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Research Prominence

No props, one slide, three minutes

The 3 Minute Thesis competition heats will take place Thursday, March 28 at 2 pm in Walter Light Hall Auditorium and on Friday, March 28 starting at 9 am.
The final will take place on Wednesday, April 9 at 5 pm in Kinesiology 101.

By Hollie Knapp-Fisher, Communications Intern

Queen’s will host its annual 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition on March 27 and March 28 featuring over 20 graduate student participants.

3MT gives master’s and PhD students a chance to present their research to a panel of non-expert judges in three minutes using only one slide and no props. The competition takes place in two heats with the top students competing in a final panel on April 9.

“The real challenge is to effectively communicate with the audience without using too much technical jargon,” says first-time participant John Forster, a master’s student studying mining engineering. “Understanding the research culture is important and although it will be difficult to do in three minutes, I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Developed by the University of Queensland in 2008 to promote effective communication of research, Queen’s was the first Ontario university to host a 3MT Competition in 2012 and the first to host a provincial-wide event the following year. This event provides students, staff and faculty with a unique opportunity to learn about the significant research being undertaken by graduate students at Queen’s. 

PhD candidate Frank Secretain was a 3MT finalist in 2013.

“With students participating from different fields, this sort of competition should help to build up a better inter-disciplinary atmosphere amongst the graduate students at Queen’s,” says Kurosh Amoui-Kalareh, a master’s student in Religious Studies and a first-time 3MT participant.  “I would highly recommend taking advantage of an opportunity like this to impact even a small group of people.” 

While the event is a competition, 3MT also gives participants a platform to share what they have been working on during their time at Queen’s and expand their knowledge of the range of research happening on campus. 

“I really believe that research should not be separated into individual silos,” says Jasmin Ma, a master’s candidate in Kinesiology and Health Studies, who is competing in 3MT for the second time. “Our research is important to us and being able to share it with the public means a lot. It’s an opportunity to share our passion.”

Olympic medalist Clara Hughes visits Kingston to raise awareness of mental health issues


[Speakers with Clara Hughes]
Olympic medalist Clara Hughes poses for a photo with some of the other speakers at the BREAK The Stigma. JOIN The Conversation  event.

Money raised at BREAK The Stigma. JOIN The Conversation will be donated to a mental health research project led by Dr. Roumen Milev (Psychiatry, Psychology). The conference was organized by the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation and included several Queen's professors, students, as well as members of the Kingston community.


Evergreens restrict Arctic tundra responses to climate change

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

How climate change will affect the Arctic is a research question of increasing urgency.  New research out of Queen’s University indicates that current predictions of vegetation change that will occur as the Arctic warms could only be part of the story. There are other key players that have been overlooked.

Using experimental greenhouses located at the Daring Lake Research Station in the Northwest Territories, Tara Zamin (former PhD student, Biology), co-author Paul Grogan (Biology) and co-author Donie Bret-Harte (University of Alaska Fairbanks) demonstrated that climate change impacted the vegetation much differently than has been observed at other Arctic sites, leading to more conservative predictions for tundra change. They are the first scientists to carefully measure not only above but also belowground growth responses of individual plants, thereby allowing them to comprehensively assess how each Arctic species is being affected.

Paul Grogan and Tara Zamin research at the Daring Lake Research Station in the Northwest Territories.

“It’s the turtle and the hare of the Arctic tundra in the ongoing race to adapt to a changing climate. Deciduous shrubs are the hare, and have been rapidly increasing in more fertile arctic sites, leading to predictions that the tundra could become a birch or willow shrubland, which would feed back to increased warming. Evergreen shrubs are the turtle - slow, but well adapted to the infertile soils typical of Arctic tundra, and at our site are presently in the lead.”

 “Our results are  important because evergreens grow more slowly, are shorter, and produce litter that tends to restrict soil nutrient availability, all of which will tend to slow down the responsiveness of tundra ecosystems to climate change,” says Dr. Grogan.

As temperatures continue to rise in the Arctic, the warming will enhance soil nutrient availability. The study concludes that although deciduous shrubs are likely to become dominant in particularly fertile locations in the tundra, evergreens will dominate elsewhere.

