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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.


Scientist earns prestigious international honour

Queen’s University researcher John Smol earns elite recognition from Royal Society.

Queen’s University professor John Smol (Biology) recently joined elite company when he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society (London). Only two other Queen’s professors have ever been named to Fellowship – Kerry Rowe (Civil Engineering) and Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald (Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy).

Formed in 1660, Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS) include eminent scientists such as Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, and it is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Fellows are elected in recognition of their exceptional contributions in the fields of science, engineering and medicine. The mission of the RS is to recognize, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

Queen's University Professor John Smol poses with original Royal Society member Isaac Newton after his official induction in London.

Fellows are elected based solely on the merit of their scientific work.

“An FRS is something I had known about since I was an undergraduate, largely reading about Darwin and other famous scientists, and the history behind the society,” says Dr. Smol. “Of course, it never occurred to me that those letters would ever be behind my name. Just as I was honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada over 20 years ago, I am elated at being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and to be asked to sign the Charter Book that includes the signatures of people like Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.”

In 1991, Dr. Smol founded the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), a group of about 40 students and other scientists dedicated to the study of long-term global environmental change. Much of his research deals with using lake sediments to study climate change, acidification, eutrophication, contaminant transport, and other environmental stressors. A significant portion of his research focuses on environmental change in the Arctic, where he has completed over three decades of fieldwork and data collection spanning the entire circumpolar region.

His research has played a key role in moving the study of paleolimnology from a largely-descriptive discipline to a quantitative and precise science, with a wide range of applications. Many of the novel approaches he and his colleagues developed have been adopted around the world and have influenced changes in public policy. Part of his citation read during the induction ceremony emphasized “his tireless efforts in bringing his socially-important scientific conclusions on climatic and environmental change to public attention.”

”I often work in contentious circumstances, identifying new environmental problems,” says Dr. Smol. “Many industries and certain politicians would certainly prefer that our work would simply disappear, as we frequently provide ‘pesky and inconvenient data’ for CEOs and shareholders.  One thing I learned is that the more prestigious the awards, the greater the likelihood that our research will be shared and valued.”

Dr. Smol has received over 60 national and international research and teaching awards. These include three medals from the Royal Society of Canada (RSC): the Miroslav Romanowski Medal for Environmental Science, the Flavelle Medal for Biological Sciences, and, recently, the McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science. He is the first scientist since the establishment of the RSC (1882) to win three individual medals.

“It is an immense individual honour to receive a fellowship in Britain’s Royal Society, but also one for Queen’s in having one of its researchers join the ranks of the world’s most respected and accomplished scientists,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “I offer Dr. Smol my most profound congratulations.”

In addition to his Royal Society accolades, he has won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, and he was co-winner of the Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering, Canada’s highest honour for interdisciplinary research excellence in science and engineering. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and received the Weston Lifetime Achievement Prize for Northern Research as well as being named an Einstein Professor by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Amongst his 13 teaching and mentoring awards is the 3M Teaching Fellowship, considered to be Canada’s highest teaching honour.

For more information visit the Royal Society website.

Surveilling surveillance

Queen’s professor David Lyon recognized for career contributions to field of surveillance studies.

David Lyon, Queen's University
Queen's University sociology professor David Lyon (Credit: USI Università della Svizzera Italiana)

In the 1930s, famed poet and dramatist T.S. Eliot wrote:

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

These days, with issues of online privacy and mass data collection in the news regularly, Queen’s University sociology professor and surveillance studies pioneer David Lyon says we should now be asking: Where is the information we have lost in data?

“As a society, we always need to ask whether or not technological and surveillance developments are right, truthful, wise, and fulfilling,” says Dr. Lyon, who was recently recognized with an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Surveillance Studies Network for his scholarly and intellectual contributions to the field. “With the sharing, collection, and use of our personal data becoming increasingly prevalent, it is important to make sure it is done ethically and with sound reason, so as to protect ourselves, and especially vulnerable groups, from exploitation.”

Long before the Edward Snowden or Facebook-Cambridge Analytica revelations, Dr. Lyon and his colleagues were trailblazers in what would become the surveillance studies discipline. He coined one of the most widely adopted definitions of surveillance – “focused, systematic, and routine attention to personal details for purposes such as influence, entitlement, or management” – and developed key ideas in the field, including one of his most lauded concepts: social sorting.

