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Engineering and Applied Science

Finding alternatives to gentian violet

[EngSoc executive members]
Engineering Society of Queen’s University (EngSoc) President Delaney Benoit, left, and EngSoc Orientation Chair Kennedy Whitfield, right, worked as part of a team that sought an alternative to gentian violet. (University Communications)

When Health Canada issued a safety alert on June 12 warning of potential cancer risks associated with exposure to gentian violet, Queen’s Engineering Society executive members started to search for a comparable but safe alternative in time for orientation week, then just 10 weeks away.

“Students love tradition, it’s one of the big pillars of our school,” says Engineering Society of Queen’s University (EngSoc) President Delaney Benoit. “I think there was an immediate concern that we weren’t going to be able to purple at all, that the tradition was going to be lost.”

[Purple people FRECs
During Orientation Week 2019, student leaders in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science used ProAiir Hybrid Face and Body FX Paint, left, as a safe alternative to gentian violet, right, used in previous years. 

Though a somewhat modern practice in the history of Queen’s engineering, the all-over skin purpling of some second-year students in character as orientation week leaders – FRECs – has been a part of the orientation since at least the early 1990s. Orientation leaders dunked themselves in kiddie pools filled with warm water fortified with the purple dye and medical antiseptic, gentian violet, to achieve the startling purple skin tone so fondly associated with engineering orientation at Queen’s. It came as a surprise that gentian violet, with its long history as a mild and medically-approved antiseptic, antifungal, and anti-parasitic agent, could pose unforeseen risks. 

Benoit, along with EngSoc Vice-President (Student Affairs) Zaid Kasim, and EngSoc Orientation Chair Kennedy Whitfield, started the search for a safe alternative. Benoit sought clarification on the risks for topical application from Health Canada, a process that took weeks. They met with Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Kevin Deluzio on the matter and fielded several inquiries and requests for comment from media. 

“We had to start making plans without actually knowing where we stood on the warning,” says Benoit. “We started researching alternatives right away: different things we could use, different approaches we could take.”

By the time Health Canada was able to respond to Benoit’s request for clarification (their advice was to entirely avoid using gentian violet on skin) Benoit, Kasim, and Whitfield had already tried several alternatives including food colouring, and some other food-related products they knew were approved for human consumption.

“Then we started looking at different types of face and body paints, cosplay and theatrical makeup, which is how we found ProAiir,” says Whitfield.

Finding a safe alternative

ProAiir Hybrid Face and Body FX Paint is billed by its manufacturer, Tennessee-based ShowOffs Body Art LLC, as a professional-grade body FX makeup. The company provided a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for their makeup that does not include gentian violet or any of its variants among the composition information. The makeup resists water and sweat, can be sprayed on or applied with a sponge, lasts about three days on the skin, but comes off easily and completely with soap or baby oil.

At home in Calgary, Whitfield was able to find a sample of ProAiir makeup in a retail store. Whitfield, Benoit, and Kasim tested it and said they were encouraged by the results. However, time was running short and finding the funds to pay for enough ProAiir to purple all the FRECs in time for Orientation Week was proving to be a barrier. Benoit says ProAiir costs about 10 times that of similar quantities of gentian violet but the supplier stepped up and offered a 50 per cent volume discount on the order. The EngSoc crew were able to secure further one-time support funding from the Queen’s Alma Mater Society (AMS) Sustainability Action Fund. The ProAiir shipment cleared customs and arrived in Kingston with just a few days to spare.

Benoit and Whitfield demonstrated purpling with ProAiir on a FREC committee member, and Whitfield wrote and distributed among orientation leaders a document about how best to apply it with sponges and special spray bottles. Orientation Week, complete with its purple people, was a success.

“We were really excited by how it worked out,” says Whitfield. “The colour was a little bit different than gentian but that turned out to be helpful because we would have been able to tell if anyone had showed up to Orientation Week wearing gentian violet. We let the leaders know, ‘If you guys show up wearing gentian violet, you will be de-leadered.’ We found that no one went against that. We expected that one or two would try, but ProAiir worked so well, I think that people were happy.”

