Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Research Prominence

Live from space

[Feustel in space (Photo: NASA)]
Drew Feustel (PhD’95) is a Queen’s alumnus and astronaut, currently living on the International Space Station. (Photo credit: NASA)

Drew Feustel (PhD’95), Queen’s graduate and NASA astronaut, has been hard at work since his arrival at the International Space Station (ISS) on March 23. But coming soon, Dr. Feustel will be taking a break from his space walks and zero gravity experiments to talk to a live audience right here at Queen’s.

The Ask an Astronaut: NASA Educational Downlink event on Friday, April 6, will include a 20-minute conversation with Dr. Feustel, featuring questions gathered earlier in the month from the Queen’s and Kingston community. During this unique event, the audience will hear directly from the astronaut himself about the challenges of researching in zero gravity, day-to-day life aboard the ISS, and what it’s like to perform a spacewalk. This is the first time NASA has granted a Canadian school the opportunity to hold an educational downlink live from space.

“The research work we are doing about the International Space Station is truly expanding the boundaries of our knowledge of space and I’m very excited to be able to speak to students and the entire Queen’s community about what we are learning and what life is like aboard the station,” says Dr. Feustel. “I’m also looking forward to talking about my own path and how it brought me to where I am now so the next generation can see that no goal is too great for them to achieve.”

Along with Dr. Feustel, the Ask and Astronaut event will also feature stellar talks about the many aspects of space research from special guests, including Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald, NASA Postdoctoral Fellow and Planetary Scientist Michelle Thompson (Artsci’11, Sc’11), Nathalie Ouellette (MSc’12, PhD’16) of the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre (CPARC), and Nandini Deshpande from the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.

“This is a rare opportunity for people to gather and interact with a scientist who is helping to carry out an impressive number of research projects each day aboard an international space station,” says John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research). “As an exciting complement to Dr. Feustel’s downlink, the event will also be a chance for people to hear from some top space experts who come from a range of backgrounds and are based here at Queen’s and at NASA.”

Everyone from the Queen’s and Kingston communities is welcome to attend. Doors open at 10:30 am in Grant Hall and seats will fill fast. Admission is free.

Learn more about Dr. Feustel’s journey to the ISS, from his time at Queen’s to the launch of his third mission to space, and the research he and his team will perform while on the ISS here.

You can find more information about the NASA Educational Downlink on the event page.

Creating Royal connections

For academics in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering, being elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) is one of the highest honours they can achieve.

Continuing an annual tradition, Queen’s University is once again hosting the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar of the Royal Society of Canada on Saturday, April 14.

Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar of the Royal Society of Canada
Presenting at this year's Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar of the Royal Society of Canada are, clockwise from top left: Anne Croy; Peter Milliken; Stephanie Belanger; and Craig Walker.

The seminar is an opportunity to hear interesting talks from a range of disciplines and to meet Fellows and Members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists elected to the Royal Society of Canada from Queen’s and around Eastern Ontario.

This year’s bill offers speakers from Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada presenting on a range of topics.

The schedule of presentation includes:

10 am: Peter Milliken, School of Policy Studies – The Role of the Speaker of the House of Commons
11 am: Stéphanie Bélanger, Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research, Royal Military College – War Trauma, Culture of War and Soldier Identity
• 1 pm: Anne Croy, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences – Immunological Enigmas of Pregnancy
2 pm: Craig Walker, Dan School of Drama and Music – Evolution as Dramatic Metaphor at the Second Millennium

This event is the first under the guidance of co-chairs John Burge (Dan School of Drama and Music), a Fellow of the RSC, and Amir Fam (Civil Engineering), a Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, who have taken up the reins from Professor Emeritus Pierre du Prey (Art History) and Professor Emeritus Mike Sayer (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy).

“For 12 years the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar has brought together leading researchers and community members to foster fascinating discussions and lasting connections,” says Dr Burge. “This tradition, started by Dr. Du Prey and Dr. Sayer, will continue to highlight some of the great research being done at Queen’s and around Eastern Ontario.”

“Our presenters will be speaking on an array of interesting topics, from performing arts and molecular science to the health of military members and an inside view of Parliament from Canada’s longest-serving Speaker of the House,” adds Dr. Fam.

All events take place at the Queen’s University Club (168 Stuart St.) and talks are open and free to the public. Following the first two presentations a luncheon is being hosted by Principal Daniel Woolf. Registration is required for the luncheon, which costs $30. RSVP by contacting Jessica Youles (jessica.youles@queensu.ca or 613-533-6000 x78797).

