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Friday, June 13, 2003

  • Shower of silver as convocation goes on
  • Software executive receives medal
  • Statisticians honour Waterloo prof
  • Other notes for the weekend
Chris Redmond

CSICOP holds a Superstition Bash

[PAC quad, black umbrella]

Damp, to a degree: Smiles did their best to chase the showers away yesterday afternoon, outside the Physical Activities Complex before the arts session of spring convocation. Photo by Barb Elve, Communications and public affairs.

Shower of silver as convocation goes on

UW's second Governor General's Silver Medal of the year will be presented this afternoon, and the third one tomorrow morning.

The recipient today is Jonathan Teichroeb, who's also collecting a BSc in physics at the third session of spring convocation. Tomorrow morning it's Karen Yeats, receiving a BMath in pure mathematics.

The first of the silver medals was presented Wednesday to Kimberley Kent of kinesiology. Ottawa gives UW three such medals to present each year to the top-ranking graduates from a bachelor's degree program.

There's also one annual Governor General's Gold Medal, representing top standing in a graduate program. That will be awarded today as well, to Janis Zimmer, who received her MSc in biology last fall.

The honours just keep coming, as sessions of the Eighty-Sixth Convocation also keep coming. Here are some other highlights of the ceremonies scheduled for today and tomorrow.

  • New UW chancellor hailed in House of Commons
  • Two co-op students help firm win Academy Award
  • Anthropology artifacts accidentally go to landfill
  • Two $50,000 prizes awarded by Canada Council
  • Hespeler Heritage College, just south of Kitchener
  • Japan Times editorial on university reforms
  • Music industry sues Rensselaer student
  • Oracle seeks to buy PeopleSoft
  • Harvard Girl
  • Critical Mass academic blog
  • Friday, 2 p.m.: science

  • Honorary degree to Chaviva Hosek, president of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, who will give the address.
  • Distinguished Professor Emeritus to Anthony Anderson (retired from the department of physics) and Mik Pintar (also physics; awarded posthumously).
  • Honorary Member of the University status to James Leslie, retired physics professor and founder of the correspondence (now distance education) program.
  • Alumni Gold Medal to Kurt James Gray, receiving a BSc in psychology.
  • Dean of Science Awards for MSc work to Janis Zimmer (biology), Glenn Abbott (chemistry), Andrew Parmenter and Michael Bevan (earth sciences), Alice Banh (optometry/biology).
  • W. B. Pearson Medals for PhD work to Wenbo Ma (biology), Kelvin Yong (chemistry), Jasna Jurjovec (earth sciences), Vladimir Bantseev (optometry/biology).
  • Valedictorian: Matthew Iley, receiving a degree in optometry.

    Saturday, 10 a.m.: mathematics

    Lecture by Margaret Wright, today at 10:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302
  • Honorary degrees to Margaret Wright (computer science, New York University) and David Brillinger (statistics, Berkeley). Wright will give the convocation address.
  • Alumni Gold Medal to Joshua Horwood, receiving a degree in applied math.
  • Awards for Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student, to Steve Engels (computer science) and Ian VanderBurgh (pure mathematics).
  • Valedictorian: Morgan (Buddy) Betts, computer science.

    Saturday, 2 p.m.: engineering

    Lecture by Lotfi Zadeh, today at 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1350
  • Honorary degrees to Lotfi Zadeh, "the father of fuzzy logic" (who will give the convocation address), and Harmon Ray, polymer engineer at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
  • Alumni Gold Medal to Robert McArthur, receiving a degree in chemical engineering.
  • Barber Medal for best overall work term and academic performance: Bernard Wong, computer engineering.
  • Valedictorian: David Clegg, computer engineering.

    Software executive receives medal

    Another highlight of tomorrow morning's convocation will be the presentation of the J. W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation, honouring one of Waterloo's pioneer faculty members.

    This year's winner is David Boswell, an executive who has served on the management teams of software enterprises ranging from startups to large multinationals. He'll be speaking today -- 2:30 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1302 -- under the title "Highlights from the Essential Guide to the Software Business".

    He is the ninth recipient of the J. W. Graham Medal, awarded annually to a UW mathematics graduate who embodies the qualities shown by the late Wes Graham. Known as the "father of computing at Waterloo", Graham made many innovative contributions to UW and Canada's computer industry. He created the computing infrastructure that has established Waterloo's worldwide reputation in computing and computer science.

