[University of Waterloo]


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Wednesday, March 8, 2006

  • Hydrogen researcher urges diversity
  • Faculty members on sabbatical
  • And more, on a crowded day
Chris Redmond

A History of International Women's Day

[Little girl asking question]

More than 1,500 grade 6, 7 and 8 students, parents and siblings are expected on Monday for the engineering faculty's annual Engineering Explorations open house. Departments will have more than 30 exhibits (including the SAE race car, seen at last year's Explorations) and tours will run at 5:00 and 6:45 p.m. New this year is involvement from the school of architecture, now that it's part of engineering; the architecture exhibits will be in the CEIT building. "We're in desperate need of tour guides," writes Graeme Baer of the Engineering Society, noting that student volunteers get T-shirts and free food ("not pizza").

Hydrogen researcher urges diversity -- by Graeme Stemp for the UW media relations office

As the world hits peak oil production, there is keen interest in finding the next great fuel source. Many hope that hydrogen can be harnessed and that by the end of the 21st century we will all be driving hydrogen-powered cars.

Ironically, that's not the hope of Xianguo Li, a UW professor of mechanical engineering and a hydrogen fuel cell researcher. Though his research is focused on improving hydrogen fuel cells so they could be used in everybody's car, he doesn't want them to be the sole option. Instead, he espouses the notion of diversity. "The second law of thermodynamics, in essence, states that every energy process has an impact," said Li. "Biomass, solar, wind, hydrogen, if any of these took a dominant position in the market they would have major disadvantages."

Li cites London or Paris 100 years ago: everyone used carriages pulled by horses to get around, and that meant there were horse droppings everywhere. At a time of poor sanitation and street infrastructure, that led to a lot of disease, not to mention the smell.

Then, a novel device known as the automobile came along. It ran on oil, which was in vast supply throughout the world, and the only thing it released was a little smoke that vanished into the air. Perfect solution, right? Only a few decades later we learned in a hard way -- like the Los Angeles smog -- that it was not perfect, after all.

Li believes the same would be true if hydrogen dominated the energy market. "Often, in history, we hail a new technology as a major step forward, only to realize its horrible side effects later, and we had to spend tremendous effort to eradicate those effects. It all comes back to the principle that you can't get something for nothing." Instead of one energy source dominating, Li believes the answer is energy diversity and that hydrogen fuel cells can play a large part, such as for automobiles in urban areas.

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

  • Administrative coordinator, mathematics business and accounting programs, dean of mathematics, USG 6
  • Information associate, optometry learning resource centre, school of optometry, USG 6
  • Project leader/application developer, Ideas for Health, USG 8
  • Registered electrical design engineer, plant operations, USG 11

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • The mechanical engineering researcher has been working to make fuel cells less expensive, more reliable and more user friendly. "The real world is not kind to cars like labs are, so we have to design better and robust engines that can be easily made and maintained."

    One of the ways that the life and reliability of hydrogen fuel cells could be improved is through optimizing how many fuel cells are in operation at any given moment. Not as much power is needed for idling at a red light as for cruising at 100km/h, so Li's research team is developing a technique that can determine how many cells need to be activated.

    As hydrogen technology develops and gains acceptance, Li hopes that people will temper the desire to use it everywhere with the knowledge that all energy systems have negative impacts. "If we use any energy on a worldwide scale, there can be lots of problems, but if we use it on a small scale we should be okay."

    Faculty members on sabbatical

    Here's another list of UW professors who are currently on sabbatical leaves that began January 1. The summaries of their work are from the report submitted to the university's board of governors.

    Gretchen L. H. Harris of the physics department has a six-month sabbatical: "My current research focuses on the properties of the oldest stars and what they can tell us about galaxy formation and evolution. I will use this leave to work on analysis of spectroscopic and imaging data for globular clusters and field stars in N6C 5128. In particular, my colleagues and I hope to place constraints on both age and chemical abundance for both field stars and globular clusters in this important nearby elliptical galaxy."

