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Engineering and Applied Science

Ontario invests in research and innovation

The Government of Ontario is providing $4.3 million in funding for four Queen’s research projects.

The Ontario government is funding Queen’s research to help support the development of homegrown ideas, products, and technologies. Four multidisciplinary Queen’s projects have received a total of $4.3 million in funding through two grant initiatives: the Ontario Research Fund and the Early Researcher Awards program. The funding will be used to cover research operations and infrastructure, ensuring Ontario’s researchers have access to the latest technologies, equipment, and talent.

"Ontario’s universities, including Queen’s, play a key role in advancing research that matters to Ontarians," says Betsy Donald, Associate Vice-Principal (Research). "Thanks to our Government partners, our researchers have the tools they need to further develop these important research questions."

Ontario Research Fund

Pascale Champagne (Civil and Chemical Engineering; Chemistry) and her colleagues have received $3.9 million in funding through Ontario Research Fund-Research Excellence (ORF-RE) for their project titled, "Integrated approaches to characterize, detect, and treat Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in the aquatic environments of Ontario."

CECs are chemicals and other contaminants that are found in consumer products and waste streams and may pose hazards to human health and aquatic ecosystems. Nevertheless, these health and environmental impacts are poorly understood, and CECs remain largely unregulated in Ontario.

Through their project, Dr. Champagne and her team will investigate the origins, transport, and effect of three broad classes of CECs, namely microbial, nanoparticles, and industrial and agricultural products in key sub-systems of the water cycle, such as watershed recharge and runoff zones, recycling systems for agriculture and aquaculture, wastewater and drinking water systems, septic systems, and surface water ecosystems. The team will also work to develop new technologies for the detection and treatment of CECs in these key sub-systems.

This research will lead to the development and commercialization of sensor prototypes for rapid detection of pathogens, bacteria, and toxic biological products as well as treatment technologies for the removal of CECs. Tools created through the study will also innovate engineering consulting services to support investigation and remediation of CEC-contaminated sites in Ontario jurisdictions.

The project is supported by a large consortium of industry, policy researchers, and municipal government partners who are contributing a further $951,000 as well as substantial in-kind contributions that will increase project funding to $11.9 million. As end users, the consortium of key stakeholders will facilitate uptake of research outcomes into industrial and municipal processes to affect real-time change.

The project is an initiative of the Contaminants of Emerging Concern Research Excellence Network (CEC-REN) at Queen’s, an interdisciplinary initiative focused on the detection and treatment of emerging contaminants in the natural and built environment that pose environmental and human health risks.

Early Researcher Awards

Three Queen’s research projects have received Early Researcher Awards valued at $140,000 each:

Joseph Bramante (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy)

Project title: Neutron stars as thermal dark matter detectors

Description: Dark matter has a significant impact on stars and galaxies yet remains a mysterious entity. One of the primary goals of modern physics is to understand dark matter's interactions with visible particles like the proton and electron. Dr. Bramante and his team recently discovered that when dark matter falls into neutron stars, it heats them to infrared temperatures. Now, they are investigating how dark matter interacts with the superdense nuclear fluid in neutron stars. These findings will help transform neutron stars into world class dark matter detectors.

Robert Colautti (Biology)

Project title: Genetics of range expansion in ticks and tick-borne pathogens

Description: Global trade and anthropogenic changes to the environment can facilitate the spread of problematic species (e.g. weeds, pests, diseases). In Ontario, the deer tick (a.k.a. blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis) has rapidly risen in abundance, increasing risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Dr. Colautti and his team are developing a new database and field protocols to reconstruct the geographic spread of deer ticks in eastern Ontario and to identify ecological factors that impact pathogen prevalence. Study results will inform strategies to mitigate exposure to tick-borne pathogens, helping reduce future cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in Ontario.

Jason Gallivan (Psychology)

Project title: Functional mapping and enhancement of brain network function through multi-site neurostimulation

Description: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) was introduced two decades ago as a revolutionary treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Since then, it has been trialed for numerous other neurological illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Despite its initial promise, DBS has failed, in all but a few cases, to improve patient outcomes, reflecting our poor understanding of how it operates and impacts the function of whole-brain networks. Dr. Gallivan and his team will use a multi-disciplinary approach to map how DBS changes the activity of whole-brain networks in vivo. Subsequently, these findings will be used to help improve DBS efficacy.

For more information on the Ontario Research Fund and Early Research Award, visit the website.

