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Visualizing impact with the Art of Research

The Art of Research photo contest has been reimagined to highlight research that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals.

[Collage of past winners of the Art of Research photo contest]

 

The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest is returning for its sixth year with a new focus. The 2022 contest has been reimagined through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action and framework for social impact. This change also aligns with the mission and vision of the new Queen’s Strategy and our participation in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure an institution's impact on society, based on their success in delivering on strategies that advance the SDGs. Queen’s ranked first in Canada and fifth in the world in the 2021 Impact Rankings. Photo submissions will be accepted from Feb. 28 to April 13, 2022. 

SDG Action and Awareness Week
As a new member of the University Global Coalition, Queen’s is participating in the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Action and Awareness Week and highlighting the contributions of the Queen’s community to social impact within and beyond the local community. Learn more.

For the past five years, the Art of Research has been an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to share their work through compelling visuals and engage the public in seeing their research in new ways. In aligning this year’s contest with the UN SDGs, we celebrate the impact of Queen’s research in advancing these important global goals.

“The Art of Research showcases the diversity of Queen’s research in a creative and innovative way,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “By aligning the contest with the SDGs, we can further demonstrate the impact of our research in addressing the challenges of society at home and around the world. I encourage members of our research community to participate.”

Eligibility and prizes

Hosted by Queen’s University Relations, the photo contest is open to Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Research depicted in the submissions must have been completed at Queen’s or while the submitter was affiliated with the university. More information about contest rules can be found on the Research@Queen’s website.

Five new SDG-themed categories will be offered this year. These, along with the popular People's Choice Vote, add up to a total of six prizes of $250 each for the top submission in each category. Photos from the contest are highlighted across university research promotion initiatives.

2022 categories:

Good health and well-being

Research that advances our understanding and the improvement of human health and supports the well-being of all global citizens.

Inspired by SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), and 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)

Climate action

Research that seeks to protect our planet’s natural resources, including water, biodiversity, and climate for future generations.

Inspired by SDGs 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water), and 15 (Life on Land)

Creative and sustainable communities

Research that helps us to understand our past and present to help build resilient, sustainably-focused, and creative communities.

Inspired by SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions)

Partnerships for inclusivity

Research that promotes just and inclusive societies through partnerships and community-based research.

Inspired by SDGs 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and 10 (Reduced Inequalities)

Innovation for global impact

Discovery- and curiosity-based research and innovations that addresses wicked, complex global challenges.

Inspired by SDGs 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals)

People’s choice

Determined by an online vote by members of the Queen’s community.

The contest closes on April 13. To submit an entry and explore winning images from previous contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

Funding for two new micro-credentialing programs awarded to Queen’s

A student in class uses her laptop.
Queen's will introduce two new micro-credentialing programs this fall after receiving more than $500,000 from the Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund. (Queen's University)

An award of more than $500,000 by the Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund will propel two new micro-credentialing programs at Queen’s this coming fall.

The funding will help create a certificate in both the Smith School of Business and Centre for Neuroscience Studies (CNS). The Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Innovation, and Management is being developed by Smith in partnership with Redbird Circle Inc., a Certified Aboriginal Business that provides holistic education and training rooted in Indigenous pedagogy and western learning methodologies.

The second is the Micro-credentials in Neurotechnology Program, developed by the Centre for Neuroscience Studies in partnership with multiple neurotechnology sector partners.

Each micro-credential program will be launched in the fall. Micro-credentials can fulfil several functions from helping individuals learn new skills to updating proficiencies in their current sector or transitioning careers. Additionally, they help make individuals more employable. Micro-credentials typically require less time to complete than traditional degrees and can often be offered online. Many of those programs feature partnerships between institutions and businesses and/or community organizations, allowing learners to gain specialized skills.

Indigenous Leadership, Innovation & Management

The Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Innovation, and Management will be offered by Smith School of Business. The initiative is a collaboration between Smith’s Centre for Business Venturing (CBV), Community Revitalization Research Program (CRRP), and the Master of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship program (MMIE), and co-developed/co-designed in partnership with Redbird Circle Inc. It will support Indigenous community members in rural and remote locations who have been laid off due to COVID-19, are receiving social assistance, or are at high risk of leaving organizations or businesses due to lack of promotion to management roles.

The certificate program will provide essential knowledge and skills directly related to working with First Nations, Inuit & Metis communities (rural & remote); upskilling in Indigenous leadership, management and intrapreneurship to nurture existing employee growth and career advancement to senior roles; and training of community members in Indigenous entrepreneurship to support local economic recovery and unemployment/underemployment rates.  

Learners will be able to take a series of independent micro-credentials and receive a digital badge of completion for each. If they choose to complete all the credentials, they will learn the Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Innovation & Management.

“We are very excited to be working with Redbird Circle on this new program and supporting Indigenous communities,” says JP Shearer, Associate Director and Project Partnership Lead, Centre for Business Venturing, Smith School of Business. “The approach will be grounded in Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy and will include partnerships with local businesses for applied learning, immersive education, and employment opportunities.” 

