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Research Prominence

Nine professors named Royal Society Fellows

Nine Queen’s University faculty members have been elected to the Royal Society of Canada, the highest number of inductees the university has had in one year. Fellowship in the RSC is one of the highest recognitions for Canadian academics in the arts, humanities, and the social and natural sciences.

The nine new Royal Society members are (clockwise from top left): Erwin Buncel, Francois Rouget, W. George Lovell, Peter Milliken, Wendy Craig, Roger Deeley, John Burge, Ian McKay. In the centre is Myra Hird. 

The nine newest fellows from Queen’s have a wide range of research interests including health, environmental issues, history, bullying prevention and chemistry.

“Queen’s is renowned for its excellent research and teaching, in part thanks to the contributions of faculty members like these,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “I am proud to see so many individuals recognized in a single year, especially given our institution’s modest size.”

The nine new RSC members include:

Roger Deeley (Cancer Research Institute), a pioneer who has developed approaches to cloning novel genes based solely on their level of activity. Application of these approaches led to the discovery of a multidrug resistance protein, a drug efflux pump associated with resistance to chemotherapy in cancer, and some forms of leukemia.

Myra J. Hird (Environmental Studies), a distinguished interdisciplinary scholar with an international reputation for her multifaceted, collaborative investigations into science studies and environmental issues. Dr. Hird explores how social sciences and humanities may engage with scientific knowledge to better respond to a wide range of global issues, including climate change, human-animal relations, and the nature and future of waste.

Ian McKay (History), a highly respected scholar, analyst and award-winning author. Dr. McKay is credited with changing not just conventional views of Canadian history, but the basic concepts of the field itself. His investigations into Canadian working-class culture, politics and Canadian historical theory have uncovered broader historical patterns and political frameworks that continue to inform the work of historians and social scientists

Peter Milliken (Policy Studies), Canada’s longest-serving Speaker of the House of Commons and internationally respected expert on the rules and procedures of Parliamentary democracy. Mr. Milliken is a devoted champion of Canada’s excellence in scientific research and science policy.

François Rouget (French), a specialist in Renaissance literature. A leading researcher in the field of poetry, Dr. Rouget is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the scholars who enriched the knowledge of the poets of the second half of the 16th century.                              

Wendy Craig (Psychology), a leading international expert on bullying prevention and the promotion of healthy relationships.  As founder and co-scientific director of Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet), Dr. Craig has transformed the understanding of bullying and has effectively translated the science into evidence-based practice and intervention.

W. George Lovell (Geography), an international scholar of historical geography, most notably in the regional context of Latin America, where his work on Central America has had impacts not only on his own discipline but also on several related fields. Considered a leading authority on indigenous Mayan survival, Dr. Lovell has demonstrated how their post-colonial experiences relate to much deeper rooted cultural, political and economic processes.

Erwin Buncel (Chemistry), a continuously productive chemist with over 350 journal publications and four books.  While at Queen’s, he developed various avenues of investigation in physical organic, bioorganic and bioinorganic chemistry.  Dr. Buncel’s career is unique because of the extremely broad range of chemical problems on which he has had a major impact.

John Burge (Music), an award-winning composer and champion of the arts in Canada.  Exceptional in his ability to write successfully for the entire gamut of vocal and instrumental combinations, his outstanding musical output breaks new ground both technically and expressively.

For more information about the Royal Society visit the website.

To read more about Queen's research prominance visit the link.

Bringing innovation from the lab to life

Dr. D.J. Cook works to advance promising stroke therapies.

Dr. D.J Cook in his lab. Photo by Lucy Teves.

When asked why he was drawn to a career in neurosurgery, D.J. Cook jokes that his “mom made him do it,” but that it’s a field he’s found to be incredibly exciting.

 “It’s exciting because it’s a relatively uncharted area of medicine,” he adds. “Neurosurgery and neuroscience are ripe for innovation.”

Currently, Dr. Cook is working in translational stroke research – a process to advance promising stroke therapies discovered in basic research to human clinical trials. It’s research like this that could help alleviate the effects of a stroke including paralysis, difficulty with speech, blindness and issues with sensation and perception.

“Our main goal is to identify new therapies that will enhance stroke recovery by protecting the brain at the time of stroke, restoring lost function with cell replacement or enhancing inherent recovery processes through neuromodulation,” says Dr. Cook. “Our research program has developed expertise in designing and performing key pre-clinical experiments in relevant models to validate the effectiveness of promising therapies and fine tune the design of subsequent human trials.”

