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Innovation and Wellness Centre gets a new name

New building signs will be going up at the corner of Union and Division streets next month.

[Innovation and Wellness Centre Queen's Mitchell Hall]
Signs will soon go up around the construction site to indicate the building's new name - Mitchell Hall. (University Communications)

A lead donation from a proud Queen’s engineering alumnus will support the university’s efforts to foster innovation and wellness on campus.

As a result of this generous donation, the Innovation and Wellness Centre – currently under construction – has been officially named Mitchell Hall.

“This gift, together with significant contributions from fellow alumni, the federal and provincial governments, and other friends of Queen’s will enable Mitchell Hall to be a powerful example of a shared commitment to research, innovation, and student wellness at Queen’s,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). 

The name of the new building has been under close wraps for the past few months, but the timing is now right to share it with the Queen's community. Mitchell Hall signs will soon be visible around the building's exterior and the new name is included in the Queen’s University Viewbook which is soon to be distributed to prospective students and across campus.

An event celebrating the building and the gift is currently being planned for the spring of 2019, where more details will be shared about this generous donation.

Located at the corner of Union and Division streets on the former site of the Physical Education Centre, Mitchell Hall was made possible through over $50 million in philanthropic support. An additional $22 million was contributed by the federal and Ontario governments.

The university is scheduled to open phases of the Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre, the Beaty Water Research Centre, and much of the upper floors, in early 2019. In addition to wellness resources, the building will feature engineering research labs and classrooms, athletics resources, and an Innovation Hub.

To learn more about Mitchell Hall, visit queensu.ca/connect/innovationandwellness.

Helping the incoming class prepare for student life

Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) is an important part of the new student transition to Queen’s – and everyone has a role to play.

SOAR 2018 Schedule
Friday, July 6
Saturday, July 7

Friday, July 6
Saturday, July 7

Friday, July 6

Arts and Science
Thursday, July 12
Friday, July 13
Saturday, July 14
Sunday, July 15

Friday, July 13
Saturday, July 14

Two thousand incoming first-year students and family members will be visiting campus over the next week so they can hit the ground running come fall.

Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) runs between Friday, July 6 and Sunday, July 15 and features a series of day-long events for students entering the faculties of Arts and Science, Commerce, Engineering, Nursing, or the Bader International Study Centre, along with QBridge students enrolled in the School of English.

This annual program is an opportunity for new students to learn more about academic expectations, learning strategies, resources, and common student transition issues.

“The goal of SOAR is to help students feel prepared before their first day of classes at Queen’s,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean (Student Affairs). “We look forward to welcoming these new members of the Queen’s community to campus and helping them start their academic journeys in the best way possible.”

During a typical SOAR day, students and their families and supports will take in presentations, learn about all of the services and resources designed to support student success, meet professors and upper-year students in their faculties, tour a residence room, try the food on campus, and have their questions and concerns addressed.

The day includes opportunities to speak to academic advisors, accessibility advisors, and our campus dietitian and chef. Family members and supports also attend sessions specifically designed to answer their questions and learn what they can do to support their student’s transition to university life.

For students who are not able to attend SOAR, the Division of Student Affairs offers webinars throughout the summer that are then posted online so students can remotely access the information at their convenience. “Get Ready for Queen’s” events are also scheduled in Calgary and Vancouver in August for families who are not able to make it to SOAR. 

With many first-time visitors to Queen’s expected during SOAR, there may be a higher than usual number of people looking for directions. The Division of Student Affairs is asking all Queen’s community members to offer assistance where possible on July 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, and 15. Most of the SOAR programming will take place in the Bioscience Complex and Ban Righ Hall.

Additionally, staff and faculty should be advised that the Tindall Field above ground parking will be the main parking lot for our students and guests during SOAR, and should expect increased demand for this lot.

For more information on this year’s SOAR programming, or to register, visit the Student Experience Office website

Making a difference in the community

Biomechanical engineering students are designing and building assistive devices for people living with disabilities.

Queen’s Engineering students Leigh Janssen, pictured, and Olivia Roud are working with Kingston resident Jim Stinson this summer to develop assistive devices to enable him to read and write more independently.