Neurotechnology

The CNS at Queen’s is partnering with both NeuroTechX, the leading association for Neurotech enthusiasts worldwide, and Kinarm™ Labs, an established neurotechnology company in Kingston.

This micro-credentialing program will focus on: foundational neuroscience; measurement, processing, and modulation of brain signals; visualization of brain structure and function using imaging; behavioural assessment techniques; ethical, legal, and regulatory frameworks relevant to neurotechnology; and an optional capstone neurotech project course.

“The development of neurotechnologies, and their applications, is an emerging growth area in the economy,” says Susan Boehnke, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences and Lead of the Neurotech Microcredential Program with CNS. “However, there is an unmet need amongst learners for accessible, credentialed, education in Neuroscience. Leading neurotechnology companies and startups in Ontario lack local educational programs to support this emerging neurotech industry. Together with our industry partner – Canadian non-profit NeuroTechX – we hope to create accessible, innovative and interactive credentials focussing not just on the basic neuroscience and technical side of neurotech, but also on the ethical, societal, and regulatory considerations for those seeking to innovate in this space.”

Neurotechnology is an emerging growth industry that applies brain sensing, imaging or modulating technologies to solve real-world problems or enhance entertainment. Engineers and computer scientists possess the hard skills required, but often lack foundational neuroscience knowledge. Often, the reverse is true for biomedical and social science students. Business students have industry skills and entrepreneurial spirit, but lack foundational skills about the brain. Most groups of learners know little about neuroethical and regulatory frameworks. This micro-credentialing program will address these gaps by developing an initial suite of six micro-credentials, preparing students to transition into the neurotechnology industry or help those in the workforce upscale their skills.

Announced in 2020, the Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund is part of a three-year, $59.5 million investment to support the creation of micro-credentials throughout the province. Micro-credentials created using these funds are meant to focus on training that: Is employer responsive and leads directly to local or regional jobs; provides upskilling to existing employees within their current jobs; and supports a local COVID-19 response or other critical area of need within a community. Micro-credentials may become OSAP eligible and are available through eCampusOntario.

For information on micro-credentials offered at Queen’s, please visit the Micro-credentials Directory.

What is a climate stress test? A sustainable finance expert explains

Factory spews smoke and fumes
Banks around the world are evaluating the potential impact of climate change and government regulation on their lending practices. Energy-intensive sectors, like coal and oil, tend to suffer most. (Unsplash/Patrick Hendry)

Imagine this: You take out a mortgage to purchase your dream home. But the rate you were quoted has expired, and when you go to renew it you find there’s been a major hike in interest rates. With this new rate, you are no longer able to afford your monthly payments.

How do you avoid this nightmare situation? The answer is a stress test.

In the simplest terms, a stress test helps individuals and institutions mitigate risk and make better decisions by playing out big economic shocks — like a major jump in interest rates or a global pandemic — to ensure they have what it takes to weather the storm.

A stress test is a “what if” exercise, where we contemplate scenarios that would pose the most harm to our financial systems and well-being in order to determine how we can best manage through them. They’re now being increasingly applied to future climate change and the financial risks that come with it.

A chart showing the top 10 risks to the world in the next decade
Climate action failure, extreme weather events and biodiversity loss, are the top three global risks over the next 10 years, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Perception Survey. (World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2022)

Physical risks, transition risks

The 2008 financial crisis put the need for better risk planning into sharp relief, especially for financial institutions. It’s no coincidence that we have seen a steady rise in the use of this tool since that time.

Today, financial regulators, banks and policy-makers use stress tests to uncover weak points in how financial institutions operate and identify changes that will help buffer them (and our larger financial system and everyone who depends on it) from harm.

So, what’s a climate stress test? It is the same what-if exercise, conducted through the lens of different climate scenarios that have diverse and significant financial consequences.

On the one hand, there are physical climate risks. Think, for example, of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, ice storms or heat waves, that can damage property, disrupt supply chains, increase insurance costs, and shut-down operations. In scenarios where global temperatures rise higher, the physical risks increase.

On the other hand, there are also transition risks. This refers to the material impacts of various degrees of climate ambition and action.

For example, new or more stringent government policies aimed to further reduce carbon emissions or at a faster pace will have different financial impacts on different companies, depending upon their climate-readiness, and on different sectors.

Scenarios aren’t predictions

Climate scenarios take both types of risk into consideration, physical and transition. Like other types of stress tests, these scenarios aren’t predictions. Imagining what would happen if interest rates skyrocket isn’t the same as predicting that they will.

However, given the established scientific consensus that climate change risks are increasing and the high degree of uncertainty these risks create, climate stress tests are an important tool to assess the sustainability of companies, investments and our financial system overall. And there is increasing momentum behind this practice.

For example, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) and the Bank of Canada recently released a major report examining four climate scenarios over a 30-year horizon, from 2020 to 2050, that varied in terms of ambition, timing of global climate, and pace of global change:

  • Baseline scenario: A scenario with global climate policies in place at the end of 2019.

  • Below 2 C immediate: An immediate policy action toward limiting average global warming to below 2 C.