Neuromodulation is a technique where either electric current or pharmaceuticals are delivered surgically through implantable devices that cause the brain to reorganize itself in a way beneficial for recovery.

Members of the Translational Stroke Research Lab from left to righ: Tim St. Amand, Meredith Poole, D.J. Cook, Justin Wang, Shelby Olesovsky, Basheer Elsolh and Joseph Nashed. Photo by Angie Tuttle.

Dr. Cook describes experiments aimed at validating therapies in clinically relevant models such that they can be tested in subsequent clinical trials with a higher degree of confidence in therapy effectiveness and safety.  It is “the last but very difficult step” in pre-clinical therapy development. Current research projects in Dr. Cook’s lab include placing a gel implant into the brain that will slowly release drugs that promote reorganization of the brain and improved recovery, the lab is also exploring cortical and deep brain stimulation techniques to enhance rehabilitation therapy following stroke.

Dr. Cook’s research ties well into his career as a cerebrovascular neurosurgeon whose clinical practise is focused on fixing diseased blood vessels in the brain, including working with stroke patients, or patients at risk of stroke.

Dr. Cook recently received a grant of $1.2 million to help build infrastructure in the translational stroke research lab: $480,000 of the grant came from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI) and the remaining funds were granted by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

“Thanks to the CFI and MRI grants, our lab has been able to purchase infrastructure for intraoperative imaging and blood flow measurement, new tools to image the brain using MRI,  and new cellular and molecular tools that help us look at the reorganization of the brain after stroke,” says Dr. Cook. “This equipment makes the Translational Stroke Research Program at Queen’s a very unique research platform for translational stroke and neuroscience research. It’s unlike any other research program in North America, probably in the world.”

Follow these links for more information on the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.

Petroglyphs provide glimpse of the past

Queen's archaeologist Barbara Reeves and her team made a surprise discovery of 157 rock carvings that detail life thousands of years ago.

Dr. Barbara Reeves stands with petroglyphs in Humayma, Jordan

Barbara Reeves’ team of archaeologists accidently stumbled upon the first of 157 ancient images just days before leaving the Humayma excavation site in Jordan.  

Humayma – located in western Jordan – has been an excavation site since 1986. Even though researchers have conducted many archaeological surveys in and around the area for years, the numerous carvings on the rocks, known as petroglyphs, remained undiscovered until this summer.

“The area had been inspected by surveyors many times in the past, but these petroglyphs appear to have been overlooked since each surveyor was typically looking for something quite specific, and that didn’t include rock carvings,” says Dr. Reeves, professor of archaeology in the Department of Classics and director of the Humayma Excavation Project.

After Dr. Reeves’ team discovered one petroglyph in the area, the archaeologists went looking for more information to help with the analysis. They discovered more than 150 other petroglyphs and 20 inscriptions that had been there unseen for years.

Carved footprints, like this, could mean the area was once a major pilgrimage site.

For Dr. Reeves, who has been excavating at Humayma since 1995, the discovery was a significant find.

“The petroglyphs show soldiers, hunters, worshippers, animals and feet,” says Dr. Reeves. “These petroglyphs are also all covered in what we call a ”desert varnish,“ which is a chemical process that happens on the surface of the sandstone that gives older inscriptions a darker tone than newer ones, allowing excavators to estimate ages of the inscriptions.”

After some initial analyses of the images, Dr. Reeves and her team have hypothesized that one site was a major pilgrimage site, with more than 50 carved footprints and inscriptions.

“Carved footprints commemorate a person’s presence at a religious site,” says Dr. Reeves. “This discovery aligns with a fifth century foundation myth, which suggests that the area and its landscape had some spiritual significance.”

Now that Dr. Reeves is back in Kingston, she plans to include some students in the analysis of Humayma’s data until she returns to the site next summer to continue deciphering the ancient carvings.

The survey at Humayma this past year was funded by a research grant from the Queen’s Senate Advisory Research Committee.

Anti-bullying expert makes an impact

Queen's University professor Wendy Craig, an international leader in bullying prevention, has been named as one of three finalists for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Award. These awards are the highest achievements given annually by SSHRC.

The nomination recognizes a SSHRC-funded partnership for its outstanding achievement in advancing research, training or developing new partnerships. The Partnership Awards are one of five awards under the Impact Awards portfolio.

[Wendy Craig]

Wendy Craig is a finalist for a prestigious national award for her work as co-director of the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet).

Dr. Craig was nominated for her work as the co-director of the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet). The other co-director is Dr. Debra Pepler from York University.