2018 Strategic Research Plan goes to Senate

The Senate Advisory Research Committee (SARC) has reviewed the newly-drafted 2018 Strategic Research Plan and has recommended it for approval to Senate. ​The recommendation will be included as a Notice of Motion on the March 27, 2018 Senate agenda for approval at the April 17, 2018 Senate meeting.

“This has truly been a collaborative effort, through consultation with the community over the past 12 months and the inclusion of their extensive feedback ,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).   “In addition to guiding the future of Queen’s research by outlining areas of strength and priority, the SRP will set the tone for a positive and productive environment through its emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the broadest sense.  I am very pleased with the document, and the way in which it was shaped.”

The SRP is a component of broader integrated institutional planning that includes the Academic Plan, the Strategic Framework, as well as a variety of strategic documents that emerge from individual faculties and elsewhere. It identifies our institutional strength and excellence for further success through engagement with government, industry, and with regional, national and international partners.  It also fulfills the requirements for a variety of funding programs including the federal Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program and the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).

Please visit the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) for information about how to provide feedback.  

Alumnus astronaut safely arrives at International Space Station

[Expedition 55 blasts off]
Drew Feustel and the rest of the Expedition 55 crew launch from Kazahkstan on Wednesday afternoon for a two day journey to the International Space Station. (Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

 

March 23, 2018 update: Drew Feustel and the crew of Expedition 55 have arrived at the International Space Station (ISS). The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft docked onto the ISS at 3:43 pm EST after a two day journey from Earth. This was a flawless docking executed by the teams, according to the NASA live feed. Check out footage of the ISS capturing the Soyuz MS-08 below, and other details about the mission, and Dr. Feustel’s many connections to his alma mater.
 

March 21, 2018 update: Drew Feustel and the crew of Expedition 55 have safely launched into low-Earth orbit and are en route to the International Space Station. They will arrive at the ISS on Friday, March 23, at 3:41 pm EST. Check out the photos below of the launch and the Queen's viewing party, hosted by the Department of Geological Science and Geological Engineering.

  • [Expedition 55 crew prepare for launch]
    Expedition 55 flight engineer Drew Feustel of NASA, top, flight engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA, middle, and Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, bottom, wave farewell prior to boarding the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft for launch, Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
  • [Astronauts keep track of vital systems during launch]
    The Expedition 55 crew keep track of the ship's vital systems during launch. (Photo credit: NASA live feed)
  • [Department of Geological Science and Geological Engineering hosts launch viewing party]
    Students from the Department of Geological Science and Geological Engineering watch the launch of Expedition 55. (University Communications)
  • [Students watch the launch]
    Geological Science and Geological Engineering students got to witness Drew Feustel, an alumnus of their program, launch into low-orbit over Earth. (University Communications)
  • [Alex Braun shows students model shuttle]
    Alex Braun (Geophysics) shows Geological Science and Geological Engineering students a model of the shuttle, with a scale replica astronaut to show the immense size of the spaceship. (University Communications)
  • [Closeup of spaceship and lander model]
    A closeup of the model ship and lander that Alex Braun (Geophysics) brought to demonstrate the scale of the spaceship. (University Communications)

Blasting off to the International Space Station

On Wednesday, Drew Feustel (PhD’95, DSc’16) left Earth and began his journey into orbit as the next Canadian to live and work aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The Queen’s alumnus and astronaut is the Flight Engineer for Expedition 55 and will stay on the ISS for six months, taking over as Commander of the ISS in June for Expedition 56.

“We’re excited for Dr. Feustel’s third mission to space, on an expedition overseeing hundreds of experiments over six months,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “From astroparticle physics to clean tech, many of the tests he and his team will perform will contribute to research here on Earth and align with many areas of research excellence here at Queen’s.  We wish him the best for his expedition.” 

Students will get the chance to ask Dr. Feustel questions during a Queen’s-hosted Education Downlink event, Ask an Astronaut, on April 6. More details about this special event will be available soon.

Dr. Feustel’s journey to Queen’s and beyond

Dr. Feustel grew up in Michigan, and came to Kingston to complete a PhD in Geological Sciences at Queen’s in the nineties. He and his wife Indira, a speech-language pathologist from Ontario, met while both were studying at Purdue University. Dr. Feustel attained his Canadian citizenship while in Kingston, and moved to Houston after his PhD to pursue a career in geoscience. Their children, Ari and Aden, were born in Kingston and the family is still closely connected to the area through family and friends.

