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Huge crowd expected on Lower Campus for solar eclipse

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 20:38

AstroMcGill to host August 21 solar eclipse event

By Neale McDevitt

For many ancient cultures, an eclipse – either solar or lunar – was a bad omen.

Some believed the sun was being devoured by various creatures during a solar eclipse (in which the moon blocks out our view of the sun). It was a ravenous dog or dragon in China, celestial snakes for the Mayans, a hungry frog in Vietnam. The Vikings believed that two wolves were in constant pursuit of the sun and moon, and an eclipse occurred when they finally caught their prey.

Ancient Babylonians, among the first people able to predict eclipses, saw a lunar eclipse (in which the earth blocks the sun from illuminating the moon’s surface) as a portent of bad luck. Leading up to an eclipse, they would install a temporary king on the throne, so that he would shoulder any misfortune. The real king would be reinstalled once the eclipse – and danger – had passed.

But we’ve come a long way in our appreciation of eclipses – as witnessed by the incredible enthusiasm being generated by AstroMcGill’s upcoming event to watch the solar eclipse on August 21.

“It’s going to be a huge party,” says Kelly Lepo, coordinator of the McGill Space Institute and the staff facilitator for Astro McGill. “Over 1,000 people have confirmed they are coming on Facebook with almost 13,000 saying they are interested.”

In a word, the response has been astronomical.

On August 21, a solar eclipse will be visible from all of North America. The path of the total eclipse – the Holy Grail of eclipses – will go through the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Observers in Canada will be able to see a partial eclipse (from about 90 percent covered in Vancouver to about 20 percent in the Arctic). Sky gazers in Montreal will be able to see about 58 per cent of the sun covered. It is the first partial eclipse in Montreal since 2000.

Unfortunately, at 58 per cent, Montreal’s eclipse will have little noticeable effect on surroundings. “It might look slightly overcast but it won’t get dark. You need 90 per cent to really have a noticeable effect,” says Lepo, who holds a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics. “If you are in a place where there is a total eclipse of the sun, it gets very dark and the temperature will drop very rapidly. All the animals get really confused because it is like nighttime – birds stop singing. It can be very eerie.”

Instead Montrealers will witness the moon slowly move in front of the sun until it “takes a big chunk out of it and more than half of the sun will be covered,” says Lepo.

The whole process will begin at 1:21 p.m. and end at 3:50 p.m., with the peak moment – when the moon is blocking out most of the sun – occurring at about 2:30.

At the McGill event, AstroMcGill volunteers will show people how to use the onsite solar telescopes – designed to protect people’s eyes; give hands-on demonstrations about the geometry of an eclipse; and animate activities for children to keep them occupied during the event. Free eclipse glasses will be available (while quantities last). The eclipse will also be live-streamed.

AstroMcGill is a student-led, volunteer organization that serves as the education and public outreach branch of the astrophysics group within the McGill’s Physics Department and the McGill Space Institute.

Lepo says that eclipses aren’t as people may think, occurring somewhere in the world approximately twice a year. But they usually take place in the ocean or some sparsely populated area. That’s why astronomers are predicting that this solar eclipse will be the most observed, photographed and filmed of all time.

“This is going to be huge, thanks to social media and to the fact that the total eclipse is going through the United States, the biggest media market in the world,” says Lepo. “There are eclipse chasers who will be travelling from all around the world to take this in.”

Lepo is quick to caution people about watching the eclipse without the proper eye protection.

“The sun is no more dangerous during an eclipse than it is any other day of the year. There will be no death rays shooting from the sun on August 21,” she says. “But during an eclipse, our excitement can override our natural instincts to avoid looking at the sun.

“If you look at the sun – even briefly – you can permanently damage your eyes,” she says.

Lepo suggests purchasing a pair of real eclipse glasses that have special filters that block 99 per cent of the sun’s light. “Sun glasses are not enough to observe a solar eclipse,” she warns. “If you try, you will fry your eyes.”

She also suggests making your own pinhole viewer.

“A pinhole is a great way to observe a solar eclipse. You can probably make one with things you already have around the house. Another cheap and easy way is with a pasta strainer with little holes in it or a slotted spoon with holes in it,” she says.

“You let the sun shine through the holes onto the grounds and you will see lots of little dots on the ground. As the eclipse goes on you will see little crescent dots on the ground. That’s a cheap and easy way to see it,” says Lepo.

Warnings aside, Lepo has this bit of advice to eclipse chaser: “There are lots of dire warnings about damaging your eyes during an eclipse. You should be safe, but don’t let that scare you into staying inside,” she says. “Get a pair of eclipse glasses or make yourself a pinhole and go out and enjoy this really amazing natural phenomenon.”

Get more information about the AstroMcGill event.

The McGill effect

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 15:43

By McGill Reporter Staff

For more than half of Montreal’s 375 years — and all of Canada’s 150 — the McGill community has proudly contributed to building our city and our country. As part of McGill’s ongoing celebration of Montreal’s and Canada’s anniversaries, a new display in the James Administration Building lobby highlights some of the ways McGillians have made a difference.

As the introduction explains, “McGill’s commitment to making a positive impact in the world has roots older than the University itself. Our founder, James McGill, was an active citizen in his adopted home of Montreal, serving for many years as an elected member of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada and driving important grassroots initiatives, such as a volunteer fire brigade. He prepared the Montreal Militia for combat during the War of 1812; the victory over the U.S. was an important moment in establishing Canada as more than a British colony, and would set the stage for Confederation.”

The display highlights scientific, artistic, athletic and societal achievements by members of the McGill community — from pioneering union organizer Madeleine Parent (BA1940) and multi-Olympiad medalist Phil Edwards (MDCM1936), to current-day community outreach programs that improve the lives of in-need Montrealers, to John Abbott (BCL1847), who served as both Mayor of Montreal and Prime Minister of Canada.

Lisa Kisiel of McGill Graphic Design designed the display, which was researched by Gisele Dubeau, a work-study student in McGill University Archives. The display is an initiative of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations).

“McGill has always helped shape the world around us in ways that range from sublime to almost unseen,” says Louis Arseneault, Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations). “And, in return, we are shaped by the people who come here from around the globe – as students, as staff and as faculty.”

The display will be in the James Administration lobby through to 2018. To read even more stories about McGill’s impact on Montreal and Canada, and to explore the many activities marking this double-anniversary year, go to www.mcgill.ca/can150-mtl375/


McGill Symphony Orchestra to take part in Mount Royal mega-concert

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 14:57

On August 19, at 9 p.m., the eastern flank of Mount Royal will become an outdoor amphitheatre for Montréal Symphonique. It’s a free performance of major artists and Montréal’s three great orchestras – the McGill Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and the Orchestre Métropolitain, under the direction of Simon Leclerc.

More than 50,000 people are expected for a free two-hour outdoor symphonic performance on the side of Mount Royal. The program will also be broadcast on screens in parks in 18 boroughs across Montreal.

Four hundred musicians, pop artists and singers, including the McGill Symphony Orchestra (MGSO), the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM), and the Orchestre Métropolitain (OM), will be on stage. The show will be presented continuously, without a host, against an illuminated visual backdrop.

