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Queen's ranks among world's best universities

By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

Queen’s University placed 277th in the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) 2014 rankings of the top 1,000 universities around the globe. This places Queen’s in the top 1.3 per cent of the world’s 22,000 degree granting institutions.

“Queen’s is consistently counted among the world’s top universities and well respected in Canada for the exceptional student learning experience it delivers within a research-intensive environment,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance & Administration) and Acting Principal. “Expanding the university’s international reach is a strategic priority for the university and we continue to work to raise our profile abroad and to expand our international recruitment and research activities.”

CWUR’s rankings are based on a number of factors, including the number of faculty and alumni who have won prestigious international awards, and the number of alumni who hold CEO positions at the world’s top 2000 companies. It also uses citations and other indicators of research activity and impact. It does not use reputational surveys or data submissions from universities in its methodology.

Queen’s is consistently counted among the world’s top universities and well respected in Canada for the exceptional student learning experience it delivers within a research-intensive environment.

- Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance & Administration) and Acting Principal

“Queen’s strives to be among the best of its peer institutions, and it is important to remember that no individual ranking captures all of Queen’s strengths,” says Katherine O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal, International. “The quality of the student learning experience is a key driver of our success and we know through measures like the National Survey of Student Engagement and the International Student Barometer that domestic and international students value their Queen’s experience very highly.”

CWUR began producing its world university rankings in 2012. The complete 2014 rankings are available on its website.

New program softens landing for international students

[Queen's in the World]Queen's in the World

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

As the university seeks to increase the number of international students, units across campus are working together to help ease their transition to Queen’s and Canada.

One new addition is the Acculturation and Transition to Life and Academic Success (ATLAS) program, which is initiated by the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) in collaboration with several on-campus student services.

Susan Anderson, Assistant Director, QUIC, says ATLAS emerged from a desire to ensure international degree-seeking undergraduate students feel welcome at Queen’s as soon as they set foot on campus.

“We know that international students have the potential to enrich this university. The aim of ATLAS is to give international students that soft landing at Queen’s so they can more easily fall in with the rest of the first-year students and be part of it all,” she says.

[Inside QUIC]The new Acculturation and Transition to Life and Academic Success (ATLAS) program will welcome incoming international students to Queen's and make them aware of the resources available on campus.

On Aug. 30, ATLAS registrants can settle in to residence a day before official move-in for the majority of students and attend an optional reception where they can connect with other international students. The following day, the group will participate in a variety of activities related to cultural transitions, health and wellness, and academic resources such as the library and Student Academic Success Services.

Rather than throwing a lot of information at new international students, ATLAS offers participants experiential learning opportunities to help them adjust to Queen’s. They will participate in a variety of activities and explore the library in a small group setting.

“Through the ATLAS experience, international students will get to know the resources that are here for them,” Ms. Anderson says. “At the same time, the content of the program will suggest to them the important elements they will have to balance in order to have a healthy and successful experience at Queen’s.”

The deadline to apply for ATLAS has been extended to July 18. Visit the QUIC website for more details about the program.

Language program bridges gap

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

When new students need to shore up their English speaking and writing abilities, QBridge is there to help. Running each summer since 2010, QBridge is an intensive eight week language immersion program run by the Queen’s School of English.

In small classes, in which they have all pledged to speak only English, students listen to lectures, write essays, make presentations and take part in debates. By the program’s end, students are meant to be proficient enough in their academic and language skills to be able to succeed in their first year of university.

QBridge is a language immersion program run through the Queen's School of English. (University Communications)

While the program largely recruits from China through the China Liaison Office, the Office of Undergraduate Admission will sometimes refer students to the program as well.

“We sometimes see applicants who are excellent candidates for Queen’s but need a little more work on their language skills. QBridge exists to help them prepare for their time at university,” says Janice McAlpine, Acting Director, Queen’s School of English. “We’ve had participants from China, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Japan and Panama, and we’ve found it makes for a better class dynamic when students speak different languages. There’s less temptation to speak one’s first language. When students stretch their abilities to communicate with one another, they really improve.”

Besides getting students ready for study, QBridge is also an important part of the university’s drive to internationalize.

“We can become a more international campus by accepting native English speakers from the U.S., the United Kingdom, and other English speaking countries, but to break outside of one tradition we need to attract students who are both bilingual and bicultural. They bring a different mindset and experiences that enrich the university for all of us,” Ms. McAlpine says.

QBridge can be a big help to students who need it. “When I applied to Queen’s I realized my level of English wasn’t good enough, and QBridge equipped me to succeed,” says Othmane Rtel Bennani (Sci’17), who came to study at Queen’s from Morocco. “The professors were amazing: they taught me all sorts of skills and made me improve greatly in short amount of time. I really wanted to come study at Queen’s and without the program, I would have missed out on coming to a great place. ”

You can hear more from QBridge participants on the Queen’s School of English blog.

