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Engineering and Applied Science

Lending a helping hand

An interdisciplinary team of Queen’s researchers and industry partners have mobilized to formulate hand sanitizer for Kingston hospitals

Graduate student tests a sample of hand sanitizer
Department of Chemistry graduate student Hailey Poole takes samples from a prototype batch of sanitizer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to worldwide shortages of personal protective equipment and, very early on, products like hand sanitizer. This has a great impact on hospitals where these products are critical to limiting the spread of the virus, especially for frontline health care workers and patients.

A team of Queen’s researchers from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering along with GreenCentre Canada have partnered with Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Tri-Art Manufacturing (Kingston) to develop hand sanitizer. Having just received Health Canada approval, the team will use three sites (two at the university and one at GreenCentre Canada) to make 300 litres of product per week to help meet the needs of Kingston hospitals.

“Our health care professionals have enough to worry about at the moment and should not have to be concerned about rationing hand sanitizer as we try to ‘flatten the curve,’” says Richard Oleschuk, Head, Department of Chemistry. “We know that we are not going to be in the long-term business of supplying hand sanitizer, as eventually supply will be brought online to meet demand. However, we felt that our interdisciplinary team had the skill set and infrastructure to make a difference in the short term.”

The World Health Organization has approved two formulation recipes (ethanol and isopropanol) for sanitizer. To create the isopropanol recipe the team is producing, large amounts of isopropanol (commonly known as rubbing alcohol) needs to be mixed with smaller amounts of water, hydrogen peroxide, and glycerin, in exactly the right proportions. The mix then needs to sit for 72 hours so that it can sterilize its own container.

While production of hand sanitizer is not a complicated process, it involves the use of chemicals that can be hazardous if not handled correctly. To make the isopropanol sanitizer, the team at Queen’s needed to develop a process that ensured quality control of the product, but still maintained social distancing rules at each of the three sites. They developed a “buddy system,” in which a second individual acts to monitor each and every chemical addition/volume added to the mix, so that the integrity of each batch is maintained.

“At this unprecedented time, it is important that the university and Kingston community work together to ensure our citizens remain healthy and safe,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “I am proud of our researchers and our community partners for both their resourcefulness and initiative undertaking this project.”

Confronting COVID-19 Read more articles in this series

The team’s protocol was developed in collaboration with Queen’s Environmental Health and Safety, who are also essential in transporting the raw materials and finished sanitizer to and from the formulation sites. A training video was also created, so that the students, faculty and staff involved in formulations could learn the same formulation process.

“I applaud the innovation and creativity of our researchers and industry partners in addressing these critical shortages,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).  “This project shows the strength of the Queen’s research community in mobilizing their expertise and resources to deal with pressing global challenges.”

While the team hopes not to be in the hand sanitizer business for long, they are thankful for the opportunity to be able to support the needs of Kingston hospitals and for the contributions of the Queen’s faculties and Physical Plant Services in this effort.

Racing for air

More Confronting COVID-19 Stories

Multi-disciplinary team designs and builds life-sustaining ventilator in only 14 days.

The team's device is comprised of more common or easily-sourced components.
The team's device is comprised of more common or easily-sourced components.

Any other time, having two weeks to design and prototype a respiratory ventilator that can outmatch those created by hundreds of international teams would be a daunting task. These days, however, the stakes are much, much higher than bragging rights.

A multi-disciplinary team comprised of Queen’s University faculty and students, as well as health professionals from Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), entered the Code Life Ventilator Challenge earlier this month. Together, they are hoping to be among the top three groups whose designs could go into production and soon start saving lives threatened by COVID-19. With the challenge about to close, the Kingston-based team worked steadily through the weekend to finalize their functioning ventilator model.

“In people infected with COVID-19, parts of the lungs fill with fluid, which prevents oxygen from passing into the blood, and causes the lungs to fatigue and stiffen,” says Ramiro Arellano, Head of Queen’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, and team member responsible for ensuring the device will provide the life-sustaining respiratory support patients require. “As an analogy, imagine how your legs would feel walking on pavement compared to walking in knee-deep mud; eventually your muscles tire and fail. For the lungs, a ventilator takes over the work so muscles can rest, and the body can better fight infection.”