Dr. Feustel dreamt of becoming an astronaut since childhood, and became interested in the opportunity after watching the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) astronaut search in 1992. He then reached out to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield while in Houston who encouraged him to pursue his dream. Dr. Feustel applied to become an astronaut with NASA in 2000, and was selected on his first try. Expedition 55 will be his third mission to space.

Back on Earth, Dr. Feustel enjoys auto restoration, car and motorcycle racing, guitar, tennis, and water and snow skiing. It’s still unknown if he’ll bring any of his favourite hobbies with him to the ISS.

About the mission

At least two spacewalks are planned during the mission. Some of the planned experiments during Expedition 55 include:

  • studying thunder and lightning to learn more about the role of severe thunderstorms in Earth’s atmosphere and climate,
  • studying materials, coatings, and components in the harsh environment of space,
  • testing microgravity’s impact on bone marrow, and
  • simulating gravity aboard the ISS and testing on samples such as fruit flies, flatworms, plants, fish, cells, and protein crystals.

An alumni connection through music

Dr. Feustel has another connection with Queen’s: Rob Baker (Artsci’86), lead guitarist with The Tragically Hip.

“About 12 years ago, we were touring in the States and had an upcoming gig in Houston, and we got the call from Drew Feustel, asking if we’d be interested in having a tour of NASA’s facilities,” says Mr. Baker. “It was out of the blue to us, but we grew up in a certain time when the Apollo missions were front and centre in our childhoods growing up, so we were all excited to check it out. We rode the shuttle simulator, got to ask questions and saw them training in this gigantic pool, got a tour of the space arm – it was fantastic, and Drew was amazing with us.”

The two bonded over a shared love for music, and have stayed close friends since.

“He was in a band with a bunch of astronauts at NASA, playing in the same bar that we were. He said they played the greatest hits of the sixties, seventies, and the Tragically Hip,” says Mr. Baker. “I think he gets excited around musicians, but we get pretty excited around an astronaut.”

Mr. Baker wished his friend well on the voyage, and couldn’t wait to hear about everything he’ll get up to on the ISS.

“He’s not just a Canadian in space – he’ll be the Commander of the space station. He’s the king of space! It’s special, and a great connection for Queen’s.”

[Drew Feustel]
Dr. Feustel listens to a reporter’s question during the crew’s final day of qualification exams for Expedition 55 on Feb. 21, 2018, in Star City, Russia.
(Photo credit: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center/Andrey Shelepin and Irina Spektor)
[Drew Feustel with googles]
The Virtual Reality Laboratory at Johnson Space Center is an immersive training facility that provides real time graphics and motion simulators integrated with a tendon-driven robotic device to provide the kinesthetic sensation of the mass and inertia characteristics of any large object being handled.

Follow the journey

Keep this page bookmarked for updates as the launch approaches, and read more at:

Follow Dr. Feustel’s journey on social media:

[Drew Feustel]
Drew is picured here at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, an astronaut training facility located near the Johnson Space Center. Its main feature is a large indoor pool in which astronauts can perform extravehicular activity (EVA).

 

Indigenous art collection grows with generous donation

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre has received a gift of Inuit prints and a bequest from Margaret McGowan (Artsci’78) and her husband.

Mattiusie Manakudluk (QC 1911-Puvirnituq QC 1968), In Summer They Went Camping, In Winter They Went for Seals, 1968, stonecut on paper, 27/30.  Gift of Margaret McGowan Artsci’78, 2017 (60-003.18). (Photo by Bernard Clark)
Mattiusie Manakudluk (QC 1911-Puvirnituq QC 1968), In Summer They Went Camping, In Winter They Went for Seals, 1968, stonecut on paper, 27/30.  Gift of Margaret McGowan Artsci’78, 2017 (60-003.18). (Photo by Bernard Clark)

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre has received a donation of 23 stone-cut and stencil prints from alumna Margaret McGowan (Artsci’78). Ms. McGowan and her husband have also sponsored a research studentship, and these gifts complement bequests that the couple had previously established.