“The McGill musicians will add an element of energy and youth, of ‘fougue,’ as representatives of the next generation of classical musicians. Their fresh voices will add a different element to the performance.” says Simon Leclerc, the noted conductor of the OSM, orchestrator and composer who will be wielding the baton.

“As far as we know there has never before been a live performance featuring three orchestras on stage at the same time. They will play separately, as duos, and altogether, as an orchestra of orchestras,” says Leclerc. “I cannot reveal the details of the program, but I can say that it will feature many styles and genres of music, and there are still a few surprises to come. We will use the music to talk about the four seasons of Montreal, plus a fifth imaginary season, representing what Montreal might become.”

Leclerc will be conducting not so much from a podium, but from a platform spanning the three ensembles, spread across an enormous covered outdoor stage that will measure 128 feet by 56 feet. He jokes that he may need to wear running shoes to facilitate navigating the huge platform.

Annie Saumier, the Director Communications and Production for the Schulich School of Music explains how McGill’s participation will include McGill musicians past and present. “When we were approached to be part of this great event, we agreed to ‘re-create’ an MGSO from a mix of current students and alumni who recently were part of the MGSO,” she says. “We are proud that there will be 38 McGillians on stage for this spectacular event.”

Other performers include Alain Lefebvre, Coeur de Pirate, DJ Champion, Elisapie, ILAM, Isabelle Boulay, Marie-Josée Lord, Mélissa Lavergne, M-Mo, Patrick Watson, and Pierre Lapointe, with more performers to be announced.

This super production is organized by GSI Musique, the doyenne of Québec record companies, and directed by Nicolas Lemieux.  “There is no place more symbolic in Montréal than Mount Royal,” says Lemieux, President of GSI Musique. “Thanks to the 375th celebrations, this free performance offered to all Montrealers will highlight music and cultural diversity.”

Concert goers should be mindful of the fact there will be no rain check. The concert will go ahead regardless of the weather. There will be no parking available. No chairs are allowed. Pine, Parc and Mount Royal streets will be closed. Those who attend are encouraged to take the metro to the Mount Royal, Sherbrooke or Place des Arts stations, and walk to the site. There will be food and drink for sale, as well as public toilets.

Click on the thumbnail to view the promotional video


Reverend John Weir Foote: The hero of the Dieppe Raid

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 13:34

For his unflinching heorism during the Dieppe Raid, Reverend John Weir Foote became first Canadian chaplain to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for military valour that can be won by a Canadian.

By Neale McDevitt

August 19 marks the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid, a pivotal moment in the Second World War. The Allied offensive proved to be an ill-fated attempt to establish a foothold on continental Europe that was completely under control of the German army. Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation, only 2,210 returned to England. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 916 Canadians lost their lives.

Soon after the Dieppe Raid, stories began circulating among the survivors of a burly chaplain who, with no regard for his own safety, repeatedly ran out onto the exposed beach to carry wounded soldiers back to safety. Padre X, as this anonymous hero was dubbed, singlehandedly saved at least 30 men in this manner, literally pulling them from the jaws of death.

Adding to his legend, Padre X, refused to leave stranded soldiers behind when the order to evacuate was given. “These lads [on the beach] need me more than the ones in England,” he reportedly called over his shoulder as he waded back toward the wounded, German troops closing in.

Padre X was later identified as Reverend John Weir Foote, a former student of McGill grad and Presbyterian College, and Chaplain of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. But Foote wasn’t around to hear people sing his praises – he was languishing in a German POW camp.

One of the only real advantages the Allied forces were supposed to have during the Dieppe Raid was the element of surprise. Due to a series of complications and critical errors, most of the German troops were given ample warning to prepare themselves for the assault.

Facing a well-entrenched, seasoned enemy often dug in atop cliffs, most of the Allies’ 6,100-man landing force (comprised of 5,000 Canadians, 1,000 British commandoes and 50 American Rangers) was met with deadly machine gun fire.

Heavily armed German troops rained bullets upon the near-defenceless Canadian soldiers, who struggled to wade ashore in water that was often shoulder deep. Those who made it to the beach scrambled to find cover from the enemy’s withering fire.

One man stood out among a group of beleaguered soldiers, first for his size and then for his heroism. Reverend John Weir Foote, a 6’3” McGill grad, and Chaplain of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, continually exposed himself to intense fire to help the wounded and comfort the dying.

“I simply did my job as I saw it,” John Weir Foote told the Montreal Star in 1946. “It was a very ordinary piece of work.”

Time and again over a period of eight hours, Foote ran from cover to sling stricken soldiers across his powerful shoulders and carry them from the open beach to the Regimental Aid Post. “Moving about the beach, I wonder why I was never hit,” he told the Montreal Star in 1946. “And I have never ceased to wonder why I am alive today.”

When the order was given to evacuate the beach, Foote carried the wounded to landing craft. With German troops closing in, it was clear that some 1,900 men would be left behind. Foote refused to climb aboard, choosing instead, to return to the beach. There were still men to serve. “I don’t think a man should be a padre of a regiment and not go where they go,” he told the Montreal Star.

Captured by the Germans, Foote and the other POWs were driven on a two-day, forced march to a detention camp. Foote was barefoot, having discarded his heavy, water-logged boots on the beach so he could get to the wounded quicker. By the time his group finally reached the POW camp, his feet were worn raw.

Foote spent three years in various POW camps, sometimes enduring horrific conditions, including a 30-day forced march. Through it all, Foote never stopped tending to his flock. Regardless of denomination, every man was treated with the same compassion. Defying the German’s orders, Foote ended each service, which he delivered atop stacked Red Cross boxes, with the singing of the national anthem.

On April 25, 1945, Foote and his fellow POWs were liberated by British forces at Stalag 10B, near Bremen,

A plaque honouring John Weir Foote in Victoria Cross Commemorative Park, Currie Barracks, in Calgary, Alberta

A humble man, Foote was worried he might be reprimanded for allowing himself to be captured on the beach at Dieppe. Instead, he became the first Canadian chaplain to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for military valour that can be won by a Canadian. “I simply did my job as I saw it,” Foote told the Montreal Star in 1946. “It was a very ordinary piece of work.”

Foote stayed in the army until 1948, rising to become Lt. Colonel. He later worked for the Ontario Liquor Control Board, before entering politics and becoming Progressive Conservative member for Durham County, Ontario. Foote died on May 2, 1988, aged 83 years.

“Honorary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him,” says the Victoria Cross citation. “Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic officer as he walked about, collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten.”

Read the full Victoria Cross citation.

Read more about John Weir Foote in the McGill Archives.


Tributes pour in for “extraordinarily kind” McGill grad killed in attack

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 10:49

Tammy Chen was among 18 people killed on Sunday, Aug. 13, in the attack at a restaurant in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. / Photo courtesy of the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund

By Brenda Branswell

In the wake of the deadly attack in Burkina Faso, Tammy Chen, BEd’07, is being remembered for her kindness and passion for teaching – and her deep commitment to helping others.

