Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Engineering and Applied Science

Queen’s receives more than $15.5 million for discovery science

The Government of Canada invests $558 million in NSERC’s Discovery Grants programs, including $15.5 million in support of Queen’s researchers.

Chemistry research
 More than 70  faculty and students across disciplines at Queen’s are receiving a combined $15.5 million in discovery research funding from the Government of Canada. (University Communications)

Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan announced an historic investment of $558 million in discovery research funding on Tuesday, Oct. 9, as part of the Government of Canada’s plan to attract global talent, promote diversity, and fuel discovery and innovation in science.

• The 70+ Queen’s researchers (faculty and students) have been funded through NSERC’s Discovery Grants, Discovery Accelerator Supplements, Research Tools and Instruments Grants, and Discovery Grant Northern Research Supplements, as well as Canada Graduate Scholarships, NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships and Postdoctoral Fellowships
• The $558 million research investment announced Oct. 9 includes $70 million in new funding from Budget 2018. The grants go toward NSERC discovery programs, graduate and postgraduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and research tools and instruments
• This investment also includes $5.4 million in funding to more than 400 Early Career Researchers in the first year of their Discovery Grants to help them launch their careers
• Investments in science are essential to innovation and to the economic strength of a country

Supported through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Discovery Grant programs, the funding will provide over 4,000 researchers and students across the country with the means to pursue world-leading scientific work. This includes the more than 70  faculty and students across disciplines at Queen’s whose funding amounts to more than $15.5 million.

“Through this historic investment, Queen’s researchers will have the resources and tools to tackle questions of critical importance to Canada – from food safety to protecting the nation’s coastal waters,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).  

According to NSERC, this is the largest investment in research from the funding agency this year and it includes $70 million in new funding announced in Budget 2018. With this investment, the Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to science by giving more support to researchers and students

“Canada supports science and our talented researchers. Today, we are delivering on our historic investment in research and in the next generation of scientists. These remarkable researchers and students we are celebrating are working to make the world a better place and to secure a brighter future for all Canadians,” says Minister Duncan.

For more information on the Discovery Grants programs, visit the NSERC website.

Putting the final touches on Mitchell Hall

Students, staff, and faculty will get access to the newest building on campus in time for exams.

[Queen's University Mitchell Hall Innovation and Wellness Centre]
The eastern entrance bears the name of the building's lead donor. (University Relations)

This fall, Mitchell Hall, formerly known as the Innovation and Wellness Centre, opens its doors to students, faculty, and staff, offering up new and refreshed resources to the Queen’s community.

“We are eagerly looking forward to the opening of Mitchell Hall, as this will be a signature building for Queen’s and a powerful catalyst for growth and change in the lives of our students and faculty,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Our top priorities are to complete this highly complex project and to ensure that we realize its full potential as a space that supports leading education and research, interdisciplinary innovation and entrepreneurial activities, and responsive health and wellness services.”

Construction began on Mitchell Hall in 2016 with the demolition of sections of the former Physical Education Centre (PEC). That fall, the provincial and federal governments announced their support for the project, and the lead contractor EllisDon was able to begin bringing the new centre to life.

Mitchell Hall was designed to combine key elements of campus life under one roof, and an ambitious goal like that means the opening will be completed in phases to minimize disruption.

In a first for Queen’s, a new Examination Centre will open in time for December exams. This new centre will support the growing number of students requiring exam accommodations, and will include private and semi-private writing spaces. The building’s three gymnasiums, including one which has been moved to the lower floor, will reopen for exams.

Starting in January, students will be able to take advantage of new modern spaces for several student services, including the Queen’s University International Centre, Faith and Spiritual Life, and Student Community Relations that are all moving from the John Deutsch University Centre. In addition, the Gregory David and Neil Rossy Health Promotion Hub will open in a new space on the main floor of the building.

Also beginning in January, varsity student athletes will gain access to a High Performance Varsity Training Centre. Athletes and intramural enthusiasts alike will also enjoy the three refreshed gyms that will re-open for recreational use in the new year.

The Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre will open in May; for the remainder of the academic year, Student Wellness Services will continue to operate in the Lasalle Building on Stuart Street.

The university will be introducing the Rose Innovation Hub within Mitchell Hall, featuring co-working space, an events commons, and a full makerspace with tools and equipment to support prototyping. The Rose Innovation Hub will also be the new home of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre whose mandate is to support student and community entrepreneurs. 

