Tuesday, September 19, 2006

  • 'Excellence' awards to 3 researchers
  • Artist seeing into another dimension
  • Sympathy to Dawson, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • credmond@uwaterloo.ca


New director of UW's school of accountancy is James Barnett, who took on that role for a four-year term beginning August 1. Barnett is a specialist in taxation, and was a Distinguished Teacher Award winner earlier this year. As director he succeeds Alister Mason, who has retired.

Link of the day

Talk Like a Pirate Day is here

When and where

Imaginus poster sale, Student Life Centre, today-Thursday 9 to 8, Friday 9 to 5.

Film festival: "In the Mind's Eye: Issues of Substance Abuse", film showings and forums, September 19 through November 28, full schedule online.

Sharcnet workshop: introduction, basics of high-performance computing, usage demo, open to all users, 1 to 4 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Jewish studies lecture: Rachael Turkienicz, York University, "Angels," 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University, admission free.

Noon concert: Akafist Chamber Choir, 16-voice male choir from Moscow, Wednesday 12:30, Conrad Grebel University College chapel, free.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council grant information session, of special interest to new faculty members, Wednesday 2 to 5 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302, more information online.

Café-rencontre du département d'études françaises: Léonard Rosmarin, Université Brock, "Liliane Atlan ou le refus du désespoir", mercredi 14h30, Humanities salle 373.

Women in Mathematics pasta party for female faculty, staff, grads and undergrads in mathematics, Wednesday 5 p.m., Math and Computer room 5158, RSVP gyun@math.

Warrior curling team meeting and opportunity for walk-ons, Wednesday 5 p.m., Physical Activities Complex room 1001 (both men and women).

Centre for Family Business, Conrad Grebel University College, annual general meeting and program launch Friday 7 to 10 a.m., Bingemans Conference Centre, Kitchener, details online.

St. Jerome's University annual Ignatian/Waterloo Catholic District School Board Lecture: William F. Ryan, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Social Justice, "Globalization and Catholic Social Thought", Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, all welcome.

Programming contest open to all members of the UW community; members will be chosen for two student teams to represent UW in ACM international programming contest. Registration online; contests Sunday, September 24, and Saturday, September 30.

Alumni night in England: Canadian alumni networking at Canada House in Trafalgar Square, London, September 26, details online.

Homecoming September 30, various events. Tickets for 7 p.m. lecture by Stephen Lewis are for sale, details online.

One click away

Spectacular photo taken on the north campus
Complaints about noise from orientation toga party
Watching the debit machine at the used book store
UW researchers demonstrate map discussion interface
Province launches award for 'excellence' in post-secondary teaching
Investment firm lists high-tech job opportunities
Student group concerned about education research contract
SSHRC announces $98 million in fellowships and scholarships
Latest big customer for local firm's course software
'A little learning is an expensive thing' (NY Times)
U of Guelph moves into 'Phase 2A' of science complex
No riot at Queen's Homecoming this year
Nominations due soon for $100,000 Killam Prizes
Court rules university president is a public official

'Excellence' awards to 3 researchers

Three faculty members are receiving UW's Award for Excellence in Research this year, the provost told UW's senate last night: one from arts, one from engineering, and one who retired just days ago from the faculty of science.

The Awards for Excellence in Research were established by the senate in 1999 to recognize individuals with "an outstanding record of research achievement". The recipients are selected by a committee consisting of senior, internationally renowned UW researchers.

The award winners will be recognized at Convocation in October. Here are their names, with background information provided by the provost's office:

Mariela Gutiérrez, Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies: "Dr. Gutiérrez has been recognized as the world’s leading scholar on two authors of major importance in Latin-American literature, Lydia Cabrera and Rosario Ferré, and also as one of today’s outstanding researchers of Afro-Hispanism. She is the leading expert worldwide on Lydia Cabrera, one of the most influential Cuban writers of the 20th century and a prominent literary figure within the annals of Latin American letters. Her research on the writings of Cabrera reveals an extraordinary understanding of Spanish literature, of French-American myths and also of African dialects.

