Queen's Remembers Dr. Victor Snieckus

Photo: In memory of Dr. Victor Snieckus

It is with a profound sense of sadness and deep regret that the Chemistry Department and Queen’s University in Kingston inform you of the passing of Victor Algirdas Snieckus on December 18, 2020. As one of the most internationally respected synthetic organic chemists in the world, Victor most recently held the position of Emeritus Bader Chair of Chemistry at Queen’s University. Victor was born in1937 in Kaunas, Lithuania, and spent his childhood in Germany during World War II before immigrating to Alberta Canada with his parents in 1948. He obtained a B.Sc. in chemistry at the University of Alberta in1959 followed by an M.Sc. from the University of California, Berkeley (1961) and a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon (1965). Following a post-doctoral position at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa (1965-1966), Victor joined the University of Waterloo as an assistant professor in 1967. rising through the ranks to become Professor of Chemistry (1979-1992) and then the Monsanto/NRC Industrial, Research Chair (1992-1998). In 1998 Victor joined Queens University as the inaugural holder of the prestigious Bader Chair of Chemistry. Victor Snieckus became a house-hold name among chemists world-wide due to his fundamental contributions to organo-lithium chemistry and the DOM (directed ortho-metalation) reactions that he and his group pioneered. Research conducted in his laboratories and his consulting with various pharmaceutical industries led to the commercially important anti-inflammatory drug CelebrexTM and to SilthiofamTM, a unique fungicide for eradication of the TAKE-ALL fungus which is in use worldwide. That work, and other contributions, led to nearly 300 highly cited publications, 58 international and national fellowships and awards, 249 special and plenary lectureships, and 446 invited presentations around the world. Victor’s lasting enthusiasm for discovery and chemistry is best observed in the hundreds of undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral researchers who have been mentored in his labs, many of whom have gone on to significant careers of their own in academia and industry. Victor was predeceased by his wife, Anne Cecilia, and leaves behind daughter Naomi, son Darius, and two grandchildren. Victor will be missed by family, friends, students and colleagues, but his legacy will live on.

Congratulations to Morgan Lehtinen who was accepted into the 2021 cohort of Next Canada's Next36 program!

Photo: Morgan Lehtinen

Morgan Lehtinen was accepted into the 2021 cohort of Next Canada's Next36 program. This highly prestigious program chooses the 36 most promising and high impact entrepreneurial minds across Canada drawing from an applicant pool of 1000+ students and recent graduates from all disciplines of study. The goal of the program is to build a more ambitious and competitive Canada, providing each of the 36 participants with training, mentorship, and access to resources/funding from Canada's top entrepreneurial leaders and investment sources.

Congratulations to Dr. Graeme Howe, who is one of 5 young Ontario investigators to win the John C. Polanyi Prize!

Photo: Dr. Graeme Howe

Queen's Chemistry is proud to announce that Dr. Graeme Howe is one of 5 young Ontario investigators to win the John C. Polanyi Prize! These prestigious prizes are awarded in honour of Ontario’s Nobel Prize winner John C. Polanyi, to recognize outstanding researchers in the early stages of their careers; to read more about the prize, please visit the Ontario Universities Award Winners website. Dr. Howe's recognition was also featured in the Kingston Whig Standard article. This is a fabulous recognition of Dr. Howe’s ambitious research program in enzyme catalysis. Well done Graeme!

Congratulations to Heather Drouillard for receiving a 2020 Special Recognition Staff award!

Photo: Heather Drouillard

Congratulations to Heather Drouillard for receiving a 2020 Special Recognition Staff award. This award recognizes staff members who consistently provide outstanding contributions during their workday, directly or indirectly, to the learning and working environment at Queen's University at a level significantly beyond what is usually expected (e.g. improving the workplace efficiency, quality of work life, customer service, problem-solving, etc.). 

On Thursday, Dec. 10, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane recognized a number of staff for their accomplishments in the virtual award ceremony, featured in the Queen's Gazette article. As a Department Manager, Heather Drouillard is responsible for a multitude of essential services that range from finances to staff to space management in the Department of Chemistry. An impeccable professional and master administrator, Heather is adept at identifying the source of a problem and coming up with a solution. The lockdown put teaching and research activities at severe risk; not to mention the pandemic’s impact on student and staff mental health and livelihoods. Heather’s encyclopedic knowledge of departmental space and staff organization was integral in the development of a safety plan that allowed the department to quickly reopen in mid-June with COVID-19 safeguards in place. It was one of the first on campus to do so. The rapid reopening enabled coordinators and grad student TAs to pivot during the summer and develop remote, online labs to instruct undergraduate students in the fall and winter terms. Heather worked with faculty and students to maximize operational space so that more grad students could safely return and complete their studies.