On the academic side, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has developed new technology-enabled active learning classrooms that will come online in January, along with new research space for the Beaty Water Research Centre. The Institute for Disruptive Technologies will be formally unveiled in March. This new Institute is focused on the design and use of intelligent systems and robotic machines to enhance human productivity, creativity, safety and quality of life.

An official opening event to recognize the donors and celebrate the building’s completion is planned for March 2019.

"With the support of our donors, it is a thrill to look ahead and see the university’s vision for this new building come to fruition,” says Karen Bertrand, Vice-Principal (Advancement). “We thank all those who have supported the creation of this leading-edge centre.”

To meet these dates, the facilities team is working closely with CS&P Architects and EllisDon to mitigate some challenges around labour shortages and material deliveries affecting many Ontario infrastructure projects.

“The renovation of a 1930s building into a striking facility in such a compressed time frame would not have been possible without significant effort by all involved from the initial concept to where we are today,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “This is a complex project and we thank all stakeholders for their contributions and support.”

Located at the corner of Union and Division on the former site of the Physical Education Centre, Mitchell Hall was made possible through over $50 million in philanthropic support. An additional $22 million was contributed by the federal and Ontario governments.

To learn more about Mitchell Hall, visit queensu.ca/connect/mitchell.

Celebrating Queen’s engineers

The Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is putting out the call to its community to make its 125th an anniversary to remember.

[Queen's University Engineering and Applied Science 125 anniversary]
The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science gave out t-shirts and took photos with students, faculty, and staff to mark the kickoff of 125th celebrations. (Supplied Photo)

A year of festivities are underway, marking the impact of Queen’s engineers throughout the faculty’s history.

The earliest incarnation of the Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science began in 1893, and the Faculty has a number of initiatives planned between now and August 2019 to mark the milestone anniversary.

“The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has been delivering a transformational experience to students since 1893, and during this academic year, we are proud to be celebrating that legacy and the community we have built,” says Dr. Kevin Deluzio, who is both Dean of the faculty and a proud alumnus. “We encourage all members of the faculty to join our celebrations and help us commemorate 125 years of renowned spirit and unrivaled excellence.”

The year will include events to honour the past and present contributions of the students, alumni, faculty, and staff, and offer a look at the exciting future of Queen’s Engineering. Highlights for the year include a research symposium, teaching and learning showcase, student design competition, staff celebrations, industry luncheon, and the Queen’s Engineering Excellence: 125th Awards at Fort Henry in March.

Homecoming weekend will provide a great kickoff to the 125th celebrations, as alumni share in the excitement at the Dean’s Homecoming Pancake Breakfast. Student teams, clubs and faculty will be on hand to meet with alumni, share past and present stories, and distribute special 125th items – some alumni will have the chance to win limited edition Engineering socks.

As part of the anniversary year, the faculty is seeking to profile members of the Queen’s Engineering community through its 125th Awards. A call has gone out to all members of the Queen’s Engineering community to suggest alumni and current students who are leading interesting lives and making noteworthy contributions to society. Queen’s Engineering is also looking for names of faculty and staff who have helped educate, guide, and support students through their time at Queen’s or who have gone above and beyond in their work. Nominations close October 22nd.

“The pride of Queen’s Engineering is its people, and we are receiving nominations from around the world and from within our campus,” says Dean Deluzio. “We look forward to sharing these special stories with you over the year.”

In addition, the faculty has unveiled a limited edition 125th Engineering crest. At Homecoming, a special photo wall will feature the new crest, along with all the historic crests, so alumni and current students can snap a picture of themselves and see how their class fits into the faculty’s history.

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University has graduated many tens of thousands of students and consistently ranks as one of Canada’s leading schools for engineering.

To learn more, or nominate someone for an award, visit the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science website.

Beauty of research resonates on campus

  • Art of Research photo exhibit
    Photos from the Art of Research contest are featured in a travelling, pop-up photo exhibit currently being held on the first floor of Stauffer Library.
  • Art of Research building banner
    New building banners highlighting Queen's research were recently placed on prominent buildings, including Stauffer Library and Grant Hall.
  • Art of Research light post pennants
    A series of four pennants, featuring photos from the Art of Research contest, adorn the light posts along University Avenue.

Every day impactful, cutting-edge research is being conducted at Queen’s and the university wants everyone to know about it.

Enter a new multi-faceted campaign on campus aimed at promoting and celebrating the groundbreaking work of the university’s researchers.