    After graduation from UW, Boswell stayed on campus developing compilers and operating systems at UW's Computer Systems Group and teaching in the computer science department (now the school of computer science). In 1988, he joined the management team of UW spin-off Watcom Systems -- founded by Graham -- which became an industry leader in PC development tools and database systems. Five years later, Watcom was acquired by Powersoft Corporation, and in turn by California-based Sybase, Inc.

    At Sybase, Boswell held several management positions, including vice-president and general manager of the Waterloo-based SQL Anywhere business. In 1998, he became chief executive officer of another UW spinoff, LivePage Corporation, an innovator in the application of SQL-based web content management. LivePage was acquired by Janna Systems, Inc., and then by software giant Siebel Systems of California. Most recently, Boswell is vice-president and general manager for Siebel's institutional finance business.


    Statisticians honour Waterloo prof

    The Statistical Society of Canada is holding its annual meeting in Halifax this week, and one of the stars of the show is Mary Thompson (left), UW statistics professor and former acting dean of mathematics. She'll take over July 1 for a one-year term as president of the SSC.

    In addition, Thompson is receiving the society's Gold Medal for this year. It was presented at a banquet on Tuesday night.

    "The Gold Medal of the SSC," the society explains in a news release, "is given to a person who has made substantial contributions to statistics, or to probability, either to mathematical developments or in applied work. The Gold Medal is intended to honour current leaders in their fields."

    It says about Thompson: "Since the beginning of her career, she has published numerous articles in different areas of statistics ranging from epidemiology through to sample survey and stochastic process. She can be qualified as one of the top three worldwide in connection with research on estimating equations and surveys and, in the top ten in connection with her earlier work on the foundations of inference in survey sampling. She also supervised more than 20 PhD students."

    Thompson was previously elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1985 and Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in 1998.

    "In addition to her academic achievements," says the society, "Dr. Thompson was associate editor for the Journal of the American Statistical Association from 1982 to 1985 and member of the Editorial Board of Liaison (1987-88) and the Canadian Journal of Statistics (1999-2001)." It notes that she has been chair of UW's department of statistics and actuarial science, an associate dean, and acting dean of mathematics for seven months in 2001.

    Other UW faculty members who have received the same recognition from the SSC include two other deans of math -- Jack Kalbfleisch and David Sprott -- as well as Jerry Lawless and V. P. Godambe.

    Also being honoured by the Statistical Society of Canada his year is UW's Don McLeish, receiving the Canadian Journal of Statistics award for the best paper in the 2002 volume of the journal: "Highs and lows: Some properties of the extremes of a diffusion and applications in finance".

    A colleague writes from the midst of the SSC convention: "Cheers from cloudy, gloomy Halifax, where the weather is unable to dampen the upbeat spirits of the UW colleagues of Professors Thompson and McLeish. We are delighted to see the accomplishments of our fellow faculty members thus honoured by their peers in the Society."

    Other notes for the weekend

    The graduating class in arts has pledged $19,255 to UW in the Grad Class Challenge, and representatives came on stage at yesterday's convocation ceremony to hand over a giant mock cheque to dean Bob Kerton.

    Meanwhile, the graduates of the future are looking for work term jobs these days. Today is the last day of the regular interview period for fall co-op jobs, and ranking forms will be available in the Tatham Centre at 10:00 Monday morning (due back at 4 p.m.). (Exception: students in architecture, who aren't part of the main placement cycle, are still looking at job postings for the fall.)

    Some notes for the weekend:

    And some off-campus notes: Way, way off campus, the annual Southern Ontario Alumni Reunion Beach Barbecue is taking place at Vancouver's Jericho Beach tomorrow starting at noon. A good-sized UW contingent is expected.

    Finally, and back at UW, Ian VanderBurgh of the math faculty sends word of this event:

    High school students from across Canada will gather at the University of Waterloo from Sunday, June 15, to Saturday, June 21, for the 39th annual Waterloo Mathematics Contests Seminar. Each of the 58 students has performed exceptionally well on one of the Canadian Mathematics Competitions offered by UW's Faculty of Mathematics.

    Among these 58 students are four of the six members of Canada's International Mathematics Olympiad team. They will compete this summer in a world-wide competition for high-school level math students.

    During the one-week seminar, the students will participate in mathematical enrichment activities with UW professors and other invited speakers. This year's seminar features invited lecturers Peter Taylor from Australia, Robert Geretschlaeger from Austria, and Gareth Griffith from Saskatoon. The week will also include social activities, including a trip to Sportsworld, and a games night, authored by UW alumnus Fraser Simpson.


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