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Thursday, March 16, 2006

  • Honour for ten students today
  • Mathematician receives major award
  • Faculty members on sabbatical
Chris Redmond

National Epilepsy Month

[Five smiling faces]

Basketball players Gillian Maxwell, Nicole Tisdale, Chris Edwards and Graham Jarman pose with Linda Kieswetter, at centre, after this year's Linda Kieswetter Award was presented to them at a recent athletics department reception. The award recognizes outstanding athletic performance and contributions to a Warrior team and UW Athletics. It was established by Bob Harding (former chair of the UW board of governors) and his partner, Linda Young. Kieswetter is the director of Campaign Waterloo and wife of Tom Kieswetter, coach of the men's cage team.

Honour for ten students today

A reception will be held later today to honour ten winners of the Federation of Students Leadership Award for this year. They and their guests will be treated to supper and presentations, with a party to follow, starting at 6:30 in Federation Hall. I suspect the Feds will be issuing citations for the ten winners, but here at least are their names, some of which will be familiar across the campus: Haruka Shoji (biology), Graeme Baer (software engineering), Nick Lawler (civil engineering), Heather Anderson (environment and resource studies), Karim Lallani (systems design engineering), Michael Tersigni (arts and business), Donna Craig (mathematics accountancy), Sabrina Bowman (environment and resource studies), Sarah Lewis (economics), and Samir Patel (mathematics).

Organizers are still calculating how many high school students and family members visited UW on Tuesday, but the Campus Day open house "was a great success", according to Kim McKee, manager of the Visitor Centre. "The weather was a little chilly," she writes, "but the talented staff, students and volunteers working the event couldn't have been more enthusiastic and welcoming! We've already received a lot of compliments and positive feedback about how well everything was organized and what a great day they had here at UW! Just as exciting as knowing our visitors enjoyed their day, is the number of current students who participated in this event. Over 400 current UW students participated by volunteering on Campus Day across all areas of the campus, making the event's success a reality. They provided a warm welcome for our visitors, helped them plan their day and find their way, talked about life and academics at UW, took them on tours of the campus and residences and generally demonstrated that UW was a great place to be."

As the winter term rushes toward its conclusion, there's much happening on campus, and both theatres are in use tonight for student productions: "Our Country's Good" from the drama department in the Theatre of the Arts, "Footloose" from Conrad Grebel University College in the Humanities Theatre. In both cases showtime is 8 p.m., tonight through Saturday, with a 2:00 Saturday matinee. Earlier this evening, there's a special event in the gallery that surrounds the Theatre of the Arts: a reception to celebrate the exhibition that's currently on display, "Eden: The Marshlands of Iraq". The photos, associated with the Canada-Iraq Marshlands Initiative (in which Barry Warner of UW's geography department plays a key role), continue in the gallery until March 23.

The recently-established "international spouses group" at Columbia Lake Village has set its meetings for 1 p.m. on alternate Thursdays, and today is one such gathering, in the CLV community centre. Today's topic: "First Impressions of Life Overseas." The gathering is not just for CLV residents, an invitation notes: "All spouses of international students or professors are most welcome, no matter where they live. Children are welcome." The next session, March 30, will be a potluck lunch. More information: phone ext. 7567.

A funeral service will be held tomorrow for Audrey Sirskyj, who died Sunday, aged 77. She worked in the circulation department of the UW library from 1979 until her retirement May 1, 1993. Visitation is tonight from 7 to 9 at the Edward R. Good Funeral Home; the service is tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration.

Manuel Medeiros, who has worked at UW since April 1998 as a building serviceperson in plant operations, retired officially on March 1. . . . Nominations will close tomorrow at 3 p.m. in the election of faculty and graduate student representatives to UW's senate. . . . Yesterday's Daily Bulletin identified Karen Redman, one of the shovel-wielders at the Tuesday groundbreaking ceremony, as MPP for Kitchener Centre, when in fact she's Member of Parliament for that riding. . . .

The most recent issue of the mathematics student newsletter includes a "Female's Guide to the MC", signed by "Abby", which is in fact a guide to the women's washrooms inside the six-storey bunker. One insight from the third-floor level: "The SW corner washroom mirror is slightly distorted. It's only distorted just enough that you still think you're looking at your non-distorted self. Depending on the angle, this can either boost your self-esteem or be really shocking."

Mathematician receives major award -- from the UW media relations office

A UW faculty member in combinatorics and optimization is the recipient of the prestigious Coxeter-James Prize for 2006 awarded by the Canadian Mathematical Society. Jim Geelen, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Combinatorial Optimization, will present the 2006 Coxeter-James Prize Lecture at the CMS summer meeting hosted by the University of Calgary in June. The prize is awarded to young mathematicians who have made outstanding contributions to mathematical research.

[Geelen] Geelen (right) is already considered a world leader in the areas of combinatorial optimization and matroid theory. The prize referees describe him as an "outstanding talent" and a "very creative and original researcher," with a "huge international reputation."

Combinatorics and optimization provide many of the mathematical tools used for solving diverse problems such as planning the efficient layout of a factory floor, synchronizing traffic lights and improving telecommunications signals. In the past, such problems would be solved by imprecise methods, giving results that were both unreliable and costly. Today, these problems are subjected to rigid mathematical analysis, providing exact solutions or highly reliable estimates.

