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Research Prominence

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.

Unprecedented grant awarded to Queen’s Art Conservation

Prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding for Queen’s Master of Art Conservation program increases focus on Indigenous material culture.

The internationally-recognized Master of Art Conservation program at Queen’s has received a grant of $632,000 over five years from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop conservation research and online courses with a focus on Indigenous material culture.

Specifically, the new funding will help initiate and implement comprehensive change to the program’s curriculum and research activities and will help advance the university’s goals of diversity, equity, anti-racism and inclusion. 

Art Conservation student Paige Van Tassel  at work on a piece of art
Conservation student Paige Van Tassel is mechanically surface cleaning a 19th century Iroquois beaded frame. Photo by Marissa Monette

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to a heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Importantly, this is the first time the United States-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has funded a Canadian art conservation project.

“We are very grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support for this project,” says Rosaleen Hill, Director of the Art Conservation Program. “We are excited to have this opportunity to engage with the broader community, nationally and internationally, in curriculum diversification. This project will have a significant and lasting impact through the development of online courses and the creation of an international network of colleagues focused on diversity."

Founded in 1974 as Canada’s only graduate program in art conservation, the Queen’s program has established key priorities, including an increased focus on Indigenous material culture and ethics. As graduates from this program go on to care for objects and artworks in public and private collections, this project will have a fundamental influence on how these objects are preserved and accessed in future.

The new five-year project also focuses on developing strengths in research and curriculum on both Indigenous material cultures and modern media and is designed to increase course accessibility through the use of web-based learning.

The proposed activities of the project include:

  • Symposiums to engage the Canadian and international conservation communities, and the broader field of cultural heritage, in an open discussion related to the challenges involved in the development of new curriculum
  • Hosting visiting scholars to build local, national and international networks which include Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers, to support curriculum diversification focusing on Indigenous material and modern media
  • Web-based courses to maximize access to new curriculum content
  • Increasing diversity in the conservation profession through engagement with under-represented groups, coordination with heritage institutions with Indigenous youth programs to provide a pathway to graduate studies in art conservation

“One of our institutional research strengths, the Art Conservation program is internationally recognized for excellence in scholarship and for the development of graduates who go on to work in the world’s leading museums, archives and galleries,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). "This support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow the program to better diversify and support a more inclusive and global approach to preservation, such as exploring new and innovative ways to recognize and incorporate traditional knowledge.”

For more information on the Queen’s program, visit the website.

  • Art conservation professor and students work to restore baskets.
    Amandina Anastassiades, Assistant Professor, Artifact Conservation, works with students restoring a selection of unique woven baskets.
  • Alison Murray, Associate Professor, Conservation Science, discusses techniques with a student of the Master's of Art Conservation program at Queen's.
  • A student of the Master's of Art Conservation program
    A student of the Master's of Art Conservation program works on restoring a painting. The program has received a grant of $632,000 over five years from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • An art conservation student works with an old photograph.
    Students of the Master's of Art Conservation program work with a range of media, including artistic objects, paintings, and photographs.

Statement from Principal Woolf on federal budget

Government of Canada releases 2018 budget which includes substantial investment in research.

On behalf of Queen’s University, I applaud the Government of Canada for its significant investments in fundamental research through Budget 2018, which will revitalize research and scholarship in Canada.

The budget will support the important work of researchers at Queen's through an investment of $925 million over five years in the tri-council funding agencies. This represents a 25 per cent increase, and is the largest-ever investment in investigator-led research in Canada. Overall, Budget 2018 contains nearly $4 billion in new investments to support Canadian research including but not limited to the tri-councils. The budget will also support crucial research laboratories and infrastructure through an investment of $763 million over five years in the Canada Foundation for Innovation. This will result in permanent funding for the foundation of $462 million per year by 2023.

