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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.


Celebrating success at Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics

From an initial meeting at an analytics conference in Banff to a full-time position at the Data Science and Analytics Lab at Scotiabank, Hootan Kamran’s perseverance and adaptability have served him well.

[Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics]
Hootan Kamran, left, and Mikhail Nediak, centre, of Smith School of Business accept a cheque for renewed funding for the Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics.

At the Canadian Operational Research Society (CORS) conference in 2016, Kamran first met his future supervisor, Smith School of Business associate professor Mikhail Nediak. Several months later, Kamran was offered an industrial postdoctoral fellowship through MITACS with Smith and Scotiabank. It let him gain work experience as a data scientist while advancing analytics research.

As one of 15 graduate-level students collaborating with a team of industry experts and faculty at Smith’s Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics, Kamran worked on a series of applied research projects with a goal to reshape the customer experience.

Founded in 2016 through a partnership between Scotiabank and Smith, the Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics (SCCA) brings together interdisciplinary teams of professors, graduate, students and analytics practitioners to collaborate on research, create new knowledge, and lead the conversation about the future of big data and its applications for organizations looking to better serve their customers.

Kamran credits the centre with encouraging the pursuit of robust scholarship combined with practical applications in the world of data analytics.

“My postdoctoral fellowship with the SCCA allowed me to direct my academic goals toward real industry experience,” he says.

One such experience came after Kamran was transferred from Scotiabank’s Data Science and Analytics (DSA) Lab to the international banking unit as the main investigator tasked with solving a customer lifetime value (CLV) problem for one of Scotiabank’s clients in Chile. After finishing the job in five months, clients in neighbouring Peru expressed interest in the same project, and the experienced team was able to deliver results after only two months.

“The Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics plays a crucial role in encouraging innovation across industries,” says David Saunders, Dean of Smith School of Business. “As a global leader in teaching the management of analytics, the centre is a great opportunity for students and faculty to collaborate with industry leaders to develop research and solutions to industry problems.”

After his experience with international banking, Kamran moved back to DSA, where he began working on a project to implement a complex neural network model for prediction tasks in capital markets. In June, after a year of full-time involvement, Kamran accepted a permanent position with the lab.

Established with an initial gift of $2.2 million from Scotiabank, the SCCA has seen a number of successes since its start, including research advances in the areas of pricing, revenue management, loyalty programs, adaptable database management systems, analytics and decision making, and ethics and AI. The centre also helps Scotiabank integrate recent research advances and best practices in CLV into its operations.

“This partnership gives our faculty and students direct hands-on access to the most relevant business context and ultimately increases the impact of our research,” said Professor Nediak, who is also SCCA’s associate director.

In July, Scotiabank reaffirmed its commitment to the centre’s mission and success with $2 million in additional funding, supporting the centre through to 2025.

Scotiabank also provided an anonymized dataset from its SCENE program for use in classes and competitions, including for Smith’s Master of Management Analytics program and the annual Queen’s International Innovation Challenge. The dataset gives students the chance to find deeper insights into customer behaviour while helping Scotiabank determine the best products and services to offer.

“There is tremendous demand from organizations to hire data-savvy employees who can find the opportunity in the numbers and work in teams to solve problems,” says Yuri Levin, the centre’s executive director and Smith Chair of Analytics at Smith School of Business. “Access to current, real-company data gives Smith students a competitive edge.”

Going beyond the classroom, the centre’s popular quarterly community seminars, as well as ongoing public talks and industry conferences, foster a thriving analytics community in both Kingston and Toronto.

SCCA builds on Smith’s research leadership in data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Faculty leverage this thought leadership in Smith’s custom executive education programs and develop case studies for use in executive education, MBA, and other graduate-level programs.

This article was first published on the Smith School of Business website.

Researchers and policymakers to discuss ‘inclusive prosperity’

School of Policy Studies to host annual Queen’s International Institute on Social Policy.

2019 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy icons
The 2019 Queen's International Institute on Social Policy runs Aug. 20-21.

