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Monday, June 28, 2004

  • As Canada goes to the polls
  • Power lunch challenge for staff eaters
  • More in UW's stream of PhDs
  • Now on to other matters
Chris Redmond

West Nile virus

[In wetsuit, lake in background]

Fish play a major role in Tom Singer's research, says an introductory article about the new professor that appears in the optometry school's alumni newsletter. A zoology graduate with a PhD in clinical biochemistry, "Tom has been involved in a wide range of fish related studies," the newsletter says, "including tracking Atlantic salmon by helicopter in Newfoundland to characterizing the cystic fibrosis gene he cloned from a killfish." Singer has spent the past four years as a research associate in UW's biology department, and comes to his new role "to prepare Optometry students to be part of the Genomics revolution". Among his research plans: "studying the lens and cornea from his favorite animal model, the killfish, to understand the molecular basis of human cataract formation".

As Canada goes to the polls

The first votes in today's federal election, not counting those in advance polls last week, were cast about 7 a.m. our time, in the remotenesses of Bonavista-Exploits and the other ridings of Newfoundland and Labrador. The last ballots will be just before 10:00 Eastern time, when polls close in British Columbia and Yukon. So it'll be a long day for political junkies and the rest of us just keen to find out what the 38th Parliament is going to look like. In Québec and most of Ontario, including Waterloo Region, polls will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and then the serious counting begins.

There are two polling places on UW's campus, for some of the voters in Kitchener-Waterloo riding. One is in the great hall at Conrad Grebel University College, and is for people who live right on campus (in the area bounded by Westmount Road, Columbia Street, the railway tracks and University Avenue). Mostly that would be students in the residences.

A second polling place, in the Village I great hall, is not for Villagers, but for residents of the Phillip Street area and points east. The arrangement is "contrary to common sense", says Jeff Henry, vice-president (education) of the Federation of Students, but "that's just how they managed to divide it up to meet the minimum/maximum for any one poll."

The Federation will be offering a service today to help students find and get to their polling stations. A table set-up near the Feds' office in the Student Life Centre will help students find the information they need, "and buses will be on hand outside the SLC to take students to their polling locations. The station will operate from approximately 11 a.m. to 6 p.m."

Power lunch challenge for staff eaters

Two staff from UW's food services and one from health services are posing as Angels this term to offer a "health challenge" to other staff members: eat better, get fit, lose weight and feel good.

It's the second such challenge from the food services department -- the first one followed a group of residence dons through the fall and winter as they faced the challenges of a student lifestyle and residence food.

Now it's the turn of staff, whose lives, a web site explains, include "a busy work schedule, family commitments, housework, and shopping . . . your last priority is eating a balanced meal and exercising."

[Linda's Angels] Enter Mark Murdoch (director of food services), Jeannie Watt (food services business staff), and Linda Brogden (occupational health nurse in health services) -- dubbed Angels by nutritionist Linda Barton, who's going to help them through the summer challenge. The campus recreation program is also involved, and has sponsored a term membership for each of the three participants.

Says the web site: "Each challenger faces their own difficulties to manage as they learn to eat nutritionally balanced meals, make time to build essential exercise into an already busy schedule, and realize that now is the time for them to help themselves."

Brogden, for example, "wants to eat for health, bring fitness back into her life, and get control of her time. Her vision is to feel energetic at the end of a work day! And she's hoping her eating and activity efforts might warrant a little retail therapy at the end of the Challenge."

Murdoch is looking for "significant weight loss" and, as head of the multi-million-dollar food service, "to better understand the challenges UW faculty and staff face when eating healthy on campus".

And Watt "has some pretty interesting eating habits, and no activity to speak of in recent years. Not only is she battling her cola addiction, but cookies are part of her story too."

The challenge started with a group lunch at Brubaker's in the Student Life Centre, followed by some analysis from Barton. By later in May she was reporting progress -- praising Watt, for instance, for "cottage cheese on lettuce with fruit salad for dessert. Now that's a power lunch!"

Advice for Murdoch? "You need to plan snacks ahead or you wonąt have them. . . . The trick is to eat just enough, often enough through the day, so that you do not get hungry."

And this note for Brogden: "A fondness for the French Vanilla coffee at Tim's. She had one pretty much every morning. Too many calories!"

More in UW's stream of PhDs

Thinking about the recent convocation ceremonies, and the thousands of black-gowned students who came forward to receive UW degrees, I started doing some calculations. Last year, this university gave out a total of 4,634 degrees, according to the office of institutional analysis and planning. If they were spread evenly through the year, rather than being grouped at a week of convocation ceremonies in June and another day in October, that would be, let's see, rather more than 12 students completing their educations every single day of the year.


Nick Kouwen officially retires July 1 after 34 years as a faculty member in civil engineering. Kouwen is a specialist in hydraulic modelling and such related topics as dam safety and flood forecasting.

