Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form


Strengthening the research culture

[Research Mentors Yolande Chan]
Yolande Chan, Associate Vice-Principal (Research), the Queen’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) leader, says she has seen increased engagement for faculty through the Research Mentors program. (University Communications)

The Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio is aiming to increase research engagement, collaboration and funding for faculty conducting their research in the social sciences, humanities and the creative arts through a research mentorship pilot initiative.

While the newly created Research Mentors program definitely has a mentoring aspect, it actually provides much more. The 16 Research Mentors act as leaders in peer review processes for grant applications to improve funding success. They also help to identify potential nominees for awards and research celebrations, like the recent PechaKucha Research Showcase.

The Research Mentors are mid-career to senior faculty in the social sciences, humanities and the creative arts with a high level of experience and knowledge of the grant application processes. The role is voluntary, and each Research Mentor has the freedom to approach the position differently – but they are all encouraged to start peer review processes in their cognate groups, and to develop awards committees.

“The early results have been positive,” says Yolande Chan, Associate Vice-Principal (Research), the Queen’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) leader, and an E. Marie Shantz Professor of Management Information Systems in the Queen’s School of Business. “Some mentors are very much on fire and they themselves have been renewed as a result of being part of this program and are now acting in catalytic ways, assisting others.”

The effects of the Research Mentors can also be seen in the turnout for events such as a recent information session on SSHRC Insight Grant applications where many more people registered than in the recent past. “We are already seeing greater SSHRC engagement,” she says. “The program is designed to strengthen the research culture by creating excitement and a buzz. The Research Mentors are actively promoting, giving visibility to, and celebrating their colleagues’ success.”

Further information can be found at the Research Mentors webpage. Questions about the program may be directed to Dr. Yolande Chan, Associate Vice-Principal (Research).

Artists Among Us: Solitude allows the words to flow

The Artists Among Us is a series of profiles of Queen’s staff members who pursue artistic endeavours in addition to their work at the university. The Gazette will feature staff members on an occasional basis and welcomes suggestions. If you have ideas of people to profile, please contact Wanda Praamsma at wanda.praamsma@queensu.ca

Musician Megan Hamilton, an administrative assistant in the Faculty of Law, will be performing this summer at the Wolfe Island Music Festival, while her new album is set to be released in September. (University Communications)

Megan Hamilton first started writing music when she was in her late 20s, while in Toronto after studying theatre at Ryerson. She was living alone for the first time in her life, and while lonely at times, she found the solitude freeing.

“I started writing music, short stories, plays. There was no social media at the time, and I didn’t have a computer – very few distractions,” says Ms. Hamilton, now a well-regarded Canadian musician who also works full-time as an administrative assistant in the Faculty of Law. “I felt I didn’t need anyone’s permission and it became a really creative time for me.”

Even though she never imagined herself singing, Ms. Hamilton recorded a few songs with a friend. It was then that she decided she “could do this,” and instead of pursuing theatre, she moved into the musical sphere. 

“I liked that with music, I didn’t have to wait for other people, which I felt like I was doing in theatre,” she says. “I could just go out and do my own thing.”

A few years later, in 2006, she released her first album, Feudal Ladies Club, and since then, she’s toured across Canada, promoted several more albums, and developed a following for her folk/pop-edge/shoegaze style. In August, Ms. Hamilton will be on stage at the Wolfe Island Music Festival, and on Sept. 25, she releases her fifth album, Forty Warm Streams to Lead Your Wings. This latest album is being produced by singer/songwriter and producer Jim Bryson, who has toured and/or recorded with The Tragically Hip, Sarah Harmer and Kathleen Edwards, among others.

“It’s a really busy, exciting time,” she says. “It’s satisfying, getting my music out there, since it’s a much bigger challenge these days.” 

Ms. Hamilton also combines life as a musician and Queen’s staff member with life as a parent, as mother to a four-year-old daughter. It’s a delicate balance, she says, to find time for everything, and the space to write. 

Like her early days writing alone in Toronto, Ms. Hamilton needs complete quiet and separation to set down the stories that become her songs. And, perhaps aptly, her lyrics are often rooted in themes of loneliness, sadness, and love/relationship issues.