Rethinking our approach to tackling plastic waste

Researchers, manufacturers, and governments are working toward a new paradigm, where plastics will be made from recycled or biodegradable components. (Unsplash / Erik McLean)

What can genomics teach us about the breakdown of plastic? To answer this question, a multidisciplinary team of Queen’s researchers made up of Laurence Yang (Chemical Engineering), David Zechel (Chemistry), George diCenzo (Biology), and James McLellan (Chemical Engineering) have received a $7.9 million grant from Genome Canada for a new project exploring a microbial platform for breaking down and valorizing waste plastic, which can then be repurposed to produce recycled products.

Plastic is a widely used cheap and effective way to store and transport goods. However, its popularity, especially for single-use products, has made it a pervasive environmental contaminant. In Canada, 2.8 million tons of plastic wind up in landfills every year and an additional 29,000 tons leak into our environment and oceans. Waste plastic has devastating environmental impacts, one of which includes the death of 100,000 marine mammals annually, through ingestion or entanglement. Despite this, demand continues to grow and Canadian plastic production is increasing, with an additional 4.8 million tons being produced every year.

Traditional methods of curbing plastic pollution are underutilized and only nine per cent of plastic is currently recycled worldwide. Consequently, academics, manufacturers, and governments are working toward a new paradigm, where plastics will be made from recycled or biodegradable components, facilitating transition from a linear use to a circular use model and better enabling a zero-plastic waste future.

To help drive this paradigm shift, Dr. Yang, his colleagues, and their team consisting of multiple universities, industry and municipal partners are working on an economically-viable innovation that harnesses genomics technologies to recover value from waste plastic. Affiliated with the Contaminants of Emerging Concern - Research Excellence Network (CEC-REN) at Queen’s, this project will use metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, whole-genome sequencing, and functional genomics to identify and engineer bacteria and enzymes that can break down plastics into recyclable components or into valuable fine chemicals that can be used for other purposes. A secondary aim of this project involves investigating the impact of these newly-developed plastic biotechnologies on the environment, economy, and society as a whole.

“Our team of 21 investigators from six universities are developing a systems approach to tackling plastic waste: from genomes to new enzymatic processes, fully integrated with environmental, social, economic, and policy research to facilitate uptake,” says Dr. Yang, Principal Investigator on the project. “Our open science framework will allow us to rapidly share knowledge with diverse private and public sector partners, as we collectively innovate toward a zero-waste future where plastics benefit society without causing a negative impact on the environment.”

Plastic biotechnologies could help revolutionize Canadian plastic production and use. It has been estimated that diverting 90 per cent of our national waste plastic from landfills to recycling can reduce 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year in greenhouse gas emissions, save $500 million per year in costs, and create 42,000 jobs in new industries. Globally, a circular economy for plastics is projected to lead to billions of dollars in savings. An environmentally sustainable future may not be one that eliminates the use of plastics altogether, but rather one where plastics are deliberately chosen and circulated as resources, not discarded as waste.

The project funding was announced today as part of an investment of over $60 million from Genome Canada, provincial and federal partners, universities, and industry collaborators for eight large-scale applied research projects across Canada. The projects will harness genomics research and technologies for natural resources conservation, environmental protection, and sustainability. For more on the announcement, visit the website.

The project, titled Open Plastics, is affiliated with the Contaminants of Emerging Concern - Research Excellence Network at Queen's
The project, titled Open Plastics, is affiliated with the Contaminants of Emerging Concern - Research Excellence Network at Queen's.

Three Queen’s students Olympics bound

Gavin Stone, Benjamin Preisner, and 2016 Olympic champion Erica Wiebe are set to compete in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Gavin Stone prepares for a rowing practice
Gavin Stone, a Queen's engineering student and member of the Gaels rowing team, will compete in the men's 4x rowing event at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. 

The Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games are on track to begin on July 23, and the Queen's community has extra reason to cheer on three Canadian athletes. Queen’s students Gavin Stone, Erica Wiebe, and Benjamin Preisner are representing Canada with their sights set on the podium.

Erica Wiebe, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist in wrestling, is back at her second Games to compete for her title. Athletics runner Benjamin Preisner will be racing in the marathon, and Gavin Stone will be competing in the men’s 4x rowing event.

Stone is a fourth-year engineering student and former Queen’s University rower, who has been preparing in Japan since the beginning of the month.

“I think the best part of my Olympic journey has been the people I've gotten to meet along the way. I've been lucky to have some really amazing people as my teammates and they are now some of the closest friends I have,” says Stone. “Excitement is probably the main thing I feel right now. In a couple weeks we'll have the chance to race for gold on the biggest stage in the world and I've thought of that moment so many times. Although it's not going to be the normal environment of the Olympic Games with getting to watch other events and meet athletes from Canada or around the world, I'm still hoping that I get to make some connections outside of my sport and feel the bond of being on the Canadian team.”