Budget 2018 takes crucial steps to advance diversity and inclusivity in Canada’s research system. A $210-million investment over five years for the Canada Research Chairs program will support early-career researchers, help to increase diversity, and increase the number of women who are nominated as chairs. The budget also asks the tri-councils to collaborate to develop programs that will advance equity and diversity in the academy.

These measures complement Queen’s own commitment to fostering diversity and inclusivity through its faculty renewal efforts, and through special programs like Queen's National Scholars, which aim to energize and enhance Queen’s research and to ensure our faculty is more representative of the community it serves.

I would also like to express my appreciation to Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan for commissioning Canada’s Fundamental Science Review. The panel – which included Queen’s Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate Art McDonald – heard feedback and concerns from across the sector on the nature of Canada’s research landscape. The measures included in this budget demonstrate clearly that the government has listened to those concerns and has taken action to ensure Canada’s place as a global research leader.

Queen's University plays a critical role in supporting Canada’s prosperity by creating a highly-skilled workforce and fostering innovation and discovery. Our researchers are tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues – from cancer to climate change – and are helping to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

I thank Minister Duncan as well as Minister Navdeep Bains and Minister Bill Morneau, along with the government, for recognizing the importance of research to the prosperity of Canada and to the well-being of Canadians. We look forward to working with government in the coming years on ways to further strengthen research in Canada.

Celebrating a ’strong research culture’

  • Ben Kutsyuruba shows a comic that is included in "The Bliss and Blisters of Early Career Teaching: A Pan-Canadian Perspective".
    Ben Kutsyuruba shows a comic that is included in "The Bliss and Blisters of Early Career Teaching: A Pan-Canadian Perspective," a book he co-edited in 2017.
  • People attend the Celebration of Scholarly Activity
    Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal, Office of Partnerships and Innovation, explains the office’s role in supporting research enterprise at Queen’s and partner institutions.
  • Rosa Bruno-Jofre speaks at the Celebration of Scholarly Activity
    Rosa Bruno-Jofre talks about her successful experiences in the grants process as well as authoring two books that were published in 2017.
  • Tom Russell shows his ISATT Award
    Tom Russell speaks about the importance of participating in conferences as well as building relationships with colleagues from around the world.

The Faculty of Education recognized the achievements of faculty members over the past year on Thursday, Feb. 22 as it hosted its Celebration of Scholarly Activity

At the second annual event, hosted by Ted Christou, Interim Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research, four faculty members were recognized for their work and shared their experiences, including research, navigating the grants process, publishing, and networking with their colleagues.

“Our Faculty of Education has a strong research culture. Our faculty members are involved in diverse projects involving educational stakeholders at local, national, and international levels,” Dr. Christou says. “Celebrating research excellence allows us to pause and highlight the meaningful work that we engage in regularly.” 

Those recognized were:

Rosa Bruno-Jofre: Authored two books – Catholic Education in the Wake of Vatican II with a SSHRC Connection Grant and Vatican II and Beyond: The Changing Mission and Identity of Canadian Women Religious; received a SSHRC Connection Grant to organize a symposium on educationalization of social and moral problems at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago in August 2017; and received an award as one of TD Bank's 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians.

Chris DeLuca: Received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Outstanding Paper Award in Classroom Assessment for a paper entitled “Changing approaches to classroom assessment: An empirical study across teacher career stages”; received a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant for a project titled “Preparing Teachers for the Age of Accountability: An International Partnership for Enhancing Teacher Education in Assessment”; and received a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for a project titled “Building Creative Capacity through Assessment for Learning in the Arts”.

Ben Kutsyuruba: Co-editor of the book The Bliss and Blisters of Early Career Teaching: A Pan-Canadian Perspective.

Tom Russell: Received the ISATT Award from the International Study Association on Teachers and Teaching for “significant and exemplary contributions through research, teaching, and professional service in the international field of teaching and teacher education, and continued an international collaboration speaking to universities and organizations in Chile.