“Social sorting now uses data analysis to divide groups of people into various categories and segments, including by income, education, race, ethnicity, gender, occupation, or otherwise,” says Dr. Lyon. “As technology has advanced, so too has the ability for those in positions of power to gather and categorize us, so as to treat us differently. Sometimes this can be in the name of good – be it for welfare distribution or hospital triage – but it can also be used for more controlling or even nefarious purposes, like using credit scores or consumer histories that may deny people opportunities.”

Twenty-five years ago, concerns held by academics or members of the public could be grouped into several different siloes of surveillance. As well as worries about public video cameras, some were concerned with issues surrounding the security of telephone services – particularly with the advent of technologies like Caller ID. Others were concerned with workplace surveillance at the hands of their employers, and another group feared state tyranny as government databases became more interconnected, thus allowing bureaucrats to amass ‘dossiers’ of information with records of your government interactions.

“Nowadays, those siloes have dissolved,” says Dr. Lyon. “Between the exponential rate of technological development, the commercialization of the internet, political and social crises, and the growth of social media, we’ve forfeited much of our personal data to private corporations and governments in the name convenience, consumerism, and a sense of security. As a result, it is more important than ever that we as citizens demand proper oversight, accountability, and social justice when it comes to collecting and handling personal data.”

In his role as Director of the Queen’s Surveillance Studies Centre (SSC), Dr. Lyon is leading a team of scholars who conduct high-level research and are actively engaging in communities to promote awareness and action so the public is better equipped to protect how their personal data are used. The SSC experts are engaged on committees concerning emerging surveillance issues - like the controversial Sidewalk Labs ‘smart city’ project in Toronto – and they mount outreach events to discuss, for example, social media with parents, teachers, and children so families can navigate the issues together.

The SSC has received millions of dollars in funding from SSHRC and has gained worldwide recognition for its interdisciplinary work involving sociologists, lawyers, political scientists, business leaders, computer scientists, health researchers, professors, and students – all under Dr. Lyon’s leadership.

“It is encouraging to see the public’s rising awareness of issues related to personal data and surveillance, especially among parents whose children are becoming more and more ‘data dependent’,” says Dr. Lyon. “I am hopeful because young people do care about privacy – only their definition of privacy is slightly different than a classic understanding of the term.”

This also affects adult users of social media. When asked by researchers about the importance of online privacy without actually using the word ‘privacy’ in the questions, many narrow in on ‘fairness’ as a more essential concept when it comes to the evolution of our online lives, rather than complete personal confidentiality or privacy.

“Mass media accounts often assume ‘technological inevitability’ as if technology itself is forcing unavoidable social change, but I disagree,” says Dr. Lyon, whose latest book explores ‘everyday surveillance’. “There is an interactive relationship here, but in the end technology should be governed by humans and our interests and not the other way around. If we collectively demand a just and meaningful approach to tech innovation, then we can shape a respectful, inclusive, collaborative, safe, and open online future.”

The Surveillance Studies Network Outstanding Contribution Award is not Dr. Lyon’s first career award. In 2005, he was awarded a Queen’s Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, and then received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association Communication and Information Technology Section two years later. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2008 and in 2012 he received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Canadian Sociological Association. Over the next five years he won an Insight-Impact Award from the SSHRC, an honorary doctorate from the Università della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland, and the Queen's University Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision.

Learn more about Dr. Lyon and the work of the Surveillance Studies Centre.

The facts of the (dark) matter

World leading researchers gather at Queen’s to discuss dark matter, galaxies, and the universe.

The Andromeda galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy (Photo credit: Jonathan Sick, Queen's University)

Top scientists from around the world have gathered at Queen's University this week to celebrate fundamental discoveries in the fields of dark matter and galaxy astrophysics, and to honour ten of the top minds in dark matter astrophysics. The symposium, entitled The Physics of Galaxy Scaling Relations and the Nature of Dark Matter, will feature a public lecture, and spotlight research results in the studies of dark matter, galaxy structure, and particle astrophysics during a time of unprecedented intellectual productivity and discovery in the field.  

