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Research Prominence

William Leggett receives prestigious lifetime achievement award

Dr. William Leggett.

William Leggett, professor emeritus in the Department of Biology and Queen's 17th principal, has received the H. Ahlstrom Lifetime Achievement Award from the Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society for his contributions to the fields of larval fish ecology.

The American Fisheries Society is the biggest association of professional aquatic ecologists in the world, with over 9,000 members worldwide.

"œIt feels good to be singled out by such large group of people who I respect so highly," says Dr. Leggett. "œI didn'™t expect to receive this award so it'™s a big honour and thrill to get it."

Dr. Leggett'™s research focuses on the dynamics of fish populations and his work as a biologist and a leader in education has been recognized nationally and internationally. A membership in the Order of Canada, a fellowship from the Royal Society of Canada, and the Award of Excellence in Fisheries Education are just some of the awards he has received for outstanding contributions to graduate education and marine science.

The Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society recognized Dr. Leggett'™s "œexceptional contributions to the understanding of early life history of fishes that has inspired the careers of a number of fisheries scientists worldwide and has led to major progress in fish ecology and studies of recruitment dynamics."

The award was recently presented in Quebec City at the 38th annual Larval Fish Conference held in conjunction with the 144th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society.


New research takes flight

Queen’s University researcher helps uncover how nocturnal insects navigate.

[Preparing a bogong moth for recording from brain]
A Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa) is prepped to enter a computerized flight simulator specifically designed for the moths. (Supplied photo)

Queen’s University researcher Barrie Frost and his research collaborators have uncovered the first reliable evidence that some nocturnal insects use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate during migration.

Each spring, millions of nocturnal Bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) hatch across breeding grounds throughout southeastern Australia before flying over 1,000 kilometres through the dark night to reach a limited number of high altitude caves in the Australian Alps. After a few months of summer dormancy in those cool mountain caves, the moths fly right back to the breeding grounds where they were born.

“When we began this study, we were convinced that the Bogong moth would exclusively use celestial cues in the sky, such as the stars and the moon, for navigation during migration,” says Dr. Frost, Director of the Visual and Auditory Neuroscience Lab at Queen’s. “This, it turned out, is not the case. We were very surprised when we discovered that these moths could sense the Earth’s magnetic field just like migratory birds.”

For this project, Dr. Frost created an upgraded, computerized flight simulator specifically designed for moths. He used Google Earth to create an accurate moving image of the ground the moths are flying over. When the moth is flying in the simulator, the ground is programmed to always move backward, no matter what direction they choose, which encourages them to keep flying.

Magnetics set-up for simulator
Bogong moths are safely suspended in the simulator after a small sensor, called a stalk, is  glued to their back. The stalk is then wired to a computer which tracks the moths direction of travel. (Supplied Photo)

To safely suspend the moth in the simulator, the researchers glued a small sensor, called a stalk, to their back, wired the stalk to a computer and then suspended them in the flight simulator using wires. Computers tracked their direction of travel.

Using this simulator, they found the moths’ flight direction turned predictably when dominant visual landmarks and a natural Earth-strength magnetic field were turned together. When those two cues were turned in conflicting ways, the moths became disoriented within minutes. The findings led the researchers to conclude that Bogong moths rely on a magnetic sense.

“This is essentially the same strategy we use when hiking in wilderness terrain: we determine our direction with a compass and then look for some distant landmark in roughly the same direction—for instance a mountaintop or a distant tree—and then head for this as we walk,” says Dr. Frost. “When this landmark is no longer reliable, we again check our direction with the compass and choose a new landmark to orient towards.”

The researchers say they would now like to dissect, in more detail, which visual and magnetic cues the moths use and how they are integrated in the brain. Due to the moths’ relatively simple nervous system, they also hope to learn how the insects detect magnetic information, something that has yet to be achieved in any animal.

The research appeared as the lead article in Current Biology and a photo of the Bogong moth appeared on the cover. The Gazette originally reported on Dr. Frost designing the simulator in 2015.

Stories worth telling

Galen Watts (Cultural Studies) secures one of five top spots in the 2018 SSHRC Storytellers contest.

