[University of Waterloo]


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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

  • Quantum research chair announced
  • Student fee statements will be online
  • 'Transformed' teacher joins LT3
Chris Redmond

Request to reduce electricity use today

[Flat gray array on wheels]

Under the sun it wasn't, as the unveiling of UW's Midnight Sun VIII solar car was held indoors yesterday, in the Centre for Environment and Information Technology. That's provost Amit Chakma at right, being given an up-close look at the car. It'll be on its way to Austin, Texas, shortly, to start the North American Solar Challenge in less than three weeks. Photo by Daniel Yum for the Midnight Sun team.

Quantum research chair announced -- from the UW media relations office

A new faculty member doing work in developing cryptographic methods to safeguard sensitive personal and national security data is among the recipients of new Canada Research Chairs announced this week by the federal government. Coming to UW from the California Institute of Technology, Debbie Leung takes up her new position -- Canada Research Chair in Quantum Communications -- on September 1.

At the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, John ApSimon of the Canada Research Chair program, on behalf of industry minister David Emerson, announced a total investment of $62.9 million for 79 new Canada Research Chairs across the country. "Communities all over the country will see the benefits of the work done by the more than 1,500 Chairholders who conduct research at Canadian universities," he said.

[Bass and cello in moody lighting]

Bows and strings are ready. Ted Harms (UW library staff) and Dan Blaxall (arts undergraduate student) are seen in rehearsal as Orchestra@UWaterloo prepares for its first outdoor concert. They'll play at UW's Canada Day celebrations on Friday -- about 6:15 p.m. on the main stage. Photo by Bruce Skelton.

The new appointment brings the total number of Canada Research Chairs established at Waterloo to 43. Says Paul Guild, the university's vice-president (university research): "UW will continue to attract leading researchers, initiating new directions for scholarship that will benefit the entire nation. This is truly an exciting time for university research in Canada."

The funding also includes $8.1 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to provide the new chairs with research infrastructure ranging from computer equipment for information databases to housing for laboratory facilities.

As UW's new Canada Research Chair, Leung will be based in the combinatorics and optimization department and the Institute for Quantum Computing. The project receives $100,000 annually for five years. As well, CFI provides $185,591 in infrastructure funding for quantum communications research.

The Canada Research Chair in Quantum Communications will explore the development of a unified theory of quantum communication that simultaneously addresses three major aspects: efficiency, reliability and security, an announcement explains. Leung is using quantum properties to develop novel cryptographic methods, which are essential if sensitive personal, financial, and national security data are to be kept safe over the long term. She is investigating questions including how best to use resources and how to correct the errors that arise in quantum communications. The research aims to realize the enormous potentials contained at the quantum level of reality.

The infrastructure grant from CFI will create a "Quantum Communications Research Hub". It will enable Leung's research group to continue crucial scientific collaborations with researchers locally and worldwide. The grant will also augment the computing facility for the cluster of researchers at the IQC, which will support daily computation needs and intensive numerical studies.

The Canada Research Chairs are positions that allow a faculty member to concentrate on doing research and training the next generation of scientists. The federal program plans to award a total of 2,000 chairs by 2005. There are seven-year chairs (Tier 1, valued at $200,000 a year) for experienced researchers widely acknowledged as world leaders in their fields and five-year chairs (Tier 2, valued at $100,000 a year) for researchers considered by their peers as having the potential to lead in their fields.

Student fee statements will be online

Fee bills in students' mail are a thing of the past, as UW "will move to paperless fee bills" as of the fall term, the finance office has announced. E-mail to students early in July will notify them of the change.

The university "will no longer be mailing out hard copy fee bills to students," the e-mail message says. "Up-to-date account information is available on Quest, the University of Waterloo's student information system."

Karen Hamilton of the student accounts office in Needles Hall says the change provides cost savings for UW, but also "more effective and efficient communication to students, particularly during key registration peaks throughout the year". There's also "added functionality" thanks to Quest, she said -- students can see their up-to-date account information any time, not just when a once-a-term bill arrives, and can print it off or e-mail it to somebody else (a parent?) if necessary.

