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Research for a safer Canada

Queen's University researcher David Skillicorn receives NSERC CREATE to train students to help tackle the country's cybersecurity issues.

David Skiloicorn
Queen's University professor David Skillicorn has received $1.65 million from NSERC to tackle cybersecurity issues.

Queen’s University researcher David Skillicorn is receiving $1.65 million over the next six years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program to provide training for students in cybersecurity.

This is the fifth CREATE grant for Queen’s since the program started in 2013.

“Working with Dr. Skillicorn and his collaborators, 75 graduate students will benefit from unique and transferable learning and training opportunities that will advance our nation’s capacity to address issues of cybersecurity,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).

Using the funding, Dr. Skillicorn will assemble a multi-disciplinary team from multiple fields and institutions to train 75 PhD and Master’s students. The program will address the large skills gap that has limited Canada's government, critical infrastructure industries, businesses, and ordinary Canadians' ability to defend themselves from cyberattacks, cybercrime, and online manipulation such as election interference and cyberbullying.

“Canada trains less than half of the skilled people in these industries that are needed, and this shortfall is getting worse,” says Dr. Skillicorn. “The CREATE program allows us to train 75 Masters and PhD students in critical cybersecurity skills

PhD graduates of the program will conduct leading-edge research to keep Canada safer, and will train the next generation of skilled cybersecurity experts. Master’s graduates will play a key role in solving the urgent and important cybersecurity challenges facing government, critical infrastructure, private industry, and individual Canadians.

Dr. Skillicorn adds graduates of the program may earn jobs in their various areas of focus.

“The program integrates technical skills with the social, legal, and political issues that provide a context,” says Dr. Skillicorn. “All students will participate in exercises that simulate cyber-attacks and defence, and strategic thinking in response to a massive cyber incident. Students will also have internships that expose them to real-world cybersecurity and may suggest research directions for them to pursue.”

Co-applicants include eight Queen’s researchers from Electrical and Computing Engineering, School of Computing, Law, Policy Studies, and Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy, researchers from the Royal Military College of Canada, and 20 collaborators from a variety of areas including IBM, Public Safety Canada, Royal Military College of Canada and the Department of National Defence.

For more information, visit the NSERC website.

Research institute receives critical funding

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research receives $25 million over 10 years to facilitate veteran research.

  • [CIMVHR funding announcement]
    A total of $25 million in funding was announced for the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research. From left: Rosemary Park, Servicewomen’s Salute – Hommage aux Femmes Militaires Canada Lead; David Pedlar, Scientific Director, CIMVHR; Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence; Walter Natynczyk, former Chief of the Defence Staff; Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane; Harry Kowal, Principal, Royal Military College of Canada; Yvonne Cooper, Executive Director, CIMVHR. (University Communications)
  • [CIMVHR funding announcement]
    Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Lawrence MacAulay speaks about the important role that CIMVHR plays for military members and veterans. (University Communications)
  • [CIMVHR funding announcement]
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane speaks during the funding announcement for CIMVHR at Mitchell Hall on Wednesday, July 10. (University Communications)
  • [CIMVHR funding announcement]
    CIMVHR Scientific Director David Pedlar speaks about the importance of the research and partnerships for CIMVHR during the funding announcement at Mitchell Hall. (University Communications)

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) and Queen’s University welcomed the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, to campus on Wednesday, where he announced a $25 million investment over 10 years to support the institution’s research activities.

“Queen’s is pleased to see the Government of Canada commit long-term operational funding for CIMVHR – allowing the institute to continue its important research and knowledge translation aimed at improving health outcomes for Canada’s veterans and their families,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “The university has long been supportive of the institute’s goals and objectives.”

Minister MacAulay also announced $250,000 in funding from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund to create a Servicewomen’s Salute Online Portal for Research and Resources. Queen’s Professor Allan English (History) is heading up the program and the new funding will flow through the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy.

“Meeting the health needs of those who served in Canada’s armed forces depends on access to leading scientific research in the military and veteran health field,” says Minister MacAulay. “Queen’s University has been an invaluable asset to our veteran community in this regard, both in terms of the work they’ve done for CIMVHR and Servicewomen’s Salute. Continued collaboration between all stakeholders in this area benefits not only military members, veterans and their families — but Canada as a whole.”

