Thursday, September 26, 2002
An expert in the relationships between science and religion, Foerst is currently a visiting professor for theology and computer science at St. Bonaventure University at Olean, New York. Her visit is being jointly sponsored by the Pascal Lectures Committee and the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation.
Foerst's first lecture at UW, "And God Created Robots?", will be given tonight at 8 p.m. in the Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building. Her second lecture, "Robots, Humans and the Community of Persons", comes tomorrow night, also at 8:00.
Earlier tomorrow, she will lead a seminar, "Theology and Robots", at 12:30 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1302.
Foerst has worked as research scientist at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was also affiliated with the Center for the Studies of Values in Public Life of the Harvard Divinity School. At MIT's AI Lab, she served as the theological advisor for the Cog and Kismet Projects, two attempts to develop embodied, autonomous and social robots in analogy to human infants which might learn and develop more mature intelligences.
She also initiated "God and Computers", a dialogue project between Harvard Divinity School, the Boston Theological Institute, and MIT and now to be continued at St. Bonaventure. In this function, she has organized several public lecture series and public conferences on AI, computer science and concepts of personhood and dignity.
She is consultant on several projects that explore the connection of new media and religion and especially the Christian churches. As well, she has presented various keynote addresses on the interaction between religion and science.
The Pascal Lecture series was established to create a forum for Christian issues in an academic environment by inviting outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves in both an area of scholarly endeavour and of Christian thought or life. It is financed by donations and royalties from published lectures.
To recognize outstanding accomplishments of alumni, the medal will be awarded annually to one or more UW graduates. Besides academic excellence, winners will be expected to demonstrate distinguished community and public service, as well as outstanding professional or business accomplishments.
"The Faculty of Mathematics is extremely proud of our graduates, who are making important contributions in many vocations around the world," says Alan George, the dean of math. "We are delighted to recognize the first recipients of the Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Achievement Medal, who so amply demonstrate the high calibre of our alumni."
Here are this year's four winners:
James Brierly, who earned his BMath in actuarial science in 1976 and is now president of Canada Life and Health Operations of Munich Reinsurance Company. Munich Re is the world's largest reinsurance company. He has served on the board of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, and also on the board of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) for seven years. In 1993, he became the youngest president ever of the CIA. He's also on the board of the University of Waterloo Foundation and is involved in Campaign Waterloo.
Two medal winners speakRoss Prentice will present a seminar on his research today at 3:30 in Math and Computer room 5158. His topic: "Risks and Benefits of Estrogen Plus Progestin in Healthy Postmenopausal Women: Principal Results from the Women's Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Trial."
And tomorrow, Neil Robertson will speak on his research (also 3:30 in MC 5158). His talk, under the label of the Tutte Colloquium, will be on "The Strong Perfect Graph Theorem".
Ross Prentice, a 1967 graduate in statistics and now vice-president and director of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle. He has been the statistical collaborator in the development of the bone marrow transplant treatment at the cancer research centre and has played a major role in the development of statistical methods for health and medical research. He has contributed to many areas of statistics and health with more than 100 major publications. He is considered a world authority on issues associated with prevention trials, survival data and related issues associated with life history and disease processes.
Neil Robertson, who completed his PhD in the mathematics faculty in 1969, under the supervision of William Tutte, and then embarked on an academic career at the Ohio State University in the field of graph theory. Perhaps best known is his series of research papers with Paul Seymour that proved the Graph Minors Theorem, for which the Fulkerson Prize of the Mathematical Programming Society was awarded in 1994. Like other ground-breaking work, this is known throughout the world by their names alone -- as the "Robertson-Seymour" methodology. Earlier this year, he and a group of co-authors completed a proof of the most widely known open problem in graph theory, the Strong Perfect Graph Conjecture.
Students representing the Entrepreneurs' Association of the University of Waterloo, along with students from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, are jointly presenting the event, which will take place at UWO in London.
The CCEM is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing UW technology students and Ivey business students with a forum to interact and exchange business ideas in an entrepreneurial environment. The conference also seeks to foster networking between what are described as the two top technology and business schools in Canada.
Despite tough times, particularly in the technology sector, organizers say they pressed ahead to hold the conference this year because entrepreneurship and innovation will always drive future growth in the economy. "It has been tough this time around trying to acquire sponsors due to the current conditions of the economy," said Victor Wong, conference co-chair and an Ivey student. "However, companies still see the value of the conference and have generously donated both their time and money to make this conference a success."
Over the two-day event, the expected 150 participants will hear from keynote speakers such as Matthew Holland, author, vice-president of The Boston Consulting Group and leader of Canadian practice; and Robert Fong, author and senior policy advisor in the Ontario ministry of enterprise, opportunity and innovation.
The students will discuss entrepreneurship in Canada, focusing on how technology drives innovation, as well as the level of support needed from customers and shareholders to sustain ideas from behind the wheel.