    Derek Besner of psychology also is on sabbatical for six months: "I intend to spend my sabbatical time catching up on my reading, thinking of new projects, and writing a backlog of papers for publication in major journals. I also intend to make a short duration visit to Australia to carry out work on a grant that I hold with two professors who work there."

    Charles Clarke of computer science is on a year-long sabbatical: "From January to June, I plan to visit Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, to work on projects in the areas of web search, question answering and information retrieval with colleagues at Microsoft Research and MSN Search. From July to December, I plan to visit the University of Melbourne, Australia, hosted by Professor Alistair Moffat in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering."

    International Celebration Week cuisine: Italy and Mongolia today in Mudie's, Ireland and Canada in REVelation, Italy at South Campus Hall, China at Renison College.

    Income tax seminar for international students 10 a.m. to noon, Needles Hall room 3001.

    Health research seminar: Keith Warriner (sociology), Sandra Keys (library), and Pat Newcombe-Welch (sociology), "The Data Liberation Initiative and Research Data Centre Programs", 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1304.

    Career workshop: "Writing CVs and Cover Letters" 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218, registration online.

    Free noon concert: Renaissance music by Greensleaves, 12:30, Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

    Waterloo vs. Laurier Apprentice final competition (featuring Diane Kelly, third year science-and-business) 12:30, Student Life Centre, details online.

    Anime afternoon 1 to 4 p.m., Renison College student lounge.

    Statistics and actuarial science seminar: Grace Chiu, "Bent-Cable Regression with Autoregressive Noise", 3:30, Math and Computer room 4063.

    Novelist Michael Helm (In the Place of Last Things) reads from his work 4:00, St. Jerome's University room 2009.

    Women entrepreneurs panel discussion 5:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room, sponsored by Womyn's Centre.

    International Women's Day dinner 5:30, University Club, sold out.

    Microsoft Visual Studio Develop Mental Tour ("bring your resumés, learn how to make a video game") 5:30 to 7:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 101.

    'Sisters in Spirit': Beverley Jacobs, president, Native Women's Association of Canada, speaks to mark International Women's Week, 5:30, St. Paul's College, sponsored by Aboriginal Services and Waterloo Public Interest Research Group.

    Muslim Students Association presents "In the Steps of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam", 7:00, Math and Computer room 2066.

    'Scared Sacred': documentary film showing sponsored by Diversity Project, 8 p.m., Humanities Theatre, admission free.

    Sandford Fleming Foundation debates: finals Friday 11:30 outside POETS Pub, Carl Pollock Hall.

    Senate finance committee Thursday 1 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

    'From Burma to Canada: A Student's Life from a Refugee Camp to Waterloo.' Thursday 5:30, Tatham Centre room 1112, sponsored by World University Service Canada, Waterloo chapter.

    'Danish Cartoons Revisited: The Real Life Story of Prophet Muhammad' Thursday 7 p.m., presented by Muslim Students Association, Rod Coutts Hall room 101.

    Arriscraft lecture: Rodolphe el-Khoury, University of Toronto, "Recent Work", Thursday 7 p.m., Architecture lecture hall.

    Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies: James Urry, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, Thursday and Friday 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College great hall.

    Turnkey coffee house, Student Life Centre great hall, Thursday from 7 p.m., with Tappin' Toes Dance Troupe, Jamie Riske and others, free.

    'Sound in the Land' launch of Essays on Mennonites and Music,: readings, music, Mennonite food, Saturday 8 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

    Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival Friday-Sunday, Davis Centre room 1302, details online.

    Chris Godsil of combinatorics and optimization is on a six-month sabbatical: "I plan to spend most of this leave in Waterloo. I hope to finish a book on applied algebra and to continue my work on problems in algebraic graph theory that arise from quantum computing. I plan to make some short trips, including one to Perth, Australia, to continue my collaboration with Gordon Royle."

    Heather MacDougall of the history department has a year-long leave: "During my twelve-month sabbatical, I will complete the research for my history of the Canadian medicare program, write a monograph on it, and present several conference papers. I will also prepare a new graduate course in the history of Canadian public policy for the Winter 2007 term."

