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Engineering and Applied Science

Funding to enable innovative research

Queen’s researchers will receive close to $700,000 in funding as part of a $64 million announcement to support research infrastructure.

The Government of Canada, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), has announced $64 million in funding to support research infrastructure through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). Five projects at Queen’s will receive close to $700,000 to advance innovative research projects that will have an impact on human health, communications technologies, and renewable materials.

"Canada is world-renowned for our state-of-the-art institutions and talented researchers pushing the boundaries of knowledge," says The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. "Through this Fund, our government is strengthening our leadership and competitive advantage by supporting Canadians to pursue discoveries, overcome challenges and innovate to make a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future for all."

The JELF helps universities more competitively recruit and retain outstanding researchers by providing funds needed to acquire the labs, equipment, and facilities.

"Cutting-edge research requires the right infrastructure and tools," says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). "Thanks to the CFI, researchers at Queen’s can acquire the resources they need to accelerate their programs and fuel discovery and innovation that will have an impact on Canadians."

Learn more about the Queen’s projects:

Fernanda De Felice (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences; Psychiatry)

[Photo of Dr. Fernanda de Felice]Dr. De Felice’s project "Testing the potential of extracellular vesicles to deliver therapeutics and to develop biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease" will help address an urgent need to develop inexpensive, non-invasive diagnostics and efficient treatments to help Canada’s aging population, who are experiencing an increase in Alzheimer’s disease. Her team will investigate the role of irisin, a novel hormone boosted by physical exercise, in memory processes and if increasing it can reproduce or even boost the beneficial actions of exercise in memory. Dr. De Felice also aims to investigate vesicles, cells that originate in the brain and are carried into the body’s circulation, and to develop a simple approach for identifying if they are carrying disease biomarkers.

Vera Vine (Psychology)

[Photo of Dr. Vera Vine]Dr. Vine’s project "Interoception as a mechanism of adolescents’ emotional development" will help address the urgent need to discover the risk mechanisms that drive the co-occurrence of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts among adolescents. Adolescence is a period of rapid emotional change when individuals often have a hard time figuring out what they feel while they are still developing emotion awareness. Dr. Vine’s team will test a promising theory that adolescents develop emotion awareness by having a strong connection between body and mind, or interoception. Her project will examine how interoception helps adolescents develop emotion awareness and how this process is affected by social environments. It will also teach us more about where emotions come from and ultimately lead to better public programs to protect youth from adversity and promote mental health.

Kevin De France (Chemical Engineering)

[Photo of Dr. Kevin De France]Dr. De France’s project "Development of sustainable cellulose- and protein-based building blocks for the fabrication of functional materials" will explore alternatives that could replace traditional plastic-based products. Plastics are generally produced from non-renewable petroleum-based sources, which lead to increased levels of waste and environmental pollution in their production and decomposition. His team will investigate the structure-property-function relationships between the natural building blocks of cellulose and protein, both abundant raw materials, and the materials fabricated from them. The successful completion of Dr. De France’s project will result in the promotion of clean technology for various applications in fields spanning countless sectors that impact everyday life.

Alexander Tait (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

[Photo of Dr. Alexander Tait]Dr. Tait’s project "Quantum internet to the home with cryogenic silicon photonics" will develop key building blocks from entangled photo light sources and single-photon detectors needed to access the more secure quantum internets. Quantum communication technologies promise a high value but also a high price point. Global investments in quantum technologies tend to focus on its applications and cyber security features for corporate and government networks, yet the general population would also benefit as our personal and financial data increasingly moves to the internet. A significant barrier for regular consumers to access these networks is the cost of needed hardware. Dr. Tait’s team will develop single-photon technologies that can be manufactured in existing silicon foundries, as opposed to using specialized semiconductor platforms. This innovation will make quantum internet products more accessible and affordable while presenting commercialization and export opportunities for Canada.

Sunita Mathur (Rehabilitation Therapy)

[Photo of Dr. Sunita Mathur]Dr. Mathur’s project "Detecting and mitigating sarcopenia in chronic disease" will help combat a debilitating disease increasingly affecting Canada’s aging population that causes muscle wasting and muscle weakness. Her team will focus on developing new ways to detect sarcopenia and test novel exercise programs to mitigate the disease through utilizing lab-based measurements and clinical setting methods for both in-person and virtual care. Dr. Mathur intends to establish a Muscle Imaging and Performance Lab at Queen’s that will lead the study of sarcopenia globally and advance the evidence for virtual care to make a direct impact on the healthcare of Canadians.

 

To learn more about the Canada Foundation for Innovation and other funded projects, please visit their website.

Science exposed

Four Queen’s graduate students are finalists in NSERC’s national research photo competition.

How does science look like? Researchers across Canada are showcasing their work in compelling images that provide the public with a new perspective on what goes on inside labs or in field research.