“As a student at Queen’s, I visited the Agnes regularly to see the exhibits and to enjoy the peace and beauty of the original house,” she says. “Recently, a more immediate opportunity to make a gift presented itself. For years I collected early Inuit prints from Puvirnituq on the east coast of Hudson Bay in northern Québec. I offered the collection of 23 prints to Queen’s, and Professor Norman Vorano was enthusiastic about adding them to the Agnes’s collection. He suggested the prints would offer possibilities for programming, exhibitions, and academic and community-based research.”

The prints span the first decades of printmaking in the Puvirnituq community, from 1961 to 1989. Consisting of 23 works on paper, the donation provides a representative overview of the emergence of printmaking in this community. The prints focus on depictions of birds and animals, show hunting scenes, and life at camp, with a few of the illustrations representing stories from the oral history of the Inuit culture.

In addition to this gift, Ms. McGowan and her husband are supporting a research studentship specific to Indigenous art and with a priority focus on Inuit art. The Research Studentship in Indigenous Art will provide opportunities for Queen’s students to further their studies in art history, art conservation, or Indigenous studies; enable research into the prints of Puvirnituq; and benefit the collections and programs at the Agnes.

To be eligible for the studentship, interested students must submit their applications to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and a committee will decide on the recipient. The studentship will be granted on the basis of demonstrated knowledge, interest, and experience in the relevant disciplines, and the candidate's potential to contribute to the field.

Dr. Vorano, a Queen's National Scholar and Curator of Indigenous Art with the Agnes, says this donation is an excellent complement to the art centre’s existing Inuit graphic arts and resources.

“The McGowan donation will help Queen’s foster and support innovative student research, and enhance the experiential learning possibilities in the gallery and beyond,” says Dr. Vorano. “This donation will help us present a more comprehensive and comparative history of Arctic printmaking, and through the research studentship will also help attract Indigenous students and support a diverse array of graduate and upper-year undergraduate research.”

In addition to furthering scholarship on campus, these new art pieces and the studentship will support Queen’s in its reconciliation efforts. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission task force report called on the university to, among other things, raise awareness of the complex histories of Indigenous Peoples, and to enhance the visibility of Indigenous communities at Queen’s.

The donation
● Twenty-three stone-cut and stencil prints from Puvirnituq, an Inuit community in northern Québec. This donation was provided by Margaret McGowan.

● Ms. McGowan and her husband have also established the Research Studentship in Indigenous Art – an active research studentship focused on Indigenous art with a preference on Inuit art. This is in addition to a research studentship the couple had previously established as part of an estate gift.

● Also as part of the estate gift, a program will be created to provide bursaries for elementary and high school students participating in public and art education programs at the Agnes.

The donations also build on past commitments that Ms. McGowan and her husband have made to the Agnes. The couple had previously established two bequests which will establish a second research studentship, and will create a bursary program that will provide full or partial bursaries for elementary and high school students participating in public and art education programming presented by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. 

“I am tremendously grateful to Ms. McGowan and her husband for this generous gift of art, which enables us to better reflect the complex expression of Inuit culture, and for such thoughtful support for related research,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. “We look forward to sharing new insights and to presenting these extraordinary prints for all to enjoy, as part of the expanding presence of Indigenous culture on campus and across the wider community.”

A selection of the Puvirnituq prints will be displayed at the Agnes in the spring and summer 2019.

The timing of this donation is also significant, as it comes just as the Master of Art Conservation program announced a $632,000 grant over five years from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant will be used to develop conservation research and online courses with a focus on Indigenous material culture.

For more information on art exhibits at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, visit agnes.queensu.ca.

Provincial funding to strengthen Queen’s research teams

The Ontario government announces funding to support new Queen’s research teams and laboratory operations.

A total of 17 Queen’s researchers are receiving a combined $2,942,914 in funding from the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure programs and Early Researcher Awards – efforts designed to bolster the capacity of research teams and laboratories.

“Today’s funding announcement speaks not only to the ongoing research excellence demonstrated by our faculty, but also to the future potential their work holds in addressing exciting challenges in Ontario,” says John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research), Queen’s University. “On behalf of the university, I would like to thank the Government of Ontario for continuing to support the growth of research capacity and innovation at Queen’s, and at institutions across the province.”

Three of the winning faculty members received Early Researcher Awards, providing up to $140,000 to support the creation and operation of new research teams. This funding is used to hire personnel to assist in research experiments, including undergraduates, graduate students, technicians, associates, and others.

Additionally, 14 researchers were awarded support through the ORF Small Infrastructure Fund which helps cover the cost of acquiring or renewing research equipment, specimens, computer software, and other operational technology for laboratories.