“Research is core to the foundation of Queen’s as an institution, yet much of the work takes place where it isn’t easily accessible to the public – in labs, archives, and in the field,” says Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives. “While many of our research promotion initiatives are aimed at external stakeholders, the goal of this campaign is to showcase the breadth and impact of our research to the Queen’s and Kingston communities, while at the same time adding a little more beauty to campus.”

Other building banners and light pole pennants around campus are highlighting a pair of celebrations – the 50th anniversary of the Faculty of Education and the 125th anniversary of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

At the heart of Queen’s, building banners celebrating award-winning research don Grant Hall and Stauffer library. Pole pennants have also been installed on the light posts along University Avenue, featuring images from the Art of Research photo contest. Each year the popular photo contest provides faculty, students, alumni, and staff the opportunity to showcase their research, scholarly, and artistic work. It also provides many amazing photos.

Together, the new banners cover a wide array of research – from arts and humanities to physics to cancer and health sciences to biodiversity and climate change.

The first image, Santa Fina, was taken by Una D’Elia, a faculty member in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation, at Musei Civici in San Gimignano, Italy. The striking image shows a marble bust of a saint by sculptor Pietro Torrigiani, a competitor of Michelangelo.

The second image, Leaving Home, features a spheroid of cancer cells embedded in a 3D protein matrix as seen through a microscope. Taken by Eric  Lian, a PhD  student in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, individual cells can be seen radiating away on all sides.

The third image, Razorbill, was captured by Brody Crosby, a Master’s student in the Department of Biology during fieldwork on seabirds in Witless Bay, Nfld. Mistakenly assuming the approaching researchers were its parents, the razorbill chick is captured as it begs for a meal.

The fourth image is a rendition of the universe, and captures the work of researchers elucidating the fundamental building blocks of the universe, shedding light on things we cannot see.

The Art of Research is also being featured in a travelling, pop-up photo exhibit currently being held on the first floor of Stauffer Library. Offering a large selection of photos from the last three years of the contest, the exhibit highlights the diversity of research happening across campus.

The photo exhibit will subsequently be on display in Grant Hall for Homecoming, Oct. 19-21, and then in the Lederman Law Library, Oct. 22-Nov. 5.

The exhibit is also available to campus partners throughout the year for events and display purposes.

For more information on research at Queen’s or the Art of Research photo contest, visit the website.

A member of the prestigious U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, Queen’s has a long history of unmistakable discovery and innovation that has shaped our knowledge and helped address some of the world’s deepest mysteries and most pressing questions

A step in the right direction

Queen's University researcher Lauren Welte challenges the traditional thinking around the human foot.

New research from Queen’s University PhD candidate Lauren Welte is challenging traditional thinking on the function of the human foot. Her latest project could impact the way orthotics are designed and people are treated for a number of foot conditions, including plantar fasciitis.

“We investigated how modifying the shape of the arch of the human foot affects the energy absorbed and returned during a dynamic compression,” says Ms. Welte. This work is part of an international and multi-disciplinary collaboration between Ms. Welte and her mentor Dr. Michael Rainbow at Queen’s University, as well as Dr. Glen Lichtwark and Dr. Luke Kelly at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Lauren Welte's research into the human foot could change the way orthotics are designed. (University Communications)

“This collaboration took advantage of new technology that has allowed us to investigate conventional thinking around the foot.”

To change the shape of the arch, the researchers elevated the toes to engage the windlass mechanism of the plantar fascia, a flat band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. The windlass mechanism is an important part of normal foot function and causes the arch to be higher, but shorter in length.

Ms. Welte says that prior research had shown the foot became stiff during the engagement of the windlass mechanism, which was first described in 1954 after physical examination of people’s feet. Using advanced technology that allows for 3D modelling of the foot, her new research shows the foot actually becomes more pliable and that could have an impact on the design of orthotics, footwear, and even prosthetic limbs.

The research was completed in the Human Mobility Research Centre in Kingston, Ontario, and the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia. The researchers received support from NSERC and the Australian Research Council to conduct this work.

“This is the first step in our research,” says Ms. Welte. “We want to take these results and see how the windlass mechanism affects how the arch manages energy absorption and return while walking and running. The new Skeletal Observation Lab in Hotel Dieu Hospital will allow us to use x-ray and high-speed cameras to answer these questions.”

The paper is currently on the ‘top read’ list in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Introducing our new faculty members: Lindsay Fitzpatrick

Lindsay Fitzpatrick is a faculty member in the department of Chemical Engineering.