At the event, guest speaker Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal, Office of Partnerships and Innovation, highlighted the office’s role in supporting research enterprise at Queen’s and partner institutions, such as providing incubator space for startups, entrepreneurship programming, developing and promoting research partnerships with industry, governments, and not-for-profits including other academic institutions, as well as intellectual property and commercial expertise.

A crusader for mental health

Queen’s University professor Dorothy Cotton has been awarded the Order of Ontario for her work with law enforcement and mental health agencies.

Queen’s University adjunct professor and mental health advocate Dorothy Cotton has been awarded the Order of Ontario, the highest citizen honour in the province. For more than 30 years, Dr. Cotton has been working with police organizations to help them change the way they respond to people with mental health challenges.

“This is more than just recognition of my work,” says Dr. Cotton, who works within the federal correctional system and has taught at Queen’s since 1986. “I’m symbolic of the huge amount of work that has been undertaken between police and mental health agencies. I didn’t invent the field but my approach brought people together.”

Dorothy Cotton (Psychology) has earned the Order of Ontario.

Dr. Cotton has worked as a clinical and correctional psychologist whose primary interest is in police psychology. She provides a variety of services to police organizations including pre-employment and fitness for duty assessments, program development, and research consultation. Dr. Cotton is also well known for her work in the area of police interactions with people with mental illnesses and received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in this area.

Dr. Cotton says one of her proudest accomplishments is developing the TEMPO model (Training and Education about Mental Illness for Police Organizations). It provides a blueprint for Canadian law enforcement officers to help them interact with people with mental health challenges in the field.

She also talks about her work in early 2000 that brought together law enforcement and mental health professionals into one room. “We convinced the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to get involved and we hosted our first conference that featured half police officers and half mental health workers. It resulted in new programs and strategies for working with people with mental health challenges.”

The official Order of Ontario ceremony is set for February 27 and Dr. Cotton admits the whole process has been a bit overwhelming. “The whole experience has been very hard to get my head around. I’m just a normal person. Receiving this honour is very exciting.”

The Order of Ontario recognizes individuals whose exceptional achievement in their field have left a lasting legacy in the province, in Canada and beyond. Order members come from all walks of life, represent diverse professions, and have played an important role in shaping our province. Members of the Order are a collective of Ontario’s finest citizens whose contributions have shaped – and continue to shape – the province’s history and place in Canada.

For more information visit the website.

Music of champions: How CBC and NBC Olympic themes shape our differences

This column was originally written for and published by The Conversation Canada, 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. Visit theconversation.com/ca.

File 20180210 51694 13h2n03.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Fireworks explode behind the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, (AP Photo/David J. Phillip,Pool)
 

What role does music play at the Olympics?

Audiences are usually aware of the moods music can evoke during emotionally heightened moments, like national anthems at medal ceremonies. Yet we rarely consider the Olympic theme music used by major media networks as something that helps to frame sports coverage.

It’s the theme music that fills our ears before and after commercials and quietly accompanies their intimate athlete profiles. That theme music can actually have an impact on the way we view sports.

I compared the music of NBC and CBC — the official Olympic networks in the United States and Canada — to explore what might be revealed in the differences of the cultures of sounds between the two countries.

NBC’s Olympic theme is arguably the most memorable in sport. To understand why it is so unforgettable, we first must consider the musical catalogue of its composer, John Williams. Williams has been credited for writing “the soundtrack of our lives.”

Since the 1970s he has written the movie soundtracks for generations of Western movie goers — giving many of us music to accompany our lives. These movies include hits like Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, E. T., Indiana Jones, Home Alone and Harry Potter. Williams not only captured the American film score sound, he defined it.

When we listen to the Olympic Theme we must consider this music alongside his previous scores — all those movie scores that that have trained our ears to respond to particular musical gestures as moods and emotions.

Musical gestures can be gendered

So what are these musical gestures and how are we trained to respond? There are numerous means by which we can analyze these gestures and their associations. By examining the scores and noticing how all aspects of the music — the themes, orchestration, stylistic decisions, etc. — consistently align with particular characters and events, certain patterns begin to emerge.