Looking for a long-term answer

Still, the story isn’t quite over. It remains to be determined if ProAiir is the long-term purple-peopleing  answer. For now, the faculty is taking a stance prohibiting people who have purpled, with any substance, from entering faculty buildings out of concern for damage to the facilities (similar to the policy adopted by Residences). This is of particular interest during next week’s Homecoming celebration.

The next challenge for the EngSoc executive to navigate is how to purple jackets in time for the end of final exams in December. Benoit says she is collaborating with representatives of Campus Equipment Outfitters, Queen’s University Residences, Queen’s Environmental Health and Safety, EngSoc General Manager Jay Young, FEAS Operations and Facilities Manager Simon Smith, and others to determine what if any alternative to gentian violet might be useful for dyeing jackets.

“The purple dyes that were recommended to us by leather suppliers all have gentian in them,” says Benoit. “We don’t know yet whether or not it’s safe to use gentian to dye jackets, so we are looking for an agent that gets rid of the gentian issue altogether. We are hoping to find a practical solution in the next couple of weeks.

“I think so far, though, that there was no spirit lost during Orientation Week because gentian violet wasn’t there. It had the exact same energy as in previous years, if not more, because we found something that worked so well, and that actually made the FRECs lives a bit easier in terms of application and de-purpling. ProAiir was just so much easier to use.” 

International faculty and staff supports

The Human Rights & Equity Office is holding discussion sessions about developing and strengthening supports for employees coming to Queen's from abroad.

Staff and faculty participating in the first brainstorm meeting
Queen's faculty and staff participating in a brainstorming session about supports for international employees.

The Human Rights & Equity Office (HREO) recently invited international staff and faculty to engage in an initial conversation about what potential supports or groups could be created or strengthened to assist those moving from abroad for employment at Queen’s University.

A group of international faculty and staff gathered on Sept. 30 for a brainstorming session facilitated by Queen's Human Rights Advisor Nilani Loganathan, who guided the group in an exercise to begin to identify gaps in services and programs, and suggest ways that could better support international employees.

“I’m very pleased with the ideas brought forth by those who attended our first session,” says Loganathan. “We touched on a number of areas, including issues concerning relocating to Kingston, settling in at Queen’s, employment and education supports for families, and much more. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation and collecting more feedback that will best inform our path forward.”

Employees who identify as international staff and faculty will have additional opportunities to provide their input. The next session is to take place on Friday, Nov. 15 in Mackintosh-Corry Hall, B176 from 12pm – 1pm. Please email hrights@queensu.ca to confirm your attendance.

Championing new thinking

Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie met with a group of promising Queen's graduate students to talk success, failure, taking risks, and the future of research.

Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie at a round table meeting with Queen's University graduate students.
Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie meets with Queen's University graduate students for a round table discussion on the road to research success.

A group of Queen’s University’s most promising graduate students recently sat down with Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie, who shared his stories of achievement and failure in hopes of illuminating and inspiring their journeys toward research success.

Over 35 graduate students and post-doctoral researchers took part in an exclusive round table discussion with Dr. Chalfie during a visit to campus by the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII) – an international outreach program organized by Nobel Media and biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca that strives to connect Nobel Laureates with scientific and student communities at universities and research centres worldwide.

“As researchers, we know that all discovery and progress is built on the push and pull of failure and success,” says Fahim Quadir, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, who introduced the round table discussion. “Advancement in science and society, and the creation of new knowledge, often begins with a leap in the dark, with the courage to risk failure simply in order to propel ourselves one step closer to the goals our research pursuits seek to advance.”

Students from over a dozen disciplines attended the candid, closed-door discussion, which touched on topics ranging from science communication and public perceptions of science, to mental health and multi-disciplinary approaches to research.