“To have these giants of dark matter and astroparticle physics gathered here in Canada is a truly rare opportunity that befits the prominent role that Queen’s scientists are developing in these research areas,” says Stéphane Courteau, Chair of the conference organizing committee and Queen’s Professor of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy.  “Our guests of honour are the pioneers of these study areas and architects of models of our Universe in which a very large fraction of the matter is completely dark, so this is a unique and exciting opportunity to discuss the future of dark matter physics and to recognize our guests’ tremendous accomplishments.”

Running from July 15-20, the conference will not only feature panel discussions and invited lectures on some of the universe’s biggest mysteries, but will also serve as a celebration of the career contributions of the event’s ten guests of honour.

Among the distinguished guests is Sandra Faber, Professor Emerita from the University of California, who co-leads a Hubble Space Telescope project looking at galaxy formation back to the time of the Big Bang. She has been the recipient of major international awards, and was recognized most notably by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2013 with the National Medal of Science.

On July 19, Michael Turner from the University of Chicago – the researcher who originally coined the term dark energy – will be giving a free public lecture open to attendees, faculty, staff, students, and the Kingston community. Entitled The Dark Side of the Universe, his talk will explain what we know about the crucial roles of dark matter and dark energy play in shaping our universe.

“The complexities of the universe are vast and intricate, so the public lecture will be an excellent opportunity for the Queen’s and Kingston community to gain a clear, thought-provoking understanding of this research,” says Dr. Courteau. “It will also be valuable for current and prospective students who are considering pursuing this field of study, especially with the recent launch of the new McDonald Institute marking Queen’s University’s leadership role in astroparticle physics.”

Queen’s University recently launched the McDonald Institute (Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute) in partnership with eight universities and five research organizations, cementing its reputation as a world leader in astroparticle physics. This week’s conference marks the most high-profile event hosted by the McDonald Institute since its May 2018 unveiling ceremony, organized in honour of its namesake, Queen’s professor emeritus and Nobel Laureate Arthur B. McDonald.

You can learn more about the conference or reserve your free space at the public lecture now.

Concrete ideas for the future

Queen’s University civil engineering researchers design and build Canada’s first Moving Load Simulator for highway bridge testing.

  • Amir Fam, the Donald and Sarah Munro Chair in Engineering and Applied Science, explains how the Moving Load Simulator to Mayor Bryan Paterson. (University Communications)
    Amir Fam, the Donald and Sarah Munro Chair in Engineering and Applied Science, explains how the Moving Load Simulator to Mayor Bryan Paterson. (University Communications)
  • Among those attending the unveiling of the Moving Load Simulator were, from left: Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research); Kevin Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science; Laura Tauskela, student; Mark Gerretsen, MP, Kingston and the Islands; Dustin Brennan, student; Bryan Paterson, Mayor of Kingston; and Amir Fam, Donald and Sarah Munro Chair in Engineering and Applied Science. (University Communications)
    Among those attending the unveiling of the Moving Load Simulator were, from left: Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research); Kevin Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science; Laura Tauskela, student; Mark Gerretsen, MP, Kingston and the Islands; Dustin Brennan, student; Bryan Paterson, Mayor of Kingston; and Amir Fam, Donald and Sarah Munro Chair in Engineering and Applied Science. (University Communications)
  • The Moving Load Simulator, a one-of-a-kind system that simulates the forces borne by a bridge when large and small vehicles drive across, undergoes a demonstration during its unveiling at Ellis Hall. (University Communications)
    The Moving Load Simulator, a one-of-a-kind system that simulates the forces borne by a bridge when large and small vehicles drive across, undergoes a demonstration during its unveiling at Ellis Hall. (University Communications)
  • Queen’s University researcher Amir Fam and his team have designed and built the Moving Load Simulator, featuring new technology to test structural integrity of bridge materials and design. (University Communications)
    Queen’s University researcher Amir Fam and his team have designed and built the Moving Load Simulator, featuring new technology to test structural integrity of bridge materials and design. (University Communications)
  • A total of $4.2 million in funding to design and build the simulator – the first of its kind in Canada – and other support infrastructure was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Ontario Research Fund and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, with additional in-kind contributions. (University Communications)
    A total of $4.2 million in funding to design and build the simulator – the first of its kind in Canada – and other support infrastructure was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Ontario Research Fund and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, with additional in-kind contributions. (University Communications)

Queen’s University researcher Amir Fam and his team unveiled a cutting-edge Moving Load Simulator on Thursday, July 12, featuring new technology designed to test structural integrity of bridge materials and design.