It’s a lot easier to listen to a good story than it is to tell one. This storytelling process becomes even more complex when you mix it with research. That is why the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada created the SSHRC Storytellers contest, posing a challenge to postsecondary students across Canada to tell their social sciences and humanities research stories.

This year, Queen’s had two students in the Top 25 of the competition. Agnieszka Chalas, a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Education specializing in art education, submitted a video entitled, “Painting a Portrait of Evaluation in Art Museums.” Galen Watts, a doctoral candidate in cultural studies specializing in contemporary spirituality, submitted a video entitled, “The Spirit of Millennials: Community and Citizenship in Canadian Life.” Members of the Top 25 each received a cash prize of $3,000.

Galen Watts presenting at Congress 2018. Photo credit: Michael Bell.
Galen Watts presenting at Congress 2018. Photo credit: Michael Bell.

Mr. Watts went on to place in the Top 5 of the SSHRC Storytellers contest after presenting at the 2018 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Regina, and will further showcase his work at the 2018 SSHRC Impact Awards ceremony in Ottawa in fall 2018. The Gazette recently spoke with him to discuss his research and his passion for public outreach.

Tell us a bit about your research.

I am doing a PhD in Cultural Studies, which is very interdisciplinary. I work in religious studies, as well as cultural studies and sociology. Specifically, I’m looking at “spiritual, but not religious” millennials in Canada. The kind of research question I’m interested in is, “what does the rising number of ‘spiritual, but not religious,’ millennials mean for the future of Canadian society?”

Obviously, that’s a really broad question! Since religion has often been a source of community, I try to narrow down my thinking to, what does this mean for community? Does spirituality without religion encourage community? Does it encourage volunteering? Does it encourage positive attitudes towards redistribution?” In many ways, you could say I’m interested in the relationship between spirituality and social justice.

How did you get interested in this topic? What made you pursue a PhD in this field?

I left school for two years during my undergraduate degree, and during those two years I travelled and worked abroad. Over that period, I became really interested in questions of social justice, inequality and equity, as well as questions about how people find meaning. When I came back to school, I completed my degree in philosophy and drama. Graduate work examining questions about spirituality became a perfect means to explore these two issues of social justice and meaning.

What prompted you to apply to the Storytellers contest in particular, and how did you go about creating your video?

To be honest, it was a really spontaneous decision! My fiancée, Chantel Martin (Artsci’14, Ed’15), sent me a link about the contest and I decided to enter. So, I wrote the script, she helped with the visual aspects, and we spent an afternoon recording. The video is an ongoing slideshow, and it was a great collaboration.

What does it mean to you now that you have placed in the Top 5?

Galen Watts with fellow finalists and judges. Photo Credit: Alex Myers.
Galen Watts (third from right) with fellow finalists and judges. Photo Credit: Alex Myers.

I am very happy to get the opportunity to present in Ottawa in the fall. It will be great for my professional career, but it will also be really good to have the chance to tell the top researchers in Canada about what I’m doing and also be inspired by what they’re doing. That’s one opportunity I’m really looking forward to.

In terms of the Congress, it was a very illuminating experience. It was definitely an honour to be there with the other finalists, and it was wonderful to get to meet all of them and see all of the research projects that are going on across Canada. The diversity of research that was presented amazed me. I was really struck by my fellow finalists. The passion and dedication that they brought to their scholarship was very inspiring for me.

One aspect that was particularly nice about the whole experience was that, although we knew we were competing with one another, there was incredible collegiality among all of us. We had a Research Communications Workshop the day before, and we actually had to present what we had prepared to each other and then have everyone give their feedback. It was really clear that everyone wanted each other to do as well as they could.

You do a lot of other media outreach. Why do you think outreach about research is important?

When I came back to school during my undergraduate degree, I realized how important knowledge is for living a flourishing life. Not just for individuals, but for society in general. I think that knowledge is incredibly important, and something that we should value.

However, I am also very aware of the fact that most academic knowledge ends up completely untouched or unread by the vast majority of the population, and I think that is a huge waste. I have committed myself to being able to not just do innovative research, but also make it accessible to everyday people. I think this is an important commitment that any scholar should take up.