“Innovative research is essential for future economic growth and I am thrilled with the investments being made in projects in Kingston and across Ontario,” says Sophie Kiwala, MPP for Kingston and the Islands. “The world-class research being conducted at Queen’s University is an immense source of pride for myself and our region and I look forward to seeing the results of this funding.”

ORF - Early Researcher Award recipients:

Frances Bonier (Biology) – $140,000
Carlos Escobedo (Chemical Engineering) -- $140,000
Madhuri Koti (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) – $140,000

ORF - Small Infrastructure Fund recipients:

Janet Dancey (Canadian Cancer Trials Group), David LeBrun (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), Lois Shepherd (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) – $197,065
Claire Davies (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) – $125,000
Peter Davies (Biochemistry), John Allingham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) – $100,192
Amer Johri (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) – $120,000
Lysa Lomax (Medicine) – $139,914
Susan Lord (Film and Media), Dylan Robinson (Art History; Cultural Studies), Rosaleen Hill (Art History and Art Conservation) – $400,000
Jacqueline Monaghan (Biology) – $125,641
Lois Mulligan (Queen’s Cancer Research Institute), Andrew Craig (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), Peter Greer (Pathology and Molecular Medicine)  – $124,040
Diane Orihel (Biology/School of Environmental Studies) – $167,602
Michael Rainbow (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) – $400,000
David Rival (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) – $76,520
R. Kerry Rowe (Civil Engineering) – $316,000
Graeme Smith (Obstetrics and Gynecology), Amer Johri (Medicine) – $63,540
Zhongwen Yao (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) – $167,400

More information is available on the Ontario Research Fund – Early Researcher Awards and Research Infrastructure Funds websites.

Fireflies light the way

Queen’s researcher develops biosensor that uses firefly enzyme to monitor cancer cell activity.

Queen’s University researcher Xiaolong Yang and his research team have developed a light emission-based biosensor that uses firefly luciferase (the enzyme that allows fireflies to light up) to monitor cancer cell activity and help find new ways to fight the spread of cancer.

Research has previously shown that changes in Hippo signaling proteins may be responsible for cancer development but there is currently no system to quantify how these proteins change in cancers. This breakthrough discovery could improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Xiaolong Yang (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) has developed a new biosensor that monitors cancer cell activity.

“Our labs have recently shown that aberrant changes in a group of proteins called the Hippo signaling pathway may be involved in cancer development,” says Dr. Yang. “In this study, by using the luciferase enzyme extracted from fireflies as a reporter, we have created a new biosensor tool that allows researchers to measure the activity of the Hippo signaling pathway protein in cancers in real-time.”

Dr. Yang adds that studies show that the Hippo signaling proteins are critical for cancer angiogenesis, a process by which tumours make blood vessels during their growth and spread.

“Almost all people have family members or friends who are diagnosed with or die of cancer,” says Dr. Yang. “Our new tool allows us to detect cancerous cells’ behavior in a new way and will help future development of therapeutic drugs for preventing the most devastating and drug-resistant cancers from growing or spreading.”

More than 90 per cent of cancer deaths are due to spreading of cancer cells to other organs of the body (metastasis) at late stages of cancer progression. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for treating metastatic cancers. Dr. Yang’s novel research findings provide new evidence that targeting the Hippo signaling protein is very effective in cutting the nutrient supply of cancer cells through inhibiting blood vessel formation. This discovery may provide new hope for treating metastatic cancer patients for successful cancer treatment in the future.

Moreover, since defects in angiogenesis also play important roles in many other diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, the new discovery may also provide a new way of fighting these diseases that affect the lives of millions of people around the world.

Working with Dr. Yang on the research were PhD candidates Taha Azad, Helena J. Janse van Rensburg, and Ben Yeung, and research associate Yawei Hao. The research was published in Nature Communications.

Cast a vote for research

Voting now open for the Art of Research 'People's Choice' category

Calling all members of the Queen’s community – voting is now open for the ’People’s Choice’ category of the third annual Art of Research photo contest.

The contest’s goal is to creatively capture the research process across disciplines and demonstrate the importance of research at the local, national and international levels. This year’s contest was open to faculty, staff, students and alumni, and dozens of creative and thought-provoking entries were received.

This year, along with winners selected in the categories of ‘Community Collaborations,’ ‘Invisible Discoveries,’ ‘Out in the Field,’ ’Art in Action’ and ‘Best Description,’ a prize of $500 will be awarded to the ’People’s Choice’ image. Images selected for the ‘People’s Choice’ vote were entries that generated discussion and were shortlisted by the adjudication committee.