“The round table with Dr. Chalfie was enlightening and inspiring,” says Mandy Turner, a third-year PhD candidate and Vanier Scholar in the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences. “Being a graduate student can sometimes feel siloed, so it was comforting to have the opportunity to hear from an accomplished researcher like him, as well as my peers across the university who echoed many of my concerns about the future of science and science careers.”

One of the recurring anxieties expressed by those in attendance centred on a perceived shift in society’s attitude toward the merit of scientific knowledge.

“From time to time, I feel nervous about my pursuit of a career in science, since it seems like hard-earned results and evidence are less and less accepted by the public and policymakers,” says Matthias Hermann, who has just begun his third year as a PhD candidate in Chemistry. “When I expressed my worry to Dr. Chalfie during the round table he reminded us that throughout history there have always been people who deny facts and evidence, which has only served to underline the importance of scientists’ work. I really appreciated this response.”

Many of the round table participants also remarked on Dr. Chalfie’s charisma and candor.

“To have this person who achieved one of the highest honours of a research career be so humble and sincere about his life was very inspiring to me,” says Artur Sass Braga, PhD candidate in the Department of Civil Engineering. “He was so open about his initial failures in academia and shared with us that there is no secret formula or method to becoming a successful researcher. This perspective helps tremendously as it lessens the burden of the expectations graduate students can often feel are placed upon them.”

The round table preceded a sold-out NPII public event at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts featuring Dr. Chalfie in conversation with award-winning journalist and author André Picard, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen’s own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald. Both events also coincided with the launch of a new website highlighting Queen’s University’s vast complement of research pursuits and achievements, much of which involves Queen’s graduate researchers.

“The round table gathering was also about recognizing the enormous contributions our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows make to knowledge production; to championing new thinking and to uncovering groundbreaking discoveries,” says Dr. Quadir. “I am proud of our students and post-docs for their relentless efforts to advance new knowledge that serves the greater public good.”

Learn more about the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event that took place at Queen’s on September 25, 2019, and view a video recording of our online Facebook Live broadcast of the event.

Funding on the cutting edge

MPP Steve Clark announces $930,000 in funding for five new research projects and two researchers.

  • ORF funding announcement group shot
    A total of $930,000 in new provincial investments in local research projects was announced on Monday. Attending the event were, from left: Farhana Zulkernine (Computing); Michael Rainbow (Mechanical and Materials Engineering); Bhavin Shastri (Physics); Kingston and Thousand Islands MPP Ian Arthur; Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane; Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark; Interim Vice-Principal (Research) Kimberly Woodhouse; Laura Wells (Chemical Engineering); and Sheela Abraham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences). (University Communications)
  • Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) applauds the announcement of new funding
    Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) applauds the announcement of $930,000 in new funding through the Ontario Research Fund. (University Communications)
  • Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane speaks at announcement
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane speaks about the importance of the new funding received by Queen's University through the Ontario Research Fund. (University Communications)
  • Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark speaks with Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).
    Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark speaks with Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). (University Communications)
  • Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark announces new support through ORF
    Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark makes the funding announcement at Mitchell Hall on Monday, Sept. 30. (University Communications)

Queen’s University welcomed Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark who announced $930,000 in new provincial investments in local research projects.

The university receives $650,000 for five research projects through the Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure program and Michael Rainbow (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) and Laura Wells (Chemical Engineering) were awarded $280,000 in  Early Researcher awards to help them build research teams for their work in the areas of foot function and cataract surgery.

“We want to ensure the brilliant researchers here at Queen’s and across Ontario who are making discoveries that could help cure diseases, inventing new technologies, and creating whole new industries and jobs have the support, tools and facilities they need to do their work,” says Clark, who made the announcement on behalf of Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

In his research Dr. Rainbow is using recent advances in 3D x-ray imaging to measure the foot’s complex function during walking and running. The work will provide fundamental information necessary to design more effective footwear, prosthetics, and orthotics for Ontarians.

Dr. Wells is examining how cells interact with intraocular lens which are used to treat decreased vision due to cataracts. In many cases patients who need a second cataract surgery or pediatric patients are not eligible for intraocular lenses. Her research will help develop new materials to improve outcomes for these patients.

