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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

  • Two new 'University Professors'
  • Funds for underwater robot research
  • Awards for 'excellent' researchers
Chris Redmond

100 years of E. Power Biggs

Two new 'University Professors'

UW has appointed two more University Professors, the highest academic honour given at this university, the university senate was told this week. That brings the total to eight since the rank was created in 2004.

[Boyle] [Munro] Provost Amit Chakma announced that Phelim Boyle (left) of accountancy and Ian Munro (right) of computer science have been awarded the title by the University Promotion and Tenure Committee.

They join the 2004 and 2005 recipients: Garry Rempel of chemical engineering, Mary Thompson of statistics and actuarial science, Mark Zanna of psychology, Terry McMahon of chemistry, Cameron Stewart of pure mathematics, and Robert Jan Van Pelt of architecture.

Chakma gave some background about the honour: "The University of Waterloo owes much of its reputation and stature to the quality of its eminent professors. UW recognizes exceptional scholarly achievement and international pre-eminence through the designation University Professor. Once appointed, a faculty member retains the designation for life. . . . Such appointments are reported to Senate and to the Board of Governors for information, and are recognized at Convocation."

Here's how the individuals are chosen: "Annually, nominations will be sought from Deans, Directors and Chairs, as well as from the University community generally. A nominee shall have demonstrated exceptional scholarly achievement and international pre-eminence in a particular field or fields of knowledge. The individual who nominates a colleague is responsible for gathering the documentation and submitting it to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost. The University Tenure & Promotion Committee will act as the selection committee; its decisions are final.

"A nomination must be supported by at least six signatures from at least two UW departments," and opinions are asked from "scholars of international standing in the nominee's field" before a decision is made. The intention is that "at steady state" there will be no more than 14 University Professors, apart from those who have retired.

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

  • Residence attendant, housing and residences, USG 2
  • Development officer (faculty of science), office of development, USG 9-11
  • Online education specialist, co-operative education and career services, USG 7
  • Career services assistant, co-operative education and career services, USG 4/5
  • Secretary/receptionist, counselling services, USG 4
  • Manager, information systems, distance and continuing education, USG 12
  • Accountant, research services, office of research, USG 11

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • Funds for underwater robot research -- from the UW media relations office

    A UW research team has received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to build a laboratory to investigate underwater sampling by using robots. Christopher Clark and Patricia Nieva, professors in the department of mechanical engineering, and Bill Annable, a professor of civil engineering, are the recipients of the $159,000 Leaders Opportunity Fund award for a project titled "Facility for the Advancement of Underwater Sampling Technology."

    "This infrastructure will be vital for developing, validating and testing our planning, control, mapping and localization algorithms to enable the autonomous control of underwater robots as applied to a large number of new sensing tasks," Clark said. "It will also facilitate the design and fabrication of new MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems)-based sensors required for such tasks. Our students have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this equipment so that their research can progress."

    Underwater robots have traditionally been limited to oceanic research because of their large size and high cost. However, with today's level of personal computing power, intelligent robotics has become accessible to a broad range of people and applications.

    Clark heads the Laboratory for Autonomous and Intelligent Robotics. His research interests include autonomous mobile robots, multi-robot systems, motion planning, modular and reconfigurable robots, as well as intelligent control.

    Nieva said that to fully realize deployable sensing systems which can conduct spatiotemporal underwater sampling in the field, new infrastructure is required in the existing research programs. "The development of new MEMS sensors that are small enough, economical and adequately robust to withstand harsh underwater environments requires technology for the dynamic characterization of microsystems," she said. Hence, advanced testing methods for the dynamics of microstructures are necessary to develop and verify innovative, reliable and marketable MEMS. Using the out-of-plane microsystem analyzer requested, Nieva plans to acquire reliable measurement data that can validate simulation models.

    Nieva leads the Systems-on-Chip and Harsh Environments Microsystems Laboratory. Her main research interests include MEMS for harsh environments, multi-functional MEMS, micro-power harvesting, laser interferometry, along with on-chip integration of self-powered sensors and actuators with micro-optics and microelectronics.