Geelen's specific area of research is matroid theory, matching theory and graph minors. Combinatorics is the study of discrete structures and their properties, while optimization is the study of maximizing and minimizing functions subject to specified boundary conditions or constraints.

"The department takes great pride in Jim's remarkable accomplishments, and is most pleased for this recognition by the Canadian mathematical community," said Paul Schellenberg, chair of the combinatorics and optimization department in UW's Faculty of Mathematics.

Highlights of Geelen's 30-odd papers include collaboration with Gerards and Kapoor, in which he characterized the matroids representable over the finite field GF(4), which had been considered an impossibly hard problem. Their paper is described as a "huge breakthrough." As well, Geelen has made important contributions to extending results of the Graph Minors Project from graphs to matroids. This is currently the main focus of matroid theory. One of his contributions to combinatorial optimization is a new algorithm for the maximum matching problem, simple to use but theoretically deep.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1992 from Curtin University in Australia, and a PhD in 1996 from UW. After postdoctoral fellowships in the Netherlands, Germany, and Japan, Geelen returned to Waterloo in 1997. He won the Doctoral Prize of the Canadian Mathematical Society in 1996 and the Fulkerson Prize of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Programming Society in 2003. He received a Premier's Research Excellence Award from the Province of Ontario in 2000 and a Sloan Fellowship in 2002.

Health Privacy Professional Workshop sponsored by Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research Thursday-Friday.

Drama lecture: playwrights David French and Hrant Alianak, describing the Toronto theatre scene of the 1970s, with readings from their plays, 1:30 to 4 p.m., Theatre of the Arts.

'Know Your Workplace' session about staff compensation at UW, 3 p.m., details and reservations phone ext. 7599.

'Leisure and Health' lecture by Edward Smith and Linda Caldwell, Penn State University, 4:30, Lyle Hallman Institute room 1621, RSVP ext. 2010.

Pension and benefits committee Friday 8:30 a.m. to noon, Needles Hall room 3004.

Waterloo Co-operative Residence Inc. open house Friday 2 to 6, 268 Phillip Street.

Anime fans, gamers and friends invited to Watcon, "a mini-convention", Saturday 11:30 to 5:30, Arts Lecture Hall, admission free. Panels, games, anime showing, screening of "Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children", details online.

'The Apprentice Chef' competition sponsored by Food Services "learn-to-cook" series, Sunday 6:30 p.m., Ron Eydt Village great hall.

Class enrolment appointments for spring term undergraduate classes start Monday on Quest; open enrolment begins April 3.

Yume Peace Project: help fold 1,000 paper cranes, sponsored by Konnichiwa Japan Club, Monday and Tuesday, Student Life Centre.

Faculty members on sabbatical

Here's another list of UW faculty members who are on sabbatical leaves that began January 1 and will last through June 30. The descriptions of their plans come from a report submitted to the UW board of governors.

Vinko Grubisic of Germanic and Slavic studies reports: "I will be writing a book entitled Polylingualism in Croatian Culture: An Anthology of the Croatian Renaissance Literature (approximately 450 pages). This book will be the first selection of parallel texts in original version and in standard Croatian. It is intended mainly for university students."

Michael McCool of computer science told the board: "I will be engaging in technology transfer activities. I will be on campus 40% of the time for research during this period."

Jeffrey S. West of civil engineering writes: "The proposed sabbatical leave will be used to continue ongoing research efforts on new materials to extend the serviceable lifespan of existing and new concrete infrastructure. In addition, new research relationships with industry, including consultants, material producers, contractors and government agencies will be explored."

Joel Greenberg of drama and speech communication advised the board: "The six months will be spent working on the next major production for Studio 180, a professional company that I helped to found and launch during my recent sabbatical, January-June 2003. At that time we produced the Canadian professional premiere of 'The Laramie Project'. The production, which featured UW Drama alumni, seven of the eight cast members, followed its Toronto run with 4 performances at UW's Theatre of the Arts. My plans for January-June 2006 focus on my own adaptation of the Abella-Troper book None Is Too Many. The play is currently in development and the plan is to workshop it over the next 7-9 months so that the production proper can happen in the February-April period of 2006." (Update.)

Anne Marie Miraglia of French studies writes: "During the proposed sabbatical leave, I intend to study novels written in French by francophone immigrants to France and to Canada. I will also study theoretical essays relative to questions of exile, place, and immigration. As in my past SSHRC research project which led to the completion of a book-length manuscript on women writers from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, I will continue to study novels written by immigrant writers to France from the 'Maghreb'; but I intend to focus on the novels written by men. I also intend to study novels written by immigrant writers (male and female) from France's former colonies in Black Africa (Cameroon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Congo, etc.). My primary objective is to examine the representation of place, not only the representation of the adoptive country (France, Canada) but also that of one's country of origin. I hope that this research will lead to the writing of a book which compare the representation of place and exile in France where government policies are designed for the assimilation of immigrants and in Canada where government policies favour multiculturalism. I am interested in comparing the experiences of characters not only in terms of their representation of place but also in terms of their similarities and differences."


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