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Thursday, January 5, 2006

  • Conference airs ideas for health
  • Profs started sabbaticals January 1
  • International student event, and more
Chris Redmond

International Consumer Electronics Show


PM brings campaign to campus

Prime minister Paul Martin will visit UW this morning as he campaigns for the re-election of his Liberal government in Ottawa.

The Canadian Press reported overnight that Martin will announce a "multi-billion-dollar plan" for student financing and funds for education and training if the Liberals are re-elected.

Martin will speak to an invited audience at the Columbia Icefield in mid-morning, then hold a news conference. He'll also meet privately with UW president David Johnston. The entire Waterloo visit is expected to last 45 minutes to an hour.

The last visit to UW by a prime minister was by Progressive Conservative PM Kim Campbell, who hit campus just before the 1993 election.

Conference airs ideas for health

The inaugural "Ideas for Health" international conference is being held today in the Lyle Hallman Institute wing of Matthews Hall, as researchers explore how best to provide key information that can be used to improve health care around the world.

The conference, titled "Building an Integrated Health Information System," is being organized by the recently formed "ideas for Health" research group (the lower-case "i" is deliberate), jointly led by UW professors John Hirdes and Ian McKillop of the health studies and gerontology department.

The day-long event will feature the collaborative research done by UW investigators in partnership with interRAI, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Health Canada's Primary Health Care Transition Fund, and the Ontario ministry of health and long-term care.

The research group was formed by faculty members in applied health sciences and computer science with expertise in both informatics and the innovative use of data "to provide evidence that can be applied to decision-making at multiple levels of the health care system," said Hirdes, who is also scientific director of the Homewood Research Institute in Guelph.

Speakers from Canada, the United States, Finland and Sweden will discuss key issues for multiple sectors of the health and social services systems, including funding, quality, benchmarking, e-Health, screening and outcome measurement. The conference gets underway with findings from two major research projects led by the ifH group. Collaborating organizations include the Homewood Research Institute, University of Toronto, Canadian Institute for Health Information, Wilfrid Laurier University, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, St. Mary's Hospital (Kitchener), Baycrest Health Centre, Saskatchewan Health Quality Council and interRAI.

The $3.5 million projects, which will be completed by July, involve development and testing of new health assessment strategies to be used in primary care and mental health services. Examples of the new tools that are being tested: New emergency screening systems for the frail elderly and for persons with acute mental health needs; Communication systems to enhance collaboration between Community Care Access Centres and primary care physicians; A new assessment strategy for frail elderly patients of nurse practitioners working in community health clinics; Health promotion strategies for the frail elderly; Decision support methodology to improve access to appropriate mental health services for the elderly in long term care homes, in-patient psychiatry and community mental health programs.

Other sessions will examine topics such as Home Care in 11 European Countries; New Developments in Quality Indicators; Benchmarking Long-term Care in Finland; Funding Long-term Care: A North American Study; Improving Quality of Care and Quality of Life; The Frail Elderly in Acute Care: Opportunity for Better Management and Better Outcomes; and Quality End-of-Life Care for Aging Populations: International Perspectives.

Profs started sabbaticals January 1

Here's another list of UW faculty members who began sabbatical leaves on January 1, along with summaries of their plans as presented to UW's board of governors.

Lauren Marcoux of pure mathematics has a six-month sabbatical: "I intend to spend these six months working on two problems in Operator Theory. The first is a 20 year old problem which asks if amenable operator algebras are similar to c*-algebras (I had solved an important case earlier this year), and the second involves reflexive algebras."

Clare Mitchell of geography is also on sabbatical for six months: "I am requesting this leave to enable me to continue work on the project 'Beyond the Metropolis: Population Change in the Canadian Countryside' funded in part by a 2005 UW/SSHRC grant. My time will be spent analyzing data and preparing two manuscripts for publication."

Maria Anna Polak of civil engineering will be on sabbatical for twelve months: "Research will be continued in the areas of reinforced concrete mechanics, mechanics of polymeric structures and materials, nonlinear finite element analysis, and non-destructive evaluation of structural members. In particular, the focus of my work during this sabbatical will be on the development of a mechanics based model for punching shear in flat reinforced concrete slabs, and studies on bond modelling for the application in finite element analysis of reinforced concrete structures."