The one-of-a-kind system simulates the forces borne by a bridge when large and small vehicles drive across. It collects data which are then analyzed by engineers to assess the performance of all aspects of the bridge structure, including the deck, girders, joints, and connections of many types of bridges.

“This equipment here at Queen’s is remarkably unique,” says Dr. Fam, Donald and Sarah Munro Chair in Engineering and Applied Science and Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies). “We wanted to take the lead in understanding bridges under full-scale moving loads by creating testing infrastructure that was innovative and new. We accomplished that with this technology.”

The $4.2 million in funding to design and build the simulator – the first of its kind in Canada – and other support infrastructure was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Ontario Research Fund and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, with additional in-kind contributions.

“The important research enabled by the Moving Load Simulator will save lives and reduce costs,” says Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO of CFI. “Aging infrastructure in bridges across North America can be a serious issue of safety and security. The ability to study simultaneously both load and motion will be key to building better bridges in the future and to knowing today which bridges should require load limits.”

Traditionally, bridge materials are tested using a pulsating technique that sees a large hammer-like instrument pounding the material repeatedly in the same spot. Dr. Fam says that, in reality, this isn’t how bridges are used in the real-world. By driving back and forth over the test material, the simulator recreates the forces bridges undergo every day and over a long period of time.

“We designed and built this new technology to give us deeper insights than we’ve ever had before,” says Dr. Fam. “The simulator gives us a more accurate estimate of material fatigue, which correlates to the service life of the bridge. This is critical knowledge we can now supply to the construction industry.”

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO), which owns and maintains the vast majority of bridges in the Province, is one of first partners that will be using the load simulator to test bridges in Ontario.  Dr. Fam says the technology will also contribute to more design efficiencies.

“In addition to our industry partners, the Moving Load Simulator will provide a unique opportunity for Queen’s students,” says Dr. Fam. “They are going to be exposed to one of the more unique research facilities in the world and will be able to use it for research projects.”

Dr. Fam worked closely with key players from the Structures Group in the Department of Civil Engineering, graduate students and also worked with industry partners, Dymech, Canadian Precast Prestressed Concrete Institute, and Forterra Engineering, to take this innovative facility from a vision to reality.

“The launch of the Moving Load Simulator is indicative of the highly advanced and applicable nature of research at Queen’s, and, importantly, of how strong collaborations, student engagement, and industry partnerships can work in synergy to address real-world challenges,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). 


The Conversation: The 100-year-old rallying cry of ‘white genocide’

Fear of an imminent 'white genocide' fuels modern white supremicist groups, but the concept behind it began well over 100 years ago.

White supremacists hold shields in Charlottesville, Va.]
White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they guard the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017 (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

When white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, it woke the world up to the mobilization of extremist groups in our North American cities. With the recent announcement that the white supremacist who organized the Charlottesville rally is planning to mark the anniversary with an event in Washington, D.C., it becomes undeniable.

What ideas fuel such groups? A clue lies in the Charlottesville cry of “you will not replace us,” which morphed into “Jews will not replace us.”

The rallies are an indication of a fear of an imminent “white genocide,” a propaganda term used by white supremacists to indicate their beliefs that the “white race” is dying. This fear is so central that it’s inscribed in their infamous slogan known as “the fourteen words”: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

White genocide?

As it turns out, the idea is not original. The current ideas of the white nationalist movement are old ones full of myths and unscientific, obsolete “research.”

The idea of white genocide comes from the concept of “race suicide” first articulated by intellectuals and politicians well over 100 years ago.

[Anti-racism protestors]
Anti-racism demonstrators participate in a rally in Atlanta in August 2017. Protests took place across the country to denounce white supremacists after the racist rally in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Race suicide

Talk of “race suicide,” the idea that the white population could die out, was so popular in its day that it shaped laws and policies in both the United States and Canada, including: Immigration law, eugenics programs and the prohibition of abortion. Support for these initiatives were mainstream and expressed by white folks from all social classes and political positions.

