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Engaging the community in inclusivity

The 2017-18 budget allocated $1 million for diversity and inclusivity initiatives, including support for ideas from the community.

[The QBAS conference team]
The Queen's Black Academic Society (QBAS) conference team. From left to right: Dayna Richards (Artsci '19), Kianah Lecuyer (Artsci '19), Maclite Tesfaye (Artsci '19), Sydney Williams (Artsci '18), and Brandon Tyrell (Artsci '19). (Photo by Zoe Walwyn)

When the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) issued its final report last year, the university was given dozens of recommendations to respond to – creating new positions, updating policies, and funding initiatives.

To help meet some of the needs, the university set aside $1 million per year over three years dedicated specifically to diversity and inclusivity initiatives. The funding has primarily been used to pay for a number of big-picture priorities, but some was put aside to support community initiatives – mainly to bring in speakers and host events.

“A more diverse campus community enhances our academic mission, our student experience, and our research,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “These initiatives have offered many opportunities to share diverse perspectives and ideas across the university over the past year, and I thank all of the organizers who are helping us build a more inclusive community.”

[Photo from Mus[interpreted] art collection]
Additional funding for the Journal of Critical Race Inquiry has allowed them to purchase art like this image, from the “Truth & Dare Project” by Zahra Agjee, to enhance the journal’s presentation. (Supplied Photo)

A total of six initiatives were funded, resulting in dozens of high profile speakers visiting campus and some enhancements to a key diversity publication produced at Queen’s.

The Journal of Critical Race Inquiry, a publication based in Queen’s Gender Studies department, received some additional funding to help with the journal’s long-term planning and allowed them to make some investments to enhance the journal’s presentation – for instance, the February edition featured an art piece from the (Mus)interpreted project. Providing more funding for the journal was a recommendation of the PICRDI report.

In the academic year ahead, Samantha King, Head of the Department of Gender Studies, says the journal is planning an international symposium and special issue on ‘Decolonial Sex and Love’.

The Studies in National and International Development (SNID) speaker series was another initiative which received support. In addition to featuring 12 Queen’s academics, SNID 2017-18 co-chair Karen Dubinsky says the funding they received helped them bring in 12 up-and-coming speakers.

Upcoming Events
SNID: Regulating Romance: Hindus, Muslims and Proscribed Pleasures in Modern India – Thurs, Apr 19, 5 – 6:30 pm, Mackintosh-Corry Hall Room D214

Muslim Societies, Global Perspectives: The Medieval Mediterranean: Interconnected Histories – Sat, Apr 28, 9 am – 5 pm, Watson Hall Room 217

“Some of the highlights of this year’s series were Tanya Talaga, author of Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Deaths and Hard Truths in a Northern City; and Robin Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present,” says Dr. Dubinsky, who is a Professor in Global Development Studies and History. “Both of these authors came to Queen’s at the beginning their book tours, and these titles have since become celebrated across Canada.”

Other groups across the institution and the Kingston community joined in with the Provost’s Office to help fund some of these programs. For example, the Faculty of Arts & Science partnered with the Provost’s Office to help fund the Muslim Societies-Global Perspectives initiative, which hosted a series of events looking at the legacy of Kingston resident and Syrian immigrant George Masoud, the 2017 Québec mosque massacre, and medieval Jerusalem.

[Adnan Husain, Ariel Salzmann, Gord Dueck]
Adnan Husain, Ariel Salzmann, and Gord Dueck of the History Department pose with a poster from their event about the life of George Masoud. (University Communications)

The support also resulted in some brand new projects, such as the Future of Black Scholarship Conference organized by the Queen’s Black Academic Society. More than 90 students, faculty, and alumni attended, and organizers say they hope to build on that with a second conference in 2019. Various community and corporate sponsors supplemented the Provost’s Office sponsorship.

Dr. Shearer says the Provost’s Office will seek to raise awareness of the opportunity to apply for funding in the year ahead. Her office is currently drafting terms of reference for the application process, which will be unveiled this fall.

Reports will be issued in the near future which detail the university’s overall progress in meeting the PICRDI recommendations since the report was issued last year. You can find links to all the mid-term updates on the Deputy Provost’s webpage.

New Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies appointed

Dr. Fahim Quadir joins Queen’s from York University.

Queen’s University announced today the appointment of Fahim Quadir as Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies for a five-year term effective July 1, 2018.

[Fahim Quadir]
Fahim Quadir has been appointed as the next Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, effective July 1, 2018.

Dr. Quadir joins Queen’s from York University where he is currently Interim Dean and Associate Vice-President Graduate in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, and a professor of Development Studies and Social Science. He was enthusiastically recommended for the position by the Principal’s Advisory Committee, chaired by Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Quadir has accepted my invitation to lead the Queen’s School of Graduate Studies,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Promoting and supporting the graduate mission is one of Queen’s highest priorities, and Dr. Quadir will work to provide strategic direction, academic planning leadership, and administrative oversight to achieve the highest possible standards in graduate education and research.”

