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Research Prominence

YEAR IN REVIEW: Bevy of awards for Queen's in 2014

Royal Society of Canada
Nine Queen’s University faculty members have been elected as fellows to the Royal Society of Canada, the highest number of inductees the university has had in one year. Front from left, are: John Burge (Music); Wendy Craig (Psychology); W. George Lovell (Geography); and Erwin Buncel (Chemistry). Back row: Roger Deeley (Cancer Research Institute); Francois Rouget (French); and Ian McKay (History). Absent: Myra Hird (Environmental Studies) and Peter Milliken (Policy Studies). (University Communications)

A number of Queen’s faculty earned prestigious awards throughout 2014, including a record number being elected to the Royal Society of Canada.

Recognition came in many forms and at various levels; all of them were exciting for the recipients as well as the Queen’s community.

The Gazette takes a quick look at some of those awards:

Royal Society of Canada record

A total of nine Queen’s University faculty members were elected to the Royal Society of Canada, the highest number in one year for the university. 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 newest fellows from Queen’s brought a wide range of research interests including health, environmental issues, history, bullying prevention and chemistry.

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Queen's names Canada Excellence Research Chair

The arrival of Gilles Gerbier at Queen’s University in September shone a little light on the search for dark matter, invisible particles that exist in space. Dr. Gerbier joined Queen’s as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Particle Astrophysics and is working both in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy and at SNOLAB in Sudbury, researching the mysteries surrounding dark matter.

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Four new Canada Research Chairs for Queen's

A quartet of Queen’s professors was named Canada Research Chairs in October, while two current Queen’s chairholders had their positions renewed. Chairholders are leading researchers in their areas and improve Canada’s depth of knowledge in the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

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Research leaders earn prestigious medals

A pair of Queen’s researchers were honoured by the Royal Society of Canada as Guy Narbonne (Geological Sciences) received the Bancroft Award for publication, instruction and research in the earth sciences and his contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of the subject of geology while John McGarry (Political Studies) received the Innis-Gerin Medal for his contribution to the literature of the social sciences.

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James Low named member of the Order of Canada

Emeritus professor James Low was named a member of the Order of Canada in July for his contributions as an academic and as the founder of the Museum of Health Care in Kingston. The award is the second highest honour of merit in Canada and is given to those who make a major difference in Canada through lifelong contributions in their field. Six Queen’s alumni were also appointed as officers of the Order of Canada.

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Baroque expert elected to Institut de France

Gauvin Bailey (Art History) earned some recognition outside of Canada as he was appointed to the prestigious Institut de France. The Alfred and Isabel Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art, Dr. Bailey was elected as a “correspondant-étranger” (foreign correspondent) of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (Humanities) of the Institut de France, one of the most-respected and oldest learned institutions in the world, having been founded in 1663.

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YEAR IN REVIEW: A banner year for research at Queen's

[Queen's Research]
Among the top Queen's University research stories in 2014 are, clockwise from top left: the possible use of technology in the fight against ebola; the search for shrapnel in the sands of Normandy; a new, quicker, more accurate method for identifying human hair; and the 'jellification' of Canadian lakes.

Some of the most interesting stories at Queen’s come out of the groundbreaking research that is conducted at the university.

One of the key drivers of the university’s effort to be a “balanced academy” is research prominence and a quick look at the amazing projects, work, thinking and the people behind it all, shows that Queen’s continues to lead the way.

There are too many excellent research projects to shine a light on but here the Gazette highlights some of the top stories of 2014.

'Aquatic osteoporosis' jellifying lakes

A plague of “aquatic osteoporosis” is spreading throughout many North American soft-water lakes due to declining calcium levels in the water and hindering the survival of some organisms, says new research from Queen’s University.

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Queen's professor unveils revolutionary foldable smartphone

Queen’s professor Roel Vertegaal and student Antonio Gomes have unveiled PaperFold, a ground-breaking smartphone technology. The shape-changing, touch sensitive smartphone allows the user to open up to three thin-film electrophoretic displays to provide extra screen real estate when needed.

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Queen's technology considered for Ebola fight

AsepticSure co-inventors Dick Zoutman, a researcher at Queen’s, and Michael Shannon met with representatives from a portable shelter company to test whether the technologies could be combined to fight the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. AsepticSure combines ozone and peroxide to create a patented gas that has yet to encounter a pathogen it couldn't destroy.