This profile is part of a series highlighting some of the new faculty members who have recently joined the Queen's community. The university is currently in the midst of the principal's faculty renewal plans, which will see 200 new faculty members hired over five years.

Lindsay Fitzpatrick (Chemical Engineering) sat down with the Gazette to talk about her experience so far. Dr. Fitzpatrick is an assistant professor.

[Queen's University Lindsay Fitzpatrick Engineering]
Lindsay Fitzpatrick is a faculty member in the department of Chemical Engineering. (University Communications)
Fast Facts about Dr. Fitzpatrick

Department: Chemical Engineering

Hometown: Timmins, Ont.

Alma mater: Georgia Institute of Technology (Post-doctorate), University of Toronto (chemical engineering doctorate) 

Research area: Biomedical and biomaterials engineering

Hobbies include: Cycling, triathlon, soccer, volleyball

Dr. Fitzpatrick’s web bio
How did you decide to become an engineer?

In high school, I really enjoyed calculus and science courses, like physics, chemistry and biology. Engineering seemed like the best fit for my interests, and I liked that I would have a professional degree at the end.

I started out in general engineering at McMaster and it just so happened that the first year they offered their chemical engineering and biosciences degree was the year that I was choosing my discipline. I was really interested in health sciences and how cells worked, so the chemical engineering approach to biomedical engineering seemed like a good fit and I decided to apply. I have loved it ever since I started.

The summer after my second year, I was lucky to start working in Heather Sheardown’s biomaterials lab at McMaster as a summer student and continued from there.

I have always been a bit oblivious to the ‘expectations’ or stereotypes placed on women, so I never saw going into a field like engineering as a boundary for me. My parents were always supportive of me doing whatever I wanted, and I didn’t know any engineers, so I had no idea that it was a field that girls typically didn’t go into. If I had, it probably would have just encouraged me further; I don’t really like being told that I can’t do something. I also had great role models in high school; all my calculus and science teachers (except physics) were women.

[Queen's University Lindsay Fitzpatrick Engineering]
Dr. Fitzpatrick maintains two labs - one in the Biosciences Complex (pictured), and one at the Kingston General Hospital. (University Communications)
Why did you decide to teach?

I have always enjoyed teaching and learning, and it is very rewarding to teach bright and enthusiastic students like the ones we have here at Queen’s. Working with our graduate and undergraduate students helps keep me motivated and enthusiastic as well.

It also forces you to stay on top of your game and stay current with information that is a bit outside of your specific research discipline. Now that I have a few years under my belt, I have also really enjoyed watching my former students and trainees mature and go on to do such exciting things. 

How are you enjoying being at Queen’s?

Queen’s has been a wonderful environment for a new professor and I have had a great experience so far. Starting out as an assistant professor is a pretty exciting but also daunting experience; there’s just so much you don’t know from teaching your first class to hiring your first student and setting up a lab. I’ve been very fortunate that my department is quite supportive and full of people who are there to help and want you to succeed.

I have been at Queen’s for just over four years now, although I’ve just come back from a maternity leave. My husband and I have really enjoyed living in Kingston – it has such a vibrant downtown, it is affordable, and is just a lovely place to live. Now that we have a baby, we are also recognizing all the benefits that Kingston offers for young families too.

What will you be teaching this academic year?

This fall, I am teaching a course I have not taught before – CHEE 452: Transport Phenomenon in Biological Systems. It is a fourth-year core course for our Bioengineering - Biochemical, Biomedical, Bioenvironmental Sub-plan (also known as CHE2) students.

The course gives our upper-year students the opportunity to apply their transport phenomenon knowledge – how mass, energy (heat), and momentum is transported within systems – to biological systems. We look at things like gas exchange in the lungs and in tissues, and pulsatile blood flow in compliant blood vessels.

We are actually applying some of the concepts from my masters by modeling how oxygen diffuses through tissues and is taken up by cells. This limits how large you can make tissue engineered constructs. We will be applying these concepts later in the term, understanding how the transport phenomena can impact the design of engineered tissues and how our bodies have developed vascular networks to overcome these types of diffusional limitations.

In the winter term, I will be teaching CHEE 340: Introduction to Biomedical Engineering. It is a precursor to the transport phenomenon course. This is a really fun class to teach, and my students really enjoy it too.