Or take the total of 128,172 degrees that UW has granted since its beginnings; divide by 47 years, spread them out evenly, and that's just about 7.5 students graduating every day since July 1, 1957.

Finally, and getting down to specifics, Waterloo granted 134 PhDs last year, about one every 2.7 days. And indeed, study at that level is a year-round business. Which is why we have, in the last week of June, several PhD theses coming up for oral defence -- one of the most ancient customs of the academic community. Here are notices of some scheduled PhD orals:

Earth sciences. James William Roy, "Natural Remobilization of a Multicomponent Dense Nonaqueous Phase Liquid (DNAPL) Pool." Supervisors, R. W. Gillham and J. E. Smith. Defence, Wednesday, July 7, 9 a.m., Davis Centre room 1304. Thesis is on display in the faculty of science, ESC room 254A.

Civil engineering. Ghana Hamouda, "Risk-Based Decision Support Model for Planning Emergency Response for Hazardous Materials Road Accidents." Supervisors, F. Saccomanno and L. Fu. Defence, Wednesday, July 7, 1:30 p.m., Engineering II room 3324. Thesis is on display in the faculty of engineering, CPH room 4367.

Health studies and gerontology. Candace Nykiforuk, "Municipal Tobacco Bylaws: Use of Geographic Information Systems to Explore Relationships Between Local Policy and Community Characteristics." Supervisor, Sharon Campbell. Defence, Thursday, July 8, 1 p.m., Matthews Hall room 3119. Thesis on display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH room 3120.

Psychology. Etsuko Hoshino Browne, "On the Cultural Guises of Cognitive Dissonance: The Case of Asian-Canadians and European-Canadians." Supervisor, Steve Spencer. Defence, Monday, July 12, 10 a.m., Psychology room 3026. Thesis on display in the faculty of arts, Humanities room 317.


Now on to other matters

Anyone who has walked between the Graduate House and South Campus Hall in the past few days has already noticed that the sculpture "Joy" (left), which has stood in that area since 1971, suffered some recent damage. "It was hit by a large delivery truck," reports Peter Fulcher of the plant operations department. "It has been secured for now, but requires major repairs. I am in the process of getting information on who built and designed the structure." I can help him a little on that last point: the concrete sculpture, depicting two stylized figures, was by Theodore Harlander.

An item of interest from the current issue of the online "e-zine" produced by UW Graphics: "Posters, banners, conference and presentation graphics -- Graphics can print these for you, full colour, on our HP5000 inkjet printer located in Pixel Planet, MC 2018. The final size can be as wide as 60 inches, and the length is unlimited. Photo satin and glossy paper cost $9 per square foot and bond paper is $6 per square foot. Backlit transparency film is also available for $17 per square foot. Bring us your file on a disk and we'll preview it for you on our computer before printing. We can use source files from virtually any application, or you may provide us with a tif image at 150 dots per inch. If you have questions about this service, please contact Andrew Mills, ext. 5997."

Personal Digital Assistants seminar on instructional uses, 11 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

'Teaching Dossiers' workshop sponsored by teaching resource office, 12:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 2527, details online.

Co-op job match results (second cycle; also architecture) available on JobMine 1 p.m.

Mary Anne Jantzi, housing and residences, retirement reception, Tuesday 4 to 6 p.m., University Club, RSVP ext. 2674.

Arriscraft Lecture, school of architecture, Brian Lilley of Halifax, "Of Colour, Codes and Ecology: The Building of GSW-HQ in Berlin". Tuesday 7 p.m., Environmental Studies II room 286.

Here's some very belated news: at the end of March, a UW student team placed fifteenth in the world in the ACM Programming Contest, held this year in Prague. I suspect the results weren't heavily publicized because, well, fifteenth isn't as high as Waterloo teams have placed in several recent years. On the other hand, 15th (actually, part of a twelve-way tie for 15th) out of 1,411 universities worldwide is not exactly shabby. Members of this year's team from UW were Ralph Furmaniak, Matei Zaharia, and Lars Hellsten. The worldwide winner: Russia's St. Petersburg University of Information Technology, Mechanics and Optics.

Two members of the department of biology are about to retire, and the department will hold a reception for them next month. Guests of honour are Jack Carlson and Morton Globus. The event will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 on Thursday, July 15, in the first-floor lobby of the new CEIT building. Says a note from the department: "Contributions to a scholarship fund in honour of all retiring members of the Department of Biology can be sent to Fran Filipitsch, Biology, B1 room 276." RSVPs for the reception also go to her at ext. 2569, e-mail ffran@uwaterloo.ca.

The student accounts office ("cashiers' office") in Needles Hall will be closed from Wednesday afternoon through to Monday morning for some renovations. . . . Gordon Nelson, retired from UW's department of geography, has received a National Rivers Conservation Award of Merit for his work in getting the Grand River designated a Canadian Heritage River. . . . Judy Kreller, known as the "work request clerk" in plant operations, will retire July 1, ending 16 years on UW's staff. . . .


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