“The research being conducted at Queen’s is cutting-edge and contributes directly to improvements in the lives of Canadians,” says Queen’s University Principal, Patrick Deane. “This funding is critical, helping to support new research facilities and providing spaces for our faculty, students and staff to continue to push the boundaries of science and exploration.”

The five projects receiving Research Infrastructure program funding include:

Ali Etemad (Electrical and Computer Engineering) $125,000 - Developing methods for smart homes and smart vehicles to ambiently monitor users via sensing and wearable technologies.

Farhana Zulkernine (Computing) $80,000 - Building a smart framework to address real-time processing and storage of multi-modal big data.

Sheela Abraham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) $162,500 - Investigating normal healthy stem cells as they age, and how malfunctions in cell signaling events eventually contribute to leukaemogenesis.

Madhuri Koti (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) $150,000 - Improving cancer immunotherapy outcomes by examining genetic features of tumours that dictate anti-tumour immune response, for the optimal design of patient specific treatment combinations.

Bhavin Shastri (Physics) $132,500 - The proposed brain-inspired processors will fundamentally leverage the strengths of nanophotonic devices with neuromorphic architectures, to outperform current microelectronics in energy efficiency and computational speeds, which currently limit hardware scaling in digital electronics.

“Ontario’s investments are helping researchers build strong teams, and ensure that they have the modern facilities, equipment, tools, and resources they need to complete their work.  The funding announced today will lead to discovery and innovation, attract future investment to the province, and have a direct impact on the economy," says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).

Working towards a sustainable future

Researchers from across Queen’s are making discoveries that help us protect our planet.

Image of Queen's University Biological Station
Queen's University Biological Station (Photo by Allen Tian)

Queen’s recognizes that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, and it is helping to create a more sustainable world through the knowledge and innovations that are being produced by researchers in all areas of the university.

Across Queen’s, faculty members have dedicated themselves to researching questions connected to the environment and sustainability. Taking interdisciplinary approaches to topics as wide ranging as water quality, health, economics, and engineering, Queen’s researchers are making discoveries that will help make the future of our planet greener.

Several Queen’s faculty members are actively exploring the effects that human societies are having on the environment. For instance, Dr. Diane Orihel, Assistant Professor in the Biology Department and Queen’s National Scholar in Aquatic Ecotoxicology, is working to understand how chemicals effect the environment.  Currently, she is the principal investigator on a project that studies the impact of diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” on fresh water.

Similar to Dr. Orihel, Dr. John P. Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, uses lake sediment samples to unravel the history of environmental change in order to improve understanding of human impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Dr. Smol leads an international program in the field of paleolimnology that tracks long-term trends in climatic change and develops new approaches to studying water-quality problems, among other goals.  

Water quality is also a primary focus of the Beaty Water Research Centre, which investigates a variety of issues related to the environment. Four faculty members affiliated with the centre were recently awarded with the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering. Drs. Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering), Michael Cunningham  (Chemical Engineering, Chemistry), Philip Jessop (Chemistry), and Warren Mabee (Geography and Planning, School of Policy Studies) were recognized with this prestigious award for their work in enhancing the value and sustainability of our natural renewable resources through collaboration. With the funding provided by the award, this team of researchers aims to design solutions, such as green industrial processes, to address problems caused by climate change.

Developing innovative solutions that protect the environment also motivates the research of Dr. Kerry Rowe, Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. To help guard the environment from contamination by waste, Dr. Rowe is currently developing new guidelines and techniques for building waste-disposal sites.

In order to tackle the problems of climate change, society will need policy solutions as well as scientific innovations. That is where the work of Dr. Kyla S. Tienhaara, Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment, comes in. Dr. Tienhaara studies government interventions in the economy through public policies that aim to achieve environmental sustainability. Through this research, Dr. Tienhaara aims to increase the environmental outcomes of future government spending initiatives.