Featuring science across all fields, the Science Exposed contest is organized annually by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). In 2022, four Queen’s students are among the finalists, with their images selected for public voting.

“Researchers are being more frequently asked to share their work with the public, and images are an effective, relatable way to share scientific knowledge; they can convey emotion, beauty, and even surprise, while also fostering curiosity,” says the contest webpage.

Public voting is open until September 18 and the image voted as people’s choice will receive a $2,000 award. A jury will also select three winners for prizes of $2,000 each.

Learn more about the images shortlisted from Queen’s:

Blue-green algal blooms

Malignant brushstrokes (Haolun Tian, PhD student, Biology)

Human activity drives the intensity and frequency of blue-green algal blooms, which threaten aquatic biodiversity and the drinking water supply of millions. The transient and rapid emergence of these blooms into our lakes in late summer makes them difficult to monitor on short notice, particularly in smaller waterbodies. This drone image, taken from 100 m above the ground, shows my collaborators collecting water samples from an algal bloom in Dog Lake, a waterbody on the historic Rideau Canal system. The beautiful paint-like whorls seen from above hide a fetid and noxious “pea soup” that will eventually suffocate fish and other aquatic life when it decomposes in the fall. Using a combination of drone and environmental DNA monitoring, we are able to quickly assess the scale, movement and composition of a small bloom at the fraction of the price of satellite imaging or toxin assessment.

Metalens, an array of nanostructure optical elements

Fabricated nanostructures of a metalens (Masoud Pahlevaninezhad, PhD student, Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Metalens, an array of nanostructure optical elements, is a promising technology that could revolutionize optics by replacing conventional bulky lenses. By adjusting the shape, size and position of nanostructures, metalens can be used for complex imaging settings where conventional lenses fail to provide high-quality focusing. Our group, in collaboration with Harvard University, designed a metalens to incorporate into an endoscopic setting for live tissue imaging of internal organs. One-to-one comparisons of tissue images from both metalens and conventional lenses show metalens’ ability to capture images with noticeably higher resolution and more issue details. This research will ultimately enable a more sophisticated assessment of pathological changes, which could otherwise be easily overlooked by conventional lenses, at early stages of diseases like cancer.

Magnesium sulfate salt crystals

Microfluidically generated salt crystal (Phillip Hillen, MSc student, Chemistry)

Microfluidics is the study and manipulation of fluids at a microliter scale. Droplets can be manipulated using a surface with different wetting characteristics. We generated magnesium sulfate salt crystals by evaporating a droplet of salt water on a microfluidically modified surface, and this image shows a perfectly circular salt crystal, five hundred microns in diameter. While the image is coloured as a result of quality enhancements, salt crystals aren’t colourful.

Aletsch Glacier

Deep blue ICE (Wai Yin Cheung, PhD student, Geography)

Since 2016, Queen’s annually organizes The Art of Research, a photo contest to showcase the work done by faculty, students, staff, and alumni. The competition is aimed at providing a creative and accessible method of sharing the ground-breaking research being done by current and past Queen’s community members and celebrating the global and social impact of this work. Click to learn more.

While working as a glaciological student on Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in Europe, I simply enjoyed the freedom of being by myself without the limitations of physical time. I’m amazed by the power of the vast ice field, as it grinds rock off of mountains, erasing the surface of the earth. This experience has taught me to be as firm and as brave as crystal blue ice for any future challenges I may face.

To see other finalist images and cast your vote, visit the Science Exposed webpage.

Seven Queen’s researchers elected to the Royal Society of Canada

New fellows are recognized for their outstanding research and scholarly contributions.

Each year, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) awards field-leading Canadian researchers across the arts and humanities, social sciences, and sciences with one of the most prestigious academic honours in the country: the RSC fellowship. Seven Queen’s researchers have been elected fellows of the RSC’s distinguished 2022 cohort. Their research spans multiple disciplines – from political philosophy and computer-assisted medicine to the influence of policy making on social inequalities.

As Canada’s national academy, the role of the RSC is to promote research and learning, recognize academic and artistic excellence, and to advise government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on matters of importance to Canadians. Fellows are selected through a rigorous application and peer-review evaluation process. The honour recognizes the impact and influence of the recipients’ research on their fields and on global citizens.

“To have seven RSC fellows inducted in one year is an exceptional achievement for Queen’s and its research community,” says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). “It’s also impressive to see the range of fields and cross-disciplinary research represented in our new fellows, who are well-deserving of this prestigious honour.”

Learn more about Queen’s 2022 RSC fellows:

 Virginia Walker (Biology and School of Environmental Studies) investigates stress genes and the molecular basis of resistance. She uses the principles of genetics, molecular biology, chemistry, and engineering to answer questions central to understanding how humans adapt to environmental stress, creating foundational research for the next generation.

