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DNA signature found in ice storm babies

«McGill Reporter» - 5 hours 10 min ago

A January 1998 photo of McGill’s upper campus highlights the eerie beauty and frightening destructive power that characterized the ice storm that cut a devastating swath through Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. / Photo: Owen Egan

Prenatal maternal stress exposure to natural disasters predicts epigenetic profile of offspring

By Cynthia Lee

The number of days an expectant mother was deprived of electricity during Quebec’s Ice Storm (1998) predicts the epigenetic profile of her child, a new study finds.

Scientists from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill have detected a distinctive ‘signature’ in the DNA of children born in the aftermath of the massive Quebec ice storm. Five months after the event, researchers recruited women who had been pregnant during the disaster and assessed their degrees of hardship and distress in a study called Project Ice Storm.

More than a decade later, the researchers found that DNA within the T cells – a type of immune system cell – of 36 children showed distinctive patterns in DNA methylation. The researchers concluded for the first time that maternal hardship, predicted the degree of methylation of DNA in the T cells. The “epigenetic” signature plays a role in the way the genes express themselves. This study is also the first to show that it is the objective stress exposure (such as days without electricity) and not the degree of emotional distress in pregnant women that causes long lasting changes in the epigenome of their babies.

The health impacts on these children is less clear, but changes in the family of genes related to immunity and sugar metabolism detected in these babies, now teenagers, may put them at a greater risk to develop asthma, diabetes or obesity.

Among the team of scientists who conducted this study are Lei Cao-Lei, Psychological Research Division, Douglas Institute Research Center and McGill’s Department of Psychiatry; Moshe Szyf, McGill’s Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Sackler Program for Epigenetics and Developmental Psychobiology; and Suzanne King, Psychological Research Division, Douglas Institute Research Center and McGill’s Department of Psychiatry.

Results of this study have been published in the international online publication PLOS ONE. In June 2014, Project Ice Storm results reported in the journals BioMed Research International and Psychiatry Research showed links between prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) and the development of symptoms of asthma and autism, respectively, in the children.

About Project Ice Storm

When the ice storms of January 1998 plunged more than 3 million Quebecers into darkness for as long as 45 days, the team seized the opportunity to study the effects of stress on pregnant women, their pregnancies, and their unborn children. The team has been following a group of about 150 families, in which the mother was pregnant during the ice storm or became pregnant shortly thereafter, in order to observe the immediate effects of different levels and types of stress on the unborn children. It continues to follow these children, who are now teenagers.

 

DNA signature found in ice storm babies

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - 5 hours 10 min ago

A January 1998 photo of McGill’s upper campus highlights the eerie beauty and frightening destructive power that characterized the ice storm that cut a devastating swath through Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. / Photo: Owen Egan

Prenatal maternal stress exposure to natural disasters predicts epigenetic profile of offspring

By Cynthia Lee

The number of days an expectant mother was deprived of electricity during Quebec’s Ice Storm (1998) predicts the epigenetic profile of her child, a new study finds.

Scientists from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill have detected a distinctive ‘signature’ in the DNA of children born in the aftermath of the massive Quebec ice storm. Five months after the event, researchers recruited women who had been pregnant during the disaster and assessed their degrees of hardship and distress in a study called Project Ice Storm.

More than a decade later, the researchers found that DNA within the T cells – a type of immune system cell – of 36 children showed distinctive patterns in DNA methylation. The researchers concluded for the first time that maternal hardship, predicted the degree of methylation of DNA in the T cells. The “epigenetic” signature plays a role in the way the genes express themselves. This study is also the first to show that it is the objective stress exposure (such as days without electricity) and not the degree of emotional distress in pregnant women that causes long lasting changes in the epigenome of their babies.

The health impacts on these children is less clear, but changes in the family of genes related to immunity and sugar metabolism detected in these babies, now teenagers, may put them at a greater risk to develop asthma, diabetes or obesity.

Among the team of scientists who conducted this study are Lei Cao-Lei, Psychological Research Division, Douglas Institute Research Center and McGill’s Department of Psychiatry; Moshe Szyf, McGill’s Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Sackler Program for Epigenetics and Developmental Psychobiology; and Suzanne King, Psychological Research Division, Douglas Institute Research Center and McGill’s Department of Psychiatry.

Results of this study have been published in the international online publication PLOS ONE. In June 2014, Project Ice Storm results reported in the journals BioMed Research International and Psychiatry Research showed links between prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) and the development of symptoms of asthma and autism, respectively, in the children.

About Project Ice Storm

When the ice storms of January 1998 plunged more than 3 million Quebecers into darkness for as long as 45 days, the team seized the opportunity to study the effects of stress on pregnant women, their pregnancies, and their unborn children. The team has been following a group of about 150 families, in which the mother was pregnant during the ice storm or became pregnant shortly thereafter, in order to observe the immediate effects of different levels and types of stress on the unborn children. It continues to follow these children, who are now teenagers.

