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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.

Asia-Pacific diplomats visit Queen's

 By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

High-ranking officials to Canada from the Asia-Pacific region gathered at Queen’s on June 24 for the annual Ambassador’s Forum.

The event, organized by Hok-Lin Leung, former director of Queen’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, brings together the ambassadors to promote international dialogue, co-operation and action.

“The Ambassador’s Forum was started as a non-official space for diplomats to meet one another and listen to informed Canadians,” says Dr. Leung. “The forum is unique in the world, and it’s great for Queen’s. It gives us a chance to internationalize right here on campus.”

After lunch at Summerhill, the diplomats listened to a presentation by Don Raymond, former chief investment strategist of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and a member of the Queen’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Raymond talked about international investment strategies for global investors.

Since the Ambassador’s Forum was established in 2003, Queen’s has welcomed representatives from countries such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and Myanmar listening to presentations by Canadian academics, politicians and labour union leaders. Previous presentations have covered topics such as Canada-U.S. relations, the Canadian identity, and the process of a federal election.

“It’s important that these officials get a neutral venue to interact with each other,” says Dr. Leung. “There’s a lot of potential to build international relationships.”

Baroque expert elected to Institut de France

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

Gauvin Bailey (Art History) has been appointed to the prestigious Institut de France.

Dr. Bailey, the Alfred and Isabel Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art, was elected last month as a “correspondant-étranger” (foreign correspondent) of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (Humanities) of the Institut de France, one of the most-respected and oldest learned institutions in the world having been founded in 1663.

The Institut de France only maintains 50 French and 50 foreign correspondents at any one time, putting Dr. Bailey in exclusive company.

“This is a tremendous honour, not only for Dr. Bailey but for Queen’s as well,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “The Académie des inscriptions is among the world's oldest and most exclusive learned societies; for Dr. Bailey to be elected as a foreign correspondent is a strong recognition of the quality of our faculty here at Queen’s.”

Gauvin Bailey (Art History) has been elected to the Institut de France as a foreign correspondent.

Dr. Bailey is one of only six North American foreign correspondents.

“This is a huge and unexpected honour for me, particularly at this time in my career when I am working increasingly on French art and culture and its dissemination throughout the Americas,” Dr. Bailey says. “The Institut de France itself dates from the period I am working on and some of the architects and writers I have studied were members in their day.

“For me it is also a thrill for a more basic reason: its home, the former Collège des Quatre-Nations (built 1668-88) across from the Louvre, is one of my favourite Baroque buildings in Paris, but I have never been allowed inside because you have to be a member. Next time I go to Paris that will be my first stop.”

Dr. Bailey says he believes that his election is due in large part to his recent research into the migration of Baroque art and architecture through France into the Americas. While there has been extensive study into the flow of Baroque art forms through the Spanish and Portuguese New World empires, Dr. Bailey says that France’s role has largely been overlooked.

Dr. Bailey’s book on the subject The Spiritual Rococo: Décor and Divinity from the Salons of Paris to the Missions of Patagonia (Ashgate Press, 2014) will be released in September, which will be his seventh book published to date.

Dr. Bailey was named to the Royal Society of Canada in November, one of seven Queen’s professors to receive the honour in 2013. He took up his current position at Queen’s in 2011.


Tackling inequality in Tanzania

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

She might work at Queen’s, but Karen Yeates’ heart is in Tanzania. She is using mobile phone technology to improve health care and save the lives of women and children living in the African country.

“I started volunteering in Tanzania in 2006 and found that women are often forgotten in countries like this,” says Dr. Yeates, co-director of the Queen’s School of Medicine’s Office of Global Health. “I wanted to help make a difference. The inequality in health care made me angry. It’s not rocket science but we still can’t figure it out.”

Karen Yeates meets with workers at a medical clinic in Tanzania to explain the bed nets program.

Dr. Yeates’ first research project in Tanzania was implementing a cost-effective method of screening for cervical cancer using a cellphone. The Kilimanjaro Cervical Screening Project was funded by Grand Challenges Canada as part of the Rising Stars in Global Health program.