  • Below 2 C delayed: a delayed policy action toward limiting average global warming to below 2 C.

  • Net-zero 2050 (1.5 C): a more ambitious immediate policy action scenario to limit average global warming to 1.5 C that includes current net-zero commitments by some countries.

Physical risks dominate

The results of the analyses were clear.

First, delayed action will lead to higher economic shocks and risks to financial stability. The longer we wait to act, the more drastic and sudden those actions will be.

Second, while every sector will need to contribute to the transition, the analysis showed that “significant negative financial impacts emerged for some sectors (e.g., fossil fuels) and benefits emerged for others (e.g., electricity).”

Third, macroeconomic risks are present, particularly for carbon intensive commodity exporting countries like Canada.

The European Central Bank also conducted a climate stress test with similar findings. It determined that climate change represents a systemic risk — especially for portfolios in specific economic sectors and geographical areas. For example, in the mining and agriculture sectors, or in oil-dependent regions like the Gulf States.

It also found physical risks will be more prominent in the long run, compared to transition risks. The physical risks of climate change on real estate in coastal regions or on supply chains is expected to be greater than the effects of changes in carbon pricing or other policies.

These findings have clear implications for companies and investors. Now more than ever the business case for prioritizing and evaluating corporate climate resilience is clear, especially as investors and lenders increasingly incorporate climate data into their financial decisions.

For example, it is now more broadly understood how climate policy changes could abruptly impact a company’s valuation and financial outlook. This makes climate policy foresight critical, for corporate leaders and investors alike.

As climate stress tests become increasingly common, their findings and implications will reverberate across the entire financial industry. Savvy leaders will both watch this conversation closely, and take the necessary steps to adapt and thrive.The Conversation

___________________________________________________

Ryan Riordan, Professor & Distinguished Professor of Finance, Research Director at the Institute for Sustainable Finance, Queen's University, Ontario

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

On-campus academic activities cancelled today due to weather

Only essential areas on campus are operating. 

Due to COVID-19, Queen’s university has already been operating with most academic and operational activities occurring remotely. 

As the result of the current and forecasted weather conditions, the few remaining on-campus academic activities are cancelled. In addition, the university will only operate with a reduced level of service.  This means:

  • Instructors with classes on campus/in-person will determine whether they will continue remote or cancel the class.  Instructors will provide further details.
  • Remote classes will continue as scheduled.
  • Employees working remotely should continue to do so.
  • Employees that are scheduled to come to campus should work remotely if possible. 
  • Only essential areas should be operational on campus. Managers of these areas should determine the level of staffing that is needed to keep these operations functioning. 

More details on the University’s inclement weather process and a list of essential areas can be found on the Inclement Weather webpage

If you are required to travel to campus, please allow extra time and proceed with caution.

After a big year for cryptocurrencies, what’s on the horizon in 2022?

The market for cryptocurrencies has expanded dramatically in the last year. With this uptick of activity, what’s next in 2022 for cryptocurrencies?

Bitcoin cryptocurrency
In 2021, cryptocurrency Bitcoin made strides towards mainstream acceptance with major websites like Expedia and Microsoft accepting the coin as a means of exchange. (Unsplash / Andre-Francois McKenzie)

The year 2021 was marked by several major breakthroughs for cryptocurrencies.

For one, new crypto applications like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) gained ground, with sales of these digital assets setting new records at major auction houses. Secondly, Bitcoin made strides towards mainstream acceptance with major websites like Expedia and Microsoft accepting the coin as a means of exchange. Third, in September, El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept bitcoin as legal tender.

Caption

There are many more examples of how the market for cryptocurrencies has expanded just in the last year. With this uptick of activity, what’s ahead in 2022 for cryptocurrencies?

We believe there are three main areas where cryptocurrencies will gain steam in the next year: greater acceptance of Bitcoin as a means of payment, increased regulatory scrutiny and a rise in NFT activity.

The embrace of Bitcoin

Understanding what motivates individuals to adopt Bitcoin has been a challenge for researchers. A recent study suggests five main factors contribute to someone’s likelihood of using Bitcoin:

  • Trust in the system
  • Online word of mouth
  • Quality of the web platforms available for transaction
  • Perceived riskiness of the investment
  • Expectations about Bitcoin’s performance

Other studies have added more nuances to this argument by considering gender, age and educational level as equally important factors.

The conditions in the crypto space have made it increasingly likely that Bitcoin will become mainstream in the near future.

First, there’s increased activity in online communities like Twitter and Reddit, where even crypto novices can exchange information with seasoned investors to obtain word-of-mouth advice about price predictions and trading strategies.

Second, there has been an explosion of new crypto-exchanges — or trading platforms where one can exchange fiat currency for crypto — and major investments into the technological infrastructure of existing exchanges. These infrastructure investments have expanded access to crypto markets and also piqued the interest of institutional investors.

Institutional involvement, regulatory scrutiny

The last year has seen institutional players like the European Investment Bank (EIB) — the lending arm of the European Union — take a stance on crypto.