 

Visit a forest close to home this fall

«McGill Reporter» - 5 hours 23 min ago

No doubt you have been watching the foliage turn colours lately, as the greens give way to golds and purples on the ashes and fiery reds on the maples. Every year the landscape is transformed but each year the show is unique. This is because the display of fall foliage, known to change hourly, is modulated by the prevailing temperatures, sunlight and soil moisture. At the Morgan Arboretum, you can celebrate this glorious phenomenon in many ways throughout the month of October. Have a look at the program of activities and make sure to pencil in a visit this fall.

 

Visit a forest close to home this fall

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - 5 hours 23 min ago

No doubt you have been watching the foliage turn colours lately, as the greens give way to golds and purples on the ashes and fiery reds on the maples. Every year the landscape is transformed but each year the show is unique. This is because the display of fall foliage, known to change hourly, is modulated by the prevailing temperatures, sunlight and soil moisture. At the Morgan Arboretum, you can celebrate this glorious phenomenon in many ways throughout the month of October. Have a look at the program of activities and make sure to pencil in a visit this fall.

 

Oct. 3: Centraide’s $5 pancake breakfast fundraiser at RVC!

«McGill Reporter» - 5 hours 30 min ago

Student Housing and Hospitality Services invites you to join a Centraide fundraiser and indulge in a complete pancake breakfast. Come by the Royal Victoria College Dining Hall (entrance 641 Sherbrooke) on Friday, Oct. 3, from 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. All proceeds will go to the Centraide campaign. Please bring cash as meal plans cannot be accepted for this special occasion. There are door prizes too for all those who sign up and donate through regular payroll deductions. Centraide committee members will be on site to assist and answer your questions. Bring your colleagues and show you care! To learn more about the Centraide campaign, go here.

 

Oct. 3: Centraide’s $5 pancake breakfast fundraiser at RVC!

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - 5 hours 30 min ago

Student Housing and Hospitality Services invites you to join a Centraide fundraiser and indulge in a complete pancake breakfast. Come by the Royal Victoria College Dining Hall (entrance 641 Sherbrooke) on Friday, Oct. 3, from 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. All proceeds will go to the Centraide campaign. Please bring cash as meal plans cannot be accepted for this special occasion. There are door prizes too for all those who sign up and donate through regular payroll deductions. Centraide committee members will be on site to assist and answer your questions. Bring your colleagues and show you care! To learn more about the Centraide campaign, go here.

 

Lose weight with the McGill CHIP Healthy Weight Program

«McGill Reporter» - 5 hours 36 min ago

Are you overweight or obese? You can lose weight through lifestyle changes with the McGill CHIP Healthy Weight Program. McGill is offering a free, three-month group program to lose weight, eat healthier and become more active. The program includes follow-up sessions to help you maintain the weight loss. You are eligible if you are between 18 and 75 years of age and are overweight or obese. The program Director is Dr. Bärbel Knäuper, Department of Psychology. If you would like to participate or if you are interested in more information please contact mcgillhealthyweight@gmail.com or (514) 398-1399 (program coordinator Ms. Virginia Rogers). You can also check out their Facebook page.

 

Lose weight with the McGill CHIP Healthy Weight Program

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - 5 hours 36 min ago

Are you overweight or obese? You can lose weight through lifestyle changes with the McGill CHIP Healthy Weight Program. McGill is offering a free, three-month group program to lose weight, eat healthier and become more active. The program includes follow-up sessions to help you maintain the weight loss. You are eligible if you are between 18 and 75 years of age and are overweight or obese. The program Director is Dr. Bärbel Knäuper, Department of Psychology. If you would like to participate or if you are interested in more information please contact mcgillhealthyweight@gmail.com or (514) 398-1399 (program coordinator Ms. Virginia Rogers). You can also check out their Facebook page.

 

Sharpen your skills at the McGill Writing Centre

«McGill Reporter» - 5 hours 39 min ago

Ready to upgrade your business writing or start that screenplay? Take the first step with a course at the McGill Writing Centre. Learn professional techniques for communicating with speed and clarity, and write your way to success.

Learn more here.

 

 

Sharpen your skills at the McGill Writing Centre

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - 5 hours 39 min ago

Ready to upgrade your business writing or start that screenplay? Take the first step with a course at the McGill Writing Centre. Learn professional techniques for communicating with speed and clarity, and write your way to success.

Learn more here.

 

 

Goodwin revels in rout over Ravens as lacrosse team win streak at eight

«McGill Reporter» - 5 hours 45 min ago

By Earl Zukerman

Connor Goodwin netted a hat-trick and added four assists as the McGill men’s lacrosse team routed second-place Carleton 18-3 at Molson Stadium, Saturday, extending their perfect record to 8-0 in regular season play.

