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Friday, January 24, 2003

  • It's Friday and it's payday
  • Team wins prize for protein program
  • History prof writes first novel
  • Business ethics, and other events
Chris Redmond

Robbie Burns | Australia Day | Super Bowl


Pat Rowe officially retired from UW's psychology department in September, although she continues to be actively involved, a note from the psych department points out. A faculty member in industrial and organizational psych since 1965, Rowe served as acting dean of arts in 1973-74 and dean of graduate studies 1991-99. A reception today "will provide an opportunity for campus colleagues, friends and family to offer good wishes". The event runs from 4 to 6 p.m. at the University Club.

It's Friday and it's payday

Just about everybody on the regular payroll at UW, whether "monthly" or "biweekly", gets paid today -- dates for the two payrolls happen to coincide, because January's pay date was moved ahead a week from the usual "last Friday of the month". (Faculty and monthly-paid staff will next see cheques, or the electronic equivalent, on February 28.)

And today everybody's looking at pay information, either on paper or electronically through 'myHRinfo', and maybe wondering where the money went.

Some changes from the December bottom line will be the result of alterations in deductions for taxes, Employment Insurance and Canada Pension that happen every year on January 1. And people who reached annual limits on EI and CPP deductions several months ago are paying premiums again with the start of the new calendar year.

In addition to all that, pay deductions for UW's own pension plan have jumped back to the "normal" level, after six years of being reduced because the pension fund was showing a surplus. As announced in October, all good things must come to an end, as the surplus was rapidly running out. So from last year's level -- 60 per cent of normal -- individual premiums jumped to 100 per cent of normal as of January 1. "Normal" means "4.55 per cent of salary up to the Yearly Maximum Pension Earnings (YMPE) of $39,900 and 6.5 per cent beyond that".

UW, as the employer, also puts money into the pension fund -- an amount at least equal to what the employees pay.

Team wins prize for protein program -- from the UW news bureau

A computer science graduate student and a UW professor were part of a winning research team in a recent international contest exploring protein development -- key work to advance cures for many diseases.

Jinbo Xu, jointly supervised by Ming Li and Prabhakar Ragde of the school of computer science, played a role in developing a computer program called Raptor (Rapid Protein Threading predictOR), which predicts how proteins fold. The program won the recent Critical Assessment of Fully Automated Structure Prediction competition. Specifically, the Raptor program developed by Xu and Li was ranked No. 1 among automatic non-meta prediction programs for 3D (three-dimensional) protein structure prediction.

Besides Xu and Li, Raptor's main authors also include Ying Xu, based at the Oak Ridge National Lab, who developed an earlier protein structure prediction program Prospect, which had won the 2001 award. The goal is to evaluate the performance of fully automatic structure prediction servers. Raptor predictions took more than 300 CPU-hours on the Waterloo supercomputer Flexor.

"Raptor's No. 1 ranking is a very high achievement since protein structure prediction is a difficult and very important field, and many famous people have been working on this for all their lives," said Li. "This was because of its very talented designer and implementer Jinbo Xu, who has worked extremely hard day and night on this for the last year, and our new approach to protein structure prediction by linear programming to optimize the energy functions."

Li, who also holds UW's Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics, added that while Raptor supplants all existing automatic protein predictions, it is still not solving the problem fully. "This is important work is because protein structure prediction is an extremely hot area, and key to the success of worldwide proteomics efforts. . . . Determining the three-dimensional structures of proteins is a key step from genes to drugs."

Of interest on the web

  • Admissions 'tricky' this year (National Post)
  • Nursing leads surge in applications
  • Community colleges note 'chronic underfunding'
  • British universities to introduce top-up fees
  • Faculty at Western approve strike mandate
  • Toronto faculty discuss union status
  • US auditors create fake college
  • History prof writes first novel

    A UW history professor will face the world in a new role tomorrow, reading from his just-published first novel at a local bookstore. The author is Stan Johannesen, and the book is titled Sister Patsy. It's distributed by Pandora Press Publishers.

    The author will be reading Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Words Worth Books in central Waterloo. A reading at the UW bookstore is scheduled for next month.

    [Johannesen] Says the cover blurb for Sister Patsy: "This fable of defeat and redemption, of innocence and the knowledge of evil, unfolds against a colourful backdrop of camp meetings, revivals, preachers, gospel singers, flamboyant evangelists. Of mysterious birth and eccentric upbringing, self-taught, apprenticed to an itinerant preacher, Sister Patsy has a gift, a power both to move great crowds of people and to inspire intense devotion in a few. But on a stormy summer night in 1939, in a back-street immigrant chapel in New York City, the forces opposed to her are gathering strength. Sister Patsy has new lessons to learn in this night, lessons of freedom, of courage, and of responsibility."