Dr. Arellano says the brilliance of their team’s design is its use of items readily available in the community in combination with items that are easily sourced or 3-D printed.

In pairing two continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, commonly used to treat conditions like sleep apnea, the team was able to harness the air pressure required to provide a patient with the correct amount of oxygen. Since CPAP machines provide constant airflow to users, they next had to innovate a way for the device to provide a steady, on-and-off supply of air more akin to the natural tempo of breathing. Combining a small computing device, a series of tubes linked to the CPAP devices, and mechanical arms that compress the tubes intermittently, the team was able to simulate the proper timing to provide regular spurts of oxygen.

The Queen's/KHSC team's ventilator design.
The team's ventilator design combines machines typically used to treat sleep apnea with a computerized control centre that governs airflow.

“Our ventilator design goal was to make the production of the device as simple and versatile as possible,” says Reza Najjari, a postdoctoral fellow in mechanical and materials engineering whose expertise in fluid dynamics has him overseeing that the device will deliver the precise volume of air to a patient. “I think the simplicity and modular features of our device give it the potential to help a lot of people, as it provides the production flexibility that local producers need to manufacture them rapidly with the materials they have on hand.”

Drs. Najjari and Arellano feel that the team’s cross-disciplinary approach makes their Code Life Ventilator Challenge submission highly competitive, while recognizing there may be strong competition from across the globe. They are focused on creating an effective, life-saving device with an open-source design that can be used by anyone around the world.

“Our ventilator design would not have been achievable without the wide-ranging expertise and collaboration of our team of researchers at Queen’s,” says Dr. Najjari. “We had specialists in fluid and solid mechanics, biomechanics, electrical engineering, computer science, and health sciences; all who showed the utmost dedication to creating this important device.”

Dr. Arellano took it further, comparing the team’s complement of experts to an ensemble of musicians.

“In many ways, the team is built like an orchestra,” he says. “Each person plays a unique instrument and the amalgamation and organization of each unique sound produces music that would be impossible otherwise.”

Contest finalists will be announced soon. Watch the Code Life Ventilator Challenge website for the list of winners to appear. In the meantime, read about another ventilator design project being led by Queen's Nobel Laureate Art McDonald.

Queen’s researcher Pascale Champagne honoured by Professional Engineers Ontario

Canada Research Chair Pascale Champagne has been recognized for her outstanding contributions to engineering research and development

Queen’s researcher Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering) has been awarded the 2020 Engineering Medal in the Research and Development category from Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO). Presented in partnership with the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards recognize those who have made outstanding contributions to their profession and their community.

"I feel humbled to have been recognized by the PEO and fellow Engineers for the long-term impact of my research and developments to the profession," says Dr. Champagne. "My research has focused on achieving sustainable development, including low energy and low impact eco-engineered systems for the treatment of wastewater, as well as using renewable resources in the creation of novel production of bioenergy, biofuels and bio-products. It is always wonderful to be recognized for something that you are passionate about and I feel privileged to have received this award."

Dr. Champagne is the Canada Research Chair in Bioresources Engineering and the Director of Queen’s Beaty Water Research Centre (BWRC). Her research investigates sustainable wastewater treatment strategies for downstream recovery of biofuels. This research will lead to better bioresource management and contribute to a new generation of technologies for treating waste, residuals, and biomass feedstocks. Under her direction, the interdisciplinary BWRC supports research under the four themes of water governance, use, resources, and quality.

Working with Queen’s researchers Michael Cunningham (Chemical Engineering, Chemistry), Philip Jessop (Chemistry) and Warren Mabee (Geography and Planning, School of Policy Studies), Dr. Champagne was also recognized with the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize in 2019. Given annually to only one research team across Canada, the award supports the team’s research in enhancing the value and sustainability of our natural renewable resources through collaboration.