Previously, Dr. Quadir has held academic positions at St. Lawrence University in New York, Dalhousie University in Halifax, and the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh. He also taught Political Studies here at Queen’s for 18 months from 1999 to 2000. Dr. Quadir then joined York University in 2001 and in 2006 he became the founding director of the Graduate Program in Development Studies and its undergraduate program in International Development Studies, both of which aimed to trans-nationalize the process of knowledge production.

Over the past several years, he has championed a variety of innovations to enhance the graduate student experience at York, including new online tools, improved student complaint processes, strengthened supervisory policies and education, and more supports for international graduate students.

“Dr. Quadir brings both broad expertise in graduate education and passion for the graduate student experience. I am delighted that he is coming back to Queen’s to take on this very important leadership role,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic).

As a researcher, Dr. Quadir specializes in International Development, International Relations and International Political Economy. His current work focuses on South-South cooperation, democratic cosmopolis, emerging donors, aid effectiveness, good governance, civil society, and human development. He has edited/co-edited five books and published extensively in various international peer reviewed journals.

He was the recipient of several SSHRC grants, the Fulbright Scholarship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, International Development Research Centre ‘Canada in the World’ Fellowship, and Killam Memorial Scholarship, among others. In 2007, he was presented with the York University-Wide Teaching Award for teaching excellence in the full-time faculty category.

“I look forward to collaborating with colleagues across all faculties at Queen’s to ensure the university’s continued reputation for excellence and leadership in the nexus of graduate teaching, learning and research,” says Dr. Quadir.

The principal and provost wish to extend their most sincere thanks to Brenda Brouwer for her exceptional tenure as vice-provost and dean, and to the members of the Principal’s Advisory Committee for their commitment and sound advice.

Principal’s Advisory Committee

• Benoit-Antoine Bacon (Chair) – Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
• Lori Stewart (Secretary) – Director, Office of the Provost & Vice-Principal (Academic)
• Adam Ali – Teaching Fellow, School of Kinesiology & Health Studies
• Monica Corbett – Director, Admissions & Student Services, School of Graduate Studies
• Ann Deer – Indigenous Recruitment & Support Coordinator
• John Fisher – Interim Vice-Principal (Research)
• Il Yong Kim – Associate Professor, Mechanical & Materials Engineering
• Ceren Kolsarici – Associate Professor of Marketing, Smith School of Business
• Palmer Lockridge – Vice-President (University Affairs), Alma Mater Society
• Rebecca Luce-Kapler – Dean, Faculty of Education
• Stefy McKnight – Vice-President (Graduate), Society of Graduate & Professional Students
• Cherie Metcalf – Associate Dean (Academic), Queen's Law
• Kathy O'Brien – Associate Vice-Principal (International)
• Stephanie Simpson – Executive Director (Human Rights and Equity Offices) and University Advisor on Equity and Human Rights
• Denise Stockley – Office of the Provost (Teaching & Learning Portfolio) and the Faculty of Health Sciences
• Stéfanie von Hlatky – Associate Professor of Political Studies and Director, Centre for International & Defence Policy

Inclusion in the classroom

The Centre for Teaching and Learning is working to ensure curriculum meets the needs of Queen’s diverse student body.

[Klodiana Kolomitro and Ian Fanning]
Klodiana Kolomitro and Ian Fanning of the Centre for Teaching and Learning will play a key role in examining curriculum through the lens of diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation efforts. (University Communications)

The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is looking at all of Queen’s curriculum and asking the question, “How do we ensure it is reflective of the inclusive community we are striving to create?”

Following recommendations of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI), and the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) task force, faculties, schools and departments are embarking on a curriculum review to ensure that racialized students, Indigenous students, and all students of diverse backgrounds and identities see themselves reflected.

That review process is part of the CTL’s mandate, which is to ensure quality teaching and build teaching and educational leadership capacity at Queen’s.

“To create a more inclusive learning environment, we are working on a number of initiatives that will ensure that our curriculum reflects the diverse viewpoints and experiences of a greater proportion of our community,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “By taking steps to ensure the inclusion of content reflecting the experiences and perspectives of diverse groups, including Indigenous students and racialized students, we can begin to reduce barriers to education and create a more welcoming university for all.”

To better equip the CTL team as they work to enhance curriculum, the centre’s staff have taken courses centred on mental health awareness, creating positive space, trans-inclusion, and cultural safety training. In addition, the whole team participated in a KAIROS blanket exercise designed to help explain the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The CTL is also ensuring it has the right leadership in place within the unit on diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation matters. Klodiana Kolomitro, an Educational Developer in the CTL, has been appointed as the centre’s specialist on equity and inclusivity in curriculum. Educational developers like Dr. Kolomitro work closely with educators to cultivate inclusive teaching and assessment practices that reflect our students’ experiences and create space for imagining alternatives.