 

 

 

Gabor Fichtinger Gabor Fichtinger (Computing) has been working in the field of computer-assisted medical interventions and surgery for nearly three decades, and is the Canada Research Chair in Computer-Integrated Surgery at Queen’s. His novel research about image-guided robotics and real-time surgical navigation has paved the way for several modern diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. Dr. Fichtinger is recognized as a pioneer of his field, and a provider of free open-source research software resources that are used globally.

 

 

Guojun Liu Guojun Liu (Chemistry), the Canada Research Chair in Materials Science at Queen’s, is widely acknowledged as a world leader in his field. He has led the development of nano- and micro- structured materials. Through this research, he has made critical fundamental and applied scientific contributions, including the development of nanoscale coatings that can be used to improve handheld electronic devices and functional textiles.

 

 

Susanne Soederberg Susanne Soederberg (Global Development Studies) is internationally recognized for her trailblazing research on how policymaking influences social inequalities at overlapping scales from local to global. With a focus on producing societal knowledge based on principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion, she has become one of the most influential political economists studying contemporary capitalism across the global North/South divide.

 

 

​Ian Moore Ian Moore (Civil Engineering) uses a combination of numerical and physical modelling to advance fundamental understandings of strength and other performance limits of the buried pipes used for municipal water supply, sewers, and highway construction. His research is transforming soil-pipe interaction theory and practice, and is used in many North American and international design codes and guidelines.

 

 

 

Christine Sypnowich Christine Sypnowich (Philosophy) draws on law, politics, urban planning, and local history to consider the centrality of human flourishing in our conception of equality, and the role of place and heritage in the remedy of disadvantage. A significant theme of her path-breaking research is that political philosophy should not just illuminate questions of justice, but also enhance self-understanding and further human wellbeing.

 

 

 

Stephen Scott Stephen Scott (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) is a world leader in the computational, neural, mechanical and behavioural aspects of voluntary motor control. Dr. Scott is most recognized for his invention of Kinarm, an interactive robotic technology that provides unprecedented experimental control over arm motor function. Furthering our understanding of the link between cortical circuits and limb biomechanics, Kinarm robots are used widely to quantify brain function

 

 

New faculty inducted to RSC College

The RSC is also welcoming today 54 new members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, including Julia Christensen. Moving from Memorial University, she joined Queen's Department of Geography and Planning in the summer.

Julia Christensen Dr. Christensen is an expert in housing, home and health in the circumpolar North. Her scholarship aims to understand the northern housing crisis and dismantle it through community-led solutions. Her collaborations with Indigenous and regional governments have informed a series of policy initiatives that respond to the unique cultures and contexts of northern communities.

The College is formed by mid-career leaders who provide the RSC with a multigenerational capacity to help Canada and the world address major challenges and seize new opportunities.

Since 1964, Queen’s has seen 118 of its faculty members elected as fellows of the RSC and 16 as members of the College of New Artists, Scholars, and Scientists. For more information, visit the Royal Society of Canada website.

Queen’s hosts three EDIIA camps

Three new Queen’s camps aimed at fostering diversity within health sciences and engineering welcomed students to campus.

Health Science’s Outreach and Summer Program, Connections Engineering Outreach’s Black Youth in STEM program, and the All-Girls Queen’s Summer Engineering Academy (QSEA) took place at Queen’s University the week of Aug. 2-5.

Health Science’s Outreach and Summer Program

Health Science's Outreach and Summer Program

A new program, the Queen’s Health Sciences Outreach and Summer Program provides mentorship and educational opportunities to local high school students who self-identify as low socio-economic status, racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, immigrant, refugee, persons living with disabilities, or first-generation Canadians. This inaugural program offered mentorship and workshops throughout the year for Grade 9-12 students and culminated in a week-long immersive summer program on campus. All of the mentors in the program are current Queen’s Health Sciences students.

The 17 mentees, from five high schools in Kingston, got a taste of life as a student in health sciences through hands-on workshops, lectures, lab visits, simulation activities, and Standard First Aid with CPR-C training.

“The Queen’s Health Sciences Outreach and Summer Program supports local youth from equity-deserving communities who may not otherwise pursue a career in health sciences,” says Ryan Truong, QHS Outreach & Summer Program Coordinator. “This project builds students’ resilience, confidence, and awareness of educational opportunities – encouraging diversity within the classroom and the workforce in the long term.”

Connections Engineering Outreach’s Black Youth in STEM program

Connections Engineering Outreach's Black Youth in STEM program

The Black Youth in STEM (BYiS) summer program, part of Connections Engineering Outreach, is also an inaugural initiative. This summer program built off the Queen’s Black Youth in STEM virtual club, which began during the pandemic.