As well, Dr. Champagne was recently inducted as a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering to recognize her distinguished achievements and career-long service to the engineering profession.

For more information about her research, listen to Dr. Champagne’s episode of Blind Date with Knowledge, a Research@Queen’s podcast.

Freeing up resources for the COVID-19 battle

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Developed by a Queen's-based startup, the world’s first socially intelligent staff scheduling cloud tool is being made accessible for free to enable new users.

A Queen’s University-based startup is contributing to the effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and support the healthcare system facing increasing demands during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Mesh Scheduling Inc. recently announced it is waiving the monthly subscription fees to Mesh AI, the world’s first socially intelligent staff scheduling cloud tool, during the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to calls for help in battling the spread of the coronavirus, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mesh AI is being made accessible for free to enable new users to improve scheduling and communication. Initially developed as a scheduling and communication platform with a focus on the healthcare sector, Mesh AI can be applied to practically any workplace.

With support from Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation, Mesh Scheduling Inc. is led by Shahram Yousefi, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who’s research interests include applied algorithms and machine learning with applications to healthcare and 5G telecom and data storage. 

Dr. Yousefi, also the startup’s president and CEO, points out that COVID-19 is affecting the availability of healthcare workers in two main ways.

Firstly, as frontline staff contract the disease or get quarantined for safety reasons, they are no longer available to work. Secondly, staff need to work in entirely different modes with new teams, new responsibilities, and in most cases with prolonged shifts to support their units and help save patients' lives. Fatigue, stress, and anxiety lead to loss of productivity and burnout.

How is this done?

Mesh AI allows all staff to add their personal requests such as vacations and shift preferences directly into their mobile apps no matter when and where. It also allows them to easily withdraw from or swap shifts already planned in case of illness or changes in circumstances. Schedule administrators are able to create schedules for week-long or year-long (and everything in between) planning with a press of a button. The highly sophisticated Mesh auto-scheduling engine takes all the organization’s requirements to create shift assignments with near mathematical optimality. This same ‘intelligence’ also suggests best second in place when a shift needs to be reassigned to a new employee.

This is where Mesh AI can make a positive difference.

“MeshAI.io helps with better communication among staff, sharing their needs and limitations, and responding to last-minute staffing changes very efficiently,” Dr. Yousefi says.  “It saves a great deal of time and resources for administrators and decision-makers in assigning shifts and also dealing with change. The data, intelligence, and cloud software features we have built maximize productivity and minimize disruptions, costly errors, and cost. We love the fact that this is done while we also empower employees to have some level of control and agency when it comes to their demanding jobs and work-life conflicts.”

Mesh AI is already being used by a number of healthcare facilities in Canada, U.S., and as far away as Australia, with positive results in adaptability, communication and risk/loss management as teams respond to increasing demands.

“One very interesting risk management component we’ve seen with Mesh AI, with healthcare in particular, is that hospitals and clinics are using Mesh AI to keep a group or subgroup of staff together because they’re being exposed to COVID-19 patients and when they do further shift allocation they keep that group together so they minimize the number of people that are being exposed to COVID-19 and as such they are reducing the risk of losing more and more people to sickness and current team requirements,” Dr. Yousefi says.

Mesh AI is currently available through Public Works and Government Services Canada’s BuyandSell.gc.ca website.

Learn more about Mesh AI and MESH Scheduling Inc. at MeshAI.io.

Those interested in acquiring a free subscription to Mesh AI can apply online using this form.

Queen’s community takes on the Code Life Ventilator Challenge

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Faculty and students at the Human Mobility Research Centre and Ingenuity Labs have joined forces with Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) health professionals to take on the Code Life Ventilator Challenge, a global call to design a low-cost and easy-to-manufacture ventilator that can be created and deployed anywhere around the world.

The Code Life Ventilator Challenge is a two-week sprint created by the Montreal General Hospital Foundation in collaboration with the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. The challenge calls on teams to design a simple, low-cost, easy-to-manufacture, and easy-to maintain ventilator to help ease massive shortages during the coronavirus crisis.