Megan Hamilton plays the Wolfe Island Music Festival Friday Aug. 7.
Visit her Facebook page for more information about her new album, Forty Warm Streams to Lead Your Wings, and tour dates.

“I usually start with a visual image,” she says. “Then a scene unfolds, and generally the lyrics flow pretty quickly from that. I also love playing with rhyme and rhythm. I play games – like working with syllables, trying to figure out how to structure a line. I think these things all stem from my childhood, things I used to do. On long car rides, I would count telephone poles – there’s this rhythm there – and then chop the poles down in my mind.”

Through promoting her own music, Ms. Hamilton has become an expert organizer, and those abilities extend into her work in Queen’s Law, where among other administrative duties, she helps with event planning and payroll. She also provides public-speaking coaching for law students who are preparing for moot competitions. 

“I really love that, working with the students,” she says. “I’m really grateful for my position in the Faculty of Law. Everyone is really supportive of my musical career, and when I do have accomplishments to share, they are always there to celebrate with me.”

Lives Lived: A generous colleague and a beloved and inspiring teacher

Following a prolonged illness, Stanley M. Corbett, the Faculty of Law’s longest-serving Associate Dean, passed away peacefully at Kingston General Hospital on May 18, just 10 days before his 70th birthday. 

Stanley Corbett will be deeply missed by the Queen’s Law community. Faculty, staff and students, like his family and friends, were inspired by his limitless curiosity, touched by his generosity, and delighted by his gentle humour.

[Stanley Corbett]
Stanley Corbett

In Dr. Corbett’s 50-year history at Queen’s University – particularly during his time with the Faculty of Law – he distinguished himself as a scholar, author, teacher, mentor, leader, colleague, and friend. Those campus years included four degrees: BA’66, MA’72, PhD’82, and LLB’95. He started his studies in mathematics before moving to philosophy for post-graduate studies. After several years on faculty at Acadia University, including a term as head of the Philosophy Department, he left that academic career to return to Queen’s for a law degree.

Dean Bill Flanagan, who would become Dr. Corbett’s long-time colleague and friend, first met him in his property law class in 1992 and recalls he was a “terrific student” – which is why he was invited to join the faculty full-time in 1997, just two years after his graduation.

“Stan was a brilliant student,” agrees Professor Emeritus David Mullan (LLM’73, LLD’15), who had him in his first-year public law class. “Later, as a colleague, I benefitted greatly from our many discussions about emerging public law issues and our respective courses.”

Dr. Flanagan sees Dr. Corbett’s overall influence on Queen’s Law as incalculable. 

“It is rare that a single individual has an indelible impact on a school,” he says. “In our case, it is impossible to imagine what our faculty would be like today without Stan’s work here.”

Many of his greatest contributions to the faculty’s future were made as Associate Dean (Academic). He held this top academic post for an unprecedented three terms, starting in 2008, and, in the dean’s words, “always demonstrated skill, good judgment, a sense of humour, and dedication to the school.”

Colleagues also recall that Dr. Corbett routinely carried a heavier-than-usual teaching load, was ready to assist faculty and students with any challenge, and was an accomplished author with a commitment to justice. His 2007 book, Human Rights Law and Commentary (LexisNexis Canada), now in its second edition, is catalogued in more than 100 law libraries across North America, and he published more than two dozen articles, reviews and other materials over his career.

It was under his guidance that the law school expanded from classroom education into blended and online learning; added essential law skills courses to the first-year program; and updated and expanded the curriculum to meet the evolving needs of today’s law students – and the profession itself.

His other main legacy, among many, is as a teacher who shaped his students’ experience of Queen’s Law, both at home and abroad. Dr. Corbett won the Law Students’ Society Teaching Excellence Award three times. 

He was a leader in curriculum planning for the Law school and its Global Law Programs overseas, serving as the latter’s academic director at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle from 2008 to 2014. 

A celebration of his life will be held at Grant Hall in October.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on the website of the Faculty of Law.

