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Supporting big research ideas

The Government of Canada announces support for Queen's researchers through the federal funding agencies and the Canada Research Chair program.

Over 125 Queen’s researchers across disciplines have received support that will advance discovery, innovation, and collaboration in their research programs. Today, The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (ISED), announced a bundled research announcement under the theme "Supporting BIG ideas!", meant to continue the Government’s historic investments in support of a strong and vibrant world-leading research ecosystem.

The bundled announcement includes funding from a variety of programs under the umbrellas of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Canada Research Chairs program. More than $635 million is being invested in scholars across Canada through new grants or grant extensions.

"We are proud to continue investing in, and celebrating, the creativity and innovation that are at the heart of Canada’s research ecosystem," says Minister Champagne. "It is inspiring to see the ingenuity and dedication Canadian researchers embrace in exploring big ideas that will fuel the discoveries and innovations of tomorrow to make our world a better place and create prosperity for Canadians."

The funding will advance the research continuum from fundamental to applied scholarship at Queen’s. In addition to pandemic-related projects, these investments will support emerging and ongoing research in areas of critical importance, such as precision medicine, military family health, particle physics, climate change, citizenship and social justice, chronic pain, and gender, race, and inclusive policies. For more information on each of the funding programs and the Queen’s recipients please see below:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

The goal of SSHRC’s Insight program is to build knowledge and understanding about people, societies, and the world by supporting research excellence in all subject areas eligible for SSHRC funding. Insight grants provide stable support for long-term research initiatives, while the Insight Development grants support research in its initial stages. The grants enable the development of research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches, and/or ideas.

Partnership Development grants provide support for new and existing formal partnerships over four to seven years to advance research, research training, and/or knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities. Partnership funding is intended for formal partnerships between postsecondary institutions and/or organizations of various types.

SSHRC Partnership Development Grants 2020

Principal Investigator Affiliation Project Title
Heather Aldersey School of Rehabilitation Therapy Redefining the social contract: Rebalancing formal and natural support for people with disabilities and their families
Heidi Cramm

School of Rehabilitation Therapy; Psychiatry

Families matter: A partnership of partners to study, serve, and support the families of military, Veterans, and public safety personnel

SSHRC Insight Grants 2020

Principal Investigator Affiliation Project Title
Elizabeth Brulé Gender Studies Decolonizing the academy: Indigenizing the university seven generations in the future
Rosa Bruno-Jofré Education; History Giving the past a new meaning to re-imagine the future in education
Pierre Chaigneau Smith School of Business Too many rewards? Performance shares and the optimal structure of executive pay
Amanda-Mae Cooper Education Social science research funding agencies' support and promotion of knowledge mobilization and research impact: Learning from high impact case studies of collaborative research networks
Theresa Claire Davies Mechanical and Materials Engineering A Delphi Study to advance research on accessibility standards for augmentative and alternative communication
Anthony Goerzen Smith School of Business Improving global value chain governance
Kerah Gordon-Solmon Philosophy Duties, constraints, prerogatives, and permissions: Or, how to defend lesser-evil options
Oded Haklai Political Studies Population settlements and territorial control
Fiona Kay Sociology Paralegals and access to justice: Regulation, job rewards, and legal services during COVID-19 pandemic
Benjamin Kutsyuruba Education Understanding the well-being capacity of pre-service teachers
Susan Lord Film and Media; Art History; Gender Studies; Cultural Studies Under the shadow of empire: Minor archives and radical media distribution in the Americas
David McDonald Global Development Studies; Geography and Planning; School of Environmental Studies Public Banks + Public Water
Nicole Myers Sociology Risky decisions: Professional judgement, public safety and the bail decision
Steven Salterio Smith School of Business Understanding the extant and nature of replication research in social sciences: The case of accounting research
Marcus Taylor Global Development Studies; Sociology; School of Environmental Studies Can climate-resilient crops transform smallholder agriculture? A comparative sociological analysis
Veikko Thiele Smith School of Business; Economics Scale-up Ecosystems: Theory and Empirical Evidence
Grégoire Webber Law; Philosophy Recovering the good in law

Canada Research Chairs

Part of a national strategy to attract and retain leading and promising minds, the Canada Research Chairs program aims to make Canada one of the world's top countries in research and development. The program invests approximately $265 million per year to attract and retain some of the world's most accomplished and promising researchers. Queen’s is currently home to 51 Canada Research Chairs across a variety of disciplines.

Canada Research Chair (CRC) Renewals

Name Affiliation Status Research Area
Heather Castleden Geography and Planning; Gender Studies Tier 2 - CRC in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities Applying Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to research involving social and environmental justice and health equity: this research aims to create healthier relationships between Indigenous peoples and Settler (non-Indigenous) Canadians by advancing recognition, responsibility, and reconciliation in community-driven and participatory ways.
Philip Jessop Chemistry Tier 1 - CRC in Green Chemistry Using carbon dioxide as a “trigger” for “switchable materials” able to change from one form to another: this research will make industry safer and more environmentally-benign through the reuse of waste carbon dioxide gas.
Mark Ormiston Biomedical and Molecular Sciences; Medicine; Surgery Tier 2 - CRC in Regenerative Cardiovascular Medicine The study of Natural Killer (NK) cells in the development of diseases such as pulmonary arterial hypertension: this research could lead to the creation of new immune-based treatments that could reverse changes made in a person’s lungs.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

The Discovery program supports ongoing research with long-term goals. These multi-year grants recognize the creativity and innovation that are at the heart of all research advances. Discovery program grants are considered “grants in aid” of research, as they provide long-term operating funds and can facilitate access to funding from other programs, but are not meant to support the full costs of a research program.

Notably, Cathy Crudden (Chemistry), Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry, received the largest Discovery grant in Canada (valued at $605k over five years)  for her project Nanoclusters, nanoparticles, and surfaces: Bridging the gap between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. 