The Redmen, who were playing before an alumni Homecoming crowd, jumped into a 5-0 lead after the opening quarter, then went into cruise control, leading 10-2 at the half and 13-3 after three. The large early lead gave head coach Tim Murdoch an opportunity to spread the playing time around everyone who dressed. As a result, a whopping 11 different McGill players found the scoresheet, including Spencer Bromley, Brian Callahan and Rhys Burnell, each of whom potted a pair.

“This was a total team effort.” said Murdoch. “Once the game was in hand at halftime, we substituted our backups freely and played all 32 players.”

Nine others added singles, namely Alexander Rohrbach, Emile Sassone-Lawless, Jake Gutman, Rufus Frost, Dan Williams, Augustus Bolton, Alexander Roussos, Louis-Charles Genereux and Guillaume Martel-Lamarre, the latter three scoring their first-ever collegiate goal.

McGill starting goaltender William Waesche played the first half and was only beaten twice to collect the victory. He was relieved at halftime by James Spagnuolo, who played the final 40 minutes.

 

“Our goaltending was sensational.” noted Murdoch. “Waesche set the tone when he stuffed a point-blank shot on a breakaway in the first minute of play and Spagnuolo allowed just one goal in the second half.”

 

Replying for the Ravens was Chad Bean, Noah Hoselton and Steven Snowling, while beleagered goaltender Jonathan Batten was beaten for all 18 goals.

 

With four games remaining before post-season play, McGill’s magic number to clinch the CUFLA East Division pennant is two wins. The Redmen can wrap up their third consecutive eastern title as early as next weekend with wins over Concordia (0-5-0) and Ottawa (1-5-2), respectively, at Molson Stadium, Oct. 4-5.

Goodwin revels in rout over Ravens as lacrosse team win streak at eight

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - 5 hours 45 min ago

By Earl Zukerman

Connor Goodwin netted a hat-trick and added four assists as the McGill men’s lacrosse team routed second-place Carleton 18-3 at Molson Stadium, Saturday, extending their perfect record to 8-0 in regular season play.

The Redmen, who were playing before an alumni Homecoming crowd, jumped into a 5-0 lead after the opening quarter, then went into cruise control, leading 10-2 at the half and 13-3 after three. The large early lead gave head coach Tim Murdoch an opportunity to spread the playing time around everyone who dressed. As a result, a whopping 11 different McGill players found the scoresheet, including Spencer Bromley, Brian Callahan and Rhys Burnell, each of whom potted a pair.

“This was a total team effort.” said Murdoch. “Once the game was in hand at halftime, we substituted our backups freely and played all 32 players.”

Nine others added singles, namely Alexander Rohrbach, Emile Sassone-Lawless, Jake Gutman, Rufus Frost, Dan Williams, Augustus Bolton, Alexander Roussos, Louis-Charles Genereux and Guillaume Martel-Lamarre, the latter three scoring their first-ever collegiate goal.

McGill starting goaltender William Waesche played the first half and was only beaten twice to collect the victory. He was relieved at halftime by James Spagnuolo, who played the final 40 minutes.

 

“Our goaltending was sensational.” noted Murdoch. “Waesche set the tone when he stuffed a point-blank shot on a breakaway in the first minute of play and Spagnuolo allowed just one goal in the second half.”

 

Replying for the Ravens was Chad Bean, Noah Hoselton and Steven Snowling, while beleagered goaltender Jonathan Batten was beaten for all 18 goals.

 

With four games remaining before post-season play, McGill’s magic number to clinch the CUFLA East Division pennant is two wins. The Redmen can wrap up their third consecutive eastern title as early as next weekend with wins over Concordia (0-5-0) and Ottawa (1-5-2), respectively, at Molson Stadium, Oct. 4-5.

Shortlist announced for 2014 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature

«McGill Reporter» - 6 hours 17 min ago

The six finalists for 2014 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature.

Six books to compete for US$75,000 grand prize

By Cynthia Lee

The six books vying for the 2014 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature were announced on Sept. 19, by Professor Christopher Manfredi, Dean of the Faculty of Arts. The books, which have as their respective themes, repercussions of war, genocide and slavery, are competing for the US$75,000 grand prize.

“The Cundill jury has once again delivered an impressive list of books for this year’s shortlist,” said Prof. Manfredi, who serves as Administrative Chair of the Cundill Prize. “The Cundill Prize aims to introduce outstanding history books to the wider public, shining a spotlight on a diverse range of topics that appeal to experts, informed readers, and history buffs.”

Now in its seventh year, the Cundill Prize is the world’s most lucrative international award for a nonfiction book, featuring a grand prize of US$75,000, with two “Recognition of Excellence” prizes of US$10,000 each.