Stone will be competing in the men’s 4x, a rowing event with a four-person boat and double oar, along with Will Crothers, Jakub Buczek and Luke Gadsdon. The rowing events kick off in the first week of the Games, with some heats starting on July 23.

Stone brings with him a long list of rowing accomplishments, including representing Canada at the Under-23 World Championships in 2017 and 2018. He competed with the Queen’s University Gaels rowing team for three seasons, was recognized with Queen’s 2018-2019 Outstanding Performance of the Year award and won gold at the Canadian University Rowing Championships in 2018. 

“On the athletic side I couldn't thank the Queen's coaches I've been lucky enough to train under more,” shares Stone. “They helped set me on the path and come up with a plan that helped launch me to success in the Canadian university level but also onto U23 national teams and paved the way to help make the push towards the Olympics.”

Erica Wiebe holds up a gold medal
Erica Wiebe, who is pursuing an Executive MBA Americas degree, is looking to defend her gold medal in the women’s freestyle wrestling 75kg weight class. (Wrestling Canada - Vaughn Ridley)

Reigning champion wrestler, Erica Wiebe, is back to compete in her second Olympics. Wiebe made her Olympic debut in 2016 and took home a gold medal in the women’s freestyle 75kg weight class.

She qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in March 2020 – weeks before the Games were postponed for a year. With the Games on hold, Wiebe took the opportunity to start her Executive MBA Americas program earlier than anticipated. The 17-month Executive MBA Americas program is a partnership between Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business and Cornell University’s SC Johnson Graduate School of Management. The program has been virtual because of the pandemic, allowing Wiebe to study from her home in Calgary while also training for the Tokyo Olympics. Weibe will be competing in the Olympic women’s freestyle wrestling 76kg weight class event, which starts on Aug. 1.

Benjamin Preisner runs for Team Canada
Benjamin Preisner, who joins the Master of Management Artificial Intelligence program this fall, will compete in the marathon at the Olympic Games.

Another Smith School of Business student preparing for the Games is Benjamin Preisner. He will be running in the Olympic marathon event, and then starting in the Master of Management Artificial Intelligence program at Queen’s University this fall.

From Milton, Ont., Preisner has a background in the 3,000-metres steeplechase and cross country running. He previously represented Canada at the World Cross Country Championships and IAAF World Junior Championships. Preisner made his half marathon debut in Vancouver in 2019, and his marathon debut in December 2020 – earning a ninth-place finish under the Olympic standard time. A year and a half later, he was named to the Canadian Olympic team. The men’s marathon event will take place on Aug. 8.

“The Olympics are an incredible time for us all to come together to celebrate excellence,” says Wanda Costen, Dean, Smith School of Business. “We are so very proud of all the Queen’s athletes heading to Tokyo to represent Canada, and wish them much success!”

Alumni qualify for Summer Olympics

A total of five Queen’s alumni will also be competing at these Olympics.

Julie-Anne Staehli, Haley Smith, Ali ten Hove, William Jones, and Tom Ramshaw have all booked their tickets to Tokyo.

Staehli will compete in the women’s 5,000 metres event while Smith was named to Canada’s cycling team and will participate in the women's mountain biking cross-country event. Ten Hove (49er FX), Jones (49er), and Ramshaw (Finn) will be competing in sailing events. 

Canadian Academy of Engineering honours Queen’s Engineers with fellowships, awards

Clockwise from top left: Kim McAuley, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark F. Green, Kim Sturgess, Ugo Piomelli and Mark Diederichs.
Four Queen's Engineering faculty members and a prominent alumna and honorary degree recipient have been inducted as Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE). Clockwise from top left: Kim McAuley, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark F. Green, Kim Sturgess, Ugo Piomelli and Mark Diederichs.

Four Queen’s University faculty members have been inducted as Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE), the academy announced on June 14. Kim McAuley, Mark Diederichs, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark F. Green, and Ugo Piomelli are among the 52 inductees for 2021.

Additionally, Queen’s alumni, Kim Sturgess, founder and CEO of Alberta WaterSMART, was the recipient of the Léopold Nadeau Memorial Award.

The CAE is the national institution through which individuals, who have made outstanding contributions to engineering in Canada, provide strategic advice on matters of critical importance to Canada and to Canadians. Fellows of the CAE, a self-governing, non-profit established in 1987, are nominated and elected by their peers in recognition of their distinguished achievements and career-long service to the engineering profession.

An induction ceremony to honour the 2020 and 2021 fellows will be held in October.

