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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

  • 'To be able to change direction'
  • Luring UW grads back to Waterloo Region
  • 'Interdisciplinary' chem eng researcher
Chris Redmond

Wednesday Time Wasters

['A sampling of arts research']

The dean of arts, Bob Kerton, had these images among his PowerPoint slides when he briefed UW's senate and board of governors recently. He said it's been vital for the 16 academic units in arts to establish "distinctive program options" -- offerings, such as arts-and-business and programs in international trade and governance, that are unique to Waterloo -- and to develop community and worldwide links through the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, the Centre for Mental Health Research and other units. An emphasis for UW's sixth decade will be a focus on "research that advances basic understanding, informs cultural and behavioural policy". Arts will also seek to admit "outstanding" undergraduate students, but not quite so many of them as in the past two years, in order to cut ratios from the present 34 to 27 students per faculty member.

'To be able to change direction'

The UW senate devoted much of Monday's meeting to continued discussion of the "Sixth Decade" plan that's being prepared for the years from 2007 forward. Provost Amit Chakma reported that the long-range planning committee has now finished working through the draft document for the first time, but still has much to do, especially as the faculties and other units bring their own plans forward for discussion.

Two deans -- Deep Saini of environmental studies and George Dixon of science -- gave the senate a preview of the plans their faculties have been developing. I'll be saying more about Saini's presentation in tomorrow's Daily Bulletin.

Chakma led a brief senate discussion of some of the issues that arise in the report, including the need for "institutional capacity to provide seed money" for new research ventures. The draft report also calls for regular "resource reallocation", tentatively a levy of 2 per cent on each unit's budget each year that would then be redistributed to priority projects. The goal, said Chakma, is "to be able to change direction, or strengthen our areas of strength."

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

  • Coordinator, Women in Engineering and new faculty support, office of the dean of engineering, USG 6
  • Student liaison, Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, USG 4
  • Information systems specialist, information systems and technology, USG 12-13

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • He observed that at present, "most of our incremental investment is coming from growth," but at times when UW isn't expanding, there's still a need to make changes and build on quality. Such an activity isn't a one-time thing, president David Johnston observed, but needs to be done "on a multi-year basis".

    The provost also mentioned that UW officials are looking at the likely need for more construction on the north campus in the years ahead. Not only will the Columbia Lake Village townhouse complex need to be expanded, but so will the research and technology park, which already has commitments for about a third of the available space, he said.

    In other matters today: UW's presence in New York is in the limelight as another of the "Waterloo-Cornell Seminars in Quantitative Finance" takes place. These seminars are held at 5 p.m. at 55 Broad Street, down the street from the New York Stock Exchange, the high-tech building where UW opened its New York office late last year. Today's speaker is Darrell Duffie of Stanford University; the current series winds up with a talk April 27 by Harry Panjer of UW's department of statistics and actuarial science.

    A special celebration is happening tomorrow night at Conrad Grebel University College for the launch of two books. One is Speaking of Power: The Poetry of Di Brandt, and the other is Re:Generations: Canadian Women Poets in Conversation. Brandt is a prominent Canadian writer; the Grebel connection is music faculty member Carol Ann Weaver, who collaborated with Brandt and others on "Awakenings", launched in 2001, performed in half a dozen countries since then, and featured in the new book. Thursday's launch event will include musical performances by Weaver and colleagues; everything starts at 8:00 in the Grebel chapel, and all are welcome.

    The cycle of online courses offered by UW's continuing education office in fields ranging from web page design to database management, begins anew every month, and today's the starting day. . . . The UW Recreation Committee has a workshop on home decorating at noon hour today (Davis Centre room 1302) and a tour of the games museum tomorrow. . . . Today brings the deadline for nominations as the staff association seeks its executive leadership for 2006-07 and its president for 2007-08. . . .


    Luring UW grads back to Waterloo Region -- by Jude Doble, from the @UWaterloo alumni newsletter

    While Rocco Fondacaro (left), BA '77, isn't leading rats from the village to protect the villagers, he is acting as a pied piper of sorts. With his role as executive director, programs at Communitech, a local technology association, he is hoping to woo University of Waterloo graduates back to Waterloo Region, tantalizing them with the region's prosperity and exciting tech-sector stronghold.

    Communitech is Waterloo Region's technology business association whose goal is to facilitate new business start-ups and help tech-sector companies grow and succeed. A thriving association, it is busy providing leadership, networking, educational and advocacy programs to ensure the region can continue to boast itself as the leading technology cluster in Canada.

    Fondacaro's role with Communitech is to "provide a convenient and accessible opportunity or venue for Waterloo Region companies and UW alumni to connect and learn about each other," he says. "This is key for alumni to determine if coming back to Waterloo is a smart career decision."