Congratulations to Jevon Marsh, MSc student in the Petitjean Group, who has earned a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship!

Photo: Jevon Marsh

Jevon Marsh, MSc student in the Petitjean Group, has earned a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to pursue a PhD at the University of Oxford. The scholarship was featured in the Queen’s Gazette. Jevon speaks about his experiences at Chemistry and Queen’s: "I would just like to emphasize that the chemistry community at Queen's is a phenomenal place to grow as a young chemist with a plethora of support and opportunities! I am very proud to have been affiliated with the department and the Queen's community, and the level of mentorship that I have received throughout my studies there will continue to inspire me throughout the rest of my career." Congratulations, Jevon!

Congratulations to the class of 2020!

Photo: Class of 2020

The Department of Chemistry wishes to congratulate its spring and fall graduates for 2020! This is a tremendous achievement and we celebrate your continued success. The undergraduate class photo is available for download here. (PDF, 3 MB)

Dr. Oleschuk and group has been featured on the cover for the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry!

Photo: Photo: Cover of Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

Dr. Oleschuk and group has been featured on the cover for the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry for their Article: “Detection of Opioids on Mail/Packages using Open Port Interface Mass Spectrometry (OPI-MS)”. Article contributors: Haidy Metwally, Prashant Agrawal, Rachael Smith, Chang Liu, Yves LeBlanc, Thomas R. Covey and Richard Oleschuk. The work stems from a collaboration and NSERC strategic project grant with SCIEX, a Canadian mass spectrometry equipment manufacturer and was published on November 4, 2020 on the Journals website.

CO2-Switchable Materials – now published!

Photo: CO2-Switchable Materials – now published!

A new book, CO2-Switchable Materials, written by Philip Jessop and Michael Cunningham, has now been published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Congratulations to the 2019-2020 Chemistry TA Award winners!

Andre Castillo was awarded the William Patrick Doolan Award in Chemistry for 1st Year Chemistry Laboratory. Alastair Kierulf received the Friends of Chemistry Award – For Excellence in Teaching CHEM112 Tutorials. Dianne Lee received the Friends of Chemistry Award – For Excellence in Teaching 2nd Year Synthetic Labs. Andrew Williams received the Friends of Chemistry Award – For Excellence in Teaching 2nd Year Physical and Analytical Labs. Hannah Ramsay received the Friends of Chemistry Award – For Excellence in Teaching 2nd Year Physical and Analytical Labs. Yizhe (Sherry) received the Fisher Scientific Award for Excellence in Teaching 3rd Year Labs. Congratulations to our TA Award winners!

Queen’s Chemistry is proud to announce that Prof. Cathleen Crudden has been elected to the Royal Society of Canada!

Photo: Prof. Cathleen Crudden

Queen’s Chemistry is proud to announce that Prof. Cathleen Crudden has been elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC)! Only Canada’s top scientists achieve such recognition. The RSC states Prof. Crudden has made “lasting contributions to organic chemistry and materials science. She has employed the principles of organometallic chemistry to develop catalytic transformations of importance to pharmaceutical research and to develop novel techniques for the formation of organic monolayers on metal surfaces. The latter work has resulted in the most robust organic monolayers to date, high stability nanoparticles and novel metal nanoclusters.” Details on the RSC class of 2020 can be found here: https://rsc-src.ca/en/news/press-release-rsc-presents-class-2020 Well done Prof. Crudden!

Congratulations to Drs. Howe and She who are recipients of the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund

Photo: Drs. Graeme Howe & Zhe She

Congratulations to Drs. Howe and She who are two of the 18 researchers that are recipients of the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). The JELF helps exceptional researchers at universities across the country conduct leading-edge research by giving them the tools and equipment they need to become leaders in their fields. Dr. Graeme Howe’s project is Elucidating the Evolutionary Enhancement of Enzymatic Efficiency and Dr. She’s project is Visualizing Soft Surfaces using Scanning Probe Microscopy. The story was featured in the Queen's Gazette.


New Bioanalytical Project Funded by NSERC COVID-19 Alliance Grant

Photo: Drs. She, Oleschuk & Sheth

Dr. Zhe She in collaboration with Dr. Richard Oleschuk and Dr. Prameet Sheth (Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine) will develop an integrated and portable COVID-19 detection system using microfluidic and electrochemical biosensing technologies. The project, which has received support from Department of National Defence Canada, is aiming to enhance the capability of providing medical surveillance on-sites and supporting vulnerable communities. Dr. Sheth’s team will assist validating the performance of the system and comparing it with methods currently used at Kingston General Hospital.