Founded in 2010 as a partnership between researchers at Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada, CIMVHR at Queen’s has built a network of 45 Canadian universities that are working together to address the health research requirements of the Canadian military, veterans, and their families. To date, CIMVHR has funded 78 projects aimed at advancing the health of military personnel, veterans, and their families.

“Multi-institution partnerships – such as CIMVHR – bring together leading researchers from across Canada and around the globe to address some of our most pressing challenges,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “These partnerships are incredibly valuable and add another dimension to critical research projects. Queen’s is proud to play a part in these valuable partnerships.”

Funding for CIMVHR was proposed as part of a larger push for veteran-centric research in the federal Budget 2019 announcement.

“CIMVHR has worked tirelessly to build a collaborative network between academia, government, industry and philanthropy to advance research in the area of military, veteran and family health and wellbeing,” says David Pedlar, Scientific Director, CIMVHR. “Recognizing the importance of research and the impact it has on those who so selflessly serve, and their families, this Government of Canada funding will continue to strengthen the foundation for CIMVHR to continue leading the way for the next ten years. We are honoured to continue serving those who serve us.”

As for the new Servicewomen’s Salute online portal, the five-year project is designed to support female veterans and still-serving members transitioning out of the Canadian military to live in Canadian communities.

“Research has shown that one in four Canadian Armed Forces members will have trouble transitioning from military to civilian life—this is particularly true for women in uniform,” says Dr. English, Associate Professor, Department of History, and Lieutenant-Commander (Ret’d) Rosemary Park, MSc CD Servicewomen’s Salute – Hommage aux Femmes Militaires Canada Lead. “A robust and customized research and community resource of information, research, support, and engagement for Canadian military women would help servicewomen navigate their transitions more easily.”

Research done by CIMVHR is used by departmental decision and policy makers, program planners, health managers, clinicians, and other stakeholders as they support the physical, mental, and social health of veterans and their families.

For more information visit the CIMVHR website.

Canada-Cuba relations take a sad turn with new visa requirements

Canada Embassy in Havana Cuba.
The Canadian embassy in Havana.

There has been some commotion about the Canadian government’s decision to suspend visa processing for Cubans in Canada’s Havana embassy that will require them to travel to a third country to obtain the document.

The move is part of an overall staff reduction in the wake of an embassy employee lawsuit. Embassy workers believe the government failed to protect them from ailments sustained as a result of the mysterious “Havana syndrome” that has affected diplomats at both the United States and Canadian embassies.

Media reports, rallies in Canadian cities and a widely circulated home-made video released in Havana within days of the recent announcement all focused on the people most directly affected by this change. That’s because few Cubans, with their average monthly salary of US$30, will be able to travel to a third country to obtain the needed documents.

The personal stories highlighted in the video are brutal: Cuban students who can’t take up offers of admission to Canadian universities; Cuban–Canadian couples who must wait even longer to travel freely between their two countries; Cuban grandmothers unable to visit newborn grandchildren.

But this ugly turn in Canadian-Cuban relations has another casualty: decades of creative, productive connections between Cuban and Canadian people.

Canada’s official relationship with Cuba is well known. Canada pursued a different path than the United States. The Canadian government neither blockaded nor invaded. Pierre Trudeau and Fidel Castro went fishing together; Margaret Trudeau brought her youngest baby along to Cuba on a visit.

But formal political ties fluctuate. And Canada, no matter who’s in power, always treads cautiously in the shadow of Uncle Sam. Nonetheless, the story of Canada and Cuba also include countless, less famous but more enduring connections — in education, culture, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and business, to name a few.

Canadian NGO arrived after revolution

The first international NGO Cuba invited in after the 1959 revolution was Canadian University Service Overseas, or CUSO.

CUSO opened a field office in Havana in 1969, and for more than a decade co-ordinated educational and technical co-operation with Cuban schools and research institutes.

CUSO’s most significant program trained a new generation of Cuban engineering professors. In the early 1970s, engineering professors from several Canadian universities taught short courses to technologically hungry Cuban students.

A group of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) instructors from George Brown College accompanied the group, quickly preparing the Cuban students to understand their Canadian professors. In addition, close to 100 Cuban graduate students came to Canada for three-month stints for consultation with their Canadian thesis advisers.

Canadians deemed the project a grand success. The final report and other CUSO documents, available at Library and Archives Canada, is a testament to grassroots development projects.