Most economies have recovered from the global financial crisis of 2008, or at least that’s what traditional indicators — like growth in gross domestic product (GDP) — would have us believe. That said, some experts say that in many advanced economies, income levels and growth have become increasingly uneven, regional inequities have widened, labour’s share of income has declined, and wealth has become highly concentrated within a small fraction of society.

From Aug. 20-21, the annual Queen’s International Institute on Social Policy (QIISP) will bring together senior policymakers and leading researchers to discuss how the rules of the market and the design of public policies can work better for everyone.

“The starting point for QIISP 2019 is that the benefits of economic prosperity and innovation have not been equally distributed in recent decades," says Keith Banting, Professor Emeritus, Stauffer Dunning Fellow, and conference co-organizer. “Moreover, this trend may well be amplified in the years to come as new technologies alter the nature of work.”

Titled Inclusive Prosperity: Recoupling Growth, Equity, and Social Integration, the gathering will see participants analyze how and why understandings of economic growth have become decoupled from broad-based societal benefits. 

The two-day agenda will feature moderated discussions on trends in growth, equity, and opportunity; inclusive innovation; work and wages; social protection, immigration and social integration. The conference will close with a discussion of Canadians’ attitudes to emerging economic and social trends.

“Although the high levels of inequality and social upheaval reshaping the political landscape in the U.S., U.K., and parts of Europe are more muted in Canada, the underlying factors exist here as well,” says Margaret Biggs, Matthews Fellow in Global Public Policy and conference co-organizer. “There are risks of deepening inequalities and fissures in the fabric of Canadian life.”

Speakers include experts from international organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and international researchers from Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, and the U.K.-based Resolution Foundation. Canadian experts from leading universities and research institutes will join them. In addition, the program will feature commentary from columnists from leading newspapers.”

“The Queen’s summer institute has become Canada’s premiere conference on social policy, “says Naomi Alboim, Distinguished Fellow at the Queen’s School of Policy Studies and conference co-organizer. “It is unique in the way it bridges research and policy, has an international comparative perspective, and involves senior policy-makers from all levels of government.”

Established in 1995, the QIISP is organized by the Queen’s School of Policy Studies with support from the governments of Canada and Ontario, the Region of Peel, and the City of Toronto. For more information, or to register, visit the QIISP website.

Investing in cutting-edge tools and infrastructure for research

The Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund awards $2.65 million to advance research projects at Queen’s.

Sixteen researchers at Queen’s University have secured $2.65 million in funding in the latest round of the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). At an event at the University of Alberta, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, announced over $61 million in funding for state-of-the-art research labs and equipment nationwide.

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund helps exceptional researchers at universities across the country conduct leading-edge research by giving them the tools and equipment they need to become leaders in their fields.

The Queen’s funded projects will support the acquisition of infrastructure and development of tools that will advance research in myriad areas – from enhanced treatment for brain tumours to the seismic behaviour of concrete slabs to advancing the search for the elusive dark matter.

“Thanks to the support and critical investment of CFI, Queen’s researchers will have the tools and infrastructure they need to further their work in areas that have a direct impact on how we live and understand the world around us," says Kent Novakowski, Acting Vice-Principal (Research). “We look forward to seeing these projects progress.”

The successful researchers include:

  • Fady Abdelaal (Civil Engineering) - $200,000
  • Muhammad Alam (Electrical and Computer Engineering) - $125,000
  • Ryan Alkins (Surgery) - $150,000
  • Levente Balogh (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) - $200,000
  • Chantelle Capicciotti (Chemistry, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, and Surgery) - $150,000
  • Aikaterini Genikomsou (Civil Engineering) - $150,000
  • Guillaume Giroux (Physics) - $200,000
  • Anna Harrison (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering) - $150,000
  • Felicia Maria Magpantay (Mathematics and Statistics) - $150,000
  • Suraj Persaud (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) - $125,000
  • Heidi-Lynn Ploeg (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) - $200,000
  • Jessica Selinger (Kinesiology and Health Studies) - $150,000
  • Laura Thompson (Geography and Planning) - $100,000
  • Anita Tusche (Economics) - $100,000
  • Sari van Anders (Psychology) - $250,000
  • Peng Wang (Chemistry) - $200,000

“Ask any researcher in Canada, and they will tell you that you can’t do the best science if you don’t have the best tools,” says Minister Duncan. “I am thrilled to announce funding for the infrastructure needs of Canadian researchers. Their ground-breaking contributions to science and research have an enormous impact on the breakthroughs that help make our visions for a better future of Canada a reality.”