Queen’s Business Law Clinic partners with microloan program

Kingston business owners who need legal help – and may not have the resources for conventional legal support – are already familiar with the services and mission of the Queen’s Business Law Clinic.

QBLC director Christian Hurley and a staff member speak to an attendee at the recently-held Kingston Community Foundation event. (Photo courtesy Genevieve Cairns, Kingston Community Foundation)

For years, the QBLC has been helping local business; since January, from a new downtown location as part of the consolidated Queen’s Law Clinics.

In June, the QBLC expanded its offerings once again, at a community meeting with other local small business support organizations. The focus of the meeting was the launch of the First Capital Community Development Loan Program, an initiative of the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area, which aims to provide micro-loans to entrepreneurs who may have difficulty qualifying for traditional financing.

“Small businesses face a number of challenges and access to capital is typically a top concern,” says QBLC director Christian Hurley. “Access to free legal counsel through QBLC and operating capital through the Community Foundation’s new micro-loan program will help to ease that burden.”

Hosted by the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area, the event also included Aterna Savings, the KEDCO Small Business Development Centre, Futurpreneur Canada, and the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation.

“It was energizing to see the number of support groups that attended this launch event,” Mr. Hurley says. “It is but one example of the incredible network available to local entrepreneurs that makes Kingston a great place to pursue dreams of small business success.” 

This article was first published on the website of Queen's University's Faculty of Law.

Flags lowered for Stanley Corbett

Flags on campus are currently lowered for Adjunct Assistant Professor Stanley Corbett (BA’66, MA’72, PhD’82, Law’95), Associate Dean, (Academic), for the Faculty of Law. He passed away on Monday, May 18.

Stanley Corbett

With links to Queen’s University stretching over five decades, Dr. Corbett began his studies in mathematics before moving to philosophy for his post-graduate degrees. After several years at Acadia University, he returned to Queen’s to earn a law degree and worked as an adjunct professor in philosophy and law before becoming a full-time member of the Faculty of Law in 1997.

Dr. Corbett was the faculty’s longest serving associate dean, initially taking up the position in 2008. He was also the academic director of the faculty’s Global Law Programs at the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in England, where he taught a course in Public International Law.

He was a member of the affiliated faculty with the Queen's Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, a sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences, and taught courses in the School of Policy Studies.

Dr. Corbett was a three-time winner of the Law Students’ Society teaching award.

A celebration of life will be held in the summer.

Queen’s remembers Madison Crich

Queen’s regrets to inform the community of the death of student Madison Crich. Madison, who passed away suddenly of natural causes on April 24, recently completed her first year of study in the Faculty of Law and was an accomplished dressage rider. 

[Madison Crcih]
Madison Crich

“On behalf of the Queen's community, I want to extend deep and sincere condolences to Madison's family and friends. Our thoughts are with them at this time,” says Principal Daniel Woolf.

A celebration of life will be held on Friday, May 1. Details can be found at tubmanfuneralhomes.com. Flags on campus will be lowered in Madison’s memory.

Anyone in need of support is encouraged to contact Health, Counselling and Disability Services at 613-533-6000 ext.78264 and/or University Chaplain Kate Johnson at 613-533-2186 or kate.johnson@queensu.ca. After hours, students are encouraged to contact Campus Security at 613-533-6080, or Kate Johnson at kate.johnson@queensu.ca.

Winning the battle against tax season drudgery

David Foster Wallace and Art Cockfield
Queen's law professor Art Cockfield, right, recently published an academic paper taking a closer look at the work of author David Foster Wallace, left.

For most people, the idea of doing their income taxes invokes fears of hours of drudgery and outright boredom.

However, there is beauty to be found in the details says Art Cockfield, a Queen’s professor specializing in tax law, in a new academic paper that takes a closer look at the life and work of award-winning author David Foster Wallace.

In his final book, The Pale King, published posthumously after his suicide, Mr. Wallace took an in-depth look at taxes in the United States and the way the majority of society approaches them. Mr. Wallace was fascinated by how people deal with tedium in their everyday lives. No surprise then that he was drawn to taxes.