Grade 7-11 students from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) participated in the two-part BYiS program. The first part of the BYiS summer initiative took place in July, in collaboration with the Durham Catholic District School Board and Ontario Tech University to offer a specialized STEM camp for Black youth. Three Queen’s engineering Black graduate students designed and delivered STEM workshops to the middle school and high school students over a four-day period. For part two of the BYiS summer initiative, 47 Black students in Grade 7-11 from across the GTA were invited to stay on Queen’s University campus for three days. At Queen’s, they had the opportunity to learn more about engineering disciplines and life as a Queen’s student.

“From observation and feedback from parents and community partners, our camp has been an extremely positive experience for the students, which has raised their awareness and understanding of engineering and the engineering design process. The Black Youth in STEM program is positively changing lives and this camp has taken our program one step closer in fulfilling our mandate of increasing the number of Black Scientists and engineers in Canada,” said Cressana Williams-Massey, Black Youth in STEM Lead at Queen’s University.

All-Girls Queen’s Summer Engineering Academy (QSEA)

All-Girls Queen's Summer Engineering Academy

This year, Connections Engineering Outreach also offered a new stream of summer courses for girls in Grade 1-8, as part of QSEA. These all-girls courses are in support of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s Chair for Women in Engineering strategic objectives, with the STEM content being designed and taught by an all-female staff and creating a positive female space.

One of the all-girls QSEA courses was the Taste of Engineering, a three-day overnight program on Queen’s University campus for girls in Grade 7 and 8. A total of 26 girls from across Ontario came to Queen’s Aug. 3-5 to participate in this program.

“This week we were able to connect with 26 girls and immerse them into a taste of engineering. Building bridges, designing arduino-based prosthetic hands, programming self-driving robots, and using acids and bases to explore medical applications were some of the highlights this week,” said Lindsay Jones, Engineering Outreach Coordinator.

These three new programs demonstrate Queen’s commitment to diversity and inspiring future leaders in STEM. Queen’s Engineering and Health Sciences look forward to welcoming back a new cohort of students next summer.

New program equips leaders to tackle global challenges

Queen’s launches first-in-Canada Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship.

[Drone photo of campus]

Queen’s has launched a new program to enable executives and professionals from a variety of sectors to better understand and address complex social and global challenges. The Advanced Leadership for Social Impact (ALSI) Fellowship is a first-in-Canada program that provides the tools, knowledge, and networks participants need to tackle the root causes of social problems – from housing affordability to climate change.

“To confront the significant social issues of our day, we need people with a deep understanding and appreciation of the complexities of how to make real impact,” says Jim Leech, former president and CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, former Chair of the Mastercard Foundation, and Chancellor Emeritus of Queen’s University. “Through the Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship we have the opportunity to foster a community of leaders, from all walks of life, able to drive meaningful solutions for people and the planet.”

Closing a gap

Social issues are complex and must be viewed from multiple perspectives to achieve meaningful outcomes. Leaders must also be equipped with various approaches to initiate or measure progress on impact-driven solutions. The fellowship responds to a gap in the higher education landscape.

The one-year, hybrid program draws from field-leading Queen’s research and industry experts, including environmental biologists, chemical engineers, and international business lawyers. It also applies a human-centric approach to investigate all dimensions of social issues, meaning that stakeholders are involved at all levels of decision-making and can move quickly from theory to practice and project application.

“The Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship doesn’t look at social problems in isolation or from one perspective,” says Jean-Baptiste Litrico, Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Queen’s and the program’s co-director. “The program is grounded in the belief that real issues are systemic and require a multidimensional leadership approach to inspire tangible solutions.”

[Photo of people walking on Queen's campus]
ALSI Fellowship participants will engage in four on-campus residency sessions as part of the one-year hybrid program.

Commitment to social impact

The fellowship builds on Queen’s reputation as a leader in advancing sustainability and social impact. For two years in a row, the university has ranked top-10 globally in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure the institution’s contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  

In addition to being a Canadian-first, the ALSI program marks a milestone as the first cross-faculty delivered professional program. While co-led by faculty from the Smith School of Business and the Faculty of Education, it draws in individuals from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the Faculty of Law, and the Faculty of Arts and Science, reflecting the cross-campus commitment to driving social change.

“At Queen’s, we empower our community to advance social impact through research, teaching, and outreach activities,” says Ted Christou, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Education and co-director of the program. “We can broaden this reach to likeminded leaders through a transformative curriculum focused on a diversity of perspectives and team-based solutions.”

Transformative leadership

In October 2022, the ALSI Fellowship will welcome its first cohort with an initial intake representing a variety of careers and backgrounds. Designed to accommodate those working full-time or with other commitments, the program will combine on-campus residential sessions with online synchronous learning, and a team-based culminating project.

The one-year program includes over 130 hours of curriculum that are divided into three themed semesters: discovery, design, and delivery. Each focuses on a core mindset required to understand drivers of problems and move from theory to practice.