For more information on the program and for a full list of funded projects, visit the John R. Evans Leaders Fund website.

Mathematics is about wonder, creativity and fun

THE CONVERSATION: High school math curriculum should emphasize collaborative creativity and learning to work with complex systems.

[Alice in Wonderland Rabbit]
Why don’t students say math is imaginative? The 1865 children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, sprung from a mathematician’s imagination and continues to inspire exploration and fun. 

Alice in Wonderland enthusiasts recently celebrated the story’s anniversary with creative events like playing with puzzles and time — and future Alice exhibits are in the works. The original 1865 children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, sprung from a mathematician’s imagination, continues to inspire exploration and fun.

But is a connection between math and creativity captured in schools? Much discussion across the western world from both experts and the public has emphasized the need to revitalize high school mathematics: critics say the experience is boring or not meaningful to most students. Experts concerned with the public interest and decision-making say students need skills in critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration.

Mathematicians, philosophers and educators are also concerned with the excitement and energy of creative expression, with invention, with wonder and even with what might be called the romance of learning.

Mathematics has all the attributes of the paragraph above, and so it seems to me that what’s missing from high school math is mathematics itself.

I am now working with colleagues at Queen’s University and the University of Ottawa to develop RabbitMath, a senior level high-school math curriculum designed to enable students to work together creatively with a high level of personal engagement. My preparation for this has been 40 years of working with teachers in high-school classrooms.

In partnership with grades 11 and 12 math teachers, we will be piloting this curriculum over the next few years.

[Peter Taylor in class]
Professor Peter Taylor, right, interacts with students in a Lisgar Collegiate Institute Grade 11 math classroom in Ottawa. (Photo by Ann Arden, provided by Peter Taylor)

Mathematical novels

When students study literature, drama or the creative arts in high school, the curriculum centres on what can be called sophisticated works of art, created in response to life’s struggles and triumphs.

But currently in school mathematics, this is rarely the case: students are not connected to the larger imaginative projects through which professional mathematicians confront the world’s problems or explore the world’s mysteries.

Mathematician Jo Boaler from the Stanford Graduate School of Education says that a “wide gulf between real mathematics and school mathematics is at the heart of the math problems we face in school education.”

Of the subject of mathematics, Boaler notes that:

“Students will typically say it is a subject of calculations, procedures, or rules. But when we ask mathematicians what math is, they will say it is the study of patterns that is an aesthetic, creative, and beautiful subject. Why are these descriptions so different?”

She points out the same gulf isn’t seen if people ask students and English-literature professors what literature is about.

In the process of constructing the RabbitMath curriculum, problems or activities are included when team members find them engaging and a challenge to their intellect and imagination. Following the analogy with literature, we call the models we are working with mathematical novels.

For example, one project invites students to work with ocean tides. It would hard to find a dramatic cycle as majestic as the effect of that sublime distant moon on the powerful tidal action in the Bay of Fundy.

Student engagement

In the 1970s, the extraordinary mathematician and computer scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Seymour Papert, noticed that in art class, students, just as mature artists, are involved in personally meaningful work. Papert’s objective was to be able to say the same of a mathematics student.

I had a parallel experience in 2013 when I was the internal reviewer for the Drama program at Queen’s. I marvelled at students’ creative passion as they prepared to stage a performance. And they weren’t all actors: they were singers, musicians, writers, composers, directors and technicians.