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Queen's researchers patent cutting-edge technology

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.

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Physicist sifts through sandy shrapnel

Once the site of some of the Second World War’s fiercest fighting, the beaches of Normandy are now a mecca of sunbathing and swimming. Lurking in the sand, though, is a time capsule of those battles. Kevin Robbie (Physics) is examining the shrapnel-containing sand by using microscopic imaging to take photographs that are both scientific and artistic.

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Caught by a hair

Crime fighters could have a new tool at their disposal following promising research by Queen’s professor Diane Beauchemin. Dr. Beauchemin (Chemistry) and student Lily Huang (MSc’15) have developed a leading-edge technique to identify human hair quicker and more accurately.

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A new view of the world

New research out of Queen’s University has shed light on how exercise and relaxation activities like yoga can positively impact people with social anxiety disorders. Adam Heenan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Clinical Psychology, has found that exercise and relaxation activities literally change the way people perceive the world.

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Painting a picture of history

Queen’s University professor Gauvin Bailey (Art History) is one of only two scholars outside the United States to win the award from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. With the funding, Dr. Bailey is undertaking the first comprehensive study of the arts and architecture of the French Atlantic Empire.

His forthcoming book, Art and Architecture in the French Atlantic World, will be the first book that examines both the artistic and architectural heritage of the French Atlantic Empire and looks at the connections and interactions between its many colonies.

Queen's professor Gauvin Bailey has earned funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

“For almost two decades I have worked on the arts and especially architecture of colonial Latin America, including both the Spanish and Portuguese empires,” says Dr. Bailey, Alfred and Isabel Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art. “But it has always fascinated me that there was a third Catholic empire in the Americas at the same time which covered a similarly vast territory with its own cities, country mansions, and missions, yet which is virtually unknown to Latin Americanists. That empire is the French Atlantic Empire, extending from West Africa to Lake Superior, and from Lake Superior to French Guyana.”

The funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship will allow Dr. Bailey to conduct research travel and visit buildings, museums, and archives in distant places which would not otherwise be possible to visit. One of the really exciting things is that in places like Martinique or French Guyana some of the buildings have never even been researched before.

“They are interested in funding me because I am taking a topic that is generally only studied on a country-by-country basis and moving it beyond geographic barriers,” explains Dr. Bailey. “As in Canada, the United States has a huge French heritage that is frankly very little known and the funding agency probably saw that by placing it in the context of the Canadian, Caribbean, and African heritage that the book would be able to ask larger questions about the nature of this vast empire and the ways in which its arts and architecture expressed particular ideologies and attitudes.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $17.9 million in grants for 233 humanities projects. These include research for a book on a Hollywood-based Jewish spy ring that infiltrated and sabotaged Nazi and fascist groups in the U.S. in the 1930s and 40s, and the conservation of artifacts pertaining to the history of the Ancestral Pueblo people, homesteaders, and the Manhattan Project held by the Los Alamos Historical Society.

For more information on the grant visit the website.

Focus on the Far North

A Queen’s University researcher is part of a team awarded $3 million from Movember for a project aimed at improving the mental health of Inuit, First Nation and Métis boys and men. The team from across Canada and elsewhere will see the development of eight new mental health programs in seven northern Indigenous communities.

Priscilla Ferrazzi (School of Rehabilitation Therapy) will provide insight into the role contemporary mental health rehabilitation can play in the development of an effective criminal justice response to people with mental health issues.

Priscilla Ferrazzi is working to bring mental health programs to the Far North.

“There are some pretty novel aspects to this project that work to address Indigenous mental health,” says Ms. Ferrazzi. “All of the partners in this project are going to contribute to the knowledge of mental health in the Far North and introduce some new and effective programs.”

Ms. Ferrazzi’s own research examines the potential for introducing the delivery of criminal court mental health initiatives in Nunavut, a territory where such initiatives don’t currently exist. During the course of her research, she has gathered and analyzed the experiences of justice personnel, health workers, members of community organizations and other community members. This knowledge will help move the Movember-funded Pathways to Mental Wellness for Indigenous Boys and Men project forward.

 “This funding from Movember is important because it acknowledges there is a need in northern Canada and also because it acknowledges the importance of culture and other factors for mental health there,” she says. “We need specialized researchers in the North who understand these factors.”