In The Pale King, Dr. Cockfield explains, Mr. Wallace looked at how earlier generations considered filling out their tax returns as a sort of “moral obligation,” that they were doing their part for the greater community.

The book takes place in the 1980s when taxes were still done by hand, rather than online. However, it addresses contemporary issues.

“The book focuses on tax bureaucrats, people who work at the IRS, but the larger purpose I think is to discuss how most of us struggle with work boredom,” says Dr. Cockfield. “No matter who we are, a big chunk of our lives are taken up by work and this notion that we are confronting tedium throughout the day is very real and one of the great challenges most of us struggle with.”

A huge fan of Mr. Wallace’s writing, in particular his award-winning second novel Infinite Jest, Dr. Cockfield was named Fulbright Visiting Chair in Policy Studies in 2013 to the University of Texas in Austin, where, it so happened, the collected works of David Foster Wallace are housed.

Dr. Cockfield says that he simultaneously read The Pale King while delving into the author’s notes and writings. He learned that Mr. Wallace felt there is beauty and great insight to be found in everyday things that we take for granted, particularly at work, he explains in the academic paper.

“So I sifted through his accounting notes and tried to see and understand how he compiled the information for his novel and this great exploration about work boredom and how it affects our interior lives,” says Dr. Cockfield. “His themes were don’t get distracted, focus on what you are up to, try to develop a passion for it.”

So, whether it is filling out a tax form or sitting at a desk performing some “drone-like tasks,” if we focus and aren’t distracted we derive something from these experiences.

And while most of us think our taxes reveal nothing more than what we earned and what we owe, Dr. Cockfield says they actually provide incredible insight about each taxpayer. “A tax return is a kind of x-ray of an individual, their hopes and dreams, not just their income; their various deductions and charitable contributions and so on,” he says. “It’s fascinating from one perspective.”


Homecoming for new Canada Research Chair

Alan Jeffrey Giacomin has been named the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Rheology, and for him, it’s a homecoming. Born just a few blocks from campus, the position has brought him back to the Department of Chemical Engineering and Dupuis Hall where his university studies began.

“After nearly 30 years of professorship in Texas and Wisconsin, the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Rheology has lured me back to Canada,” says Dr. Giacomin (Sci’81). “The research funds attached to the CRC chair will help me build my rheology dream lab.”

Rheology is the study of sticky, runny elastic liquids, like moulded melted plastics, and how the motions of molecules make liquids gooey. Rheometers help us decipher how these liquids change shape.

Queen's three new Canada Research Chairs, from left: Alan Jeffrey Giacomin, Grégoire Webber and Jordan Poppenk.

Along with Dr. Giacomin, Queen’s has two new Tier 2 CRCs and five renewals. Jordan Poppenk (Psychology) has been named the Tier 2 NSERC Chair in Cognitive Neuroimaging and Grégoire Webber (Law) is the new Tier 2 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Chair (SSHRC) in Public Law and Philosophy of Law.

Dr. Poppenk’s research focuses on bringing memories to life. Using emerging brain imaging methods, he observes how memories interact and links these interactions to participants’ brain anatomy.

 “In my research, I attempt to explain how our particular memory abilities help to shape our many traits - for example, our personalities,” says Dr. Poppenk. “To support this work, I draw upon novel biomarkers derived from computationally intensive analysis of brain scans. CRC funding will contribute the research focus I need to consolidate these domains, while also helping me attract and support a world-class team of trainees to engage with my research program.”

Dr. Webber’s research program on human rights, public law, and authority and obligation explores the foundations of law and government.

“It is a special privilege to be awarded the Canada Research Chair in Public Law and Philosophy of Law,” Dr. Webber says. “The chair's two research areas build on strengths at Queen's and promote the existing interactions between colleagues in law, philosophy and political studies.”

Queen’s will receive $200,000 per year over seven years for each Tier 1 Chair and $100,000 per year over five years for each Tier 2 Chair.