In Papert’s curriculum model, students with diverse abilities and interests work together on projects, whereby they collaborate on problems, strategies and outcomes.

As a pioneering computer scientist, Papert understood that students could directly access the processes of design and construction through digital technology. Papert used his computer system LOGO for this technical interface. LOGO was limited in its scope, but Papert’s idea was way ahead of its time.

Students in the RabbitMath classroom will work together using the programming language Python to construct diagrams and animations to better understand their experiments with springs and tires, mirrors and music. They will produce videos that can explain to their classmates the workings of a sophisticated structure.

Today, technology, the internet, computer algebra systems and mathematical programming provide possibilities for immediate engagement in processes of design and construction — exactly what Papert wanted. The platform for RabbitMath is the Jupyter Notebook, a direct descendant of LOGO.

RabbitMath focuses on the analysis of complex structures. Students studying the curriculum will be involved presenting mathematical ‘stories.’ (RabbitMath image by Skyepaphora), 

Technical skill

For too many years, real progress in school mathematics education has been hamstrung by a ridiculous confrontation between so-called “traditional” and “discovery” math. The former is concerned with technical facility and the latter is about skills of inquiry and investigation.

There is no conflict between the two; in fact they support each other rather well. Every sophisticated human endeavour, from conducting a symphony orchestra to putting a satellite into orbit, understands the complementary nature of technical facility and creative investigation.

Stanford University Graduate School of Education mathematician Keith Devlin advises parents to ensure their child has mastery of what he calls number sense, “fluidity and flexibility with numbers, a sense of what numbers mean, and an ability to use mental mathematics to negotiate the world and make comparisons.” But for students embarking on careers in science, technology or engineering, that is not enough, he says. They need a deep understanding of both those procedures and the concepts they rely on — the capacity to analyze and work with complex systems.

A high-school math class is a rich ecosystem of differing abilities, capacities, objectives and temperaments.

The educator’s goal must be to enable a diverse mix of students to work together in a math class as creatively and intensely as students in the drama program, or to bring the same personal passion as they might to writing fiction.The Conversation


Peter Taylor, is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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.

A potential cure for sleeplessness

New research shows chronic insomnia can be treated effectively without medication.

[judith davidson]
Queen's University researcher Judith Davidson.

New research from Queen’s University’s Judith Davidson (Psychology) has shown insomnia can be treated effectively at the family doctor’s office without the use of drugs.

The research, published in the British Journal of General Practice, confirmed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is effective in improving self-reported sleep, with improvements generally lasting up to 12 months after treatment.

The researchers, based at Queen’s University, in Psychology and the Centre for Studies in Primary Care, conducted a systematic review of studies in which patients were provided with CBT-I through their family doctor’s office. The team analyzed 13 studies involving 1,594 patients and found that between four and six sessions of CBT-I produced medium to large beneficial effects on time to sleep onset and wakefulness during the night. Patients felt much more content with their sleep after receiving the treatment.

GPs were directly involved in administering the CBT-I in a minority of the studies, but most CBT-I was provided by nurses, nurse practitioners, mental health workers and psychologists. The researchers say that CBT-I works effectively in primary care and seems well-suited for multidisciplinary general practice.

“There is now a way for general practitioners (GPs) to help insomnia sufferers without prescribing drugs,” says Dr. Davidson. “Widespread studies have established that CBT-I works well to get patients sleeping well again and as a treatment it is both effective and lasting.”

Chronic insomnia, in which individuals have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week for three months or more, affects about 10 to 15 percent of adults. The condition is linked to health problems including depression, difficulties in functioning, and large reductions in work productivity.

“There is a very effective treatment that doesn’t involve medication that should be available through your primary care service. If it’s not, it should be,” says Dr. Davidson.

Does memorization lead to lasting learning?

THE CONVERSATION: Global studies suggest a prevailing discrepancy between students’ English-language test scores and their real abilities to function in the English language.