A Montreal native, Chen was among 18 people killed on Sunday, Aug. 13, in the attack at a restaurant in Ouagadougou, the country’s capital. Her husband, Mehsen Fenaiche, also lost his life.

Newly married and pregnant, Chen had been teaching in Burkina Faso, according to a media report.

“We’re deeply saddened to hear of Tammy’s death,” said Dilson E. Rassier, Dean of the Faculty of Education at McGill.

“She was an excellent student at McGill, where she did her teacher training, with so much potential ahead of her. On behalf of the Education Faculty and the wider McGill community, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to her family, friends, students and colleagues.”

Chen began her studies at McGill in 2003 in the Bachelor of Education Secondary Social Sciences program.

After she graduated, she went on to earn a master’s in education from Queen’s University. She taught in Toronto for four years, including in the French immersion program at Glen Ames Senior Public School in the Beaches. During that time, she also co-founded a Canadian charitable organization called Bright Futures of Burkina Faso to carry out microcredit and education projects in that country.

She left in 2013 to pursue her PhD at the University of Cambridge, the Toronto District School Board said in a statement.

“Tammy is being remembered as a very passionate, charismatic and diligent teacher by her colleagues at Glen Ames …. Not only was she respected and well-liked by students, parents and colleagues, she was always willing to go the extra mile to help students,” the board said.

Chen was finishing her PhD in international development at Gonville & Caius College (part of Cambridge), where its flag flew at half-mast on Tuesday. Her doctoral work focused on poverty, gender and women’s empowerment, according to the college.

Hugo Larose, the president of Caius’ graduate students’ union, said all of Chen’s friends felt she was “extraordinarily kind and caring” – the type of person the world sorely needs in times like these.

“Though many academics dedicate their life to improving the human condition, Tammy went many steps further, working tirelessly in some of the poorest parts of the world,” Larose said.

Others expressed their shock and sorrow in moving tributes online. One noted that Chen dedicated her life “to the most noble of causes: helping others.”

Another post said: “Your passion for learning & teaching, and compassion for others all over the world will never be forgotten. You literally made the world a better place.”

“I can’t tell you how sad this makes me,” one woman wrote on Facebook, calling Chen a mentor to many, including the woman’s daughters. “She taught fairness and strength and love and compassion.”

Another Canadian, Montrealer Bilel Diffalah, who was volunteering with a Canadian international development program in Burkina Faso, was also killed in the attack.

CFI invests $4.2 million to boost 23 McGill research projects

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 14:13

By Meaghan Thurston

At Laurentian University today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, announced a total investment of $52 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund for 220 new infrastructure projects nationally. Among the 51 universities across the country with funded projects, McGill leads the pack with an impressive number — 23 projects totaling $4.2 million — in this latest round of the funding competition.

Designed to help universities attract and retain the very best researchers by ensuring they have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund also offers institutions the opportunity to create competitive research support packages, coupled with direct research costs from partner organizations.

“These latest investments from the CFI create incredible momentum in McGill’s efforts to advance research in areas as diverse as international labour law, image-guided neurosurgery of the brain and spine and the study of the effects of climate change in high-latitude environments”, said Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation.  “Not only does CFI’s support help attract the best scientific minds to the University, it bolsters McGill’s ability to contribute to the economic and social development of Quebec and Canada.”

“Our scientists need the best tools and equipment for ground-breaking research and discovery and we are committed to ensuring they have them,” said the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science. “Their successes will lead to an improved economy and will fuel an active research community here in Canada and internationally.”

Among the recipients of CFI’s investment is Prof. Rosaire Mongrain of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The infrastructure provided by CFI funding will support Prof. Mongrain’s integrated research program aimed at designing novel implantable biotechnologies and next-generation implantable sensors. These therapeutic technologies will assist in restoring vascular function as well as in monitoring tissue stiffness that occurs with cancer, fibrosis and cardiovascular diseases.

Prof. Lisa Overholtzer of the Department of Anthropology also received a CFI investment today to develop a household archaeology laboratory at McGil. The laboratory will enable the training of highly qualified archaeology researchers and top graduate and postdoctoral students, and will support new research at the central Mexican site of Tlaxcallan.

A complete list of McGill-led CFI-funded projects:

Single-cell analysis of host factors involved in human papillomavirus genome replication
Jacques Archambault of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is the Principal Investigator
CFI: $140,000; Total project cost: $350,000

MAPs and Microtubules
Susanne Bechstedt of the Department of Biology is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $140,000; Total project cost: $378,660

Legal Mapping Database of Transnational Uses of International Labour Law
Adelle Blackett of the Faculty of Law is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $72,600; Total project cost: $181,752

Nanoscale imaging platform for dynamic analysis of osmosensory transduction in living cells
Charles Bourque of the Faculty of Medicine is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $260,000; Total project cost: $650,000

Ba-ion extraction for a future double-beta decay experiment
Thomas Brunner of the Faculty of Physics is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $300,000; Total project cost: $750,000

Equipment for Neuro Imaging and Surgical Technologies (NIST) laboratory
Louis Collins of the Montreal Neurological Institute is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $183,432; Total project cost: $458,580

Merged infrastructure to study the multidimensional aspects of muscle fatigue
Julie Cote of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $206,993; Total project cost: $517,482

Compound-specific isotope analyses for biogeochemistry and paleoclimatology
Peter Douglas of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $247,289; Total project cost: $618,223

Infrastructure for a Sustainable Plant Biosystems Laboratory
Valérie Gravel of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $105,791; Total project cost: $264,478

Innovative Functional Food Ingredients to Improve Canada’s Well Being and Health: Sustainable Enzymatic Processes
Salwa Karboune of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $339,944; Total project cost: $850,024

Translational Control: Understanding the Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Pain Hypersensitivity
Arkady Khoutorsky of the Alan Edwards Center for Research on Pain is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $166,000; Total project cost: $415,000

Center for fault friction analysis
James Kirkpatrick of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $98,276; Total project cost: $245,690

Opioid misuse and addiction among patients with chronic pain: From risk factors to treatment interventions
Marc O Martel of the Faculty of Dentistry and the Faculty of Medicine is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $40,000; Total project cost: $111,900

Robotics in Unstructured Environments
David Meger of the School of Computer Science is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $60,000; Total project cost: $150,312

Optical and Electrophysiological investigation of neuronal function
Austen Milnerwood of the Montreal Neurological Institute is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $140,000; Total project cost: $360,892

Soft Materials Processing and Testing Suite to Support the Development of Implantable Biotechnologies
Rosaire Mongrain of the Department of Mechanical Engineering is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $609,230; Total project cost: $1,523,598

Novel technologies for bedside assessment and interaction with unresponsive patients
Stefanie Blain-Moraes of the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $96,470; Total project cost: $241,181

An inter-disciplinary laboratory examining the computations, psychology, and psychophysiology of human decision-making
Ross Otto of the Department of Psychology is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $46,410; Total project cost: $116,025

Household archaeology laboratory
Lisa Overholtzer of the Department of Anthropology is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $78,275; Total project cost: $195,688

Circuit mechanisms underling action selection
Tomoko Oyama of the Department of Biology is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $219,800; Total project cost: $219,800

Microbial Glycomics
Donald Sheppard of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $149,530; Total project cost: $373,827

Mass Spectrometry Studies of Biosynthesis and Protein-Protein Interactions
Christopher Thibodeaux of the Department of Chemistry is the Principal Investigator.
CFI: $347,000; Total project cost: $867,500


Prof. Eleanor Stubley (1960-2017)

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 16:51

The McGill and Montreal music communities are mourning the loss of a beloved member. McGill professor Eleanor Stubley went missing on August 7. This morning, Montreal police confirmed that her body has been found; they do not suspect foul play. Professor Stubley was 57 years old.