The course introduces students to the different aspects of human anatomy and physiology, and then we apply different types of engineering concepts to them. This course focuses on everything from transport phenomenon and fluid dynamics all the way to biomaterials and their applications to tissue engineering and stem cells. It is a survey course for that highlights different areas of biomedical engineering you can enter into through a degree in engineering.

Tell us a bit about your research.

My research focus is at the intersection of immunology and biomaterials research. We study how the cells of our immune system recognize and respond to implanted materials, like those you would use to construct a glucose sensor, pacemaker, or drug delivery system, and develop strategies for controlling the host response.

When any material is implanted, the cells of our immune system recognize that the material is foreign and tries to remove it through an inflammatory response called the foreign body reaction. This term describes a series of events that ultimately results in the implant being encased in abnormal fibrous tissue, sort like a scar forming around the implant.

For some applications this isn’t an issue, but many emerging biomedical technologies, like insulin infusion, glucose sensors, and neurostimulation probes rely on integration with healthy, normal tissue. Fibrous encapsulation of an implant, and the inflammatory response that precedes it, can limit the lifespan of devices, or cause them to fail prematurely.

We recently published our first paper in this area, which was really exciting. In it, we showed that when a material is implanted, danger signals that are released from damaged tissue and cells can adsorb on the material surface and activate responding immune cells via a receptor called Toll-like receptor 2.

By inhibiting this receptor’s signaling pathway, we were able to reduce the cells’ inflammatory response. However, this was all done using cells cultured in our lab, so we need to do more research to determine if this pathway plays a critical role in the foreign body reaction in living organism.

My second research stream is a bit more out there in terms of biomaterials research. We are looking at developing a new model system for looking at material cell interactions that uses zebrafish embryos as a model organism. By taking advantage of the optical transparency of zebrafish and reporter strains that have fluorescently-tagged cells or proteins, we can watch cell-material interactions in real time using fluorescence microscopy. However, zebrafish are really small, so we’re having to figure out how to implant materials in them in a reproducible and predictable way.

The idea is that we could then screen lots of different materials to give us a better fundamental understanding of what types of material properties trigger different types of responses, resulting in better material design.

It sounds like your work marries many different disciplines.
My training has allowed me to bridge different areas, primarily immunology and materials science. I am trying to build more collaborations with polymer scientists and immunologists here at Queen’s and eventually clinicians who work with patient populations that use implanted biomedical devices, like glucose sensors. 
What do you do for fun?

My husband’s family has a cottage near Bancroft, so we try to get up there as much as possible in the summer.

We all enjoy cycling and I was just getting into triathlons when got pregnant with my first child, which put a stop to that for now…although my husband just did his first half-ironman, so my daughter and I are becoming avid triathlon fans.

In the winter, I love to snowboard and cross-country ski. I used to play soccer and volleyball, but don’t seem to have the time anymore. Mostly, my free time is dedicated to playing with my daughter, Norah. She’s just turned one and is a wonderful and busy little girl!

I’m a total bookworm too. I grew up on The Lord of the Rings, so I have a definite a soft spot for epic fantasy sagas like Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, and have just been reading The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. It’s a bit a guilty pleasure.

Faculty Renewal

Principal Daniel Woolf has identified faculty renewal as a high priority for reinvestment by the university in support of the academic mission. The five-year renewal plan, launched in 2017, will see 200 new faculty hired, which nearly doubles the hiring pace of the previous six years.

Faculty renewal supports Queen’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by giving the university the opportunity to seek, proactively, representation from equity-seeking groups such as women, people with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, and racialized individuals. It will also build on Queen’s current areas of research strength.

To learn more about the Principal’s faculty renewal plans, read this Gazette article. Stay tuned for additional new faculty profiles in the Gazette.

Promoting research partnerships

Four Queen's University researchers receive Strategic Partnership Grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Four Queen’s University researchers have been awarded Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Strategic Partnership Grants totaling over $2 million in funding. Announced Friday by Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, these grants promote partnership between academic researchers and industry or government organizations. Funding will go to six networks and 80 projects from across the country with the goal to enhance Canada’s economy, society, and environment within the next 10 years.

“The Strategic Partnership Grants facilitate and promote important collaborations for Queen’s researchers and their partners,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “These collaborations are critical for the translation of basic research into the technologies, jobs, policies and services that benefit all Canadians.”

Mohammad Zulkernine (School of Computing) $535,500 – Dr. Zulkernine’s research is creating a more secure environment for connected vehicles using the Cloud. In this project, he and his research team will propose countermeasures for attacks on connected vehicles by providing access control, availability, and privacy components. This research will play a major role in improving the next generation of connected vehicles by providing useful information to drivers and vehicles, enabling them to make safer, faster, and more informed decisions. His co-investigator on the project was Hossam Hassanein.

