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Student Learning Experience

Using new technology in upgraded teaching and learning spaces

Together with the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Physical Plant Services (PPS), Information Technology Services (IT Services) has completed upgrading classrooms across campus with new technology.

These classrooms include:

  • Walter Light Hall
  • Dupuis Hall
  • Dunning Hall
  • Humphrey Auditorium
  • Kingston 201

Technology upgrades include new feature additions such as laser projectors, lecture capture capabilities, a document camera, a touch-screen podium and podium PC, a Blu-ray player and a height adjustable AODA podium. Many classrooms also received rechargeable wireless microphones so faculty need not worry about searching for fresh batteries at the beginning of class. (Note that not all rooms received all technologies and that your specific room may vary. Please check your specific classroom information page to see what your classroom is equipped with).

An instructional video for connecting to each technology in the classroom is available here.

Faculty teaching in upgraded rooms this fall have been given the opportunity to receive in-person training during August and September.

If you have any questions or concerns contact Steve Alexander at alexands@queensu.ca or Andrea Phillipson at andrea.philipson@queensu.ca

Recipients of 2018 Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision

[Queen's University Christine Synpowich Ram Murty Arts and Science]
Ram Murty and Christine Sypnowich. (Supplied Photo)

The School of Graduate Studies is pleased to announce Christine Sypnowich (Philosophy) and Ram Murty (Mathematics and Statistics) as the recipients of the 2018 Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision. The awards will be given during the 2018 Fall Convocation.

The School of Graduate Studies congratulates the winners and thanks them for their leadership, mentorship, and contributions to enriching the academic experience of their graduate students.

To learn more about the recipients, visit the School of Graduate Studies website.

Making Aboriginal education accessible

A Métis student has created an online resource to help teachers learn about Aboriginal education.

[Queen's University Olivia Rondeau Faculty of Education reconciliation]
Olivia Rondeau created a website to support grade school teachers looking to educate their students about Indigenous Peoples. (Supplied Photo)

Grade school teachers in Canada may wish to educate their students about Indigenous Peoples in Canada, but might be unsure where to start. Recognizing this gap, Queen’s student Olivia Rondeau recently launched a new website to support Canadian educators looking to delve deeper into Indigenous matters.

Teaching Aboriginal Education, or TAE for short, is a free online resource, which offers lesson plans, community resources, and a blog to support educators and foster reconciliation.

“Teaching Aboriginal education is so important to the reconciliation and healing process of so many students and their family members,” says Ms. Rondeau. “As teacher candidates, we learn so much about the importance of teaching First Nations, Métis, and Inuit curriculum, but I found that many people were unsure of the resources and community supports available to assist them. So, I created an Aboriginal education website to make it more accessible to teachers.”

Ms. Rondeau hopes that teachers use the materials on the site as a resource to create culturally relevant curriculum in their classrooms so that Aboriginal students can feel represented, valued, and safe in classroom and school communities. While the site was originally created as part of a class project, she intends to continue updating the site throughout the year.

“As someone who is Métis and a teacher candidate, this project was special because I recognize the importance of teaching Aboriginal perspectives, experiences, and initiatives both as a student and as a future teacher,” she says.

The project also gets top marks from the Faculty of Education. Lindsay Morcom, a professor in the Faculty of Education, says Ms. Rondeau has done an “outstanding job”.

“I am constantly impressed by Liv’s commitment to creating positive change and presenting learning opportunities to others,” she says. “In this resource, and in all she does, Liv shows us that the path toward reconciliation will be guided by brilliant young Indigenous leaders.”

Ms. Rondeau’s site can be found at teachingaboriginaleducation.weebly.com.

This story originally appeared on the Faculty of Education’s website.

Schulich Leader Scholarships awarded to four Queen’s students

2018 Schulich Scholars
The 2018 Schulich Scholars at Queen's University are, from left: Angela Choi; Sonal Gupta; Sophia Ludovice; and Peter Matthews. (Supplied Photos)

Four incoming students at Queen’s University are receiving one of Canada’s largest and most prestigious STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) scholarships.