Nunzi Team Receives France-Canada Research Fund Award

Photo: Research Image

The France-Canada Research Fund has selected its 2020 laureates! Thanks to the award, students in Dr. Nunzi’s team will develop a smart energy mix for efficient buildings in collaboration with Prof. El Ganaoui at Lorraine University in France. Research at Queen’s will permit to integrate solar cells directly onto outdoor building sidings.

Introducing Dr. Paul Duchesne to the Department of Chemistry

Photo: Dr. Paul Duchesne

Dr. Duchesne completed his PhD studies at Dalhousie University, where he specialized in electrocatalytic nanomaterials and X-ray spectroscopy, and was supported by Killam Trust and NSERC research scholarships. Later, as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto, he worked to directly incorporate solar energy into catalytic carbon dioxide reduction. Dr. Duchesne’s research group will emphasize the in situ characterization of nanoscale materials, particularly those used to synthesize renewable fuels and value-added chemicals. This research will employ low-cost, Earth-abundant materials and powerful X-ray absorption spectroscopy techniques to provide critical insights into the chemical speciation and interactions occurring at the surfaces of heterogeneous catalysts. By better understanding the surface processes involved in these chemical reactions, it will be possible to design next-generation catalyst materials with increased activity and stability.

Researchers associated with the Department of Chemistry are among a number of recipients of Queen’s University’s Rapid Response funding competition supporting COVID-19 research

Dr. Snieckus's team (in collaboration with Dr. Archer, School of Medicine) will work on the synthesis and preclinical testing of novel small molecule antiviral and/or prophylatic therapies for COVID-19. They will synthesize analogues of select antiviral molecules currently in clinical trials in the hope of improving their efficacy and reducing their toxicity. Dr. Archer will test these drugs in preclinical cellular and mouse models of COVID-19.

Dr. Capicciotti (in collaboration with Dr. Colpitts, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) is developing carbohydrate-based antivirals as a prophylactic therapy for COVID-19. Viral attachment, the first step in infection, uses interactions between complex sugars called glycans and proteins to initiate binding to host cells. These interactions concentrate the virus onto cell surfaces to enable binding to receptors that allow for viral entry. Our strategy is to understand the glycans involved in these early-stage interactions, and use this information to develop and test carbohydrate-based inhibitors to virus attachment/entry for a novel antiviral prophylactic strategy to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A message to the Queen’s Chemistry Community:

Following statements from the Queen’s Principal and the Chemical Institute of Canada, we at the Queen’s Chemistry Department condemn anti-Black racism. The events of the past few weeks have emphasized the serious and systemic racial injustices and violence that are and have historically been committed against Black people, Indigenous peoples, and minorities in Canada.

We have an urgent obligation to act against the ideology of white supremacy and institutionalized racism that is experienced by Black chemists in Canada. As discussed in C&EN, our discipline continues to fail to recruit, retain, and support Black students, or to hire and promote Black chemists to faculty positions.

The Department of Chemistry at Queen’s University has a vision to become the most collaborative and diverse in Canada, and we recognize that there is significant work to be done to achieve this. We are taking the following actions:

  • We will write and establish a Code of Conduct that will ensure discriminatory behaviours and language are not acceptable in our Department.
  • We commit to self-education on the past and current racial injustices in chemistry and will not burden Black and Indigenous people with this invisible work.
  • We will begin the process to create Chemistry Graduate Awards for Black and Indigenous students. These will complement the recent university-wide awards for racialized students at Queen’s.
  • This year we created the Queen’s Chemistry Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigeneity Award, which is annual awarded to a graduate student and fully funds them to attend the LOGIC Retreat and also covers travel to the CCCE Conference.
  • We are in the process of creating a new member resource group, a chapter of the CWIC, that is aimed at promoting equity and inclusion for women and minorities in our Department.

The Queen's Chemistry Department commits to tackling anti-Black racism and affirming through direct action that Black lives matter.

Resource list from the Queen’s Black Academic Society.
Anti-racism resources for white and non-Black/Indigenous people
Decolonizing science reading list, by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Black Lives Matter Toronto (Toronto)
Black Legal Action Centre (Ontario)
Nia Centre for the Arts (Toronto)
Black Women In Motion (Toronto)

Congratulations to our 4th year undergraduate students for completing their thesis projects!

Photo: Katelyn Downey (left) & Jourdain Piette (right)

Congratulations to our 4th year undergraduate students for completing their thesis projects! Special congratulations to the recipients of the Walter MacFarlane Smith Prize in Chemistry, Katelyn Downey and the M. Sullivan and Son Limited Scholarship, Jourdain Piette.