Dr. Heather Castleden, Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relationships for Health, Environments, and Communities, is addressing problems created by climate change by bringing together different systems of knowledge. By applying Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to research involving social and environmental justice and health equity, Dr. Castleden’s work aims to reconcile relationships between Indigenous peoples and Settler Canadians as well as society’s relationship with the land, water, and air that sustain us.

Beyond our individual researchers, Queen’s also has a number of research centres and institutes that investigate an array of different issues that bear on the environment and sustainability, such as the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, the GeoEngineering Centre at Queen’s-RMC, and the Centre for Energy and Power Electronics Research (ePower).

To learn more about the many Queen’s researchers who are making discoveries that will help lead to a sustainable future, visit the new Queen’s research website.

Nobel Laureates share their thoughts on research success

Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative excites sold-out audience at Queen’s University.

  • Acclaimed journalist and author André Picard (left) interviews Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie during the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event at Queen's University. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
    Acclaimed journalist and author André Picard (left) interviews Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie during the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event at Queen's University. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Following the one-on-one chat, Picard and Chalfie were joined on stage by Canada's Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen's University's own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald.
    Following the one-on-one chat, Picard and Chalfie were joined on stage by Canada's Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen's University's own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • The public discussion took place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's in front of a sold out audience, and over 2000 online viewers.
    The public discussion took place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's in front of a sold out audience, and over 2000 online viewers. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Dr. Chalfie met with groups of excited audience members following the public discussion.
    Dr. Chalfie met with groups of excited audience members following the public discussion. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Earlier in the day, Dr. Chalfie met with students, faculty, and staff at Ingenuity Labs.
    Earlier in the day, Dr. Chalfie met with students, faculty, and staff at Ingenuity Labs. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Students demonstrated various robotics projects for Dr. Chalfie during his tour of the new Ingenuity Labs space in Mitchell Hall.
    Students demonstrated various robotics projects for Dr. Chalfie during his tour of the new Ingenuity Labs space in Mitchell Hall. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Students, faculty, and staff also toured Dr. Chalfie through cutting-edge new laboratory spaces at the Beaty Water Research Centre.
    Students, faculty, and staff also toured Dr. Chalfie through cutting-edge new laboratory spaces at the Beaty Water Research Centre. (Photo by: Bernard Clark)
  • Following the tours, Dr. Chalfie met with a group of Queen's graduate students for an exclusive roundtable discussion on "success and failure at the research frontier".
    Following the tours, Dr. Chalfie met with a group of Queen's graduate students for an exclusive roundtable discussion on "success and failure at the research frontier". (Photo by: Bernard Clark)

A sold-out crowd packed Queen’s University’s Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts for the rare opportunity to hear two Nobel Laureates discuss their roads to research success, together with Canada’s Chief Science Officer Mona Nemer, and award-winning journalist and author André Picard.

Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie, who was awarded the prize for chemistry in 2008, visited Queen’s as part of the first-ever Canadian tour of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII). Organized by Nobel Media, in partnership with biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, the NPII is an international outreach program striving to connect Nobel Laureates with scientific and student communities at universities and research centres worldwide.

Queen's Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane talking with Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie.
Queen's Principal Patrick Deane in conversation with Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie.

“We are honoured to host the Nobel Inspiration Initiative and I’m excited to know that among our live audience and viewers online, we have potential future Nobel Prize Laureates who will be responsible for discoveries that make our world a better place,” says Patrick Deane, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, during his opening remarks. “At Queen’s, we believe in the fundamental value of research and want to create an environment where researchers can push boundaries, test limits, fail safely and take risks to achieve the kind of success talked about here today.”

Picard moderated the engaging and often humorous 90-minute dialogue, which touched on the guests’ own research journeys, and topics ranging from basic research, gender imbalance in science fields, commercialization, and public trust in scientists. Richard Reznick, Dean of the Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences, first introduced Picard and Chalfie, who spoke one-on-one before Dr. Nemer and Queen’s own Nobel Laureate, Arthur B. McDonald, joined in for expanded discussion and an audience Q&A session.