Eleanor Stubley was an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Students in the Schulich School of Music.

Prof. Eleanor Stubley

Prof. Stubley was born in Brampton, Ontario. She earned her Ph.D at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, her M. Mus. from Brandon University and her B. Mus. from the University of Toronto. In 1989, she joined McGill, where she taught music education, musicology, and performance.

“Eleanor Stubley was a vital member of the Schulich School of Music community,” said Brenda Ravenscroft, Dean of the faculty. “As Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, she demonstrated on a daily basis profound devotion and fierce advocacy for students, learning, and artistry. An accomplished choral conductor and a thought-provoking scholar, she constantly found unique ways to bridge performance and research, and was an influential mentor for countless graduate students. She was a beloved colleague, who inspired all those around her with her humanity, passion and courage.”

Prof. Stubley conducted ensembles around the world, including the Massey Singers, Elektra, Laapula, the Bach Festival Orchestra, and members of the Canadian Opera Company. Her artistic creations include The Pines of Emily Carr, a performance documentary about the relationship between inspiration and place, and Living Gestures, a multimedia concert series that was performed in Canada and Finland. As the founder and artistic director of Chora Carmina, she helped create innovative collaborations between Quebec musicians and visual artists.

In a message to the McGill community, Principal Suzanne Fortier said that Prof. Stubley “was critically acclaimed as both a scholar and an artist” and “will be greatly missed” in the McGill, Montreal and international music communities of which she was such an important member. Principal Fortier noted Prof. Stubley’s long-term commitment to the Yellow Door Choir, “which used the power of song to raise more than $65,000 for social justice organizations dedicated to tackling such issues as homelessness, women and violence, and illiteracy.” Stubley was the community choir’s music director from 1998 to 2014.

Over the course of her career, Prof. Stubley received many accolades, including winning the Prague Conservatory’s International Dvorak Competition and receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Prof. Stubley had multiple sclerosis, requiring the use of a wheelchair or forearm crutches, and her work tried to bridge what she called “the schism that has traditionally existed between the words used to describe and explain music and the experience of music in and through the body in performance.” One such project, a performance collaboration with sculptor Joël Prévost, asked “How are we touched as we listen? What do these hands touch and what are they touched by?”

“As a conductor, I engage with music in and through my hands as a bodily experience,” Eleanor Stubley wrote on her website. “Not only does music have a tactile presence across the surface of my palms, the movements of my hands are the very means by which I shape, sculpt, and carve out its expressive possibilities to give it a dynamic presence as evolving sound.”

In 2014, Prof. Stubley established the Eleanor Stubley Recording Prize, which is awarded “to an outstanding graduate student in a performance, composition or conducting program at the Schulich School of Music for a transformative recording project.”








Former McGillian and NHL administrator Bryan Murray dies at 74

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 13:48

Bryan Murray, DipEd(PE)’64, was named winner of the MacCampus Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016

By Earl Zukerman

Bryan Murray, a longtime National Hockey League coach and executive, passed away on Saturday. He was 74.

A native of Shawville, Que., Murray was a student-athlete at Macdonald College campus in the 1960s and went on to develop his coaching and administrative skills by guiding the Macdonald Aggies football team and the Macdonald Clansmen hockey squad while serving four years as Director of Athletics. In 1963, he earned football all-star status with the Aggies, who were playing in the Ottawa – St. Lawrence Athletics Association. In 1972-73, Murray guided the hockey Clansmen to a stellar 10-1-1 first-place finish in the OSLAA. The team advanced to the league final, where they defeated Chicoutimi (UQAC) in overtime to capture their first conference championship in four decades.

Murray then coached five years in the Central Junior Hockey League with Pembroke and Rockland before becoming head coach of the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. In 1979-80, he led the Pats to the WHL championship. Murray then took over as coach of the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears the following season.

He spent the last 35 years in the National Hockey League, including 18 seasons and 1,239 games behind the bench as head coach (he ranks 12th in all-time wins, with 620) and 22 seasons as a general manager, with Washington, Anaheim, Detroit, Florida and Ottawa, respectively. Under his watch, four McGill Redmen hockey grads were appointed to coaching posts in the NHL, including George Burnett and Mike Babcock in Anaheim, while Murray was serving as GM. Last year, Guy Boucher and Martin Raymond were appointed as head coach and assistant coach, respectively, with the Ottawa Senators, where Murray was serving as a senior hockey advisor.

Murray was GM of the Red Wings (1990-94), Panthers (1994-98), Ducks (2001-04) and Senators (2007-16), and coached the Capitals (1981-90), Red Wings (1990-93), Panthers (1997-98), Ducks (2001-02) and Senators (2005-08).

Over his decorated career, Murray won the NHL’s Jack Adams Award in 1983-84, which is annually presented to the head coach who is deemed to have contributed the most to his team’s success. He also garnered a number of personal awards. On July 21, 2012, he was joined by his brother, Terry and his nephew, Tim, as an inaugural inductee on Shawville’s Hockey Wall of Fame. On May 28, 2015, he was recognized with the United Way’s prestigious Community Builder of the Year award and was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame on June 5, 2015. Additionally, Murray was one of 13 honourees in the 2015 class of the Washington D.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

After being diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2014, Murray unselfishly confirmed his own medical situation with the public along with the powerful message of “get checked,” hoping to help others with the early detection of colon cancer. He continued lending his time to the support cancer of research, both standardized and non-traditional in the years to follow.

Murray is survived by his wife, Geri, his two daughters, Heide and Brittany.

Helping grad students go the extra mile

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 16:19

Faith and Kendall Wallis have given back to McGill through the creation of the History and Classical Studies Graduate Excellence Fund

By Lauren Jane Heller

Few can say they’ve spent their entire adulthood studying and working in one place. At yet, here at McGill, we have Kendall and Faith Wallis – both multiple McGill alumni – who have called the University home for more than half a century. “We met at McGill, and it’s been our life since the mid ‘60s” says Faith, who has been a professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies since 1986. “We’re very much an oddity around here – there are not many people in my department who are McGill graduates.”

Sitting in the stark History and Classical studies faculty lounge, Faith’s enthusiasm for McGill and her chosen career bursts forth like a shower of confetti. With wildly gesturing hands, she describes her and Kendall’s life trajectory, bubbling with laughter like an over-boiling pot as she recounts her and Kendall’s off-campus encounters with students over the years.