“The curriculum that we design can be a powerful vehicle for asking courageous questions, examining our assumptions and academic practices, and truly recognizing the limits of our own knowledge,” says Dr. Kolomitro. “If we decide on one curriculum, we must consider whose voices are heard, what knowledge and worldview is privileged over others, and why that is? I am really looking forward to enhancing inclusive excellence, and supporting all Queen's educators in developing a curriculum that encourages relevance, meaning, and accessibility.”

Complementing Dr. Kolomitro’s work, the CTL recently hired Ian Fanning as the centre’s first Indigenous curriculum developer. Dr. Fanning will be responsible for the creation and delivery of professional development programming on Indigenous knowledge, ways of knowing, and anti-colonial training at the individual, unit, department, and faculty levels.

He will also facilitate consultations with educators and educational support professionals to build capacity and provide leadership in the area of Indigenous curriculum development across the university. Dr. Fanning will work closely with the Director of Indigenous Initiatives, the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, and other Indigenous support professionals on campus.

The centre isn’t just investing in its own learning – they are also sharing what they know with the broader community. In March, the CTL hosted a workshop to provide educators with strategies for providing classroom and supervisory experiences that are inclusive of transgender students. This follows similar workshops on Indigenous cultural awareness in the classroom, and building inclusive learning environments.

The efforts to incorporate diversity into the learning environment do not stop at matters of curriculum. To address recommendations in the PICRDI Report, the Provost has also struck a subgroup of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Teaching and Learning to revise the Teaching and Learning action plan and the Queen’s Learning Outcomes Framework through the lenses of diversity, inclusivity, and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

These efforts to diversify Queen’s curriculum align with the recommendations of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report and the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission task force final report.

“We recognize that our community contains many diverse identities, and having a greater understanding of and appreciation for different cultures is important for our learners as they join increasingly diverse work and study environments.” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “We are striving to promote an inclusive living and learning environment here at Queen’s, and we are committed to continuous improvement through dialogue and engagement with all members of our community.”

To learn more about upcoming teaching and learning sessions, visit the Centre for Teaching and Learning’s website

Dreams of reconciliation

Among the Principal’s Dream Courses funded last year, two courses were specifically focused on sharing Indigenous knowledge.

For one group of students, their semester-long dive into Indigenous culture is nearing an end – while another class gets set to begin its journey this summer.

[Lee Maracle]
Lee Maracle, an early Indigenous feminist, activist, and writer, speaks to the ENGL218 class. (University Communications)

Heather Macfarlane, Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of English, has just recently completed the first offering of ENGL218: Introduction to Indigenous Literature in Canada. The course examined Indigenous novels, traditional stories, poetry, short stories and plays from various time periods, written by Métis, Inuit and First Nations authors.

“My goal was to provide the students with insight into Indigenous cultures that they might not otherwise have,” she says. “Students love to have answers but I wanted to open things up for them, and show them how much there was to learn about Indigenous Peoples in Canada. I want to get them asking questions, with the goal that they ended up with more questions than when they started.”

Texts for ENGL218 – Introduction to Indigenous Literature
● Dimaline, Cherie. The Marrow Thieves.
● Halfe, Louise. Burning in this Midnight Dream.
● Maracle, Lee. Sojourner’s Truth and Other Stories.
● Moses, Daniel David. Almighty Voice and his Wife.
● Robertson, David Alexander. Betty: the Helen Betty Osborne Story.
● Ruffo, Armand Garnet. Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird.
● Van Camp, Richard. The Lesser Blessed.

In addition to reading the stories, the class of 54 students also welcomed a number of the authors to campus for weekly guest lectures. To engage them in these talks, Dr. Macfarlane had the class conduct traditional greetings, introduce the authors, and prepare thoughtful questions in advance.

The speakers included Onangaate, a knowledge keeper from the Kingston Indigenous community; Lee Maracle, an early Indigenous feminist, activist, and writer; and two authors from Queen’s including Daniel David Moses of the Drama department and Armand Ruffo of the English department. The final speaker was Louise Halfe, who shared poems about her experiences as a student at a residential school.

Of particular interest to the students was Cherie Dimaline, winner of the 2017 Governor General's Award for English-language children's literature. Ms. Dimaline was the author of dystopian post-apocalyptic book The Marrow Thieves.

Dr. Macfarlane’s course will be offered again this fall, potentially with changes to the author lineup. The talks are being video recorded, and Dr. Macfarlane hopes to use the recordings with future offerings of the course if it becomes a permanent addition to the department’s course lineup.

“I am thankful for the Principal’s Dream Course funding, as I would not have been able to bring the authors in otherwise,” she says. “I am hopeful the fall intake will be even more popular than this term’s offering.”

[Students walk along a rocky trail]
Indigenous community members lead students on a nature walk. (Supplied Photo)

In June, another Dream Course will get underway as Heather Castleden begins her first offering of GPHY309: Indigenous Perspectives on the Environment and Health. This field school is an opportunity to meet with Indigenous peoples to learn directly from them about their interconnected relationships with the land, environmental management, and human health.