What’s next for you?

I’m going to be starting as a visiting student in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge this winter. While I’m there, I will be analyzing all of the data that I’ve collected so that, when I come back from Cambridge, I can start writing my dissertation. In the meantime, I’m carrying out fieldwork and engaging with public media outlets as much as possible.

For more information on the SSHRC Storytellers, please visit their website. Watch Mr. Watts' video below.


New fund to support Indigenous art at the Agnes

The Dodge Family Foundation is helping the Agnes Etherington Art Centre learn more about its Indigenous art collection.

A new fund will help the Agnes Etherington Art Centre discover the history behind some of its most important artifacts in order to guide future collection building.

The Dodge Family Indigenous Art Collection Research Fund has been established with a generous donation from Chancellor Emeritus David Dodge (Arts’65, LLD’02) and his wife, Christiane (Arts’65), to support the gallery in developing a strategy to grow its Indigenous art collection as a powerful asset for research and learning at the university and to encourage fellow alumni, friends, and faculty to support Indigenous arts at Queen’s.

“Our Indigenous art collection has accrued over a long period, and as a result, it’s quite eclectic,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. “Our knowledge about the collection is uneven. Some of the pieces we know a lot about, others very little. Research must be done to ascertain cultures of origin and materials.”

[Indigenous frontlet art gift 2010]
Kwakwaka'wakw or Ts’msyan (Tsimshian) artist, Frontlet, undated, wood, paint, abalone shell, metal and hide. Gift of Dr. Archibald Malloch, 1910. This frontlet was used in a stirring performance by Mike and Mique’l Dangeli, of the internationally renowned Northwest Coast Git Hayetsk Dancers, at The Isabel in 2016. (Supplied Photo)

Alicia Boutilier, Chief Curator and Curator of Canadian Historical Art, says the fund will allow the Agnes to connect with communities where objects originated, including Inupiaq, Yupik, and Athabascan communities of the northwestern subarctic region.

“We are inviting knowledge keepers from that region to work with us to review and engage with the objects to give us a better understanding of what we have that’s beyond a typical museum record,” says Ms. Boutilier. “With that knowledge, we’ll have a better sense of how to move forward — what we can exhibit, how we can expand it, how we can display it, how we can even store it.”

An example of the knowledge the gallery is aiming to expand upon was realized when the internationally renowned Northwest Coast Git Hayetsk Dancers visited the collection prior to their performance at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in 2016.

During their visit, one of the artists, Mique’l Dangeli, discovered a frontlet — a headpiece made from wood, paint, abalone shell, metal, and hide — made by a Kwakwaka'wakw or Ts’msyan (Tsimshian) artist she believed originated from her people. She shared that, in her culture, a frontlet is used in ceremonial dance and worked with the gallery to incorporate it into their performance. With the help of conservator Amandina Anastassiades, students in the Master of Art Conservation program constructed a cradle to ensure the piece would be protected during the event.

“We were especially interested in Mique’l Dangeli’s knowledge about the traditional use of the piece — which she described as a cultural being — given we had very little information,” says Ms. Allen.

In addition to cultural insights, the Agnes will consult with a range of experts to define its goals in relation to its Indigenous art collection. This will include developing a strategy to assess potential acquisitions with research and learning in mind.

“The addition of this fund will bring us access to extraordinary expertise to advance our collection in tandem with the growth across campus of Indigenous studies and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Implementation,” says Ms. Allen. “We need to discern where these welcome resources will be placed to ensure our work is sensitive and well-informed.”

The Dodges say their intention is to support that growing knowledge with the creation of the fund.

“Other Canadian, European and, to some extent, Inuit art has been looked at more closely and the knowledge about it has been developed over time,” says Christiane Dodge. “But, as far as I know, not that much knowledge is available about Indigenous art. It’s about time the University and the rest of the world looked at that. We hope that others will join in supporting this fund.”

Ms. Allen says the creation of a fund is timely.

“A gift like the Dodges’ is especially exciting because it meets the demands of the moment,” she says. “We’re at a time where, in order to move ahead, we need to cultivate the knowledge and participation of specific communities and there’s a cost associated with that. This is a visionary gift.”