"Dr. Pepler and I are honoured to receive this recognition for our work on bullying and healthy relationships through PREVNet, funded by SSHRC through the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE)," says Dr. Craig.

"Through this funding, we have been privileged to work with 63 partners across the country and 75 researchers and co-created more than 200 knowledge mobilization projects."

PREVNet works to create knowledge mobilization resources through four strategy pillars: education and training, assessment and evaluation, prevention and intervention, and policy. Dr. Craig says she has learned that through the process of co-creation with other partners PREVNet can move science into practice and practice into science to decrease bullying in Canada.

With this funding, Dr. Craig says they can continue to engage in knowledge mobilization efforts with the PREVNet partners.  The team plans to focus on working with PREVNet's youth to develop tools to address cyberbullying.

"Through PREVNet, Dr. Craig has developed a unique partnership model that has demonstrated influence both within and beyond the academic community," says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). "PREVNet's sophisticated knowledge-mobilization tools and bullying prevention resources are timely and effective in addressing one of the biggest challenges facing today's children and youth."

The winners will be announced at the annual award ceremony in Ottawa on Nov. 3. For more information visit the website.

PREVNet is a national network of leading researchers and organizations, working together to stop bullying in Canada. It is the first of its kind in this country and a world leader in bullying prevention. Through education, research, training and policy change, PREVNet aims to stop the violence caused by bullying so every child can grow up happy, healthy and safe.

PARTEQ moving to Innovation Park

PARTEQ Innovations will move its offices from Biosciences Complex to Innovation Park, the hub of Kingston’s innovation ecosystem, on Sept. 8.  

“We are pleased to be contributing to the strategic objectives set out by Queen’s related to creating a cluster of innovation related entities in a single location,” says Jim Banting, President and CEO of PARTEQ Innovations.  “We look forward to co-locating with other innovation related entities at Innovation Park to continue PARTEQ’s mission of commercializing technologies from Queen’s and partner institutions.” 

[Innovation Park exterior shot]
Innovation Park (above) will welcome PARTEQ Innovations on Sept. 8. 

PARTEQ will remain focused on building and maintaining strong relationships with Queen’s researchers following the move to Innovation Park. Greater collaboration with the Queen’s Industry Partnerships group located at Innovation Park will align and enhance the services available to faculty seeking commercialization and industry opportunities.

“PARTEQ has an important role in the innovation landscape,” says Dr. Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research) and Chair of the PARTEQ Board of Directors. “This re-location will allow to them to continue their strong history of supporting faculty commercialization opportunities while linking them to the services available at Innovation Park.”

Innovation Park, located at 945 Princess St., is the hub for the Kingston innovation ecosystem. It is home to numerous regional and community organizations including Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) and Launch Lab, which is a member of the Ontario Network of Excellence hub that supports innovation in Eastern Ontario.

PARTEQ telephone numbers and email address will not change after the move on Sept. 8. Queen’s inventors who have an interesting discovery, invention or technology that may have commercialization potential can call PARTEQ at 613-533-2342, send an email, or submit an invention disclosure form posted on the organization’s website.

PARTEQ was founded in 1987 by Queen's University to commercialize intellectual property (e.g. inventions) arising from university-generated research.  A not-for-profit organization, PARTEQ provides institutional researchers with the business, intellectual property and financial expertise they require to advance their discoveries to the public.  PARTEQ provides technology transfer services to Queen’s University, the Royal Military College of Canada and Kingston General Hospital. 

Digital database puts music resources at educators' fingertips

Music resource opens up new realm for educators. 

Dr. Rena Upitis (left) and Kingston piano teacher Jodie Compeau use the DREAM website to search for digital music resources.

 

Starting this September, music educators from across Canada will be able to find and download the best available digital music resources for free.

The Digital Resource Exchange About Music (DREAM) is an online space created by collaborators at Queen’s University, Concordia University and The Royal Conservatory that can be used in French or English on all devices including computers, tablets and smartphones.

“The real strength of DREAM is that the resources are of high quality and relevance to music teachers. For example, teachers will often spend time sorting through a whole page of recordings trying to find one that is good enough to share – our website has done that work for them,” says Dr. Rena Upitis, a professor in the Queen’s Faculty of Education and project director of DREAM.

DREAM, which took two years to develop, also allows users to listen to high quality recordings of popular repertoire. Kingston piano teacher Jodie Compeau says that functionality will augment her students’ learning experiences.

“DREAM is a fantastic tool that streamlines my search for useful apps, websites and recordings that enhance the quality of my studio,” she says. “DREAM means quickly finding a game to help my students learn to read music, or locating an app to help students mix their newest musical creations. It’s a real time saver for music educators.”

