled by the advent of “big data.” This course equips students to transform information to insight and insight into shrewd judgement, allowing them to make better marketing and resource allocation decisions. 

Classes start at the Isabel

Matt Rogalsky (Music) leads his class at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in an exercise in acoustic design. He described it as “an exercise in listening to sound through the fingertips.” He plays a tone and the students walk around the class holding balloons, noting how different parts of the room affect the sound.  (University Communications)


It was a day of firsts Monday.

First day of classes at Queen’s but also the first day of classes at the newly built Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

On a beautiful, sunny morning, small groups of students walked along King Street and down the entranceway, some getting their first glimpse of the building.

The anticipation of a new start was clear.

“I think the building is absolutely brilliant — the big windows give a beautiful view,” says film student Nicholas Simonds (Artsci’16), who arrived a half hour early for class so he could look around. “I love that they’ve used limestone throughout. It really makes it feel like a Kingston building.”

Mat Kahansky (Artsci’16) also decided to get an early start and ended up being one of the first students to arrive.

As he wandered the halls trying to locate his classroom, he was impressed by what he saw. The ancient limestone, concrete and the steel and glass of the main lobby elicited a wide-eyed reaction.

He’s hopeful about the building’s future.

“It’s very pretty,” he says, as he settles into a sitting area for students that provides a stunning view of Lake Ontario. “It will be interesting to see how much Queen’s facilitates students as well as make use of the building to its full potential.”

The Isabel not only hosts the Department of Film and Media and acts as a working and learning space for the university’s other creative arts disciplines, but also boasts a film screening room, black box theatre sound studio and a world-class concert hall.

“I think it’s excellent for Queen’s to have its own state-of-the-art music facility,” Mr. Kahanksy says, adding that it boosts the reputation of the school.

Matt Rogalsky (Music), who was teaching a class on recording techniques, acoustics and radio production Monday morning, also says he is excited to be teaching at the Isabel.

“My class and I will be making great use of the new sound studio,” he says. “It’s the most advanced space on campus for mixing audio and I’m excited to put it to use.”

With files from Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer.

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts was made possible by a transformational gift from Alfred Bader (SC’45, Arts’46, MSc’47, LLD’86) and his wife Isabel (LLD’07) as well as the financial backing of the federal and provincial governments, the City of Kingston and additional philanthropic support.


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