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Thursday, June 17, 1999

  • Branta canadensis moves in
  • Tax experts graduate today
  • Animator wins innovation medal
  • And a few other events

Branta canadensis moves in -- by Barbara Elve

The campus is under siege from a gang of winged ruffians who intimidate pedestrians and leave a trail of excrement in their wake. The culprits are the Canada geese who have settled into academic life year-round, and their numbers are legion.

[Two geese] "The campus belongs to the geese," claims John Debrone, studio technician in the school of architecture. "People cannot even sit on the grounds by the lake to rest, read or to eat their lunch. Geese leave droppings the size of your leg everywhere. They are nasty, aggressive, and as they protect their young these days, they are becoming downright dangerous." No longer a mere gaggle, the geese roam around campus in packs "of perhaps 40 or more young uns," he adds, with eight to 10 adults "standing on guard -- ruthlessly".

Others agree. "They're destructive. They're displacing other species," says ecology lab manager Larry Lamb.

Three environment and resource studies students have decided to tackle the geese on their own turf. As part of a WatGreen project they're conducting for the ERS 285 course (Greening the Campus), Christy Campbell, Adrienne Mount and Allison Wells are developing a proposal for goose aversion through landscaping.

They've found studies that show the vast expanses of manicured lawns bordering the creek and ponds provide an ideal habitat for the geese -- a kind of waterfowl country club. By creating a buffer zone of taller vegetation along the creek banks, the students hope to discourage the geese from nesting. Plantings of indigenous trees, shrubs and tall wildflowers make predators more difficult to spot, and movements of goslings more difficult to monitor.

The proposal calls for establishment of a five by 10-metre test site along the west side of Laurel Lake with native species such as white cedar, red osier dogwood, asters, cardinal flower and fireweed. If the geese now nesting in the area are deterred by the plantings, the concept could be expanded, say the students, along the length of the Laurel Creek watershed on campus. Besides discouraging nesting, such buffer zones of vegetation along the creek offer other benefits, they note, providing erosion protection, shade for aquatic life, and habitat for birds and butterflies.

A previous study conducted on the health of the Laurel Creek ecosystem by graduate students in the school of planning in 1996, made similar recommendations. It condemned human tampering with the waterway, citing the three man-made reservoirs on campus -- Columbia Lake, Laurel Lake and the reflecting pond adjacent to Health and Safety -- as contributing to poor water quality of the creek.

A story in the October 23, 1996, Gazette described the findings of the study, reporting that "the reservoirs reduce water velocity and allow sediment deposits, creating shallow ponds that increase water temperature in the stream, encourage algae growth and reduce oxygen levels. Aggravating the situation are large populations of waterfowl soiling the water with bacterial contamination and overland runoff polluting an already toxic soup."

Tom Galloway, director of custodial and grounds services for plant operations, has given the green light to the WatGreen buffer plantings. "I'm interested to see what effect it will have on the geese, if it is a deterrent," he said.

Tax experts graduate today

The first graduates of UW's Master of Taxation program will receive their degrees today, as the university's 78th Convocation continues. The ceremony starts at 2 p.m. in the main gym of the Physical Activities Complex.

The 10 MTax students have completed an intensive 20-month program of academic study and practical work offered in Toronto by the UW school of accountancy. "These grads have the broad range of knowledge and technical skills required for a challenging, successful career in taxation, whether it's in industry, government or tax practice," says program director Jim Barnett, a tax professor in the school.

Offered on a cost-recovery basis (tuition fees have no government subsidy), the innovative program has prepared these students to advise business clients on planning corporate structure, developing tax-minimization strategies, structuring business transactions and other matters.

The initial graduates are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, all with professional careers in the tax field. Their instructors included Barnett and UW accountancy professors Stan Laiken, Ken Klassen and Alan Macnaughton, plus experts from the Canadian Tax Foundation and the "Big Five" accounting firms. Taxation publishers Carswell and CCH Canadian have provided support.

Altogether, UW will be awarding 884 degrees today, all from the faculty of arts. John Mogensen, receiving his BA in philosophy, will give the valedictorian's address on behalf of the graduating students.