For more information on The Dodge Family Indigenous Art Collection Research Fund or to donate, visit givetoqueens.ca

Introducing our new faculty members: Mohamed Khimji

Mohamed Khimji joins the Faculty of Law as the David Allgood Professor in Business Law.

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 between 2017-18 and 2022-23.

Mohamed Khimji (Law) sat down with the Gazette to talk about his experience so far. Mr. Khimji is the David Allgood Professor in Business Law.

[Mohamed Khimji]
Mohamed Khimji joined Queen's as the David Allgood Professor in Business Law. (Supplied Photo)
Fast Facts About Mr. Khimji

Department: Law

Hometown: Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

Alma mater: London School of Econonmics and Political Science (LL.M.)

Research areas: Shareholder democracy, business law

Hobbies include: Champions League football (soccer), listening to Indie pop music, cooking

Mr. Khimji's web bio
Why did you decide to join Queen’s Faculty of Law?
I have been in academia for a while now. I started at Dalhousie University in the Law school there, and later taught at the University of Western Ontario where I became a chair in corporate finance during my last year. Then the opportunity came up at Queen’s to take on the David Allgood professorship, which struck me as a very interesting and exciting opportunity.
For this role, the Faculty of Law was looking for someone to provide leadership to the business law program and increase its research profile. The opportunity to drive this initiative was very appealing. As an academic, it is an opportunity to go beyond teaching and research and to get involved in administration.
If you look at the major areas of practice, Queen’s is very strong in all of them. This is about taking the business law program a step further.
What got you interested in business law?
Like a lot of law students, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Business law is the default thing to do. It’s easy to default into it because the business law firms tend to have a very structured hiring program – if you just flow through it, you get a job and you get into it.
I happened to like it, so I stayed in it and I went to graduate school. I got a bit lucky…I took a leave of absence from my firm to do a master’s with a plan to leave my firm and do a PhD later. Once I published my LLM thesis, Dalhousie offered me a job – I didn’t need to obtain my PhD.
It made no sense to move to Nova Scotia, but when you’re young and naïve you make bolder decisions. So I packed up my car, moved to Halifax, and that started my teaching career.
How has teaching been at Queen’s?
I very much enjoy teaching at Queen’s and I like the students. They’re very smart and engaged. I think Queen’s students are especially nice to deal with as people. I get along with them very well, and part of that might be my leadership role in the business law department.
One thing I want to do is help the students to be more successful here. I want more of them to get the big business law jobs, I want more of them to be successful when they get those jobs. The learning curve is quite steep and I want them to be as prepared as possible, so I engage with them in terms of where we might improve.
Tell us about your research.
Last year I won a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development grant for a five-year empirical study on shareholder democracy.
This is a big corporate governance issue right now – the extent to which we allocate power to shareholders and management. There are different opinions about what is best for society, what is best for capital markets.
I want to find out why shareholders engage and how shareholders engage, and the extent to which they engage.
What I am working on now is a qualitative study where I am interviewing the different players in the shareholder democracy infrastructure. The interviews are necessary to find out information that is not publicly available.
After this, I want to combine some quantitative analysis with the publicly available information and make some policy recommendations.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I have been in academia long enough where some of my earliest students are now quite senior in the profession. My proudest moment is when I had one of my former students come back to my class to deliver a guest lecture.
This student was a partner in a transactional law practice and he gave a lecture in my mergers and acquisitions class. That was a very proud moment – the student coming back to teach the teacher.
How are you settling in?
My family and I have been living in Toronto. We enjoy the time we spend in Kingston, however. I like the small town community feel. I like bumping into people on my way to work and on my way home from work – I like knowing who my neighbours are.
I find I don’t bump into my students as much as you might think in a city this size – which means I don’t see them in compromising situations and they don’t see me in compromising situations!
The Faculty of Law is great and has been very welcoming. It’s an exciting time to be here with the hiring of seven new faculty members starting in July. We have become more diverse in terms of subject matters and methodologies.
I am also looking forward to working with Robert Yalden again. We will be working closely together as he was appointed the inaugural Stephen Sigurdson Professor in Corporate Law and Finance.
[Khimji office Faculty of Law Queen's]
Walking the halls of the Faculty of Law building, Mr. Khimji's office is not hard to spot. (University Communications)
Any hobbies or interests?
I love football (or soccer as Canadians like to call it) and I cheer for Liverpool in the Champions League.
When I was growing up in Tanzania, you could support one of two football teams. It was either Liverpool or Manchester United. My family happened to frequent this teashop that supported Liverpool, so they became my team. It has been an exciting season – Liverpool reached the final, but then lost quite badly in the final.
I also really enjoy cooking. Right now I am interested in Sichuan cuisine and I am a huge Fuchsia Dunlop fan. She is a food writer who went to the famous Sichuan cooking school for a year. I use her books…I love the spice.
And, of course, taking care of my son who is five months old!