In April, the EIB issued a 100 million euro digital bond on the Ethereum blockchain. Goldman Sachs, Banco Santander and Société Générale were also involved in the issuance. Research has pointed to institutional adoption as a turning point for widespread crypto adoption, and it would appear we’re quickly heading there.

Altogether, the increased availability of points of sale that accept Bitcoin as a means of exchange and institutional investment in the space will likely lead to greater acceptance of Bitcoin as a method of payment in 2022.

After cryptocurrencies, decentralized finance (DeFi) is widely regarded as the next frontier in fintech. DeFi provides the opportunity to create decentralized systems that rely on distributed ledger technology to facilitate peer-to-peer loans, create new financial securities like stablecoins or even offer new models of corporate governance.

Regulators also appear to be increasingly paying attention. In November, the European Council — the body that defines the political priorities of the European Union — announced its position on the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) framework, which will provide increased regulatory clarity over cryptoassets and DeFi.

In the same month, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of the United States produced a joint statement announcing that they would produce a set of policy directives on crypto.

Researchers have pointed to a lack of regulation as a major barrier to mainstream crypto acceptance. Increased government oversight, coupled with the move by several countries to consider digital versions of their national currencies, are likely to result in a lot more regulatory activity in 2022.

Behnam Norouzi
At a minimum, crypto enthusiasts must do their due diligence before investing. (Unsplash / Behnam Norouzi)

A rise in NFT activity

The year 2021 brought a new wave of sales of NFTs. An NFT can offer proof of ownership of, for instance, digital art in the same way a physical canvas can offer proof of ownership of a Vincent Van Gogh painting.

Although NFTs began as a way to formalize ownership of digital art, they have since expanded to include other types of digital property, including digital real estate.

Sales of NFTs are setting new records — a recent one raised US$17.1 million at Sotheby’s. As a result, the auction house launched Metaverse, an NFT-only marketplace to facilitate sales of digital works.

As new NFT applications emerge, this space will likely continue to grow in 2022.

Buyer beware

Despite these investment opportunities, we urge crypto investors to be skeptical of claims they read in online communities. At a minimum, crypto enthusiasts must do their due diligence before investing.

What is sure to emerge in 2022 are new frauds and schemes. Take, for instance, the SquidGame crypto that capitalized on the popular Netflix show but was a fraud. Or the fake Banksy NFT that sold for 244,000 British pounds.

Research on the behaviour of retail investors has found some are highly susceptible to the “fear of missing out.”

Therefore, it may be difficult to turn down a tip from your hair stylist or your best friend’s cousin on the next hot crypto opportunity. However, crypto investors should educate themselves on the technology and the basics of financial markets if they want to prudently get involved.

Crypto, after all, remains speculative and is not for everyone.The Conversation

_____________________________________________

Erica Pimentel, Assistant Professor, Smith School of Business, Queen's University; Bertrand Malsch, Associate Professor of Accounting, Smith School of Business, Queen's University, and Nathaniel Loh, fourth-year Commerce student and Junior Fellow of the CPA Ontario Centre for Corporate Reporting and Professionalism, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Tuning in to sustainable practices across the pond

The crew of a hugely popular BBC Radio program visits the Bader International Study Centre to learn more about sustainability and biodiversity efforts to preserve the natural environment.

A BBC panel of experts learns about biodiversity at the BISC.
A BBC panel of experts learns about biodiversity at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). (Supplied)

With its more than 600 acres of land containing medieval parklands, ancient woodlands, meadows, ponds, marshlands, and formal gardens, Queen’s University’s Bader International Study Centre  (BISC) serves as the backdrop to the latest episode of the hugely popular Gardeners Question Time (GQT) on BBC Radio 4.

“The idea to do a special broadcast from the BISC sprang from a climate change gardening workshop in the Autumn this year,” says Director of Corporate Development at the BISC, Duncan Adams. “Peter Gibbs, who chairs the panel of horticulture experts, was intrigued by the idea of the Castle’s efforts to increase biodiversity and sustainability, and thought it would be of interest to many listeners across the UK and beyond.”

As part of the broadcast, a panel of horticulture experts were hosted by the Castle’s Gardens and Grounds Manager, Guy Lucas, with the location being chosen to showcase some of the work undertaken on the estate to increase its biodiversity and sustainability. The panel had access to the entire estate but were guided through some key areas, including the Castle Courtyard, the Elizabethan Garden, Rose Garden, and Shakespeare Garden.

Over the centuries, numerous changes, both inside and outside the castle walls, have resulted in a loss of biodiversity and preservation of the unique grounds. In order to improve and restore the estate’s surrounding environment, Lucas and his team of gardeners and grounds staff are implementing sustainable ecological practices such as rewilding to repair damaged ecosystems and restore the grounds to their original state through natural processes. Sustainability and biodiversity are combined to help nurture and preserve the natural environment, while providing a living lab for students, staff, and members of the public. 

The 42-minute episode also included a wander through the grounds as panelists answered diverse questions from listeners about their own gardens, including how to encourage slugs, the lifespan of potting soil, and, just in time for the holidays, how to thicken a holly hedge.