NSERC Discovery Program Grants 2020/2021

Principal Investigator Affiliation Project Title
Furkan Alaca School of Computing Securing user authentication in emerging threat landscapes
Brian Amsden Chemical Engineering Aliphatic polycarbonates: Building blocks for new biodegradable biomaterials
Levente Balogh Mechanical and Materials Engineering Structure-property relations of materials having complex microstructures generated by radiation damage and additive manufacturing
Sameh Basta Biomedical and Molecular Sciences M2a macrophage activation and the regulation of immune functions
Albrecht Birk Mechanical and Materials Engineering Safe transport and storage of pressure liquefied hazardous materials
Amanda Bongers Chemistry Cognition in chemistry: Exploring how the brain encodes and manipulates scientific models
Joseph Bramante Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy Astroparticle theory for dark sectors
Chantelle Capicciotti Chemistry; Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Chemical biology tools for probing and discovering glycan-protein interactions
Pascale Champagne Civil Engineering; Chemical Engineering Photosynthetically-enhanced eco-engineered treatment systems
Che Colpitts Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Membrane rearrangement by positive-sense RNA viruses: Molecular mechanisms and cellular responses
Cathleen Crudden Chemistry

Nanoclusters, nanoparticles, and surfaces: Bridging the gap between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis

Critical replacement of super critical fluid HPLC for chiral separations

Variable temperature UV/Vis spectrophotometer for study of NHC-stabilized gold nanoclusters

Michael Cunningham Chemical Engineering; Chemistry Replacing traditional surfactants in the preparation of polymer nanoparticles
Mark Daymond Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy; Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Effect of local microstructure on cracking of materials for next generation reactors

Characterising irradiation induced damage and phase changes

Kevin Deluzio Mechanical and Materials Engineering Tools for the biomechanical analysis of human movement
George diCenzo Biology Gene networks of Sinorhizobium meliloti
Marc Dignam Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy Nonlinear and quantum optics in two-dimensional materials and nanophotonic systems
Steven Honghui Ding School of Computing Assistant professor
Juergen Dingel School of Computing Model-driven engineering for distributed, reliable, adaptive, web-based software
Cao Thang Dinh Chemical Engineering Electrode engineering for carbon dioxide electroreduction to fuels and chemicals
Paul Duchesne Chemistry Earth-abundant heterogeneous catalysts for the synthesis of renewable fuels
Christopher Eckert Biology Ecology & evolution of species range limits
Dixia Fan Mechanical and Materials Engineering Physics-informed (and -informative) reinforcement learning and bio-inspired design of a smart morphing flapping wing for dual aerial/aquatic-propulsion and maneuvering
Laura Fissel Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy Understanding the role of magnetic fields in star and planet formation using stratospheric balloon-borne polarimeters
Luis Flores Psychology Brain function and real-world choice and effectiveness of intrapersonal and social forms of emotion regulation
Georgia Fotopoulous Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering Fusion of heterogeneous geosensing observations for enhanced site characterization
Jason Gallivan Psychology; Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Human functional neuroimaging stimulus presentation and data collection system for studies of action, perception and decision-making
Jun Gao Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy Surfaces and interfaces of luminescent polymer mixed ionic/electronic conductors
Charlotte Gibson Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining

Surface analysis for the concentration and extraction of metals using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy

Concentrating minerals critical to energy storage applications from Canadian hard rock deposits

Guillaume Giroux Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy NEWS-G search for light dark matter with spherical proportional counters
Sidney Givigi School of Computing Safe adaptive social cyber physical systems
Farnaz Heidar-Zadeh Chemistry Theoretical chemical design with machine learning: Model development and applications
Tom Hollenstein Psychology Integrated psychophysiology and observational system for synchronous measurement and analysis
Neil Hoult Civil Engineering Reimagined environmentally-friendly (RE-Design) of reinforced concrete infrastructure
Graeme Howe Chemistry Tracing enzyme mechanisms across evolution to elucidate the origins of enzymatic catalysis
Stephen Hughes Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy Dissipative mode theories and reservoir engineering in quantum nanophotonics
Robin Hutchinson Chemical Engineering Measurement and modeling of polymerization kinetics for process and product development
Judith Irwin Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy From galaxy to intergalactic medium -- the magnetic connection in the age of the square kilometre array
Shideh Kabiri Ameri Abootorabi Electrical and Computer Engineering High performance visually imperceptible on-skin sensors and electronics based on nanomaterials
Frederick Kan Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Oviductal regulation of gamete interaction and reproductive function
Sadan Kelebek Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining Investigations on the separation of metal-bearing values from secondary sources in the production of value-added products
Il Yong Kim Mechanical and Materials Engineering System, layout, and topology optimization for automotive and aerospace design
Marianna Kontopoulou Chemical Engineering Environmentally friendly and scalable processes for the production of graphene and applications in advanced functional materials and technologies
Ehssan Koupaie Chemical Engineering Techniques for enhanced anaerobic digestion and bioenergy and conversion of pulp and paper sludge
Valerie Kuhlmeier Psychology Cognitive origins of ownership concepts
Yanzhe Lei Smith School of Business Real-time dynamic optimization for omnichannel retailers
Guang Li Smith School of Business Revenue management and policy design in the presence of customer multi-item shopping behavior
Qingguo Li Mechanical and Materials Engineering Biomechanical energy harvesting: Optimization, control and biomechanics
Hok Kan Ling Mathematics and Statistics Shape-constrained inference: Testing and estimation for incomplete survival data
Alexander Little Biology Mechanisms and costs of adaptive plasticity in a starlet anemone (Nematostella Vectensis) model
Christopher Lohans Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Mechanistic enzymology of beta-lactam antibiotic resistance mechanisms and target proteins
Alan Lomax Medicine; Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Analysis of the vagal afferent innervation of the mouse colon
Stephen Lougheed Biology

Digital PCR infrastructure to enhance research and HQP training in biology

High performance computing infrastructure for evolutionary biology, spatial ecology, and conservation biology

Giusy Mazzone Mathematics and Statistics Partially dissipative systems with applications to fluid-solid interaction problems
Kim McAuley Chemical Engineering Combining fundamental models with data
Chris McGlory School of Kinesiology and Health Studies Mechanisms underlying the regulation of human skeletal muscle protein turnover by omega-3 fatty acids
Jordan Morelli Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy Applied magnetics - nuclear fusion
Michele Morningstar Psychology Development of neural and cognitive processing of peers' nonverbal cues in adolescence
Parvin Mousavi School of Computing Learning algorithms for predictive modeling in biomedical computing: Methods and applications
Christian Muise School of Computing Advanced techniques for action model solicitation, verification, and induction
Kevin Mumford Civil Engineering Contaminant transport and remediation in dynamic gas-and-groundwater systems
Ram Murty Mathematics and Statistics Zeta functions and probability theory
Sara Nabil School of Computing

Advanced techniques for everyday embodied interaction

E-textiles digital design and fabrication

Guy Narbonne Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering When life got big - Ediacaran evolution in a period of profound global change
Jianbing Ni Electrical and Computer Engineering Secure and privacy-preserving edge caching in next-generation mobile networks
Jean-Michel Nunzi Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy; Chemistry Life-mimetic nano-photonics
Gema Olivo Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering Mineral resources in basins: Base metal ore systems and footprint
Mary Olmstead Psychology Immune-reward interactions: Contributions of the endocannabinoid system
Christopher Omelon Geography and Planning Impacts of talik microbial geochemistry on a changing permafrost landscape
Diane Orihel Biology; School of Environmental Studies A new ecological framework for adverse outcomes of contaminants on ecosystems: Microplastics as a case study
Patrick Oosthuizen Mechanical and Materials Engineering Numerical and experimental studies of steady and unsteady natural and mixed convective heat transfer from horizontal and inclined surfaces of complex shape
Anna Panchenko Biomedical and Molecular Sciences; Pathology and Molecular Medicine; School of Computing Deciphering the mechanisms of modulation of DNA accessibility in chromatin: Discovery of novel pioneer transcription factors
Sarah Jane Payne Civil Engineering Elucidating drinking water quality deterioration in premise plumbing
David Reed Medicine Inhibition of visceral sensation by cannabinoids in the gastrointestinal tract
David Rival Mechanical and Materials Engineering High-speed, plane-wave ultrasound imaging for Lagrangian particle tracking
Matthew Robertson Mechanical and Materials Novel robot actuators leveraging the molecular mechanics and topology of biological muscle
Nir Rotenberg Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Frontiers of nonlinear quantum optics: From fundamentals to technology