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.

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

Focus on humanities and social sciences

Queen’s University researchers receive more than $3 million in funding to advance understanding of people and societies.

  • Professor Li-Jun-Ji at SSHRC announcement
    Li-Jun Ji talks about the importance of the funding she is receiving from SSHRC and how it will affect her work exploring the relationship between culture, adversity and resilience, during Friday's announcement.
  • Professor Sam McKegney at SSHRC announcement
    Sam McKegney (English Literature) explains his research into Indigenous peoples’ relationships with hockey in Canada and how newly-announced funding from SSHRC will support the project.
  • Principal Daniel Woolf at SSHRC announcement
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf provides a brief description of the research being done by each of the SSHRC funding recipients who took part in Friday's announcement.
  • Vice-Principal (Research John Fisher at SSHRC announcement
    Vice-Principal (Research) John Fisher talks about the importance of the SSHRC funding for university researchers, during Friday's announcement.
  • Queen's researchers attend the event announcing new SSHRC funding
    Queen's researchers who are receiving funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) attend Friday's event held at Richardson Hall.

A total of 24 Queen’s University researchers are recipients of more than $3 million in combined funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The Insight and Partnership Grants programs are designed to support their work in a range of disciplines that build knowledge and understanding about people, societies, and the world.

Successful Primary Applicants
Insight and Partnership Grants

Gauvin Bailey (Art History) - $97,035
Julian Barling (Business) - $209,046
Robert Clark (Economics) - $88,050
Jeffrey Collins (History) - $64,087
Patricia Collins (Geography and Planning) - $236,327
Rosanne Currarino (History) - $60,246
Tina Dacin (Business) - $198,625
Stanka Fitneva (Psychology) - $66,891
David Gordon (Geography and Planning) - $92,649
David Haglund (Political Studies) - $27,918
Tom Hollenstein (Psychology) - $179,706
Olena Ivus (Business) - $75,593
Li-Jun Ji (Psychology) - $172,150
Margaret Little (Political Studies/Gender Studies) - $200,159
W. George Lovell (Geography and Planning) - $65,310
Tara MacDonald (Psychology) - $95,800
Scott MacKenzie (Film and Media) - $197,978
Bertrand Malsch (Business) - $151,375
John McGarry (Political Studies) - $115,401
Sam McKegney (English Literature) - $305,060
Anton Ovhinnikov (Business) - $81,504
Jordan Poppenk (Psychology) - $84,537
Ana Siljak (History) - $65,648
Nancy van Deusen (History) - $110,656

The funding for Queen’s is part of $158 million invested in more than 800 research projects across Canada recently announced by Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, Mark Gerretsen, is helping highlight the portion awarded to Queen’s researchers.  

“Social sciences and humanities research contributes to the well-being of all Canadians. It helps us better understand the world we live in, and how we can strengthen our social institutions. I am very proud that the federal government has invested in so many worthy projects undertaken by Queen’s researchers,” says Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands.

Highlights of the funding include Sam McKegney’s research into Indigenous peoples’ relationships with hockey in Canada and Li-Jun Ji’s work exploring the relationship between culture, adversity and resilience.