“This is based on a field school I used to offer at Dalhousie University, and builds on many of the same relationships I developed when I was working out in Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia),” says Dr. Castleden, who is the Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities. “There seems to be a lot of excitement from the students - that Queen’s is finally offering something like this.”

As part of the three-week course, students will spend two weeks in Mi’kma’ki meeting with members of several Mi'kmaw First Nations.

[Google Maps screenshot of the students' route through Nova Scotia]
Dr. Castleden's students will be on the road for 14 hours as they meet with Indigenous communities across Nova Scotia. (Google Maps)

Their travels will take them to, for example, Pictou Landing, an Indigenous community that has been heavily affected by a local pulp and paper mill; to Unama’ki (Cape Breton), where they will learn about two-eyed seeing from the Elder who originated the principle. of embracing the best of both Indigenous and Western knowledge systems.They will meet with other Indigenous knowledge-holders that apply this principle to interpreting the local archaeological history and geological formations.

If time permits, they’ll also participate in a cultural camp in Bear River on the western side of Nova Scotia.

Along the way, they will connect with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs, visit the site of a centralized residential school, go eel fishing at night (if the weather cooperates), and participate in land-based learning activities. The students have also been invited to a pow wow. The focus is on experiential learning with many in-person meetings and engaging in ceremony when invited to do so by Mi’kmaw hosts.

“This field school is meant to challenge the students emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually,” says Dr. Castleden. “When they get back to Kingston, the students will each have the opportunity to reflect on their experience by preparing short video stories, which will be showcased at a special open event on June 15.”

When the course is offered for a second time next year, Dr. Castleden says she may take the field school out to the west coast where she has other established relationships instead – though she is also keen to eventually develop local relationships so students can experience something similar in southeastern Ontario.

[Principal's Dream Course logo]
The logo for the Principal's Dream Courses program. (Supplied Photo)

Each year, the Principal’s Office funds a number of courses through the Principal’s Dream Course program. Interested faculty should submit proposals tied to key themes, such as sustainability, Indigenous knowledge, and diversity and inclusion, and successful proposals are granted up to $15,000 in one-time funding to offer the course for at least two iterations.

The Principal’s Dream Course program is administered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning – learn more about it on the CTL’s website. The 2018/19 recipients will be announced in the near future.

Building teacher networks across borders

A group of teacher-candidates travels to Africa in support of 1 Million Teachers, a startup created by a Queen's alumnus.

[1 Million Teachers host workshop in Abidjan, Cote D'Ivore]
A group of Queen's teacher-candidates visited the Iqrah International Model Kiddies College in Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire as part of the collaboration with 1 Million Teachers, a startup created by Queen's alumnus Hakeem Subair. (Supplied Photo) 
 

The Faculty of Education has partnered with a startup, created by a Queen’s alumnus, that is providing support for teachers in countries where in-class and educational resources are lacking.

1 Million Teachers is the brainchild of Hakeem Subair, a graduate of the Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at Smith School of Business. The organization’s goal is to help attract, train, and retain 1 million teachers, as well as develop the capacity to train more, in developing countries through its online platform. Utilizing reward-based training, the program aims to transform teachers into life-long learners who are engaged and motivated – positively impacting the future of millions of children around the world.

A number of faculty members from across Queen’s are involved in the advisory team while a group of 13 final year teacher candidates from the Faculty of Education recently traveled to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to deliver workshops and engage with teachers interested in the program.

Collaboration and relationship-building is a key theme.

“We’re not going there and saying ‘this is what you need to know.’ That’s not our approach,” says Jane Chin (Education), who traveled with the group and is a member of the 1MT advisory board. “The teacher-candidates are excited because the whole point is to go sit with these teachers, who are their colleagues, and say ‘What do we have in common and how do we support each other?’ They’re really excited to have the opportunity to learn from other teachers.”

All but one of the teacher candidates is in the Educators Abroad focus track of the teacher education program.

As with any project, there is a lot of work that must be done first in creating the structure and connections, as well as the online content for the program.

“All of the teacher candidates involved expressed an interest in teaching overseas or cross-cultural teaching and they have to do a three-week alternative practicum as part of our program,” says Dr. Chin. “This group has worked really hard and has put together 10 modules to be used and sent out through 1 Million Teachers. That is a lot of content.”

The support, both online and on the ground, has helped build a strong foundation for 1 Million Teachers while also providing valuable experience for the teacher candidates, says Mr. Subair.

“The modules are high-quality work,” he says. “The (teacher candidates) are involved in every aspect of the process – the writing, the audio and the editing of the graphics as well.” 

In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, the Queen’s group will lead a number of workshops while fostering the creation of professional learning communities for attendees, a key element for 1MT.

“We will get the dialogue going – here are some of the things we are thinking about in Canada, here’s some things we think about in relation to the new ideas about teaching, getting students to ask good questions, how do you do it, kind of sharing – but then the ultimate goal is to facilitate these teachers connecting to one another,” says Dr. Chin. “We want them to know that they do not have a lot of resources but we do. You communicate with one another, support one another and we’ll support you.”