Having access to the best assistive technologies can mean the difference between dependence and independence for people living with disabilities. The simple joy of reading an exciting novel, for example, can be out of reach for someone who can’t comfortably hold a book upright and open or turn its pages for long enough to get lost in the story.

“I’m at the point where I either need someone to read to me or I can listen to audiobooks,” says Jim Stinson, who uses a wheelchair and has Multiple Sclerosis that affects his ability to hold a book or a pen. “But a big factor in reading a book is that you get to imagine the different scenarios. When the story is read to me, someone else develops the characters with their imagination. I like to do that myself.”

There are lots of assistive devices on the market that propose to help people with similar challenges but mass-market devices so often demand compromises from end users. Results are much better with custom assistive devices, or devices that can be infinitely adapted over time to an individual user’s specific needs and wants.

That’s where Queen’s engineering students come in.

Fourth-year Biomechanical Engineering students Olivia Roud and Leigh Janssen, under the supervision of Professor Claire Davies, are working with Stinson this summer to design, build, and refine the devices he wants to enable him to read and write more routinely and independently.

“This was our first experience getting to work with an actual end user and someone in the community,” says Janssen. “As undergraduates, our projects are often based on hypothetical problems involving imaginary people. Getting to work with Jim, an actual client, and address his needs directly is great experience. Jim gives so much more information and feedback than we would get in a hypothetical situation.”

Among the devices Roud and Janssen are working on is a special copy stand to fit over the armrest of Stinson’s wheelchair. It can help support the weight of a book and hold it open in just the right position so Stinson can read the text clearly and turn the pages much more easily. Another device provides support for Stinson’s right forearm to help steady his hand for writing with a pen.

“With the system they’ve developed, I can write more easily,” says Stinson. “I can sit here and read a book pretty naturally, so I’ll be able to finish all the books I’ve started but couldn’t read to the end.”

“It’s an iterative process,” says Roud. “There are some stability issues in some of the devices at the moment but the next steps are to look at the designs, take them apart, and improve each piece until we get the best results we can for Jim.”

For Roud and Janssen, the first steps on the road to this project came as part of Dr. Davies’ MECH 393 Biomedical Product Design course. That course is part of an interdisciplinary initiative, called Building Better Together, in collaboration with PhD student Elizabeth Delarosa (Mechanical and Materials Engineering), and Professors Catherine Donnelly (Rehabilitation Therapy), and Susanne Murphy (Rehabilitation Therapy). In it, Biomechanical Engineering students collaborate with Occupational Therapy students to make custom assistive devices for real-world end users.

“Four teams work with each end user in the course,” says Dr. Davies. “Then, the end users decide which devices to move forward with. I’ve engaged a couple of students from the class in each of the past two summers to move those projects forward. We iterate on the designs until they meet the end users’ needs before we give the devices to the end user. We re-interview the end user after one week using quality assessment tools that enable us to evaluate how well the devices perform. We do that again after four weeks, and again after six months. That’s how we ensure the needs of that end user are met throughout the year and the devices continue to be beneficial into the future.”

For Stinson, the preferred outcome is quite simple: more independence in his daily life.

“The philosophy I use in my life is that if you have a problem, you learn how to work around it,” he says. “We’ve worked around some things that were difficult for me and the devices they’ve developed are very good solutions for people who have difficulty reading or writing. I have nothing but great things to say about the engineers and occupational therapists who work at Queen’s.”

If you have difficulty with one or more tasks and might benefit from an assistive device developed for you with the researchers and students of Building Better Together, email BBTkingston@gmail.com for more information.

Innovation and wellness come together

Construction crews are working to bring the Innovation and Wellness Centre to life.

  • [Queen's innovation and wellness centre exterior]
    Work continues outside, with landscaping, paving, and other finishing touches well underway. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's innovation and wellness centre lobby]
    The atrium will be the first stop for many Queen’s students visiting the Innovation and Wellness Centre this fall. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's innovation and wellness centre main stairs]
    This feature staircase, located in the middle of the IWC, provides views into much of the building. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's innovation and wellness centre innovation space]
    The Innovation Hub, located in the southern half of the building, will feature meeting and event space along with other creative resources. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's innovation and wellness centre lobby from third floor]
    The northern end of the IWC will allow students easy passage between the building and the Athletics and Recreation Complex (ARC). (University Communications)
  • [Queen's innovation and wellness centre feature wall]
    The gym floors from the three gyms which resided within the Physical Education Centre (PEC) are being repurposed as a third-floor feature wall. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's innovation and wellness centre basement athletics]
    Major work on the basement will commence this fall. This section will be part of the high performance training centre for varsity student athletes. (University Communications)

Work continues at a steady pace on the Innovation and Wellness Centre (IWC) site, with some key areas of the building taking shape.