Canada plans to receive 300,000 to 350,000 immigrants in 2019, and likely more than that number annually in the coming years. In 2018, there were 572,415 valid study permits in the country — evidence of the increasing trend of international students coming to Canada.

Most people coming to Canada for various purposes are coming from non-English-speaking countries: in 2016, 72.5 per cent of immigrants reported having a mother tongue other than English.

The Conversation logoAspiring immigrants need to take various English tests, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), to demonstrate their English abilities.

While excelling on such tests might increase someone’s confidence, there are global studies that suggest a prevailing discrepency between students’ English-language test scores and students’ real abilities to function in the English language.

The fact that this can be a problem becomes apparent when students are admitted to universities with sufficient English test scores, yet fail at their academics because of poor English-language skills.

This situation could imaginably have dire psychological or financial consequences for students and their families. And what is the impact on professors or departments if increasing numbers of students lack the language skills to meet the curricular standards?

Immigrants with English-language skills significantly lower than what their test scores may indicate could find their access to services or programs is impeded and their abilities to find employment is limited.

Intense preparation

Standardized tests, designed to be general, will never be good at capturing the particularities of different contexts. It’s perhaps no surprise that a language test, focused on formal qualities of written and spoken language, won’t necessarily assess the way someone functions in a specific academic or linguistic local setting.

The particularities of technically correct language means that in some cases even a native English speaker might not score well on a standardized English language test if he or she doesn’t prepare for the examination.

Evidence suggests that when people prepare for these English-language tests, their immediate goal is achieving the highest result, so they approach this with targeted test preparation. After all, for people seeking to immigrate, these language tests are gatekeepers to their futures.

Students usually prepare by practising with the previous question papers, “drilling” answers over and over to learn the question patterns.

I took an IELTS test as a requirement to submit my applications to Canadian universities. When I started preparing for the test, because I was unfamiliar with the question patterns, I prepared intensively to answer the questions quickly. To practise how to answer the listening part of the test, I used previous tests to get a sense of the questions that might appear. Before the listening started, I looked at the questions to guess the expected answers. I also memorized high-frequency words for the writing section.

I scored high, with a perfect score in the speaking section. As a student, teacher and researcher, I know that my score reflected my intense test preparation, however, not my actual proficiency in English. Now, in my PhD studies, I am exploring how test-takers perceive the influence of testing on their learning.

Students writing a test.
We are living in a test-dominated world. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Integrate assessment with learning

If it’s common to see gaps between what standardized language tests show and a person’s actual level of proficiency, does it have to be this way?

How particular countries and language learning systems mesh with the specific standardized English-language tests has come under scrutiny. And, assessment and testing theory itself is changing with the rise in a culture of global testing.

Assessment is not simply as a thermometer to take an end-point temperature, but something that should be used to monitor and support learning towards particular developmental goals or standards.

Ideally there could be more continuity between English-language proficiency testing and English-language learning to help students develop more complex understanding.

Hoping for a test-free world is not going to help any of us. Instead, we all need to improve tests so they have positive effects on teaching and learning languages.

Nasreen Sultana is a PhD candidate at Queen's University's Faculty of Education.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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.

New funding for the future

SSHRC Insight and Partnership grants support ongoing research partnerships and new ideas.

Queen’s University is receiving close to $6 million in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan announced of a total of $285 million in funding for research areas including communities, economy, health, and future prosperity.

Partnership Grant includes Bader International Study Centre

Queen’s researchers are also co-applicants on a successful SSHRC Partnership Grant ($2.5 million over seven years).  The grant is held by Steven Bednarski, a professor of Medieval History at St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo, and includes Laura Cameron (Geography and Planning), Nicolas Graham (School of Computing), and Robin Harrap (Geology) of Queen’ s University.

Titled, Environments of Change: Digitizing Nature, History and Human Experience in Late Medieval Sussex, part of the project will be hosted at Queen’s Bader International Study Centre (BISC). The BISC has built a new Science Lab for the project that will act as a satellite location in the UK, where affiliated students and scholars may gather, conserve, and analyze the natural physical remains they source throughout the south of England.