This project comprises a series of mental health programs for boys and men in collaboration with Indigenous and international circumpolar partners. Keys to success include reduced rates of suicide in Indigenous communities and reduced rates of substance abuse among Indigenous males.

A pain in the neck

Steven Fischer received the 2014 Major Sir Frederick Banting Award for the best oral presentation related to military health at this year’s Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) Forum.

For 70 per cent of helicopter aircrew in the Royal Canadian Armed Forces (RCAF), a helmet equipped with the necessary night vision goggles and battery pack causes real pains in the neck.

To help alleviate this pain for RCAF aircrew members, Steven Fischer and his research team from the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies have designed a short-term solution in the form of a simple add-on to back of the standard military helmet.

Currently, RCAF aircrew don a large helmet before takeoff. For night-flying, aircrew must also affix night vision goggles to the front of their helmet. Even though it’s only an extra 1.8 kg, the added weight can cause significant neck pain for those flying the helicopter as it causes an increase in the muscular demand of their necks to hold their heads upright.

Helmet
Helmets can cause significant neck strain for the wearer, especially after night vision goggles and a battery pack are fixed to the front of a helmet.

“We’ve designed a device that can be added to the back of the helmet to help support the muscles in keeping head balanced when the extra weight is placed on the front of the helmet,” says Dr. Fischer, who received the 2014 Major Sir Frederick Banting Award for the best oral presentation related to military health, as selected by the Surgeon General, at this year’s Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) Forum.

“Our aim was to be able to reduce the strain on the neck to day flight levels at a minimum. While it’s only a short term solution – a long term solution being a redesign to the entire helmet and night vision goggles system – we needed something practical and easy for pilots to use, that they could wear in the interim.”

After in-lab trials with the device, wearers reported considerably less neck-related pain or fatigue. The team is now working on the device’s ability to adjust/individualize the tension depending on the wearer.

Now that the development phase of this device is completed, the evaluation phase is well-underway with in-flight testing scheduled for the coming weeks.

The research team for this project also includes Jenna Dibblee, Portia Worthy, Joan Stevenson, Susan Reid, and Markus Hetzler.

For more information on the Banting Award, Forum 2014 or CIMVHR, follow this link.

Breathing a little easier

Few of us would equate the household chore of vacuuming with quality of life. But for people with heart and lung disease, quality of life often comes down to having the breath, to carry out those simple, everyday tasks.

“There is a close relationship between your physical capacity and your quality of life,” says Alberto Neder, a Queen’s University respirologist and clinician scientist at the Kingston General Hospital Research Institute. “Shortness of breath has a huge impact on that quality of life.”

Born and educated in Brazil, Dr. Neder is a leading expert in exercise and respiratory physiology. He was recruited to Queen’s and the KGH Research Institute last year from the Federal University of Sao Paulo, where he was a full professor, head of the institution’s respiratory division, and founder of a rehabilitation centre for patients with chronic cardiac and lung disease.

Alberto Neder works in the Kingston General Hospital Research Institute.

Dr. Neder’s research focuses on the interactions of lungs, heart, blood and cells, with the goal of better understanding the mechanisms that cause the breathlessness associated with diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) and congestive heart failure. His long-term goal is to improve his patients’ quality of life.

“We are interrogating the complex biological system that is the human body. We’re not looking at just one specific system, we’re looking at all of them, and how they work in an integrated manner,” he says. “And the best way to investigate these systems is when they are under the stress of physical exercise. It gives us information we can’t get when the body is at rest.”

To do this he has established the Laboratory of Clinical Exercise Physiology at Kingston General Hospital, the world’s first centre devoted to the study of the combination of lung-heart disease. Patients take part in physical activities such as riding a stationary bicycle or walking on a treadmill, enabling Dr. Neder and his team to monitor and assess the complete oxygen pathway through the body, from oxygen intake and blood distribution to the work done by their respiratory muscles.

“By looking at all of these interactions we can discover what’s going on in terms of insufficient oxygen to the tissues, and how it’s linked to the sensation of shortness of breath and general fatigue.”

Dr. Neder’s research asks potentially game-changing questions about treatments for this difficult disease combination, and he is currently recruiting patients for at least three innovative studies.  