With that project wrapping up in July, Dr. Yeates is working with the Ontario-based Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) to distribute insecticidal treated bed nets to pregnant women and determine why only 70 per cent of women are putting the nets on their beds. Pregnant women and children under the age of five are at the most risk of dying from malaria in developing countries.

“When the pregnant woman receives the voucher number for her bed net, her mobile number is recorded and entered into a server that will track the redemption of the net voucher and will also send her text messages to remind her to redeem the voucher and pick up her net if she hasn't done so,” explains Dr. Yeates. “She will also get health promotion messages to encourage her to use the net properly, on her bed where she and her children sleep.”

Seven million bed nets have been distributed in Tanzania through this e-voucher program.

Karen Yeates (l) says the nurses in the clinics are critical for the success of the e-health programs.

Researchers can also track where the bed net vouchers are being redeemed and can match that against malaria hot spots. A second Grand Challenge Canada grant and MEDA funding will help move this phase of the research project forward.

“Cellphones are ubiquitous in countries like Tanzania, they live their lives through their cellphones,” says Dr. Yeates. “It only made sense to use the technology to improve health care. People in Tanzania don’t have paper medical records but we can work toward those records being stored right on their phones. There is so much more we can do.”

Dr. Yeates' work in Africa continues. She is also studying the rapidly rising rates of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure. She and colleagues will use the same mobile phone technology in a clinical trial to distribute subsidized blood pressure medications to those who cannot afford them. The patients will also receive text messages about their blood pressure and how to improve the disease to prevent long term complications such as stroke, heart and kidney disease.

Kingston lauded as 'intelligent community'

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Nominated alongside six other world-leading communities, Kingston had a strong showing at the recent Intelligent Community Forum held in New York City. After placing in the top seven out of over 400 applicants, the Limestone City competed for the title of Intelligent Community of the Year against Columbus, Ohio, Arlington County, Virginia, Hsinchu City, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Taiwan, Toronto and Winnipeg.

Innovation drivers such as the High Performance Computing Virtual Laboratory, Innovation Park at Queen’s, GreenCentre Canada and the leadership of the city in launching Sustainable Kingston were all featured in the application.

“Queen’s and Kingston both benefit tremendously from one another, and that relationship is reflected in the Intelligent Community application,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “To see Kingston do so well and be recognized on the world stage is extremely gratifying for everyone involved.”

Nominated communities were judged according to their potential in the broadband economy, considering categories such as digital inclusion, knowledge workforce and innovation. This year’s theme, Community as Canvas, placed special focus on the communities’ cultural output.

The city was also cited for its high number of green- and clean-tech businesses, several of which have developed from Queen’s research. The organization also recognized Kingston’s reliable Internet infrastructure and strong local culture.

“I’m very pleased Kingston made it to the Top seven out of more than 400 applicants,” says Kingston Mayor Mark Gerretsen. “Making it this far in the competition speaks volumes about quality of life in the city. Our commitment to technology also makes us an attractive place to do business.”

Although Kingston didn’t finish in the top spot – that honour went to Toronto – the experience provided a valuable opportunity to showcase Queen’s and Kingston to the world.

“The summit was a great opportunity to network and share ideas with the other nominees as well as past winners,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), who was in New York City representing Queen's and also participating in a panel on brain drain. “We connected to people with excellent global perspectives on innovation and Kingston and Queen’s will be able to benefit from these success stories. Placing in the top seven was a positive experience for Queen’s – and for Kingston.”

The title is awarded by the Intelligent Community Forum, a New York-based think tank that studies the economic and social development of modern communities. 

Physicist sifts through sandy shrapnel

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Once the site of the Second World War’s bloodiest battles, the beaches of Normandy are now a mecca of sunbathing and swimming. Lurking in the sand, though, is a time capsule of those battles.