Adams says the radio experience will help to raise the BISC’s profile.

“We really want listeners to have a better understanding of what we are doing here on the estate, how hard we work on it and how important it is to not only the Estate but the local habitat too. “

The Castle grounds are now closed for the winter, with next year’s season launching in mid February.

The BISC prides itself in it’s academic quality, offering six programs with over 60 courses for students in Arts and Science, Commerce, Engineering, Health Studies, Liberal Arts, Social Science and more. A focus on small class sizes, individual attention and experiential learning opportunities throughout the UK and Europe help to develop skillsets that serve graduates well as they head into the workforce.  

Allowing students to interact with and learn from the estate team’s sustainability and biodiversity agenda is an integral part of the BISC’s mandate. The BISC Skills Award (BSA), which encourages students to participate in university events and programs for personal development, presents an excellent opportunity for student engagement. Recently, this program has incorporated the estate team’s sustainability and biodiversity initiatives into the curriculum by allowing students to partake in projects including invasive species removal, pond maintenance, rare species seed planting, and the designing of a new student services cottage garden.

“The work we do on sustainability and biodiversity is increasingly embedded into our academic programs” says Adams. “The BISC Skills Award (BSA) helps students build graduate attributes to support their academic qualifications. Our Bees and Trees, and other projects, have this year allowed students to get involved in sustainability programs on the estate learning new skills and giving something back to the environment.”

The BISC’s focus on sustainability also contributed to Queen’s success in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings revealed that Queen’s University had placed first in Canada and fifth in the world in its global ranking of universities that are advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Queen’s earned its Impact Ranking after successfully implementing programs to improve sustainability within and outside of the local Kingston community.

Gardeners’ Question Time was broadcast Dec. 17 and 19. You can listen or download the recording here. For more information, visit the BISC and Herstmonceux Castle websites.

2021: The Year in Research

A review of the major initiatives, the funding and awards garnered, and the research that made headlines over the last twelve months.

Each year, we take a moment in December to reflect on the accomplishments of our community in advancing research that helps us tackle some of the world’s most pressing questions and societal challenges.

[Photo of three researchers working in a lab]

While 2021 offered glimmers of hope in moving beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, it also tested and challenged our research community in myriad other ways. In balance, this year also saw Queen’s rank 1st in Canada and 5th in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which provided a testament to the impact of the university’s research and scholarship in advancing social impact and sustainability within and beyond our local community.

Through all of this, research prominence remained a key driver for Queen’s and our researchers continued to make national and international headlines for their discoveries and award-winning scholarship.

Join us as we review some of the highlights of 2021.

Recognizing research leadership

In 2021, Queen’s welcomed Nancy Ross as the new Vice-Principal (Research). Dr. Ross, an accomplished research administrator and renowned expert in population health, joined the university in August and succeeded Vice-Principal (Research) Kimberly Woodhouse, who had been interim in the role since 2018.

[Photo of Dr. Nancy Ross]
Dr. Nancy Ross began her five-year term as Vice-Principal (Research) on August 1, 2021.

This year saw Queen’s researchers win some of Canada’s top awards and honours for research excellence and the university ranked third in Canada for awards per faculty member (2022 Maclean’s University Rankings).

Our international expertise in cancer research and cancer clinical trials was cemented with Elizabeth Eisenhauer’s receipt of the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science, and Joe Pater receiving the inaugural Canadian Cancer Society Lifetime Contribution Prize.

Praveen Jain was honoured with the prestigious IEEE Medal in Power Engineering, the highest international award in the field of electrical power, and world-renowned philosopher Will Kymlicka’s contributions to the humanities were recognized with the RSC Pierre Chauveau medal.

Queen’s also had a successful year earning fellowships within Canada’s national academies. Sari van Anders, Heather Castleden, and Karen Lawford were named members of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists  and professor emeritus John Berry was named a Fellow. Health administrators and research leaders Jane Philpott, Kieran Moore, Doug Munoz, and John Muscedere were inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and Kim McAuley, Mark Diederichs, Mark F. Green, and Ugo Piomelli were elected to the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Research that made headlines around the world

An exoskeleton designed by Queen's engineering researchers Michael Shepertycky, Qingguo Li, and Yan-Fei Liu that improves walking efficiency was featured in the leading academic journal Science and international media outlets, including the New York Times.

Health expert Christopher Mueller developed mDETECT, a cancer detection test that provides a real-time response to chemotherapy and early detection of relapse, while researchers Amber Simpson and Farhana Zulkernine applied AI and natural language processing techniques to CT scans, to predict cancer spread.

The much-anticipated UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) dominated headlines around the world and Queen’s environmental experts Kyla Tienhaara and John Smol shared their hopes for conference outcomes. On the ground at COP26, Ryan Riordan of the Institute for Sustainable Finance provided key takeaways and next steps for global governments. In the Canadian arctic, Queen’s researchers, the Government of Nunavut, and Indigenous community partners worked together to develop an innovative approach to studying the impact of climate change by monitoring the health and movements of polar bears.