Having grown up in Nigeria, Mr. Subair knows the monumental task facing teachers in sub-Saharan Africa and other locations all too well. In many countries there is little funding or resources provided to teachers. As a result, for many families there is a stigma toward pursuing teaching as a career. Still, he points out, there are those who remain passionate about teaching and educating the next generation.

Through 1MT, these teachers can get the support they need. There’s also a longer-term goal of improving the situation for teachers overall, Mr. Subair adds.

“This is the community. The idea is all the teachers using the platform are part of the community. Imagine having someone like Professor Chin and someone is asking a really technical question about teaching and she’s able to respond,” he says. “There’s an advocacy piece as well. We are engaging with governments and we want to be able to strongly advocate for teachers with governments to change policy such as increasing remuneration.”

To learn more about the program, visit the 1 Million Teachers website.

A healthy approach to the Three Minute Thesis

  • Priyanka Gogna, a master’s student in epidemiology
    Priyanka Gogna, a master’s student in epidemiology, receives the top prize of $1,000 from Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, for winning the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. (Photo by Greg Black)
  • Dhruv Bisario, a master’s student in astrophysics and astronomy
    Dhruv Bisario, a master’s student in astrophysics and astronomy, was selected as runner-up for his talk on “Accretion in Old Galaxies - A Piece of the Puzzle.” (Photo by Greg Black)
  • Shannon Neville, a master's students in biomedical engineering
    Shannon Neville, a master's students in biomedical engineering, makes her presentation at the Three Minute Thesis competition on Wednesday, March 28. (Photo by Greg Black)
  • Three Minute Thesis competitors and judges
    The Queen's Three Minute Thesis brought together graduate students from across the university who were competing for the title before a panel of non-specialist judges. (Photo by Greg Black)

Priyanka Gogna, a master’s student in epidemiology, is this year’s winner of the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Using only one static slide and no props, the graduate student competitors must present their research to a panel of non-specialist judges within a maximum time of 180 seconds.

In her presentation “When prevention could be the cure,” Ms. Gogna, spoke about how prevention is perhaps the best approach when dealing with disease rather than always looking for a cure.

Ms. Gogna, who is supervised by Will King (Public Health Sciences), also won the People’s Choice Award through a vote by audience members.

Dhruv Bisario, a master’s student in astrophysics and astronomy was runner-up with his talk on “Accretion in Old Galaxies - A Piece of the Puzzle.”

Ms. Gogna will now represent Queen’s at the Ontario 3MT on April 19 at York University. 

“For the Queen’s 3MT our students put in hours of preparation for their three minutes in front of the judges,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies. “The competition helps students hone communication skills while at the same time making their research accessible and it’s a great way to celebrate the innovative and thought-provoking research our graduate students are conducting across campus.”

The 3MT is a communications competition for graduate students. Developed in Australia by the University of Queensland in 2008, it has expanded to a series of competitions held at universities around the globe. In 2012, Queen’s held the first 3MT competition in Ontario and since then, Queen’s students have consistently excelled at both provincial and national competitions.

Six budding businesses boosted

A pitch competition organized by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre resulted in cash for some innovative ideas. 

The ClimaCube team, from L-R: James Hantho (Comm'18), Leigh-Ann McKnight (Sc'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18). (University Communications)
The ClimaCube team, from L-R: James Hantho (Comm'18), Leigh-Ann McKnight (Sc'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18). (University Communications)

Queen’s students are applying their skills to tackle global challenges both small and large – from better Lyme disease testing to ensuring protection of medical samples while in transit.

These are just a couple of the ideas that were on display at a recent pitch competition organized by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC). The centre invited student entrepreneurs to present their ideas for a chance to win funding, and potentially to enter the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) bootcamp beginning in May.

“The pitches were excellent, and there was quite a remarkable diversity of technologies and ideas,” says Anton Toutov (Sc’11), chair of the Los Angeles node of the Queen’s Innovation Centre Global Network and one of the event’s judges. “These businesses were primarily in the idea stage, but the thought process and care was quite good and the quality was high. I want to congratulate all those who pitched.”

Ten teams sought funding in the competition, and in the end six of them will each be receiving between four and five thousand dollars in seed money. ClimaCube, a team which is developing portable cold storage units to maintain the quality of items such as samples or vaccinations and extend the cold lifetime (or 'cold chain') as they are in transit, was one of the successful competitors.

Successful pitches:
eBridges - A multi-vendor e-commerce platform that provides small businesses and independent merchants in developing countries with direct access to the global marketplace. Received $5,000.
Lymelight Genetech - Developing a diagnostic to provide reliable, accessible, and affordable Lyme disease testing. Received $5,000.
BearCloud Games - A digital game studio specializing in mobile and virtual reality games. Received $4,000.
ClimaCube - Developing portable cold storage units to extend the quality of products as they are in transit, such as samples or vaccinations. Received $4,000.
Leash Technologies - A small device that will alert you if you have left your phone behind at home or any public place. Received $4,000.
Sicana - A text message encyclopedia that allows students in countries with limited internet access the ability to text basic search questions and receive an answer. Received $4,000.