Launched in 2012, Schulich Leader Scholarships is a $100 million program that funds 50 undergraduate scholarships across top Canadian universities annually. Scholarships of $80,000 or $100,000 will be awarded to the following recipients beginning their studies at Queen’s this fall:

  • Sonal Gupta (Kingston, Ont.): Ms. Gupta is a leader within her school. She has acted as a peer mentor and played for the Kingston Impact Basketball’s Junior Elite League of Ontario's (JUEL) preparatory team. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree.
  • Sophia Ludovice (Bedford, N.S.): Ms. Ludovice plans to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. She received many accolades throughout her school years, including being awarded the Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor’s Award.
  • Peter Matthews (Petrolia, Ont.): Mr. Matthews won the Chemical Institute of Canada Award for his project on the effect of various solvents on the rate of electrolysis. He plans to study engineering.
  • Angela Choi (Fredericton, N.B.): Ms. Choi is a pianist who has a strong passion for volunteering and the sciences. In her community, she helped at a local nursing home, school clubs, peer tutoring, and various fundraising events. Ms. Choi will be studying sciences at Queen’s.

“Queen’s is grateful to the Schulich Foundation for providing opportunities to so many future leaders in engineering and technology,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We are proud of all of the Queen’s Schulich Leaders, and honoured these four incoming students have chosen to continue their path of achievement at Queen’s. We warmly welcome them to campus and the university community.”  

To date, 22 Queen’s students have been recognized as Schulich Leaders; there are now 17 current Leaders at Queen’s, with five having graduated. The program was created by one of Canada’s foremost philanthropists, Seymour Schulich, and funds 50 scholarships across Canada and 50 across Israel each year. Mr. Schulich has donated more than $350 million to many educational and health-related causes.

“Schulich Leader Scholarships are the largest STEM scholarships in Canada. With 50 outstanding students selected each year from across Canada, this group represents the best and brightest Canada has to offer,” says Mr. Schulich. “These students will make great contributions to society, both on a national and global scale. With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurricular, and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of technology innovators.”

This is not the first time Mr. Schulich’s philanthropy has benefitted Queen’s. In 2016, Principal Daniel Woolf and Mr. Schulich donated books from their personal collections to create the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection. Mr. Schulich wants to build one of Canada’s top English rare book collections, so he donated additional funds to acquire new books. Recently a 1493 coloured Nuremberg Chronicle was added to the collection. In 2017, one of the world’s oldest printed English-language books, a 1482 copy of Polychronicon, was purchased.

For more information, visit the Schulich Leader Scholarships website.

Living off the land

For 18 students, the great outdoors was their classroom as part of a field study course.

  • [Queen's University Global Development Studies Re-Indigenizing course Eel Lake]
    DEVS 480 student participate in a workshop on identifying and preparing medicinal plants. Many students were surprised to learn that many natural remedies often grow alongside harmful plants such as poison ivy. (Supplied Photo)
  • [Queen's University Global Development Studies Re-Indigenizing course Eel Lake]
    At Big Rock in the River, Professor Lovelace talks about recent conflicts over access to Indigenous food resources like Manòmin, also known as wild rice. In some instances, settlers have stood in solidarity with Indigenous peoples to oppose commercialization and unsustainable harvesting methods. (Supplied Photo)
  • [Queen's University Global Development Studies Re-Indigenizing course Eel Lake]
    After learning about Indigenous architecture, building a secure shelter is one of the first group activities students do when they arrive on the land. Global Development Studies major Wyatt Julien reviews some of the Indigenous theory readings that are an integral part of the course. (Supplied Photo)
  • [Queen's University Global Development Studies Re-Indigenizing course Eel Lake]
    Students get hands on experience harvesting Manòmin and learn how much work is involved to earn high quality calories like rice. Indigenous methods of harvesting are sustainable and preserve the health of the rice beds for future generations. (Supplied Photo)
  • [Queen's University Global Development Studies Re-Indigenizing course Eel Lake]
    Students and instructors pose for one last picture before heading back to Kingston. Cameo appearance by Professor Lovelace's dog Blue. (Supplied Photo)

Hunting, fishing, harvesting wild rice, and building your own shelter – DEVS 480 is a course unlike any other. These activities aren’t just worth marks, they are also what you need to do to keep your belly full and maintain a roof over your head.