Let’s consider how musical codes can be gendered. Musicologist Phillip Tagg has analyzed how, musically speaking, masculinity and femininity have been represented since the 1970s.

Female leads are often depicted by flowing melodies dominated by strings and woodwind instruments. For example, have a listen to Williams’ score for the Lois Lane’s theme from Superman:


Male characters, meanwhile, tend to be more consistently associated with music that is more up tempo, with more staccato articulation and shorter note lengths. The melodies for male heroes tend to have more leaps, and the instrumentation is dominated by brass and percussion. This description, not coincidentally, applies to the music for Superman himself:


Because these musical codes for “femininity” and “masculinity” are continuously repeated within popular culture, including across Williams’ scores, we have been trained to hear them as “soft” and loving" (female) or “strong” and “determined” (male). Gender becomes musically audible.

Olympic themes through the years

Williams wrote the NBC theme for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games. The work lasts almost four minutes, and contains several sections.

It opens with Leo Arnaud’s “Bugler’s Dream”(0:00 to 0:46); at 0:46, Williams moves into his first fanfare in the trumpets — a striving, strenuous, leaping idea which we hear three times before they finally reach their melodic goal on the fourth attempt — the highest note they play in the entire work.

A snare drum then leads us into the “Olympic Theme” (at 1:06), marked by a flowing melodic idea with smooth articulations in the strings and horns. This section is more closely aligned with Williams’ lead female characters from his previous scores. At 1:52, we move into a more syncopated, livelier melody, eventually leading us back at 2:55 to the louder, “active” fanfare, after which the theme and the fanfare are heard together.


Williams’ Olympic music is a dramatic soundtrack that offers both soft, legato string melodies and active brass fanfares that have then been used by the network to shape tele-visual moments (like female or male athlete profiles) according to the emotional affect they sought to create.

The NBC Olympic mini-soundtrack as a brand is largely unchanging: While NBC “mines” the soundtrack to produce shorter excerpts appropriate for their coverage, the piece otherwise is not altered.

CBC’s attempts to adapt

How does this short soundtrack compare with the music used for CBC’s Olympic and Paralympic Games coverage? The CBC Olympic Theme, written by Marc Cholette, has been used since 1988; it is infused with trumpets and percussion which signify strength.

Unlike Williams’ music, however, there is only one theme; it is “active,” the dynamics are consistent throughout, and there is no dramatic change of orchestral colour between families of instruments. While the music builds to the theme’s highest pitch at the end (thus symbolizing achievement), never do the instruments push to their limits through extreme range or technical demands, never going beyond their comfort zones to what is just beyond reach.


Given Williams’ ubiquitous soundscapes within which most Westerners have been musically “earwashed,” it is perhaps understandable why listeners might hear the CBC theme as less dramatic.

But what really distinguishes the CBC theme from Williams’ music is what happens to it every two years: The CBC adapts it to incorporate the musical styles of the country.

Melding disparate musical sounds into one new work is part of the CBC’s mandate. In the early 2000s, the network was under pressure to make their programming more multicultural and so they shifted their focus to incorporate more “fusion programming.” This involved bringing together musicians from different cultures, styles and languages to see whether they might be able to find new ways to collaborate.

While the CBC’s intentions may have been good, the results have been mixed. According to ethnomusicologist Rebecca Draisey-Collishaw, the musical output has not served to reflect creative and multicultural “meetings” between different musical traditions. Instead it more often represents — musically — cultural minorities being assimilated into mainstream, white, Anglo codes that serve to reinforce the status quo.

A contemporary version of “multicultural fusion” is evident in the CBC’s music for the upcoming 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The updated theme, written by composer Tim Weston and staff at creative audio agency Grayson Matthews, opens with a voice accompanied by synthesized strings; at 0:09, the composers add a janggu (a Korean drum) and a gayageum (a 12-string zither-like instrument). The janggu and gayageum are perhaps the traditional Korean instruments most familiar to Westerners.