“The Nobel Prize doesn’t necessarily go to the smartest scientist or the most productive, or the one with the biggest group or most published papers; it goes, in my opinion, to scientists who do things that change the way we do science or we think about the world,” says Dr. Chalfie. “Furthermore, most people don’t sit up at night thinking, How am I going to win a prize? The reward for many of us is in the discovery.”

Queen's University's Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald meets with audience members following the panel discussion.
Queen's University's Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald meets with audience members following the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative public discussion.

Dr. McDonald adds: “The Nobel Prize is the icing on the cake. The real victory is in the breakthrough.”

The panelists spoke at length about the formative years of their careers, discussing early obstacles. Dr. Chalfie brought up an early-career project that did not work out and drove him to abandon the field temporarily, which stood in contrast to part of the NPII public event’s title, Failure, persistence and joy: finding the right balance for research success.

“I was very fortunate to get back into it,” he says. “When I experienced this early disappointment… I didn’t feel I should ask people for help. I didn’t have people telling me that the first time you do things, you’re going to fail. Persistence has to be coupled with mentorship and support.”

As part of the day-long NPII event, Dr. Chalfie sat with some of Queen’s most promising graduate and post-doctoral students, and early-career researchers, prior to the public dialogue for an exclusive roundtable discussion about success and failure at the research frontier. He also toured two cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary research and learning spaces on campus – the Beaty Water Research Centre and Ingenuity Labs at newly-opened Mitchell Hall – meeting with graduate and post-doctoral students, staff, and faculty.

During the public conversation, Picard posed the issue of the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields to the panelists for their comments.

Mona Nemer meets with audience members following the NPII public discussion.
Canada's Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer speaks with audience members following the public discussion.

“I’m uplifted when I look at the audience today and see so many young people,” says Dr. Nemer. “I’m looking at the many women in the audience and I want you all to know there is a place for you in these fields. Don’t let anyone stop you.”

Dr. McDonald agreed, stating that his field – physics—“needs a revolution of women in the discipline”. He also urged current students to try a variety of things while in university to discover where their passions may lie.

“Science is fun. It’s an adventure,” he says. “Embrace it!”

The event coincides with the launch of a brand new website highlighting Queen’s University’s vast complement of research pursuits and achievements. The site tells the stories behind research happening right here at Queen’s and highlights how research affects our lives and helps to shape our collective knowledge about the world.

For those who could not be among those present at the event, or among over 2000 viewers who joined our live online broadcast, you can view a video recording of the event now. A captioned version of the video will be available in the coming days.

Celebrating engineering excellence

  • 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Awards
    Family members of Barington Batchelor – Wayne Batchelor, Nicola Batchelor, Roger Batchelor – accept his 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Awards, from Amir Fam, Associate Dean (Research & Graduate Studies), Brian Frank, Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning), and Dean Kevin Deluzio.
  • 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Awards
    John Hanes receives the 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Award from Brian Frank, Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning), Amir Fam, Associate Dean (Research & Graduate Studies), and Dean Kevin Deluzio.
  • 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Awards
    Kerry Rowe is one of 14 faculty members from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to receive the 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Award.
  • 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Awards
    Genevieve Dumas receives her 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Award during a special ceremony hosted at Mitchell Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 18.
  • 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Awards
    Mark Green, Vice Dean (Graduate Studies and Recruitment), receives a 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Award for his work in engineering and teaching.

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science continued to celebrate its 125th anniversary by recognizing outstanding faculty members during a special event on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

The 125th Anniversary Queen's Engineering Excellence Faculty Awards, hosted in Mitchell Hall, recognized the contributions of 14 faculty members, past and present, for engineering and teaching excellence.

“Queen’s Engineering has a long tradition of excellent faculty members – leaders in their field, leaders in the classrooms, lecture halls, and research labs, and leaders in their communities,” says Kevin Deluzio, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “The 125th anniversary was a perfect time to recognize each of these amazing individuals for their contributions to engineering and Queen’s.”