Participants will also network with faculty, mentors, and peers, learning from leading experts in the field with both academic and applied experience.

The Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship is currently recruiting participants for 2022-2023. For more information on the program, visit the website.

Queen’s welcomes back summer camps

Over 3,000 youth will attend Queen’s camps over the next two months.

Three QCamps students participating in different sports

The scenic Queen’s campus is once again a bustling centre of daily activity as children of all ages participate in the popular Queen’s summer camps.

During the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Queen’s camps transitioned to online camps or offered free virtual programming to keep youth engaged. Queen’s University is excited to once again be back in person for its summer camp offerings.

Summer camp season kicked off on July 4, with 10 Queen’s camps offering in-person programs — from science to drama, art to eco-adventures, and from math to sports. Together, Queen’s Camps annually welcome over 3,000 youth through the camps and employ more than 100 post-secondary students. These camps are run by both on-campus student groups and the university itself.

“Science Quest has been running since 1988. This is our first year back since the pandemic, and we're very happy to be returning to in-person activities,” says Emily Lind, head director of Science Quest. “Kinder and junior campers are having a great time learning about science through activities like building an elastic-powered car or a balloon-powered rocket. Senior campers can choose from robotics, computing or science/engineering camps. We also have girls-only programming, and are offering the Tyendinaga Bus Program.”

What’s New?

Along with the return of in-person Queen’s camps, there are some exciting new programs being offered.

The Queen's Summer Engineering Academy (QSEA) is offering a QSEA Girls Program, and a QSEA Black Youth in STEM program for the first time this year. Both programs are free and are aimed at reducing barriers for these under-represented groups.

Queen's Athletics & Recreation, the leading camp provider in the Kingston area with their Q-Camps, is offering some new camps including the Gaels Rugby: Junior & Senior Skills, Survivor Camp, and Code, Create & Play with Code Ninjas. Similarly, the Agnes Art Camp has teamed up with Q-Camps for a jointly offered Arts and Sports Camp.

Children playing squash
Q-Camps campers playing squash.

“We’re delighted to see a return of children and youth programming through Queen’s Athletics & Recreation this summer. Our Q-Camps programs offer a wide variety of camps from ages five to 18 with an emphasis on physical literacy and sport for life. We utilize the talents of our Queen’s students and their backgrounds in physical activity, sport, teaching, and instruction along with their own studies and interests, to provide a really diverse and exciting range of activity,” says Sarah Utting, Coordinator Youth Programs and Community Engagement, Queen’s University Athletics & Recreation. “We hope the camps introduce youth in our community to a variety of ways to get active and delivered in a way that encourages a sense and spirit of discovery to build self-esteem, teamwork, and skill.”

Find out more about Queen’s Camps and their offerings here.

Queen’s Prizes for Excellence in Research announced

Three early-career researchers are recognized for advancing research and discovery in their respective fields.

Jennifer Tomasone
Dr. Jennifer Tomasone (Photo: Sam Shepherd)

Three researchers have been awarded with Queen's University’s highest internal research award, the Prize for Excellence in Research. Jennifer Tomasone (Kinesiology and Health Sciences), Cao Thang Dinh (Chemical Engineering), and Chantelle Capicciotti (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Chemistry, and Surgery) are early-career researchers who have demonstrated significant contributions to research in their fields: physical activity, renewable energy, and glycobiology.

The Prize for Excellence in Research is awarded by the Vice-Principal (Research Portfolio) and celebrates researchers with distinguished contributions to their fields and who have earned their highest degree in the last 10 years. Each recipient of the prize is nominated by the dean of their faculty. Nominations are then reviewed by a selection committee who place an emphasis on representing the diversity of the Queen’s community and its research. The recipients are awarded a cash prize of $5,000.

“I am delighted to present the first Prizes for Excellence in Research of my tenure to such accomplished and inspiring early-career researchers,” says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). “It is gratifying to acknowledge researchers early on in their careers and early prizes can be an important foundation for mid- and later career recognition. From climate change to human health and disease, your award-winning research contributions will advance our understanding of people and the planet.”

Cao Thang Dinh
Dr. Cao Thang Dinh (Photo: Garrett Elliott)

Dr. Tomasone’s primary goal is to optimize physical activity participation for Canadians of all abilities. Her research is significant nationally, as Dr. Tomasone leads the most comprehensive knowledge translation campaign in the 40-year history of Canadian movement guidelines. Her research also goes beyond borders to aid efforts in movement guidelines internationally, working with organizations like the World Health Organization. Within the community, Dr. Tomasone is the co-Director of Revved Up, an exercise program for more than 200 adults with a disability in Kingston.

