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Wednesday, April 10, 2002

  • Federal chair in northern science
  • Information from around the world
  • What people said about the geese
  • The talk of the campus
Chris Redmond

Consumer columnist talks about paying for education


Federal chair in northern science

Earth sciences professor Brent Wolfe (right) is among six researchers across Canada who have been awarded federally-funded chairs for work in northern science.

Over five years, the government will spend $6.1 million "to expand research efforts in Canada's North", a news release said. That includes $700,000 towards Wolfe's salary and research expenditures. The funding is part of "an expanded commitment to Northern research" promised last year by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

Wolfe, who has been at UW for the past decade as graduate student, post-doctoral fellow and research assistant professor, will hold a chair at the "junior" level. He'll keep a faculty appointment at UW, but will hold the position primarily in Wilfrid Laurier University's department of geography and environmental studies. WLU made the application for the chair jointly with UW.

His award is officially an "NSERC Northern Chair in the paleohydrological and paleoecological reconstruction of the Mackenzie Basin Deltas". "I'm extremely excited about it," he said yesterday. "It's a wonderful opportunity to continue and expand the work that we've started." While he's the chairholder, Wolfe emphasized, the research is being done by a team that includes UW's Tom Edwards (earth sciences) and Roland Hall (biology), as well as Mike English and Barry Boots at WLU.

Their work so far has concentrated in the Peace-Athabasca delta in the northeast corner of Alberta, looking at ecological responses to climate change and more direct human interventions such as dam construction. "We use lake sediment, for instance," says Wolfe. "What we're trying to do is understand how these systems have behaved in the past," as a way of predicting how they might respond to future changes.

"We have learned lots of interesting things," he says, and now the work can be extended to rivers further north. The NSERC news release says Wolfe's research program "will provide a comprehensive history of the frequency and magnitude of floods and droughts in the deltas of the Peace-Athabasca, Slave and Mackenzie Rivers over the past one thousand years. These river systems, which are of both great ecological and cultural importance to Northerners, are extremely sensitive to climate change."

Supporters and partners for the project include BC Hydro, Wood Buffalo National Park, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Environment Canada, and Aurora College.

It's all part of an effort to expand the amount of scientific work done in the northland. "There is a great need for more research and more researchers in Canada's North -- new knowledge and education are the key to solving problems and taking advantage of opportunities there," said Maurizio Bevilacqua, secretary of state for science, research and development. The five other chairs announced last week will be doing research in such fields as northern diets, forest fires, the future of fish resources, and the stability of permafrost.

In September 2000, a task force from NSERC and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council issued a report on the state of research in the North. The report, From Crisis to Opportunity: Rebuilding Canada's Role in Northern Research, proposed a program that includes the chairs as well as other forms of funding and "partnerships between universities and northern communities". "With the impetus created by our new NSERC Northern Research Chair program, and the increasing public awareness of the importance of the Arctic and Canada's role there, northern science in Canada is poised for a revival," says NSERC president Tom Brzustowski.

Bob Norman,
kinesiology professor and former dean, posed on his retirement day, March 1, during the first of two celebrations in his honour. An academic event that involved many of Norman's past graduate students -- plus his own PhD supervisor from Pennsylvania State University -- was followed by a social evening.

A faculty member at UW since 1967, Norman served as dean of the faculty of applied health sciences from 1991 to 1997, then left the dean's office to concentrate on heading a major research project in industrial safety. In retirement, he'll be continuing to do research and consulting work through the Ergonomics and Safety Consulting Services based in the kin department.

He is a past president of the Canadian Society for Biomechanics and of the International Society of Biomechanics and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Information from around the world

"Wherever it is, the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service can get it for you!" says the new issue of the UW library's electronic newsletter.

It goes on: "ILL is the service to use when materials you need are not available within our local TRELLIS catalogue." (Trellis covers resources at UW, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph -- both paper items such as books and journals, and electronic information such as "e-journals".)

How to use ILL? "Simply fill in the Interlibrary Loan Web form with as much information as possible about the needed material, the source of your information, and specifics such as your time requirements.

"Interlibrary loan staff search for possible library locations using tools such as Amicus. The effective use of technology enables staff to obtain journal articles quickly, often in a matter of days. Books and specialized items may be obtained from a great distance, and may take weeks to arrive from the loaning institution. Our service is dependent upon other libraries and document suppliers, but generally books located at an Ontario institution arrive within 2 weeks and most articles arrive within 4-5 days. Except for highly specialized materials, all costs for obtaining materials through ILL are absorbed by the Library."

