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Friday, June 18, 2004

  • Science convocation this afternoon . . .
  • . . . math on Saturday morning . . .
  • . . . and then the engineers
  • Results of the commuter challenge
Chris Redmond

Fathers' Day

[Adjusting soft hat, orange gown]

Dave Phillips, "Canada's weather guru", prepares to take the stage for Wednesday's convocation ceremony. Virginia McLellan of the registrar's office makes final adjustments to his Doctor of Environmental Studies regalia in the robing room.

Science convocation this afternoon . . .

Graduates will hear today from a former UW faculty member who's gone on to great things in his homeland. He is Roger Downer, now president of the University of Limerick in southwestern Ireland, who will be the speaker at the 2 p.m. convocation session for the faculty of science.

Downer, who comes to UW to receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree, was chair of UW's department of biology and served from 1989 to 1996 as vice-president (university relations). He is editor or co-editor of four books, and author or co-author of more than 160 research publications, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He was president of the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok before taking the post at Limerick in 1998.

Also receiving an honorary degree today -- Doctor of Laws -- is Irving Baker, a retired optometrist known as a champion of the profession. Baker was president of the Ontario Association of Optometrists in 1950 and held various posts with the Ontario licensing and regulatory authority for optometry from 1955 until his retirement in 1996, at which time he was the registrar of the College of Optometrists of Ontario.

Two Distinguished Teacher Awards will be presented today: to physics professor Wing-Ki Liu ("He communicates not only the methods of physics but also the message of physics: why it is worth doing and worth doing well") and earth sciences instructor Jane Lang. Says the DTA citation for Lang: "She provides clear and insightful introductions to the laboratory exercises. . . . She has even baked a cake and cut it to show the students the influence various faults can have on the layering."

The Alumni Gold Medal for the top graduate in science this year will go to Justin Malecki, who's receiving a BSc in physics. Valedictorian on behalf of the graduates is Bunmi Ogundimu, whose BSc is in biochemistry.


. . . math on Saturday morning . . .

Saturday morning's convocation ceremony for mathematics will see a special presentation: the Governor-General's Gold Medal, honouring the top PhD or master's graduate from UW in the past year. The winner is Thomas Tran (left), who's receiving a PhD in computer science and heading off to a faculty position at the University of Ottawa.

Tran's thesis, supervised by CS professor Robin Cohen, is titled "Reputation-Oriented Reinforcement Learning Strategies for Economically-Motivated Agents in Electronic Market Environments" -- a study of what are called "dynamic markets" in e-commerce. An external examiner called it "one of the best-written and organized theses I have ever seen".

There's also a Governor General's Silver Medal tomorrow morning, representing top standing at the undergraduate level. The recipient -- one of three UW winners this year -- is Brendan Lucier, who's graduating in computer science and pure math. Also being honoured will be Ian McIntyre, receiving the Alumni Gold Medal as the top BMath graduate of the year, along with his degree in computer science with a pure math minor.

Honorary Member of the University status will be presented to Lloyd Auckland, "one of Ontario's finest secondary school teachers ever", who has been volunteering several days a week at UW's Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing since retiring as a teacher in 1982.

Mary Thompson, statistics and actuarial science professor, former acting dean of math and president of the Statistical Society of Canada, will be installed as one of UW's first three University Professors.

And David Yach, a vice-president of Research In Motion, will be presented with UW's J. W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation.

In addition, the morning ceremony (starting at 10 a.m.) will bring two honorary degrees. One honorary Doctor of Mathematics degree goes to George Andrews of the Pennsylvania State University, who is known for his work in basic hyper-geometric series and applications in combinatorics, number theory, physics and special functions. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Guggenheim Fellow and the Hedrick Lecturer of the Mathematical Association of America and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The other honorary DMath goes to John Chambers of Bell Labs in New Jersey. Known worldwide for his expertise in statistical computing, Chambers became the first statistician to be named a Bell Laboratories Fellow on the basis of his pioneering contributions to his field. In 1999, the Association for Computing Machinery awarded him the Software System Award for the design of the S system for data analysis.

Speaking as valedictorian on behalf of the math graduates will be Raees Hussain-Aamir, who will also go home with a BMath in operations research.


. . . and then the engineers

David Burns (right) will be in an unfamiliar spot on the convocation platform for Saturday afternoon's convocation ceremony. Burns, a long-time faculty member in mechanical engineering, served as dean of the engineering faculty 1990-98, and a dean's duties include proudly reading out the names of graduating students as they receive their hoods and diplomas.

But now Burns, who left the university in 2001, is vice-president (academic) at Conestoga College. He's back at UW to be installed as a Distinguished Professor Emeritus, the rank given to long-time faculty of particular distinction after retirement.