“It is exciting to see how far this ambitious and highly complex facility has come, and we eagerly look forward to its opening later this year,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “We are adopting a phased approach to the opening to help us best meet the needs of the Queen’s community and our obligations to our government supporters.”

The university is scheduled to open phases of the building this fall, including the atrium, Innovation Hub, some classrooms, and some of the Athletics and Recreation spaces. 

The final sections, including the Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre and most of the upper floors, will open starting in January 2019.

The creation of the IWC was made possible through $50 million in philanthropic support, and an additional $22 million contributed by the federal and Ontario governments.

To learn more about the Innovation and Wellness Centre, visit queensu.ca/connect/innovationandwellness.

Four Directions moves out

An expansion is underway at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, with a planned re-opening this fall.

  • [Four Directions Queen's University renovations construction June 2018]
    144 Barrie – the new addition to Four Directions – will feature a large main floor room dedicated to ceremonies. (University Communications)
  • [Four Directions Queen's University 144 Barrie renovations floor plans main floor]
    The ground floor of 144 Barrie will include a library, meeting space, and a cultural and ceremonial room. (Supplied Photo
  • [Four Directions Queen's University 144 Barrie renovations floor plans top floor]
    The upper floor of 144 Barrie features some programming and quiet space, along with Four Directions office staff space. (Supplied Photo)
  • [Four Directions Queen's University renovations construction June 2018]
    The former kitchen at Four Directions Aboriginal Student centre has been gutted, and will be expanded and moved to the front of the building. This area will become part of a meeting and multi-purpose room. (University Communications)
  • [Four Directions Queen's University 146 Barrie renovations floor plans main floor]
    The ground floor of 146 Barrie will include an expanded kitchen and meeting space. (Supplied Photo)
  • [Four Directions Queen's University 146 Barrie renovations floor plans top floor]
    146 Barrie's upper floor features more office and programming room. (Supplied Photo)
  • [1893 newspaper ad furniture]
    When opening up the walls at 144 and 146 Barrie, workers found an old newspaper ad from 1893. (Supplied Photo)

Back in the fall, it was announced that Four Directions would expand from its home in 146 Barrie to include the neighbouring house.

Now, with the insides of both 144 and 146 Barrie Street torn down to the plaster, work will soon begin on putting the expanded and renovated Four Directions back together in time for the fall.

Once work is complete, the two houses will feature a cultural and ceremonial room, a library, a larger kitchen, multiple meeting rooms, and programming space, along with added office space for staff.

This expansion of Four Directions aligns with the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation task force, which called on Queen’s to develop centralized space for Indigenous activities and the celebration of Indigenous traditions, and to enhance the visibility of Indigenous communities at Queen’s and promote inclusive learning and community spaces on campus. 

Recommendation 13 specifically called on Queen's to "Expand Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre and ensure that it is appropriately staffed and resourced to adequately support expanding enrolment of Aboriginal students".

While workers were prepared for anything when they began work up the 19th-century homes, you never quite know what you will find when you open up the walls of older buildings.

Contractors working on 144 and 146 Barrie got an interesting lead on a furniture supplier, albeit over a century too late. An ad from 1893 was found during demolition work.

While construction is underway, Four Directions staff will still be available. They are currently located in Victoria Hall. To learn more, visit queensu.ca/fdasc

Graduate student team SWIM’s into AquaHacking Challenge final

Beaty Water Research Centre’s student innovation team is developing a new technology to detect and track sewage overflow due to high rainfall events.

[Sensing Wastewater with Infrared Monitoring (SWIM) team]
The Beaty Water Research Centre's Sensing Wastewater with Infrared Monitoring (SWIM) team of, from left, Shuang Liang, Alexander Rey, Maraika De Groot and David Blair, have qualified for the finals of the AquaHacking Challenge. (Supplied Photo)

A team of students from Queen’s University’s Beaty Water Research Centre (BWRC) has qualified for the finals of the AquaHacking Challenge in Toronto.