But there's an important catch, as the newsletter goes on to explain:

"While the development of the Web has expanded the ability to identify vast amounts of information, copying of this information is still highly restricted through law and licensing agreements to which Libraries and their user community must adhere.

"Copies of articles or documents provided through the Interlibrary Loan or TUGdoc service are made according to the limits specified under Canadian Copyright Law or under the terms of the University agreement with CANCOPY. This generally means that supplying libraries cannot copy more than a single copy of an article from one journal issue, or more than one article, provided the total number of pages does not exceed 10% of the issue for one user. If your request exceeds this, then we must go directly to the copyright owner or use a document supply service that pays premiums to the copyright owner.

"Use of electronic collections is based on a license or agreement between the Library and the owner of the rights to distribute digital information. Licenses often restrict supplying libraries from using their electronic collections to fill interlibrary loan requests.

"Due to Copyright, CANCOPY or licensing restrictions, it may cost the Library more to obtain the article for you and may take longer than expected to fill your request. . . . While most interlibrary loan/document delivery services now send and receive copies of articles through the Internet, using a software system called Ariel, Canadian Copyright Law states that the end user must receive a print copy. Whether we obtain a pdf copy of an article online or receive an electronic copy through Ariel, you will continue to receive a print copy of the article, until Canadian Copyright Law allows otherwise.

"Canadian Copyright Law restricts use of materials received through document delivery solely for the purpose of research or private study. Users must agree to this before submitting a TUGdoc or interlibrary loan request. Also, users should not request multiple copies of the same article. If you photocopy materials from copyright protected material, you should follow the same guidelines as libraries do when copying on your behalf. Guidelines for copying are posted at public photocopiers throughout the campus."

What people said about the geese

Yesterday I reported that Canada geese have been terrorizing the human population in the engineering quadrangle. Obviously the subject hit the right note with readers, as I had a number of comments by e-mail:
  • Last year around this time I was attacked by a goose on that same part of campus, so I am pretty sure it is the same one. I was walking through the corridor with my umbrella up and all of a sudden something hit me in the head and completely knocked me over. It must have swooped down from on top of the building and I didn't even see it coming. Then it proceeded to start attacking the other people walking by. My umbrella was broken and I was a little shaken up but luckily I was not injured.

  • Maybe (most likely) the geese are being protective, not aggressive. But humans haven't figured that out. Was it Northrop Frye who called it the "stockade syndrome"? Should the administration call them terrorists and get the Marines in?

  • You reported that the girl was taken to Health Services by a Plant Operations employee. The girl that was attacked was my friend Andrea; I was with her at the time. It was a very frightening (albeit in hindsight funny) incident and the man from Plant Operations came to our rescue as Andrea and I tried to figure out where to take her to get help with her injury. We would very much like to thank that man in person for going above and beyond his duty.

  • Well, the 'Caution, Aggressive Geese' sign didn't last long. I'm guessing that someone took a fancy to it and walked away with it, because it isn't there now! It was still there in mid-afternoon, but by late afternoon it had walked away.
  • And a couple of people reminded me of the fine article by Alex Matan that appeared in the Iron Warrior this time last year.

    The talk of the campus

    Poll results first. In Monday's Bulletin, I asked, "Should professors routinely screen students' work to detect Internet plagiarism?" The responses: If you have a suggestion for a future question, drop me a note. But the next poll won't be happening until next week; I'm about to take a couple of days off, and my colleague Barbara Elve will be looking after the Daily Bulletin while I'm away.

    Next, a correction. Yesterday I mentioned the staff association outing to Casino Rama, and said it would be happening "Saturday, May 1". That should have said May 11, of course. Luanne McGinley at ext. 3497 is still eager to hear from those who want to book seats on the bus.

    Just how big is the planned "research and technology park" on UW's north campus? The official answer is 120 acres, but there's another way to look at it -- from the business end of a bulldozer. Waterloo Region advertised recently for general contractors interested in bidding on the "site grading and erosion control works" for the park's infrastructure. Here's what the job includes:

    Clearing and Grubbing 1 Hectare
    Topsoil Stripping and Stockpiling 156,000 m3
    Earth Grading 240,000 m3
    Storm Water Management Pond Excavation 115,000 m3
    Erosion Control Works Lump Sum
    Topsoil, Seed and Mulch 115,000 m2
    Temporary Ground Cover 285,000 m2
    "Contract documents are being prepared," says the Region, "for an anticipated construction period of May 2002 to July 2002."

    Events today:



    April 10, 1974: A special meeting of the Graduate Club is held to discuss the possibility of voting on unionization for graduate teaching assistants. April 10, 1999: A UW team wins the world championship in the ACM programming contest.

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