The project succeeded, wrote the dean of engineering at the University of Waterloo in 1977, because Canadian universities worked as “genuine partners” and did not set the agenda. “The solution to Cuba’s problems could never be found in any Canadian university…. It could only be nurtured in Cuba,” he said.

Noble words, but what did this look like from the Cuban perspective?

Learning opportunities still cherished

For a new book on Canada-Cuba relations, I recently interviewed retired engineering professors in Havana who got their start in the CUSO program.

They had all been trained by Canadian professors in Havana, and spent time in Canadian universities. They reminisced fondly about their student days in Toronto and Winnipeg, making inevitable jokes about the cold, but also spoke seriously about the learning opportunities they still cherish.

Cuban engineering professors educated by CUSO's 1970 project. From left: Antonio A. Martinez Garcia, Vincente Lazaro Elejalde Villargo, Juan Lorenzo Almiral, Roberto Ignacio Ugarte Barazain. (Photo by Karen Dubinsky)

“In that era, we realized we needed to learn to resolve our own problems,” Juan Lorenzo Almiral told me. “The Canadian universities gave us the skills.”

Another example of co-operation can be found in the culinary world. Ivan Chef Justo is a well-known restaurant, located in an 18th century house in Old Havana. The food is the draw, but the décor is mesmerizing: a heady mix of photos, art and antiques drawn from Cuban history.

But there are also some oddities: an Ontario licence plate, a postcard from Montreal’s Expo ‘67, Canadian Indigenous art prints.

That’s because one of the owners, Justo Pérez, learned the restaurant business 50 years ago in Montréal. A friend of some of the Canadians who gathered in Havana as CUSO volunteers, Pérez spent a year in Montréal in the early 1970s on a self-styled educational tour of Montréal’s café and restaurant world.

His exit visa — an extreme rarity in those days — was organized by his CUSO friends. After a year, he returned to Cuba, opened the country’s first private restaurant in Varadero, and decades later continues to make his mark on the Havana restaurant scene.

Cuban music

Canadians, like people around the world, love Cuban music.

Luminaries such as singer Omara Portuando and musician Chucho Valdés grace all the important Canadian stages, and there are vibrant communities of talented Cuban musicians in all Canadian cities.

Cuban-Canadian musical ties extend for decades, beginning with bandleader Chicho Valle, who hosted the CBC Radio show Latin American Serenade and was the undisputed king of dance music at Toronto’s Inn on the Park in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Surely the most unusual musical exchange took place in the early 1960s, when Gaby Warren, a Canadian diplomat and now an Ottawa jazz celebrity, smuggled American jazz records into Cuba via diplomatic mailbags to nascent Valdés and Paquito d’Rivera.

Somehow when it comes to Cuba, the American absence rather than the enduring Canadian presence gets more attention.

But personal relations, friendships, joint projects and enduring mutual interests among Cubans and Canadians have created mechanisms for policy and social, economic and cultural development.

These are the connections — past and present — that are endangered by this ill-considered policy by the Canadian government.The Conversation


Karen Dubinsky is a professor of Global Development Studies and History at Queen's University, specializing in Canadian/Global South Relations, Canada/Cuba relations, Cuban cultural studies, Canadian history.

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 Nobel pursuit

[Connor Stone, Queen's Observatory]
Connor Stone, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy and the coordinator Queen's Observatory, will be attending the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 

Connor Stone, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy has found himself in some exclusive company after being selected to take part in the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting from June 30-July 5, an event that brings together Nobel Laureates in physics as well as 580 post-secondary students from 89 countries.

Stone specializes in galaxy physics and is the coordinator of the Queen’s Observatory and says that he is honoured to have been given the opportunity to meet and speak with so many of the world’s top minds in physics.

Queen’s Observatory
The Queen’s Observatory houses a 14-inch reflecting telescope in a dome on the roof of Ellis Hall, used primarily for student training and public demonstrations.
A free public open house is held monthly.
Visit the Queen’s Observatory website or Facebook page for more information.

“I am really looking forward to talking to people who are in a field of physics completely different from mine and understanding the big problems that they are grappling with,” Stone says.

Helping him along the way was Queen’s own Nobel Laureate, Professor Emeritus Art McDonald, who forwarded Stone for consideration as part of the multi-tiered application process, while the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute facilitated the nomination.