The Sensing Wastewater with Infrared Monitoring (SWIM) team competed Saturday, June 9 in the annual event that aims to create innovative solutions for water-related issues in the Great Lakes region. After an entire afternoon of pitching to individual judges in related business, technology and water industry, SWIM was selected as one of five teams proceeding to the final pitching round later this year.

[BWRC Logo]
Beaty Water Research Centre

SWIM is developing a new technology, comprised of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with an HD visible spectrum camera and an infrared sensor. It will be used to detect and track sewage overflow, providing rapid results related to sewage overflow and contamination.

During high rainfall events, untreated sewage is discharged into nearby rivers, lakes, and oceans through combined sewer overflow to prevent sewer back-ups and flooding. In Ontario, there are over 800 registered beaches to monitor and last year, within the Ottawa River valley alone, there were over 65 closures at local beaches. SWIM will work towards helping protect the public from exposures to sewage pollution through monitoring beaches and pinpointing areas impacted by sewer overflows.

The SWIM team is a student-led, interdisciplinary group comprised of four graduate students. David Blair is a master’s candidate in Civil Engineering, with a chemical engineering degree and a background in wastewater treatment. Maraika De Groot is completing her Master’s of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, with previous experience in business development. Shuang Liang is master’s candidate in Civil Engineering, with an environmental science background and experience with UAV operations and procedures. The fourth member, Alexander Rey, is completing his PhD, with a background in hydrodynamic modeling and computer programming.

“SWIM’s vision is to empower municipalities by providing rapidly delivered sewage discharge data so that the public can make well-informed decisions about water-related activities,” says Ms. Liang.

SWIM uses the turbidity and heat signature of untreated sewer overflow transmitted from the UAV, to detect, quantify and monitor discharge events. The platform, in addition to providing close to real-time data, provides targeted and high-resolution data for the assessment of water quality. This technology will employ Watson’s Discovery API technology, developed by IBM, for visual recognition and data processing.

“The SWIM technology is novel and creative, with enormous potential for future application. It will assist municipalities through data collection, analysis, and reporting, allowing them to more easily locate and identify sewage overflows,” says Pascale Champagne, Director of BWRC.

The BWRC supports interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach. 

As one of the five finalists the team receives $2,000 in funding to refine their innovation and is invited to participate in a two-day, all-expense paid expedition on Lake Ontario to engage with various stakeholders. The team will compete in the AquaHacking Challenge finals Oct. 25. The winners will receive $25,000 towards initial capital and a spot at an incubator. 

Supporting Indigenous academics and Indigenous research

New funding and updated policies will support Indigenous graduate students, and students conducting research with Indigenous communities.

[Alex Veinot Queen's Chemistry]
Alex Veinot is a PhD candidate in Chemistry, and a member of Glooscap First Nation located in Nova Scotia. (University Communications)

One in four Canadians holds a bachelor’s degree or higher according to Statistics Canada. Yet for Indigenous people in Canada, the number is just one in ten - making it more of a challenge for Indigenous learners wishing to obtain a graduate education.

To help support Indigenous students seeking their masters or doctorate, the School of Graduate Studies has earmarked additional funding, and introduced a new admissions policy for Indigenous applicants in keeping with the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) task force’s report.

“These actions are a step toward increasing access to graduate studies,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean (Graduate Studies). “They align with increasing inclusivity in our graduate community and promoting opportunities for research and scholarship that actively engages Indigenous communities.”

Among the changes, the value of entrance scholarships for Indigenous students has been increased from $10,000 to $15,000. Ten such awards are adjudicated each year.

Additionally, an Indigenous Student Admission policy was approved this year to encourage applications from Indigenous candidates and support access to graduate studies.

The regulation applies to all graduate programs in the School of Graduate Studies, and it means that the evaluation of applications from Indigenous candidates will consider academic, cultural, personal, and professional background, along with other factors indicative of capacity for graduate study.

To be considered under this regulation, applicants must self-identify as Indigenous upon application for admission defined as First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Peoples.