Today, that discourse has shifted from mainstream to extremism as contemporary white supremacist groups galvanize members around their trumped-up panic about their eventual demise.

Believing their dominance as a white “race” is threatened, along with their unearned entitlements and conferred dominance, extremist groups promote violence to achieve their desired end — a fictive nation of whiteness.

Their targets are not only racial, ethnic and religious minorities, but also sexual minorities and women. Why? Because power is not restricted to whiteness; it is accomplished intersectionally. In other words, whiteness wields maximum power when it intersects with masculinity and heteronormativity.

Scientific racism

“Race suicide” can be traced to the scientific racism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A popular literature, it flourished at that time, and was promoted by political leaders and the intellectual elite.

One contributor was Lothrop Stoddard, whose 1920 book, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy was the most inflammatory in a line of such books. Stoddard built on his mentor Madison Grant’s 1916 book, The Passing of the Great Race, or the Racial Basis of European History, which in turn was built on his friend William Z. Ripley’s 1899 book, The Races of Europe: A Sociological Study. With little to no references, research or documentation to support their claims, these writers asserted the inherent superiority of the “Nordic” group of Europeans.

But Stoddard went a step further. He wrote that Nordic superiority needed protection from more numerous, inferior traits of other races. He reasoned that Nordic superiority was “genetically recessive” and therefore unstable and in need of political intervention to ensure the segregation of groups.

In his introduction to Stoddard’s book, Grant wrote: “(if) the white man were to share his blood with, or entrust his ideals to, brown, yellow, black or red men…This is suicide pure and simple, and the first victim of this amazing folly will be the white man himself.”

Francis Amasa Walker, president of Michigan Institute of Technology from 1881 to 1897, and the first president of the American Economic Association, published the first comprehensive statistical case that documented a discrepancy between the birth rates among newly arrived immigrants and that of “old-stock Americans.”

Walker concluded that “inferior foreign-born groups” would effectively displace the superior “native” population. The latter would not compete with immigrants from the “low-wage races.” These “peasants” from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria and Russia were “beaten men from beaten races.”

Another economist, Edward A. Ross, is attributed with coining the term, “race suicide.” In his 1901 book, Ross wrote that despite the superiority of “native” Anglo-Saxons, “Latins, Slavs, Asiatics, and Hebrews” were better adapted to the conditions of industrial capitalism and thus would outbreed the superior Anglo-Saxon race. “Race suicide” was therefore inevitable, he concluded, because modern urban life promoted the survival of racially inferior immigrant races.

A president and a prime minister

“Race suicide” scares were heard from the highest offices. In the U.S., President Theodore Roosevelt adopted it as a cause. Calling race suicide the “greatest problem of civilization,” he pronounced: “The New England of the future will belong, and ought to belong, to the descendants of the immigrants of yesterday and today, because the descendants of the Puritans ‘have lacked the courage to live,’ have lacked the conscience which ought to make men and women fulfil the primary law of their being.”

In Canada, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was in full support of measures to prevent race suicide. He said: “What physical and mental overstrain, and underpay and underfeeding are doing for the race in occasioning infant mortality, a low birth rate, and race degeneration, in increasing nervous disorders and furthering a general predisposition to disease, is appalling.”

Women were targets too

The targets of campaigns to prevent race suicide were not only new immigrants, but also women.

Fears about the consequences of immigration intersected with fears of women’s sexual freedoms. As early as 1867, Horatio Storer, professor of obstetrics and medical jurisprudence at Berkshire Medical Institution and an anti-abortion activist, asked: “Shall the West and the South be filled by our own children or by those of aliens? This is a question that our own women must answer; upon their loins depends the future destiny of the nation.”

[Are modern women cheaters poster]
The dangers of women’s indulgences were portrayed in a poster for the 1938 movie, Race Suicide. IMDB

Fears of race suicide arose from dual sources. One was perceptions of immigrant women’s higher fertility. The other was the reproductive freedom enjoyed by modern urban women. The belief was that too few babies were born to desirable segments of society, and too many were born to the rest.

On this theme in 1917, University of Michigan academic Warren Thompson wrote: “The presence of a large number of unmarried women or women who marry late in life, as in our city population at present, is in itself a proof of race suicide.”