The course, which has the full name “Re-Indigenizing People and Environments”, is taught by professors Robert Lovelace and Richard Day from the Department of Global Development Studies, and is supported by many community volunteers.

This field study begins with seven weeks of online study, readings, and discussion before taking students out on the land. Participants then travel to Eel Lake north of Kingston for the field portion of the course.

For the following eight days, students live off of the land in an Indigenous lifestyle, they participate in Indigenous cultural practices like sweat lodges, and complete an in-depth study of Indigenous theory.

“To secure good air, water, food, and relationships, human beings need a close relationship with the earth. Recognizing that we are dependent on the material earth but also upon the symbiotic processes – the interrelated actions – of earth is a beginning,” says Mr. Lovelace.

In addition to foraging for food and building a shelter, the students also hunted with a bow and arrow, learned about medicinal plants, and participated in workshops on tool making, managing soil, and growing food, harvesting, and preserving food.

Jessica Franko (Artsci’19) enrolled in the course seeking something “tangible” and “unique” in her university experience. The course was full of those moments, but what stood out the most for her was harvesting wild rice.

“It really changes how you think of the labour that goes into your food, and changes your connection to the food,” she says. “We all cooked for each other and quite literally fed each other – we had a day we were not allowed to feed ourselves – and this sparked discussions around food security and our relationship to food.”

Ms. Franko is quick to point out, however, the challenges are not just physical – they are also mental and emotional.

“There was a lot of theorizing in this class and I sometimes found it difficult to engage in the heavy hitting phrases like decolonization or re-indigenization,” she explains. “These are not easy terms to work through without the proper context, readings, and guidance. We had a lot of difficult conversations trying to figure out where, as settlers, we fit into the discourse.”

Max Lindley Peart (Sc’19, Artsci’19) similarly found the mix of theoretical and practical knowledge useful and challenging. After hearing about the course from upper year students, he had been hoping to enroll – and it didn’t disappoint.

“This course didn’t only privilege learning from a very intellectual perspective – it also gave lessons which were very emotional,” he says. “This came to a point for me when, on our last night on the land, we held a campfire and brought out music, stories, and jokes as a community. It really reinforced for me how we became a community – when we got back to Kingston, none of us wanted to say goodbye.”

“Throughout the whole field study, my heart felt full because I was doing this with a community of friends I could be open and honest with,” he adds. “There is no better learning environment, and it’s the kind of environment I will strive to create wherever I go after this.”

DEVS 480 is only offered every second year. The course is open to all students but mainly attracts students from the Faculty of Arts and Science, and a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners. To learn more about Global Development Studies course offerings, visit the Department’s website.

Nature and nurture

Graduate students participating in two annual Queen’s writing retreats find that, by the lake, the words just seem to flow better.

[Queen's University Dissertation on the Lake Suyin Olguin Lake Opinicon]
Nevena Martinović, Suyin Olguin, and Jhordan Layne found a spot by the lake to work on their dissertations. (Supplied Photo)

Picture this: a cabin in the woods, nestled in beside a lake. Adirondack chairs, canoes drifting lazily by in the distance, and wildlife scampering about – with this peaceful stillness occasionally interrupted by bursts of laptop keyboards clacking. 

The scenic venues of Elbow Lake and Lake Opinicon are each, for one week of the year, turned into writing retreat centres for graduate students, offering the 50 participants a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and focus on their thesis. Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean with the School of Graduate Studies, says the retreats combine the serenity of the lakeside settings, the comfort of the cabins and home-cooked meals, and a sense of community which the participants say continues long after the retreats have ended. 

“Both at the Lake Shift and Dissertation on the Lake retreats we try to create an environment that is conducive to writing as well as self-care,” she says. “Students reconnect with their research and can try new work habits, while also allowing themselves to rest and enjoy socializing with their peers.” 