"This is the second time students from Canada's top business school and Canada's top technology school will interact in a forum designed to not only foster creativity and interaction, but also to address as best as we can the current market conditions today," said Andrew Chung, conference co-chair and a UW computer science student. "The calibre of students present is of the top tier in Canada. Fields of study will include accounting, business, economics, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, systems engineering and biotechnology."
"Ideally, we would like to see groups of students from both schools come away from the conference having formed the foundation and relationships which will eventually lead to a business partnership and even a start-up company," said Aly Gillani, organizational co-chair of the Entrepreneurs' Association of UW and a computer engineering student.
A funeral service will be held this morning for Bill Dick (left), who worked in counselling services at UW -- and was a well-known figure on campus -- from 1968 to his retirement in 1991. A Mennonite minister with a PhD in psychology, Dick also taught in UW's psych department. The funeral is scheduled for 10:00 this morning at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener.
The joint health and safety committee meets at 1:30 today in Needles Hall room 3004, with agenda items that include "diving guidelines", building inspections, asbestos procedures, and the risk of the West Nile virus.
Peter Goldsworthy writes from the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology (LT3): "If you've heard about it, or are just now hearing about 'The New Classroom: Engaging Students with Online Activities' faculty series and T5 teaching model, you may want to come out to the one-hour information session on Thursday between 1 and 2 p.m. LT3 is practicing what they preach by now using online-enhanced materials to show faculty and instructors how to teach online materials to students in an improved environment (students come prepared for the next lecture). This new structure offers a basic template and step-by-step instructions on how to move your course to one with online materials in a student-centred manner. For more information contact Diane Salter at ext. 6832 or dianesalter@lt3. This is part of the LT3 commitment to UWOnE (UW's Online Environment)."
People who have read Alistair MacLeod's No Great Mischief, perhaps as part of the recent "One Book, One Community" program, and even those who haven't read it but would like to, can meet MacLeod at the UW bookstore this afternoon. He'll be there from 2 to 4 p.m. as part of his visit to Kitchener-Waterloo to help celebrate One Book, One Community.
An exhibition of set and costume designs, put together by Jocelyne Sobeski and Bill Chesney of UW's department of drama, opens today in the art gallery in the Modern Languages building, which is also the lobby of the Theatre of the arts. "Before a word is spoken, there are sets and costumes," the flyer for the show reminds us, and before the viewing of the exhibition, there's an opening reception, from 5 to 7 this evening.
This next event is advertised in giant chalk letters outside Needles Hall and, I suspect, elsewhere on campus as well: "Questions for God, Answered", starting at 5:00 this afternoon in Math and Computer room 2066. It's sponsored by the UW Campus Crusade for Christ; the speaker is Kirk Durston, who is national director of something called the New Scholars Society and "is currently continuing work in intelligent design and organic life".
The Communities in Bloom competition is a big thing in Waterloo, a city with many gardens. So it was a source of pride when UW was recently designated as winner in the "institutional" category of the competition (there are also three awards for businesses and half a dozen for homes). The blooming awards are being presented at a reception tonight at Luther Village, and a delegation from UW will be there,including vice-president (administration and finance) Dennis Huber, director of custodial and grounds services Tom Galloway, grounds supervisor Les Van Dongen, and some of the grounds crew. The award, says Galloway, "has a lot to do with the hard work of the grounds staff", not to forget painters, stonemasons and others who contribute to the general look of the campus.
"Religious Tolerance: Spiritual Perspectives" is a session tonight at 7:00 in room 4021 of the Math and Computer building. It's sponsored by the recently formed Spiritual Heritage Education Network and the Waterloo-India Linkage. Brice Balmer, chair of something called Interfaith Grand River, will moderate a panel representing several religions. Admission is free.
It's Thursday, so the Math Society is showing movies tonight: "Men in Black II" at 7:00 and "Minority Report" at 9:00. (Location: Davis Centre room 1302.) "As always it's only two bucks for these two great flicks," says Stephen Skrzydlo, who seems to hold a vast number of positions in MathSoc, including "Movie Guy". He adds: "In case anyone is keeping score, the first Fed Flick had 16 people, the first MathSoc movie night had 92. I think a little friendly competition is a wonderful idea."
And I Mother Earth plays the Bombshelter tonight . . . and "the Kitchener-Waterloo Perlmongers", enthusiasts of the Perl programming language, will hold their first meeting tonight at 7:00 in Davis Centre room 2305 . . . and Waterloo Engineers in Toronto had a breakfast gathering today with a talk on "Ontario's New Electricity Market" . . . and it'll be open stage night at the Grad House starting at 9 p.m., featuring Eden Express ("folk/funk jam band") . . . and Geoff McBoyle, dean of environmental studies, speaks tomorrow morning in the tourism lecture series (9:30, ES I room 132, on "Approaching Tourism Through Climate"). . . .
TODAY IN UW HISTORYSeptember 26, 1976: An emergency meeting of students' council is held after the editor of the student newspaper The Chevron resigns, Federation of Students executives close the paper, and staff members start an occupation of the Chevron office.