Treatises on the issue implored white women to save the race through stringent adoption of conservative moral standards and the prohibition of abortion.

Current attacks on immigrants

In the absence of an authentic political vision shared among extremists today, race substitutes for belongingness —not to the kind of civic nation-building of the past, but to an imaginary society of white purity.

Then as now, white supremacists lean on the discourse of intellectuals and political leaders to convey legitimacy to their claims.

Then as now, the cry of race suicide inverts the status of victim in which white supremacy is at risk of annihilation.

It is white extremists who insist that they are at risk of annihilation rather than the source of oppression. It is “the Other” that must be controlled through various means, whether sanctioned by the state or not.

Then as now, the perceived risk of “race suicide” is not only to white supremacy, but to the preservation of an entire way of life upon which white supremacy is projected. In other words, they seek to establish a way of life built on a power and a status whose enjoyment is unquestioned.

In response to this risk, white supremacists advocate for a multi-pronged attack against immigrants and other groups.

The Conversation“Race suicide” turns out not to be about whiteness after all. Then as now, it is about violent power operating intersectionally through race, gender and nativism. The oppression of groups deemed “naturally inferior,” whether they are refugees, sexual minorities or religious minorities, is the organizing principle of white extremist groups who fear that they could be “replaced.”


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

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.

The Conversation: Sex and gender both shape your health, in different ways

By asking people their sex and gender, health researchers may be able to understand why each person experiences illness and disease differently.

File 20180621 137717 6m9mqe.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
There are now many gender categorizations, from the traditional ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ to ‘gender fluid’ and ‘undifferentiatied.’ Health researchers can work with these to gain a more accurate understanding of disease susceptibilities. (Shutterstock)

When you think about gender, what comes to mind? Is it anatomy or the way someone dresses or acts? Do you think of gender as binary — male or female? Do you think it predicts sexual orientation?

Gender is often equated with sex — by researchers as well as those they research, especially in the health arena. Recently I searched a database for health-related research articles with “gender” in the title. Of the 10 articles that came up first in the list, every single one used “gender” as a synonym for sex.

[The Conversation]Although gender can be related to sex, it is a very different concept. Gender is generally understood to be socially constructed, and can differ depending on society and culture. Sex, on the other hand, is defined by chromosomes and anatomy — labelled male or female. It also includes intersex people whose bodies are not typically male or female, often with characteristics of both sexes.

Researchers often assume that all biologically female people will be more similar to each other than to those who are biologically male, and group them together in their studies. They do not consider the various sex- and gender-linked social roles and constraints that can also affect their health. This results in policies and treatment plans that are homogenous.

‘Masculine?’ ‘Cisgender?’ ‘Gender fluid?’

The term “gender” was originally developed to describe people who did not identify with their biological sex. John Money, a pioneering gender researcher, explained: “Gender identity is your own sense or conviction of maleness or femaleness; and gender role is the cultural stereotype of what is masculine and feminine.”

There are now many terms used to describe gender — some of the earliest ones in use are “feminine,” “masculine” and “androgynous” (a combination of masculine and feminine characteristics).

[Gender identity]
Research shows that gender, as well as sex, can influence vulnerability to disease. (Shutterstock)

More recent gender definitions include: “Bigender” (expressing two distinct gender identities), “gender fluid” (moving between gendered behaviour that is feminine and masculine depending on the situation) and “agender” or “undifferentiated” (someone who does not identify with a particular gender or is genderless).

If a person’s gender is consistent with their sex (e.g. a biologically female person is feminine) they are referred to as “cisgender.”

Gender does not tell us about sexual orientation. For example, a feminine (her gender) woman (her sex) may define herself as straight or anywhere in the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual or allied) spectrum. The same goes for a feminine man.

Femininity can affect your heart

When gender has actually been measured in health-related research, the labels “masculine,” “feminine” and “androgynous” have traditionally been used.

Research shows that health outcomes are not homogeneous for the sexes, meaning all biological females do not have the same vulnerabilities to illnesses and diseases and nor do all biological males.