Another distinction will be given to a professor who's still on the active faculty: Garry Rempel, of the department of chemical engineering. He will be installed as one of the initial trio of University Professors, a lifetime title that UW has introduced this year.

Also at Saturday's 2 p.m. ceremony for the faculty of engineering -- the last of five sessions in UW's Eighty-Eighth Convocation -- two honorary degrees of Doctor of Engineering will be presented. One recipient is Mohammad Jamshidi of the University of New Mexico, who will give the convocation address. Jamshidi is a pioneer in robotics, automation, intelligent manufacturing and autonomous control and the author or co-author of 49 books and edited volumes, some of which are used by students all over the world. He established and heads the Autonomous Control Engineering Centre and the Computer Aided Design Laboratory at UNM.

The other DEng recipient is Prabha Kundur, an internationally recognized leader in the area of power system stability. Kundur is president and CEO of Powertech Labs Inc., a research and technology subsidiary of British Columbia Hydro. His many research contributions have led to significant improvements in power system control and operation. His book Power System Stability and Control has received worldwide recognition.

Also at the Saturday afternoon ceremony, a Governor General's Silver Medal will go to Joyce Yui Si Kwong, who's receiving a BASc in computer engineering. UW's own Alumni Gold Medal for an engineering student will go to Adam Kaufman of systems design engineering.

Results of the commuter challenge

UW staff and faculty ranked sixth in Waterloo Region in the recent Commuter Challenge, which called on them to get out of cars and onto bicycles, buses or shanks' mare.

That's the news from Patti Cook, UW's waste management coordinator, who also reports that Waterloo Region ranked fourth nationally among communities in the population range between 100,000 and half a million.

Water conference in Ottawa

The Canadian Water Network, based at UW, is hosting the second national water symposium this weekend in Ottawa, under the title Connecting Water Resources 2004.

The symposium is an opportunity for 250 Canadian researchers and practitioners from academia, industry, government and non-governmental organizations to share the latest information about the socio-economic impacts of water management in Canada.

It runs Sunday through Tuesday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Major speakers include Herb Gray, chair of the Canadian Section of the International Joint Commission, on "The Importance of Water" on Sunday afternoon; Stephen Lewis, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, on "Global Water Issues for the 21st Century:, on Monday night; and Bruce Davidson of Concerned Walkerton Citizens, on "Walkerton: The Cost of Getting It Wrong" on Tuesday afternoon.

Architecture student interviews in Toronto today for fall term co-op jobs.

Work reports from winter term co-op jobs (those marked by coordinators) available for pickup today, Tatham Centre.

'Governance in a Business Enterprise', Ed O'Donnell, Centre for Information Systems Assurance, school of accountancy, lunch and lecture at Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West, 11:45, RSVP 885-2444 ext. 227.

'Software Efficiency: From Saving Bytes to Saving You an Hour a Day', J. W. Graham Medal seminar by David Yach, RIM, 1:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Mo Jamshidi, University of New Mexico, honorary degree recipient, "Sensors, from Automation on Earth to Exploration on Mars", 2:30; "Persian Science", 4:00; both in CEIT room 4015.

'Barlow' plays the Bombshelter tonight, $6 Feds, $7 others.

Waterloo Classic 10-kilometre road race, Sunday morning, past campus on University Avenue.

Contemporary School of Dance spring recital, Saturday 7 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

St. Jean Baptiste Day celebration, Association des Francophones de Kitchener-Waterloo, June 26, 12:30 to 9:30, Laurel Creek Conservation Area, advance tickets $10, kids free, 746-7502.

Says Cook: "The students in Engineering, Arts and Math followed the Staff and Faculty in the 1,000 to 4,999 population category, coming in 7th, 8th and 9th. Coming in fourth and fifth in the populations of 500-999 were the students in Environmental Studies and Science. Applied Health Sciences came in third in the 300-399 category."

She says UW draw prizes ("thanks to the UW Bookstore") were awarded to six Commuter Challenge registrants. "And thanks for participating. There are many at UW who walk, bike, bus and car pool every day, but don't sign up for the Challenge. Congratulations and thanks to you too!

"The point isn't to win the Commuter Challenge. The Commuter Challenge is an educational competition spanning Canada, to draw attention to Climate Change. The effort is to reduce greenhouse gases by using and promoting alternative means of transportation in order to reduce the motor vehicle emissions, and get Canadians out of their cars.

"About half of Canada's greenhouse gases result from motor vehicle emissions. The remainder comes from heating and cooling homes, hot water, appliances and lighting. The Government of Canada is challenging all Canadians to reduce their emissions by one tonne with the One-Tonne Challenge."


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