Stone’s breadth of interests and his strong physics and calculational ability led to his selection, explains Dr. McDonald.

The selection committee also looks for candidates who, after attending the Lindau Conference, will share what they have learned with their colleagues and the public once they return home.

Stone stood out in this regard. Along with his work at the observatory, he organizes a journals club for the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, as well as a data science group focused upon machine learning and data visualization.

“Since I do the observatory, the journals club, and the data visualization group, I will be able to take what I learn and the connections that I develop, and bring them back to Queen’s and share them with the public, the graduate students and the faculty because I am organizing connections with all of them,” he says. “I already like to connect people between different fields of physics so this is perfect for me.”

At the Lindau Conference the young scientists have the opportunity to hear from the Nobel Laureates and there are activities and opportunities for the students to interact. For example, Stone will be taking part in a Science Walk guided by a Nobel Laureate that will tour sites of scientific relevance.

“I think some of the more casual interactions will be the most important,” Stone adds. “These are the best people for me to network with, either at the top of their field or up and coming.”

The Lindau Conference is an amazing opportunity for the attendees, says Dr. McDonald.

“In my discussions with previous attendees they all said that the opportunity to hear from Nobel Laureates spanning all fields of physics, the chance to interact with them personally and the presence of nearly 600 excellent students from across the world, leads to a truly unique educational and personal experience,” he says.

Cognitive dissonance: Canada declares climate emergency and approves a pipeline


[Aerial view of Trans Mountain marine terminall]
A aerial view of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C.

On June 18, the Government of Canada declared a national climate emergency. The next day, the same government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX), which will be able to move almost 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the Port of Burnaby in British Columbia.

If this seems like a contradiction, you are not alone.

To date, Canada is the largest single jurisdiction to have declared a national climate emergency, following nations like Scotland, regions like Catalonia in Spain and cities like Vancouver and San Francisco.

Climate emergency vs. state of emergency

Altogether, 83 million people, living 623 jurisdictions, are now living under a state of climate emergency. The vast majority of these declarations have occurred in the last six months. The term climate emergency intentionally evokes a state of emergency — and implies imminent action on the part of the government.

Declaring a state of emergency gives governments the powers needed to respond to the emergency, from closing roads or bridges in the case of flooding to calling out the army to manage security threats.

By comparison, the declaration of a climate emergency is far less powerful. While governments may commit to actions when declaring a climate emergency, these actions usually amount to creating plans and engaging with their citizens. Yet this is not what concerned citizens and non-governmental organizations expect in response.

They demand radical action: the dramatic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, commitments to keep fossil fuels in the ground, the end of subsidies to fossil fuel producers and support for the rapid expansion of renewable energy. The TMX approval suggests that radical action is off the table — at least for now.

The climate lens approach

Governments can take a more pragmatic approach when facing a climate emergency. They can apply a “climate lens” approach to vet future policy decisions.

A climate lens forces government to address the environmental impacts of their decisions. For example, Infrastructure Canada now uses a climate lens to assess both greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation and climate change resilience associated with any new project.

Using a climate lens approach, every investment should get you closer to a cleaner future. Does this logic hold up with the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

In his announcement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged every dollar in federal revenue derived from the Trans Mountain expansion project to investments in clean energy and green technology. He was, essentially, making more than $500 million a year in taxes available for these types of projects as the pipeline becomes operational, which is expected in 2022.

This level of investment may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase Canada’s resilience to climate change, allowing the government to safely claim some progress. It remains to be seen, however, if Canadians will accept this offer as a good deal.

An orca swims along the Strait of Georgia, off the coast of British Columbia. (Unsplash/Ryan Stone)

A good deal for Canada?

There are many reasons that Canadians may balk. It is not a particularly large amount of money; Canadian subsidies to the fossil fuel sector total $3.3 billion annually, almost seven times greater than the government pledge.

It is also not necessarily a competitive offer: the additional carbon emissions from the production of oil to fill the new pipeline are estimated to be between 14-17 million tonnes per year. This means the government is pricing its taxes at the equivalent of about $29 per tonne of carbon, considerably less than the $50 per tonne target price.

Canadians are also highly aware that greening the world’s economy will mean dramatically reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. This doesn’t mean that oil must be completely phased out, particularly in the short term, but carbon constraints, including taxes and regulations will change the way oil is produced and used.