Ultra-coherent lasers for the exploration of quantum photonic nonlinearities

Karen Rudie Electrical and Computer Engineering Keeping secrets: Realizing the potential of decentralized discrete-event systems
Sarah Sadavoy Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy The role of magnetic fields in forming stars, disks, and planets
Yuksel Asli Sari Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining Innovative dynamic short-term, medium-term and long-term mine planning strategies incorporating new automation and data analytics technologies
Jessica Selinger School of Kinesiology and Health Studies; Mechanical and Materials Engineering A lower-limb exoskeleton system for investigating the neuromechanical control of human locomotion and designing assistive robotic aids
Bhavin Shastri Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy Neurophotonic-electronic brain-machine interface system
Zhe She Chemistry Probing molecular interactions of soft surfaces by scanning probe microscopy
Amber Simpson School of Computing; Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Integrated computational modeling of multi-scale biomedical data
Gregory Smith Mathematics and Statistics Combination algebraic geometry
Yanglei Song Mathematics and Statistics Sequential decision making under uncertainty: Fundamental limits and applications
Sameh Sorour School of Computing Enabling intelligence on multi-access edge networks with heterogeneous resources
Christopher Spencer Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering Constraining the interplay of geodynamics with the biosphere and atmosphere across the Archean-Proterozoic boundary
Patrick Stroman Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Functional MRI investigation of spinal cord resting-state networks and their physiological relevance
Myron Szewczuk Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Nobel biased G-protein coupled receptor-signalling paradigm regulating growth factor and pathogen-sensing receptors
William Take Civil Engineering Landslide triggering, mobility, and monitoring in a changing climate
David Thomson Mathematics and Statistics Statistical spectrum estimation and solar gravity modes
Aaron Vincent Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy Discovering the dark sector with astroparticle phenomenology
Bas Vriens Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering Sustainable mine waste management: From microscale hydrogeochemical processes to macroscale prediction models
Jeffrey Wammes Psychology Mechanisms underlying learning-related representational reorganization
Robert Way Geography and Planning Susceptibility of peatland permafrost in coastal Labrador to future environmental change
Peng Wang Chemistry; Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy Discovery and development of crystalline radiation detection materials
Joshua Woods Civil Engineering

System-level multi-element analysis of structures using hybrid-simulation (SMASH) lab

High-performance structural systems for seismic protection and resilience of built infrastructure

Gang Wu Chemistry Development of new 17O NMR spectroscopic techniques for studying biological systems
Sarah Yakimowski Biology The evolution of herbicide resistance
Laurence Yang Chemical Engineering Learning models of metabolism and gene expression from biological big data
Scott Yam Electrical and Computer Engineering Intelligent fiber sensors via digital signal processing and machine learning
Mohammad Zulkernine School of Computing Building and monitoring security in emerging softwarized systems

For more information on the Government of Canada’s Support BIG Ideas announcement, please visit the website.

Celebrating Queen’s spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation

Queen’s receives the Deshpande Symposium Award for The Entrepreneurial University for its curriculum innovation and student engagement.

Every Spring, the Deshpande Foundation hosts the Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education, which brings together academics, policy planners, practitioners, business incubators, and foundations to discuss best practices in integrating entrepreneurship throughout their college and university communities.

At this year’s virtual gathering, Queen’s University received the Deshpande Symposium Award for The Entrepreneurial University. This award celebrates an institution that demonstrates excellence in entrepreneurship-related curriculum innovation and student engagement.

"Entrepreneurship has become an important means by which we fulfill our obligations of positive societal impact, to the regional community in which it is embedded, and in global society," says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

Queen’s was unanimously voted as the 2021 recipient of this honour for fostering a culture of innovation throughout its many curricular and extra-curricular offerings.

Curricular Offerings in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The university’s academic and curricular programs of study make entrepreneurship and innovation a priority at all levels. Undergraduate and graduate students across Queen’s are exposed to entrepreneurship and related topics in a broad range of sectors across disciplines. Some courses engage students in team-based venture projects in for-profits contexts, while others, like the Arts and Science "Dean’s Changemaker" courses ASCX200/300, give them opportunities to identify and pursue entrepreneurial solutions to pressing societal problems. The Dean’s Changemaker program supported 12 students in its pilot run and is expected to grow to 50 students per year.

Curricular delivery prioritizes interdisciplinarity. The Certificate in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity (CEIC), offered by the Dan School of Drama and Music, is taught not only by faculty from the Dan School but also from the Smith School of Business and the faculties of Arts and Science and Engineering and Applied Science. These pan-university partnerships persist even at senior levels of education and training. The blended format Master of Management of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MMIE), for example, is a joint collaboration between Business and Engineering and offers networking opportunities with other programs across campus. Since its inception five years ago, 420 students representing 25 countries globally have completed the program, which now accepts 114 students/cohort. MMIE participants have created 89 start-ups and scale-ups, collectively raising $750,000 and employing 112 people. By placing a strong emphasis on interdisciplinarity, Queen’s has been able to increase each individual unit’s capacity for providing immersive programming, thereby fostering development of entrepreneurial mindsets.

[Photo of the QICSI 2019 cohort at Mitchell Hall]
The 2019 Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) cohort at Mitchell Hall.

Co- and Extra-Curricular Offerings in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The university also offers numerous co- and extra-curricular opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation, many of which are provided and/or coordinated through the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) and Queen’s University’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI). DDQIC was founded in 2012, following a significant gift jointly provided by distinguished alumni Andrew Dunin, Sc ’83, MBA ‘87, and his wife Anne Dunin, ArtSci ‘83, and Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, PhD ‘79, and his wife Jaishree Deshpande. 

DDQIC collaborates with schools and faculties, assisting in the development and delivery of many co-curricular programs across campus. The centre runs the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI), a 16-week full-time program in which participants complete a two-week boot camp and receive seed capital to found and build ventures. Since 2012, DDQIC has mentored 460 changemakers in QICSI and helped students launch and grow 200 ventures, 50% of which are still in operation, including Mosaic Manufacturing, CleanSlate UV, and RockMass Technologies. The part-time DDQIC QyourVenture program operates year-long and supports early stage start-ups by providing foundation and mentorship. Furthermore, DDQIC prioritizes innovators and leaders from underrepresented groups through its Konnect program for women entrepreneurs and the Jim Leech MasterCard Foundation Fellowship for young African entrepreneurs. 