At about 0:22, listen for how the Korean instruments are “assimilated” into a Western framework of meter, chord progressions and catchy syncopation.

Finally, the piece closes with a modified version of the CBC Olympic Theme:


The NBC and CBC Olympic themes are markedly different. The American network uses a soundtrack that is both unchanging and grounded in codes developed within movie soundtracks over the last half century.

The CBC theme, meanwhile, is less dramatic but celebrates itself as a fusion of musical traditions. Unlike American audiences, Canadians travel sonically beyond their borders. While an admirable project, on closer analysis, this music — like many of the CBC’s previous fusion experiments like Fuse, a national radio program that aired between 2005 and 2008 — seems to appropriate sound to “add spice” to Western sonorities. Case in point: They even describe the theme as “Korean flavoured” on the website.

By choosing traditional Korean instruments, they limit the representation of South Korea as a society that is traditional and dated, and perhaps less modern than Canada.

Over the next two weeks, I invite you not only to watch the Olympic coverage but listen to it and consider how music — a seemingly benign medium — does its ideological work.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Queen’s professor earns 3M honours

Richard Ascough is the universitys ninth faculty member to be named a national teaching fellow.

Richard Asccough
Richard Ascough has been selected as a 3M Teaching Fellow.

Queen’s University professor Richard Ascough has received the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE).

Founded in 1986 through a partnership between the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada, up to ten Canadian academics annually are named fellows, in recognition of excellence in educational leadership and teaching in the post-secondary sector. Dr. Ascough (School of Religion) is the ninth Queen’s professor to be made a 3M Fellow following James Fraser (Physics) in 2017.

 “I find it both humbling and exciting to be selected as a 3M Teaching Fellow as it recognizes my commitment to actively engaging students in their learning contexts and experimenting with innovation in the classroom,” says Dr. Ascough, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning).

A recent D2L Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning winner, Dr. Ascough has always approached teaching with innovative and unique ideas. In the 1990s, he embraced online learning and has been a change-maker in regards to attitudes towards online course design.

 “Dr. Ascough has been at the leading edge of technology-enhanced learning, leaping into online teaching in the late nineties when instructors had to accept their role as digital pioneers, contending with clunky platforms and sometimes severe skepticism from their academic peers,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “He has never been satisfied with simply using technology, but has continually pushed the limits of the medium to ensure deep, transformation learning.”

In the classroom, Dr. Ascough creates imaginative, interactive exercises that ignite his students’ passion for learning. Long before active learning classrooms were being constructed, Dr. Ascough began developing exercises that draw students out of their comfort zone and create excitement about learning. Participatory exercises are one of the hallmarks of Dr. Ascough’s teaching.

“Dr. Ascough embodies Queen’s mission as a research-intensive university with a transformative student learning experience,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “In my experience, every institution has those few individuals who are hugely influential to so many, yet never seek acclaim. Richard is one of those special leaders.”

For more information on the 3M National Teaching Fellowship visit the website.

Fellowships profile new generation of Indigenous scholars

The Faculty of Arts and Science has launched a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship program to recognize outstanding scholarship among Indigenous PhD candidates.

The Faculty of Arts and Science has launched a new Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for Indigenous Students. Those wishing to learn more should attend an upcoming Feb 15 webinar. (Supplied Photo)
The Faculty of Arts and Science has launched a new Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for Indigenous Students. Those wishing to learn more should attend an upcoming Feb 15 webinar. (Supplied Photo)

A new program aims to bring some of Canada’s most promising Indigenous doctoral candidates to Queen’s for a year to further their learning, and allow Queen’s to learn from them.

A prestigious Pre-Doctoral Fellowship program, one of the first of its kind in Canada, has been created as a way of recognizing up and coming Indigenous scholars and enhancing their academic profile. The Faculty of Arts and Science is offering four spaces in this Fellowship program, which provides the recipients with a $34,000 annual stipend, teaching wages, and funds for research and conferences.