Canadian oil will be subject to significant scrutiny by prospective buyers around the world, who have to meet increasingly stringent carbon rules. The risk of stranded assets in the Canadian oil and gas sector is real and significant: if the country is going to build a pipeline, it should also take steps to ensure that the product that flows through it is what potential customers will demand.

Canada’s options moving forward

There is a major disconnect between declaring a climate change emergency and approving a major oil pipeline. The government could address this in one of two ways.

It could use carbon taxes (not corporate taxes) to support a low-carbon economy. The carbon tax raised more than $2.6 billion in 2018-19, and this will likely grow to more than $5 billion as carbon prices hit $50 per tonne in 2022. If the carbon price attached to every barrel of oil was invested in GHG emission reduction and climate mitigation, this would make a major difference — on par with current government subsidies for the fossil sector.

Another approach would be to ensure that every barrel of oil that goes into the new pipeline meets stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions intensity — the amount of carbon dioxide equivalents released in the production of each barrel. Canada introduced the Clean Fuel Standard in 2016 to incentivize the domestic use of low-carbon fuels. A similar policy could regulate the emissions associated with fossil energy production, forcing industry to adapt, yet safeguarding an important economic sector from global change.

Many Canadians are struggling with the federal government’s actions over recent days. It may be that the pro-environment and pro-industry sides are too divided to find common ground.

We need policies that acknowledge the urgency of the climate emergency and work to address the critical issues that have led to this emergency — a solution that works for all.The Conversation


Warren Mabee is the Director of the Queen's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, Canada Research Chair in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation, and, as of July 1, 2019, will be the Associate Dean and Director of the School of Policy Studies . 

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 fellows recognized for research and leadership in engineering

[Pascale Champagne and Kevin Deluzio]
Pascale Champagne, Director of the Beaty Water Research Centre and Canada Research Chair in Bioresources Engineering, and Kevin Deluzio, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science,
were inducted as fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering at its annual general meeting in Quebec City on Friday, June 21. Presenting them with the recognition is Eddy Isaacs, President of the CAE Board of Directors. (Supplied photos)

Two faculty members from Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering) and Kevin Deluzio (Dean; Mechanical and Materials Engineering), were inducted as fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering at its annual general meeting in Quebec City on Friday, June 21.

The CAE, comprised of many of Canada’s most accomplished engineers, is an independent, self-governing and non-profit organization established in 1987 to provide advice in matters of engineering concern. Fellows of the Academy are nominated and elected by their peers in honour of distinguished achievement and career-long service to the engineering profession.

Recognized for their strength in leadership and research, CAE Fellows work closely with the other national engineering associations in Canada and with the two other Canadian academies (Royal Society of Canada and Canadian Academy of Health Sciences) that comprise the Council of Canadian Academies.

“Drs. Champagne and Deluzio have been recognized for distinguished contributions to engineering in Canada,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Their work has had international impact on the well-being of many people. I take pride in their accomplishments and extend congratulations on behalf of Queen’s to them.”

Dr. Champagne, Canada Research Chair in Bioresources Engineering, is director of the Beaty Water Research Centre. She is an innovative and collaborative researcher and an internationally-recognized authority in the development of alternate water and waste management technologies, and sustainable environmental approaches with a focus on integrated bioresource management. Her diverse background spanning biology, green chemistry, and environmental and civil engineering supports her creative approach to developing solutions to environmental problems. Her work has important societal, economic and environmental implications, for which she has been recognized both nationally and internationally, including, most recently, with the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize.

Dr. Deluzio is Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen's University and an international leader in biomechanical engineering. He collaborates across disciplines to develop new biomedical technologies for the measurement and assessment of human motion and has over 200 publications in refereed journals and proceedings. Dr. Deluzio leads the Human Mobility Research Laboratory located at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston. This state-of-the-art facility is optimized for the comprehensive biomechanical and neuromuscular assessment of total body movement and physical performance. Most of the work there is focused on factors related to knee osteoarthritis and its treatment. He has served on the executive committee of the Canadian Society for Biomechanics and is past-president of the Canadian Orthopaedic Research Society. Dr. Deluzio is recognized for his research and teaching excellence, his leadership in ensuring education standards and increasing diversity in engineering, and his mentorship of faculty and students.