    Johannesen (right) tells more about his work: "This, my first novel, had its genesis in a number of scholarly articles and essays in which I had explored the world of my childhood, the Norwegian immigrant community in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 50s.

    "Having quickly discovered that the most interesting stories from this world could not be told in these forms, I turned to writing fiction, and published several short stories in Queen's Quarterly, Grain, Malahat Review, Of(f)course and Descant. Eventually Sister Patsy emerged on her own, a figure full-blown from the imagination. The novel is a gnostic meditation (the Holy Ghost is a not very pleasant character in the novel), a portrait of an immigrant community and culture, and a celebration of charisma, intelligence and beauty."

    He reports that a second novel, already completed, is set in Denmark during the war, against the backdrop of the resistance and the rescue of the Danish Jews.

    "The project is the result of a collaboration with Virgil Burnett, neighbour and friend in Stratford, retired fine arts professor from UW, and well-known writer, artist and book illustrator, now working chiefly in sculpture. Burnett is founder and editor of Pasdeloup Press, a distinguished small literary press in Ontario. He suggested publication with Pasdeloup, and offered to do the series of pen and ink illustrations which grace the finished book."

    Two pub concerts cancelled

    [Publicity photo] Hip-hop artist Kardinal Offishall (left), Jamaican-Canadian master of "the T-dot sound", was scheduled to play Federation Hall tomorrow night. The concert has been postponed, according to the Federation of Students web site, and so has tonight's scheduled show at the Bombshelter by Andy Stochansky. Reason: both pubs remain closed in a dispute between UW administration and the Federation over how they're to be managed.

    The Fed web site also announces that "a protest against the continuing actions of the University administration and in support of Fed Hall and Bomber staff who have lost their jobs" will start at 12:30 today in the arts quadrangle. "The March will proceed to Needles Hall, the SLC, and then to Fed Hall, where a press conference will be held to announce the creation of a Staff Support Fund for these employees."

    Business ethics, and other events

    With stock fraud, price-fixing, environmental mismanagement and corporate human rights abuses making headlines, it's time to bring the rules of ethics back into business, says author and business consultant John Dalla Costa. The founder of the Centre for Ethical Orientation, a Toronto-based consulting firm, Dalla Costa will deliver the 2002-2003 Ignatian Lecture on "The Ten Commandments: A Theology for Business Leaders" at St. Jerome's University tonight. The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. in Siegfried Hall, with free admission.

    Dalla Costa has addressed conferences around the world, including the Vienna Peace Summit and the Global Business Forum at the United Nations Millennial Summit in New York. His 20 years of business experience includes nine years as president of an advertising and marketing agency. He is the author of The Ethical Imperative: Why Moral Leadership is Good Business and Working Wisdom: The Ultimate Value in the New Economy. He is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, and has taught in the Executive Management Program at Queen's University.

    The Ignatian Lecture, sponsored by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), is part of the 2002-03 season of the St. Jerome's Centre for Catholic Experience. St. Jerome's

    And more: Tours of the new Co-op and Career Services building are offered again today at 12:00 and 12:30 (meet in the main lobby). I actually set foot in CEC for the first time yesterday, ducking into the lower level briefly as I was walking through the Arts Pedestrian Tunnel. The entrance to CEC is about halfway along the giant helix that runs from South Campus Hall to Arts Lecture. Step inside, and there are the dropoff slot for co-op documents, a photocopying machine, and washrooms that also have lockers, for the benefit of students changing into interview clothes and back into civvies.

    Jason West, graduate student in philosophy, will give a colloquium today on "Aquinas's Commentaries on Aristotle" (2:30, Humanities room 334). . . . "Selling Your Skills" is today's one workshop in the career development series -- information is available online. . . . Engineering alumni are enjoying Ski day at Osler Bluff today. . . . A group from the International Student Association is skiing for the weekend at Mont Tremblant. . . . UW alumni in Victoria are invited to a reception tonight at St. Ann's Academy. . . .

    The ACM-style programming contest for this term will be held tomorrow. "All members of the community are welcome," says Gordon Cormack of the computer science department, although I suppose he means only those members of the community who know how to write programs. Last-minute details are available on the web.

    Sports this weekend: The men's volleyball Warriors have two home games this weekend, hosting Toronto tonight and Ryerson tomorrow (both at 7 p.m. in the PAC main gym). The women's hockey team hosts Western tonight at 7:30 (also at the Icefield) and goes to Windsor Saturday afternoon. The men's hockey team, meanwhile, hosts Windsor at 2:00 tomorrow at the Icefield, then goes to Windsor for a return game Sunday. Away from Waterloo, the basketball teams both play at Western tomorrow afternoon; the indoor hockey team is at Carleton for a weekend tournament; the Nordic skiers are at Duntroon for a meet; the track and field team heads for McGill; and the women's volleyball team plays at Brock Saturday night.


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