Dr. Zulkernine’s approach will position Canada as a leader in securing connected vehicles against increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks and will train highly-qualified software engineers and network security engineers in techniques in automating modern connected vehicles.

Dr. Zulkernine is also co-applicant on another Strategic Partnership Grant on a project that promises to enable ‘Internet of Things’ systems (that connect devices such as cellphones, appliances and vehicles to the Internet and to one another) to perform more effectively and at a lower cost.

Ian Moore (Civil Engineering) $590,100 – Using new technologies developed to assist with pipeline rehabilitation, Dr. Moore and his research team are addressing knowledge gaps that exist as communities assess, rehabilitate, and replace water and sewer pipelines. The present knowledge gaps create challenges for consulting engineers advising on specific projects, and significantly magnify the 'new technology' risks perceived by city engineers and others charged with public safety.

Unique buried pipe and polymer durability test facilities will allow Dr. Moore’s industry partner and eight PhD students to undertake experimental work and analyses to study and address these challenges. The project outcomes can be incorporated into standards, practice guidelines, and specifications for use by industry partners and others. Drs. Richard Brachman and Neal Hoult worked with Dr. Moore on the project.

Kevin Mumford (Civil Engineering) $537,475 – Dr. Mumford is studying gas migration in groundwater related to the extraction of natural gas from previously inaccessible formations (shale gas). Natural gas from deeper formations can move along damaged or inadequately sealed wells and enter shallower aquifers. This gas can then dissolve into the groundwater leading to chemical and biological reactions that reduce groundwater quality. Focused research is needed to better understand the factors influencing this gas migration and dissolution to develop best practices for risk management and monitoring for potential effects on groundwater quality. 

A series of laboratory experiments will track gas flow and dissolution using high-resolution visual techniques as well as the analysis of gas and water samples. Dr. Mumford will also use numerical models to simulate the experiments and to investigate larger-scale, longer-term field scenarios to develop monitoring strategies and establish a framework for risk assessment.

John Smol (Biology) $520,000 – Dr. Smol and his research team will incorporate the use of forensic paleolimnology to determine the impact mink farming may be having on natural environments in Nova Scotia. Working with local stakeholders, Dr. Smol and his colleagues will use both established and newly-developed “fingerprinting” tools to determine the relative impacts from mink farms – nutrients, metals, and persistent organic pollutants – that may lead to algal blooms and overall deterioration of water quality, including potential loss of fish habitat and alteration of aquatic food webs.

The research will allow Dr. Smol to provide regulators and stakeholders with the critical information to determine management and potential additional mitigation policies needed to help resolve the polarized debate on the environmental impacts of mink farms. The techniques developed in this project will be readily exportable to other agricultural regions in Canada and elsewhere faced with water quality issues.

For more information on the Strategic Partnership Grants visit the website.

Balancing research and sporting careers

Arriving at Queen’s through the Principal’s Development Fund for Visiting Scholars, engineering researcher Rossana Pasquino is also a member of the Italian national wheelchair fencing team.

Rossana Pasquino took up wheelchair fencing five years ago as a way to stay fit and as a distraction from the rigours of her academic work. She was introduced to the sport in 2015 by childhood friend, and top-ranked Italian epee fencer, Francesca Boscarelli.

[Rossana Pasquino is a world-class athlete in wheelchair fencing]
Rossana Pasquino, associate professor, researcher, and a member of the Italian national wheelchair fencing team, is spending part of the summer at Queen’s as a visiting scholar in the Department of Chemical Engineering. (University Communications)

“Francesca was training at a fencing club in Napoli at the time,” Dr. Pasquino says. “They had a wheelchair platform but no athletes. It ended up being a lot of fun because there were many athletes there who were not disabled but who would sit and fence with me. I started to just like it for recreation. Then, as my skills improved, I started to try different weapons and to compete.” 

Dr. Pasquino joined the Italian National Wheelchair Fencing Team after earning a bronze medal in the team sabre category at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) Federation World Cup in Warsaw in 2017. She and her team went on to win silver in the IWAS World Championships in Rome later that year, and silver in epee and sabre in the Italian Championships earlier this year. She’s planning to compete in the European championships later in 2018 and is positioning herself now to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

“It’s a lot of work to balance the sport with my career,” says Dr. Pasquino. “I only started to be very good at fencing in the last two years and it’s not possible to be competitive at such a high level as you get older, so I have about 10 years to go. It’s not easy to do everything and do everything well, but I’m going to do the best I can.”