“Financial supports such as the Robert Sutherland Fellowship, which I received in my first year of doctoral studies, and other awards with allocations designated for Indigenous students are invaluable for promoting the advancement and development of Aboriginal communities throughout Canada,” says Alex Veinot, a PhD candidate in chemistry. “While Queen’s University has made significant improvements in supporting its Indigenous students both culturally and financially, there are still issues that need further attention in order to greatly improve the experience of Indigenous students at Queen’s.

The School of Graduate Studies has also set aside funding resources to support graduate students conducting research that requires travel to Indigenous communities. Masters and doctoral students engaged in Indigenous-related research can apply for Graduate Dean’s Travel Grant for Indigenous Field Research to help offset the costs.

These awards are similar to the Dean’s Travel Awards for Doctoral Field Research, but address a particular need linked with conducting responsible and respectful research with Indigenous communities. These awards are not restricted to PhD students.

It is expected the first applications for these travel awards will be submitted in the coming academic year in response to a call for applications from the SGS.

To further raise awareness about the distinctive requirements of research collaborations with Indigenous communities, the School of Graduate Studies has partnered with the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University (ACQU) to organize a series of workshops.

The first workshop was held in October 2017 alongside the Indigenous Research Symposium and attracted nearly 90 student, faculty, and community participants. A second workshop will be held in November 2018 and will focus on issues of ownership and control in research.

“We are working with the ACQU and Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre to enhance our outreach, and to facilitate research with and by Indigenous communities,” says Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean (School of Graduate Studies). “It is important we build these relationships in a manner that respects Indigenous knowledge, research methodologies, and cultural protocols.”

“Respecting different ways of knowing and facilitating uptake and mobilization of the scholarly work requires that consideration be given to how the work is presented,” she adds. “The revised regulations on thesis structure affords flexibility in how the research is presented for alignment with the nature of the research conducted.”

For more information on support for Indigenous graduate students at Queen’s, visit queensu.ca/sgs/aboriginal-students

Budget 2018-19 approved by Board

The new budget allocates new funding for research, accessibility, and faculty hires.

The Queen’s Board of Trustees recently approved the 2018-19 operating budget. This year’s plan will see the university deliver another balanced budget, while also investing in a range of strategic priorities.

“This budget once again affords us the ability to invest in major institutional priorities, such as faculty renewal, research excellence, and diversity and inclusivity,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “While we continue to face some pressures around our pension and facilities maintenance, the hard work of the last several years has provided stability and a promising future for Queen’s.”

After contributions to the pension reserve there is a budgeted deficit of $7.7 million, which is then offset by the drawdown of operating carryforward reserves resulting in a balanced budget.

While the majority of the budget allocations cover ongoing expenses including salaries, utilities, and building maintenance, the university has allocated some discretionary funds towards key institutional priorities.

Growing Our Community

In 2018-19, the university will continue recruiting new faculty as part of the Principal’s faculty renewal initiative. This plan calls for the hiring of 200 tenured or tenure-track faculty members over five years.
“The Principal’s faculty renewal plan represents an extraordinary opportunity to recruit faculty to Queen’s with diverse backgrounds, experiences and research areas,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “We have already been very successful in attracting talented and accomplished faculty members, allowing us to build on our research strengths, and foster diversity, inclusivity, and reconciliation.”

In response to a recent accessibility audit, this year’s budget also includes some funding dedicated to making campus more accessible. In addition to the annual funding dedicated to deferred maintenance, the university is allocating $250,000 to make accessibility improvements across campus.

This accessibility funding will also complement the three years of diversity and inclusivity funding that was announced as part of last year’s budget. The 2017-18 budget pledged $3 million over three years to foster inclusivity at Queen’s.

Research and Innovation

Recognizing the importance of Queen’s research, the 2018-19 budget makes a few specific and deliberate investments in Queen’s research strengths.

“Queen’s has a long history of pioneering discoveries and innovations that have shaped our knowledge and helped address some of the world’s deepest mysteries and most pressing questions,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Importantly, these new funds will help us build on our research strengths and continue to strengthen our research culture.”

Among the new investments is a Research Catalyst fund within the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio. This $600,000 annual fund will be used to support emerging and strategic research opportunities.