    Annable said the CFI award will, in part, be used to acquire high resolution flow and water quality measurement equipment to be used in river and lake settings. The research will provide detailed verification and calibration data sets used in the development of robots and MEMS sensors. His research interests include river mechanics, hydraulics, river restoration and groundwater surface water interaction.

    The CFI announced a total of $23.6 million in new funds for 35 institutions across the country, including the UW team project. The announcement marks the launch of the CFI's new Leaders Opportunity Fund.

    Last day of classes in engineering and mathematics; in other faculties, last day is Monday, April 3.

    Blood donor clinic continues 10 to 4, Student Life Centre (through Friday).

    Videos on Japan: monthly free screening of "Japan Video Topics" and other features, 12:30, Renison College Link Lounge.

    Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence seminar: Shai Ben-David, computer science, "Stability for Sample-Based Clustering", 5:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

    A to Z Dining sponsored by UW Recreation Committee presents Q is for Quaint, at Opa Restaurant and Cafe, Kingsway Drive, 6:00.

    'Single and Sexy' September production, auditions 7 to 9 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

    Wireless Internet in Waterloo: "what if" forum sponsored by city of Waterloo, Thursday 8:30 to 3:00, details 747-8706.

    Ontario Highway Transport Board hearing on Greyhound complaint against Federation of Students buses, Thursday 10:30 a.m., Kitchener city hall. Bus for interested students leaves Student Life Centre 9:40 a.m.

    'Are we losing our minds? Reconnect your body and mind through exercise,' brown-bag presentation sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, Thursday, 12 noon, CEIT room 1015.

    Biomedical engineering lecture: Bernie Duncker, biology, speaking on protein interactions; Salam Gabran, grad student in electrical and computer engineering, on assistive device research; Thursday 5 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 307, sponsored by Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society.

    Fine arts graduation show: "1230 Phillip", painting, sculpture, new media and installation by 23 students, opening reception Thursday 5 to 8 p.m., East Campus Hall, show continues through April 4.

    Graduate Student Association annual general meeting Thursday 7 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 301.

    'Where do students learn?' "New Ideas in Informal Living Spaces", Liwana Bringelson, Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, Friday 11 a.m., Flex lab, Dana Porter Library.

    Federation of Students annual general meeting Friday 3:30 p.m., Student Life Centre.

    Graduate Student Research Conference April 3-6. Keynote address by Romé Dallaire, Monday 8 p.m., Humanities Theatre, sold out; overflow available in Arts Lecture Hall room 113. Student presentations Tuesday-Thursday, Davis Centre 1302 and 1304; schedule online.

    Awards for 'excellent' researchers

    "Excellent" researchers will be honoured at UW again this year, and the deadline for nominations is April 30.

    The "Awards for Excellence in Research" program was created in 2000 "to recognize distinguished research achievements of UW faculty members", their terms of reference say. "The Award provides a $1,500 grant for research to four recipients annually: two from Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Environmental Studies and the Federated & Affiliated Colleges; and two from Engineering, Mathematics and Science. Normally, tenured University of Waterloo faculty members are eligible for nomination. A faculty member can receive this Award only once."

    Nominations can come from deans, department chairs, or individual faculty members, and are to be sent to the vice-president (research). "The nominators will be expected to provide all relevant information needed for adjudication." Details are listed in a document that's available from the VP's office, which makes clear that the standards involve "research activity and scholarly impact (as opposed to abilities as a teacher and/or administrator), including evidence of international research recognition".

    There's a nine-member Research Excellence Awards Review Committee, chaired by the VP, which will look at nominations and make the decisions.

    From the criteria: "In assessing excellence, the term 'research' must be interpreted in its broadest sense, referring to any original, productive scholarship in any of the disciplines of investigation and learning in the University.

    "The Committee will give cognizance to differences among disciplines in terms of funding levels, time to publish, and nature of publications or other scholarly contributions. The Committee considers peer evaluation of the international impact of research as the determining factor.

    "In general, nominees will have achieved a high level of internationally recognized research production in their disciplines. This will commonly be a major part of the evidence supporting a nominee's case. Other evidence may include awards and fellowships, invited and other scholarly presentations, and novel applications such as creative writing, design, fine and performing arts."


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