A helping hand for Haiti

Tammy Babcock Aristilde is srrounded by children during a previous mission to Cite Soleil in Haiti.

This article is printed in the July edition of the Gazette, which is now available. You can get your copy at newsstands around campus.

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

It has been seven years since Tammy Babcock Aristilde first traveled to Haiti, hoping to improve the plight of the residents of Cite Soleil.

While change in the country may not be evident on the surface, the efforts of Helping Haiti, the charitable organization the security supervisor at Queen’s leads, has resulted in some definite signs of progress. Lives have been saved.

Leading a small group that arrived July 8 in the impoverished district in the capital Port-au-Prince, Ms. Babcock Aristilde says that one of the key elements to the effort has been bringing together rival gang members and teaching them first-aid.

The young men have been learning how to treat gunshot and stab wounds and have used the new skills to the benefit of their communities. One of the students has even saved the lives of two other members.

However, more important is that the rival gang members have formed bonds as they work through the First-Aid for Peace course.

“What's encouraging is that in one group of 10 we had two (gang) leaders. They were enemies when they started the course, but were able to find friendship in the time they spent together learning the life-saving skills of the FAFP program,” Ms. Babcock Aristilde says.

A small step, perhaps, but a step toward peace nonetheless.

The program also improved the participants’ reputations within their communities. No longer are they mere gang members, to be viewed only as a threat. These men are becoming role models for the younger generations.

“Many members of the team have used these skills to have a life. Having this knowledge puts them at a whole different level capacity and influence in the community,” Ms. Babcock Aristilde says.

“By working with these young men we are hoping to provide programming which will not only benefit them, but support the young men to inspire the young community to work together.”

The program currently includes 14 members and one has been trained to become an instructor within the community. The plan is to train instructors in neighbouring areas, expanding the program’s reach.

Ms. Babcock Aristilde and her group travel to Haiti twice a year – each January and July. This time she will be instructing young women rape self-defense, something she taught at Queen’s for nearly 10 years, while fellow director Aaron Sousa will teach their children on first-aid and hygiene.

Also making the trip is Queen’s student Amanda Oeggerli (Artsci’15), who will be assisting with the self-defense and first-aid programs as well as keeping track of records as Helping Haiti distributes water and helps sufferers of chikungunya, a debilitating mosquito-borne virus that results in fever and severe arthritic pain that is currently running rampant through Cite Soleil.

“They explain it like it feels like your bones are breaking and that pain lasts for a week and a half to two weeks,” Ms. Babcock Aristilde says. “Some people will continue to have that pain up to two years depending on how your system reacts to it.”

There will also be a focus on electrical safety as Cite Soleil residents often jury-rig their own connections to electricity sources, sometimes with dire consequences. There are burns, homes lost and even deaths from electrocution.

The instructor will be shown a site and while he can’t really change what they do he can provide safety knowledge as well as some equipment that could save lives. There will also be some first-aid instruction in treating burns.

The organization also has a branch at the university and Queen’s Helping Haiti, which was recently formed, has already helped support three young people with their small businesses.

Researcher lands on exclusive list

Communications Staff

Queen’s University researcher Ian Janssen (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Department of Public Health Sciences) has earned a place on Thomson Reuters’ Highly Cited Researchers list. He is the only Queen’s professor to make the list and one of only 88 researchers working in Canada on the 3,215 member list.

The international list includes scientists and researchers whose work is most often cited in other research papers.

Queen's University professor Ian Janssen.

“This is a reflection of the volume and quality of work I have done in my field,” says Dr. Janssen, the Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Obesity. “It shows that the research I have published has had a significant impact on other researchers. It is very gratifying to have made the list.”

Dr. Janssen and other researchers on the list earned the distinction by writing the greatest number of “highly cited papers” as determined by Essential Science Indictors. Those papers rank among the top 1 per cent most cited in their subject field from 2002 to 2012. Dr. Janssen, who completed his master’s and doctorate degrees at Queen’s, has published close to 200 research papers since 1999. He was among 177 people nominated in the general social sciences category.

“Although my name appears on the Highly Cited Researchers list, this honour is primarily a reflection of the many talented and hard-working people I have worked with.  I want to recognize the tremendous contributions made by the 30+ graduate students I have supervised and the dozens of researcher colleagues I have collaborated with.”

The original Highly Cited Researchers list issued in 2001 identified more than 7,000 researchers and the list was updated again in 2004. The latest version features only 3,000 researchers whose work was deemed to be influential internationally.