The Queen’s/KHSC team of 18 includes faculty members and students, as well as health professionals.

“There’s a global shortage of ventilators, and with the outbreak still rapidly progressing, this has become a life and death issue,” says Tim Bryant, Professor Emeritus, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “Now is the time to come together to respond to this crisis with real solutions. This challenge will save lives.” 

The team is working on a design that uses Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) technology in its design. These machines, which help healthy people with sleep apnea breathe more easily, have the potential to be modified to support or replace breathing for a coronavirus patient.

The team has been able to work on the creation of a prototype thanks to very generous donations of CPAP machines from individuals who responded to a social media request for help. A panel of experts will be judging all designs and posting the top three online for free downloading to anyone who is able to manufacture them.

“Today, more than ever, engineers need to be engaged global citizens,” says Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Kevin Deluzio. “I’m proud of our team and their commitment to finding solutions during these challenging times. It is multidisciplinary teams like this that are required to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.”

In the coming weeks, as the design-build phase of the challenge is completed, the faculty will provide further updates on the team’s progress. Anyone interested in following along is encouraged to “Like” the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s Facebook age for further updates.

A team effort to help protect healthcare workers

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Queen's students, medical residents, staff and faculty working with community partners to boost personal protection equipment supplies.

Queen's team for PPE
Students and faculty members from the School of Medicine are helping lead a drive to boost supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE) for local healthcare workers. From left: Megan Singh; Zuhaib Mir; Jeremy Babcock; Matthew Snow; and Cesia Quintero (Photo by Saif Elmaghraby)

A team of Queen’s and Kingston community partners are working together to help provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team is a diverse group, bringing together Queen’s faculty members, medical students and medical residents, university students, and staff, as well as partners such as St. Lawrence College, Kingston Frontenac Public Library, and Kingston residents. All are donating their time and 3D printers to manufacture PPE, such as masks and face shields.

The equipment being manufactured is not intended to replace current masks and face shields but would act as a reserve in case supplies were to run out and there were no other options. The prototypes have been approved by KHSC for this purpose.

Hailey Hobbs, an assistant professor at Queen’s and critical care physician at Kingston Health Sciences Centre, initially put out a call on social media and quickly received a number of replies from people who were working on similar projects or ready to provide support.

The first to respond was Jeremy Babcock of the School of Medicine’s Clinical Simulation Centre who quickly got to work printing PPE prototypes from the designs Dr. Hobbs had found. He was then contacted by a group of students from the Queen’s School of Medicine – led by Cesia Quintero, Matt Snow and Megan Singh – who had the same idea and were ready to join the effort.

That was just the start.

“Honestly, I didn't really think that this would take off the way it has. I follow other critical care/intensive care doctors from around the world on Twitter, and with the COVID-19 outbreak I was checking it frequently to keep up to date on what was happening elsewhere in the world,” Dr. Hobbs says. “I found a tweet from Boston about a doc interested in making 3D printed PPE and I thought it was an interesting idea so I tweeted to the Queen’s community asking if there were any 3D printers on campus. I received several answers within 30 minutes and from there things have really snowballed.” 

The medical students and residents have been the feet on the ground helping get the word out about the project and picking up printers loaned out by groups such as the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. They are also leading the work to assemble the PPE. Volunteers to help with the assembly work are welcome.

“The medical school community, as well as the Kingston community at large, have come together in a very beautiful way,” Quintero says. “We started over the weekend with three printers and five people, and it’s quickly snowballed to over 50 printers from various institutions, including Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, the Limestone District School Board, Kingston Frontenac Public Library, as well as many, many individuals across the province who own their own printers, and who have been donating their time and material. Currently there are more than 70 people involved in organizing, printing, assembling and collecting the products at this point, and these numbers are growing quickly.”

The project gained further momentum after connecting with SparQ Studios, a makerspace supported by Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre (DDQIC), that had five 3D printers and the know-how to manufacture the PPE. SparQ Studios has since become the production hub.