A preview of this year’s ’People’s Choice’ selection can be seen in the slideshow below. Images vary in subject and location, but they each convey a unique story of discovery.

The voting closes on March 20 at 4 pm. Visit the survey to vote for your favorite image.

  • A Musical High Point Tim Fort Faculty, Dan School of Drama and Music Location: Weston Playhouse, Weston, Vermont Description: In my 30th summer as a producing director at the Weston Playhouse in Vermont, we chose to open the season with the Tony Award winning musical “Once” – a show set in a Dublin pub in which the actors also serve as the musicians. In this moment, one of the actor-musicians became airborne doing his pre-sh
    A Musical High Point. Tim Fort, Faculty, Dan School of Drama and Music. Location: Weston Playhouse, Weston, Vermont. Description: In my 30th summer as a producing director at the Weston Playhouse in Vermont, we chose to open the season with the Tony Award winning musical “Once” – a show set in a Dublin pub in which the actors also serve as the musicians. In this moment, one of the actor-musicians became airborne doing his pre-show warmup in front of the audience and cast.
  • Razorbill. Brody Crosby, MSc student, Biology.
    Razorbill. Brody Crosby, MSc student, Biology. Location: Witless Bay, Newfoundland. Description: In 2017, I joined a field team collecting blood samples from seabirds at a breeding colony on Gull Island. With blood samples, we are able to survey genetic variation and determine precisely how diverse these bird populations are. We discovered a razorbill chick tucked into a rocky crevice while hiking the seabird colony in search of adult puffins, murres, razorbills, kittiwakes, and gulls. The naïve glutton assumed we were its parents and wasted no time begging for a meal. We thoughts its hopeful gape would be worth a photo.
  • The Inca fortress of Saqsaywaman. W. George Lovell, Faculty, Geography & Planning.
    The Inca fortress of Saqsaywaman. W. George Lovell, Faculty, Geography & Planning. Location: Cuzco, Peru. Description: As a historical geographer absorbed by what took place in Latin America during colonial times, most of my work, to date, has concentrated on Central America, Guatemala in particular. There the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado played a leading role in the subjugation of indigenous Maya peoples. Alvarado also headed an ill-fated venture to muscle in on the conquest of Peru, attempting to wrest control from rival strongmen Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro. A new research project will see me focus attention on this little-known episode, in which Alvarado came in contact with the Incas, who in the fifteenth century constructed the awesome citadel of Saqsaywaman above their capital, Cuzco. Not even its mighty hand-hewn walls, however, could hold off the Spanish advance.

Queen’s researchers receive federal funding for novel, patient-oriented cancer treatments

Three Queens faculty members awarded three-year funding for multi-disciplinary health research.

Three Queen’s University scholars have been named as recipients of Collaborative Health Research Projects (CHRP) grants – a funding program created by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to support stronger working partnerships among health care, engineering, and natural science researchers.

John Allingham, Associate Professor of Biomedical Molecular Sciences and Canada Research Chair in Structural Biology, John Schreiner, Adjunct Professor of Oncology, and Gabor Fichtinger, Professor in the Queen’s School of Computing and Cancer Care Ontario Research Chair, will all receive funding to support multi-disciplinary cancer research projects.

“It is wonderful to see innovative, patient-oriented researchers at Queen’s recognized with grants that will help advance patient-oriented research through their work,” says John Fisher, Vice-Principal (Research). “On behalf of the university, I want to congratulate Drs. Allingham, Schreiner, and Fichtinger on their new funding, which speaks to the impact of integrated and collaborative approaches on scientific discovery and future therapies.”

Dr. Allingham, together with co-investigators P. Andrew Evans (Chemistry) and Andrew Craig (Queen’s Cancer Research Institute), will receive $497,500 over three years to fund the development and pre-clinical testing of new cancer fighting drugs inspired by natural products that disrupt a key protein required for cancer cells to spread. The spread of cancer cells within the body is the cause of 90 per cent of cancer-related deaths, and new therapies targeting this step will greatly improve survival rates for cancer patients.

Dr. Schreiner will receive $157,870 over three years to analyze and improve upon current radiation treatments for tumours by evaluating the effectiveness and shortcomings of the current methods to measure dose when the therapy uses a radiation source moving within the tumour, and by creating software that can measure and assess  the delivery of the treatment designed for each patient. He and his colleagues aim to be the first team to develop practical patient-specific dose delivery validation for this class of radiation treatments.