“I am delighted to learn that Dean Deluzio and Professor Champagne have been invited into the fellowship of the Canadian Academy of Engineering this year,” says Dr. Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s. “Drs. Champagne and Deluzio join friends and colleagues at the very top of the engineering profession here in Canada. I extend my most sincere congratulations to them both.”

For more information on the CAE, visit the website

Leaders in their fields garner competitive research chairs

Three new Canada Research Chairs emphasize commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

Queen’s University welcomed three new and eight renewed Canada Research Chairs as part of the Government of Canada’s recent announcement of a diverse group of Canada Research Chairs.

Announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sports, the investment of $275 million for 346 Canada Research Chairs across Canada builds on the minister’s vision for an equitable, diverse, and inclusive research community. The most recent competition results are 47 per cent women, 22 per cent visible minorities, five per cent persons with disabilities, and four per cent Indigenous peoples.

The new chairs include two current faculty members: Heather Aldersey (Rehabilitation Therapy), Canada Research Chair in Disability-Inclusive Development (Tier 2), and Lindsay Morcom (Education), Canada Research Chair in Language Revitalization and Decolonizing Education (Tier 2). Anna Panchenko (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), Canada Research Chair in Computational Biology and Biophysics (Tier 1), will join Queen's as of July 1.

Tier 1 Chairs are recognized by their peers as world leaders in their respective fields, while Tier 2 Chairs are recognized as emerging leaders in their research areas. Queen’s will receive $200,000 per year over seven years for each Tier 1 Chair and $100,000 per year over five years for each Tier 2 Chair.

“Canada’s advancement as a world leader in discovery and innovation has been greatly influenced by the CRC program, which supports talented researchers while fostering an inclusive research community,” Dr. Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Our success in garnering three new chairs and a number of renewals is demonstrative of Queen’s leading research, addressing complex issues both domestically and internationally.”

The three new Canada Research Chairs at Queen’s will focus on topics critical to Canadians and global citizens, including families affected by disability, the causes of cancer, and Indigenous education.

Dr. Aldersey’s research identifies needs of families affected by disability, then develops and evaluates supports available to meet those needs, with a focus on populations in low- and middle-income countries.

“I am so excited for the opportunities that this Canada Research Chair will provide,” says Dr. Aldersey. “This chair will enable me to expand my research with people with disabilities, their families, and their communities to promote disability-inclusive community development globally. I will also be able to support more research trainees who are passionate about inclusion in their own communities, and engage with key stakeholders to identify strengths-based, culturally relevant, and solutions-driven action for human rights and inclusion.”   

Building on current on-reserve and urban research on language revitalization, Dr. Morcom will work in partnership with Indigenous communities to develop best practices for education and language planning.

"I’m especially proud to be named the Canada Research Chair in Language Revitalization and Decolonizing Education in 2019 because the United Nations has declared this to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages,” says Dr. Morcom. “All Indigenous languages in Canada are either vulnerable or endangered, but there is a tremendous amount being done within Indigenous communities and in partnership with external institutions to revitalize them. I am grateful to be able to use this position to contribute to those efforts and help make sure our languages survive and are passed on to generations yet to come.”

Dr. Panchenko is working to identify the causes of cancer progression and to find out what factors can contribute to cancer mutation occurrence in DNA.

In addition to the three new chairs, also announced last week were eight chair renewals for Queen’s University:

  • P. Andrew Evans - Canada Research Chair in Organic and Organometallic Chemistry – Tier 1
  • Mark Rosenberg - Canada Research Chair in Development Studies – Tier 1
  • Christopher Booth - Canada Research Chair in Population Cancer Care – Tier 2
  • Ahmed Hassan - Canada Research Chair in Software Analytics – Tier 2
  • Jeffrey Masuda - Canada Research Chair in Environmental Health Equity – Tier 2
  • Jordan Poppenk - Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience – Tier 2
  • William Take - Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical Engineering – Tier 2
  • Ying Zou - Canada Research Chair in Software Evolution – Tier 2

For more information, visit the website.

Sustainable finance: Canada risks being left behind in low-carbon economy

Global investors are already mobilizing capital to take advantage of investment opportunities in climate-smart infrastructure, emissions-reducing technology and updated electricity grids. (Photo by Zbynek Burival/Unsplash)

Earlier this spring, the most in-depth analysis to date on Canada’s changing climate provided clear evidence that Canada is warming twice as fast as the global average. As we increasingly experience the physical impacts (flooding, extreme weather, forest fires), we will experience the financial impacts as well in the form of both increasing market risks and unprecedented investment opportunities.

