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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

  • Curator wins top national award
  • Senate favours student neighbourhood
  • Automotive research, and more
Chris Redmond

National Oral Health Month

Curator wins top national award -- from the UW media relations office

[Russell in museum] Peter Russell, curator in the department of earth sciences, has been chosen as the 2004 recipient of the E.R.W. Neale Medal. The esteemed medal is awarded by the Geological Association of Canada to an individual for sustained outstanding efforts in sharing earth science with Canadians. The medal has been awarded annually since 1995.

Russell (right), who curates UW's Earth Sciences Museum in the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology, has been one of the most active promoters of earth science education in Canada by working at the grass-roots level with several hundred thousand children and thousands of teachers and members of the public over more than 30 years. His energy has been phenomenal, the GAC says.

He has judged at the Waterloo-Wellington Science and Engineering Fairs since 1971. From the late 1970s he organized and distributed the "Geoscience Slide Library" kits and notes and boxes of minerals, fossils and rocks, to assist teachers in the curriculum for Grades 4 to 6 throughout Waterloo Region.

The Waterloo "Junior Naturalists' Program" was set up and guided by him from 1979 to 1990, expanding into Engineering Science Quest. Innumerable public and student field trips and EdGEO teacher training workshops have been run for over three decades.

In the late 1980s, he helped initiate and continues to co-edit Wat on Earth, an earth sciences newsletter. Also, he was the illustrator for Mineralogical Association of Canada's Encyclopedia of Mineral Names and has designed an interpretive logo for every issue of GAC's flagship journal, Geoscience Canada, since its launch 31 years ago.

Travelling exhibits designed by Russell have appeared at gem shows throughout Ontario and the United States. Exhibits on groundwater are used for Groundwater Festivals and Clean Water Fairs in six Ontario counties and are distributed as far away as Québec. The "Wally and Deanna" cartoon booklets have been wildly successful, and more than 28,000 copies have been produced in three languages.

Three years after his formal retirement in 1996, Russell received the designation "Honorary Member of the University" at UW's convocation in recognition of his work on building public awareness of science. As well, the rock garden on campus was named "Peter Russell Rock Garden."

Later, he persuaded the architects for the CEIT to build the five-storey building around a huge (nine-metre-tall) monolithic block of stone that is now ensconced through three floors in the central hallway. The museum now is located in a much more visible location in the new March Networks Exhibit Atrium in the CEIT.

GAC past president John Clague will present the award to Russell during the GAC awards luncheon to be held May 12 at the annual GAC-MAC conference at Brock University.

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  • Senate favours student neighbourhood -- by Jim Fox

    UW's senate is supporting the Federation of Students proposal for an "urban solution" to the student housing issue in Waterloo. The senate passed a motion to that effect last night after hearing a presentation by Chris Edey, the Feds' president.

    The proposal calls on city council to amend the zoning code in the Albert-Hickory neighbourhood, east of campus, to allow increased density and related retail uses. This would allow a variety of housing types to evolve in the neighbourhood over 10 to 20 years that would benefit students, area residents and the city, Edey explained.

    Council is to consider a long-range direction for student housing in June after a period of considerable review.

    The Feds' proposal would create a community similar to Sandy Hill near the University of Ottawa, Edey said, showing a number of slides of the area.

    At present, about one-third of UW's students are accommodated on campus, slightly above the provincial average. For off-campus housing, students are looking for an ideal of no more than a 20-minute walk, which is presenting a challenge to create additional housing in the area. Instead, the movement of students into residential neighbourhoods nearby is creating a "great deal of friction," Edey said.

    Edey and Bud Walker, UW director of business services, both agreed that senate passing a motion of endorsement would be "helpful" to the cause. An initial motion presented by chemistry professor Bob Leroy calling on city council to "accept and act on these recommendations" was reworded to be less demanding after Walker reminded senators it was a city decision and UW should not appear to be "too pushy."

    The only senator opposing the motion was Mieke Delfgaauw of environment and resource studies, who said it was "inappropriate" for the university to put pressure on council as it is "something the community should decide." Math dean Alan George said passing a motion of support "shouldn't be regarded as overly coercive to city council."

    Also at last night's senate meeting, UW president David Johnston said what he has said before about the Ontario government's tuition fee freeze: he called it "troubling" and said it will prompt a "punishing" two-per-cent budget cut across campus. UW faces a $4-million budget gap even with the government's planned compensation plan, so "there's no question the quality of the enterprise continues to suffer." He concluded: "We'll manage as best we can."