“The social sciences and humanities are integral towards building a healthier, stronger, and more prosperous Canada,” says Minister Duncan. “Since taking office, our government has worked hard to put science and research back to their rightful place. Today’s grant recipients will help us make informed decisions about our communities, economy, health and future prosperity.”

The money for Queen’s will fund 32 separate research projects, including $597,643 in Partnership Development Grants, $1,985,352 in Insight Grants, and $1,062,305 in Insight Development Grants, along with $2,450,000 in funding for 29 doctoral students.

Insight Development Grants support new research in its early stages and enable the development of new research questions as well as experimentation with new methods. Insight Grants support research excellence in the social sciences and humanities for up to five years. Partnership Grants help build research strength and collaboration between institutions and various organizations.

“The Insight and Partnerships programs provides our researchers with the resources they need to address critical issues facing society and, through collaboration, create new knowledge and expertise across a range of fields in the humanities and social sciences,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “I congratulate all the researchers funded for their success and thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their continued commitment to research in Canada.”

This investment is part of Canada’s Science Vision and the government’s commitment of more than $10 billion to science and research. This includes a historic increase in funding for fundamental research and the largest boost in over a decade to the federal research funding agencies.

For more information visit the SSHRC website.

Meet the Dean of Queen’s Law

Mark Walters shares his thoughts and plans for the Faculty of Law and its community members as he begins his term as dean.

Mark Walters, Law’89 graduate and former faculty member, has returned to Queen's to lead the Faculty of Law’s next phase of development. His depth and breadth of experience in research, teaching, and academic leadership will enable Queen’s Law to continue its momentum as one of Canada’s leading law schools. (University Communications / Photo by Greg Black)

Mark Walters (Law'89) is recognized as one of Canada’s leading scholars in public and constitutional law, legal history and legal theory. His work on the rights of Indigenous peoples, focused on treaty relations between the Crown and Canada’s Indigenous nations, has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as by courts in Australia and New Zealand. 

As he begins his term as dean of the Faculty of Law, a return to his alma mater, his expertise will certainly help Queen’s in its continuing effort to be a leader in innovative legal education and scholarship.

“Legal education and practice are poised for enormous change,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Dr. Walters has a depth and breadth of experience in research, teaching and academic leadership that will enable Queen’s Law to continue its momentum as one of Canada’s leading law schools.”

For the past three years, Dr. Walters has held the distinguished F.R. Scott Chair in Public and Constitutional Law at McGill’s Faculty of Law. For the 17 years before that, he was a faculty member at Queen’s Law, where he led the 2008 launch of the school’s doctoral program and co-chaired the committee that developed its 2014-19 strategic plan. Previously, he taught at Oxford University after practising law in Toronto in the area of Aboriginal title and treaty rights. Over his academic career, he has held a number of research and visiting fellowships and received national awards. 

What’s also interesting about his close connection with Queen’s Law is that he literally wrote the scholarly paper chronicling the school’s first five decades in celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2007.

As he begins his five-year term, Dean Walters shares his thoughts and his plans for the school and its community members.       

How do you feel about being appointed Dean of Queen’s Law?

I’m thrilled to return to Queen’s to lead the law school in the next phase of its remarkable development. It will be a privilege to work with faculty, staff and students who are committed to excellence and innovation in legal education and research and passionate about law’s promise in building a more just society.

What attracted you to the position? 

Queen’s Law is in an enviable position. I’ve always been impressed by the people who make the school a true community. What also impresses me is that this community has set an ambitious path forward: to be a leader in innovative legal education and scholarship with a global reach. The law school has solid foundations and proud traditions, and it has expanded its faculty complement significantly and launched important new initiatives. Leading the school at this important moment is an exciting opportunity.

What did you do to prepare for your new role?  