[Photo of polar bears in the Artic]
BEARWATCH, a project led by Queen's researchers in partnership with local communities, governments, and other university collaborators, received funding from Genome Canada's Large-Scale Applied Research Project competition and the Ontario Genomics Institute to develop a non-invasive method for tracking polar bear health in the Canadian Artic.

New research by Chris Spencer showed that the mid-Proterozoic period, about 1.8 to 0.8 billion years ago, dubbed as the “boring billon” was actually a time of great mountain-building events. Researchers at the Queen’s Facility for Isotope Research joined the cast from The Curse of Oak Island to hunt for gold and silver treasure sediments in the water collected from boreholes on a Nova Scotia isle.

[Photo of highly deformed rocks from the Sperrgebiet region of Southern Namibia by Christopher Spencer]
A geologist exploring 1-billion-year-old and highly deformed rocks from the Sperrgebiet region of southern Namibia. These rocks experienced significant deformation and extreme metamorphism during a continental collision over a billion years ago. (Photo by Christopher Spencer)

Funding future research

In 2021, Queen’s continued to attract competitive funding and awards, through a number of national and international programs. Hundreds of grants for new projects and research infrastructure were secured through CHIR, SSHRC, NSERC, and CFI, Canada’s national funding agencies, and other partners.

Here are a few examples:

  • More than $10 million was secured by Queen’s researchers through CFI’s Innovation Fund for infrastructure that will help to combat climate change, treat cancer, and understand the fabric of the universe
  • Over $6 million was awarded to Queen’s researchers through NSERC’s Alliance Grants to collaborate with industry partners in areas such as computing, wireless communications, and nuclear power
  • Eight doctoral students earned prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships for exceptional scholarly achievement and leadership skills
  • Over 125 Queen’s researchers across disciplines received support from SSHRC, the Canada Research Chairs Program, and NSERC as part of a bundled funding announcement under the banner of “Supporting BIG Ideas”
  • Queen’s researchers received over $11.5M funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for projects addressing human health issues from cancer and pain to healthy aging
  • With $1.6 million in funding, NSERC’s CREATE program supported the implementation of an experiential graduate training and research program in medical informatics, led by Parvin Mousavi at Queen’s
  • A multidisciplinary team of Queen’s researchers received $7.9 million from Genome Canada for a new project exploring a microbial platform for breaking down and valorizing waste plastic, which can then be repurposed to produce recycled products
  • Cathy Crudden received the largest NSERC Discovery Grant in Canada (valued at $605k over five years) for her breakthrough work in novel organic coatings

[Photo of a researcher reviewing a sample on a desktop]

Mobilizing our knowledge

This year, we were again challenged to find creative ways to engage with our audiences and mobilize expertise. Research and alumni experts joined forces to provide insight into our post-pandemic future, through the Road to Recovery virtual event series. These events, moderated by multimedia journalist and Queen’s alumnus Elamin Abdelmahmoud, reached over 1000 attendees.  

Science Rendezvous Kingston celebrated its milestone 10th anniversary and marked it with a series of virtual events and the development of an interactive, virtual Exploratorium with no geographical limitations to participation. Audiences also had the opportunity to experience, in-person and virtually, artistic interpretations of the elusive dark matter. The exhibition and residency project, Drift: Art and Dark Matter, generated by Agnes Etherington Art Centre, the McDonald Institute, and SNOLAB, brought together artists and scientists in the quest to understand the invisible substance that comprises about 80 per cent of the universe.

[osèfa Ntjam, Organic Nebula (detail), 2019, carpet, photomontage. Collection of the artist.]
Josèfa Ntjam, Organic Nebula (detail), 2019, carpet, photomontage. Collection of the artist.

The WE-Can (Women Entrepreneurs Canada) program led by Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI) celebrated supporting over 800 women from underrepresented groups and sectors regionally in achieving their entrepreneurial goals and pivoting their programs to an online format. This year’s virtual Indigenous Research Collaboration Day incorporated the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals in highlighting the importance of collaboration in research with Indigenous communities.

Hundreds of Queen’s researchers provided expert commentary to the media in 2021, and our community continued to mobilize their research and expertise through fact-based analysis on The Conversation Canada’s news platform. In 2021, 77 Queen’s graduate students and faculty published 74 articles that garnered over 1.5 million reads.


Congratulations to the Queen’s research community for their resilience and successes this year. We look forward to seeing what new research and opportunities 2022 will bring. For more information about research at the university, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

If CEOs want to promote diversity, they have to ‘walk the talk’

The Conversation: How human resources managers assess their CEO’s true intentions on diversity are crucial to understanding whether an organization’s diversity agenda will be followed.

 

Business meeting room
CEOs have to show they’re serious about diversity for their human resources managers to do so. That could involve tying compensation to diversity targets. (Unsplash / WOCintechchat.com)

In the business world, the adage often holds true: the buck stops at the desk of the chief executive officer. That’s the way accountability should work.

But does the proverbial buck start there too? If CEOs set the course for corporate priorities, values and intentions, will the rest of the organization follow suit?