Dr. Fichtinger will receive $194,419 over three years for his work to improve the surgical outcome for breast cancer patients who undergo breast-conservation procedures. These operations involve efforts to remove early-stage cancer cells while preserving healthy parts of the breast. Occasionally some cancerous cells are missed and remain in the body, meaning patients often have to undergo repeat surgeries – increasing their risk of complications, psychological distress, and increased costs, treatment disruptions. Dr. Fichtinger’s team, including primary collaborators Jay Engel (Surgery) and John Rudan (Surgery), will develop a real-time electromagnetic navigation system capable of better detecting remaining cancer cells in effort to improve the procedure’s success rate, and eliminate the need for recurring surgical interventions.

As part of Queen’s University’s affiliation with Kingston Health Sciences Centre and the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, the CHRP funding will play a key role in improving care and health outcomes for patients in the future.

The grants are part of $19.8 million in CHRP funding being awarded to researchers across Canada. The funding supports multi-disciplinary studies designed to discover and innovate in ways that will have a profound impact on Canadians’ health and environment, the economy, and communities.

For more information on the CHRP grants, please visit the website.

Nobel Prize winner to speak on Einstein, black holes, and gravitational waves

Queen’s public lecture series hosts Nobel laureate to discuss the complex mysteries of the universe.

Illustration of a black hole (Credit: NSF LIGO Sonoma State University)
Illustration of a black hole (Credit: NSF LIGO Sonoma State University)

On Monday, March 5, the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre (CPARC) and the Queen’s Department of Physics will host Barry Barish, co-winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics, for a talk entitled Einstein, Black Holes, and Gravitational Waves. It will mark the first instalment of the new George & Maureen Ewan Public Lecture Series – a program designed to bring world-class speakers to Queen's to discuss their research with students, faculty, and the broader Kingston community.

Dr. Barish, professor emeritus of physics at the California Institute of Technology, was recognized by the Nobel Committee for his decisive contributions to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and the observation of gravitational waves – disturbances in the fabric of space-time first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916.

“We’re very excited to host Dr. Barish as the inaugural guest speaker of the George & Maureen Ewan Public Lecture Series,” says Tony Noble, Scientific Director, CPARC. “It will be wonderful to have another Nobel laureate in physics speaking on campus as it further compliments all of the incredible work in astro- and particle physics taking place at Queen's and with our research partners across the country.”

Queen’s Professor Emeritus Art McDonald was co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2015 for the discovery that neutrinos – subatomic particles so tiny they are even difficult to detect – have mass.

Dr. Barish will be sharing the story of how gravitational waves were first theorized and about how a team decided to put the theory to the test by building the LIGO detector. He will also discuss the major academic strides that have been made since observing them, and what the future may hold for this area of study – and, more importantly, what it all means for our understanding of the universe.

“It took decades of study and literally thousands of scientists working together before gravitational waves were observed and became more than just a grand idea,” says Nathalie Ouellette, Education and Outreach Officer, CPARC. “Dr. Barish has been a crucial part of this historic effort and his contributions have helped turn the study of gravitational waves into one of the most cutting-edge fields in the physics world. His talk will be a really unique opportunity for the people of Kingston to hear from one of the field's leading minds.”

The George & Maureen Ewan Public Lecture Series is made possible by a donation of $100,000 by Queen's Professor Emeritus George Ewan and his wife, Maureen. Dr. Ewan, along with an international team of colleagues, founded the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), a subterranean neutrino observation facility located in a Sudbury, Ontario nickel mine. This facility enabled Dr. McDonald's Nobel-winning neutrino research, a years-long experiment conducted in collaboration with Dr. Ewan and other leading scientists.

With his work recognized at the highest level, the 90-year-old Dr. Ewan now pushes ahead with the goal of influencing the next generation of scientists at Queen’s.

“It is vital that we scientists make our work accessible to the general public,” said Dr. Ewan when the lecture series was first announced. “My dream is to have them come to Queen’s to give lectures on the state of their experiments and especially about their results, and to do it in a way that people without PhDs can understand.”

Attendees on March 5 will have a chance to ask questions of Dr. Barish following his lecture. Doors at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts will open at 6:30 p.m. and the talk will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are free and attendees are encouraged to register in advance.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Research Prominence