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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Monday, June 5, 2000

  • First Jewish studies professor coming
  • Student plays role in genetic study
  • Another busy week on campus

[Chair at 6:26:53 p.m.]
'Stupid human tricks' was the heading on the e-mail that announced this stunt late last week. Details: "Adam, a 1st year CS student living in Village I, had this bet: to lean on the back two legs of his chair for 15 hours straight. Yes, it's not all that exciting, but hey, thanks to the Internet we can broadcast this stuff to whoever we want. He leaned for 15 hours, 10:05 a.m. to 1:05 a.m. He made $145 in the end on the bet."

First Jewish studies professor coming

UW's first professor in the field of Jewish studies will be arriving July 1 to take a tenure-track faculty position, the dean of arts says in his report to senate this month.

The newcomer is James Diamond, who will hold the long-awaited chair in Jewish studies, which is being supported by a privately given endowment. One donor alone has given the fund some $500,000.

"I don't have all the money in the endowment yet, but I have about a million and a half dollars, enough to launch the program," says Paul Socken, head of the Jewish studies committee as well as chair of UW's department of French studies.

Diamond is a lawyer who more recently turned his attention to religious studies and earned a PhD last year from the University of Toronto. "Professor Diamond is an expert on the work of Moses Maimonides, one of Judaism's seminal thinkers," says the dean's report to senate. "He has published in leading journals in his field."

Socken said he's hoping Diamond will be able to make his academic home in UW's department of philosophy, with a cross-appointment to the religious studies department. At present, the dean is simply listing him as "Assistant Professor, Jewish Studies Program".

Student plays role in genetic study
-- from the UW Recruiter newsletter for co-op employers

[Fong at MSU sign] Arriving at Michigan State University for her third co-op term, 3A Biochemistry student Cora Fong never thought she would be performing the level of work she ended up doing, after only two years of undergraduate studies. As a research assistant, Cora was part of a team working in the emerging field of toxicogenomics -- a field combining the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms, with technology that examines hundreds (or thousands) of genes simultaneously. The importance of this field lies in the fact that humans and wildlife have been increasingly exposed to chemicals ~the extensive use of PCBs during the '60s and '70s is a prime example), of which many long range repercussions are not yet known.

In particular, Cora and her team focused their attentions on a controversial issue in the science community: whether or not PCBs and other estrogenic chemicals may contribute to reported decreases in sperm counts all over the world. Because of the serious implications associated with this issue, the studies, funded by the United States', Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund, are of significant importance and interest to industry, academia, government, and the public alike.

At the start of her work term, Cora was given her own project to research and build a mouse database that would be used to examine the effects of PCB exposure during fetal and neonatal development on the fertility of male mice. Cora worked alongside graduate students, PhDs, and other undergraduates in an environment that she described as amazing. "Everyone was treated equally, and I was made to feel totally comfortable." And while Cora certainly enjoyed her experience at Michigan State University, the feeling was definitely mutual. Dr Tim Zacharewski, head of the lab, praised Cora's maturity, Cora Fong expanded her knowledge of both mice and men on her work term at Michigan State. reliability, independence, and competence, saying that her efficiency "propelled the project into its next phase." In effect, it is co-op students like Cora who have convinced Dr. Zacharewski that not only is co-op "an excellent predictor of the likelihood of productivity and overall success," but that co-op students and the co-op program are also "a tremendous resource."

Encouraged by her co-workers and supervisors, Cora also found this experience to be an excellent opportunity to expand her horizons. Even with her full work schedule, Cora was able to enroll in a graduate level seminar course, participate in small lunch meetings with invited external seminar speakers, and visit different local company lab settings -- giving her a better appreciation of the differences between industrial vs. academic research environments.

All in all, this one experience has left Cora with a clearer vision for her own future. She now realizes that she definitely wants to pursue an academic career, earn her PhD, and continue her research relating to the Human Genome project -- something she's been interested in since her work term at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. Cora plans to return for a second work term at Michigan State University for the spring term of 2000.

Another busy week on campus

The executive committee of the UW senate will meet at 3:30 today in Needles Hall room 3004, to set the agenda for the June 19 meeting of the full senate.

And the board of governors will hold its summer meeting tomorrow, with a confidential session first at 2:30 and the open session beginning at 3:45 p.m. Usually that arrangement means an off-campus expert or special guest, and the agenda gives a clue: during the confidential session the board will be asked to make a decision about something from its building and properties committee, which has been heavily involved in plans for a north campus research and technology park. So watch for possible news. Agenda items during the open session of the board include the 2000-01 operating budget for the university, the Engineering III and Engineering Lecture Hall expansion projects, and a boost in the Federation of Students fee from $24.75 to $25.40 per term.

The Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology will hold an open house Wednesday, 3 to 5 p.m., at its new quarters on the third floor of the Dana Porter Library.

Preregistration for winter term undergraduate courses -- yes, it seems incredible, but co-op students now on campus will mostly be back again in chilly January -- is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday of this week.

The career resource workshop series (that seems to be what the career development workshops are being called now) continues with two sessions this week: "Create Your Own Future" at 2:30 on Tuesday and "Know the Employer" at 10:30 on Thursday, both in Needles Hall room 1020.

And on Saturday, Renison College has a very special event: a Printmakers' Fair, with exhibitions and demonstrations. Watch for more information as the week goes on.

CAR


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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