Kevin Robbie (Physics) is examining the shrapnel-containing sand on the Normandy beaches by using microscopic imaging to take photographs that are both scientific and artistic. He is working with professional photographer Donald Weber, in a project that combines landscape photography of the beaches with Dr. Robbie’s microscopic photographs of the sand.

Optical microscope image of several pieces of steel shrapnel, showing rust (orange), and salt (white) on the surface.

“Several aspects inspired me to work on this project: the historical importance of the D-Day invasion as a geopolitical event, the artistic juxtaposition of the peaceful appearance of the beaches in the landscape photography with the rough and violent-seeming appearance of the microscopic photographs of the shrapnel grains in the sand,” says Dr. Robbie.

“The shrapnel and sand provides an environmental commentary about the inconspicuous evidence that man-made products of war will remain in these sands for centuries, and the remarkable fact that solidified bubbles of molten iron form nearly-identical spherical particles in the explosions of both artillery shells and meteorites.”

Kevin Robbie

Among the ordinary grains of sand, Dr. Robbie found rounded spheres of iron (called microspherules)   no larger than a period on a printed page. Although these microspherules are sometimes produced from meteorites exploding in the upper atmosphere, they can also occur with bomb and artillery explosions.

The next phase of Dr. Robbie’s research will be a more thorough analysis of the microspherules he observed – quantifying the number of particles per kilogram of sand and distinguishing man-made vs. meteorite origin conclusively.

“In my work, I’m always looking at small things that I don’t see other than through the electron microscope so it’s neat for me to see a piece of history,” says Dr. Robbie. “The remnants of this battle over 60 years ago are still sitting around in the sand.”

The research was published in Canadian Geographic Compass blog.

Using humour to bridge cultural divides

IETP Summer Institute
June 8-13

Keynote address by comedian Gilson Lubin
June 10, 6 pm at Residence Inn by Marriott (7 Earl St.)

More information

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

A comedian and an equity/diversity advisor walk into a classroom…

This setup promises to draw a lot of laughs and foster a serious discussion during the International Educators Training Program Summer Institute next week.

“We want to explore the ways humour can bridge cultural differences,” says Ekta Singh, an equity/diversity advisor in the Equity Office, who will lead the workshop with stand-up comic Gilson Lubin. “We also hope the participants will share the ways they use humour when interacting in an intercultural setting as well as with colleagues.”

[Ekta Singh]Ekta Singh, seen here during a recent Queen's University International Centre socio-cultural training program session, will lead a workshop on humour and intercultural learning during the upcoming International Educators Training Program Summer Institute.

Ms. Singh and Cathy Lemmon, an international programs advisor at Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC), incorporate humour into the socio-cultural training program (SCT) they offer to international students. Some jokes get people from around the world laughing together; other times, the instructors need to take more time explaining what they mean by certain idioms and language.

Humour offers more than just a window into a culture, according to Ms. Singh. She says research has shown that humour can ease the anxiety international students feel when they are experiencing a new culture and help them form bonds with others.

Using humour in a cross-cultural context does pose some risks, though.

“There is a responsibility to be educated about how we use humour in this context,” says Ms. Singh. “For example, there are some issues and topics Canadians feel comfortable joking about in public that people from other cultures might find insulting or offensive.”

In addition to the workshop, Mr. Lubin will also perform during the Summer Institute’s dinner and comedy evening on June 10. The event is open to the public.

QUIC has hosted the IETP Summer Institute since 2003. The core curriculum, courses and workshops offered during the Summer Institute give international education professionals from across Canada and around the world practical skills-based training on a variety of topics.

More information about the Summer Institute is available on the QUIC website.

Provost appoints associate vice-principal, international

By Communications Staff,

Kathy O'Brien, Associate Vice-Principal, International

Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), has announced the appointment of Kathy O’Brien as associate vice-principal, international, effective June 1.

Ms. O’Brien came to Queen’s in 2003 and for the past six years has served as executive director of the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). Over the past six months she assumed the additional responsibility of leading the international portfolio on an interim basis.