“I am proud with our community. Users of SparQ have volunteered their personal printers and the Alma Mater Society helped me reach more people,” says Connor Crowe, director of SparQ Studios.

There continues to be an open call for more 3D printers that can either be loaned or used at home. 

Overall, much has been accomplished in a short amount of time thanks to the dedication of all those involved.

“The response has been incredible – every day we receive emails from different groups interested in helping or learning from what we are doing to make PPE for their own hospitals,” says Dr. Hobbs. “It’s just been wonderful to know that so many different groups in the community are supportive and willing to help out in any way that they can. It really makes you realize how many great people there are in Kingston and how important it is to help each other in tough times.”

Anyone interested in loaning their 3D printers or printing PPE from home can email the group. Donations of filament and other supplies are also welcome.

Donations of surplus personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer to KGH and Kingston Community Clinics can be made via Anna Curry at PPEKingston@gmail.com.

For those looking to make a financial donation a GoFundMe page has been set up.

Powering the drive to electric buses

Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Queen’s and member of ePOWER Suzan Eren says innovations in power electronics is key to electrifying 5,000 transit buses. (University Communications)
Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Queen’s and member of ePOWER Suzan Eren says innovations in power electronics is key to electrifying 5,000 transit buses. (University Communications)

The Centre for Energy and Power Electronics Research (ePower) at Queen’s University is part of a new cluster of post-secondary institutions receiving funding from the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) to pursue battery electric bus research. CUTRIC is contributing $2.6 million in funding to help achieve the federal government’s ambitious goal of electrifying 5,000 transit buses.

Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? From in-depth features to the latest information on the university’s researchers, the site is a destination showcasing the impact of Queen’s research. Discover Research@Queen’s.

The funding, along with an additional $132,500 from federal MITACS industrial research program, will support innovative low-carbon and smart mobility research projects at Queen’s University, OCAD University, University of Windsor, and Ontario Tech University, which form CUTRIC’s National Academic Committee on Zero-Emissions Buses (NAC-ZEB).

This work will address the challenges faced by electric buses and help us realize the goal of making them a transit standard.

Suzan Eren, Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Queen’s and a member of ePOWER, and her team are working to optimize the powertrain used in heavy-duty electric buses to pave the way for practical and efficient next-generation electric buses.

“The key technology of this project is innovations in power electronics to revolutionize the design of a new powertrain architecture,” Dr. Eren says. “This work will address the challenges faced by electric buses and help us realize the goal of making them a transit standard.”

This announcement builds on approximately $16 million in federal funding already awarded to the City of Brampton, TransLink, York Region Transit, and Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution Ltd. through Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to help launch the Pan-Canadian Electric Bus Demonstration & Integration Trial: Phase I.

Change for tomorrow starts now

Lindsay Jones, Connections Engineering Outreach Coordinator, instructs young students during the Little STEMS Pilot PA Day Program
Lindsay Jones, Connections Engineering Outreach Coordinator, instructs young students during the Little STEMS Pilot PA Day Program. (Supplied photo)

Connections Engineering Outreach of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science recently held a Little STEMS Pilot PA Day Program for girls ages five to 10 on Jan. 31, the first of its kind on a university campus.

The day was focused not only on learning about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), but also encouraging girls to explore options in engineering science. A key message to these girls was ensuring they know there is a need for them and their unique perspectives in these respective fields of study. The day was filled with robotics, coding and confidence building.

The PA Day camp was a resounding success – 28 girls gained knowledge of the different streams of engineering and what they are, and were given an introduction to coding. The participants used the robots known as Dash and Ozobot and programmed their robots to complete a variety of tasks.  

The activity combined different aspects of STEM.

“I’m so proud of this day and all of the girls who attended,” says Kevin Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.” To hear that Grade 2 students Sloane Camirand is interested in math and science, and that Victoria Jeffrey wants to be an astronaut, and Sadie Gould might want to be an engineer one day, is all the more reason to start discussing STEM with girls now, and keep their interest in these fields alive and growing. The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has always been committed to fostering innovation, and with that commitment we must pledge to be inclusive, remove barriers and join the conversation promoting women in STEM.”