Kendall appears to have no desire to compete with his wife’s effusiveness. He speaks quietly, and carefully, but with a twinkle in his eye. Kendall is a retired reference librarian who I recognize from my own studies at McGill a decade and a half ago – his bushy beard is and was always hard to miss. His soft-spoken manner and sparkling eyes indicate a man who has spent much of his life in quiet spaces, searching for knowledge and spreading it to cohort after cohort of students.

“He was Google before Google, basically,” says Faith, laughing, when Kendall speaks of his job at the McLennan Library. He also made a major impact on the structure of McGill libraries, fighting for the introduction of the very first liaison librarian (“in History!” adds Faith) during his time as acting McLennan Librarian, a term which lasted three years before he “went back into the trenches.”

The reason we are meeting is because the Wallises have recently created a new fund in support of graduate students in the History and Classical Studies department. With no children of their own, they decided that they wanted to do something with their money before they die. They look forward to seeing their impact, and hope to encourage others to do the same.

“We [in the Department of History and Classical Studies] are poised now, I firmly believe, to become a major venue for postgraduate training in history, on a continental scale,” says Faith. “We’ve got an amazing diversity and depth of expertise here. Plus, we’ve got the Islamic Institute, and other things like it which allow us to play a bigger game than most history departments do. And having classics and history together is an advantage as well.”

Despite this good positioning, Faith sees a major hurdle facing graduate students, especially international ones, as they are not eligible for Quebec, Provincial, or Federal funding.

“If you’re going to build a graduate program, you really have to think about deep structural commitments to funding, and being able to see students through without accumulating crippling debt for the rest of their lives.”

The History and Classical Studies Graduate Excellence Fund is the Wallis’ effort to address this problem, and they want to encourage their colleagues, alumni and any other supporters of the department to donate to it. The aim is to give students the extra funds to complete their degrees, should they need more than three years, or gain support for field research or other training such as learning a language.

“Part of this is mortar, instead of blocks,” says Kendall. “Filling in the cracks, stabilizing the structure so that students are able to go that little bit further.”

The Wallis’ enthusiasm for history is infectious, and it’s clear that this support isn’t simply about giving money to the university where they have spent most of their lives.

“It’s almost an act of citizenship too,” Faith says. “A lot of the undergraduate training in history is actually dialling up students’ bullshit meter, so that they understand the complexity of human experience and having a critical sense to see that the world is not black and white.”

But in order to help the best of those students into graduate programs at McGill, funding is absolutely vital.

“It’s so frustrating when we get applications from great students, but we can’t match the offer they got from another school because of funding. Hopefully in the future we can make a stronger case for excellent students to be able to come here.”

Faith also hopes to encourage her colleagues to derive the kind of satisfaction she and Kendall are, from giving back to the department.

“Not everybody is in our position: here we are in our late ‘60s, without children, with a mortgage paid off,” Faith says. “But my colleagues have said they would do the same with extra income [from speaking or book royalties] to give back to the program. “

“It’s little things like that which would grow the foundation of the future for the department. We do have really good undergraduates at McGill. The graduate program is good, we certainly have the teaching expertise and brains here to make it better, if we only had the funds,” Faith continues.

You can learn more about History and Classical Studies Graduate Excellence Fund at this website, or contact Scott Corbett, Arts Development Officer, for more details about making a donation. 

Derevensky honoured by National Council on Problem Gambling

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 15:38

Jeffery Derevensky is Director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviours

Jeffrey Derevensky was awarded the Lifetime Research Award by the U.S. National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), in recognition of his exceptional achievements in the field of gambling research. Derevensky is Director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviours at the Faculty of Education,

Founded in 1992, the Centre for Youth Gambling Problems has been at the forefront of leading-edge research aimed at identifying the critical factors related to youth gambling issues. The centre has developed award-winning prevention programs and worked in cooperation with government agencies around the world to develop responsible gambling initiatives and legislation.

Derevensky is James McGill Professor and Chair with the Faculty of Education’s Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology. He is co-appointed as Professor with McGill’s Department of Psychiatry, and is Co-Director of the McGill Institute for Human Development and Well-Being (IHDW). Derevensky’s work with gambling problems among children and adolescents has resulted in important social policy and governmental changes.

The award was presented to Derevensky on July 21, 2017 at the NCPG’s annual conference in Portland, Oregon. This Lifetime Research Award, bestowed only in exceptional times and circumstances, is an honour reserved for “individuals who exemplify at least twenty years of research in the field of gambling studies” whose work has had a “profound impact on the study of gambling”.

New research offers hope for faster acting antidepressants

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 15:15

By Shawn Hayward

For people suffering from depression, a day without treatment can seem like a lifetime. A new study explains why the most commonly prescribed antidepressants can take as long as six weeks to have an effect. The findings could one day lead to more effective and faster acting drugs.

Shortage of serotonin is believed to be a cause of depression. The most common anti-depressant drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including Prozac and Zoloft, which block the absorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin, increasing the amount of serotonin active in the brain at any one time.

While SSRIs have been used to treat depression for decades, exactly how they work has been a mystery. Another question was why the behavioral effects are delayed for weeks or months despite of the immediate pharmacological impact.

Adrien Peyrache

To better understand SSRIs and their effect on the brain, Paul Greengard’s lab at Rockefeller University in New York teamed up with Adrien Peyrache, a researcher at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. A few years ago Greengard’s lab established that a protein called p11 plays a key role in depression-like behaviours. This protein is strongly expressed in one particular neuronal subclass in the hippocampus, the cholecystokinin (CCK) cells. These small neurons play a key role in balancing the excitation and inhibition of the network, and they have a much higher number of receptors to serotonin than the other neurons of the hippocampus. This led first author Lucian Medrihan to believe that examining CCK neurons may help them learn more about how SSRIs work.

The researchers found that serotonin normally inhibits CCK neurons, leading to well balanced activity in the hippocampus. Artificially inhibiting CCK results in the same anti-depressant effects of SSRIs, suggesting that these cells may be a promising target for the development of fast acting antidepressant drugs.

In addition, the authors showed that acute and chronic treatment with SSRIs had strikingly different effects. Serotonin activates different receptors depending on the length of treatment, and long-term treatment reorganizes neural activity, which short term treatment does not.

This may explain why SSRIs take a long time to have a psychological effect, despite some fast physiological responses.

Depression carries a heavy global health burden. According to the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, 4.7 per cent of respondents reported symptoms of major depression. A 2014 study found major depressive disorder affects seven per cent of the world population and 16 per cent of the US population.

A better understanding of SSRIs can improve the lives of millions of people by one day leading to fast-acting, more effective treatments.

“We’ve uncovered an important aspect of how these drugs alleviate depressive symptoms, yet much work still needs to be done,” says Peyrache. “By untangling some of the processes at the heart of the mechanisms, we are hoping to open avenues for future treatments that will focus more on the specific brain area and cell class involved, rather than a broad, pan-neuronal action. More targeted drugs also often have fewer and less severe side effects.”

Their results were published in the print version of the journal Neuron on Aug. 2. Read the study online.


Desautels welcomes new cohort of Masters of Management in Finance

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 14:42

The newest members of the Desautels Faculty of Management’s Management in Finance program.