The six shortlisted titles, chosen from a field of 165 submissions, are:

  • Gary Bass – The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide (Knopf)
  • David Brion Davis – The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (Knopf)
  • Andrew O’Shaughnessy – The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (Yale University Press)
  • Richard Overy – The Bombing War: Europe 1939-45 (Allen Lane)
  • David Van Reybrouck – Congo: The Epic History of a People (Fourth Estate)
  • Geoffrey Wawro – A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire (Basic Books)

“This year’s shortlist takes us across time and around the globe: the monumental history of the Democratic Republic of Congo; the American Revolution and the fate of the British Empire; the history of the Blitz; the collapse of the Habsburg Empire and the start of WWI; slavery in the Age of Emancipation; and the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh and the shaping of Asia,” said Manfredi. “Each book is a thorough examination of a time and place, and highlights how history shapes our present understanding of world events. The jury will have a tough time choosing the three finalists, and eventually the winner.”

The three finalists will be announced in mid-October. The grand prize winner of the 2014 Cundill Prize will be announced at an awards ceremony in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 20.

This year’s Cundill Jury includes David Frum, author and a senior editor for The Atlantic; Marla R. Miller, Professor and Director, Public History Program and Graduate Program Director, the University of Massachusetts; Stuart Schwartz, Professor, Department of History, Yale University and the winner of the inaugural Cundill Prize; Thomas H.B. Symons, Founding President and Professor Emeritus, Trent University; and Althia Raj, Ottawa Bureau Chief, Huffington Post Canada.

About the Prize: The Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill is the world’s most important international nonfiction historical literature prize. It was established in 2008 by McGill alumnus F. Peter Cundill, who passed away in January 2011. The prize is administered by McGill’s Dean of Arts, with the help of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, and is awarded annually to an individual who has published a book determined to have had a profound literary, social and academic impact in the area of history.

For more information on the Cundill Prize, go here.

Shortlist announced for 2014 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - 6 hours 17 min ago

The six finalists for 2014 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature.

Six books to compete for US$75,000 grand prize

By Cynthia Lee

The six books vying for the 2014 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature were announced on Sept. 19, by Professor Christopher Manfredi, Dean of the Faculty of Arts. The books, which have as their respective themes, repercussions of war, genocide and slavery, are competing for the US$75,000 grand prize.

“The Cundill jury has once again delivered an impressive list of books for this year’s shortlist,” said Prof. Manfredi, who serves as Administrative Chair of the Cundill Prize. “The Cundill Prize aims to introduce outstanding history books to the wider public, shining a spotlight on a diverse range of topics that appeal to experts, informed readers, and history buffs.”

Now in its seventh year, the Cundill Prize is the world’s most lucrative international award for a nonfiction book, featuring a grand prize of US$75,000, with two “Recognition of Excellence” prizes of US$10,000 each.

The six shortlisted titles, chosen from a field of 165 submissions, are:

  • Gary Bass – The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide (Knopf)
  • David Brion Davis – The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (Knopf)
  • Andrew O’Shaughnessy – The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (Yale University Press)
  • Richard Overy – The Bombing War: Europe 1939-45 (Allen Lane)
  • David Van Reybrouck – Congo: The Epic History of a People (Fourth Estate)
  • Geoffrey Wawro – A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire (Basic Books)

“This year’s shortlist takes us across time and around the globe: the monumental history of the Democratic Republic of Congo; the American Revolution and the fate of the British Empire; the history of the Blitz; the collapse of the Habsburg Empire and the start of WWI; slavery in the Age of Emancipation; and the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh and the shaping of Asia,” said Manfredi. “Each book is a thorough examination of a time and place, and highlights how history shapes our present understanding of world events. The jury will have a tough time choosing the three finalists, and eventually the winner.”

The three finalists will be announced in mid-October. The grand prize winner of the 2014 Cundill Prize will be announced at an awards ceremony in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 20.

This year’s Cundill Jury includes David Frum, author and a senior editor for The Atlantic; Marla R. Miller, Professor and Director, Public History Program and Graduate Program Director, the University of Massachusetts; Stuart Schwartz, Professor, Department of History, Yale University and the winner of the inaugural Cundill Prize; Thomas H.B. Symons, Founding President and Professor Emeritus, Trent University; and Althia Raj, Ottawa Bureau Chief, Huffington Post Canada.

About the Prize: The Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill is the world’s most important international nonfiction historical literature prize. It was established in 2008 by McGill alumnus F. Peter Cundill, who passed away in January 2011. The prize is administered by McGill’s Dean of Arts, with the help of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, and is awarded annually to an individual who has published a book determined to have had a profound literary, social and academic impact in the area of history.

For more information on the Cundill Prize, go here.