The budget also allocates $7 million to create a new Research Intensity fund. This annual fund is designed to support the indirect costs of conducting research, and addresses a recommendation stemming from the review of the budget model.

Financial Sustainability

There are many ongoing challenges which the university is addressing through targeted investments.

Queen’s continues to contribute to a pension reserve, while it remains in negotiations to create a new jointly sponsored pension plan for the Ontario university sector, along with partners at the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph.

Additionally, the institution has earmarked an additional $750,000 for facility repairs and upgrades. Queen’s will spend a total of $11.9 million on deferred maintenance in 2018-19.

Risks to the budget include the dependence on government grants and regulated tuition and market volatility affecting university investments. In addition, future investments will be required to support information technology and infrastructure renewal. These risks are being closely managed and mitigated, and incremental investments in infrastructure are being made to ensure sustainability.

Learn More

To see this year’s budget, visit queensu.ca/financialservices/publications

Choose your own adventure

If you have an idea for a new experiential learning opportunity, you can apply for up to $2,000 in one-time funding to make it a reality.

[Two of the WIIS-Queen's leaders]
Andrea Vovk, Vice President of WIIS-Queen's, (Artsci’18), and Lindsay Coombs, President and Founder of WIIS-Queen's. Ms. Coombs is a PhD candidate in Political Studies. (Photo by Carling Bennet, Artsci’18)

Students, faculty, and staff looking to introduce a new hands-on learning opportunity can apply for funding support through Queen’s Experiential Learning Hub.

Applications are now open to the Experiential Learning Projects Fund – a one-time funding opportunity designed to integrate experiential learning opportunities into courses or co-curricular projects, enabling students to apply workplace-linked skills on-campus, across the country or around the world.

“By bridging theory and practice, experiential learning activities provide students with the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom, enhancing their understanding and knowledge of themselves and their field of study,” says Cathy Keates, Director of Career Services which oversees the Experiential Learning Hub. “In Winter 2018 this program supported 19 projects resulting in 247 Queen’s students accessing new experiential learning opportunities. We hope to continue to build on these strong results in 2018-19.”

This fund was created through support from Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skill Development’s Career Ready Fund. The Career Ready initiative aims to support universities in increasing the number of students who complete an experiential learning experience before graduation. Queen’s received a total of $1.16 million from the Ministry through this program, with a portion of that being allocated to the Experiential Learning Projects Fund.

Types of projects that are eligible for funding:


Organizing a conference
Organizing a competition (i.e. Hackathon)
Community service project
Artistic performance
Workplace related field experience directly related to students' field of study
Industry-related boot camp
Industry-related innovation project
Public awareness campaign

Grants will be awarded in the range of $1,000 to $2,000 per project, typically creating five to ten new student experiential roles per project. Special consideration will be given to initiatives that support underrepresented student populations and communities, and requests exceeding $2,000 will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Lindsay Coombs received funding last year to build a Queen’s-based affiliate to the Women In International Security (WIIS) Canadian and global network, an organization dedicated to promote women’s leadership in international security.

“The Experiential Learning Projects Fund program was central to the success of the initiatives undertaken by WIIS Queen’s in the winter 2018 academic term,” Ms. Coombs says. “I believe that the type of impactful community engagement that this program promotes is important for the development of knowledgeable and compassionate leaders – the type of leaders whose perspectives will be critical in shaping Canada’s future.”

Other projects receiving funding last year include the Queen’s Native Students Association’s annual Indigenous Awareness Week, a food cupboard for families known as the Queen’s Community Cupboard, and a QYourFuture event for graduating international students as they transition to the workforce.

Those looking to apply for funding must include a description of the project; the specific skills or learning outcomes for students; the number of student experiential learning opportunities created and their specific roles; a description of the self-assessment and reflection mechanisms that will be used throughout the project; and a detailed budget.

The application deadline for the Spring 2018 round is Friday June 29, and there will be a final round in Fall 2018. For more information and to apply for funding, visit the Experiential Learning Hub website.

Travelling the world for real-world experience

Queen's doctoral candidates Neil Fernandes and Kaj Sullivan are traveling the world meeting with leading workers from industry, academia, and government thanks to the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship.

