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Friday, June 8, 2001

  • Corn, fees, marks, and iodine
  • $4 million in NSERC grants
  • Math prof gets his teaching award
  • Microbiologists meet on campus
  • Events of today and the weekend

Corn, fees, marks, and iodine

Oh what a beautiful mornin' -- although I don't think the corn is as high as an elephant's eye yet, even on the north campus, where corn does still grow. But the sky is blue with the white library towering against it, the trees are absurdly green, and there's a bright golden haze on the construction site for the new co-op and career services building. Surely that huge excavation is nearly finished? For the record: they ripped out the old stairway up from the arts quad to South Campus Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

My apologies, now, for saying in yesterday's Bulletin that there would be a power outage this morning in Carl Pollock Hall. In fact the blackout was early yesterday (Thursday), which means I should have had it in Wednesday's Bulletin. I hope nobody was greatly inconvenienced.

The news web site uwstudent.org reported last night that UW registrar Ken Lavigne "is proposing a new fee structure for registrar services, which Feds president, Yaacov Iland, says he will support if students approve it in a referendum. The proposal would assess a one-time $40 fee to replace fees for eight different services in the registrar's and graduate studies offices. Students would pay only once in their lives and be able to receive services that include official transcripts and duplicate grade reports, services that now range in cost from $5 to $25."

Ever since plans for the high school double cohort were announced, the Ontario government has been promising that marks earned by students in the new curriculum would mean the same as marks earned by students in the old, five-year program. An 80 would be an 80, and universities could compare the students directly when they came to apply for university in 2003. Peter Burroughs, UW's director of admissions, says universities have now been told that that promise is inoperative. "Grades submitted under the new curriculum," he warned UW's undergraduate council the other day, "will be significantly different than those submitted under the old. . . . A task force, comprised of College, University and Ministry representatives, will be struck to look into this issue." It's expected that average marks will be lower for students out of the tough new four-year high school course. Meanwhile, Burroughs says, UW's web page about 2003 admissions has been changed to take away the statement that marks will be treated "equally".

The admission process for the current year is moving along. Burroughs issued a report the other day on the number of students who have been offered admission to UW for September 2001 -- exactly 14,437 of them, as of May 26. That compares with 13,181 at the same time last year, largely because UW's target for first-year students has gone up, from 4,120 last year to 4,322 this year.

The school of architecture sends word that faculty member Brian Hunt was inducted last week as a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. "Brian was recognized," says architecture director Rick Haldenby, "for his contributions to the Canadian Architectural Certification Board, the RAIC Syllabus Programme, and a career of teaching excellence at the University of Waterloo. He is the only Fellow of the RAIC currently on faculty at UW." The induction took place at a ceremony in Halifax, where the RAIC has been holding its annual convention.

History professor Lynne Taylor asks me to spread the word about an event sponsored by her association-in-law, the Kiwanis Club of Waterloo North: a "trivia night" scheduled for next Thursday, June 14. "The first prize is $400, the second prize is $200 and the third prize is $100," she says. "Those interested need to register in teams of four. Proceeds from the evening will go towards the Kiwanis' battle against IDD, Iodine Deficiency Disorder, around the world." For tickets: 741-7515.

$4 million in NSERC grants

New grants to UW from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council this year will total just a hair more than $4 million -- up from $3 million last year.

UW is receiving 120 new grants worth $4,010,653, says Barb Cooke in the university's research office. Last year the figure was 104 grants for $3,075,372.

Most NSERC grants run for three or four years. Cooke also provided figures on grants that are in a renewal year in 2001-02: 307 of them, worth a total of $9.1 million. (Last year, there were 311 renewed grants, for a total of $9.7 million.)

NSERC is also sending Waterloo $120,000 in "major facilities access grants", $550,405 in "collaborative research opportunities" grants, and $2.5 million for 32 equipment grants. NSERC is the single biggest source of research funding for Waterloo laboratories, accounting for more than a quarter of UW's total research income.

Brian Tobin, federal minister of industry, stepped forward as this year's NSERC grants were announced -- a total of $346 million across Canada. "NSERC-funded professors contribute the ideas that fuel tomorrow's innovations," said Tobin in a news release. "They are moving Canada towards its goal of becoming one of the top five R&D performers in the world."

NSERC singled out two UW professors among those who were profiled to catch the interest of the national media:

Molecular muscle energy. How do muscles get the energy they need? It turns out they have to work for it, says the University of Waterloo's Arend Bonen. His research team is exploring how special muscle cell-surface proteins transport sugars into the cell. The research will provide key insights into basic muscle energy metabolism, an issue that's important for everyone from athletes to diabetics. $104,800 a year for four years.

How old is your well water? The University of Waterloo's William Robertson is testing a new technique that could identify young, and therefore potentially dangerous, well water. The researcher will use the presence of CFC-replacement compounds, widely used only since the 1990s, as an indicator of groundwater's age. Younger groundwater has a greater chance of being contaminated with bacteria, since it was more recently in contact with surface contaminants. $17,280 a year for two years.