Dr. Dinh has been designated by Web of Science as one of only three Queen’s researchers most-cited globally in 2021. His program centres on using renewable energy to convert carbon dioxide, air, and water into valuable chemicals. The aim is to provide solutions for a fossil-fuel-free energy and chemical industry, focusing on the design of novel electrocatalytic systems using renewable energy. This research provides a compelling route to mitigate climate change and enable widely accessible renewable energy.

 Chantelle Capiciotti
Dr. Chantelle Capiciotti (Photo: GlycoNet)

Dr. Capicciotti is a Queen’s National Scholar whose interdisciplinary research in glycobiology and carbohydrate chemistry has been recognized as innovative on an international scale. Drawing from chemistry, biochemistry, and cell biology, she has developed streamlined methods to synthesize complex carbohydrates, and novel biochemical tools to study their interactions. Dr. Capicciotti leverages this interdisciplinary work to understand the biological functions of these crucial biomolecules. Her research is providing innovative insights into the role that the thick ‘sugar coating’ on cells plays in human health and disease, including cell signalling, virus infections, and cancer immune evasion.

The Prizes for Excellence in Research will be presented during convocation. To learn more about the awards, or past recipients, visit the Vice Principal (Research) Portfolio website.

Capturing the Art of Research

With a reimagined focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the annual Queen's Art of Research photo contest reveals seven winning images.

From photos depicting the nanoscale to the freezing landscape of the Artic, the annual Art of Research photo contest takes us behind the scenes of the everyday research experience at Queen’s. With engagement this year from faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the contest aims to represent the diversity and creativity of research across disciplines and from all contributors to the research ecosystem.

The 2022 contest introduced five new categories inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Guided by the mission and vision of the new Queen’s Strategy and the universal call to action of the SDGs, this year’s contest placed a spotlight on the intrinsic connection between research and social impact. Discover this year’s winners below and to view more contest winners and top submissions from the past six years, explore The Art of Research Photo Gallery.

2022 Art of Research Adjudication Committee

  • Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research)
  • Kanonhsyonne - Janice Hill, Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation)
  • Nicholas Mosey, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Heidi Ploeg, QFEAS Chair for Women in Engineering, Mechanical and Materials Engineering
  • Ruth Dunley, Associate Director, Editorial Strategy, Office of Advancement
  • Jung-Ah Kim, PhD Student, Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies
  • Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, University Relations
  • Véronique St-Antoine, Communications Advisor, NSERC

[Photo of the SNO+ detector at SNOLAB by Dr. Alex Wright]

Category: Innovation for Global Impact

The SNO+ Detector

Submitted by: Dr. Alex Wright for the SNO+ Collaboration
Faculty, Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy
Location: SNOLAB, Sudbury, Ontario

The SNO+ experiment studies the fundamental properties of neutrinos. The detector consists of an active volume of 780 tonnes of liquid scintillator housed within a 12-metre diameter acrylic vessel that is held in place by ropes and viewed by an array of about 10,000 photomultiplier light detectors. In this image, taken by a camera embedded in the photomultiplier array, the detector is illuminated only by light from the clean room at the top of the vessel neck, producing a beam effect. The SNO+ experiment is currently collecting data, carrying on the work of the Nobel-prize winning Sudbury Neutrino Observatory.


[Photo of 3D vascular trees in animal models]

Category: Good Health and Well-Being

The Tiniest Tree of Life

Submitted byDr. Elahe Alizadeh
Staff, Queen's CardioPulmonary Unit (QCPU), Department of Medicine 
Location: Queen's CardioPulmonary Unit

COVID-19, the second pandemic of the current century, is still an ongoing global health emergency. Its complications and mortality are associated with pneumonia and alterations in the pulmonary vasculature. Acquiring 3D images of vascular trees in animal models provide a useful tool to evaluate the effects of COVID-19 in humans. In our research aimed at finding new drugs for COVID-19 under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Archer, vascular trees of a mouse were pressure perfused to maximal dilation with a radio-opaque material (barium). The heart and lungs were fixed and scanned using VECTor4CT scanner. VECTor4CT is the first tri-modality imaging system equipped with an ultra-high-resolution micro-computed tomography (µCT) scanner at Queen’s University.


[Photo of George Konana collecting ice by Saskia de Wildt]

Category: Creative and Sustainable Communities

George Konana Collecting Ice

Submitted bySaskia de Wildt
PhD Student, School of Environmental Studies
Location: Gjoa Haven, Nunavut

The Inuit practice an ongoing relationship with the land through camping, hunting, and fishing. As part of the BearWatch project, I explore how such knowledge, accumulated over many generations, and Inuit values can be ethically engaged in a community-based polar bear monitoring program. This picture is taken on one of our trips out on the land around Gjoa Haven during spring 2022. It captures George Konana collecting ice from the lake for tea. He traces ice with the right quality to give his tea a nice ‘reddish, brown’ color. At this exact moment, he cracks out a huge piece, enough for a month of tea.