For the financial sector, this is a pivotal moment where it can realign its structures to ensure global capital flows toward solutions that will protect Canada’s economy and our prosperity, more broadly. However, Canada’s financial community has yet to fully grasp the numerous challenges and opportunities that climate change presents for us in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

On June 14, an independent panel of experts released recommendations on what Canada’s financial system needs to do to support this transition. The key message: we must empower our financial sector to design a made-in-Canada sustainable finance system so that Canadian firms can compete successfully among their global peers over the long term.

In its simplest definition, sustainable finance means aligning all of our financial systems and services to promote long-term environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. That includes channelling investments toward climate solutions and managing climate-related financial risks.

Canada has the talent, resources and institutional muscle to define sustainable finance for our economy. We need to grow and harness that capacity now, if we want to captain our own ship through one of the most significant global economic transitions in history.

Much to lose, but more to gain

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, a 2C global warming scenario will trigger global financial losses of roughly US$4.2 trillion. With 6C of warming, those losses balloon to $13.8 trillion. That represents about 10 per cent of the global assets currently under management.

Losses at this scale will have wide-reaching implications for investors and the asset-management industry. Everyday people who are depending on investment income for their retirement will find themselves in dire straits. That includes every Canadian counting on the Canada Pension Plan.

On the flip side, there is tremendous value — some $26 trillion worth — to be gained by shifting economies to avoid worst-case climate scenarios. This represents massive and economy-wide investments in climate-smart infrastructure, emissions-reducing technology, updated electricity grids, to name just a few examples. Global investors are already mobilizing capital to take advantage of these opportunities.

The question for Canada is: how do we attract global investment while, at the same time, protecting Canadian assets, investors and firms from risk?

In essence, this is what sustainable finance is about — harnessing our financial systems to help accelerate the activities, decisions and structures that will put Canadian industries and our economy ahead of the curve without ignoring the environment.

[Wind turbines]
Climate change is expected to trigger global financial losses in the trillions, but there are also opportunities for investment. (Photo by Karsten Wuerth/Unspalsh)

We can’t afford to fall behind

Other global players are already acting. The European Commission has spent the past two years mobilizing expertise to build a financial system that supports sustainable growth. It has made significant progress in establishing disclosure rules for climate-related financial risk and creating unified definitions (a taxonomy) on what can be considered environmentally sustainable economic activity.

For example, this includes defining the labels and criteria for green financial products, which will, among other things, significantly shape the direction of the rapidly expanding green bond market.

The problem is these rules and definitions are being pioneered elsewhere and are unlikely to benefit Canada. They may even penalize us, because they are designed for economies significantly different from our own.

For example, there is a current gap, and huge opportunity, to pioneer financial mechanisms and incentives could be created to expedite the sustainable transition of higher-emitting sectors like oil and gas and agriculture.

This requires our leadership.

If we allow others to direct the innovations in sustainable finance, we will find ourselves without the financial tools and structures that Canada’s resource-rich economy needs to determine its own path through a global transition.

The expert panel’s report is our wake-up call. It is time to catch up and get ourselves to the table. Our financial sector — and the broader ecosystem including our accountants, lawyers and actuaries — needs to start answering some big questions.

What does meaningful, responsible and consistent disclosure look like in a Canadian context? How do we create incentives and opportunities to draw in private capital to boost clean tech innovation across our economy and to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure? How do we better assess risk and the value of assets through a climate-smart lens?

We must, and we can, build the knowledge, understanding and capacity of our financial system to rise to these challenges. We can do this by investing in the research, education, professional training and the collaboration necessary to lift our current generation of professionals to the next level, while preparing an emerging generation to lead.

For those of us in the financial sector, this is about the future of our industry. For all Canadians, it’s about the future of our economy and well-being. Let’s get started now.

_________________________________________________________The Conversation

Sean Cleary is BMO Professor of Finance, CFA, ICD.D at Smith School of Business at Queen's University, and Ryan Riordan is Associate Professor and Distinguished Professor of Finance at Smith School of Business 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.

Powerful pollen

Queen’s University researcher P. Andrew Evans has uncovered a new process to deliver antibiotics using pollen to shield them.