Dr. McAuley is an award-winning researcher in mathematical modeling of chemical processes, whose models and statistical techniques are used by chemical and pharmaceutical corporations for process design, scale-up, optimization and control. Collaborating with medical physicists, Dr. McAuley, a winner of the DG Fisher Award and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, utilized modeling and statistical skills to advance the field of radiation dosimetry. Her team developed gel dosimeter recipes with enhanced sensitivity and chemical safety, which are used for quality assurance of 3D radiation dose distributions generated by cancer radiotherapy equipment. Dr. McAuley is lab leader of the Chemical Process Mathematics Lab, a multi-institutional laboratory of the Fields Institute’s Centre for Quantitative Analysis and Modeling.

Dr. Diederichs is an accomplished geological engineer with an exemplary record of contributing to the profession and positively influencing students/peers. He is a world expert, prominent lecturer, and top researcher. He is a sought-after international expert consultant, with roles in design and construction of world class tunnelling, mining, and hydro-power projects, producing tangible results through improved understanding of rock engineering at the project scale. Dr. Diederichs’ contributions to the engineering profession has vastly improved understanding by society, researchers, and industry regarding state-of-the-art geotechnical engineering. He is a visionary engineer with an outstanding record of creativity, enthusiasm, and innovation. Dr. Diedrichs was also named a Fellow of the American Rock Mechanics Association in early 2021.

Dr. Green, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), was recently the program leader for the innovative Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program, “Sustainable Engineering in Remote Areas.” Dr. Green is an internationally recognized leader in applications of fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) materials to concrete structures, and the dynamics of bridge-vehicle interaction. He has published over 250 journal and conference papers and has won the Professional Engineers Ontario Medal for Research and Development and the Premier’s Research Excellence Award. Dr. Green is an advocate for engineering education for Indigenous students.

Dr. Piomelli is an international leader in the field of fluid mechanics and has developed advanced models for the prediction of turbulent flows and applied them successfully to problems in engineering and the natural sciences. His studies have resulted in improved understanding and prediction of the physics of turbulence. Models Dr. Piomelli introduced are in widespread use in the industrial and research communities. His impact is reflected in his publication and citation records, in the placement of his students in faculty positions at prestigious Universities in the U.S. and Europe, and in the awards and fellowships he has received.

The Léopold Nadeau Memorial Award for Distinguished Service is presented to acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary efforts made by a fellow, helping to further the objective of the Academy. Dr. Sturgess received the award, which was established in 2008, to recognize her efforts as president of the CAE (2011-12). During her tenure, Dr. Sturgess refocused the operations of the Academy to be active, forward looking and take a more strategic approach. She also played a crucial role in the development of the Calgary section of CAE and promoted a significant increase of Western Canada representation in the Academy. Dr. Sturgess, who graduated from Queen’s with a degree in engineering physics, also received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Queen’s in 2016. That same year, she received the Order of Canada for her outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation. She was previously awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, YWCA Women of Distinction Award, and named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, among many other accolades.

For more information, visit the CAE website.

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.  

Training Canada’s future health data workforce

With $1.6 million in funding, NSERC’s CREATE program is supporting the implementation of an experiential graduate training and research program in medical informatics at Queen’s.

[Photo of Parvin Mousavi]
Dr. Parvin Mousavi (Computing) is the Director of Queen's new CREATE Training Program in Medical Informatics.

Queen’s researcher Parvin Mousavi (Computing) and her co-investigators have been awarded $1.6 million in funding over six years as part of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program. The fund supports the training and mentoring of students and post-doctoral fellows in developing academic and industry skills in areas such as research, communications, and collaboration. The objective is to encourage collaborative and integrative approaches to addressing Canada’s research priorities while also fostering job readiness skills for trainees across sectors.

Leaders in their fields
This unique CREATE program is led by 11 leading research experts in computing, machine learning, medical and imaging informatics, data analytics, software systems, and surgery. In addition to Dr. Mousavi, they include Drs. Randy Ellis, Gabor Fichtinger, Ting Hu, John Rudan, Amber Simpson, David Pichora, Yuan Tian, Boris Zevin, and investigators at Western University, Drs. Aaron Fenster and Sarah Mattonen.

Dr. Mousavi’s CREATE grant will support a training program in medical informatics, preparing Canada’s workforce to handle the health data of tomorrow. Since 2017 at least 86 per cent of family physicians in Canada use Electronic Medical Records, generating vast digital health data at an exponential rate. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated on a global scale the significance of digital health data and its interpretation to decision-making at all levels of healthcare. In fact, the pandemic has led to an acceleration on the part of the federal and provincial governments in Canada to invest in digital-first health strategies and high-performance computing platforms. The CREATE program will aim to further leverage data-driven decision-making in current and future public health responses.