QPI supports programming through workshops targeting thematic areas and groups (e.g. health, research-based graduate students) and in sector-targeted and IP/commercialization-advising roles. It provides an accelerator facility for growing ventures, complementing DDQIC’s QICSI, and offers linkages to other ecosystems, notably the Kingston-Syracuse Pathway in Health Innovation, Invest Ottawa, the Toronto-based Technology Innovation Accelerator Program, and L-Spark. Since 2014, QPI has supported 300 entrepreneurs and 150 ventures.

Student engagement extends beyond Queen’s as DDQIC, QPI, and their partner organizations deliver entrepreneurship-geared educational outreach programs, providing translational career and leadership skills to high school students in the Kingston area and globally.

The university received the award as part of a ceremony on June 10, 2021.  

Celebrating the Class of 2021

Queen’s congratulates graduates on success in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Another academic year at Queen’s is now complete and more than 5,800 students have a big reason to celebrate, now that they have officially graduated. To help mark these achievements, the university is sharing a video message to offer congratulations to graduates and highlight their achievements and perseverance in the face of challenges posed by COVID-19.

“These have been unprecedented times, and very difficult times in which to bring an end to your course of study,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, in his remarks. “That you’ve done so in such circumstances is remarkable, and therefore all the more admirable and deserving of our congratulations.”

With strict public health measures still in place in Ontario, on-site convocation events have had to be postponed, with plans to offer in-person ceremonies later once guidelines permit. As vaccination programs continue across the country, and return to campus planning well underway, Queen’s is hopeful that ceremonies missed in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic can be held.

“I’m so honoured to be able to offer you my most sincere congratulations on the completion of your degree at Queen’s,” says Kanonhsyonne Janice Hill, Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), who joined Principal Deane in the video. “It’s been a very challenging year, but you persevered and succeeded. You should be very proud of yourself for doing so.”

While opportunities to host future in-person ceremonies are explored, graduates can expect to receive their diplomas by mail in the coming weeks, and the names of conferred degree recipients are being shared online by the Office of the University Registrar marking their official graduation. Several faculties and schools are planning virtual events or gestures of recognition in the near term.

“I’m so pleased to celebrate the successful conclusion to your studies and recognize your earned degree, diploma or certificate,” Chancellor Jim Leech says, making the final congratulatory remarks in the video.  “You should be proud of your accomplishment and that you are now a full-fledged Queen’s alum.”

For more information on Spring 2021 graduation, please visit the office of the University Registrar's website.

Funding new frontiers in research

The New Frontiers in Research Fund supports six innovative and interdisciplinary projects at Queen’s.

Six research projects at Queen’s have received funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund’s (NFRF) 2020 Exploration competition, a program that encourages scholars to take risks, and that fosters discoveries and innovations that could have significant impacts on our world.

Queen’s researchers will receive $1.5 million ($250,000 per project) from the fund to advance interdisciplinary projects with multiple partners and collaborators. Nationally, the NFRF competition will provide $14.5 million in grants to researchers across Canada, funding 117 projects.

The Exploration competition results will support a wide range of research projects at the university, from creating interactive museum artifacts using digital fabrication methods to breakthroughs in brain injury therapy. Listed below are the funded projects:

  • With growing demand for cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly energy sources, nuclear energy may be a viable option to power both remote and on-grid communities. Small modular reactors (SMR) are scaled-down, flexible models of traditional nuclear plants, and many models rely on molten salts to transport thermal energy created by nuclear fission. However, materials performance in molten salt environments is poorly studied. Mark Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering), Suraj Persaud (Mechanical and Materials Engineering), and collaborators will lead experiments evaluating materials in molten salts in the presence of radiation, a breakthrough for implementation of SMR technology globally.
     
  • Debate rages as Kingston struggles with the legacy of its most famous former resident, Sir John A. Macdonald, and his actions against Indigenous peoples whose lands and children were taken. Like communities worldwide, the city is at a historic juncture confronting cultural narratives of racism and dispossession. An interdisciplinary team led by Christine Sypnowich (Philosophy) will examine Kingston as a case study to address the social exclusion and historical trauma inherent in current understandings of heritage. Uniting conceptual investigation, health care practice, and cultural resurgence, the team of Indigenous and settler scholars will consider how community-based art practices can contribute to an inclusive heritage and help enable restorative healing for Indigenous and racialized people.
     
  • Pharmaceuticals have become contaminants of emerging concern through increased presence in the environment through wastewater, causing great risk to ecosystems and human health. A contributor to this issue is wastewater treatment facilities that are unable to eliminate pharmaceutical ingredients and excreted drug metabolites through their operating systems. Bas Vriens (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering) and Martin Petkovich (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) aim to develop new technology that will act as a 'mega-liver', filtering out harmful pharmaceuticals in wastewater treatment facilities in a cost-efficient way to help ensure good health for our communities and environment.
     
  • R. David Andrew (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) is investigating the molecular mechanisms that lead to electrical failure and constriction of blood vessels, a process called spreading depolarization, caused by brain injury. By identifying these mechanisms, the research collaborators will challenge previous knowledge about brain injury therapy and treatments, and propose a method that may prevent loss of brain cells by blocking spreading depolarization, effectively reducing brain damage.
     
  • COVID-19 restrictions have brought about innovative ways to engage in cultural experiences virtually. Leveraging digital fabrication methods, such as 3-D scanning and printing, e-textiles and laser cutting, Sara Nabil (School of Computing) and collaborators will demonstrate how human-computer interaction can expand and enrich interactions with museum collections. The team will develop digital fabrication methods that resemble, complement, or augment traditional art. This breakthrough will make the museum experience more widely available to people with disabilities, those living in remote communities, those impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and more.
     
  • Tumours that arise throughout the body called neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) cause metastatic disease in up to 50 per cent of patients, giving those diagnosed months to years to survive. However, the molecular basis of highly variable clinical outcomes is poorly understood. Neil Renwick (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), Kathrin Tyryshkin (School of Computing) and collaborators have proposed a radical new way to investigate NENs. The researchers propose using graph neural network models, typically used in computer science, to investigate the gene networks that drive or mediate tumor aggressiveness. The understanding of these molecular social networks may improve accurate knowledge of tumour behaviour and even treatment response, improving NEN clinical outcomes.

The NFRF’s Exploration competition supports research that defies current paradigms, bridges disciplines, or tackles fundamental problems from new perspectives. A key principle of this stream is the recognition that exploring new directions in research carries risk but that these risks are worthwhile, given their potential for significant impact.

“With the support of the NFRF, Queen’s researchers are bringing new ideas and methodologies to critical issues from wastewater treatment to rethinking cultural narratives,” say Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research). “The potential impact and application of this work will be enhanced and advanced through collaborations that cross disciplinary boundaries.”