CEOs have powerful leverage to drive organizational change — if they choose to use it. On the issue of workplace diversity and inclusion, corporate leadership so far has been a mixed bag. Despite the right words and intentions, progress has been slow.

Many CEOs seem to truly care about diversifying the makeup of their workforce, particularly those with daughters who, according to one study, tend to motivate their fathers to act in a socially responsible manner.

But even for those in front on the issue, it’s a challenge to convert good intentions to new realities in offices and on shop floors. Too often, responses are short term and reactive to explosive events rather than long term and systemic.

What explains this disconnect between words coming out of the C-suite and actions within organizations?

Managers, not CEOs, oversee diversity

In organizations, the people charged with implementing diversity, or any human resources policy, are managers, not senior executives.

Managers have a lot on their plates and considerable discretion on whether and how to implement organizational policies and practices.

They may hear their CEO say something positive about diversity and conclude that the CEO takes it seriously and that they must take it seriously as well. Or they may figure that the CEO is merely reading a script prepared by public relations teams and is going through the motions to please shareholders.

How managers assess their CEO’s true intentions are crucial to understanding whether an organization’s diversity agenda will be followed.

That is a key insight that came out of a study I conducted with Greg Sears from Carleton University. We looked at what CEOs say versus what they do. We surveyed their direct reports — vice-presidents and directors — and asked them to assess their CEOs’ commitment to diversity.

We were interested not in just what they heard but in what they observed in the CEOs’ actions. And then we studied the outcomes — the amount of diversity policies and practices being implemented.

CEOs must show they’re serious

We found that when HR managers perceived the CEO to be committed to diversity through visible actions, the organization reported more diversity initiatives. What the CEO says is important, but HR managers must perceive that the CEO is serious before they implement any of those policies. And CEOs must sustain that effort for HR managers to continue to be committed to diversity.

CEOs do not have to buy into the business value of workplace diversity to be effective leaders on this issue. Some are true believers and others aren’t. Or the organizations they lead may lack economic motives or public mandates.

But for CEOs who don’t believe in the business case for diversity, our study found that if they have strong moral values — which can come from their religion, family or elsewhere — they are much more likely to display pro-diversity behaviour.

If this is so, the question then becomes: How do CEOs clearly signal they are serious about diversity and inclusion in a way that compels managers to actually follow through?

The most convincing way to catch people’s attention is to hold them accountable by tying their job performance and compensation to diversity targets. Otherwise, advancing the diversity agenda is on a best-effort basis.

An example of a supposed best-effort attempt is contained in the common argument we hear that “there are no qualified candidates in the pipeline.” Managers are quick to absolve themselves by insisting they advertised for diverse candidates or hired consulting firms to help but couldn’t find anyone. But when their year-end merit bonus is tied to diversity targets, managers expend the effort to make sure those targets are met.

Linking diversity to compensation

If it’s so effective to tie managers’ compensation to diversity-related goals, one wonders why corporate boards don’t do the same for CEO compensation. Some are starting to do just that, but not many.

One reason may be the prevalence of interlocking board membership, in which board members are CEOs or senior executives of other corporations. It’s a clubby community, mostly made up of white men. They avoid tying compensation to diversity-related goals, because — guess what? — they are difficult to achieve.

Fortunately, there are investors and legislative pressures for greater diversity on corporate boards. As we gain a critical mass of racialized minorities, women and other groups under-represented in top governance bodies, there is hope that the situation will improve.

That critical mass is not just one or two lone voices, but requires at least three board members from under-represented groups to see real and lasting change.

Let’s be clear, though — even if a board partly ties CEO compensation to diversity targets, the CEO’s role in reaching those targets is as an initiator and a supporter, not as an implementer. The CEO’s priority is to walk the talk, to do what they can to convince those who carry out the diversity programs that they are serious — both today and tomorrow.

This shouldn’t be too much to ask. CEOs earn their executive position partly from their skills at persuasion. They should spread some of that pixie dust to enrich their organization’s workforce and the community in which it operates.The Conversation

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Eddy Ng, Smith Professor of Equity and Inclusion in Business, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Making fall break permanent

Queen’s will provide a week away from classes each fall term going forward to help the university community rest and focus on health and wellbeing. 

Photograph of Queen's pole pennant in front of Grant Hall.
The fall term break will go into effect for the 2022-23 academic year and will be a week away from classes beginning on the Thanksgiving holiday each October. (University Communications)

Fall break will now be a permanent fixture on the Queen’s academic calendar following a vote by the Senate on Nov. 30. The Senate made this decision based on the recommendation of the Fall Term Break Task Force, which conducted broad consultation with members of the Queen’s community and received just under 8,000 responses to the fall term break survey that was open in October.

“We had a fantastic response rate to our survey from students, faculty, and staff, and we found overwhelming support for making fall term break a permanent part of the academic calendar going forward,” says William Nelson, Co-Chair of the Fall Term Break Task Force and Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), Faculty of Arts and Science. “Students in particular let us know that a fall break is beneficial for their mental health, as it allows them to relax, rest, catch up on work, and, in some cases, visit friends and family back home. Queen’s has listened to this feedback and is pleased to take action in support of our community’s health and wellness.”