Each of the award winners was nominated by their peers.

The winners are:

  • Tim Bryant
  • Barrington Batchelor
  • John Cartledge
  • Michael Cunningham
  • Mark Diederichs
  • Genevieve Dumas
  • Mark Green 
  • John Hanes
  • Patrick Oosthuizen
  • Raymond Price
  • Kerry Rowe
  • Paresh Sen 
  • Carolyn Small
  • Ralph Whitney

Two of the awards – Barrington Batchelor and Carolyn Small – were awarded posthumously. Both Dr. Batchelor and Dr. Small were pioneers in their fields and left a lasting impact both at Queen’s and the broader engineering community.

[Barington Batchelor]Dr. Batchelor’s 27-year career in the Department of Civil Engineering was marked by his pioneering research, his commitment to excellence, and his dedication to equity in race relations. Born in Jamaica and educated at the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London, Dr. Batchelor was one of the first faculty members of African descent in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. His work on bridge deck design was transformative in the industry and was a driving force behind Ontario developing its own bridge design code. Dr. Batchelor also served as an important adviser on race relations and diversity, both at Queen’s and nationally. He personally mentored many faculty members from diverse cultures and had a particularly warm spot for international students. 

[Carolyn Small]Dr. Small (Sc’73) was a pioneer for women in engineering at Queen's. She was the first female graduate from Queen’s Engineering to be appointed to the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and was a leader in biomedical research, curriculum development, and the teaching of mechanical engineering design. She was known for her innovative approaches to teaching and research. Among her proudest accomplishments was the development of an engineering course in design techniques that challenged students’ creativity and critical thinking. Her course MECH 212 became one of the department’s flagship courses and was, in later years, a foundation for the current design program in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Dr. Small's collaborative spirit helped guide the Human Mobility Research Centre, which has become renowned for interdisciplinary research for innovative treatment strategies for bone and joint disorders. A room at the centre bears her name and is a proud reminder of her contributions to innovation and partnership in design. 

A full description of each of the honourees is available on the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science website.

Queen’s hosts Nobel Prize Laureates for sold-out public talk

International initiative will connect Nobel Laureates with students, researchers, and Queen’s community, during first Canadian tour.

Nobel Prize replica
The Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative public dialogue, featuring Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie, will also be broadcast live on the Queen's University Facebook page.
WATCH LIVE ONLINE: Tickets to the event are sold out; however you can watch our live online broadcast on the Queen’s University Facebook page or on the Queen’s Livestream site.

For early- and mid-career scientists, the ascent toward research success is a rewarding but at times daunting climb. On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Queen’s community will hear from two researchers who have reached one of the world’s highest academic peaks: receiving the Nobel Prize.

As part of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII), Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie will visit Queen’s to engage and inspire students, staff, and faculty. Dr. Chalfie shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on Green Fluorescent Protein. He will share thoughts and insights on research success during a sold-out public discussion with Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, and Queen’s own Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald (Physics, 2015).

Award-winning journalist and author, André Picard, will moderate the dialogue, which will be held at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts from 2-3:30 pm that day. Open to the public, the talk is the signature event of the daylong NPII visit to Queen’s – which is one of four universities hosting the initiative on its first-ever Canadian tour.

The NPII is an international outreach program that strives to connect Nobel Laureates with scientific and student communities at universities and research centres worldwide. Organized by Nobel Media, in partnership with biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, the effort allows laureates to shed light on topics of interest to young scientists and the research community at large; including anything from career choices to work-life balance, or how best to communicate their research. Since 2010, the NPII has visited over 30 cities in 14 countries around the globe.

Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative
Nobel Prize Laureate Martin Chalfie.

“We are delighted to be visiting Canada with Dr. Martin Chalfie as part of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative. Having already taken the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative to the next generation of scientists on five continents we know that each event brings a new sense of excitement,” says Adam Smith, Chief Scientific Officer, Nobel Media. “We look forward to a fascinating discussion at Queen’s University, where a wonderful group of panellists will be exploring the questions of critical importance to the future of science, including the correct balance between fundamental and applied research, and the factors which influence scientific success.”