The finance page on Quest includes links to on-line banking institutions, UW financial forms, payment instructions, financial aid information, and a frequently-asked-questions page, she pointed out.

A note for those receiving financial assistance: "Anticipated aid will not be deducted from your account balance until it is disbursed. (Financial aid is disbursed beginning in September, only if you have paid your fees or have an approved fee arrangement with Finance.) Once disbursement has taken place, it will appear in the Financial Aid Section on your account detail and will be deducted from your account balance."

Due dates for fall term fees can be expected online shortly.

On this week's list from the human resources department:

  • Executive secretary, office of the dean of engineering, USG 7
  • Windows services administrator, Mapping, Analysis and Design, environmental studies, USG 10/11

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • 'Transformed' teacher joins LT3 -- a "spotlight" from the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology

    Mark Morton recently arrived on the UW scene to join LT3 in supporting teaching and learning. Morton's journey to LT3 has zigzagged across the country. His baccalaureate degree came from the University of Regina; his master's and his PhD both came from the University of Toronto. Immediately prior to coming to Waterloo, he spent twelve years teaching as an assistant professor at the University of Winnipeg (and before that he spent time teaching just outside Nice, France).

    While he was at Winnipeg his approach to teaching and course delivery evolved and transformed. He began with conventional teaching: lecture, discussion, small group work. However, over time he began to implement more and more technological solutions as he saw how they had the potential to improve the learning environment. As an example, he was intrigued by the Internet, and began using it for class discussion boards in order to create "blended courses," with some material and interaction occurring online, and some material and interaction occurring in class. The result? Students performed better, and their satisfaction with the course grew.

    Nanotechnology seminar: Shirley Tang, Stanford University, "Nanomaterials for Biomedical Applications", 10:00, Chemistry II room 361.

    'Teaching Dossiers' workshop, chiefly for teaching assistants, 1:00, details and registration online.

    [Tory] Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory (left) speaks in Student Life Centre, 2 p.m.

    Career workshop: "Career Decision Making", 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

    I'm a Canadian Party tonight, Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre.

    Job rankings in the current co-op interview cycle open Thursday 6 a.m., close Sunday night.

    Staff nominations for a member of the board of governors close Thursday 3 p.m., information from the secretariat, ext. 6064.

    Canada Day celebrations on the north campus, Friday 2 to 11 p.m., children's activities, arts and crafts fair, music, fireworks at 10:00, details online.

    Alcohol workshop: "Better Safe than Sorry: Low Risk Guidelines for Safe Drinking", psychologist Darryl Upfold, sponsored by Employee Assistance program, July 12 at 12 noon, CEIT room 1015.

    Trip to Stratford sponsored by Graduate Student Association, with tickets for "Hello, Dolly" or "Wingfield's Inferno", July 13, for sale now at Graduate House bar.

    In addition to teaching blended courses, he also taught a number of telecourses at Winnipeg. These telecourses took place in a fully-functioning TV studio, complete with three cameras, six microphones that on-site students passed around, and a dozen awfully bright spotlights. In addition to the 35 students who attended the telecourse in the studio, another 35 watched via cable TV from home, with home ranging from Winnipeg to Kenora to Thunder Bay. One of his students was in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and had videotapes of the telecourse shipped to wherever she was touring around the world. Another student lived in Portugal.

    Morton's experience will certainly help as he works with Les Richards in leading the New Classroom Series. Additionally, he will be working extensively with faculty across campus to enhance teaching and learning environments through technology.

    His interests outside of work are varied. He co-founded the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, and is a past president of the Manitoba Writers' Guild. He's authored three award-winning books that have drawn on his skills as an academic researcher, but are not just for academic audiences. They are Cupboard Love: A Dictionary of Culinary Curiosities; The End: Closing Words for a Millennium; and The Lover's Tongue: A Merry Romp Through the Language of Love and Sex. He is also known for the columns that he writes and broadcasts for the University of California's Gastronomica: A Journal of Food and Culture and for CBC radio's "Definitely Not the Opera," where he is known as the "Pop Culture Etymologist." His current book project is a study of food in Shakespeare's England, scheduled for publication in 2007 by Greenwood Press.


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