Frosh 2.0 emphasized safety and respect while still having fun

«McGill Reporter» - 7 hours 19 min ago

Freshmen from the Class of 2014 during the recent Discovery McGill activities at Molson Stadium. / Photo: Mitchell Miller, Campus Life & Engagement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Neale McDevitt

It is a word that sends shivers up the spines of university administrators across the country: Frosh. On paper, the annual freshman orientation period at the beginning of each semester is designed to welcome new students to university and to help them get their bearings. In practice, however – as sometimes seen in disturbing news reports each September – Frosh has often resulted in many young students losing their way.

But along came McGill Orientation Week 2014, from Aug. 23-31, and suddenly those reports on Frosh, as seen in a recent Montreal Gazette article, were full of words like “civilized,” “respectful” and “fantastic.”

“We had very few complaints from the community and very few incidents that involved hospitalization or that involved the police compared to other years,” said Andre Costopoulos, Dean of Students, when asked about the metrics used to deem this year’s Frosh such an overwhelming success. “And we were able to achieve that without putting any kind of damper on the events. We had a debrief meeting following Frosh the student leaders reported that the whole week went well and was fun for everyone.”

Daniel Chaim is one such student leader. The VP Internal Affairs for the Students’ Society of McGill University, Chaim was also one of Frosh’s organizers. “The success of this year’s Frosh goes to the fact that not only were all the incoming students safe, secure and treated with respect and dignity all week – but they also had an amazing time. That’s very important,” he says. “They were able to build relationships with their leaders, staff and fellow Froshies – and those relationships are really the invitation that welcomes them into McGill and gives them a head start.”

Though still sometimes a little boisterous, Frosh 2014 will be remembered for safe and responsible fun. / Photo: Neale McDevitt

One of the keys to success included better scheduling so that there was less downtime between events when, in the past, many participants would have had a few quick drinks. Also, groups of volunteers from the McGill community patrolled the streets in the Milton Park neighbourhood to keep an eye out for problems. “Even something as seemingly minor as making sure there was lots of water at events, proved to be an important factor,” says Chaim. “When you take it from being an afterthought to putting it front of mind, it shifts people’s priorities.”

While Frosh is a student-run affair, Chaim commends McGill administration for supporting their efforts. “The people from the Campus Life and Engagement Office did a really great job,” he says. “As McGill representatives, they brought a different perspective – including emphasizing the importance of consent and sexual assault issues. They trained us, as coordinators so that we, in turn, could train the leaders on our staff. It made a huge difference.”

Costopoulos also points out that engaging different stakeholders both inside and outside the University helped broaden discussions and, in the end, made for a much more comprehensive game plan well in advance of Residence Move-In days on Aug. 23-24. “There was a really close collaboration between the SSMU and other student associations, Student Services, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Deputy Provost’s Office, The Milton Park community residents and police and Security Services,” he says. “It was a very broad-based, very consultative process to address what we identified as some of the main problems that had made Frosh a difficult experience in past years.

“I think everyone did a very good job identifying those problems and coming up with initiatives to minimize them – and it really showed this year in the outcomes,” continues Costopoulos.

But says, Costopoulos, the foundation to this year’s success was laid a number of years ago. “Three or four years ago we started identifying some of the problems with associated with Frosh and it was clear that a culture change was needed. But you can’t change a culture overnight,” he says, noting that the seeds of change were sewn by former first-year students who were not happy with their Frosh and who were looking to improve the experience. “It took about three years before they got into leadership positions, so this culture change we saw crystalize this year took  while to happen.”

Chaim is a perfect case in point. When he entered McGill, he was looking forward to Frosh. “I had two brothers who came to McGill and both whom loved their Frosh and I’m a very sociable person so I tried to go to every event,” he says. “However, my leaders weren’t there to make sure we had a good time, they were there for the party. It wasn’t really their fault because they hadn’t been given any kind of training. No sexual-assault training, no consent training, nothing on how to deal with drunk Froshies, how to foster social environments, or how to help people talk and interact with each other.

“I didn’t enjoy any of the events. Eventually, I just hung out with my brother and I found other things to do. And that was one of the main reasons I wanted to help organize Frosh,” says Chaim.

Not wanting to repeat past mistakes, Chaim and his fellow organizers put a special emphasis on selecting and training the 600 student leaders who would be responsible for the more than 4,000 first-year students who would participate in this year’s Frosh. That task fell into the hands of some 60 coordinators – student volunteers representing the various faculty associations – who worked almost daily throughout the summer to come up with new initiatives and procedures to ensure the Frosh experience would be a positive one for everyone.

“I can’t emphasize enough how amazing our coordinators are,” said Chaim. “They worked diligently, almost daily, since the beginning of May, meeting with their faculty associations three to four times a week even though most of them had regular jobs.