[Amanda Hansen Lake Shift]
Amanda Hansen was clearly ready to 'take the Lake Shift', as she attended in 2017 and returned to Lake Opinicon this year. (Supplied Photo)

The Lake Shift, which takes place at QUBS in July, invites students from a number of Ontario universities to meet at Lake Opinicon and focus on their research for five days. During their time, the students receive plenty of support and guidance to help them through the task ahead of them. After attending Lake Shift in 2017, Brock University nursing student Amanda Hansen formed a research project with another attendee focused on nursing education.

"I immediately knew I wanted to apply to the retreat again this year to continue these conversations and start new ones, but also to have dedicated time to write in a space that provides a supportive and energizing atmosphere enabling purposeful writing," says Ms. Hansen. "Some interesting new connections have been made again this year and conversations about new research projects are in the works. Apart from this research project, I also had the organized and motivated time to finish my literature review for my thesis."

Dissertation on the Lake, meanwhile, brings Queen’s graduate students to Elbow Lake in August for a five-day retreat that is focused on writing – though students have been known to occasionally take a breather and enjoy some hiking or other relaxation activities. The retreat, now in its fifth year, typically attracts 30 participants.  

Suyin Olguin is a doctoral candidate and is participating for her second consecutive year because she finds the uninterrupted writing time valuable and important for her health. 

“The demands of teaching and of motherhood throughout the academic year make it very difficult to muster the energy and dedication needed to complete a project of such length and depth,” says Ms. Olguin. “I have produced incredible work at Dissertation on the Lake, all of which is now part of a chapter, has been published, or has been presented at an international conference.” 

This year’s Dissertation on the Lake retreat takes place August 27 – 31. Stay tuned to the School of Graduate Studies website for updates from Elbow Lake. 

Read more about how this year’s Lake Shift went on the Graduate Studies website

Creating change and empowering entrepreneurs

Eight entrepreneurial teams took home seed funding in the annual Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition. 

[Queen's DDQIC innovation entrepreneurship pitch competition ClimaCube]
Karina Bland and James Hantho present on behalf of ClimaCube, which took home $30,000 at the pitch competition. (University Communications)

Teams trained all summer to perfect their presentation, prepare their product, and plan their pitch on the big stage. 

The annual Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition is where they found out if their entrepreneurial dreams would become start-up realities, as judges from across the Canadian business community listened to their ideas, asked probing questions, and ultimately decided which teams would be leaving with seed funding to support their business. 

“We had yet another great group of entrepreneurs pitching this year, and regardless of the outcome I want to congratulate them for their hard work,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. “Their success is truly our success as a city, as these start-ups can eventually grow to create jobs, introduce new and important products to market, and spur investment in our community.” 

The teams competing include 15 groups who participated in the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) program over the summer, and a number of community ventures. The QICSI competitors include students from Queen’s, St. Lawrence College, and a number of other universities, and also include the winning team from the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge. 

The competition was held from noon until 6:30 pm at The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, and was attended by friends, family, faculty, and other well-wishers. Each team was given just a few minutes to present, and took a number of questions from judges ranging from strategy to product development to financing. 

The winning teams took home a combined $105,000, with ClimaCube taking home the largest portion. James Hantho (Comm'19), speaking on behalf of the team, called the experience "surreal".

"As soon as we heard the news, we were overcome with feelings of joy, shock, and hope for the next stage of journey," he said. "What made the night most special was the support and kindness we felt from the QICSI cohort, the DDQIC team, and everyone else that attended the event. This prize gives us the utmost hope that we can bring our vision to life and to truly make a difference."

Second place was claimed by Emulgreen, which offered an ambitious high-performance emulsifier product that the founders acknowledge may have been difficult for average consumers to wrap their heads around. 

“Receiving $15,000 from the reputable DDQIC Regional Pitch Competition gives EmulGreen a strong standing for establishing future collaborations," says Teodor Lange, one of the cofounders. "We will be able to provide our potential customers with product samples and increase our traction, ultimately contributing to a safer, cleaner, and more efficient chemical industry.”