“We are proud of our continuing dedication to life-long learning and reconciliation efforts, and of the many academic and personal successes of our Indigenous students, faculty, staff and alumni,” says Lynda Jessup, Associate Dean (Graduate Studies and Research) with the Faculty of Arts and Science. “After working with Erin Sutherland (PhD’16), an Indigenous student who had received a pre-doctoral fellowship at another university, I was inspired to develop this program as a way of supporting culturally relevant learning opportunities both for Queen’s and for Indigenous students.”

To be eligible, students must have Indigenous heritage, must be enrolled in a doctorate program at another Canadian university, and must relocate to Kingston for the year. During the year, the PhD candidate would teach a course within the Faculty of Arts and Science, which would help Indigenize some of Queen’s curriculum, and they would engage with local Indigenous peoples and communities.

The candidates would also have the chance to broaden their scholarly network by working with Queen’s faculty members and researchers, thereby improving their career opportunities. Most importantly, the Fellowship would support the successful completion of their doctoral studies.

“The pre-doctoral fellowship I received gave me time, space, and support to finish my dissertation, and it gave me a new community to share my ideas with, to learn from, to be with,” says Dr. Sutherland. “The community helped me to develop ideas which ended up being central to my dissertation. Specifically, my time spent with community – both at the University and outside of it – supported my learning and discussion of Indigenous methodologies. Most importantly, it better prepared me to deal with change and how to work in and adapt to a new academic and community environment.”

Applications are being accepted to this pilot program until Sunday, Apr. 1. A webinar is planned for Thursday, Feb. 15 to share more information about the program with potential applicants. For more information on this new program, visit the Faculty of Arts and Science’s website.

Building understanding of nature’s power at water’s edge

Ryan Mulligan, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering
Queen’s civil engineering professor Ryan Mulligan is a coastal engineer who specializes in waves, storms, and changes to shorelines. (University Communications) 

The 2017 hurricane season is one for the record books. A seemingly relentless line of storms tore, one after another, across the Caribbean and into the Gulf Coast. Seventeen of them were strong enough to be named, with the strongest – Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate – conspiring to inflict an estimated 350 deaths and some $400 billion in property damage.

“Climate change is driving sea level rise that will directly impact coastal areas,” says Ryan Mulligan, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering. “But the oceans are also getting warmer and it’s the heat energy in them that drives the intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones. The warmer the ocean, the more fuel hurricanes have, the farther north they can go, the longer in the year they can last, and the more intense they can be.”

Dr. Mulligan is a coastal engineer who specializes in waves, storms and changes to shorelines. He works closely with Queen’s civil engineering professor Andy Take to study tsunamis generated by landslides, and Queen’s civil engineering professor Leon Boegman to study wave and water level effects on Lake Ontario. Dr. Mulligan also recently earned a grant from the US Office of Naval Research to study waves and sediment movement at a US Army Corps of Engineers site in North Carolina. He plans to continue all that work, and investigate the future effects of hurricanes on coastlines.

“I’m interested in the physics of the situation, how waves behave, and everything we do as engineers is driven by a societal need,” he says. “Hurricanes can destroy roads and pipelines, knock buildings into the ocean, and scour through barrier islands that separate bodies of salt and fresh water. All this can cost lives and billions in property damage and economic loss, not just in the Caribbean and the U.S. but in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, and Ontario, too.”

So, what does Dr. Mulligan plan to do to help prepare for more frequent and intense storms in the future?

“The first thing we should do, and the direction I’m going, is more research into potential impacts,” he says. “We’re using new computer models to predict outcomes in a particular area from stronger and stronger storms. We explore hypothetical scenarios and develop mitigation strategies after validating computer models using data we gather during real-world storms.” 