Queen's Remembers Dr. Suning Wang

Photo: In memory of Dr. Suning Wang

We report with great sadness that Dr. Suning Wang, 61, passed away on Monday, April 27, 2020 after a long illness. Dr. Suning Wang was a well-known, highly respected, distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry. Beloved wife of Kai Salomaa, dear daughter of Shulan Wu and the late Zhongye Wang, loving sister of Zhugang Wang and Zhude Wang. Suning will be sadly missed and dearly remembered by her extended family, colleagues, numerous students and the international Chemistry community. Dr. Wang was dedicated to her graduate students, she received numerous major awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Please view the Queen’s Gazette to read about the exceptional achievements of Dr. Wang. If desired, memorial donations for flowers for Dr. Wang can be sent/delivered on the afternoon of May 8th to Gordon F. Tompkins Funeral Home Central Chapel, 49 Colborne St., Kingston ON K7L 4Y8, Canada (for Suning Wang or a donation to in memory of Dr. Wang can be made to "The Palliative Care Trust Fund" on the page use the link "Donate today".

National coverage on the Hand Sanitizer project

Department of Chemistry gets national coverage on the Hand Sanitizer project. Click the link or view below to watch Dr. Oleschuk, Acting Head, talk about it on CTV News.  

Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and GreenCentre Canada develop hand sanitizer to help local hospitals

Photo: Top photo from Gazette article, bottom two photos showing post-doc working and end product

The Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering along with the GreenCentre Canada are in the process of making hand sanitizer to help local hospitals. In the Queen's Gazette article, Dr. Richard Oleschuk, Head, Department of Chemistry says "our health care professionals have enough to worry about at the moment and should not have to be concerned about rationing hand sanitizer as we try to ‘flatten the curve’. We know that we are not going to be in the long-term business of supplying hand sanitizer, as eventually supply will be brought online to meet demand. However, we felt that our interdisciplinary team had the skill set and infrastructure to make a difference in the short term.” There are three sites being used (two at the university and one at GreenCentre Canada) to make 300 litres of product per week to help meet the needs of Kingston hospitals. The project was also featured in the Kingston Whig Standard.

Ni Electro Can Project featured on NSERC's Impact Stories

Photo: Ni Electro Can Team

The achievements of the Engineered Nickel Catalysts for Electrochemical Clean Energy (Ni Electro Can) project is featured on the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's (NSERC) homepage under Impact Stories. Dr. Gregory Jerkiewicz and his prominent team of Canadian and international researchers received a competitive $4 million Discovery Frontiers grant from NSERC and since has been revolutionizing clean energy technology with the use of nickel electrochemistry and electrocatalysis.

Congratulations! LOGIC 2020 EDII Awarded to Nicole Dozois!

Photo: Nicole Dozois & Dr. Amanda Bongers

MSc Candidate Nicole Dozois was awarded the Queen’s Chemistry EDII Award which funds her trip to the CWICNetwork LOGIC2020 Retreat! This award was sponsored Queen's University Arts and Science and recognizes her equity, diversity, & inclusion efforts at Chemistry!  The Leaders Overcoming Gender Inequality in Chemistry (LOGIC) retreat will be hosted on May 23rd & 24th, 2020 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This year the theme is “Beyond the Visible Spectrum”. The two-day program for the LOGIC Retreat will focus on productive discussions for working in the chemical sciences, including aspects of equity, diversity, and inclusion. There are currently five invited speakers, with Dr. Jess Wade (known for tackling gender bias on Wikipedia) as the keynote speaker. In addition, there will be two workshops that will focus on writing EDI statements for grant applications (hosted by Dr. Lisa Willis) and leading with inclusion (hosted by Catalyst). Attendees will have many networking opportunities with time to share their research and present their EDI initiatives. To conclude the event, a panel discussion will occur with representatives from various industries. Learn more about this fantastic retreat hosted by CWIC Network here: https://cwicnetwork.com/logic-retreat/

Introducing Dr. Farnaz Heidar-Zadeh to the Department of Chemistry

Photo:  Dr. Farnaz Heidar-Zadeh

Dr. Farnaz Heidar-Zadeh’s group in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry will develop new mathematical tools, numerical algorithms, and computer software to qualitatively and quantitatively predict the outcome of chemical phenomena. Her group is the lead developer of the free and open-source ChemTools software package, which encompasses a collection of tools for interpreting the numerical output of quantum chemistry calculations to gain chemical insight. They combine strategies from quantum chemistry and state-of-the-art machine learning methods to develop rapid, accurate, and efficient techniques to computationally predict molecular properties, and ultimately design molecules with desirable properties.

The Ni Electro Can Project Could Revolutionize Clean Energy Technology

Group Photo of the Ni Electro Can researchers

Dr. Gregory Jerkiewicz and his prominent team of Canadian and international researchers are revolutionizing clean energy technology with the use of nickel electrochemistry and electrocatalysis. The innovative work was highlighted in the Queen's Gazette.