Additionally, users who sign up for a free DREAM account are able to rate, review and add resources to the website. All resources are approved the DREAM team.

“DREAM aims to change the way that teachers learn by facilitating the exchange of information free from the constraints of distance or time,” says Dr. Upitis. “This means teachers can do what they do best: teach.”

DREAM belongs to a suite of digital tools developed by Queen’s, Concordia and The Royal Conservatory. Research leading to the development of DREAM was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. For more information, visit www.musictoolsite.ca

Report advocates improved police training

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

“People with mental illnesses is a prominent issue for Canada's police community, and today's report builds on the increasingly collaborative relationship between law enforcement and people with mental illnesses,” says Queen’s adjunct professor Dorothy Cotton, a forensic psychologist with an interest in the area of police psychology. “This is a gap-analysis tool that police academy and police services can use to improve their education and training.”

Dorothy Cotton has released a new report on the police and people with mental illness.

TEMPO: Police Interactions – A report towards improving interactions between police and people living with mental health problems includes several key recommendations:

  • That police learning be designed and delivered by a combination of police personnel, adult educators, mental health professionals, mental health advocacy organizations and people living with mental illness.
  • More uniform inclusion of non-physical interventions (verbal communications, interpersonal skills, de-escalation, defusing and calming techniques) in use-of-force training.
  • The incorporation of anti-stigma education to challenge the attitudinal barriers that lead to discriminatory action.
  • That provincial governments establish policing standards that include provision for mandatory basic and periodic police training qualification/requalification for interactions with people with mental illness.
  • Provision of training on the role of police, mental health professionals, family and community supports in encounters with persons with mental illness.
  • That training provides a better understanding of the symptoms of mental illness and the ability to assess the influence a mental illness might be having on a person's behaviour and comprehension.

“The most important part of the report and what comes after is making sure people living with mental illness are involved in the delivery of training,” says Dr. Cotton, who earned a Diamond Jubilee Medal recognizing her work in relation to interactions between police and people with mental illness.

The TEMPO report is the result of a comprehensive survey of Canadian police organizations; a literature review; an international comparative review of police learning programs; and direct interviews with a variety of police and mental health professionals.

The report was launched at the 109th annual conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP). Read the full TEMPO report here

Queen's professor receives prestigious national grant

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer
 
Queen'™s University international security expert Stéfanie von Hlatky (Political Studies) has received a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), one of only three professors to ever receive funding from the Partnership Development Grant in the program'™s four-year history.
 
The director of Queen'™s Centre for International and Defence Policy received $199,944 over three years to study corporate social responsibility practices within the mining industry.
 
Stefanie von Hlatky has earned a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant.
"There is a growing recognition from industry stakeholders and community actors for the need to develop holistic security approaches to manage projects in conflict-prone environments," says Dr. von Hlatky, pointing to recent events in Papua New Guinea, South Africa and Tanzania. "Given Canada's involvement in the mining sector, this project will focus on the extractive industries as a test case and will help community-level stakeholders and the private sector to anticipate and manage security problems everywhere they operate."
 
The research project identifies four objectives:
  • Promoting cross-sector knowledge exchanges on core security themes by undertaking field research and organizing practical workshop 
  • Creating a framework to address conflict prevention and conflict management as part of corporate social responsibility activities
  • Training and mentoring emerging security experts by providing hands-on methods training and internship opportunities for professional development
  • Disseminating the team's research findings through proactive engagement with non-academic stakeholders, from governments to local communities.
"œI was thrilled with the news that Dr. von Hlatky had been successful in her application for such competitive funding," says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). "She has been doing tremendous work in the international security field and her research also contributes and enhances Queen's leadership in promoting safe and successful communities, a major theme of the Strategic Research Plan."
 
Six institutional partners will contribute to the research project: the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen's (CIDP), the McGill/Universite de Montreal Centre for International Peace and Security Studies (CIPSS), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the Center for Security Governance (CSG) and Rio Tinto.
 
See all the successful applicants here.

Making strides in reproductive science

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

Taking to the main stage in front of a crowd of nearly 1000 faces, Matthew Rätsep was awash with nerves. Presenting his research to the 47th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, he faced his colleagues and peers in a Michigan conference centre that had previously played host to the likes of Michael Bublé and Beck.

PhD candidate Matthew Rätsep is researching the effects of the pregnancy disorder pre-eclampsia.