As those computer models become more and more reliable, engineers and planners will have more information to help inform decisions about emergency preparedness and where to – and where not to – build buildings and infrastructure. It’s research that will help people to adapt more quickly and safely to the coming realities of climate change.

Mulligan also mentors or co-mentors a group of graduate students who work on various projects, including Queen’s PhD candidates Gemma Bullard and Ramy Marmoush, and master’s candidates Alexander Rey and Fatemeh Gholamimahyari. He also works with undergraduate research students and will be looking to recruit more graduate students in the fall.

“My previous students work at Baird and other consulting firms in Canada, the U.S. and the UK,” says Mulligan. “All my grad students who have finished have gone on to careers as coastal engineers. That means there’s a need for that kind of training. The students who come into our civil engineering program and decide to do research in coastal engineering wind up getting specialized jobs in the field they want and our society needs, which is a great thing.”

This article was first published on the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science website.

Bringing Queen’s engineering students together

The Innovation and Wellness Centre will be home to a range of engineering facilities, including labs, teaching studios, and a common room.

Engineering and Applied Science students will be spending a lot of time in the Innovation and Wellness Centre (IWC) when it opens next academic year.

The Innovation and Wellness Centre will feature a common lounge for undergraduate mechanical and materials engineering students, something that they have not had before. (Supplied Photo)
The Innovation and Wellness Centre will feature a common lounge for undergraduate mechanical and materials engineering students, something that they have not had before. (Supplied Photo)

The new facility will bring together several mechanical and materials engineering program areas on campus into one new and modern space. It will also add new resources for undergraduate engineering students.

“This leading-edge facility will uniquely bring together innovative undergraduate teaching facilities, world-leading research facilities, and innovation programming in one space,” says Kevin Deluzio, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “New undergraduate teaching and design studios, interdisciplinary research clusters, and flexible innovation space within the IWC will bring together professors, undergraduate, and graduate students in a way that builds community and fosters new ideas.”

The engineering facilities will be located on the second and third floors of the IWC. The second floor will feature an interdisciplinary mechatronics laboratory where mechanical and electrical engineers will be able to work together, an undergraduate common room, a rapid prototyping lab, and three engineering teaching studios. Rather than individual seating, the studios emphasize collaboration by grouping students in tables of four to eight. Each studio will accommodate about 80 students, and the walls can be moved to create one large studio.

On the third floor, you will find the IWC’s research labs. The Beaty Water Research Centre will include four wet labs, where chemical and civil engineering students and faculty will handle hazardous materials and conduct research. The facility will bring together water researchers from across the university, supporting 40 graduate students and 12 faculty members.

The Beaty Water Research Centre will be located on the third floor, featuring labs and meeting space. (Supplied Photo)
The Beaty Water Research Centre will be located on the third floor, featuring labs and meeting space. (Supplied Photo)

The third floor will also include brand new labs dedicated to studying human-machine collaboration. A dozen faculty members will be based out of this space, along with up to 40 graduate students. The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is currently recruiting five new academics specializing in disciplines such as machine learning, data mining, and smart prosthetics, aligning with the Principal’s faculty renewal plans.  

What's in the IWC?
A holistic view of wellness
A home for innovation
● Learn more on the Innovation and Wellness Centre website

“This focus on human-machine collaboration will provide an opportunity for Queen’s Engineering and Applied Science to lead the country in this increasingly important field,” says Brian Surgenor, a professor in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering department who is helping to coordinate the design of the IWC’s engineering space. “Coupled with the renovated spaces for our undergraduate students, the IWC will provide a significant enhancement to the student experience and our Faculty’s research leadership.”

The creation of the IWC was made possible through $55 million in philanthropic support, with a significant portion donated by Queen’s engineering alumni. In addition, the federal and Ontario governments contributed a combined total of nearly $22 million to this facility.

To learn more about the Innovation and Wellness Centre, visit the centre’s website. The centre is scheduled to open in Fall 2018.

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