Along with the public discussion, Dr. Chalfie will engage in an exclusive, roundtable talk with some of Queen’s most promising graduate and post-doctoral students, and early-career researchers.

“The Nobel Prize has been considered the highest honour for academics, so it’s truly a privilege for the Queen’s community, and particularly our student researchers, to host Dr. Chalfie and the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative here on campus,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University.

While on campus, Dr. Chalfie will also tour two cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary research and learning spaces on campus – the Beaty Water Research Centre and Ingenuity Labs at newly-opened Mitchell Hall – meeting with graduate and post-doctoral students, staff, and faculty.

Queen’s University is recognized nationally for its research and graduate studies, including attracting and retaining accomplished academics and research mentors. Among them, Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald, who, together with Japanese scientist Takaaki Kajita, received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for demonstrating that neutrinos have mass. Stemming from this achievement, Queen’s University, alongside university and institutional partners, launched the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute in 2018. Supported by a $63.7 million investment from the Canadian government, the Queen’s-based institute unites researchers, theorists, technical experts, and students in an effort to understand some of the universe’s deepest mysteries.

“Queen’s demonstrates marked leadership and excellence in the area of fundamental and applied science, a reputation that has been shaped by researchers like Dr. McDonald,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “In sharing their career trials and triumphs, especially in open conversation with students and faculty, Drs. McDonald, Chalfie, and Nemer, will surely help aspiring researchers in charting their own paths to success.”

The Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative public discussion takes place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 2-3:30 pm EST. Tickets are sold out. However, you can still experience the event by watching our live online broadcast on the Queen’s University Facebook page or on the Queen’s Livestream site. To join the event’s wait list or receive a reminder about the livestream, register for tickets on our Eventbrite. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page or bookmark the livestream link for additional notifications when the event goes live. 

Getting to know the Class of 2023

This group of incoming students come from across Canada and around the world.

[Queen's students take part in  orientation]
Incoming first-year students share a laugh during the Queen's Welcomes U event on Saturday, Aug. 31. (Photo by Bernard Clark / Queen's University)

The undergraduate Class of 2023 is now on campus, and they are already adding vibrancy and diversity to Queen’s. In this new class, there are more than 4,600 students from all 10 provinces and three territories in Canada as well as students from 49 countries around the world. Queen’s and Kingston continue to be a destination of choice for international students who this year will make up more than 14% of incoming undergraduates.

The overall average of the incoming class is 89.5 per cent and students are entering a wide range of programs; two-thirds are in the Faculty of Arts and Science; 17 per cent are in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science; 10 per cent of students are in the Smith School of Business and five per cent in the Faculty of Health Sciences, which is welcoming its first on-campus cohort to the Bachelor of Health Sciences program.

Additionally, more than 100 Arts and Science students will be spending their first year at the Bader International Study Centre in East Sussex, England. This group will be joining their classmates in Kingston next September to complete the remainder of their studies.

Input sought for permanent Dec. 6 memorial

Each year, the Queen’s Faculty of Engineering at Applied Science hosts a memorial service recognizing those lost during the École Polytechnique Massacre that occurred Dec. 6, 1989 in Montreal.

To continue and expand this recognition at Queen, Dean Kevin Deluzio and the Engineering Society’s Memorial Design Committee is sending out a call for designs for a permanent design piece to be displayed in Beamish Munro Hall - Integrated Learning Centre.

Full details, including design constraints and suggested locations for the piece are available on the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science website.

This design opportunity is open to all members of the Queen’s community, and joint faculty teams are encouraged to work together to provide a unique and diverse proposal.

The successful designer/design team will be acknowledged at the 30th anniversary memorial service this Dec. 6, along with acknowledgement on the permanent plaque that will accompany the memorial.

Further questions can be sent to the committee at memorialdesign@engsoc.queensu.ca.

The deadline for submissions is 11:59 pm on Sept. 8.

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