“Kathy has done a great job in an interim capacity while continuing as executive director in the Provost’s Office and I am delighted that she has accepted this appointment,” says Provost Harrison. “An important part of her role over the coming months will be wide consultation with the Queen’s community as she refines goals and benchmarks in all areas of our international strategy.”

Queen's in the World

Ms. O’Brien arrived at Queen’s in 2003 as a major gift officer, working in the Faculty of Arts and Science. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from Carleton University and a Master of Public Administration (Management) from Dalhousie University.

Advancing Queen’s profile internationally is a key driver in the university’s strategic framework.

Read the full announcement on the Provost's website

A sea of learning opportunities

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

Following in the footsteps of her mother, aunt and cousin, Rebecca Isaak (Artsci’15) spent a term sailing around the world. Enrolled in the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea (SAS) exchange program, Ms. Isaak earned course credits while travelling to places like China, India and Burma during the winter term of her third year.

Rebecca Isaak visited the Great Wall of China while with Semester at Sea. (Photo provided)

Semester at Sea is a multiple country study abroad program open to students from all disciplines. The program emphasizes hands-on field experiences and engagement in the global community. Instructors often tailor course content to take advantage of the locations visited during the trip.

Because of her religions of the world class, Ms. Isaak was particularly excited about visiting India. “Before we arrived in India I was studying the Hindu deities. Getting to travel to Varanasi, one of the holiest places for Hindus, was just incredible,” she says. “The application of learning was what really made the courses come alive.”

SAS courses range from anthropology to environmental science to Shakespeare, and all courses are taught by doctorate-level educators. For each voyage, a completely new faculty is appointed. Learning isn’t restricted to the classrooms aboard the ship; faculty members typically schedule off-board educational trips to supplement content covered in class.

Holly Fortier (Com’14), who travelled with SAS in 2013, enjoyed these faculty-led trips. When the ship was headed to Hong Kong, her international business class focused on a case study about Hong Kong Disneyland. Upon arrival, the professor arranged for the students to meet with Disneyland’s park managers. They discussed park operations and the implementation of the business strategy the class had been studying.

Semester at Sea courses are similar to those offered on a traditional campus complete with essays and examinations. However, Ms. Fortier says she was blown away by what happened outside the classroom. “The amount of information I learned outside of the classroom far surpassed what I learned inside of it,” she says. “It is such a unique experience that I really believe to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The program goes much deeper than just giving students a chance to see the world. “At the heart of SAS is a desire for students to have an understanding of their global citizenship and responsibilities. It provides a fantastic chance to be surrounded by a community that seeks worldly education like no other,” she says.

More information about the program can be found on the Semester at Sea website.

New award aims to deepen international relations

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

A new national research award is available to help upper-year undergraduate and graduate students conduct research outside of Canada.

“The Mitacs Globalink Research Award offers Queen’s students an excellent opportunity to make international connections early in their research careers and ultimately help the university increase its global engagement,” says Dr. Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research).

Globalink students tour Queen'sMitacs Globalink students visit the Queen's Innovation Park. (Innovation Park Communications)

Queen’s students can apply for the award to support their 12-24 week research project at an accredited university in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Turkey or Vietnam. The program is open to students from all disciplines and provides awards of up to $5,000 to cover student travel expenses. Mitacs recommends students submit their applications by June 13 for projects starting in September 2014.

The research award is one of several Mitacs Globalink initiatives designed to increase two-way mobility between Canada and Mitacs’ partner universities. Queen’s has participated in the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship program for several years, inviting upper-year undergraduate students from countries like Mexico, Brazil and India to join researchers in a variety of departments. The application deadline for the summer 2015 intake of international interns is June 18, 2014.

Alumni of the research internship program can apply for a Globalink Graduate Fellowship. The program helps past participants return to Canada for graduate studies.

Mitacs is a national, non-profit research organization funded by federal and provincial governments. More information is available on the Mitacs Globalink website.


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