“There were no external association forcing us to do this,” continues Chaim. “We, as coordinators, do this because we love Frosh and we want it to be amazing. We want incoming students to feel welcome and safe and to have fun as they are introduced to McGill and the larger community. This will be their home for the next four years or so and it is important that they start this new phase of their life on the right foot.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frosh 2.0 emphasized safety and respect while still having fun

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - 7 hours 19 min ago

Freshmen from the Class of 2014 during the recent Discovery McGill activities at Molson Stadium. / Photo: Mitchell Miller, Campus Life & Engagement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Neale McDevitt

It is a word that sends shivers up the spines of university administrators across the country: Frosh. On paper, the annual freshman orientation period at the beginning of each semester is designed to welcome new students to university and to help them get their bearings. In practice, however – as sometimes seen in disturbing news reports each September – Frosh has often resulted in many young students losing their way.

But along came McGill Orientation Week 2014, from Aug. 23-31, and suddenly those reports on Frosh, as seen in a recent Montreal Gazette article, were full of words like “civilized,” “respectful” and “fantastic.”

“We had very few complaints from the community and very few incidents that involved hospitalization or that involved the police compared to other years,” said Andre Costopoulos, Dean of Students, when asked about the metrics used to deem this year’s Frosh such an overwhelming success. “And we were able to achieve that without putting any kind of damper on the events. We had a debrief meeting following Frosh the student leaders reported that the whole week went well and was fun for everyone.”

Daniel Chaim is one such student leader. The VP Internal Affairs for the Students’ Society of McGill University, Chaim was also one of Frosh’s organizers. “The success of this year’s Frosh goes to the fact that not only were all the incoming students safe, secure and treated with respect and dignity all week – but they also had an amazing time. That’s very important,” he says. “They were able to build relationships with their leaders, staff and fellow Froshies – and those relationships are really the invitation that welcomes them into McGill and gives them a head start.”

Though still sometimes a little boisterous, Frosh 2014 will be remembered for safe and responsible fun. / Photo: Neale McDevitt

One of the keys to success included better scheduling so that there was less downtime between events when, in the past, many participants would have had a few quick drinks. Also, groups of volunteers from the McGill community patrolled the streets in the Milton Park neighbourhood to keep an eye out for problems. “Even something as seemingly minor as making sure there was lots of water at events, proved to be an important factor,” says Chaim. “When you take it from being an afterthought to putting it front of mind, it shifts people’s priorities.”

While Frosh is a student-run affair, Chaim commends McGill administration for supporting their efforts. “The people from the Campus Life and Engagement Office did a really great job,” he says. “As McGill representatives, they brought a different perspective – including emphasizing the importance of consent and sexual assault issues. They trained us, as coordinators so that we, in turn, could train the leaders on our staff. It made a huge difference.”

Costopoulos also points out that engaging different stakeholders both inside and outside the University helped broaden discussions and, in the end, made for a much more comprehensive game plan well in advance of Residence Move-In days on Aug. 23-24. “There was a really close collaboration between the SSMU and other student associations, Student Services, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Deputy Provost’s Office, The Milton Park community residents and police and Security Services,” he says. “It was a very broad-based, very consultative process to address what we identified as some of the main problems that had made Frosh a difficult experience in past years.

“I think everyone did a very good job identifying those problems and coming up with initiatives to minimize them – and it really showed this year in the outcomes,” continues Costopoulos.

But says, Costopoulos, the foundation to this year’s success was laid a number of years ago. “Three or four years ago we started identifying some of the problems with associated with Frosh and it was clear that a culture change was needed. But you can’t change a culture overnight,” he says, noting that the seeds of change were sewn by former first-year students who were not happy with their Frosh and who were looking to improve the experience. “It took about three years before they got into leadership positions, so this culture change we saw crystalize this year took  while to happen.”

Chaim is a perfect case in point. When he entered McGill, he was looking forward to Frosh. “I had two brothers who came to McGill and both whom loved their Frosh and I’m a very sociable person so I tried to go to every event,” he says. “However, my leaders weren’t there to make sure we had a good time, they were there for the party. It wasn’t really their fault because they hadn’t been given any kind of training. No sexual-assault training, no consent training, nothing on how to deal with drunk Froshies, how to foster social environments, or how to help people talk and interact with each other.

“I didn’t enjoy any of the events. Eventually, I just hung out with my brother and I found other things to do. And that was one of the main reasons I wanted to help organize Frosh,” says Chaim.

Not wanting to repeat past mistakes, Chaim and his fellow organizers put a special emphasis on selecting and training the 600 student leaders who would be responsible for the more than 4,000 first-year students who would participate in this year’s Frosh. That task fell into the hands of some 60 coordinators – student volunteers representing the various faculty associations – who worked almost daily throughout the summer to come up with new initiatives and procedures to ensure the Frosh experience would be a positive one for everyone.