By Rosalie Nardelli

The Desautels Faculty of Management welcomed its second cohort of Masters of Management in Finance (MMF) students in July, which was selected from among 576 applicants. The incoming MMF class, 42 in total (16 female, 26 male), speak 19 different languages among them and hail from 11 nations across the world, namely: Canada, China, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Norway, Rwanda, Senegal, United States and Vietnam. Their academic background is equally diverse, with students holding degrees in accounting, business, economics, engineering, law and medicine, to name a few, from universities around the world.

The newest MMF students are entering the program with a CGPA of 3.64 and 14 months of work experience, on average. Beyond their academic and professional experience, they have also realised many personal feats and have given back to their communities. From soccer, hockey and swimming, to foil fencing, figure skating and volleyball, many of this year’s MMF students have achieved successes in local and international sports competitions. Their community involvement also ranges from giving motivational talks to students, to fundraising for children’s charities, and filing taxes for underprivileged households, to name a few.

MMF student Nika Fall (right) with classmates Kevin Yulianto (left) and Dorart Piro (Center).

Almost one month into the MMF program, Alex Hua is enjoying it so far, citing the support of Desautels’ Career Services and the diversity among his classmates as contributing factors. In addition to pursuing his studies, Hua continues to serve as the President and CEO of the non-profit Asia-Pacific Youth Entrepreneurship Foundation, an organization that he founded, which connects Canadian entrepreneurs with Asian markets through engaging events and programming.

MMF student Nika Fall says that she appreciates the small class sizes, as well as her course on trading, which “unlike undergraduate classes, really allows you to get into it in a practical, hands-on way.” In between classes, Fall hopes to find time to get involved with the Desautels Graduate Student Society (DGSS) and the Consulting Club to pursue her passion for university life and to make the very most of her time at Desautels.

The McGill Masters of Management in Finance (MMF) degree is a pre-experience, twelve-month specialized program in finance. Students gain real-life experience by learning from the best and managing millions as a Desautels Capital Management analyst.

Learn more about the Masters of Management in Finance program.


Unsung hero of Dunkirk evacuation a former McGill student

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 16:49

Quick thinking and calm under pressure, James Campbell Clouston, helped save 300,000 men at Dunkirk in WWII.

By McGill Reporter Staff

War has many hidden stories. One of the most dramatic is the saga of James Campbell Clouston, a McGill engineering student, who grew up in Pointe Claire. His is a story of almost mythic heroism.

Clouston is the inspiration for the hero of the remarkable movie Dunkirk. The film does a great job of telling the story of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation from the beach at Dunkirk of 338,000 Allied soldiers, trapped by the Germans between May 26 and June 4, 1940.

But the naval officer played by actor Kenneth Branagh should have had a Canadian accent, say those who remember Clouston.

With Allied troops trapped on the French shoreline, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the mass evacuation of Dunkirk on May 26, expecting to save about 50,000 soldiers. Destroyers were deployed and hundreds of privately owned vessels were commandeered to cross the Channel.

At Dunkirk, Clouston was the pier-master charged with loading exhausted soldiers onto waiting boats from a ramshackle pier extending one-kilometre out into the English Channel. The narrow wooden pier, difficult conditions and frequent strafing from the German Luftwaffe meant that only 50 men an hour could be loaded onto ships. Displaying unshakable calm under pressure, unflagging leadership and an engineer’s penchant for solving problems, Clouston raised the loading rate to 2,000 men an hour.

Thanks in large part to Clouston’s heroic efforts, some 300,000 men escaped from Dunkirk and lived to fight another day.

“He’s one of those great unsung Canadians who, in a pivotal moment in time, does extraordinary things, dies, and then goes completely forgotten,” University of Ottawa history professor Serge Durflinger told the Montreal Gazette in a recent article.

In Walter Lord’s book entitled The Miracle at Dunkirk, based on hundreds of interviews with Dunkirk survivors, Clouston is described as “a Canadian – big, tough, athletic, amusing.”

After five straight days of directing traffic on the pier, an exhausted Clouston was sent back to England. But, after just one night, Clouston volunteered to return to Dunkirk, knowing that his ability to speak French would help with the evacuation of French troops.

Unfortunately, his boat was attacked by dive-bombers and sunk. Surviving the attack, Clouston and a dozen sailors eventually succumbed to hypothermia in the frigid waters of the English Channel. He was 39 and left behind a young son and his pregnant wife.

Though born of a military failure, the heorism displayed at Dunkirk, by both military personnel and the civilian armada, inspired newly elected British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s renowned speech delivered to the House of Commons of the Parliament on June 4, 1940:

“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

James Campbell Clouston  (August 31, 1900 – June 3, 1940) is buried in Becklingen War Cemetery in Germany with 2,374 war dead, one of many cemeteries maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Sadly, despite his heroism and sacrifice, he was never awarded a medal.

Time dims not the achievements of the brave
But worth shines steadfast from the grave.
Lest we forget.

– From the Memorial Hall Book of Remembrance at McGill where the name of James Campbell Clouston is inscribed.



Leacock Terrace soon to be new study and gathering space

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 12:12

The redesigned Leacock Terrace will have more and better-configured seating areas, improved lighting, electrical outlets and USB ports so students can study outside, individually or in groups.

Major renovations to roadway between Leacock and Redpath Museum to be completed by late fall

By Julie Fortier

You may find it hard to believe right now but the large fenced-off area to the east of the Leacock Building will be a lot more welcoming in just a few months.

Staff and students will be able to enjoy a much more visually attractive space, with more and better-configured seating areas, improved lighting, electrical outlets and USB ports.

Workers had to demolish the asphalt layer of the Leacock Terrace and a substantial portion of the concrete slab underneath. / Photo: Juan Carlos Guerrero

“The landscaping was designed with the idea of providing a new gathering space for students, with urban furniture that allows them to study outside, individually or in groups,” says Lorraine Mercier, Director of Design Services at Facilities Management and Ancillary Services (FMAS).

The bulk of the work, though, will have been done underground. That area is a roadway that must remain accessible to emergency vehicles (such as heavy firetrucks). It is also part of the roof to the basement of the Leacock Building. For both those reasons, it must be in good condition.

Over the decades, inadequate water drainage had led to water infiltrations into the asphalt and the concrete slab underneath, damaging the slab, as well as the beams and columns in the basement, and affecting the bearing capacity of the roadway. The work was overdue.

“At the start of the project, we took samples of the concrete in several spots to get an idea of its condition and see how much of the slab needed to be replaced,” explains project manager Agostino Polillo, from the Project Management team at FMAS. “But it’s not until we started the demolition and excavation that we were able to know the full extent of the damage. Some sections were in better shape than we expected, others in worse shape. Overall, the slab was in a slightly worse condition than we thought, as were the beams and columns in the Leacock basement.”

Completion of project tentatively set for late October

To replace the slab, the old slab had to be broken first, which explains the jackhammering and concrete saw cutting staff and students in neighbouring buildings had to patiently put up with earlier this summer.