[Photo of a gastropod mummy laying eggs by Ruqaiya Yousif]

Category: Climate Action

Gastropod Mummy

Submitted byRuqaiya Yousif
PhD Student, Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Location: Qatar

This is a picture of a gastropod mummy laying down her egg cases. My research assesses the stable isotope (C and O), clumped isotope (∆47), and trace element compositions of living and quaternary shells from the Arabian/Persian Gulf. The aim is to link these analyses with modern oceanographic data to develop a robust proxy for understanding oceanographic change in the rock record. In other words, I am trying to link the shell chemistry with its surrounding environment and then use this link to assess oceanographic changes over the past 125,000 years. At the time of this picture, we were growing gastropods under laboratory conditions and performing invitro fertilization of oysters.


[Photo of a researcher collecting environmental DNA in a maternal polar bear den by Scott Arlidge]

Category: Partnerships for Inclusivity (Tied)

Polar Bear Denning

Submitted byScott Arlidge
Graduate Student, School of Environmental Studies
Location: Coral Harbour, Nunavut

This photo demonstrates the collection of snow from inside a maternal polar bear den to collect environmental DNA. When the mother digs out the den, skin cells from her paws are abraded and stuck to the snow. Some preliminary research shows that we may be able to identify individual bears by analyzing these snow samples, information which can inform polar bear population management. My research is a pilot of ground-based non-invasive polar bear monitoring techniques, with a focus on Inuit inclusivity. Inuit Elders and polar bear hunters are key knowledge holders and collaborators throughout this research.


[Photo of a mural of the Oasis logo by Riley Malvern]

Category: Partnerships for Inclusivity (Tied)

Aging with Oasis

Submitted byRiley Malvern
Staff, Health Services and Policy Research Institute
Location Kingston, Ontario

Oasis is a program co-developed by older adults to strengthen and sustain their communities to support aging in place. The Oasis Evaluation and Expansion research team has been working with Oasis communities since 2018 to expand the program across Canada and to evaluate a number of health and well-being outcomes. This photo depicts a mural that represents the power of communities coming together. Each square of this mural was designed by an Oasis member from communities across Kingston and Belleville. Together, these squares form the Oasis logo, which was designed by members of the original Oasis community.


[Photo of a crystallized decanoic acid by Dan Reddy]

Category: People's Choice

Crystalline Acid

Submitted byDan Reddy
PhD Student, Chemistry
Location: Chernoff Hall, Queen's University

This photo taken with scanning electron microscopy depicts an extremely small yet precise volume (i.e., nanolitre-sized) of crystallized decanoic acid. We are using these spots of crystalline acid to extract and preconcentrate, or soak-up, chemicals of concern like opioids from wastewater samples. This preconcentration step improves our ability to monitor these chemicals. By doing so, we can improve how we detect these harmful compounds and protect local watersheds.


To learn more about this year’s winners and explore past winners and top submissions, visit The Art of Research Photo Gallery on the Research@Queen’s website.

International effort to reduce concrete’s carbon footprint

A team of civil engineering researchers and industry and municipal partners are working to make one of the highest-carbon dioxide producing industries much cleaner.

Student working at Queen's civil engineering lab
Making the concrete industry more sustainable and environmental-friendly is the main goal of the research partnership.

How environmentally friendly is concrete? Less so than you might think. Reinforced concrete infrastructure accounts for almost 10 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions – far ahead of the two per cent of carbon dioxide produced by the airline industry.

Working to change that are two Queen’s civil engineering experts Neil Hoult and Josh Woods, together with their academic collaborators at the University of Toronto and the University of Cambridge and a number of industry partners who are invested in making their technology and processes more sustainable.

“If we can reduce the carbon produced in concrete manufacturing by even a fraction, it’s going to have a significant positive benefit,” says Neil Hoult, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering. “Increased urbanization means that the demand for concrete is going up. Our research aims to cut the carbon dioxide emissions generated by concrete production in half – the equivalent of eliminating the airline industry, twice over.”

The research program is supported by industry leaders like Arup, Aecon, KPMB Architects, and Lafarge, along with the City of Kingston and the Cement Association of Canada, with funding sources including Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Mitacs.

To achieve the goals set by Queen’s and its partners, several approaches will be explored to reduce carbon utilization. The first one is shape optimization, meaning studying how to better design structures to use less concrete – which reduces both material consumption and structure weight.

Neil Hoult and students
Neil Hoult and students work to reduce carbon utilization in concrete structures.

The second is what’s known as functionally graded concrete.

“We put concrete with higher strength where we need the strength, then we use lower strength concrete (which also means lower cement concrete) everywhere else,” Dr. Hoult explains. “We will be working on software packages that allow for these new techniques to be used in the design, optimizing structures for performance and low environmental impact.”