“I can’t emphasize enough how amazing our coordinators are,” said Chaim. “They worked diligently, almost daily, since the beginning of May, meeting with their faculty associations three to four times a week even though most of them had regular jobs.

“There were no external association forcing us to do this,” continues Chaim. “We, as coordinators, do this because we love Frosh and we want it to be amazing. We want incoming students to feel welcome and safe and to have fun as they are introduced to McGill and the larger community. This will be their home for the next four years or so and it is important that they start this new phase of their life on the right foot.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Football coach Clint Uttley resigns

«McGill Reporter» - 8 hours 32 min ago

The following is a statement made by Ollivier Dyens, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Tuesday, Sept. 30.

McGill accepts Coach Uttley’s resignation and thanks him for his dedication and service to McGill and the Redmen football team. The University maintains that the pedagogical mission of our institution takes precedence. We wish Mr. Uttley well in his future endeavours.

As we indicated in a statement last week, we launched an in-depth review of our rules and regulations governing participation in varsity sports to ensure that all rules and regulations are aligned with and reinforce transparent decision-making, accountability and commitment to the values that define the McGill learning environment.

Our review is continuing.

—————————————————————————————————

McGill accepte la démission de l’entraîneur de l’équipe de football des Redmen de McGill, M. Clint Uttley. Nous le remercions pour son dévouement et ses années de service à l’Université McGill.  L’Université tient à réaffirmer que la mission académique de l’institution doit primer. Nous souhaitons à M. Uttley du succès dans ses projets futurs.

Nous avons annoncé dans une déclaration rendue publique la semaine dernière le lancement d’une révision en profondeur de la règlementation régissant la participation à des sports universitaires. Cette révision vise à nous assurer que notre règlementation reflète et renforce la transparence du mode de décision, ainsi que l’imputabilité et le respect de notre engagement envers les valeurs qui sous-tendent l’environnement académique de McGill.

La révision se poursuit.

 

Football coach Clint Uttley resigns

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - 8 hours 32 min ago

The following is a statement made by Ollivier Dyens, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Tuesday, Sept. 30.

McGill accepts Coach Uttley’s resignation and thanks him for his dedication and service to McGill and the Redmen football team. The University maintains that the pedagogical mission of our institution takes precedence. We wish Mr. Uttley well in his future endeavours.

As we indicated in a statement last week, we launched an in-depth review of our rules and regulations governing participation in varsity sports to ensure that all rules and regulations are aligned with and reinforce transparent decision-making, accountability and commitment to the values that define the McGill learning environment.

Our review is continuing.

—————————————————————————————————

McGill accepte la démission de l’entraîneur de l’équipe de football des Redmen de McGill, M. Clint Uttley. Nous le remercions pour son dévouement et ses années de service à l’Université McGill.  L’Université tient à réaffirmer que la mission académique de l’institution doit primer. Nous souhaitons à M. Uttley du succès dans ses projets futurs.

Nous avons annoncé dans une déclaration rendue publique la semaine dernière le lancement d’une révision en profondeur de la règlementation régissant la participation à des sports universitaires. Cette révision vise à nous assurer que notre règlementation reflète et renforce la transparence du mode de décision, ainsi que l’imputabilité et le respect de notre engagement envers les valeurs qui sous-tendent l’environnement académique de McGill.

La révision se poursuit.

 

World-renowned green chemist joining McGill

«McGill Reporter» - Mon, 2014-09-29 16:48

Prior to Monday’s CERC announcement, Professor Robin Rogers (left), Rosie Goldstein, VP Research and International Relations, and Senator Larry Smith, took a tour of C.J. Li’s green chemistry and organic synthesis lab. / Photo: Owen Egan

Canada Excellence Research Chair appointment builds on McGill’s strength in green chemistry

By McGill Reporter Staff

The decision to come to McGill as the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Green Chemistry and Green Chemicals means Robin Rogers will have to make a number of significant changes to his life. Among other things, it involves coming to a new university, a new city and a new country. One thing that Rogers won’t need to overhaul, however, is his wardrobe.

In making the announcement that Rogers was to become McGill’s second CERC, which comes with some $10 million in federal funding over the next seven years, Senator Larry Smith, representing Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), pointed out that Rogers was sporting a red jacket because he was coming from the University of Alabama, home of college football’s famed Crimson Tide.

However, when Dean of Science Martin Grant took the microphone to introduce Rogers to the audience gathered at the Desautels Faculty of Management for the Sept. 29 announcement, he politely corrected Senator Smith and praised Rogers’ red jacket as “the proud colours of McGill and Canada.”

For his part, Rogers was ever the diplomat. “I cannot tell you what an emotional feeling it is to [join McGill],” he said, pausing with a smile, “and not to have to get rid of my red jacket.”

But the discussion quickly went from red to green, specifically Rogers’s groundbreaking work designing and developing next-generation sustainable biomaterials for use in polymeric materials, fuels and commodity chemicals.