SNOLAB director reappointed to second term

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

Nigel Smith (Physics) has been reappointed to a second term as the director of SNOLAB, the deep underground science laboratory specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics.

The SNOLAB facility is an expansion of the successful Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment.

The facility is operated by the SNOLAB Institute whose member institutions are Queen’s University, Carleton University, Laurentian University, University of Alberta and Université de Montréal. It is located two km below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ont.

Nigel Smith (Physics) has been reappointed as director of SNOLAB for a second term.

 First appointed in 2009, Dr. Smith says that the second term will allow him to see some results from the major projects currently underway.

“The detectors that we are building take many years to design, construct and operate so a five-year term is enough to get things moving but not really enough to deliver the science from these large-scale experiments,” says Dr. Smith. “What I am looking forward to in the second term is having these projects, which we are now constructing, take data and complete the analysis to get the science out."

“It’s the science that drives everybody here. It’s the rationale for operating this facility,” he adds.

According to Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), Dr. Smith has definitely earned his reappointment.

“SNOLAB is internationally-renowned for its research and discoveries, and directing such a sophisticated and complex research site takes a great level of expertise,” he says. “Nigel has done an outstanding job in his role as director of SNOLAB, and I look forward to seeing its accomplishments continue in Nigel’s second term.”

Under his leadership, SNOLAB has seen an increase in partnerships with other innovation centres across the country while also expanding the areas of study.

“We actually have quite a broad program of science here so the large-scale experiments that we’re building at the moment are augmented by smaller-scale projects, some of which have a sufficiently short life-cycle that we have seen results over the last five years,” says Dr. Smith.

During the next term his aim is to make SNOLAB the “partner of choice” for underground physics projects, providing world-class infrastructure and delivering world-leading science.

NSERC funding supports grad student exchange

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

An international research program that includes three Queen’s professors recently received $1.65 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through its Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) grants program.

Nikolaus Troje (Psychology), Doug Munoz and Gunnar Blohm (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) are members of The Brain in Action research group headed by Doug Crawford from York University. The funding will support trans-Atlantic supervision and exchanges of graduate students and research fellows as well as non-academic collaborations and internships.

Niko Troje is part of an international research team working with graduate students.

“The principal investigators are mentors for the graduate students in the program,” explains Dr. Troje. “All of the funding goes to the graduate students to provide them with unique research opportunities working with some of the top experts in the world.”

The Brain in Action program allows graduate students to study the connection between perception and action and to apply these findings to real world settings. For example, some students are studying how eye movement and vision work while walking outdoors.

Internships will allow students to apply their knowledge of vision and eye-hand co-ordination in areas including advertising and smart phone design.

The Brain in Action team includes 11 researchers at Queen’s, York and Western University and 11 primary investigators from Justus-Liebig-Universitat Giessen and Philipps-Universitat Marburg in Germany.

Queen's attracts more international students

By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

With a 79 per cent increase in the number of international students accepting Queen’s offer of admission this year, the university is on track for Principal Woolf’s goal of increasing the proportion of international undergraduate degree students to 10 per cent. 281 international students, or 6.3 per cent of the incoming class, will begin their Queen’s degrees in September.

International students who arrived at Queen's this January participated in an orientation session hosted by the Queen's University International Centre.

“This is excellent news as we continue to ramp up our international recruitment efforts to meet the objectives we set in the strategic framework,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “When students come to Queen’s from around the world it helps make the university a place to develop global perspectives, and it establishes networks that will be of benefit to all our students. In the longer run, many of these students will return to their home countries and help build our reputation internationally.”

As part of its growing international recruitment efforts, Queen’s recently hired Sunny Wang as a recruitment officer in the Queen’s China Liaison Office in Shanghai, increased its outreach to international guidance counsellors, and joined CALDO, a consortium of leading Canadian research universities focused on recruitment in Latin America.

“Queen’s is well respected within Canada for its exceptional student learning experience and supportive campus community,” says Principal Woolf. “It is those same attributes that will make us a university of choice for talented international students.”

Queen’s offers extensive support for international students through the Queen’s University International Centre and programs like QBridge, offered by the School of English, which delivers academic English language training to international students before they begin their studies at Queen’s.

He's a man in motion

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Twenty years of research into how the human brain processes visual information has earned Nikolaus Troje (Psychology, Biology, School of Computing) the Humboldt Research Award, an honour established by the German government to recognize a lifetime of achievement.

 “I feel very honoured having received a lifetime recognition award without having a single grey hair yet,” says Dr. Troje, who was nominated for the award by colleague Karl Gegenfurtner from the University of Giessen.

Using the sensors shown below, Nikolaus Troje uses motion capture technology to study how people move.