Canada is not alone in the rapid accumulation of digital health data. By 2050, the global markets for artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare and medical informatics are forecasted to grow to a combined $134 billion. Just to meet Canada’s immediate needs, the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) predicts at least 120,000 skilled workers in computational sciences will be required by 2023 to support the health and biotechnology sector alone. Currently, most graduate computer science programs in Canada follow a course+thesis model where there is limited access to training and field experience in machine learning for healthcare informatics. With Dr. Mousavi’s leadership, Queen’s will be home to a unique CREATE program providing comprehensive training in medical informatics, experiential learning, and skills development to prepare students for careers in this rapidly developing sector. 

"We aim to solidify Canada’s competitive advantage in the global space through concerted efforts to train computer scientists with specialized multi-disciplinary experience in medical informatics and digital health, and engage diverse groups and experiences in our training," says Dr. Mousavi. "Our aim is to not just train students for jobs immediately after graduation but prepare them for success throughout their careers."

Dr. Mousavi and her co-investigators have collaboratively developed the NSERC CREATE training program in consultation with key industry and government stakeholders to augment the course+thesis model with opportunities for experiential learning, practicums, mentorship, and competency-based training to help students gain these critically needed skillsets. During the program, students will have training opportunities with extensive real-world clinical data through partnerships with the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the Ontario Health Data Platform, and the Canadian Cancer Trials Group at Queen’s. The program also leverages partnerships with Western University and Kingston Health Sciences Centre, and collaborations with industry and academia including the Vector Institute alongside Queen’s-based research infrastructure and expertise at the Centre for Advanced Computing, the Human Mobility Research Centre, and KGH Research Institute.

The NSERC CREATE grant is just the beginning, with Dr. Mousavi and her co-investigators already planning for long-term sustainability of the program. Through the advancement of partnerships, establishment of courses and micro-credentials, and development of research projects and funding, they aim to continue the comprehensive training program following the grant and help build a hub of excellence in healthcare informatics and data analysis at Queen’s.

"Congratulations to Dr. Mousavi and her co-investigators on securing this competitive funding that advances connections between research and training opportunities," says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research). "The program builds on an area of institutional interdisciplinary strength and will help position Canada to leverage heath data in decision- and policy-making."

For more information on projects and recruitment, visit the program website or email infoMedICREATE@cs.queensu.ca.

For more information on the CREATE program and training opportunities, visit the NSERC website

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.

Innovating to improve virtual teaching and learning

Queen’s is receiving funding from the Government of Ontario for the creation of digital educational material for students in many different areas of the university.

As the past academic year has shown, digital innovations in teaching and learning can have a powerful effect on both students and instructors. Queen’s will now be developing 32 projects to improve online education at the university thanks to over $2 million in funding from the Government of Ontario's Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) initiative, which is supported by eCampusOntario.

“Queen’s success in securing Virtual Learning Strategy funding shows the dedication of our faculty and staff to pursuing innovative methods to enhance teaching and learning, especially as the pandemic has forced us to adapt to virtual models of course delivery,” says Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) John Pierce. “Even once it is safe to return to in-person instruction, the new materials created by this funding will support the teaching and learning environment at Queen’s for years to come.”

The VLS funding enables Queen’s to produce a variety of new online educational resources, including full courses and training modules, that will benefit students at many levels and in many different areas of the university. The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS), the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS), the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Faculty of Education, the School of Graduate Studies, and the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre all submitted successful projects.

The digital educational material will teach students about a wide array of topics, including robotics, artificial intelligence, race and migration in Canada, and sustainability.

The funded projects will also support several areas of focus across the university, including equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigenization (EDII). One project, “Modular Supports for Underrepresented Individuals to Access Internships and Work Integrated Learning,” will create modules that can be strategically integrated into relevant programs across Ontario to improve equitable access and inclusivity. The project is a joint initiative from FEAS, FAS, Career Services, the Human Rights and Equity office, and external collaborators.

The Provincial Virtual Learning Strategy

The VLS initiative was announced in December 2020 as a $50 million investment by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities intended to drive growth and advancement in virtual learning across the province’s post-secondary institutions.

eCampusOntario is a provincially-funded non-profit organization that leads a consortium of the province’s 48 publicly-funded colleges, universities, and Indigenous institutes to develop and test online learning tools to advance the use of education technology and digital learning environments.

Learn more about the VLS on the eCampusOntario website.

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