The ClimaCube team recently returned from a social enterprise competition in Dubai known as the Hult Prize. The team gained great experience going through that process, which helped prepare them to pitch at the QICSI competition. Both presentations were great learning experiences, says Karina Bland (Sc’18).

“This presentation was a fantastic experience for us, as the judges were highly engaged and provided helpful feedback,” says Ms. Bland, one of the team members behind ClimaCube. “We appreciated the fact that the QICSI presentations were short and there was a longer question period, which allowed us to clarify some aspects of our product. With this funding, we aim to produce a prototype of our portable active cooling system.”

Ms. Bland says, thanks to this win, she and her three co-founders will all be participating in the competitive QICSI bootcamp this summer – providing them a further leg up as they develop their business.

“As I come from a technical background, I am excited to learn a lot about business and benefit from the experience of the QICSI mentors,” she says.

The QICSI bootcamp runs from May to August and features intensive instruction designed to help student entrepreneurs build stronger businesses. The program ends with a pitch competition where the start-ups bring their best pitches to try and earn seed funding. Forty-seven students will be attending this year’s bootcamp after competing in the spring and fall pitch competitions. One team is also attending QICSI after winning the Kingston Mayor’s Innovation Challenge.

Other funded pitches at the spring competition include eBridges, Lymelight Genetech, BearCloud Games, Leash Technologies, and Sicana. For these six, and for the four who did not receive funding this time, Dr. Toutov has the same advice.

“Win or lose, successful or unsuccessful in this competition, the network available to these entrepreneurs is amazing,” he says. “Talk to people within the Queen’s community to get connected to others in your field to avoid landmines and de-risk your business. Don't hesitate to make those connections.”

For more news from the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, visit queensu.ca/innovationcentre/newsandevents

Students answer the prime minister’s reconciliation challenge

A joint class of Arts and Science students examined the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and settler communities through a social justice exposition.

  • Penny Cornwall (Artsci’18) speaks with Madeline Heinke (Artsci'18) in front of their team's exhibit, Maanamaji'o. The word means "the community (or the person) is sick." (University Communications)
    Penny Cornwall (Artsci’18) speaks with Madeline Heinke (Artsci'18) in front of their team's exhibit, Maanamaji'o. The word means "the community (or the person) is sick." (University Communications)
  • The Maanamaji'o exhibit includes items gathered from Pikangikum. The First Nations community has "an alarmingly high suicide rate", says Ms. Cornwall. (University Communications)
    The Maanamaji'o exhibit includes items gathered from Pikangikum. The First Nations community has "an alarmingly high suicide rate", says Ms. Cornwall. (University Communications)
  • Other topics explored by the joint class include "The Monstrous Other" in pop culture - demonstrating unfair portrayals of, among others, Indigenous Peoples. (University Communications)
    Other topics explored by the joint class include "The Monstrous Other" in pop culture - demonstrating unfair portrayals of, among others, Indigenous Peoples. (University Communications)
  • Mishiikenh (Vernon Altiman) of Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre performs an honour song to open the expo. (University Communications)
    Mishiikenh (Vernon Altiman) of Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre performs an honour song to open the expo. (University Communications)
  • Thohahoken (Michael Doxtater) and student Cosimo Morin (Artsci'18) lead the joint class in an Indigenous song the class rehearsed in anticipation of the event. (University Communications)
    Thohahoken (Michael Doxtater) and student Cosimo Morin (Artsci'18) lead the joint class in an Indigenous song the class rehearsed in anticipation of the event. (University Communications)

Students in a Global Development Studies course and a Languages, Literatures, and Cultures course have come together to spark a dialogue around the issues identified in the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report.

Under the guidance of Thohahoken (Michael Doxtater), Queen's National Scholar in Indigenous Studies: Land- and Language-Based Pedagogies and Practices, the students have organized the “Treaty Peoples Social Justice Expo”, a poster fair in Stirling Hall. The event was aimed at increasing awareness of Indigenous Peoples issues and honour their cultures and languages. The idea to host a poster fair was Dr. Doxtater’s, as a way to foster his students’ learning while also providing them an opportunity to find topics that relate to their interests.

“The aim was to engage these young people in the prime minister’s challenge to ‘move towards a nation-to-nation relationship based on recognition, rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership’,” says Dr. Doxtater. “I am proud of the students’ efforts, and pleased that we were able to engage two distinct classes in this multidisciplinary look at contemporary Indigenous issues.”

To help create a respectful and inclusive environment, Wednesday’s event opened with greetings from Elder Mishiikenh (Vernon Altiman) of Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre. Then, guests were welcome to explore the room and learn about 13 topics related to the well-being of Indigenous Peoples.