[Scoins at blackboard]

Math prof receives teaching award

UW mathematics lecturer Ron Scoins (right), who last month was named winner of a teaching award from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, will receive his award at a ceremony at noontime today at Toronto's Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

Scoins, who won a UW Distinguished Teacher Award in 1999, is one of seven instructors across the province receiving an OCUFA award for "excellence in university teaching".

The awards are presented annually to "faculty at Ontario universities who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their respective disciplines", said OCUFA president Henry Jacek. "These are the men and women who both inspire and inform their students -- people who make a difference both to their profession, and in the lives of their students by ensuring the best in course development, instruction, and research."

A citation prepared for the award describes Scoins as "the author, co-author or editor of numerous educational materials: six volumes of Problems, Problems, Problems; Problems and How to Solve Them, and Can you Pass These Tests? As Director of the University of Waterloo's prestigious Canadian Mathematics Competition, he has overseen the development of years of testing materials. Professor Scoins is also a teacher/leader for the contest-winning student during their summer seminar at the University of Waterloo.

"Professor Scoins has a distinguished record of developing workshops for high school mathematics teachers across Canada. He was a founding member of the Grand Valley Mathematics Association, an important forum for the exchange of ideas on teaching that subject, and many teachers write that he has been a key figure bridging the gap between high school and university teachers of mathematics.

"His students are impassioned in their accounts of his generosity, encouragement, good humour and constant support. Many who had a fear of mathematics report that they grew to love it because of Professor Scoins."

Microbiologists meet on campus -- from the UW news bureau

Researchers who study the small yet powerful organisms that make up the microbial world will gather at UW June 10-13 to discuss the future of their field in light of the Human Genome Projects.

"Bioinformatics and Biotechnology in the Post-Genome Era" is the theme of the annual general meeting of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists. Bioinformatics is the application of modern computational techniques to the visualization, manipulation and exploration of molecular biological data.

"These are exciting times for microbiology," said UW biology professor Trevor Charles, one of the event's organizers. "This is partly because of recent developments in genomics and bioinformatics that have changed the way that we approach our science."

He said that besides contributing to fundamental knowledge that impacts on the understanding of life itself, modern microbiological research is important to the health, environment, agriculture and industry sectors.

About 300 participants, mainly from across Canada, are expected to attend the meeting. "This is the first time that this event has been held at UW," Charles said.

The society is divided into eight sections: applied microbiology, environmental microbiology, genetics and molecular biology, infections and immunity, microbial physiology, morphology and structure, veterinary microbiology and virology.

At the annual general meeting, scientists will present scientific reports of their own work and participate in symposia with invited speakers of international stature. Scientific companies and suppliers will also display their products. Topics at the symposia include Bioinformatics in the Post-Genome Era; Biodegradation of Organic Contaminants; Biobased Industrial Products; E. coli 0157; Microbial Evolutionary Genomics; Use of Genomics to Study Veterinary Pathogens; Plant-Microbe Interactions Soil and Plant Associated Microorganisms; Industrial Biotech; Food Microbiology; and The Genome, from Organism to Structure.

Underground gathering

UW's Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technologies, with the National Research Council, hosts an International Conference on Underground Infrastructure Research, Sunday through Wednesday at the Four Points Sheraton hotel in Kitchener. Chair of the conference is Mark Knight of UW's civil engineering department.

Events of today and the weekend

Co-op students in teaching programs get their ranking forms for fall term jobs at 10:00 today and must return them by 4 p.m.

Purchasing services holds the last in a series of "trade shows": representatives of Basics, UW's new stationery supplier, will chat with staff members from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1301.

The LT3 teaching centre holds a "grad huddle" at 2:30 in Dana Porter Library room 329: graduate student Duncan Mowbray of physics will show off the work he's been doing.

Tonight begins Pride Weekend in and around Waterloo, and Gays and Lesbians of Waterloo will celebrate by holding the first Boys & Boyz & Girls & Grrls Night of the term, starting at 9 p.m. at the Bombshelter Pub in the SLC. "The event is a takeoff on the hugely popular Boys and Girls Night," GLOW coordinator Matthew Nichols notes. "Even though this event is being organized for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Community, any 'queer-friendly' faculty, staff, students and members of the local community are invited to attend. Last term, we had a great turnout at these nights, and we hope to continue the trend!"

The Humanities Theatre continues busy, with recitals tonight by Dance Adventure (7:30) and over the weekend by Waterloo Dance Centre (7:00 Saturday, 1:30 Sunday).

"Women of Grace", the biennial "feminist spirituality conference" sponsored by the United Church of Canada, takes place over the weekend at the Ron Eydt Village conference centre and elsewhere on campus. Several hundred women are expected, taking part in yoga, religious services, nature hikes, and workshops on such topics as aging, aromatherapy, modern dance, play, storytelling, lesbian spirituality, justice and music. women's conference

Ron Eydt Village will also find room to house a number of participants in the Ontario International Tattoo, a performance by marching bands and other skilled folks in uniform, tonight and tomorrow at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Centre.


[UW logo] 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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