The project also includes replacing the waterproofing membrane on the north portion of the Redpath Museum’s foundation. / Photo: Juan Carlos Guerrero

Once the new concrete slab is completed, it will be insulated and covered with a waterproofing membrane and then new paving stones. A water retention basin was created to ensure proper water drainage. The University is also taking this opportunity to place a new waterproofing membrane on the north portion of the Redpath Museum’s foundation.

Repairs to the beams and columns in the basement of the Leacock Building are being done concurrently. An outdated HVAC system used there is also being replaced.

The new terrace is tentatively scheduled to be completed by late October. Agostino Polillo hopes the McGill community will like the result. “People who used to sit on the benches inside the building, along the glass-walled corridor, will now be able to do so outside, even hold small events,” he says.

Similar work is planned on the west side of the Leacock Building for 2018. More details on that project will be announced later this year.

Jack Rabinovitch, founder of the Giller Prize, dead at 87

Sun, 08/06/2017 - 23:43

Principal Suzanne Fortier, Jack Rabinovitch and Provost Christopher Manfredi, then Dean of the Faculty of Arts, at the announcement of the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist in Moyse Hall in 2014. / Photo: Owen Egan

By McGill Reporter Staff

Canadian literature has lost one of its most beloved champions. Jack Rabinovitch died on Sunday in Toronto, as a result of injuries suffered in a catastrophic fall at his home earlier this week.

Born, raised and educated in in Montreal, Rabinovitch came from humble beginnings, sometimes joking that he learned his math skills selling newspapers with his father at the corner of Ontario and St. Laurent Blvd.

Graduating from McGill in 1952 with a B.A. in Honours English, Rabinovitch tried his hand at a number of jobs, including as a reporter, speechwriter, food retailing and distribution executive and subsequently as an independent builder and real estate developer. In 1972, he joined Trizec Corporation and was appointed Executive Vice-President in 1986. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Edper Group of companies and Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.

As much success as Rabinovitch had in the private sector, his most famous contribution to Canadian culture took place in 1994, when he founded the Giller Prize in 1994 to honour the memory of his late wife Doris Giller.

“When my wife passed away in April 1993 at age 62 I was quite devastated, to say the least. After a few months I decided that she should not go gently into that last good night without some special tribute. Everybody who knew her knew she was an exceptional person and an exceptional literary journalist,” Rabinovitch told the McGill Reporter in a 2014 interview.

“I met with my friend Mordecai Richler, at Woody’s, a pub on Bishop Street in Montreal in August of that year. I told him I wanted to start a literary fiction prize in Doris’s name and I wanted him to help. Mordecai knew and adored Doris. He agreed immediately. Mordecai suggested that we include David Staines, an eminent English professor and scholar, and over chopped liver at Moishes on The Main, the Giller Prize took form. David then suggested we include Alice Munro in the founding group, and after Alice agreed, we went public. We called it the Giller Prize because we considered it Doris’s prize.”

At the time, Canada’s only major literary prize was the Governor General’s Award and the establishment of the more lucrative Giller Prize quickly created a rivalry. “[The Giller] isn’t a government or corporate prize,” Rabinovitch told the Reporter. “We’re in the very fortunate position of not having to be politically correct, or beholden to any institution or individual about how we run this show. Our jury panel, a group of celebrated thinkers, writers and critics, read more than 150 books each year to come to a difficult choice of, at first 10-12 books and authors, then five and finally a winner. We only tell them: ‘Choose the best book of Canadian fiction of the year.’”

In 2005, the Giller Prize teamed up with Scotiabank to create the Scotiabank Giller Prize. It is the first co-sponsorship for Canada’s richest literary award for fiction. The Prize has become, in the estimation of veteran critic Robert Fulford, “the most celebrated arts prize in the country.”

In 2014, the longlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize was unveiled at Moyse Hall, only the second time the announcement was made outside of Toronto. “Coming to McGill… and announcing our longlist in the Arts Building is like coming home,” Rabinovitch told the Reporter. “McGill is the right place. Doris and I are Montrealers. McGill is my Alma Mater. The prize actually took shape here in Montreal and the Giller Gala, the prize night, is like a Montreal party. Additionally, I have many wonderful memories of McGill – of my time on the McGill Daily, of professors like Hugh MacLennan and George Ian Duthie and the Honorary Doctorate awarded me in 2005.”

Along with the $140,000 first-prize purse, the Scotiabank Giller Prize has given Canadian authors the exposure needed to sell books – something Rabinovitch was eager to promote. “For the price of a dinner in this town you can buy all the nominated books,” Rabinovitch often told the audience of the black-tie Giller Gala. “So eat at home and buy the books.”​


Bridging the healthcare divide by maintaining the human connection

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 12:08

By McGill Reporter Staff

There are few experiences that are more harrowing than having a family member or friend in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

An innovative new program called the Intensive Care Unit Bridge Program (ICUBP) is helping to make Montreal’s Intensive Care Units (ICUs) a more welcoming environment for visitors.

Dr. David Hornstein, of the Montreal General Hospital Intensive Care Unit (MGH ICU), and two energetic McGill students, Adamo Donovan and Milanka Stevanovic, put together this innovative program.

“Our volunteers help guide visitors, increasing communication between them and the busy ICU staff. The ICU gains an entire team of mature university volunteers who help address visitors’ questions, and have the information they need,” say Stevanovic and Donovan.

Milanka (Miki) is a McGill graduate with an honours Undergraduate degree and Master’s degree in Anatomy & Cell Biology.

Two years ago Stevanovic and Donovan were undergrads and co-directors of a shadowing program called McGill Medical Direction, matching students with a medical specialty based on their interests and providing one-time shadowing appointments for them.

They reached out to Dr. Hornstein about the possibility of a shadowing program in the ICU. Instead, Dr. Hornstein suggested a student volunteer program for families in the ICU environment, based on a conversation he had with the mum of a McGill student who died in ICU.

Twenty-year-old Lauren Alexander collapsed in January 2013, with a blood clot in her lung. She died three days later in the Montreal General ICU, surrounded by family and friends, six weeks shy of her twenty-first birthday.

Dr. Hornstein was so moved by her life and sudden death that, with Lauren Alexander’s parents, he launched the Lauren Alexander Support for Families Fund. It helps to fund the ICU Bridge Program, among other services to families of people in critical care. The Fund’s mission is to provide simple, heartfelt gestures to help alleviate the stress of those accompanying someone in a health crisis.

Adamo is a McGill graduate with a Major in Physiology and a Minor in Management.

“There is a very tight connection between the Lauren Alexander Fund and the Bridge Program. Lauren’s Mom Jane planted the seed of the program with me, in a comment she made about what it’s like to arrive in crisis at the ICU,” says Dr. Hornstein. “I believe the ICUBP is truly innovative and provides tremendous support to families, and ICU staff.  It’s a unique opportunity for students to gain experience in Medicine, while dealing with people who are under duress. It really is a triple-win situation.”

“I especially noticed the impact I had today after tending to several patients family members and having them thank me for the ‘human connection’ I made between them and the ICU,” says an anonymous volunteer on the ICUBP web site.”I wanted to share my positive experience with you and thank you for developing such a needed program!”