“Hockey is a vehicle through which non-Indigenous Canadians manufacture senses of belonging in the Northern landscape. Yet hockey is experienced by Indigenous players, coaches, and fans in ways that exceed the confines of the Canadian nation state and are expressive of Indigenous sovereignty,” says Dr. McKegney (English Literature) who received a $305,060 Insight Grant. “The research team, made up predominantly of Indigenous scholars, is grateful to SSHRC for funding that will allow us to collaborate with Indigenous individuals and communities throughout Turtle Island who are invested in decolonizing the game.”

Dr. Ji (Psychology) received a $172,150 Insight Grant to investigate how people from different cultures confront and cope with adversity and how they derive meaning from negative life experiences.

“Providing graduate students with good-quality training in cross-cultural research can be costly, as it naturally involves traveling, translating materials, meeting with collaborators and research participants from other cultures. The support of SSHRC makes all of this possible,” says Dr. Ji. “I have been continuously supported by SSHRC grants and without that support I wouldn’t be able to be as productive in my research and wouldn’t have been able to produce a group of excellent PhD students who have benefitted from my SSHRC grants and begun their own career successfully.”

In addition to the funding garnered for primary applicants from Queen’s, importantly, a number of Queen’s researchers will also act as co-applicants and collaborators on SSHRC Insight and Partnership grants held at other institutions. For example, Dylan Robinson (Language, Literatures and Cultures) and Karine Bertrand and Susan Lord (Film and Media) are co-applicants on a Partnership grant of $2.5 million out of York University, which will examine new theoretical questions, and the methodological challenges, that attend the changing nature and political realities of visual media archives.

“SSHRC funding provides the opportunity to develop our talent at Queen’s and connect those researchers with Canadian and international partners,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “The projects focus on societal challenges and understanding human behaviour, and, ultimately, will provide better insight into the world around us.”

For more information visit the SSHRC website.

Fresh funds for fresh water

Water purification technology which started in a Queen’s laboratory is one step closer to commercial reality.

Phil Jessop in his lab in Chernoff Hall. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
Phil Jessop in his lab in Chernoff Hall. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Canadians are the second largest users of water in the world, behind only Americans. Statistics Canada says Canadian households used 3.2 billion cubic metres of water in 2013 (or about 249 litres per person per day), and the majority of that water is simply flushed down the drain.

To help address this problem, Queen’s Professor Philip Jessop has been researching a process called forward osmosis – aiming to return wastewater to a drinkable state. This process could have major implications in both protecting our drinking supply and reducing the cost of purifying or disposing of wastewater.

His intellectual property was licensed from Queen’s by GreenCentre Canada (GCC), a Kingston-based technology and business accelerator focused on green chemistry and materials-science innovations. In addition to being a professor at Queen’s, Dr. Jessop is the Technical Director of GCC.

With GCC’s aid, Dr. Jessop’s technology was shown to be highly effective at remove clean water from waste streams and water containing massive amounts of contaminating salts. This was achieved through a process called forward osmosis.

The forward osmosis technology formed the basis for the GCC spin-off company, Forward Water Technologies (FWT), in October 2012.

[FWT prototype forward osmosis device]
Forward Water Technologies operates an engineering scale pilot forward osmosis device in Mississauga. (Supplied Photo)

GCC has made significant investments in the development of Dr. Jessop’s technology. This includes funding the construction of an engineering scale pilot unit by FWT in Mississauga capable of treating over 1000 litres of wastewater per day.

The success of that pilot resulted in a recently announced joint investment by the not-for-profit Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) and other private investors to help bring the technology to full commercial readiness.

“We are on the brink of a critical phase in the long path to commercialization, and to garner both financial support and commercial expertise from organizations such as BIC is extremely critical,” said C. Howie Honeyman, Chief Executive Officer of FWT.

This proprietary forward osmosis system is a highly energy efficient process that has successfully removed many pollutants and impurities from wastewater streams. At the end of the process, the fresh water is available for re-use or discharge to either sewer or surface water systems. The technology could be of interest to municipalities, factories, the energy sector, and the chemical industry to name a few.