ClimaCube - $30,000
This start-up is developing portable cold storage units to extend the quality of products as they are in transit, such as samples or vaccinations. Accepting on behalf of the team was Karina Bland (Sc'18) and James Hantho (Comm'19).

Emulgreen - $15,000
Helping to make the chemistry industry more sustainable, Emulgreen is introducing high-performance emulsifiers based on natural resources that give enhanced emulsion properties. Their current focus lies on cosmetics applications. Delivering the winning pitch was the inventor of the emulsifier and co-founder of the start-up, Joe Glasing, and his business partner Mr. Lange. Mr. Glasing is a PhD candidate in chemical engineering.

InField ID - $10,000
InField ID is using machine learning to develop an app for farmers to easily identify and track invasive species that harm crops in fields. 

Durabyte - $10,000
This team is bringing Queen's research to market by implementing and deploying proprietary flash storage controller technology that will increase the lifespan of flash storage chips for use in big data storage solutions, mitigating the ever-present need for durable data storage.   

Illumirate - $10,000
Illumirate is focused on the development of sustainable oxygen systems to support premature infants born in hospitals in developing countries.

MIR Technologies - $10,000
This start-up has developed a new type of drone which is capable of performing high-altitude work, such as conducting building inspections.

Child Cancer Survivor Canada - $10,000
This not-for-profit aims to support child cancer survivors with awareness, peer support, and access to care to childhood cancer survivors across Canada. 


Wisdom of the Market

The DDQIC introduced a new award this year, which allowed the audience to vote for their favourite team and help the judges allocate the funding. In the end, two teams earned the Wisdom of the Market award. 

Thanks to audience support, Firefi Rewards - a company which pitched to change small business loyalty rewards programs with a solution currently being rolled out in Kingston and Prince Edward County - picked up $5,000. Durabyte also added $5,000 to their total for the day.

Queen’s Reads book for 2018-19 unveiled

This year’s Queen’s Reads book will take the university community on a trip down the 401. 

[Queen's Reads University book Catherine Hernandez Scarborough]
Volunteers prepare copies of Scarborough for distribution during the Queen's Reads campaign. (University Communications)

This year’s Queen’s Reads book will take the university community to a place that may be familiar for some, and may challenge students, faculty, and staff to look at it through different eyes.

Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez tells the interconnected stories of members of a culturally diverse Scarborough neighbourhood, including recent immigrants, Indigenous Peoples, single parents, and children.

Queen’s Reads is an annual common reading program which seeks to engage the university community in dialogue. Every year, a selection committee comprising students, staff, and faculty members aims to choose a book by a Canadian author which covers themes that are part of ongoing conversations on campus, will engage students, and are topical in the broader Canadian context. Last year, the committee chose The Break by Indigenous author Katherena Vermette.

After evaluating a number of options, Scarborough was chosen as this year’s book. With the selection made, the Student Experience Office in the Division of Student Affairs coordinates the year-long programming. And Woo Kim, Manager of the Student Experience Office, says they have a lot planned.

“We encourage everyone to take advantage of these opportunities, even if you've only read a page - part of the campaign is about reading the book, and part of it is engaging on the topics and themes,” says Ms. Kim.

The Student Experience Office will be giving away 5,000 copies of the book to students, faculty, and staff, with the majority of copies being distributed in the first weeks of the fall term.

In addition, the team has plenty of activities planned throughout the year. There is a documentary screening and panel discussion planned for the fall, an author event with Ms. Hernandez in November, and discussion groups taking place throughout the fall and winter.

There will also be designated ‘Reading Nooks’ – physical locations across campus where the university community will be encouraged to read together – and regular blog posts on the Student Experience Office website from members of the Queen’s community writing about the book, the topics and themes, and their love of reading.

And if you cannot make it to the groups or events, you can always organize your own – like one group of staff did as part of last year’s program.

In addition to her book’s selection for this year’s edition of the Queen’s Reads program, Ms. Hernandez will also be the Writer-in-Residence for the Department of English for the fall term, focusing on creative writing. The residency is funded through the Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds - Arts Fund – Visiting Artist in Residence, as well as the Canada Council for the Arts.