The NFRF is an initiative created by the Canada Research Coordinating Committee. It is managed by a tri-agency program on behalf of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. To find out more, visit the website.

Canada should embrace Quebec’s simple incorporation system for small businesses

With some minor refinements, Quebec’s regime can and should be deployed across the country.

Ouverts sign in green with white lettering
Canada should take cues from Québec on how it incorporates small businesses. (François Gha/Unsplash)

The federal government’s 2021 budget is significant in at least two respects.

First, it affirms that small businesses are “the vital heart of our economy.” Government support in times of extreme economic stress is therefore critical.

Second, the budget looks to policy innovation at the provincial level as inspiration for nationwide reform — Québec’s universal child-care system being the latest example.

While parliamentarians and provincial legislatures debate unprecedented fiscal measures to support Canada’s small businesses, they should also consider how to embrace another Québec innovation: its simplified incorporation model for small businesses. With some minor refinements, Québec’s system of incorporating businesses can and should be deployed across the country.

The pandemic has reinforced the need to advance reform in an area where we lag behind the United States and many other members of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Small businesses employ two-thirds of Canadian workers and account for about half of Canada’s private sector economy. Yet some neglect to incorporate due to concerns about costs and paperwork, even though constant regeneration of small business is critical to long-term prosperity.

Access to capital

Incorporation helps with this process. When businesses legally become corporate entities or companies, they increase their access to capital because they separate assets in a way that is attractive to those who finance early stage businesses. Business assets are set apart from personal assets that can be subject to claims from other creditors.

Incorporation also encourages entrepreneurs to keep creating new businesses. The limited liability that comes with incorporation caps a founding shareholder’s losses to the amount they invested in the business. This better enables a founder to manage insolvency risks.

Importantly, some of the newest providers of capital to small businesses now rely on algorithms to evaluate credit risk. They’re also increasingly prepared to invest in a corporation without asking for personal guarantees. The ability to contain losses to what was already invested is critical to an entrepreneur’s ability to build other businesses.

But more than that, the pandemic has taught many small businesses that there are advantages to moving from the informal to formal economy. Incorporation can greatly assist in getting access to government support.

Demonstrating that a business satisfies eligibility criteria is easier when it is a distinct legal entity with financial statements. Government delivery of funds is also facilitated when dealing with corporations that already have business numbers and business bank accounts.

Québec was especially focused on helping small business when it adopted a new Business Corporations Act (QBCA) in 2010. To this day, the QBCA’s simplified incorporation structure remains highly innovative, allowing a sole shareholder to dispense with:

• Establishing a board of directors

• Adopting by-laws (for example, rules about internal governance)

• Appointing an auditor

• Holding shareholder meetings

• Keeping records of board and shareholder meetings

Reduces costs

More than 25 years as a business lawyer taught me that removing redundant administrative burdens would simplify incorporation for many small businesses. It would also reduce costs that can serve as a barrier to incorporating.

But it is one thing to innovate, and another for innovation to be embraced. To date, only a few hundred companies have opted into Québec’s simplified regime. In contrast, several OAS countries have adopted simplified incorporation systems, many of which have met with extraordinary success. Colombia alone has seen the creation of hundreds of thousands of simplified corporations.

The benefits have been significant and include increased employment and social security contributions and benefits and enhanced tax revenue for governments.

What accounts for the difference in uptake? Québec’s approach could certainly be more user-friendly. For example, it could give a founder the option to dispense with a board and other formalities by ticking a box when incorporating, rather than the current practice of requiring more legal documents to be filed after incorporation.

Efforts need to be publicized

But the OAS and countries like Colombia have also put substantial effort into ensuring that the option is well known and its use actively encouraged. In contrast, Québec has done little to publicize its regime. Unfortunately, a strategy that relies on word of mouth is no strategy.

What is required is a sustained government communications plan that alerts small businesses to the system’s advantages, encouraging them to embrace it from the moment they go online to incorporate.

The QBCA’s adoption marked an important step in recognizing the value inherent in simplified incorporation processes. But more needs to be done for that value to be fully realized.

Other jurisdictions in Canada need to follow Québec’s lead, adjusting and perfecting its model. They then need to deploy communications strategies that will resonate with small businesses — all inexpensive but consequential steps that would help drive economic recovery for small businesses in the post-pandemic era.The Conversation

______________________________________________

Robert Yalden, Stephen Sigurdson Professor in Corporate Law & Finance, Queen's University, Ontario

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

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Transforming the global academy

Principal Patrick Deane on how the SDGs are helping break down silos, provoke dialogue, and unite us all in a common global purpose.

[Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane]
Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University

As a member of the international group tasked with updating the Magna Charta Universitatum – the declaration of university freedoms and principles that was first signed in Bologna in 1988 – I am struck by the extent to which the intervening three decades have altered the global consensus about the nature and function of universities. Where the original document spoke eloquently to the fundamental values of the academy, the new Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 reaffirms those values but also expands upon their social function and utility. I would summarise the shift this way: we have moved from an understanding of universities as defined primarily by their ability to transcend historical contingency to a more complicated view, which asserts that timeless principles such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the platform from which the academy must engage with history.

If the situation in Europe and around the world in 1988 made it important to speak up for the freedoms without which teaching and research would be impoverished, by 2020 it had become equally important to speak of the responsibilities incumbent on institutions by virtue of the privileges accorded to them. The reality of rapid climate change has brought urgency and authority to this new view of universities, as have parallel trends in the social, cultural, and political climate, and “education for sustainable development” has emerged as the increasingly dominant model for global higher education – one which fuses the concerns of environment, society, and economy.  

Recent columns in Times Higher Education have admirably described the diverse ways in which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been intrinsic to this reorientation of the global academy: as a rallying point for students and staff, as an accountability framework, and as a global language for political action, for example. Here at Queen’s University, the SDGs have been an important frame for our current planning process, and in all of those ways have influenced the manner in which we understand and wish to articulate our mission.

At one point in the process, an influential and valued friend of the university expressed some irritation to me about the way in which the SDGs had come to dominate and disrupt the university’s normally untroubled and inwardly-focused dialogue with itself about mission and values. “And in any case,” came the throwaway dismissal, “there’s nothing original or new about aligning with the SDGs.” Of course, that is true in 2021, but is it relevant? If a university is able to maximise its global impact, does the inherent originality or novelty of its planning parameters matter? In such exchanges – still occurring, I’m certain, on campuses everywhere – we can see that the changing consensus about which I wrote at the start is not yet complete.