The program started with 14 McGill students at the Montreal General Hospital ICU during the Winter 2016 semester. It now includes the Jewish General Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital Intensive Care Unit. One hundred and fifty interviews and more than 11 orientations later, the program has 160 volunteers from the three biggest universities in Montreal: McGill, Concordia, and the University of Montreal.

“I was amongst the first ICUBP volunteers” says Nafisa Husein, now the Marketing and Humans of the Hospital (the photoblog) Coordinator. “Through their hard work and dedication, Adamo and Milanka have created a system combining driven students and medical professionals with the goal of helping alleviate immense stress. I am really passionate about this initiative and I believe that the greater McGill community needs to know about it.”

The Intensive Care Unit Bridge Program won the McGill Red & White Community Impact Award in 2016.

To learn more about the program or to apply, visit the website or Facebook page.





Study calls for targeted screening of high-risk healthcare workers for TB

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 10:10

Dr. Kevin Schwartzman (left), Director of the Respiratory Division at the MUHC and a professor of medicine at McGill and Guillaume Mullie, a fourth-year medical student at McGill.

Current strategy of annual screening in North America is expensive and ineffective

By MUHC Public Relations

Tuberculosis (TB) is a recognized hazard for healthcare workers, but the annual screening strategy currently in place in Canada and the United States is costly with very limited health benefits and should be reconsidered, according to a new study led by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). The findings, published in the journal BMC Medicine, suggest health agencies in North America should consider switching to a targeted strategy focusing on high-risk healthcare workers only.

“The background rate of TB in North American communities* is much lower today than it was 25 years ago when there were epidemics of TB in cities across the United States. As such, the risk of healthcare workers being exposed and infected at work is also much lower,’’ says the study’s corresponding author Dr. Kevin Schwartzman, Director of the Respiratory Division at the MUHC and a professor of medicine at McGill. “Our results suggest the annual TB screening protocol should be changed to reflect more accurately the epidemiology of TB in North America and potentially in other high-income countries, such as those in Northern Europe.’’

The researchers used published data to simulate the experience of a cohort of 1,000 workers who received a baseline negative test after hiring — considering duties, tuberculosis exposure, testing and treatment. They compared the cost-effectiveness of three screening strategies: annual screening (for all workers with significant patient contact), targeted screening (regular screening of only the highest risk workers), and post-exposure screening (screening only after identified exposure). They considered two tests to diagnose TB infection: the tuberculin skin test (TST) and the newer QuantiFERON-TB-Gold In-Tube (QFT) test. The results of this study show that the QFT test was found to be more expensive to use than the TST test, with limited, or no, additional benefits.

“We projected costs, morbidity, quality-adjusted survival and mortality over 20 years after hiring. One of the most striking findings was that the current annual screening strategy costs over $1.7 million to prevent one additional case of active TB in a healthcare worker, when compared to a more targeted screening strategy, which in turn costs around $400,000 more per additional case when compared to the post-exposure screening protocol,’’ says the study’s first author Guillaume Mullie, a fourth-year medical student at McGill. “The costs of current practices are quite significant for the healthcare system, and reconsideration of this long-standing recommendation may be warranted.’’

“Additionally, the more you test healthcare workers without true exposure, the more likely it is that when you do find a positive test it will be a false positive because the tests are never perfect.  ” explains Dr. Schwartzman who is also a researcher at the McGill International TB Centre – a hub for scientists worldwide who work together to fight tuberculosis.

According to the researchers, healthcare workers should not be called back routinely every year for testing just because that is the protocol.  Instead, only workers at a particularly high-risk, for example respiratory therapists performing bronchoscopies, or microbiology laboratory workers, should continue to be tested regularly regardless of stated exposure.  Other workers should be evaluated only after exposure to a contagious patient.

Caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis, TB remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.  In its active phase, it is transmitted in droplets when a patient coughs or sneezes. After first contact with the microbe, the disease can develop rapidly or remain latent for several years before activating.  Routine screening and treatment of latent TB infection has traditionally been an important part of TB prevention in Canadian and US healthcare institutions, but recent data have called into question its cost effectiveness

“Resources currently allocated to routine TB testing for healthcare workers in North America could instead be used to increase access to prevention, treatment and testing infrastructure and support in communities that are at higher risk of developing TB disease such as homeless, foreign-born and indigenous people,” states Dr. Schwartzman.

*Incidence of tuberculosis disease (per 100,000 people) in 2015 was 4.6 TB cases per 100,000 in Canada and 3 TB cases per 100,000 in the United States.


International Congress on Whole Person Care

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 09:38

This unique conference hosted by McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and Programs in Whole Person Care will change and reinvigorate your understanding and practice of health care, whether you are a physician, a nurse or other allied health professional, or whether you work in primary care or in a quaternary health care centre.

Oct. 12 – 15, New Residence Hall (3625 Parc Avenue). Get more information and register online.


CIHR wants to hear from you: Your research in 150 words

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 09:13

As part of the Canada 150 celebrations, CIHR would like to feature your work in a showcase of the life-changing research being conducted right here in Canada. CIHR will use your story to create a crowd-sourced digital storybook of health researchers from across the country.

Get more information

Les IRSC veulent vous entendre : parlez‑nous de votre recherche en 150 mots

Dans le cadre des célébrations du 150e anniversaire du Canada, les IRSC aimeraient présenter votre travail dans un ouvrage mettant en valeur la recherche qui change des vies, menée ici même au Canada. Nous utiliserons votre récit pour alimenter un livre numérique sur les chercheurs en santé de partout au pays!



Bard in our yard

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 12:47

By Bud Martin

All the world’s a stage*  –  including the lower field on McGill’s downtown campus. That’s where the Dept. of English’s Early Modern Conversions research group will present a free outdoor performance of Repercussion Theatre’s production of Much Ado About Nothing on the evening of Tuesday, August 1.

Repercussion Theatre will bring Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to McGill’s downtown campus on August 1, 2017. / Photo courtesy of Studio Baron

In William Shakespeare’s tragic romantic comedy, a group of Sicilian nobles become entangled in a web of deception, infidelity and mistaken identity. Repercussion Theatre is staging the play in Montreal parks throughout July and August. (The full schedule is here.) The event begins at 6:30 pm with a special pre-show presentation by McGill English literature professors Fiona Ritchie and Paul Yachnin. The play starts at 7:00.

Repercussion Theatre began its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park summer productions with A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1988. The first year attracted 800 spectators; more than 10,000 people now attend each summer’s performances.

In 2011, Repercussion Theatre began an ongoing collaboration with McGill’s Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI) in an effort to further “connect interdisciplinary academic research with the public world of art, policy and culture.”  The McGill performance of Much Ado About Nothing is a presentation of IPLAI’s Early Modern Conversions research group, which brings together an international team of scholars and artists to study the first great Age of Conversion (1400-1700), during which Europeans converted their religious, social, political, and even sexual identities. The Repercussion Theatre website has more information about its collaborations with IPLAI.

The performance is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted.


*Yes, we realize the quote is from As You Like It, not Much Ado About Nothing. The McGill Reporter regrets nothing.