[Catherine Hernandez]
Catherine Hernandez, author of Scarborough, will be the Writer-in-Residence for the Department of English this fall. (Supplied Photo) 

As part of this residency, she will be working on her next novel, Crosshairs, and organizing workshops and healing circles around LGBTQ2s and racialized communities at Queen's University, and within the larger Kingston community.

"Crosshairs is a difficult novel to write because it means engaging in difficult discussions around race, religion, and identity,” she says. “With the support of Queen's, I look forward to digging deeper into the questions, 'What price do we pay by being passive in the face of white supremacy? And what price do we pay for fighting back?'"

There will be a welcome event for Ms. Hernandez on September 21 at 2:30 pm in Watson Hall Room 517, which the Queen’s community and general public are welcome to attend.

Those seeking a copy of Scarborough should keep an eye out for the Queen’s Reads booth at the ASUS Sidewalk Sale, Queen’s in the Park, and pop-up shops at Union and University (U&U) events during Orientation Week.

The book will also be available to students at the AMS offices and the Student Experience Office in the John Deutsch University Centre, Stauffer Library, Duncan McArthur Hall, residences, and the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre. In addition, distance education advisors will be mailing free copies of the book to their students.

Some advanced copies have been distributed to offices on campus; staff and faculty are encouraged to share these copies within their offices.

Anyone requiring an accessible format copy of the book is asked to contact the Adaptive Technology Centre at adaptive.technology.centre@queensu.ca.

Learn more about Queen’s Reads on the Student Experience Office website.

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.

Orientation changes encourage inclusivity

Several recommendations of the Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group have been completed in time for Orientation 2018.

[Queen's University Orientation students]
The Undergraduate Orientation Review was a recommendation of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report, and was launched last August. The working group's final report was issued in Spring of 2017. (Photo by Garrett Elliot)

First-year students participating in Orientation Week activities this fall will benefit from a number of changes designed to make the experience more inclusive. These changes stem from a report which focused on creating a more welcoming orientation experience for new students.

“Our campus is at its best when everyone is engaged, respected, and feels valued – and creating that environment starts with events like undergraduate orientation,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “We continue to work with our AMS and faculty partners to implement these important recommendations, and we look forward to hearing from students about their experiences with orientation this fall.”

The Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group issued its report this past spring. It made 20 recommendations to be completed by the university and the Alma Mater Society (AMS) by fall of 2019. Forming this working group was a recommendation of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI).

A number of recommendations are currently underway, including the development of equity, diversity, and inclusivity training modules for orientation leaders; the implementation of an all-student event during orientation; more formalized collaborations between the Division of Student Affairs and the AMS; updates to the Orientation website; and the formation of a Deans Working Group.

“It is so important that our new students start their University experience knowing that we are all excited to have them as members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities and that they belong here,” says Corinna Fitzgerald, Assistant Dean (Student Life and Learning), Student Affairs. “We have been really encouraged by the collaborative spirit from all campus and community partners including the AMS, faculty groups and administrators, in this year’s planning.”  

Additional recommendations will be fulfilled following the completion of Orientation Week 2018, such as enhancements to a survey to better analyze whether the orientation experience met key organizational goals.

“Our student-run Orientation Week is an amazing opportunity for upper-years to engage with incoming students to provide them with a positive introduction to Queen’s,” says Munro Watters, Vice-Principal, University Affairs with the Alma Mater Society. “We want to continue doing all that we can to provide an inclusive environment for our new students and are very excited to see what we can accomplish in collaboration with the University!”

The schedule for Orientation Week 2018 is also changing to accommodate the introduction of a fall-term break. Following Residence Move-in Day on Saturday, Sept. 1, University Orientation activities will be held on Sunday, Sept. 2. Faculty Orientation will take place September 3, 4, and 5. Undergraduate fall term classes will start on Thursday, Sept. 6 and 7, followed by more Faculty Orientation activities on Saturday, Sept. 8. University Orientation will continue on Sunday, Sept. 9. 

To see the Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group final report, visit the Principal’s website.

For more information on Orientation Week 2018, visit queensu.ca/orientation.  


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