One study assesses smokers with apparently normal lung function. The research aims to show, for the first time, early signs of COPD damage or malfunction to small lung vessels that are not apparent in conventional breathing tests. Currently little is known or done for those with COPD in its early, potentially reversible stages; this research could help to identify new treatments for early-stage COPD.

Another study, into congestive heart failure, explores the use of nitric oxide to improve blood flow to muscles including the heart and brain. Dr. Neder has begun the first randomized control study delivering concentrated beetroot juice, a natural nutrient that is rich in nitric oxide, to heart failure patients. “It has been used to enhance athletic performance, and now there’s the potential to use it as a health product,” he says.

“It’s about the benefits of keeping moving,” says Dr. Neder. “It makes a lot of difference, especially when you get older.”

This story is the fourth in a series on the KGH Research Institute, a collaboration between Queen’s and Kingston General Hospital, and the clinician-scientists recruited to work in the centre.

Diverse projects earn funding

Art history, family justice and economic models are just three of the diverse research areas that have received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant and Insight Development Grant programs. Seventeen Queen’s researchers were allocated a portion of the $3 million in funding.

“These grants from SSHRC are aimed at supporting research projects that tackle various societal challenges and offer progressive solutions with cultural, social and economic benefits,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “The success of 17 of our faculty in garnering these grants is a true testament to the vibrant and innovative thinking of our researchers and their creative, leading-edge research projects across a variety of disciplines.”

 

Insight Development Grants:                                                                                  

Gauvin Bailey (Art History) - $63,989 - Art and Architecture in a Paper Empire: Utopianism and Intransigence in the French Atlantic World, 1608-1828.                       

Christopher Essert (Law) - $58,100 - Property at the Periphery: a legal-philosophical investigation into the nature of property rights by looking at questionable or peripheral cases of property, like intellectual property and information and intangibles.

 

Insight Grants:

Jean Coté (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies) - $450,000 - Transformational leadership in youth sport:  fostering youth development and long-term participation

Goce Andrevski (School of Business) - $136,417 - Strategic forbearance:  developing a theoretical framework for studying competitive forbearance – purposeful decisions to not act. Dr. Andrevski’s research examines the types of and the reasons behind forbearances and the cognitive process that leads to not acting. 

Nicholas Bala (Law) - $338,840 - Access to effective family justice:  improving outcomes for children and parents 

Leela Viswanathan (School of Urban and Regional Planning) - $438,199 - Enhancing Indigenous-municipal relations in the context of land-use planning in southern Ontario

Laura J. Cameron (Geography) - $109,110 - Recording nature:  the life geography of William W.H. Gunn

W. George Lovell (Geography) - $123,850 - Unions of Spaniards, Indians, and Africans:  the emergence of mixed-race populations in Guatemala

Joan M. Schwartz (Art History) - $186,845 - Canada:  photographic images and geographical imaginings in British North America, 1839-1889

Arthur Cockfield (Law) - $83,500 - A transaction cost perspective on Canada-United States cross-border tax information exchanges                      

David Murakami Wood (Surveillance Studies Centre) - $296,980 - Smarter cities:  ubiquitous surveillance, big data and urban management in Canada, the UK and the USA                      

Marie-Louise Viero (Economics) - $126,300 - Foundations for growing awareness in economic models

Huw Lloyd-Ellis - $101,573 (Economics) - Housing liquidity, mobility and the dynamics of house prices, home-ownership and inequality

Andrew Jainchill (History) - $67,107 - Sovereignty and reform in the early enlightenment          

Margaret Moore (Political Studies) - $104,211 - Corrective justice and land: an examination of claims for corrective justice in cases where individuals and groups have been expelled from land that they previously occupied.

Thorsten V. Koeppl (Economics) - $119,399 - Information acquisition in dark markets: why financial markets that rely on credit ratings are fragile and develop proposals for how to regulate the issuance and use of ratings to make such markets more stable.

Scott MacKenzie (Film and Media Studies) - $191,184 - The legacy of the Cold War: images in the circumpolar North and the profound role they play in the shaping of public discourse on the Arctic in the face of geopolitical debates about sovereignty, Indigenous rights and climate change.