    And Paul Guild, a professor of management sciences who just finished a term as vice-president (university research), is on a twelve-month sabbatical "to ramp up research" following his five years in administration.

    And more, on a crowded day

    There's an open house today in the Health Services building, to show off the new Health Promotion Resource Centre, which occupies the space previously occupied by the UW Safety Office (room 125) until it moved to another building early this year. Students can now come in at their leisure, browse through health information, pick up pamphlets or health promotion packages, and talk to health educator Sandra Gibson, who explains that "with the new space we are better able to accommodate and utilize our Leave The Pack Behind team, Health Services volunteers, student Peer Health Educators, and provide health promotion programs and valuable information to all UW students." Resources include information on alcohol and drugs, birth control, safe sex, healthy eating, eating disorders, heart health, smoking cessation, physical activity, stress management, sleep, sun safety, mental health, and so on. Today's open house runs from 11:30 to 1:30, and refreshments are promised.

    Several "Chinese" clubs at UW, and their counterparts at other Ontario universities, are involved in a videoconference Friday evening in conjunction with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. UW students will be heading for London to take part in the conference at the University of Western Ontario site. "There will be a few speakers with Canadian backgrounds who have worked in or are currently working in Hong Kong, who can share the ins and outs about the culture, language and career advancement opportunities," explains Derek Cheung of UW Dimensions, one of the Waterloo groups involved. "This event is open not only to Chinese students, but to any student who may be contemplating career plans in Hong Kong." There's information online about the program and some transportation arrangements.

    [Judge] Lynn Judge (right), director of academic student services in UW's Graduate Studies Office, has been honoured by the Ontario University Registrars' Association with its Award of Achievement and status of Member Emeritus. The award was presented at the annual OURA conference in late February. Judge began her career in Grad Studies in 1979 and has been an OURA member for more than 15 years. She served as member and then chair of the Standing Committee on Graduate Studies for several years during the 1990's, worked with the International Admissions Placement Guide working group, and so on. Say the colleagues who nominated her: "Lynn has made a substantial contribution, not only to OURA, but also to the enhancement and development of academic administration within the Ontario university system with her work on the Ontario Universities' Application Centre graduate studies on-line application, the establishment of electronic thesis submissions, and as a member of the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies task force to define macroindicators for graduate studies. Lynn continues to play an important, long-standing role in mentoring new graduate studies managers."

    Residence council hosted the annual Residence Formal on Saturday night in Federation Hall, with nearly 300 people dancing, eating up the chocolate fountain, and helping to raise more than $2,000 for ROOF. . . . Residents in Columbia Lake Village have been invited to a meeting tonight (7:00 in the Community Centre) to learn more about "where your rental fees go" in the context of the recently-approved fee increase. . . . Warrior Goalie Curtis Darling was named to the OUA West all-star team, and forward Kevin Hurley to the second team, as the league issued its awards at the end of the men's hockey season. . . .

    Nominations for faculty and graduate student seats on the UW senate are due March 17. . . . The UW Recreation Committee has another noon-hour session on genealogy scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1568). . . . The new book by Michael Higgins of St. Jerome's University, Stalking the Holy: The Pursuit of Saint Making, appears on Maclean's magazine's best-seller list this week. . . .

    Tomorrow is the deadline for nominations for the annual Federation of Students Leadership Awards. Winners "will have demonstrated exemplary leadership skills in various ways at the University of Waterloo and/or in the surrounding communities." Nominations go to John Andersen, president of the Federation, by closing time tomorrow. A nomination form is available online.

    The safety office reminds staff and faculty members that the minutes of the Joint Health and Safety Committee are available online (and the November and January minutes have just been added). . . . The weekly stress relaxation series sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program continues today, with a session on "Maximizing Performance" (12:00, Math and Computer room 5158). . . . A memo from the registrar's office reminds Web users that there's a new URL for the undergraduate calendar, www.ucalendar.uwaterloo.ca, and bookmarks (or published references) to older URLs should be changed. . . .

    And . . . the Ontario government says it will make "an important announcement regarding postsecondary education" this morning. for the coming year, perhaps?


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