“Queen’s has a long history of supporting the technology transfer of novel technologies arising from research at Queen’s,” says Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal (Partnerships and Innovation). “Queen’s researchers are providing new insights into, and innovative solutions for, humanity’s impact on our environment, and Dr. Jessop’s research is a perfect example of this. We congratulate GCC and the Forward Water Technologies teams on this financing.”

This investment is significant to FWT for two reasons. First, it unlocks a substantial government funding opportunity which was conditional on private financing.

Second, it positions Forward Water Technologies for its ultimate goal of commercial success. With commercial success could come a healthier future for everyone who drinks water, and a reduced environmental impact and financial cost of water purification.

“Commercializing this kind of research is much more expensive and time-consuming than products like a new pen or phone application, but the potential benefit to humanity and our environment is also much greater,” says Dr. Jessop. “I am delighted that the forward osmosis technology has taken one major step closer to becoming a commercial reality through these investments, and look forward to continuing to make the technology greener and more efficient.”

To learn more about the company, visit forwardwater.com

The Conversation: Lessons from religious groups for a ‘Ghana beyond aid’

Queen's PhD candidate says Ghana's president seeks to ensure the country becomes self-sufficient rather than depending on foreign aid for development.

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President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana addresses the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters in September 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

In his first address on the state of Ghana in February 2017, President Nana Akufo-Addo declared a new vision: “A Ghana beyond aid.”

This vision seeks to ensure that Ghana becomes self-sufficient by “mobilizing domestic resources” rather than depending on foreign aid for development. The president extended his vision to other African countries during an event hosted by the Royal African Society in London a few months later. While speaking on the theme Africa Beyond Aid, he declared:

“It is time to build our economies that are not dependent on charity and handouts … we are not disclaiming aid, but we do want to discard a mindset of dependency… it is unhealthy for both the giver and the receiver.”

While the proposed renaissance primarily focuses on “mobilizing domestic resources,” no attention has been paid to the religious resources available.

What are religious resources?

The Dutch scholar of religion and development, Gerrie ter Haar, categorizes religious resources into religious ideas (what people actually believe), religious practices (rituals), religious organizations (how religious communities function) and religious experiences (such as the subjective experience of inner transformation).

The potential role of these dimensions of religion in regard to development in Africa has been discussed extensively by many scholars and by international development institutions — notably the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Scholars have even postulated that “Africa’s development in the 21st century will be shaped largely by religion.”

Ghana’s government envisions a strong bureaucratic system for taxation by implementing tax identification numbers for all citizens. Ghana has a tax population of about six million, but only 1.5 million Ghanaians are formally registered with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

The GRA faces organizational and structural inefficiencies amid the apparent hostility of citizens towards paying taxes. Tax evasion in Ghana is also high among urban dwellers because of the prominence of the underground economy and the high population density in cities.

Makola Market in Accra
The Makola Market in Accra, Ghana. Many city dwellers in Ghana do not pay taxes. (Ariel Manka/Flickr)

Interestingly, the challenges faced by the Ghanaian government in raising revenue from its own population through taxes stands in sharp contrast to the tenacity of religious organizations to “tithe” their own members for projects.

Many urban religious organizations, often Pentecostal-Charismatic, survive largely from the payment of tithes, offerings and donations. A tithe is one-tenth of a church-goer’s monthly income given to the church. An offering includes voluntary monies given by congregants at worship services. Regular offerings may sometimes be followed by special offerings designated for specific purposes that go beyond the frequent church expenditure.

Donations, in cash or material gifts, are sometimes called seed-sowing, and are also given to religious leaders — men or women of God who mediate the religious experience of believers.

Ghanaians more receptive to giving to churches

It’s evident many Ghanaians respond positively to financial appeals from churches compared to how they respond to government taxation measures.

For example, in July 2017, at a Pentecostal-Charismatic event in Accra with a crowd of about 50,000 people, screen shots of “special offerings” went viral on social media, causing a huge public stir. The screen shots featured many types of offerings, namely, “millionaire status offering” ($5,000), the “seed of 1,000 times more” offering ($1,000), and the “24-hour miracle” offering ($240).

While event organizers did not reveal the amount of money generated, an estimated 2.25 million Cedis (US$505,000) was reportedly raised.