Heather Castleden (Public Health Sciences) - $451,260 - Our Journey, Our Choice, Our Future: Applying a community-based research approach to identify, document, and understand the challenges and indicators of success associated with the Huu-ay-aht path to a modern Treaty with British Columbia and Canada. 

Engineering Faculty launches new site

With an array of videos featuring work done at their many research centres and facilities, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s new website is answering a question at the forefront of student minds. WhyGradStudies? aims to provide prospective graduate students with the information they need to make an informed decision about pursuing their graduate studies at Queen’s.

WhyGradStudies? provides information to prospective students about graduate study at Queen's.

“Our goal is to encourage prospective students to think about engineering graduate studies at Queen’s,” says Brian Surgenor, Vice-Dean (Research and Graduate Studies) in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “ Whether it’s an MEng to further career goals, or an MASc to explore an interest in research, or a PhD to pursue the highest degree in the profession, we want them to see that we have the programs, the facilities and the faculty that can fulfill their needs, whatever they may be. “

The site interviews students working towards their master’s and doctoral degrees and has them speak about the importance of their work and their time at Queen’s. Among its other features are videos, created by the faculty’s media squad, about the benefits of living in Kingston and a search tool to find supervisors in particular areas of research interest. The site’s launch is part of an overall recruitment campaign, with print advertising in student newspapers, search engine optimization and direct online advertising.  

“Graduate school is great because you’re allowed to explore the topics that really interested you during your undergraduate,” says Joanne Hui, a PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering, in one of the site’s videos. “It gives you the skills to write technical papers that can get published in journals, attend international conferences to expand your horizons and your networks.”

Funding promotes research excellence

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced $1.5 billion in new funding to promote excellence within the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities. The Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) will position Canada’s post-secondary institutions to compete with the best research universities in the world for leading scholars and students, and will generate breakthrough discoveries.

“This commitment by the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada to support globally competitive research excellence with an investment of $1.5 billion over 10 years demonstrates that they recognize that Canada can compete with the best in the world,” says Daniel Woolf, Vice-Chair of The U15 and Principal and Vice-chancellor, Queen’s University. “It’s now up to us to make sure that we make the most of it. Together with CFREF and other established funds and programs that support research excellence, we will strengthen and advance our standing as a world leader in science, technology and innovation.”

In 2013, The U15 proposed that the government of Canada invest in the creation of a new fund to bolster Canada’s research strength and promote global research excellence.

“Since its announcement in Budget 2014, The U15 has been looking forward to the official launch of CFREF as a significant commitment by Canada to support globally competitive research excellence,” says Feridun Hamdullahpur, chair of The U15 and president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “This Fund will allow successful institutions to better compete on the international stage in established areas of research strength as well as new and emerging areas that will support Canada’s scientific standing and long-term economic advantage.”

A health-care champion

Queen’s assistant professor Karen Hall Barber (Family Medicine) and physician lead of the department’s multidisciplinary Queen’s Family Health Team (QFHT) recently received an honour from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for her dedication to health care quality and safety.

Karen Hall Barber was recently honoured for her dedication to health care quality and safety.

Dr. Hall Barber landed on the Honour Roll – Individual Champion – in the 2014 Minister’s Medal Honouring Excellence in Health Quality and Safety program.

“It is very humbling to receive this honour, especially having been nominated by my peers whom I hold in such high regard,” she says. “Working with this terrific team is such an inspirational journey. The group comprises incredibly dedicated, creative and indefatigable individuals utterly committed to fostering a health care learning environment that delivers collaborative, high-calibre and patient-centred primary care.”

The award honours those who drive change in the province’s health-care systems and promote higher-quality care delivery that places patients at the centre of their circle of care. One of Dr. Hall Barber’s greatest contributions to the QFHT is establishing collaboration as a core principle of improving care. She was instrumental in developing partnerships outside of the family health team, helping to co-chair a committee of local primary care leaders that was committed to working together to address quality issues, as well as developing shared projects with local hospital partners and KFL&A Public Health.

“Dr. Hall Barber, who has developed a unique quality-improvement plan that has received widespread attention, is a key leader in our department. Her leadership, which motivates everyone to contribute, has brought tangible results in our clinical operation,” says Glenn Brown, Head, Department of Family Medicine. “Her approach has driven a high level of excellence in all aspects of our department's clinical care, and this has been accomplished in a scholarly manner and has been widely shared across Ontario.”

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