Gender is one of the things that can influence these differences. For example, when the gender of participants is considered, “higher femininity scores among men, for example, are associated with lower incidence of coronary artery disease…(and) female well-being may suffer when women adopt workplace behaviours traditionally seen as masculine.”

In another study, quality of life was better for androgynous men and women with Parkinson’s disease. In cardiovascular research, more masculine people have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease than those who are more feminine. And research with cancer patients found that both patients and their caregivers who were feminine or androgynous were at lower risk of depression-related symptoms as compared to those who were masculine and undifferentiated.

However, as mentioned earlier, many health researchers do not measure gender, despite the existence of tools and strategies for doing so. They may try to guess gender based on sex and/or what someone looks like. But it is rare that they ask people.

A tool for researchers

The self-report gender measure (SR-Gender) I developed, and first used in a study of aging, is one simple tool that was developed specifically for health research.

The SR-Gender asks a simple question: “Most of the time would you say you are…?” and offers the following answer choices: “Very feminine,” “mostly feminine,” “a mix of masculine and feminine,” “neither masculine or feminine,” “mostly masculine,” “very masculine” or “other.”

Self-Report Gender Tool
Self-report gender tool. (Lisa Carver), Author provided

The option to answer “other” is important and reflects the constant evolution of gender. As “other” genders are shared, the self-report gender measure can be adapted to reflect these different categorizations.

It’s also important to note that the SR-Gender is not meant for in-depth gender research, but for health and/or medical studies, where it can be used in addition to, or instead of, sex.

Using gender when describing sex just muddies the waters. Including the actual gender of research participants, as well as their sex, in health-related studies will enrich our understanding of illness.

The ConversationBy asking people to tell us their sex and gender, health researchers may be able to understand why people experience illness and disease differently.


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

Neurosurgeon DJ Cook named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40

Queen's associate professor and Kingston Health Sciences Centre physician recognized for innovative surgical and stroke research.

[Neurosurgeon DJ Cook named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40]
DJ Cook, a neurosurgeon at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and associate professor at Queen’s University, was named to the Canada's Top 40 Under 40. (Photo by Matthew Manor/Kingston Health Sciences Centre)

DJ Cook, neurosurgeon at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and associate professor at Queen’s University, has been named to the annual Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 list.

Dr. Cook was recognized for his work in developing minimally invasive surgical procedures for complex brain disorders, as well for his innovative research focusing on therapy and treatments to enhance recovery for patients who have suffered a stroke.

Dr. DJ Cook
Dr. DJ Cook
(Photo by Matthew Manor/Kingston Health Sciences Centre)

“This is a real honour. I know that a few neurosurgeons have been recognized in the past, but this is a list focused on leaders in the private sector. So, it’s a big honour to be considered for this award as a surgeon-scientist,” says Dr. Cook. “I think it speaks to the impact of the work we are doing at KHSC and Queen’s with the Translational Stroke Research Program.”

Each year Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 serves as a showcase for emerging leaders across the country. Founded in 1995 by the Caldwell Partners, Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 has recognized more than 680 outstanding Canadians since its inception.

Dr. Cook credits his nomination for this prestigious award to the strong, innovative environment provided through the clinician-scientist program offered by the Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Association (SEAMO) in partnership with Queen’s and KHSC.

“I must also thank my highly-supportive partners in the neurosurgery program who help facilitate my sometimes overwhelming research schedule,” he says.

This year’s 40 winners were selected from over 800 nominees by an independent advisory board, comprising more than 20 business leaders from across Canada. Honourees were chosen on four key criteria: Vision and Innovation; Leadership; Impact and Influence; and Social Responsibility.

“It was a rigorous process that included a series of interviews with business leaders from across the country. I think the panel was interested in the impact our work is having in academia and the promise it holds for healthcare and our society,” says Dr. Cook. “It’s recognition that our research in stroke and neurosurgery is of interest to a broader audience who understand the potential benefit for patients worldwide.”

This year’s winners will be recognized at a gala event in Toronto in November.

Also making the list were five Queen’s alumni:

  • Neil Pasricha (Com’02), Best-selling author, speaker, thinker
  • Jamie Shea (Com’11), Co-founder and CEO, Chefs Plate
  • Patrick Meyer (Com’11), Co-founder and CSO, Chefs Plate
  • Andrew Turnbull (Artsci’01), Senior Vice President, Small Business Banking, CIBC
  • Allison Wolfe (Com’01), Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President, Finance and Strategy, Oxford Properties Group

The full list is available on the Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 website.