Ghana church crowd
Many Ghanaians respond positively to financial appeals in churches. (Ock So Park/Flickr)

Why are government agencies in Ghana unable to efficiently generate taxes in areas where religious organizations seemingly flourish via tithing?

Are religious organizations in Ghana better at mobilizing financial resources than government agencies? Many answers can be provided, but I suggest three.

Rewarded for giving?

First, the act of giving in African Pentecostalism is rationalized with religious/theological foundations so that tithing is understood as transactional or reciprocal. When seeds of money and gifts are sown, the faithful are taught to expect different forms of divine harvest such as money, employment, good health and good fortune in life.

Second, tithing assumes a sociological implication by which adherents identify themselves as belonging to religious communities, not just believing.

Third, the failure of government to deliver on its promises of development compels many people to turn to religious organizations that “claim to possess answers to Ghanaians’ most pressing need - socio-economic transformation.”

Perhaps moving Ghana beyond aid might not be so much about developing new policy instruments, but rather identifying a new strategy to implement those policies. Considering the inefficiencies with taxation, there is certainly the need to bring all potential stakeholders on board — chiefly, religious organizations.

This is not to say that conforming to religious ideas and the operations of religious organizations will lead to better development outcomes. Neither am I arguing for a greater or lesser role of religion as Ghana moves beyond aid. It is also not a recommendation for government to renounce the apparent separation of church and state.

The ConversationThe point here is to acknowledge that religion conspicuously appeals to many people in Ghana in ways that governments do not, and to encourage dialogue between development partners, religious organizations and government — for the good of all Ghanaians.

James Kwateng-Yeboah is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen's University.


This article was originally published on The Conversation, which provides news and views from the academic and research community. Queen’s University is a founding partner. Queen's researchers, faculty, and students are regular contributors.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca

Firestorm sparks national acclaim

Queen’s author shortlisted for science writing award for book on wildfires.

Firefighters combating Kootenay National Park fires in 2003. (Credit: Parks Canada)

UPDATE: Following the publication of this article, Mr. Struzik's book Firestorm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future was selected as the winner of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada science book prize.

The Science Writers and Communicators of Canada (SWCC) have announced their 2017 Book Awards shortlist, selecting among their final five Firestorm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future by Queen’s University environmental expert Edward Struzik.

The SWCC, a countrywide alliance of professional science communicators, works to cultivate excellence and awareness of science writing and journalism in Canada. Their annual Book Awards recognize authors focused on basic or applied science or technology in health, social, or environmental issues, both historical and contemporary, and their value in promoting greater understanding of science by general readers.

“I’m honoured that the SWCC has chosen to shortlist Firestorm, as it recognizes my efforts to bring these important scientific issues to light with the general public in an accessible way”, says Mr. Struzik, a Fellow with the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy. “Wildfires are a rapidly growing concern for many areas of Canada, so the more knowledgeable we are on how fires are changing, the better chance we have of protecting our communities.”

In Firestorm, Mr. Struzik interviews scientists, firefighters, and resource managers across the United States and Canada, who are focused on developing new methods of managing wildfires. He says that large-scale megafires, like those in Fort McMurray in the spring of 2016 and the increasing size of seasonal fires in California, will become more commonplace, and that scientific research and government investment into combating the growing threat are lagging behind.

“In Canada and the United States, we are way behind in terms of our preparedness to deal with the bigger and more ferocious fires that we’ve been witnessing in the past five or more years,” says Mr. Struzik. “Between longer and more widespread periods of drought, changing weather patterns, and thawing northern regions, the impacts of climate change are raising the frequency and destructiveness of wildfires – a trend with no end in sight.”

In addition to his work on wildfires, Mr. Struzik is a leading arctic researcher who has studied the effects of climate change on the Canadian Arctic for over 35 years. He is on the board of the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, a citizen's organization dedicated to the long-term environmental and social well-being of the Canadian Arctic and its peoples, and writes and comments frequently on Arctic issues, like those surrounding oil and gas exploration in the region.

The SWCC will select a winner from their 2017 Book Awards shortlist this month, and the award will be presented during Science Literacy Week in September 2018.


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