“We are delighted to welcome Professor Robin Rogers, an internationally recognized leader, to Montreal and to our university,” said Principal Suzanne Fortier in a statement. “Professor Rogers is a trailblazer and role model for the next generation of researchers, developing sustainable biomaterials that are positive for the environment and the economy. McGill has long pioneered in a range of green chemistry-related research, including the development of inherently safer solvents for chemical reactions and processes. Professor Rogers will spearhead efforts to redesign chemicals, materials, and manufacturing technologies to prevent pollution and save energy.”

Simply put, said Grant, Rogers “is one of the most eminent chemists of this century.”

Under the CERC Program, the university will receive up to $10 million in funding from the federal government over seven years to support Rogers and his team’s ambitious research program. In addition, funding for research infrastructure will be provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the government of Quebec, and McGill to make available advanced equipment and modern laboratory space, valued at more than $10 million.

This is McGill’s second CERC. The first, Dr. Luda Diatchenko, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Personalized Pain Medicine, was announced in September 2013. With this announcement, there are now 21 chairs in place at 15 universities across the country.

For his part, Rogers said he is eager to help build on McGill’s outstanding strength in new, green manufacturing technologies. “I am looking forward to working with the premier green chemistry [people] in the world – and they are here at McGill. I am excited,” he said. “This is an opportunity to join a world-renowned faculty in an area that is societally important and which the government and the people in Canada have recognized is important.

“McGill is the best place in the world to be working to take sustainable technology to fruition,” Rogers said.

To learn more about Professor Rogers, go here and here.

 

 

 

 

World-renowned green chemist joining McGill

McGill Reporter Newsfeed - Mon, 2014-09-29 16:48

Prior to Monday’s CERC announcement, Professor Robin Rogers (left), Rosie Goldstein, VP Research and International Relations, and Senator Larry Smith, took a tour of C.J. Li’s green chemistry and organic synthesis lab. / Photo: Owen Egan

Canada Excellence Research Chair appointment builds on McGill’s strength in green chemistry

By McGill Reporter Staff

The decision to come to McGill as the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Green Chemistry and Green Chemicals means Robin Rogers will have to make a number of significant changes to his life. Among other things, it involves coming to a new university, a new city and a new country. One thing that Rogers won’t need to overhaul, however, is his wardrobe.

In making the announcement that Rogers was to become McGill’s second CERC, which comes with some $10 million in federal funding over the next seven years, Senator Larry Smith, representing Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), pointed out that Rogers was sporting a red jacket because he was coming from the University of Alabama, home of college football’s famed Crimson Tide.

However, when Dean of Science Martin Grant took the microphone to introduce Rogers to the audience gathered at the Desautels Faculty of Management for the Sept. 29 announcement, he politely corrected Senator Smith and praised Rogers’ red jacket as “the proud colours of McGill and Canada.”

For his part, Rogers was ever the diplomat. “I cannot tell you what an emotional feeling it is to [join McGill],” he said, pausing with a smile, “and not to have to get rid of my red jacket.”

But the discussion quickly went from red to green, specifically Rogers’s groundbreaking work designing and developing next-generation sustainable biomaterials for use in polymeric materials, fuels and commodity chemicals.

“We are delighted to welcome Professor Robin Rogers, an internationally recognized leader, to Montreal and to our university,” said Principal Suzanne Fortier in a statement. “Professor Rogers is a trailblazer and role model for the next generation of researchers, developing sustainable biomaterials that are positive for the environment and the economy. McGill has long pioneered in a range of green chemistry-related research, including the development of inherently safer solvents for chemical reactions and processes. Professor Rogers will spearhead efforts to redesign chemicals, materials, and manufacturing technologies to prevent pollution and save energy.”

Simply put, said Grant, Rogers “is one of the most eminent chemists of this century.”

Under the CERC Program, the university will receive up to $10 million in funding from the federal government over seven years to support Rogers and his team’s ambitious research program. In addition, funding for research infrastructure will be provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the government of Quebec, and McGill to make available advanced equipment and modern laboratory space, valued at more than $10 million.

This is McGill’s second CERC. The first, Dr. Luda Diatchenko, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Personalized Pain Medicine, was announced in September 2013. With this announcement, there are now 21 chairs in place at 15 universities across the country.

For his part, Rogers said he is eager to help build on McGill’s outstanding strength in new, green manufacturing technologies. “I am looking forward to working with the premier green chemistry [people] in the world – and they are here at McGill. I am excited,” he said. “This is an opportunity to join a world-renowned faculty in an area that is societally important and which the government and the people in Canada have recognized is important.

“McGill is the best place in the world to be working to take sustainable technology to fruition,” Rogers said.

To learn more about Professor Rogers, go here and here.