Dr. Troje operates the Biomotion Lab at Queen’s, studying visual perception and cognition using motion capture technology. The goal of his research is to answer questions concerning social recognition including processing visual information contained in the way people walk and move, specifically the subtle nuances that signal emotions and personality.

Dr. Troje started his career working on visual systems of insects, and later on face recognition in humans. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, he met Queen’s professor Barrie Frost during a conference in Germany who invited him to come to Queen’s and study visual recognition in pigeons. He spent two years in Kingston before moving back to Germany where he founded the Biomotion Lab at Ruhr University. In 2003, Dr. Troje accepted the position of Canada Research Chair in Vision and Behavioural Sciences at Queen’s where he continues his research today.

The motion sensors used in his research.

“Understanding how our visual system obtains information about other people from the way they move is just one example of the amazing ability of our perceptual systems to turn neuronal activity in response to external energies into the objects and events that form our perception of the outside world,” he says.

Dr. Troje is now preparing for a one year sabbatical in Germany where he will spend time at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen and at the JustusLiebig University in Giessen.

U.S. Consul General praises international exchanges

[Queen's in the World]Queen's in the World

Jim Dickmeyer, the Consul General of the United States responsible for Ontario, recently visited Kingston. Mr. Dickmeyer has served in six countries during his 29 years of diplomatic service. He most recently taught national defense studies as a faculty member at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

During his two days in the Limestone City, he met with Principal Daniel Woolf, toured Innovation Park and visited the Royal Military College of Canada. Following the tour of three companies at Innovation Park, he discussed his visit and the importance of academic exchanges between Canada and the U.S. with Senior Communications Officer Mark Kerr.

MK: What is the purpose of your visit to Queen’s and Innovation Park?

JD: I have been in my position for two years, and I hadn’t visited Kingston yet. I wanted to come to here and visit Queen’s and the Royal Military College.

When we were planning the trip, we saw some material on Innovation Park and thought, ‘we definitely have to go there.’ There is so much going on between the United States and Canada in this area of scientific inquiry and then movement into commercialization. This is just a wonderful visit for us.

[Jim Dickmeyer with Medizone staff]U.S. Consul General Jim Dickmeyer visits Medizone International Inc. laboratory located at Innovation Park. Senior technician Dylan Simpson (centre) and microbiologist Paolo Uy explain one of theiir experiments to Mr. Dickmeyer.

MK: What has stood out during your visit to Queen’s?

JD: At Innovation Park, I was struck by the research going on in laboratories. I am fascinated by the amazing pace of innovation and how quickly they (the researchers) expect to have commercial products that are going to change our lives. I have been to other innovation parks in Ontario and the U.S. and this kind of work fascinates me. Watching scientists at work in a creative environment that allows them access to other tools they need to eventually commercialize these products is always interesting.

I have a number of friends who have attended Queen’s. Through them, I have developed an admiration for the university and the fact that it’s a little bit smaller (than other Ontario universities) and maintains a community feel. They have also told me about how many opportunities there are for leadership experiences outside the classroom at Queen’s. Queen’s is also attractive being situated in this just very beautiful city.

One of the things I talked about with Principal Woolf was trying to increase the number of students who are interested in coming up to Queen’s from the U.S. I think it would be a great opportunity for people from my country to come to such a great university.

MK: Why are academic exchanges important?

JD: When we talk about academic exchanges, I often think at the faculty level, which is hugely important and goes on a lot. The even more important exchanges that I want to work on and increase are at the student level. When you study in another country for a semester or a year, you get a different view of life. Your vision is expanded. We think of ourselves – between the U.S. and Canada – with so many similarities, but we are distinct cultures with distinct histories and traditions. A U.S. student coming up to Canada can learn so much about how to understand a different culture, how to listen and absorb more. The Fulbright Program is very vibrant, but given the numbers we would really like to see, it can’t address all of that. So we have to figure out different ways to do that.

I think it would be a great opportunity for people from my country to come to such a great university.

U.S. Consul General Jim Dickmeyer

MK: President Barack Obama has pledged his commitment to innovation. Are there things America can learn from Ontario?

JD: Ontario is very far advanced in its own focus on innovation. Clearly, you see that in the innovation that goes on in the education system in Ontario from primary schools up to the university system. I suspect there’s much we can learn from Ontario. And I think a lot of it’s going on in terms of exchanges of experience.

One of the areas that I think Ontario is particularly strong and where we might be able to find some models that would be useful for us at the state level is how much the province invests in these processes. Our states do to some degree, but a lot of time we leave that more to the federal side and that often misses certain needs of specific states.

The interview was condensed and edited for clarity.


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