Queen's doctoral candidates Neil Fernandes and Kaj Sullivan are traveling the world meeting with leading workers from industry, academia, and government thanks to the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship.
With the support of the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship, Kaj Sullivan and Neil Fernandes are able to travel to gain real-world expoerience and skills training in their areas of study. (University Communications)

For any student, gaining real world, hands-on experiential learning is invaluable.

Thanks to the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship from the Kimberley Foundation, Neil Fernandes and Kaj Sullivan, doctoral candidates in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, will be traveling the world meeting with leading workers from industry, academia, and government within their respective fields of study.

This year marked the inauguration of the Hugh C. Morris Fellowship, which is valued up to $40,000, and is intended to fund a year-long experiential learning program. Three fellowships, two for Queen’s, were handed out due to the quality of the proposals and because the Kimberley Foundation wanted to demonstrate the breadth of projects that fall under its mandate.

For Mr. Fernandes that means traveling to the United States, Peru, Brazil, Ireland, Sweden, Namibia, Australia, and around Canada, to learn about some of the world’s most important geological and mineral sites related to ore deposits found in sedimentary rocks.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he explains.

“It’s a great chance to see how the mining industry and mineral resources affect different people around the world and how it is all sort of linked to geology. The rocks play a critical role in it obviously as the rocks are the sources of the minerals, but from the perspective of a career in the natural resources sector, it’s a chance to see a variety of different kinds of mineral deposits in a variety of geographic settings in a variety of cultural settings,” he says. “I never thought that I would find myself underground in a mine in the southern desert of Namibia. For me, it’s a dream come true really.” 

Through his studies, Mr. Fernandes investigates the genesis of a significant zinc mining district in Central Brazil. No matter where he ends up, he realizes the importance of understanding the full scope of the mineral resources process – exploration, extraction, processing and remediation. Another increasingly important element is developing positive relationships between the mining sector and the surrounding communities. 

Through the fellowship he will be able to connect with and experience first-hand a wide range of examples of these working relationships. As such he will be collaborating with 13 mining companies, eight universities and five government geological surveys around the world.

“Right now, the big thing for people coming out of school is that everyone is saying they don’t have enough experience. We have all this learning but we don’t have, quote, unquote, the experience,” he says. “So I think what this does for us specifically is gives us the experience of seeing what is going on in our relevant fields – what resources are being used, what techniques are being applied to find and extract them, how these tools are being developed. It is sure to be a life-changing experience.”

Mr. Sullivan’s plans involve less traveling as he is focusing on collaborating with labs in Japan, England and here in Canada. Specializing in isotope geochemistry, he is exploring if copper, zinc, and iron can be used as biomarkers for Alzheimer’s, as is done with some forms of cancer.

“One of the great things about the Experiential Learning Fellowship is the flexibility that we’re provided with. Due to the differing nature of each recipient’s research, we have designed drastically different learning programs that will best suit our needs. While Neil’s journey will take him to many different locations, mine will involve extended visits at three laboratories,“ he says. “I viewed the fellowship as an excellent opportunity to reach out to the researchers who have inspired my work and spend time at their facilities learning from them.” 

The fellowship also offers recipients the chance to learn new skills and information that will not only help them in their doctoral work but in their later careers as well.

As part of his fellowship, Mr. Sullivan will be spending six months with the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa, working with researchers to develop analytical abilities at their lab. 

“Overall, these visits are about becoming a better, more well-rounded researcher,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to getting exposed to different research environments and developing skills and relationships that will help shape my future career. The opportunity to work with researchers at home and abroad will be invaluable. It is truly a global research community and the more connections made, the more opportunities to participate in new and exciting research emerge. This was demonstrated to me by my original supervisor, the late Dr. Kurt Kyser, who collaborated on numerous multidisciplinary projects with researchers from different parts of the globe.” 

The knowledge sharing through the fellowships isn’t in just one direction. Both Mr. Fernandes and Mr. Sullivan will also be sharing their research and experiences gained at Queen’s as they make new connections.

The Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship was created to support graduate students at Canadian universities to undertake a program of self-guided travel and experiential learning for studies related to earth, geology, environment, water, alternative energy, climate change, sustainability, or the social impact, social sciences or design sciences concerned with earth, sustainability or environmental issues.


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