Pushing Forward: One Road at a Time

January 2016

Jamie-Lee Freeston

Schulich Leader at Queen's University

How is it possible, that the further you go into your post-secondary career, the faster time flies by? It seems unfair don’t you think? Just as you start to figure things out, and find your place in the school and community, the entire experience seems to go by in a heartbeat. 
 
Fall semester of third year has by far been my favourite. The longer I stay at Queen’s, the more I love it, and the more I am thankful to be here, surrounded by incredible people, full of numerous opportunities, and pursuing a degree that I love. Thank you to the entire Schulich Leader Foundation for all of the support during this incredible journey.
 
One of the highlights of my semester would certainly be the opportunity I was given to present my research to a professional audience. Having worked and researched under a professor at Queen’s the summer after my first year in 2014, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity this past November to present our research at the Canadian Technical Asphalt Association 2015 Conference (CTAA) in Ottawa. We had written a paper, along with a few other colleagues, concerning the physical hardening and crystallization of asphalts, how to model this phenomenon, and validating/improving various asphalt testing procedures, such as the LS-308 EBBR test. We were trying to prove these tests are in fact important in the industry, and also tried to make them more practical for implementation. Asphalt research is very important, as with the right testing methods implemented across the world, higher quality asphalt would be used, and better performing roads would be constructed and paved, resulting in fewer potholes and cracking, ultimately saving tax-payer money in the long run. Now with this paper accepted at the CTAA Conference, I was honoured to have been chosen to present it. Never in my life have I had to present something of this importance to such a large audience! It was definitely nerve-wracking to get up in front of the 200-300 industry and government professionals with all eyes on me, but in the end, everything worked out, and it was a great presentation. Our paper even won the Elaine Thompson Award for the Editor’s Best Paper, which is absolutely insane to think about. 
 
It was such an incredible experience, to have the opportunity to gain public speaking skills and talk about a real world issue that is currently a problem for so many communities. It’s amazing to think that the research and work that I have contributed to, if adapted by municipalities, can have such a huge, positive impact on people. It was also really neat to talk to and network with various representatives and companies from around Canada. 
With this experience, I have realized that no matter what I end up doing in my life, I know I want to continue to make a difference with the work I accomplish. Whether it remains within the scientific community, or elsewhere, knowing my work can benefit other people positively is such a rewarding and satisfying feeling, and that is what drives me to keep learning and pushing forward.