It seems to me, in fact, that much of the value of the SDGs as an organising framework for universities resides in their not being proprietary or “original” to one institution, or to an exclusive group of institutions. It has often been pointed out that they now provide a shared language which helps universities in diverse geographical, political, and socio-economic locations understand and build upon the commonality of their work in both teaching and research. Adoption of the SDGs, however variously that is done from institution to institution, is turning the “global academy” from a rhetorical to a real construct, and I can’t imagine why it would be in the interests of any university to hold itself aloof from that transformation. Having watched our planning process unfold at Queen’s over the last two years, I can confirm that what the SDGs do at the global level, they do also at the level of the individual institution, providing a common language that provokes and sustains dialogue – not only between disciplines, but between the academic and non-academic parts of the operation.

I want to end by commenting on the excitement generated when siloes are broken open and when people and units understand how they are united with others in a common purpose and in service to the greater good. To cultivate that understanding has been the primary objective of planning at Queen’s for the last two years, and preparing our first submission to the Impact Rankings has been an intrinsic part of that process of learning and self-discovery. Naturally, we are delighted and excited by where we find ourselves in the rankings, but we are energised in a more profound way by the knowledge of what synergies and collaborations exist or appear possible both within our university and in the global academy.

The first 16 SDGs point to the areas in which we want to have impact. The 17th tells us what the whole project is really all about: acting in community for the communal good.

This op-ed was originally published in the Times Higher Education supplement.  

Queen’s community comes together to illustrate social impact

THE Impact Rankings submission measures the university’s overall contribution to global sustainability.

[Graphic image with a "Q" of the Queen's community]

Times Higher Education (THE), the organization best known for its World University Rankings, sees universities as representing the greatest hope of solving the most urgent global challenges. In 2019, they moved to create the Impact Rankings – an inclusive evaluation of post-secondary institutions’ commitments to positive social and economic impact measured against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year, out of more than 1,200 participating institutions worldwide, Queen’s placed first in Canada and fifth globally in the 2021 Impact Rankings. It is the first time Queen’s has participated in this ranking exercise, and our performance is a result of the campus community’s united effort to create a comprehensive submission package for Impact Rankings adjudicators.

THE Impact Rankings

While many traditional ranking processes are designed with research-intensive universities in mind, the Impact Rankings are open to any institution teaching at the undergraduate or post-graduate level. Using the SDGs as a means of gauging a university’s performance, THE developed a methodology involving 105 metrics and 220 measurements, carefully calibrated to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons between institutions across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching.

“The Impact Rankings are unlike any other ranking. They offer a global platform to acknowledge and celebrate the partnerships integral to advancing international initiatives, developing the leaders of tomorrow, and working towards an inclusive, diverse, and sustainable future,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations) and co-chair of the Queen’s Impact Rankings Steering Committee. “On behalf of the Steering Committee, thank you to the community for your support and collaboration in advancing this initiative.”

In their submissions, universities must demonstrate progress toward meeting at least three SDGs, as well as toward SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. THE evaluates each institution’s submission, drawing on the quantitative and qualitative data provided, as well as bibliometric research datasets provided by Elsevier, a data and analytics company.

The Queen’s Submission – A Community Effort

“Participating in the Impact Rankings requires self-reflection. We are asked to contemplate our current impact and think about what we want to achieve for the future,” says Sandra den Otter, Vice-Provost (International) and co-chair of the Queen's Impact Rankings Steering Committee. “These results testify to the work we have done together. I hope this is a moment for recognizing the progress we have made, and to furthering our aspirations as a university and as members of a global community committed to change.”

To lead its submission process, Queen’s established a Steering Committee, Project Team, and Working Group, comprised of leadership, staff, and faculty from across the university. This team set about gathering over 600 unique pieces of evidence, representing the efforts of over 70 departments and portfolios. Queen’s chose to submit evidence in support of all 17 SDGs – a decision that led to top-100 rankings in 14 of 17 SDGs, including top-10 in three categories (Zero Hunger, Sustainable Cities, and Life on Land) and being ranked first – globally – for SDG 1: No Poverty and SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. 

Metrics and measurements were unique for each SDG, with each goal requiring a specific combination of quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative evidence integrated research bibliometric data and key words that measured number of publications, co-authors, and field-weighted citations. Other quantitative measurements looked at water consumption per capita, energy and food waste measurements, university expenditure on arts and culture, the number of first-generation university students, and number of employees from equity-seeking groups.

Qualitative evidence spanned institutional policies and individual courses, to the missions of research centres and institutes, community volunteer initiatives, and strategic plans, all demonstrating how we are advancing the SDGs. Metrics often required evidence of local, national, and global-reaching initiatives to illustrate full impact.

More than 400 internal links pointing to Queen’s websites were supplied as publicly accessible evidence of Queen’s research, outreach, teaching, and stewardship efforts. Additionally, nearly 100 external links were included in the submission, each reflecting the university’s extensive partnerships: internally with student-led clubs, locally with Sustainable Kingston and United Way KFL&A, nationally with the Government of Canada, and globally with the Matariki Network of Universities.

Learn more about Queen’s performance in the Times Higher Education 2021 Impact Rankings.

After COVID-19, Canadians need better financial literacy and teachers can help

Teaching financial literacy requires more than adding financial literacy to kids' school curriculum. It also means offering teachers professional development to ensure they're equipped.

A pair of eye-glasses on top of a stack of three books.
How quickly people recover financially from the COVID-19 crisis, or lose the gains they made, may depend on their level of financial literacy. (Shutterstock)

As Canadians await their first federal budget since the pandemic, people across the country may be paying more attention than usual to their personal finances. Some, especially young people and precarious workers, are struggling with ongoing unemployment, lost income and rising debt. But those fortunate enough to have uninterrupted sources of income and jobs have likely seen their savings increase.

The Conversation Canada How quickly people recover financially from the crisis — or lose the gains they made — may depend on their level of financial literacy.

Financial literacy includes awareness and understanding of concepts related to personal finances, such as compound interest, and the skill and confidence to apply them in making personal financial decisions. Saving for both long-term goals and unforeseen emergencies is part of being financially literate.

We surveyed 157 Ontario elementary school teachers on their perceptions, attitudes and practices with respect to financial literacy education in the 2017-18 school year. We found they overwhelmingly favour teaching financial literacy in elementary school. Teachers who responded to the survey identified several benefits of financial literacy education, including learning to budget and plan for the future. But they also identified barriers to teaching financial literacy.

Since we completed our research in June 2020, Ontario announced a new math curriculum that includes grades 1 to 8 mandatory financial learning. The province now mandates financial literacy education and provides resources to support teaching this.

But based on our findings, we believe that teachers need professional development to support their efforts to teach financial literacy, whether in Ontario or elsewhere.

Financial literacy across Canada

Five years ago, the federal government launched the National Strategy for Financial Literacy, which is currently under review. The strategy’s goals are to empower Canadians to manage money and debt wisely and plan and save for the future.

One way to promote financial literacy is to teach it in school. A benefit of this approach is that it provides everyone the opportunity to develop financial literacy, regardless of their families’ current income or wealth.

Experts agree that to change spending and saving habits, financial literacy education must start early — preferably in elementary school.