“By supporting the most skilled and promising researchers, the CRC program facilitates cutting-edge research and advances Canada as a world leader in discovery and innovation. It also allows us to both attract and retain leading researchers in their respective fields” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research).   “Our success in garnering three new chairs and five renewals is demonstrative of  Queen’s leadership in research areas that address some of the most challenging and complex problems facing the world today – from public law and climate change to the development of power electronics.”

The five CRC renewals include:

Praveen Jain - Tier 1 NSERC Canada Research Chair in Telecom Power Electronics. Dr. Jain is researching a smart microgrid platform that will address a growing demand for more eco-friendly energy sources.

Ian Moore - Tier 1 NSERC Canada Research Chair in Infrastructure Engineering. Dr. Moore’s research focuses on Canada’s huge pipe replacement and repair burden by establishing the remaining strength of deteriorated culverts, sewer and water pipes and determining the best way to repair them.

Douglas Munoz - Tier 1 Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience. Dr. Munoz is using eye movements to assess brain function in health and disease and searching for novel biomarkers to accelerate the development of novel diagnostic procedures and treatments.

Ugo Piomelli - Tier 1 NSERC Canada Research Chair in Turbulence Simulation and Modelling. Dr. Piomelli is studying turbulence through computer simulations.

John Smol - Tier 1 NSERC Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. Dr. Smol will continue to develop and apply paleolimnological approaches (the study of sediment) to examine environmental issues including climate change.

For more information visit the website.

Law students show they can perform outside of the courtroom

  • [Cabaret for the Cure]
    Cabaret for the Cure took to the stage at the Grand Theatre to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.
  • [Cabaret for the Cure]
    A student does a little breakdancing during the Cabaret for the Cure, hosted by Queen's Law Cancer Society.
  • [Cabaret for the Cure]
    The Cabaret for the Cure featured a variety of dance performances by law students as well as a fashion show.
  • [Cabaret for the Cure]
    A group of law students perform a routine during Cabaret for the Cure at the Grand Theatre of Friday night.
  • [Cabaret for the Cure]
    The annual Cabaret for the Cure was held for the first time at the Grand Theatre in downtown Kingston.

It was a night of dancing, music and fundraising as the annual Cabaret for the Cure was hosted by the Queen's Law Cancer Society.

Students from the Faculty of Law at Queen's University took to the stage on Friday, March 13, performing dance routines and a fashion show all in the name of fun and raising nearly $14,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.

For the first time the event was held at the Grand Theatre in downtown Kingston.


A spotlight on secrets

Secret Trial 5 is being shown at The Screening Room this Sunday and Queen’s University professor Sharry Aiken has a significant role in the film, discussing the human impact of the war on terror. The film examines the Canadian government’s use of security certificates, an immigration tool that allows the government to deport non-citizens it deems a threat to national security.

Following the 4 pm showing Sunday, March 15 at The Screening Room, Professor Aiken will take part in a question and answer period.

“The film had already been conceived and the filmmakers approached me about appearing in it based on my research and advocacy,” says Professor Aiken. “I’ve been involved in efforts to challenge the use of security certificates since the 1990s."

Security certificates have been part of Canada’s immigration legislation for decades; over time, they have morphed into an anti-terrorism tool. Evidence against detainees is never fully revealed and parts of the hearings are held in secret.

Professor Aiken says the film shines a true light on these immigration procedures. “The Canadian public doesn’t know about these measures that are extremely draconian. People can expect to see a gripping film and leave the theatre angry and shocked. The film makes this situation very real.”

Secret Trial 5 examines the lives of five men who were arrested under the security certificate provision and detained for nearly 30 years combined. The filmmakers also speak with the men's family members, friends and the wider community about the impact of their arrests.

The film is also timely as the federal government debates amendments to Bill C-51, an anti-terrorism bill that Professor Aiken says could make security certificate procedures even more problematic. “The biggest obstruction to justice is the secret evidence withheld from individuals subject to immigration security procedures. Bill C-51 proposes to make withholding of evidence even easier and the process even more unbalanced,” she says.

The showing at The Screening Room is set for Sunday at both 4 and 7 pm. Along with Professor Aiken, the filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions after the screening.


Subscribe to RSS - Law