The bulk of the initial research and testing will be completed in the Queen’s civil engineering labs. Moving from the lab to practical applications, however, will take the project into the real world in Kingston, with the support of city and industry partners. The project includes the design of a demonstration structure at the Kingston Fire and Rescue Training Centre.

“The structure will be actively used by Kingston’s Fire Services as a classroom and as a living lab so that Queen’s and St. Lawrence College students can come and learn about low-carbon buildings. We’re aiming for a net-zero building philosophy,” Dr. Hoult highlights.

Speros Kanellos, Director, Facilities Management, and Construction at the City of Kingston, says the city has been working with post-secondary educational partners on ‘learning hubs’ to investigate new approaches and technologies to aggressively decarbonize infrastructure.

“We are working with the low-carbon concrete research team to develop a real-world application for demonstration purposes and ongoing research,” he says. “It’s really exciting to participate as a partner in the kind of initiative that embodies the City’s and university’s leadership on climate action.”

Partnership for health innovation

An evolution of the Human Mobility Research Centre, the Centre for Health Innovation connects researchers from across disciplines to tackle the most pressing human health challenges.

Cancer, infectious diseases, health data, and personalized care. The biggest challenges for human health can only be addressed by combining a range of expertise and disciplines. To foster these connections, Queen’s and Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) have partnered on the Centre for Health Innovation (CHI) – an initiative that brings together interdisciplinary investigators to fuel a solutions-based approach to translational health research, applying knowledge generated at the university to improving patient care and health outcomes.   

“CHI integrates insights from the frontlines of care to understand the real-world experiences and needs of patients and healthcare professionals,” says Amber Simpson, director of CHI and Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Computing and Informatics. “We are multidisciplinary because we understand the creative and innovative power of inclusion will forge a path to the next generation of transformative healthcare for all.” Members of the new centre have diverse backgrounds – from expertise in medicine, engineering, science, and technology to the humanities.

Amber Simpson presents at the Innovation for Good Symposium
Amber Simpson welcomes the audience to the first edition of the Innovation for Good Symposium, which celebrates the team work of the Centre for Health Innovation's members.

The Centre for Health Innovation is an evolution of Queen’s Human Mobility Research Centre (HMRC), which connected experts in medicine, engineering, and computer science to develop innovative treatments for bone and joint disorders. CHI will continue this work, while broadening its goals to address other health challenges, like infectious diseases, and using advanced technology to optimize treatment, diagnostics, and patient outcomes through precision medicine.

Solutions-based health research

The CHI team will pursue cost-effective, high-tech solutions that can be implemented within our current healthcare systems. This includes training and mentoring students and post-doctoral fellows in medical informatics, preparing Canada’s healthcare workforce to deal with rapidly growing field of digital health data.

A pivotal new connection spearheaded by CHI is building synergies between artificial intelligence (AI) and cancer research. Queen’s experts are looking at how machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence solutions might help physicians interpret cancer spread through imaging tests like CT scans and make better treatment decisions. While exploring new possibilities brought on by advancing technologies, the CHI team will also investigate the bioethical implications of using AI to predict metastasis and survival probabilities.

Also crucial for the future of the multidisciplinary centre will be the creation of shared facilities amongst the research community. In partnership with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and Queen’s faculty partners including Health Sciences, Arts and Science, and Engineering, CHI will undertake a large-scale expansion of histopathology and biobanking resources at KHSC. This will expand KHSC’s capacity as the home of the CCTG biobanking facility and support research that will help investigators study the pathological basis of diseases.

Innovation for Good

Today and tomorrow (June 6 and 7), researchers are invited to virtually join the “Innovation for Good” symposium, that will kick off the new centre’s activities showcasing innovative, radically collaborative health research occurring across Queen's and KHSC. For more information, download the event’s program. Click here to register and watch the sessions.

CHI is also developing a state-of-the-art genomics facility to allow the complete analyses of the DNA and RNA molecules in an organism. This expansion leverages work throughout the pandemic on sequencing COVID-19 variants of concern for the province as well as long-standing expertise in cancer biomarkers. Through CHI, investigators will have the ability to leverage genomics and histopathology with data science, a winning combination to change patient outcomes.

While CHI’s objectives and mission are firmly planted on the ground, its research goals also aim for the stars. With proximity to clinicians and access to the human tissue bank, an interdisciplinary team is looking at the impacts of space travel on health, including bone loss and aging.

“We expect the shared resources and specialized facilities will allow innovation in precision medicine and digital health, in alignment with private sector interests, informing government policy, and attracting R&D investment”, notes Dr. Simpson. “Building on the work of HMRC, we are establishing an integrated, truly multi-disciplinary facility that we hope will become a province- and nation-wide resource to support health innovation and research. Exciting things are happening and Queen’s and KHSC are proud to be at the forefront.”

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