The fall term break will go into effect for the 2022-23 academic year and will be a week away from classes beginning on the Thanksgiving holiday each October. To accommodate this new schedule, classes in the fall term will now begin on the Tuesday after Labour Day. The consultation process found that faculty, staff, and students believe this is the least disruptive way to alter the academic calendar. Student Affairs programming will continue during fall breaks for students who remain in Kingston.

“Mental health is an important issue for many students, and an annual fall term break will be an excellent opportunity for them to focus on wellbeing while resting and regrouping for the rest of the semester,” says Ryan Sieg, Vice President (University Affairs), Queen’s Alma Mater Society and member of the Fall Term Break Task Force. “This change will align us with many other universities who have found a fall term break beneficial for their communities.”

In addition to the survey, members of the task force held consultation meetings in faculties, schools, and units across Queen’s. The task force also reviewed the fall term break policies of a selection of other Canadian universities and found that most offered a fall term break in 2021. Following recommendations from the Report of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health, Queen’s introduced the fall term break in 2018 as a three-year pilot. The Senate Committee on Academic Development and Procedures (SCADP) created the Fall Term Break Task Force this fall to provide a comprehensive recommendation on the future of the break. Prior to approval from Senate, the task force’s recommendation was approved by SCADP on Nov. 10.

Learn more about the Fall Term Break Task Force on the Queen’s Secretariat website.

Queen’s collaborates on creating an accessible wellness app

Industry and academic partnership sees Queen’s join forces with industry giants such as lululemon and Microsoft on Wellbeing.ai project.

Under Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, Queen’s University is working with lululemon, Wysdom.AI, Microsoft, and Mitacs to develop a digital wellbeing platform designed to help people better understand their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. (Unsplash / Yura Fresh)

The Smith School of Business at Queen’s University is part of a $20-million collaborative project to create a digital wellbeing platform designed to help people better understand their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Under Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, Queen’s is working with lululemon, Wysdom.AI, Microsoft, and Mitacs on the project.

Wellbeing.ai will be an app that uses virtual agents, which will function like an advanced chatbot, to help users better understand their physical and mental health. Users will be able to speak and interact with the virtual agent, which will in turn provide personalized insights and support like recommending exercises, products, health resources, breathing techniques, and more. lululemon is looking to democratize wellbeing by making tools and resources available to more people, and Wellbeing.ai is part of this vision.

lululemon is the project’s lead private sector partner, with Wysdom.AI using their conversational AI-optimization technology to create the virtual agents, Microsoft developing a responsible AI ethical framework, and Mitacs supporting Queen’s in its academic research. The project has a tentative completion date of 2025.

Queen’s University is the academic partner on the project, and Stephen Thomas, Executive Director of Smith's Analytics and AI Ecosystem, is leading the university’s team of PhD students and post-docs. They are responsible for conducting research and experiments to ensure that the latest and best technology will be used in the creation of this wellness agent.

Headshot of Dr. Stephen Thomas
Stephen Thomas, Executive Director of Smith's Analytics and AI Ecosystem

They will focus on four main areas:

  • Intent recognition — the chatbot needs to understand what is being asked and said by users 
  • Speech recognition — what users say needs to be decoded into text so that the chatbot can use the information 
  • Virtual agent diagnostics — how the chatbot can automatically determine how well it is doing with users and fix itself or diagnose a trend when it frequently gets something wrong;
  • Recommender systems — to provide recommendations to users that are not only accurate but personalized.

“I believe in the purpose of the project — the end goal of the project is to build this wellness resource for everyday citizens, to improve people’s day-to-day lives in a scalable way, to give them physical, mental, emotional help,” Dr. Thomas says. “If we do this right, it has the potential to be rolled out worldwide and help people who might otherwise not get the help.”

Queen’s will train the AI leaders of the future through access to industry funding and applied work on the Wellbeing.ai project.

“It’s going to offer incredible research opportunities for all of the PhD students working on the project. Top tier publications will come out of this, and they will get to work with industry partners on industry data sets on real world problems. It’s very practical and applied, yet very challenging at the same time,” Dr. Thomas adds.

Master of Management Analytics and Master of Management and AI students may also find themselves with snippets of these four main problems as class projects over the next few years. Dr. Thomas says that this will provide students with practical experience while also benefiting the project by having more eyes look at a problem.

Wellbeing.ai will be an app that uses virtual agents, which will function like an advanced chatbot, to help users better understand their physical and mental health. (Unsplash / Dane Wetton)

Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI) was crucial to getting this project up and running at the beginning. The Digital Technology Supercluster has a robust process to ensure that project partners and proposals meet all of their requirements,” he says.

QPI helped Queen’s build a relationship with lululemon and Wysdom.AI and assisted with the development of the project scope, milestones, budget, and the complex master project agreement.

“The goal of project is to build a virtual wellness agent to help people with their physical wellness, mental wellness, and emotional wellness,” Dr. Thomas says. “This has basically never been done before.”

For more information on the initiative, check out the website.

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