“The poster fair included examinations of issues such as environmental resistance and the impact of development on Indigenous health, incarceration of Indigenous peoples, and even portrayals of Indigenous Peoples in sports,” says Penny Cornwall (Artsci’18), one of the organizers. “My team’s project, Maanamanji’o, focused on suicide and mental health in Pikangikum First Nation – a community with an alarmingly high suicide rate.”

Ms. Cornwall notes one of her peers has a personal connection to the Pikangikum community, and this student’s passion led the team to explore that topic.

Dr. Doxtater was hired in 2017 as part of the Principal’s faculty renewal efforts. He is a Queen’s National Scholar cross-appointed to the Departments of Global Development Studies and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Learn more about Dr. Doxtater here.

Introducing our new faculty members: Anne Duffy

Anne Duffy (Psychiatry) is a new member of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

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

Anne Duffy (Psychiatry) sat down with the Gazette to talk about her experience so far. Dr. Duffy is a clinician-researcher who is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to continue a two-decades-long study of young people at familial risk of developing mood disorders.

In addition to research, she sees students in psychiatry consultation at Student Wellness Services and helps with some of the clinical teaching for undergraduate medical students and psychiatry residents (graduate level and specialty level). Dr. Duffy is also the current vice president of research for the International Society of Bipolar Disorders.

Anne Duffy (Psychiatry) is a new member of the Faculty of Health Sciences. (University Communications)
Anne Duffy (Psychiatry) is a new member of the Faculty of Health Sciences. (University Communications)

Fast facts about Dr. Duffy

  Department: Psychiatry

  Hometown: Toronto

  Alma mater: University of Victoria (neuropsychology), University of Calgary (medicine), University of Ottawa (psychiatry residency)

  Research area: Youth mental health

  Unwinds with: Spin classes, yoga, down-hill skiing, and laughter

  Dr. Duffy's website

What made you decide to make the move to Kingston?
I have had a two decades-long research project with families living between Ottawa and Toronto. Queen's is geographically well-suited to support this study and the Department of Psychiatry has provided protected time for me to dedicate to this work. With these advantages, I can consolidate my effort with these families and really move this world-renowned research forward.
In addition, Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Department of Psychiatry have made student mental health a priority. I am well-placed to help advance research and best practice to improve the health and academic outcomes for students. So, I thought the position at Queen’s was a good fit and an exciting opportunity.
Tell us about this two-decades-long research project.
During residency training in Ottawa, in my research elective, I worked with faculty in the Department of Psychiatry who were conducting genetic studies in families trying to identify the genetic underpinnings of recurrent major depression and bipolar disorder.
Genetic studies were focused on adults who had already progressed through the risk period. Yet, as a training adolescent psychiatrist, my interest was in describing the early developmental course and onset of illness. Questions arose in my mind including: Are there any early antecedents and precursors we could pick up before the full-blown illness develops?
This was the start of the Canadian ‘high-risk study’ – a first in the field for research of children of bipolar parents. Bipolar disorder is a highly-heritable form of recurrent mood disorder with a high suicide risk.
When the study started, 22 years ago, I thought I would be staying in Ottawa for a year or two and then head back out west, where I completed medical school. I ended up staying and developing the research further as it was so fascinating and informative.
The project has been a huge success in terms of offering a collaborative multidisciplinary training platform for new, young researchers and graduate students. As a physician, the research has taught us a lot about how to recognize these illnesses earlier on.
It has also generated a whole other set of research questions. So, we have just been funded again for an additional five years of peer-reviewed, competitive funding.
We are still interested in looking at epigenetic markers – which is the idea that we are born with our genes, and the function of our genes changes over time and with exposure. We are also working with people in public health, epidemiology, and mathematics to do modelling work so we can mitigate and target the risk exposures in these at-risk kids.
I regularly go abroad to talk about this Canadian grassroots study. It has been really well-received and addressed a number of unknowns and controversies in the field.
So what’s the next step?
I have just led a successful CIHR Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research grant – the first of its kind to my knowledge in student mental health at Queen’s. It involves a number of faculty and trainees across departments including Psychology, Public Health Sciences, and Student Wellness Services. The grant received matching funds from the Rossy Family Foundation, and it will be conducted in collaboration with my colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University.
This study will examine how we can support students to be academically successful, while also establishing a healthy lifestyle and maintaining their mental health. We are looking to answer why some first-year students flourish while others do not – that’s a huge question. I have spent two decades looking at risk for illness – now I am moving into resiliency, risk mitigation, and student health.

It has been a great way to start at Queen’s. It has allowed me to meet my colleagues across disciplines and to work with them, and to really pioneer student mental health research which can be informed by the more specific psychiatric research that I have been doing.