Antibiotics are powerful medication that are used to fight infections, but the ongoing and well publicized issues with resistance has made the search for new medicines critical to human health.  

Queen’s University researcher and Canada Research Chair in Organic and Organometallic Chemistry, Dr. P. Andrew Evans (Chemistry), in collaboration with groups from the universities of St. Andrews and Hull, has discovered a new way to deliver light sensitive drugs that could combat the problem of antibiotic resistance.

P. Andrew Evans has discovered wrapping antibiotics in pollen could protect them from light.

Dr. Evans has shown that wrapping a new class of antibiotics, called the marinomycins, in the outer shell of plant pollen can protect these antibiotics from rapid decomposition in the presence of light. Antibiotics are normally handled in light, so it would be impossible to avoid exposure – much like taking 35 millimetre film out of a old fashioned camera on a sunny day.

“Everyone is likely going to get an infection at some point during their life-span and will require an antibiotic,” explains Dr. Evans. “There is an urgent need for new antibiotics to tackle the rising tide of microbial resistance in existing antibiotics. We have taken a powerful and potentially useful new antibiotic that disintegrates in sunlight within seconds and packaged it into a pollen shell, which then protects the antibiotic for hours against UV radiation.”

Different sized pollen spores are produced by different plant species, which can potentially be used to protect and deliver different drugs. Dr. Evans says all the allergens are removed from the pollen first to make space for the binding and protection of the drug molecule.

Pollen has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for oral consumption, which makes this a very attractive strategy for drug delivery.

“The World Health Organization has recognized antibiotic resistance as a priority,” says Dr. Evans. “We are facing the possibility of a future without effective antibiotics, which would fundamentally change the manner in which modern medicine is practiced.  Additionally, there are other drugs that have been abandoned because of light-sensitivity issues that could be reexamined using this strategy.”

This research is published in Chemical Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s peer-reviewed flagship journal. It also appeared as the “Pick of the Week” in the same journal.

Solving crime through chemistry

Queen’s University chemist Diane Beauchemin earns lifetime achievement award for her cutting-edge research.

Queen’s University researcher Diane Beauchemin has spent years working on techniques to help law enforcement solve crime and to more pragmatically assess food safety.

Thanks to her efforts, Dr. Beauchemin has earned the Canadian Society for Chemistry's Clara Benson Award, recognizing a woman scientist who has made a distinguished contribution to chemistry while working in Canada. In 2018, she was the first woman in Canada to receive the Gerhard Herzberg award from the Canadian Society of Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy and the Maxxam award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry in 2017.

Professor Diane Beauchemin

“I am working in a variety of areas of chemistry and I hope the work I am doing has impact on people’s health and safety and society in general,” says Dr. Beauchemin. “I’m also very focused on my students and how to help them in my lab so that they can contribute the science.”

One of her most unique areas of research is developing new and revolutionary tools to help Canadian law enforcement agencies solve crime.

One promising area of her ongoing research involves analyzing head hair to determine gender and ethnicity. She recently discovered a new method where the root of the hair isn’t needed for proper analysis. This work has caught the attention of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as it provides a new tool to use to solve new crimes and cold cases.

Dr. Beauchemin adds it may also be used to identify the gender of incomplete skeletons, even if only a small piece of head hair is available.

Along with that work, Dr. Beauchemin has developed a process to analyze paint scraping which could offer a new way to identify vehicles involved in hit and runs. And she is also working in her lab to identify solder left at crime scenes following a blast caused by an improvised explosive device. Her tool can determine the solder used and possibly even the type of soldering iron, which will help investigators identify the culprit if the solder and soldering iron indicated by her method match what was found in a suspect’s home. 

Diane Beauchemin demonstrates how she analyzes human hair.

Currently, Dr. Beauchemin is working on risk assessment of food safety. This includes chemicals in staple foods like rice, wheat, couscous, bread, and corn.

“Not only did my group develop a realistic method taking into account the bio-accessibility and the chemical forms of, in particular, arsenic and chromium in food but we are also looking at ways for consumers to protect themselves,” says Dr. Beauchemin. “For example, simply washing rice before cooking it can remove a large fraction of toxic arsenic.”  Her on-going work on how the cooking method may affect the levels of toxic components aims at identifying the safest way to prepare staple foods. 

For more information about the award visit the website.


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