His work focused on Placental Growth Factor (PGF), a protein found in the placenta during pregnancy. "Since its discovery in the late 1990s, PGF has been a hot topic in the field of reproductive science," says Mr. Rätsep, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences. "There's a known link between low levels of PGF and pre-eclampsia, but I wanted to find out if this was a consequence or a cause of the pre-eclampsia."

Pre-eclampsia, a disorder characterized by high blood pressure in pregnancy affects around three per cent of pregnancies. It can lead to kidney dysfunction, impaired liver function as well as cognitive impairments in the mother.

From the 600 submissions to the conference, Mr. Rätsep had his work selected as one of the top six. That also earned him a Lalor Foundation Travel Fellowship for the research'™s scientific merit, clarity and the impact of its results. Along with the other top six, he was invited to participate in the Trainee Research Platform Competition, and so he found himself on a wide stage, flanked by two enormous video screens as he presented his findings to the conference-goers. After the deliberation of the judges, Mr. Rätsep was awarded the conference's top prize. He says the prize money from the award will be put to use financing further conferences and research, the next phase of which has already begun.

"œWe began trying to take blood pressure measurements, but that quickly took us in a different direction," Mr. Rätsep says. "œIt appears that some offspring of pre-eclamptic mothers are born with imperfect blood vessel formation in their brain and so we've begun a pilot study of children of pre-eclamptic mothers to substantiate this."

Children born from pre-eclamptic mothers are possibly at risk of cognitive impairment. "The children are still able to lead reasonably healthy lives but they might be at a greater risk for depression," he says. "œMostly they'™ll just need a little more care and attention."

[UPDATE] Mr. Rätsep presented at the International Federation of Placenta Associations (IFPA) in Paris, France early in September 2014. Of the 164 poster presentations by new investigators at the conference, Mr. Rätsep's was singled out as the best presentation based on scientific merit, interpretation, the impact of the results and the clarity of the presentation. As a result, he was presented with the Elsevier Trophoblast Research New Investigator Award and invited to present a plenary lecture at next year's IFPA conference in Brisbane, Australia.

Queen's-led study key to improving the health of young people

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

A recent report shows Canadian youth smoking rates have dropped in the past 20 years, while rates of obesity and cannabis use remain consistently high. The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) report explores trends in the health of young people over the past two decades.
Study author John Freeman.
 
The HBSC survey has been coordinated every four years since 1989 by the Social Program Evaluation Group (SPEG) of Queen’s University in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada. The study is supported by the World Health Organization and has 43 participating countries primarily from North America and Europe.  Ã¢Â€ÂœThe success we have achieved in reducing adolescents' smoking rates in Canada shows what we can accomplish with a unified cross-sectoral public health approach,” says John Freeman (Education), director of SPEG.
 
Five key findings came out of the HBSC report:
  • Cigarette smoking is the one public health concern that has shown the greatest improvement for Canadian adolescents over the past 20 years. In 1994, Canadian 13-year-old boys and 15-year-old girls had the highest rates of smoking at least once a week internationally. In the 2010 survey, Canadian boys had the lowest smoking rates internationally and rates for Canadian girls dropped to some of the lowest in the countries surveyed. This approach should be adopted in tackling other health issues.
  • Being overweight or obese is an ongoing concern for Canadian students in Grades 6 to 10. In the 2010 survey, Canada ranked second out of 39 HBSC countries in the prevalence of overweight and obese 15-year-old boys and girls. For 13-year-old boys and girls, Canada ranked third and fourth respectively. These numbers have changed little over time.
  • Canadian adolescents have consistently been among the highest levels of cannabis use internationally. In 2010, Canada ranked first for cannabis use in 15-year-old girls and 15-year-old Canadian boys ranked second. Forty percent of Grade 10 Canadian boys and 37 percent of Canadian girls reported having tried cannabis.
  • The prevalence of reported well-being for Canadian young people has been decreasing since the beginning of the survey cycle. The life satisfaction on the national level, as compared to other countries, has been worsening. With a focus on promotion of positive mental health, researchers expect this to improve in the 2014 survey.
  • Youth voices should continue to be heard on research, policy and programming that affect their health.
“The Government of Canada is pleased to have supported Queen’s University in the development of this important report,” said Gregory Taylor, Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer. “Having accurate information available that helps us understand the changes in the behaviours and attitudes of children and youth is invaluable. This will help to inform policy and program decisions that ultimately promote the health and well-being of Canadian children and youth.”
 
Other Queen’s contributors to the report include Matthew King (SPEG) and Heather Coe (Faculty of Education).

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