And it’s an impressive career to balance.

Dr. Pasquino recently earned a spot as associate professor in chemical engineering at the Universita degli Studi de Napoli Federico II in Naples. She’ll be starting at that post in September. She met Queen’s engineering professor Jeffrey Giacomin in 2011 while he was teaching a short course on polymer processing in Crete, Greece. They had a meeting of academic minds, so Dr. Giacomin successfully nominated Dr. Pasquino to visit Queen’s this summer through the Principal's Development Fund for Visiting Scholars. She’s working with Queen’s researchers to better understand ways to characterize polymers.  

“The plan was to understand how polymers scatter laser light,” says Dr. Pasquino. “We can get insight into a materials’ molecular structure – if, for example, molecules are branched, form linear chains, rings, or other structures.”

It’s work that could help industry to better determine the physical properties of the polymers they use in manufacturing for the purposes of quality control or for selecting the best materials for any given job.

“We are also studying polymer degradation in parallel-disk geometry and we will probably end up with a scientific paper at the end of my visit,” she says.

To those who may find inspiration in Dr. Pasquino’s athletic and academic work, she has some advice:

“So much of life is about fear,” she says. “‘I don’t want to travel because something bad could happen,’ or ‘I don’t want to start engineering because maybe I’m not good enough,’ or ‘I don’t want to fence, or try a sport because I’m not competitive.’ You just have to try. There are barriers you have to overcome, otherwise you don’t do anything. That’s how it is in any life.”

Dr. Pasquino is scheduled to practice at the Kingston Fencing Club, 83 Terry Fox Dr. Unit 4, Kingston, Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8 pm through August. 

Tea Room receives gift for renovations

The Beamish-Munro Hall cafe received a $70,000 gift from the Class of Sc'82 to renovate the space.

  • [Isabel Hazan (Sc'20), Head Manager of The Tea Room, updates the sign. (Photo: Queen's Alumni)]
    Isabel Hazan (Sc'20), Head Manager of The Tea Room, updates the sign. (Photo: Queen's Alumni)
  • [Renovations underway at The Tea Room (Photo: Queen's Alumni).]
    Renovations underway at The Tea Room (Photo: Queen's Alumni).
  • [Ms. Hazan holds up drafted plans for The Tea Room renovations. (Photo: Queen's Alumni)]
    Ms. Hazan holds up drafted plans for The Tea Room renovations. (Photo: Queen's Alumni)

Most members of the Class of Sc’82 have never visited The Tea Room, a student-run, environmentally friendly coffee shop that opened in 2006. It might come as a surprise that members of Sc’82 has announced a class gift of $70,000 to renovate the cafe in Beamish-Munro Hall, but Class President Don MacDiarmid says the gift is about engineering alumni supporting engineering students.

“If The Tea Room is important to students, it is important to my classmates,” says Mr. MacDiarmid.

Sc'82 has established two funds to support current engineering students. One is an endowment for student awards, while the other supports special projects to enhance the undergraduate education of engineering students. The class decided to support The Tea Room after a recommendation from the Dean of Engineering’s office and a presentation from The Tea Room staff.

“We see our endowment as funding the extras that might not be covered by regular faculty spending,” says Mr. MacDiarmid. “The students made a very polished funding request document that I circulated to about 25 members of my class for input. They were universal in their support.”

Sc’82 Reunion Co-ordinator Cathy Ella was on the Engineering Society Board of Directors from 2002 to 2008. She remembers The Tea Room founder Michele Romanow (Sc'07, MBA'08), who now stars on the hit CBC TV show Dragons’ Den, pitching The Tea Room and the board supporting the venture.

“The Tea Room is a great student enterprise and Sc’82 is very pleased to contribute to its success,” says Ms. Ella.

The Tea Room is a socially conscious cafe that proves an environmentally friendly model can be profitable. All of The Tea Room’s products and packaging are 100 per cent compostable and the company plants trees to offset its carbon footprint, achieving carbon neutral status in 2015. It was the first zero-consumer-waste-certified cafe in North America, according to The Tea Room Head Manager Isabel Hazan (Sc’20).