“Over this century, we can expect substantial vegetation change across southern Canada and at lower latitudes more generally,” says Dr. Grogan. “As ecologists, our goal is to understand and predict what those changes might be.  Will evergreen trees like cedar fare better than deciduous species like maple?  The latter is an important species culturally and economically for Canada, and therefore the answers to such questions are critical to successfully adapting to the climate change that we have already committed ourselves to.”

The research was published in the Journal of Ecology.

Queen's researchers patent cutting-edge technology

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Queen’s University researchers Cathleen Crudden and Hugh Horton (Chemistry), along with students, postdoctoral fellows and other collaborators have developed a new process that allows organic compounds to bind to metal surfaces. This cutting-edge technology is now being patented and commercialized by PARTEQ and Green Centre Canada.

“Imagine pouring vegetable oil onto a metal surface and expecting it to stay,” says Dr. Horton. “We have created a bond through a chemical absorption process that would allow that to happen.”

The first example of the formation of organic monolayers (single molecule-thick coatings) on metals was published about 30 years ago and ignited huge interest in the scientific community. The technique forms the basis for a wide range of biosensing applications using modified metal surfaces.  However these coatings lack robustness and are sensitive even to exposure to air, greatly limiting their applications and making the technique expensive. 

Drs. Crudden and Horton are the first in the world to develop a viable alternative to this initial process.  In their strategy, the bond between the metal and the organic coating occurs through carbon instead of sulfur, which gives much greater strength and resistance to oxidation.

Common, every day uses of this technology could include applying organic coatings to automotive surfaces that would protect them from corrosion and decrease friction.  The use of these coatings to improve commercial biosensors for medical diagnostics is already underway.

The research was published in Nature Chemistry.

Olympic champion raises funds for local mental health initatives

[Clara Hughes Roumen Milev]
Money raised  through a talk by Clara Hughes is being donated to a mental health research project led by Queen’s professor Roumen Milev.

By Anne Craig, Queen’s University

Clara Hughes will be speaking at the Ambassador Hotel on Monday, March 24 at 7 pm.
Tickets are $12 for students and $20 for adults at the door.

When six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes visits Kingston March 24, she will be raising funds and awareness of mental health issues. Money raised at the event is being donated to a mental health research project led by Queen’s professor Roumen Milev (Psychiatry).

Major depression affects close to two million Canadians annually and is the leading cause of lost time from work. CAN-BIND (Canadian Biomarker Integration Network for Depression) is a joint initiative between researchers at eight universities. The goal is to identify the biological signatures of currently uncharacterized subtypes of major depressive disorder to provide an accurate and rapid diagnosis that can help determine treatment selection.

“Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk is important for two reasons,” says Dr. Milev. “She is doing very important work de-stigmatizing mental health issues, and she is also raising imperative funding to support mental health research.”

Ms. Hughes will be speaking at the Ambassador Hotel and Conference Centre March 24 at 7 pm at the BREAK the stigma. JOIN the conversation event organized by the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation. Several Queen’s University researchers and students are speaking at the event, including:

  • Alex Martin, a third year psychology student. She is involved in the Jack Project and is the co-leader of Unleash the Noise Canada’s second annual student mental health summit.
  • Tom Edgerton,  a third year political studies student. He has been volunteering with the Jack Project for two years and has twice been the on-stage host of Unleash the Noise. This year he also worked alongside Ms. Martin as co-leader of the event.
  • Wendy Craig, a professor of psychology and one of Canada’s leading researchers in the field of mental health. Dr. Craig is the co-leader of the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNET), a knowledge mobilization network that focuses on reducing violence.
  • Saraosh Khalid-Khan, an associate professor of psychiatry and Director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Clinic in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Hotel Dieu Hospital.

Along with support from Clara’s Big Ride, CAN-BIND has received funding from the Ontario Brain Institute and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Joining Queen’s in the five year research project are University of Toronto, McMaster University, University of Guelph, University of Ottawa, McGill University, University of Calgary and University of British Columbia.

Tickets are $12 for students and $20 for adults and available at the door.


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