Prior to introducing the new math curriculum, Ontario elementary teachers were expected to make connections to financial literacy in all subjects starting in Grade 4, but how to do so was mostly left up to the teacher.

Child with coin stacks.
A goal of Canada’s National Strategy for Financial Literacy is to empower Canadians to manage money and debt wisely. (Shutterstock)

Sponsored financial literacy materials

For course materials, the teachers in our study were relying heavily on free, online resources, many of which are made or paid for by banks or other financial institutions.

In our study of financial literacy resources aimed at elementary students and teachers, we found that the content of financial literacy teaching materials does not vary significantly based on who made or paid for them.

But materials made or paid for by financial institutions are more likely to focus on individual responsibility over social circumstances, like a pandemic. Focusing on individual responsibility without discussing social factors is likely to undermine the value of these lessons for students whose circumstances make it harder for their family to save money and avoid debt.

Ontario’s financial literacy curriculum mentions the importance of acknowledging social factors that can affect personal finances, and the province provides resources for teachers in this area.

But how teachers implement curriculum expectations and the resources used are ultimately up to the classroom teacher. Often teachers adapt resources they find to their classroom context.

Give teachers professional development

For this reason, we believe government investment in teachers’ professional development in financial literacy may be necessary to improve their comfort and capacities with financial literacy education.

Our research found that teachers expressed a strong desire for professional development related to teaching financial literacy. Our concern is that without more detailed guidance and professional development, teachers may continue to rely on the materials they can access freely online whether or not they’re recommended by the Ministry of Education, possibly to the detriment of financially vulnerable students.

Teaching financial literacy in elementary school can help all students, regardless of their current circumstances, to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their money as adults.

But achieving this goal requires more than adding financial literacy to the mandatory school curriculum. It also requires providing teachers with the right supports. These include access to professional development to make teachers comfortable teaching financial concepts. This will help ensure all students have the level of financial literacy necessary to manage, as best they can, the next crisis.The Conversation

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Gail Henderson, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, Queen's University and Pamela Beach, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, 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, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Designing Canada’s neurotech future

Join Queen’s researchers and representatives from industry, government, and NGOs as they collaborate to solve the technological, ethical, legal, and policy issues of the latest tech focused on our brains, neurotechnology.

[Photo of a MRI of a brain by Donald Brien]
Art of Research 2020 Winner: "The Wiring of the Brain" by Donald Brien (Centre for Neuroscience Studies)

As new technologies develop, designing them for human benefit can be a complex challenge. Neurotechnology, considered any tool used to measure, intervene on, or artificially stimulate brain function, is an emerging technology with extensive potential societal impact. It has already demonstrated advanced applications to help those with neurological disorders, while also attracting the eyes of Silicon Valley and those with interests in its surveillance and personal augmentation potential. However, getting the human benefit right requires collaboration between different disciplines, beyond computing and AI, to fully grasp the social, ethical, and legal impact this technology can have on our lives.

Researchers across faculties at Queen’s are bringing this conversation to the forefront with A Neurotech Future: Ethical, Legal and Policy Issues, an open online workshop on Thursday, April 22. It is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to explore the Future Challenge area “Humanity+,” “balancing risks and benefits in the emerging surveillance society.” Queen's experts from the Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Surveillance Studies Centre, and Faculties of Law and Engineering and Applied Science with representatives from government, industry, and NGOs and co-sponsorship from the Ontario Brain Institute and the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, will mobilize their thought leadership with tech innovators and policymakers building and defining this new industry in Canada. Collaborations and learnings from the workshop will lead to a policy report on neurotech and surveillance and outcomes will be presented to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy, and Ethics.

Susan Boehnke (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Centre for Neuroscience Studies) is the Lead Organizer of the event. Working with David Lyon (Surveillance Studies Centre) and Martha Bailey (Law), she explains why this was the right time for Queen’s researchers to facilitate this discussion.

“As neurotechnology becomes increasingly applied to novel use scenarios, it is imperative that we develop laws and policies to protect privacy, to guard against misuse of technologies for surveillance, and ensure that the benefits of a neurotech future are distributed in an equitable and democratic way,” says Dr. Boehnke. “Queen’s University is uniquely positioned to engage in cross-disciplinary research and to develop the innovative training programs that will support the growth of this industry and position Canada as a leader. Researchers at Queen’s are already exploring the scientific, technical, legal, ethical, and policy issues related to the use of neurotechnologies. Our hope is that this conference will act as a catalyst to facilitate more cross-disciplinary collaboration.”

In working through the now and future societal implications of neurotechnology, students have an important role in this workshop and its outcomes. Graduate students from the Centre for Neuroscience Studies and the Surveillance Studies Centre will collaborate with students from Merlin Neurotech (a chapter of NeuroTechX) and the Neuroscience and Policy Society in a working group to support interdisciplinary collaboration. Their contributions will help inform a new curriculum for a graduate-level course in Neuroethics open to students across the university. Insights from the workshop may also inform the development of a unique certificate or post-graduate diploma in neurotech, guided by neuroethics, and geared to business, computer science, and engineering students without a neuroscience background eager to enter the industry.

Highlights from the public workshop will include a morning keynote on the Canadian Brain Research Strategy from Judy Illes, Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia and Director of Neuroethics Canada. An afternoon keynote will be delivered by John Weigelt, National Technology Officer at Microsoft, on lessons from responsible AI informing successful collaborations in policy and regulation. Panels will focus on current and future innovations in neurotech, surveillance and data privacy, and implications for the legal system, as well as perspectives from industry and government.

The Thursday, April 22 event is free and open to the public with registration and full schedule available on Eventbrite. Those interested in the working group sessions on Friday, April 23 are encouraged to contact the organizers.

2020: The Year in Research

A look back at the major initiatives, the funding and awards garnered, and how a community mobilized to respond to and combat COVID-19.

In recent years, we have taken a moment each December to highlight some of the research that has captured our attention over the previous 12 months.

2020 was not a normal year. It challenged us, tested us, and saw our research community pivot in creative and unexpected ways to respond to the global crisis. 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 2020.

[Photo of Hailey Poole dispensing hand sanitizer]
A team of Queen’s researchers from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering along with GreenCentre Canada partnered with Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Tri-Art Manufacturing (Kingston) to develop hand sanitizer, producing up to 300 litres of product per week to help meet the needs of Kingston hospitals.

COVID-19 Response: Mobilizing as a Community to Confront COVID-19

In the early days of the pandemic, Queen’s researchers across disciplines were active in offering commentary and fact-based analysis on COVID-19-related issues – from understanding if DNA is key to whether you get COVID and helping to diagnose unusual symptoms related to COVID stress to suggesting 5-min workouts you can do at home. Many of these analyses were carried on national and international news platforms, demonstrating the critical contribution that researchers and academics can make to informing the conversation.