Thomas W. D. Edwards of the earth sciences department is on leave for six months: "I will be engaged in water and climate research with collaborators and students based at the University of Victoria, Canada (January-March 2006) and Lund University, Sweden (April-June 2006). While in Europe I will also undertake working visits with colleagues at several other institutions, including CEA-Saclay (France) and University of Bern (Switzerland)."

Daniel Brown of computer science has a six-month sabbatical: "I will primarily be visiting the University of California, Davis, to learn more about computer science approaches to population genetics and haplotype inference problems. I will also spend a month in France and Germany with colleagues."

David Wang of electrical and computer engineering is on sabbatical for all of 2006: "I will spend my time refocusing my research to the area of autonomous, unmanned vehicles. I will also work on applications of the telehaptic technology with industry partner Handshake VR Inc."

Paul A. S. Ward, also of E&CE, is on sabbatical through the end of June: "The six-month leave will be spent in the IBM Toronto Lab working with experts there in Autonomic Computing. The focus of the research will be Closed-Loop Control of Application Servers. This research is already ongoing and is a joint project between the professor and IBM CAS."

MathNews "disorganizational meeting" 4:30, Math and Computer room 4020 -- new writers, artists and proofreaders welcome.

Forum for Independent Thought student think-tank open planning session 5 p.m., Student Life Centre room 2136.

Orchestra@UWaterloo open rehearsal 7:00 to 9:30, Ron Eydt Village great hall, details online.

FASS auditions and sign-up for technical crew, today and Friday 7 to 9 p.m., Humanities room 334. (Performances are February 2-4.)

Engineering alumni ski day at Osler Bluff, Collingwood, January 20, details online.

International student event, and more

An "orientation and reception" for new international students will be held tomorrow evening, with a repeat scheduled for two weeks later (January 20). "If you are new to Canada and are looking to find out a little bit more about living in Canada, you should be sure to attend," says Karyn Nelson of the student life office. The program will take place at the Columbia Lake Village community centre, starting with a 5 p.m. session on "things you need to know about living in Canada" and continuing with information about UW at 6:00, "laws in Canada as well as health and child care" at 7:00, and a reception starting at 8:00.

Monday was the deadline for instructors to submit their marks for fall term on-campus courses, and the distance education course deadline came a day later. "This is the first term that all instructors could submit their course grades securely on line from their office, home, or a beach in the Caribbean," says UW registrar Ken Lavigne. "In fact, even though we have been closed, over 10,000 grades were submitted online over the holidays." Altogether, he says, about 85 per cent of fall marks arrived electronically rather than on paper. Unofficial marks are appearing daily on Quest, and they'll become official on January 23.

More academic numbers: Andrea Chappell of information systems and technology reports that as of the second morning of the term, which was yesterday, there were 506 courses using the online UW-ACE system. That includes 57 distance education courses and 449 on campus, "the most coming from arts," she says. Typically more courses get involved during the first few days of a term: "In the fall we had about 520 courses. . . . Last term we saw significant increases in the number of students active in UW-ACE at one time, with peaks reaching over 2,100. We added computing power over the term to accommodate that growth."

Bruce Mitchell, geography professor and UW's associate provost (academic and student affairs), is in Hyderabad this week for the 93rd annual Indian Science Congress. . . . A memo went out to staff and faculty just before the holiday reminding them to check personal information on the myHRinfo system before T-4 slips with 2005 income tax information are issued at the end of February. . . . The UW Recreation Committee, dedicated to social activities for staff and faculty, has discount tickets available for the Ontario Science Centre and, on another axis altogether, the Winter Tube Slide in St. Mary's, Ontario. . . .

On Tuesday the Daily Bulletin pictured four new UW administrators, three of whom took over on January 1: Alan George as interim vice-president (university research), Deep Saini as dean of environmental studies, and James Pankratz as dean of Conrad Grebel University College. The fourth is David Fransen, who is to become associate vice-president (strategic relations), a new position. He'll also be executive director of the Institute for Quantum Computing. Fransen's appointment will be effective January 15, the provost's office says.

The plant operations department sends a reminder that the grounds crew could use shovellers starting at 7:30 any morning that it snows (e-mail lpvandon@uwaterloo.ca in advance to get on the list). . . . Today's the last day for beginning-of-term hours (until 7:00) at the bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx. . . . The holiday week is becoming a faint memory already, and unless you get next month's reading break (February 20-24 or 23-24), the next holiday on the horizon is Good Friday on April 14. . . .


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