    Provost Amit Chakma told senate that UW is developing a business plan for Kitchener city council regarding the proposed downtown pharmacy school and "health sciences campus". Council has approved in principle the plan for a downtown UW campus, which could also have other components such as a UW optometry clinic and other university health sciences initiatives, Chakma said.

    As for the planned link with the University of Toronto for the satellite pharmacy school, the Ontario government plans first to determine if there is a demand for additional pharmacists before giving its OK, he said.

    Chakma also reported that classrooms for the school of architecture in its renovated building in Cambridge likely won't be ready in time for September, but the school will open as planned. Other arrangements might have to be made for temporary classroom space, but it is important to relocate then, not wait until January, he said.

    Senate also heard from Paul Guild, vice-president (university research), who spoke about UW's declining success rate in applying for research funding. A review is underway, he said, as methods are being considered to boost UW's grant application successes.

    Automotive research, and more

    Researchers working on everything from fuel cells to "smart control" of vehicles are now part of WatCar, the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research. A new web site to promote UW's automotive expertise has just been created -- through the work of co-op student Anthony Yuzhi Zhang -- and points to work going on across the engineering faculty, and beyond it, in such fields as mechatronics, human factors and alternative fuels. Automotive research is also summed up in the second, expanded edition of UW's brochure "Driving Force", first produced just a few months ago. The number of researchers listed has gone up from 27 in the first version to 47 now. Meanwhile, automotive research got a boost and some publicity last week as the Ontario government announced "a new $500 million Automotive Investment Strategy" providing "support for leading-edge auto manufacturing projects".

    Earth Week continues, and today the Naturalistic Landscaping Team, a branch of the UW Sustainability Project, will be out on the north campus working on planting native wildflowers and shrubs. Participants are welcome, from 1 to 5 p.m. The planting site is just above Columbia Lake. Earlier in the day, three graduating students will give term-end presentations about their research on aspects of campus sustainability (10:30 to 12:45, Environmental Studies I room 221). And from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Earth Day displays from UWSP continue in the Davis Centre.


    Third time lucky: writer Donna Morrissey, whose reading at St. Jerome's University has been twice postponed, is now scheduled to appear there today (4 p.m., St. Jerome's room 2009).

    Co-op students who don't yet have jobs for the spring term are warned that they have to file a "continuous registration form" by today, or they're on their own for finding a job. Olaf Naese of the co-op education and career services department explains: "Students still without jobs are asked at the beginning of the Continuous Interview Phase to fill out a form indicating skills they have, where they are willing to work, and other things we need to know about them. Information from this form is input to a database. CECS staff can electronically search this database to find students who might match the needs of an employer. We call this the period of time after job postings end the Referral phase. When a short list of students is identified, CECS mails out the resumés of these students. This enables us to continue to help students find jobs even after they have left campus. Students who do not complete the Continuous Phase Referral form have likely decided they would prefer that CECS not refer them to employers. These students often have other irons in the fire or decide to look for something on their own. In other words, since they are not able to control which jobs they are considered for, they may not want to continue to participate. CECS cannot continue to look for employment for those who do not provide the information on the Continuous Phase Referral form so we change their status to 'on own' and send them a letter at the beginning of May to inform them of this. If they get a job on their own at any time prior to the minimum number of weeks of work term needed to achieve a credit, let CECS know about it, and the job is approved as creditable, their status will be changed to employed for the term."

    The dean of engineering office should be opening for business today in its temporary location in the Centre for Environment and Information Technology, third floor. . . . Senate undergraduate council will meet at 12 noon in Needles Hall room 3004. . . . Thousands of leftover books from last weekend's used book sale downtown are for sale at the used book store in the Student Life Centre, priced at 23 cents apiece plus 2 cents tax. . . .

    The "general computing environment" across the math faculty will be down this morning while a file server is replaced, in preparation for bigger changes at the beginning of June. It's part of the long-planned split of computing support for administration and research in math -- computer science on one side of the house, everybody else on the other, as was done some months ago for the teaching environment in math. The final move ("CS accounts will be moved to the new environment, and removed from the Math environment") is scheduled for June 2.

    Flyers have gone out to staff association members for a Niagara wine tour on Saturday, May 15. "The trip won't be a go unless we fill the bus," says Luanne McGinley of the association's social committee, urging people to make their reservations -- she can be reached at lemcginl@uwaterloo.ca. Price for the day is $57, including travel, lunch and wine tastings.


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