“The Tea Room is a symbol of entrepreneurship within Queen’s,” she says. “Our mission is to make sustainable choices accessible to students. How do we do it? We make a sustainable choice as easy as deciding where to buy your coffee.”

The cafe is entirely run by students from all faculties, with the five managers and 55 staff. This model provides financial support to students during the school year.

The Sc’82 donation will allow The Tea Room to serve more customers by adding an extra cashier station and relocating the side bar to divert the traffic away from the entrance. The renovations will also improve the flow of operations behind the bar, making service more efficient and consistent. With the design changes implemented, the business will be able to keep up with its increasing popularity on campus and The Tea Room’s mission can reach more students at Queen’s. 

“We are humbled by the donation,” says Ms. Hazan. “When we first discovered that the Sc’82 alumni were interested in funding The Tea Room’s renovations, we were extremely excited – it validated our mission of combining environmental responsibility with community education and financial sustainability. The alumni’s generous donation is making it possible for us to reach more customers and serve them optimally while making a positive impact on campus. We are extremely grateful for the class’ enthusiasm about The Tea Room, and we are eager to watch the renovations come to fruition throughout the summer.”

Donations can be made to the various Sc’82 funds through the Give To Queen’s website.

This story was originally published on the Queen's Alumni website.

A life-changing experience

A new bench near Summerhill has been dedicated to an engineering alumnus who credited Queen's with helping him pursue his dreams.

[Howie Toda]
Howie (Hisao) Toda (BSc’52). (Supplied Photo)

Howie (Hisao) Toda (BSc’52) was always grateful to Queen’s for helping to change his life.

Mr. Toda, who passed away in December 2017, overcame a challenging childhood that saw his family imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp. After graduating from Queen’s with an engineering degree, he got married, had four children, and went on to a long career at Ontario Hydro.

“Queen’s did not judge him by his family heritage or by who his parents were, but only by his capabilities and potential,” his son, Brian Toda, told family gathered at Summerhill for his father’s memorial bench dedication held in June. “Queen’s allowed him to pursue his dream and become an electrical engineer. [This bench dedication] is so meaningful because Queen’s represents a momentous inflection point in Dad’s life. He had two different lives – one before Queen’s and one after.”

Although Mr. Toda never returned after graduation, Brian said his father spoke fondly of his time at Queen’s. His family felt that dedicating a bench on campus was a fitting tribute and a way to bring him back to the school that changed his life.

Mr. Toda was one of three children in his family who grew up in New Westminster, B.C. His Japanese parents ran a successful boarding house and his childhood was fairly typical. Everything changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Mr. Toda and his family were labeled enemy aliens by the government and stripped of their rights. In February 1942, their family home and car were confiscated and they were moved to an abandoned mining hotel. Howie’s father was forced to work on the Crowsnest Highway.

After the war, the family was expelled from British Columbia and they relocated to Ontario, where Mr. Toda and his parents found work as labourers on a farm near Chatham.

Despite these challenges, Mr. Toda worked hard to finish high school, was accepted to Queen’s, and found jobs to help pay for tuition while studying.

While the Canadian government treated him like an enemy of the state, Queen’s welcomed him.

Mr. Brian Toda said his father’s stories about Queen’s didn’t include discrimination. They were typical student stories such as playing pranks, volunteering at campus radio station CFRC, and working part-time at the campus arena. Some professors and classmates were veterans who fought against Japan in the Second World War, yet Mr. Toda always felt like he was treated the same as other students. 

After graduation, Mr. Toda had a long and successful career in Toronto as an engineer in a variety of increasingly senior roles with Ontario Hydro. While there, he met his wife, Mariko, who worked as a secretary in a nearby office building. Together, they had four children and eventually welcomed four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren into their family. He worked hard to make sure his kids had the type of happy childhood he did not get to enjoy.

“In our wildest dreams, we could not imagine being forced from our comfortable, secure house and have everything taken away,” said Mr. Brian Toda. “Growing up, his stories of his time before Queen’s were like exaggerations to me. It has only been as I’ve grown up, gone to school, and raised a family that I’ve come to understand what a heroic effort it was for Dad to make life seem so normal for all of us.”

Visit the Alumni website to learn more about opportunities to honour loved ones through bench and tree dedications. 

[Queen's Summerhill bench Howie Toda]
A new bench located near Summerhill is dedicated to Howie (Hisao) Toda (BSc’52). (Supplied Photo)

This story originally appeared on the Queen's University Alumni website.


Subscribe to RSS - Engineering and Applied Science