United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science
“To rise to the challenges of the 21st century, we need to harness our full potential. That requires dismantling gender stereotypes. On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s pledge to end the gender imbalance in science.”
– UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The Little STEMS Pilot PA Day Program was offered in advance of the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science.  The UN recognizes Feb. 11 as a day for the global community to join together to confront gender biases in science, celebrate those who are leading innovation, and to change the narrative to eliminate the exclusion of women and girls in science. 

“Today I learned to code with colors on an Ozobot and that girls can do anything the boys can. It was a really great day,” says senior kindergarten student Madison Lumb.

Programs like Little STEMS are part of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s commitment to removing barriers for women and girls in science, and engaging and inspiring a love of curious thought about the world around us.    

“We do have a gender imbalance in science and I’m proud to work for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University, because our faculty and staff see the importance of getting girls interested in science,” says Outreach Coordinator Lindsay Jones. “STEM and the innovation it drives is the future and my job is to make sure girls know they are just as much apart of solving the challenges of the future as their male peers.”

The Little STEMS Pilot PA Day Program would not have been possible without the Connections Engineering Outreach team, the support from the entire Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and funding from Actua Canada, Canada’s largest STEM outreach organization.

 “I’m really great at reading, but days like today remind me I’m also really good at science and math,” says Grade 4 student Lily Gould.

Capturing the Art of Research

Celebrating its fifth year, the Art of Research photo contest is open for submissions until March 12.

  • "Love Under the Microscope" by Dalila Villalobos, MD, Resident (Anatomical Pathology)
    "Love Under the Microscope" by Dalila Villalobos, MD, Resident (Anatomical Pathology)
  • "Santa Fina" by Una D'Elia, Faculty (Art History and Art Conservation)
    "Santa Fina" by Una D'Elia, Faculty (Art History and Art Conservation)
  • "A New Light" by Robert Cichocki, PhD Student (Civil Engineering)
    "A New Light" by Robert Cichocki, PhD Student (Civil Engineering)
  • "Window on a Window to the Universe" by Mark Chen, Faculty (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy)
    "Window on a Window to the Universe" by Mark Chen, Faculty (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy)
  • "Platinum Surface Electrochemistry" by Derek Esau, PhD Student (Chemistry)
    "Platinum Surface Electrochemistry" by Derek Esau, PhD Student (Chemistry)
  • "Keep Cool Boy - The Jets Aloft in West Side Story" by Tim Fort, Faculty (Dan School of Drama and Music)
    "Keep Cool Boy - The Jets Aloft in West Side Story" by Tim Fort, Faculty (Dan School of Drama and Music)
  • "Nano-dendrite Collision" by Hannah Dies, MD/PhD Student (Chemical Engineering)
    "Nano-dendrite Collision" by Hannah Dies, MD/PhD Student (Chemical Engineering)
  • "Exploring Worlds at Home" by James Xie, Undergraduate Student (Engineering Chemistry)
    "Exploring Worlds at Home" by James Xie, Undergraduate Student (Engineering Chemistry)

Researchers … ready your cameras. Returning for its fifth year, the Art of Research photo contest is looking to celebrate and creatively capture the research conducted by the Queen’s community.

Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? From in-depth features to the latest information on the university’s researchers, the site is a destination showcasing the impact of Queen’s research. Discover Research@Queen’s.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice-Principal (University Relations) and open to Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the Art of Research provides a unique and accessible method of sharing ground-breaking research happening at the university. It also represents the diversity of Queen’s research, with winners representing multiple disciplines and submissions highlighting research happening at all career stages.

The contest is an opportunity for researchers to mobilize their research and spark curiosity. Visuals can create a more compelling and accessible research narrative. By looking at research from a different perspective, it is possible to find the beauty and art in any project.