I begin today, but my work started on March 28, when my appointment was announced. I was in close touch with (former dean) Bill Flanagan, and we planned a smooth transition. Over the past few months I met with as many people in the Queen’s Law community as possible. I attended the Queen’s Law alumni event in Toronto on May 23; the international law conference and celebration of Bill’s deanship at “the Castle,” the Bader International Study Centre in England, on May 30-31; and the Kingston alumni reception on June 19. I also met the members of the advisory board of the Queen’s Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace in June. 

As Dean, what will you do first?

The first thing I’ll do is to meet the new faculty members. Since I left three years ago, Queen’s Law has engaged in a remarkable expansion, and almost one-third of the faculty are new. I’m astounded by the quality of legal scholars who have joined Queen’s Law, both before and after my departure. I’ll enjoy getting to know the new faculty and learning about their research, and I can’t wait to reconnect with my wonderful former colleagues.

What are your top priorities? 

My priorities, I’m sure, are the priorities of all members of the Queen’s Law community. When I picture Queen’s Law, I see a legal-academic community with a passionate commitment to serving society through innovative legal education and groundbreaking research. It’s a school that advances critical understanding about law and the value of legality among the leaders of tomorrow – in the private and public sectors and at the local, national, and international levels. It’s a school that embraces the ideals of inclusion and diversity and, in particular, the goal of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. These are lofty sentiments, I know. 

At a practical level, my priority is to work with faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends of Queen’s Law to develop a strategic plan for the next five years that gives these abstract aspirations concrete shape. One important part of this plan will be to address the hard reality that the school must have more financial resources to pursue its dreams. The priority, then, is to develop a plan for success through broad consultation – and then to implement it.

Find out more about Queen’s Law.

This article is an abridged version of the original article first published on the Faculty of Law website.

Political Studies doctoral candidate receives Trudeau Scholarship

Linda Mussell's research involves intersectional policy analysis of intergenerational incarceration and the legacies of colonialism.

Linda Mussell, Trudeau Scholarship recipient
Linda Mussell, a doctoral candidate in Political Studies, was recently announced as one of 20 recipients of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholarship. 

Linda Mussell, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Studies, was recently announced as a recipient of a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship.

A total of 20 of the prestigious, three-year scholarships were awarded to emerging scholars interested in playing a leadership role within their communities and helping to inspire positive change.

For Mussell, whose research involves intersectional policy analysis of intergenerational incarceration and the legacies of colonialism, receiving the Trudeau Scholarship is an affirmation of the importance of her research and provides valuable momentum as she pursues her doctorate at Queen’s.

“It is a huge honor to have my work acknowledged this way and to be part of a cohort of such accomplished and creative people, leaders really, from across Canada,” says Mussell, who is supervised by Margaret Little (Political Studies). “I also feel really energized and excited to move forward with my work, especially now that I’ve received this distinction.”

Mussell’s doctoral work builds upon her experiences and research in the justice system, having volunteered as a literacy tutor and then becoming involved with the Elizabeth Fry Society. Through her volunteer work she developed a passion for assisting people within the justice system and breaking the cycle of incarceration. Her master’s work focused on policy interventions to support children who have parents or family members in prison and she continues to volunteer with multiple justice-focused organizations and is involved in student-led initiatives and various related committees.

“The Trudeau award is a recognition of the concerted efforts many of Queen’s graduate students, such as Linda Mussell, make to promote positive social-change,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “Apart from undertaking innovative research projects, many of our graduate students work with communities to provide leadership in such areas as economic development, social justice and environmental sustainability.”

The Trudeau Scholarship will provide Mussell the opportunity to reconnect and expand upon her prior areas of research and bring it to the next level.

“I really want to amplify the voices of people who have this as a lived experience, to return to the places where I’ve been researching, to develop better ways to communicate my research within the involved communities, and also to leverage it in policy circles,” she says. “My goal is to really take the next three years to bridge work in the community and academia, and then to communicate it effectively in the policy-making sphere.”

The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s scholarship program provides three years of support for “courageous, bold, original thinkers who seek unconventional experiences beyond the halls of academia.”

More information about the program and the 2019-21 scholars is available on the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation website.


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