Two Queen’s researchers named to Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists & Scientists

University District

Katherine McKittrick and Karen Yeates achievement for their fields

Richardson Hall.
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Journal file photo

Two Queen’s researchers, Katherine McKittrick and Karen Yeates, have been recognized by the Royal Society of Canada and elected to the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists program. 

The College is focused on early-career researchers who have achieved major strides in their research fields, with a membership that lasts seven years. Members partake in mentoring, an expert panel and engage with regional programming. 

Katherine McKittrick

“It is amazing to have the work recognized, especially because it focuses so heavily on anti-colonial black studies and new forms of knowledge,” McKittrick told The Journal via email. “I am delighted they are up to this challenge.”

Under the umbrella of Gender Studies, McKittrick’s research concerns black and gender studies, history and literature. She’s also the author of Demonic Grounds, a publication focused on black geographies in the diaspora. Among her recent works, she edited and contributed to a collection of writings authored by her primary influencer, Sylvia Wynter.

McKittrick received her PhD in Geography at York University before coming to Queen’s in 2005, where she began her first teaching job. 

“I want to nod, specifically, to Gender Studies: the faculty and staff in my department have been really supportive of my work,” McKittrick wrote. 

In her next research project, entitled “Dear Science and Other Stories”, McKittrick explores radical and rogue Black Studies. Her focus will remain on black scholars such as Wynter, Edouard Glissant, Dionne Brand and Paul Gilroy. 

“[The scholars] provide new analytical ways to challenge the colonial underpinnings of knowledge production and open up otherwise hidden praxes of liberation.” 

She believes the major benefits of this distinction concern bringing to light the work of black intellectuals above all else. “The women who reimagine the production space, the theorists who are committed to anti-colonial work and liberation,” she wrote. 

“I don’t know if it is about benefitting me, specifically—this is not why I do what I do. But I am really jazzed the RSC is, in some way, celebrating the amazing work of black studies.”

Karen Yeates 

“It’s a huge honour,” Yeates told The Journal. “I really love what I do and I consider my research hopefully important and impactful and most of it has been.”

As part of the field of medicine, Yeates’ research is focused on bringing medical care and expertise to impoverished areas in Africa, specifically Tanzania. She graduated from Queen’s Medical School in ’97, completing methodology training for four years, preceding a Masters at Harvard. 

“I do research in Tanzania, using mobile health tools to build capacity in non-physician health providers to perform tasks of physicians and improve detection of diseases and prevention,” Yeates said. “Primarily in chronic diseases such as cervical cancer and high blood pressure.”

Yeates spent the early years of her career as a physician and kidney specialist. Her work in Tanzania, which began as volunteer work, inspired her to branch out into women’s health and the equity surrounding access to healthcare for women. 

“Over the years through trial and error, and writing and implementing grants, I just started to develop a larger and larger research program,” she said, adding also the contributions of local researchers in Tanzania and East Africa as a significant part of the research journey. 

When asked how the distinction would benefit her research, Yeates indicated her desire to collaborate and connect with other scholarly researchers. “I’m hoping to make connections, collaborations, networks and find roles where I can be mentored, and where I can direct the research agenda,” she said. 

Yeates commented on her experience researching at Queen’s, indicating that despite the size of the university in comparison to an institution like the University of Toronto, there were always many opportunities for research available to her. 

“We continue to build the research program, so I have a number of collaborators and other scientists I work with,” Yeates concluded. “The ultimate goal for me, for any of the interventions we have, is have them scale through to health systems, to be utilized in other counties, to save lives.”

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