 – With files from Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

Indigenous scholars visit Queen’s for year-long fellowship

The Faculty of Arts and Science has announced the recipients of its pre-doctoral fellowships for Indigenous graduate students.

This brand new opportunity, announced in February, was designed to recognize outstanding scholarship among four Canadian Indigenous PhD candidates. The initiative will provide each fellow with an annual stipend of $34,000 and up to $3,000 for research and conference travel. In addition, each fellow will be appointed and compensated separately as a Term Adjunct to teach a half-course (three unit) university course.

Following a positive response and many worthwhile applications, the Faculty decided to expand the initiative to include a fifth scholar.

“The widespread enthusiasm for the Indigenous pre-doctoral fellowships, coupled with the intensity of the response and the high quality of the applicants, was such that we decided to award five fellowships,” says Lynda Jessup, Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) within the Faculty of Arts and Science.

During their year at Queen’s, these five scholars will each teach a course within the Faculty of Arts and Science, engage with local Indigenous peoples and communities, broaden their networks, and complete their doctoral work to receive their degree from their home institution.

The recipients are coming to Queen’s from different universities the west coast to Ottawa, and represent five distinct Indigenous cultures. Keri Cheechoo, from Long Lake #58 First Nation, says she is “incredibly honoured” to have been selected as one of the recipients.

“Wachiye (that means ‘hello’). The many positive Indigenous initiatives being undertaken at Queen’s have much to offer in terms of building community and promoting reconciliation efforts, and I am pleased to be a part of that revitalization and growth,” says Ms. Cheechoo. “I remain grateful that the “rafters have been extended”, to quote the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation task force report, to welcome my Indigenous knowledge, my capabilities as a Cree scholar, and the ancestral teachings I bring with me. Meegwetch (thank you).”

The five scholars include:


[Scott Berthelette]
Scott Berthelette (Supplied Photo)

Scott Berthelette
Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Queen’s Department of History
PhD Candidate, University of Saskatchewan

Scott Berthelette’s doctoral research examines how French-Canadian voyageurs and coureurs de bois were instrumental intermediaries between the French State and Indigenous Peoples in the Hudson Bay Watershed.

Mr. Berthelette is Métis. 


[Keri Cheechoo]
Keri Cheechoo (Supplied Photo)

Keri Cheechoo
Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Queen’s Department of English Language and Literature
PhD Candidate, University of Ottawa

Keri Cheechoo's research questions what Indigenous women's stories reveal about public and customary practices, as well as the policies and practices of forced sterilization, and she uses an arts-based methodology in the form of poetic inquiry, along with an Indigenous conversational methodology.

Ms. Cheechoo is Cree.


[Jennifer Meness]
Jennifer Meness (Supplied Photo)

Jennifer Meness
Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Queen's Cultural Studies Program
PhD candidate in the joint Communication and Culture program through York and Ryerson Universities.

Using Anishinaabe conceptual frameworks and methodologies, Jennifer Meness' research gathers stories of experiences with Gaa-dibenjikewaach and seeks to further understand these types of relationships through the social lens of powwow participation.

Ms. Meness is Algonquin.


[Evelyn Poitras]
Evelyn Poitras (Supplied Photo)

Evelyn Poitras
Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Queen’s Department of Gender Studies
PhD Candidate, Trent University

Evelyn Poitras's research is on Nikawiy (mother) to Nitanis (daughter) narratives on the Nehiyaw Iskwew role in governance, leadership, and Treaty enforcement with particular focus on Treaty Four and Treaty Six.

Ms. Poitras is Nehiyaw Iskwew (Cree and Saulteaux).


[Adrianne Xavier]
Adrianne Xavier (Supplied Photo)

Adrianne Lickers Xavier
Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Global Development Studies
PhD Candidate, Royal Roads University

Adrianne Lickers Xavier's research is an autoethnographic account examining the implementation of a food security initiative, "Our Sustenance," at Six Nations.

Ms. Lickers Xavier is Onondaga.


For more information on this new program, visit the Faculty of Arts and Science’s website.


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