-Dr. Anne Duffy on a new research project starting this fall
What got you interested in the topic of mental health in children? In youth?
I had applied to train in pediatrics as a specialist originally, but I was terrible in my pediatrics rotations because I was an asthmatic and always getting sick, which would exacerbate my breathing troubles. Yet, being an asthmatic is what originally got me interested in medicine in the first place.
I also found it difficult to do procedures on children – like stitching them up or cutting them open. What I was good at, however, was talking with children and families, so I decided to go into adolescent psychiatry.
Very little was known at the time about the early signs and symptoms of psychiatric illness in children, and so it was a wide-open field for clinical research. It was a perfect marriage of interest, opportunity, and skill set.
To me, adolescence is the most interesting period of time in development. There is so much changing at such a rapid rate. Plus, if you can get in there and help young people, you set them on a trajectory for lifelong happiness and success.

 

When she is doing her clinical work, Dr. Duffy shares an office in the Student Wellness Services building. (University Communications)
When she is doing her clinical work, Dr. Duffy shares an office in the Student Wellness Services building. (University Communications)
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I love helping people. That is why you get into helping professions. Even if I am tired, I am happy to be here because a student is going to come through the door who is distressed, and I can potentially make a difference for that student.
I also have the opportunity to train and mentor fantastic students. Graduate students across disciplines are so stimulating and make the work so much better than it would be if I was doing it on my own. It’s a huge privilege to be practicing medicine and to be in part of the university campus. I have always been incredibly grateful for that opportunity.
Your resume suggests you like to travel. Any places you want to see in particular?
You might know by my name that I have an Irish background. My father was Irish but he grew up in Scotland. I grew up knowing my Scottish family, but I have never actually been to Ireland or learned about my own Irish roots.
I would also really like to go to Iceland. My husband and I are big outdoor sports enthusiasts. We would love to go skiing and hiking there, and see the volcanoes. We had fantastic neighbours from Iceland and loved hearing their stories about life in their homeland.
Anything you hope to see and do in and around Kingston this summer?
I am getting a fat tire bike this summer to do some more cycling around town with the family. I am a spin class addict. I love cardio – it's a great stress reliever, helps with mood and well-being and reduces many health risks.
Meet other new faculty members
Kristy Timmons
Felicia Magpantay
My son is in his first year in the arts program at Queen’s. He is also a newly-recruited kicker and punter for the Gaels men’s football team and he loves the training and conditioning program.
My daughter recently graduated with a Master of Arts in English and is applying to Queen’s Law School. My husband is a past Queen’s student and supports us all in our individual pursuits – especially in striking a good work-life balance. So it seems Queen’s is central to our family life.

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 will see 200 new faculty hired, which nearly doubles the hiring pace of the past 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.

Enabling students to pursue their dreams

  • Schulich Leaders meet Provost Bacon
    Queen’s Schulich Leaders speak with Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), about what the prestigious national scholarships have enabled them to accomplish, during a breakfast meeting at Richardson Hall.
  • Schulich Leaders meet Provost Bacon
    Laure Halabi talks about her experience as a Schulich Leader at Queen's as fellow Schulich Leaders listen, including, from left, Sandra Smeltzer, Johann Sapim, and Clifford Lerebours.
  • Schulich Leaders meet Provost Bacon
    Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), listens as Sandra Smeltzer talks about what she has gained through her Schulich Leader Scholarship, along with fellow Queen's Schulich Leaders Ryley Molloy and Jamie Lee Freeston.

For many of the Schulich Leader Scholarship recipients, attending Queen’s University would have been unlikely without the support provided by Canadian business leader and philanthropist Seymour Schulich.

Recently, Queen’s Schulich Leaders had the opportunity to speak with Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), through an organized breakfast meeting at Richardson Hall. During the meeting, students spoke about how the scholarships have enabled them to pursue their preferred areas of studies at Queen’s as well as their experiences as recipients of the prestigious awards. They also had the opportunity to find out more about the provost and what his role as a senior administrator entails.

For Jacob Meadus, a first-year student in the Faculty of Arts and Science, the scholarship has given him the opportunity to pursue studies in astrophysics.

“I wouldn’t have been able to come to Queen’s in the first place without this scholarship,” says Mr. Meadus, one of four 2018 Queen’s Schulich Leaders. “I come from a town in Newfoundland and Labrador, so that meant applying for scholarships and bursaries to help fund my education outside the province or go to the local university which, unfortunately, doesn’t have the program that I wanted to study. So that wasn’t looking very good for me. Fortunately, I received a Schulich Leadership Scholarship and it has enabled me to pursue my dreams.”

Created in 2011 by Seymour Schulich, the annual nationally-competitive scholarship program encourages high school graduates to embrace STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in their future careers. The awards provide financial support to winners over four years of study.

“The Queen’s Schulich Leaders form an incredibly talented group and it was such a pleasure to meet them,” says Dr. Bacon. “Thanks to the support of the Schulich Foundation these outstanding students have chosen come to Queen’s where they will contribute to our community of scholars and will benefit from the transformative student learning experience the university offers.”

This year, there were over 1,300 Schulich Leader nominees from across Canada vying for 50 scholarships, valued at up to $100,000 each. Since inception, 270 students have received this scholarship.

For more information on the scholarships and full profiles of the Queen’s recipients visit the Schulich Leaders website.

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