When news of PPE and ventilator shortages and test wait times hit international media, research and student groups across campus leveraged their skills to come up with innovative solutions. Here are a few examples:

  • A team of researchers from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, along with GreenCentre Canada, partnered with Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and Tri-Art Manufacturing (Kingston) to make 300 litres of hand sanitizer per week to help meet the needs of Kingston hospitals
  • Researchers from Queen’s University and KHSC partnered with Public Health Ontario Laboratories and Hamilton Health Sciences Center to develop an in-house COVID test that can provide results in 24 hours
  • Faculty and students at the Human Mobility Research Centre and Ingenuity Labs joined forces with KHSC health professionals to take on the Code Life Ventilator Challenge, a global call to design a low-cost and easy-to-manufacture ventilator that can be created and deployed anywhere around the world
  • Queen’s Noble Laureate, Dr. Arthur B. McDonald, led the Canadian arm of the Mechanical Ventilator Milano project, which aimed to create an easy-to-build ventilator that can help treat COVID-19 patients. In May, the Government of Canada announced an agreement with Vexos to produce 10,000 Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) units and in September the ventilators received Health Canada approval
(Photo by Matthew Manor / Kingston Health Sciences Centre)
Queen’s University and Kingston Health Sciences Centres (KHSC) partnered with Public Health Ontario Laboratories and Hamilton Health Sciences Center to develop an in-house test for COVID-19 that can be completed in large volumes and provide results in 24 hours. (Photo by Matthew Manor / Kingston Health Sciences Centre)

The Vice-Principal (Research) Portfolio also quickly mobilized to offer Rapid Response funding, which was awarded to advance 20 research projects supporting medical and social coronavirus-related solutions. Queen’s researchers also partnered with industry to transform pandemic decision-making and healthcare through two Digital Technology Supercluster projects, Looking Glass and Project ACTT, focused on predictive modelling and cancer testing and treatment. The projects received over $4 million in funding from the Government of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster’s COVID-19 program.

Funding Future Research

Queen’s continued to attract leading researchers and competitive funding and awards through a number of national and international programs.

[Rendering of the MVM Ventilator]
A team of Canadian physicists, led by Queen’s Nobel Laureate Art McDonald, is part of an international effort to design the MVM Ventilator. With support from Canadian philanthropists and Queen's alumni the project was able to progress, leading to an order of 10,000 units from the Government of Canada.

Hundreds of grants for new projects and research infrastructure were secured through CHIR, SSHRC, NSERC and CFI, Canada’s national funding agencies. Seven multidisciplinary Queen’s research projects received $1.7 million in support from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) 2019 Exploration competition, a program that fosters discovery and innovation by encouraging Canadian researchers to explore, take risks, and work with partners across disciplines and borders. Additionally, The Canadian Cancer Trials Group, SNOLAB, and Canada’s National Design Network, all of which are Queen’s-affiliated research facilities, saw a funding increase of over $60 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Major Sciences Initiatives fund. The Institute for Sustainable Finance received a boost of $5 million from Canada’s big banks to support ISF’s mission of aligning mainstream financial markets with Canada’s transition to a lower carbon economy.

The university welcomed and appointed seven new and two renewed Canada Research Chairs (CRC) in two rounds (September and December 2020) of CRC competition announced this year. One of the country’s highest research honours, Queen’s is now home to over 50 Canada Research Chairs. Queen’s also welcomed seven promising new researchers through the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholars and Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship programs.

Recognizing Research Leadership

2020 saw Queen’s researchers win some of Canada’s top awards and honours for research excellence and the university continues to rank second in Canada for awards per faculty member (2021 Maclean’s University Rankings).

[Photo of Leach’s storm petrel chick by Sabina Wilhelm]
Queen's researchers, from graduate students to Canada Research Chairs, continue to make an impact on our understanding of the world. (Photo by Sabina Wilhelm

Queen’s had a successful year earning fellowships within Canada’s national academies. Nancy van Deusen and Cathleen Crudden were elected to the Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, while Amy Latimer-Cheung and Awet Weldemichael were named members of the organization’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Health research leaders Janet Dancey, Marcia Finlayson, and Graeme Smith were inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and Michael Cunningham and Jean Hutchinson were elected to the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

While our researchers were recognized with dozens of honours throughout the year, below are a few highlights: David Lyon secured Canada’s Molson Prize for pioneering the field of surveillance studies. Education researcher Lynda Colgan received the NSERC Science Promo Prize for her efforts in promoting science to the general public. Heather Castleden was awarded a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa to engage with Native Hawaiians about their leadership in renewable energy projects. A lauded steward of the environment, John Smol received Canada’s Massey Medal for his lifetime of work in studying environmental stressors. The first Indigenous midwife in Canada to earn a doctoral degree, health researcher Karen Lawford was named one of this year’s 12 outstanding Indigenous leaders and received the Indspire Award for Health.

Internally, researchers were honoured with the university’s Prizes for Excellence in Research (Yan-Fei-Liu, Michael Cunningham, and Gabor Fichtinger) and the Distinguished University Professor (Audrey Kobayashi, David Bakhurst, Julian Barling, Glenville Jones, John Smol, Kathleen Lahey) title.

Major Initiatives

The Discover Research@Queen’s campaign was launched to build engagement with the Research@Queen’s website and encouraged 1000s of key external stakeholders to learn more about the research happening at the University. Our community continued to mobilize their research through fact-based analysis on The Conversation Canada’s news platform. In 2020, 79 Queen’s researchers published 85 articles that garnered over 1.9 million views.

[Illustration of the scales of justice by Gary Neill]
Queen's University researchers Samuel Dahan and Xiaodan Zhu are using AI to level the legal playing field for Canadians, including those affected by COVID-19 unemployment.

This year marked the fifth anniversary of the Art of Research photo contest with over 100 faculty, staff, students, and alumni submitting engaging and thought-provoking research images. Ten category and special prizes were awarded.

The WE-Can (Women Entrepreneurs Canada) program through Queen’s Partnership and Innovation (QPI) celebrated one year of supporting women entrepreneurs in Kingston and the surrounding area, through programs such as Compass North and LEAD.  The QPI team also marked one year at its new downtown Kingston location, the Seaway Coworking building, which allows easy access for the community and partners.

To support researchers thinking outside of the box to solve some of humanity’s most complex problems, the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio launched the Wicked Ideas competition to fund high risk, high reward projects with interdisciplinary teams that are not easily supported through traditional funding opportunities. Twelve projects received funding in round one and researchers can now apply for round two.


Congratulations to the Queen’s research community for their resilience and successes this year. We look forward to seeing what new research and opportunities 2021 will bring. To learn more about research at the university, visit the Research@Queen’s website, and for information about research promotion, contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives.

[Art of Photo by Hayden Wainwright]
2020 Art of Research Photo Contest Winner: Hayden Wainwright (MSc Biology), Nature's van Gogh (Category: Out in the Field)

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