One of those 884 graduates is getting nationwide publicity: Don Boudria, government leader in the House of Commons, who earned his BA in history through distance education. He'll be the guest of honour at a surprise party tonight in Federation Hall, organized by local the Federation of Students, the UW Young Liberals, Kitchener-Waterloo Member of Parliament Andrew Telegdi, and former MP and currently professor of history John English. Proceeds from the $20 ticket price will go towards a fund to help students in financial need.

At today's convocation ceremony, two honorary degrees are to be given -- to Kitchener lawyer Peter Sims, a former chair of the UW board of governors, and Janet Wright, well-known as a "headhunter" for higher education institutions. Wright will give the convocation address.

UW will honour two of its own, as Michael Craton, retired from the department of history (but not from his enthusiasm for the game of cricket), becomes "distinguished professor emeritus", and Geoffrey Fong of the psychology department receives his Distinguished Teacher Award.

Nova Scotia based poet George Elliott Clarke will receive an "Arts Alumni Achievement Award"; Livia Zufferli, graduating in economics, receives the alumni gold medal for the arts faculty; and Cathy Harrison, graduating in classical studies, receives the Governor-General's Gold Medal.

Animator wins innovation medal

This year's winner of the J. W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation from UW is Kim Davidson, president and chief operating officer of Side Effects Software, who will give a public lecture on Friday and receive his medal at the Saturday morning session of convocation.

Davidson's talk will start at 2:30 tomorrow in Davis Centre room 1302. Its title: "From The Last Star Fighter to Star Trek: Insurrection: The Evolution of Computer Animation". Software from Davidson's firm was used in such recent films as "The matrix", "eXistenZ", "Prince of Egypt", and "What Dreams May Come".

Here's an abstract of the talk he will give tomorrow:

Fifteen years ago, computer animation was revolutionizing the look of films, TV and videos -- from spaceships rendered on a Cray supercomputer for the film "The Last Starfighter", to chrome hockey pucks rendered on a DEC VAX for "Hockey Night In Canada". Today, computer animation is a vital part of virtually every film, commercial, and game on the market. These images are the manifestation of a large, evolving computer animation industry: an industry subject to technological advances and paradigm shifts which create enormous business challenges for those involved. Through use of animation and images, this talk will provide insight into the technical and business challenges of the 3D animation (or digital content creation) industry, both past and present.
Davidson's talk is hosted by the faculty of mathematics and the InfraNet Project at UW. Davidson, who is also president and executive producer of Catapult Productions, makers of the children's TV series "Monster By Mistake", graduated from UW in 1977 with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree and again in 1981 with a Bachelor of Mathematics degree.

Last year, he was one of four Side Effects Software employees to receive a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science for his work in developing the Prisms software package. The software is used to simulate natural phenomena and create complex three-dimensional models and motion for feature film visual effects.

And a few other events

The Federation of Students will unveil its new logo at 12 noon today in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. "The old logo has been around for five years, but the new executive that took office on May 1 felt that it was time for change," says Chris Harold, vice-president (internal) of the Federation. "The new logo is a little softer, more corporate, and not as static looking as the old one. It is an eye-catcher! It was selected by a committee of seven at the end of May and then unanimously approved by Students' Council on June 6."

The department of statistics and actuarial science presents a talk by Wenxin Jiang of Northwestern University today at 3:30 (Math and Computer room 5136). Topic: "Hierarchical Mixtures-of-Experts for Generalized Linear Models: Some Results on Denseness and Consistency".

Tomorrow morning, the department of Germanic and Slavic languages and literatures presents Gabriele Lunte of the University of Kansas, speaking on "Highlights of a Unique Bavarian Dialect: The Bohemian German of Ellis County, Kansas". The talk begins at 9:30 a.m. in Humanities room 373.

A correction to yesterday's Bulletin: the bookstore (and UW Shop and Techworx) will be open on Saturday, for the benefit of convocation visitors, from 11:00 to 4:00, rather than the hours I cited.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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