Eligibility and Prizes

Any current Queen’s faculty, staff, student, or alumni are eligible to participate. Research depicted in the submissions must have been completed at Queen’s or while the submitter was affiliated with the university. More information about contest rules can be found on the Research@Queen’s website.

In addition to promotion across institutional channels and platforms, prizes of $500 will be awarded for the top submission in each of these categories:

Category Prizes

  • Community Collaborations: Research that partners with or supports communities or groups
  • Invisible Discoveries: Research unseen by the naked eye, hiding in plain sight, or only visible by using alternative methods of perception
  • Out in the Field: Research where it occurs, is documented, or discovered
  • Art in Action Prize: Research that is aesthetically or artistically transformed or research in motion as it happens
  • Best Description: To recognize the most creative and accessible description for an image
  • People’s Choice: Determined by an online vote by members of the Queen’s community

In honour of the fifth anniversary of the Art of Research photo contest, four special prizes of $500 each will be awarded to celebrate the diversity of research happening across the university.

  • The Innovation, Knowledge Mobilization, and Entrepreneurship Prize will be awarded to the submission that best demonstrates research that encompasses a spirit of the applied practices of innovation, entrepreneurship, and knowledge mobilization. (Sponsored by Partnerships and Innovation)
  • The Graduate Studies Prize will be awarded to the image submitted by a Queen’s graduate student or post-doctoral fellow that best embodies the School of Graduate Studies’ motto “Create an Impact.” (Sponsored by the School of Graduate Studies)
  • The Health Sciences Prize will be awarded to the image that best represents the Faculty’s mission of “ask questions, seek answers, advance care, and inspire change.” (Sponsored by the Faculty of Health Sciences)
  • The KGHRI Prize will be awarded to the image that best represents patient-oriented and clinical research. (Sponsored by Kingston General Health Research Institute (KGHRI))

The contest closes on March 12, 2020. The submission form can be found here and winning images from previous competitions are located on the Research@Queen’s website

New internal funding for research

Queen's Vice-Principal (Research) launches Wicked Ideas Competition.

Wicked problems are issues so complex and dependent on so many factors that it is hard to grasp what exactly the problems are or how to tackle them. Wicked ideas are needed to solve these problems, and demand the input of multiple disciplines, multiple perspectives, and relevant practical expertise.

The Vice-Principal (Research) has launched the Wicked Ideas competition as a pilot initiative to fund and support research collaborations that respond to local, national, and global challenges. Aligned with the concept of the Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund – Exploration program, the competition “seeks to inspire projects that bring disciplines together beyond traditional disciplinary or common interdisciplinary approaches by research teams with the capacity to explore something new, which might fail but has the potential for significant impact.” Along with both disciplinary and interdisciplinary funding streams, the competition offers a “global challenge” stream, featuring climate change as a global challenge area.  Teams of researchers are invited to submit notices of intent by Feb. 3, 2020.

“This funding is designed to remove some of the financial barriers to high-risk, high-reward research, allowing scholars to push the boundaries of knowledge into uncharted territory,” says Dr. Kent Novakowski, Acting Vice-Principal (Research). “I greatly look forward to hearing about some of the paradigm-shifting ideas that come out of this new exploratory opportunity.”

Up to 15 teams will be awarded $75,000 each in the first phase of the competition in spring 2020. The 15 teams then will be eligible to compete for one of an additional five awards of up to $150,000 in the 2021 Wicked Ideas competition. The competition is open to all Queen's faculty across all disciplines. Co-investigators and team members also must be Queen's faculty members.

This is just one of several internal funding programs that have been launched by the Vice-Principal (Research) recently.  Other programs include the Queen’s Research Opportunities Fund (QROF) Post-doctoral Fund, as well as the Catalyst Fund – designed to enhance areas of research excellence by giving scholars an opportunity to accelerate their research programs.

A revised Prizes for Excellence in Research competition, which has recognized scholarly achievement at Queen’s since 1980, is set to launch soon.

More information about all of these programs, including terms of reference, is available on the Vice-Principal (Research) website.


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