    Fondacaro can cite himself as a test case. He was born in Cambridge, did his undergrad at UW, and after completing his PhD in psychology at Western and dabbling in some behavioural research on federal government fellowships, moved to Nortel's Toronto office for product and market research studies. In 1999, he heeded the call of Waterloo Region and took a position as vice president marketing and product management for Kitchener's Christie Digital. In 2005, he joined the Communitech team and has been building relationships with companies and alumni ever since.

    High school mathematics contests sponsored by Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing: Euclid (grade 12) today; Fryer (grade 9), Galois (grade 10), Hypatia (grade 11) Thursday; Gauss (grade 7 and 8) May 10.

    Teaching dossiers workshop sponsored by teaching resources office, 9 a.m., Math and Computer room 4041.

    Perimeter Institute presents Seth Lloyd, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "Programming the Universe", 7 p.m., Bloor Collegiate Institute, Toronto, information 883-4480.

    'Driving and Aging: An In-Vehicle Approach', Michelle Porter, University of Manitoba, Hallman Visiting Professorship Lecture Series, applied health sciences, Thursday 3 p.m., Clarica Auditorium, Matthews Hall.

    Centre for Child Studies evening community lecture: Daniela O'Neill, department of psychology, "Children Learning to Talk: A Meeting of Minds", Thursday 7 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218. Of interest to parents of young children as well as students of language; free tickets ext. 2812.

    Centre for International Governance Innovation presents Daniel Schwanen, CIGI director of research, "Economic Aspects of Greenhouse Gas Reduction", Friday 11:45, 57 Erb Street West, reservations rsvp@cigionline.org.

    46th annual used book sale sponsored by Canadian Federation of University Women, Friday 9 to 9, Saturday 9 to 1, First United Church, King and William Streets.

    'Park Crawl' by bicycle to mark Earth Day, including market visit, community cleanup and picnic, Saturday 10:00 to 3:00, starts at Kitchener market (King Street entrance), sponsored by Green Party and other groups, organized by two UW graduate students.

    'Der Diener zweier Herren' drama in German presented by Theaterakademie Vorpommern as part of an exchange with UW Drama, Saturday 8 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $12 (students $10) 888-4908.

    Wellness Fair for faculty and staff, April 24-26, speakers and special events including President's Mile run and wellness walk Monday noon, full schedule online.

    UW Accounting Conference with speakers and case competition, May 5-6, details online.

    Friends of the Library annual lecture, this year dean of engineering Adel Sedra, Wednesday, May 24, noon, Theatre of the Arts.

    His position is twofold. In addition to his workforce development and educational initiatives, he also is the director of Communitech's charitable arm, the Business and Education Partnership of Waterloo Region. This program assists youth in transition from school to the workforce, which is something he finds extremely rewarding. Throughout his career, research and teaching have been a unifying theme. "I've greatly enjoyed mentoring and coaching promising talent throughout my career," says Fondacaro. "And I'm pretty good at it too," he adds demurely.

    "Waterloo Region definitely has something in the air or water," he says. "There is something kind of magical about the spirit of entrepreneurship that goes on here."

    'Interdisciplinary' chem eng researcher -- reprinted from the 2005 annual report of the engineering faculty

    [Moresoli] Christine Moresoli (right) is a multi-faceted researcher. "My research is very interdisciplinary," she says. "I work with plant physiologists, food scientists, microbiologists, optometrists, and biochemical engineers."

    A member of Engineering's Biotechnology and Health Engineering Centre, Moresoli conducts research in, among other projects, soy protein as a food ingredient. Working with scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, she looks at how to optimize the production of purified soy protein. With Kraft Canada, she investigates how the inclusion of soy protein affects the food manufacturing process as well as the quality of the product. In another project, within the NSERC Cellnet Research Network, she links with researchers at Montréal's Biotechnology Research Institute and the University of Manitoba to optimize membrane filtration to recover recombinant proteins from animal cells for the production of new pharmaceuticals.

    Moresoli's interests reach beyond the lab to encompass all levels of science and technology teaching and learning. She recently chaired the NSERC doctoral prize selection committee for computer science and engineering, as well as the Faculty's task force on women in engineering. She also helped organize GoEngGirl -- a successful event held in October, jointly with other Ontario engineering schools, to raise engineering's profile among young high school girls.

    Bringing teaching, research, and outreach together, Moresoli is collaborating in the newly created NSERC Centre for Research in Youth, Science Teaching and Learning based at the Université de Sherbrooke. Her role: researching new methods and resources for teaching science, technology, and mathematics in Ontario and Québec high schools in an era of changing curricula. The five-year project will take her into Waterloo schools to observe teachers in action and help them determine what they need to teach science and technology more effectively.


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