"A leading speaker at virtually every conference in the world on her topics, Dr. Gutiérrez is also the recipient of an impressive series of awards. In 2004, for example, she was awarded the Medal of Honor of the City Bagnères de Bigorre, in the French Pyrenees, in recognition of her world-wide contributions towards fictional and socio-historical literature written by Latin American female authors. A brilliant Afro-Hispanic literature scholar, Dr. Gutiérrez has written five books published by top-ranked publishing houses in the United States and Spain."

Robert Gillham, retired from the Department of Earth Sciences: "Robert Gillham’s research career has been described as truly remarkable. As the holder or co-holder of seven patents for cleaning contaminated groundwater, his work in this area has benefited not only Canadian society, but has impacted groundwater remediation globally. Upon his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1997, his citation stated his research as 'the most important advance in groundwater contamination science of the past two decades.' In 2002, Dr. Gillham was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada. That same year he was also awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal 'for outstanding service to Canada'.

"At the University of Waterloo Dr. Gillham coordinated and spearheaded the proposal that led to the establishment of the Canadian Water Network, a national research program under the Federal Networks of Centres of Excellence. His impact on many areas of the hydrologic and environmental sciences is immeasurable, and has focused a great deal of attention worldwide on research being conducted at the University of Waterloo."

Magdy Salama, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering: "Magdy Salama is internationally recognized as an eminent researcher in the electrical power energy systems field, and is also making substantial contributions in biomedical engineering. Dr. Salama’s expertise in pattern recognition to identify power systems disturbances has led to advancements in ultrasound imaging to identify prostate boundary segmentation which is leading to the implementation of new early detection methods of prostate cancer.

"Results of his activities in power systems disturbance identification and power quality control have become guidelines to many researchers in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Far East in advancing power engineering research. In 2002 he was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Dr. Salama’s innovative research has been leading academia and industry worldwide, and will lead to new technology in both the engineering and medical fields."

Back to top

Artist seeing into another dimension

Work by Robert Linsley — the UW artist who talks to physicists — is on display this month at a little-known public space in Kitchener, the Hacienda Sarria on Union Street. An opening for his show, “New Research in Abstraction”, was held Friday night.

He is profiled in the new issue of the online Arts Research Update newsletter, where editor Angela Roorda of the dean of arts office introduces him by quoting a character from Oscar Wilde: “We live in an age of surfaces.”

For Linsley, she writes, “nothing could be truer of our own time — and nothing more compelling to study. Like other abstract painters, Linsley holds a long-standing fascination with both the limits and possibilities of surfaces, particularly the surface of the canvas. How much information can a canvas bear? And can the two dimensional picture plane sometimes say as much as the three dimensional figures it is typically called upon to represent?”

Contemporary theoretical physicists are also absorbed by questions like this, says Linsley, who spends a lot of time in conversation with scientists at Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. There is a parallel pursuit here, and an opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogue, says the artist. “Physicists have found that the amount of information inside a black hole, that is to say the number of particles and their positions and speeds, is not proportional to its volume, but to its surface area,” he explains. “This discovery, called the Bekenstein Bound, suggests that the surface of a black hole, the so-called ‘event horizon,’ is analogous to the picture plane, a surface that also carries limited information about the space behind it. It has led to a number of theories in which two dimensional surfaces play a central role.”

Linsley is one of the first to point out and, in a rigorous way, investigate this shared artistic and scientific concern with surfaces, says the newsletter. “While drawing upon recent discoveries in theoretical physics, Linsley goes beyond simply illustrating scientific concepts in his work. Instead, his aim is to initiate a fruitful dialogue between artists and physicists in order to find a common conceptual ground between the two activities.”

To this end, Linsley is in the process of establishing a collective of art theorists and practitioners who will work together to explore these big-picture questions of space, time, and abstract art. With funding from a SSHRC Research/Creation Grant in Fine Arts and a Premier’s Research Excellence Award — the first ever awarded to a researcher in fine arts — Linsley has already put in place two postgraduate fellowships and is looking for a studio for himself and the Fellows who work with him.

The idea is not only to pursue questions of science and art’s relevance to each other, but also to bring art theory and practice together in innovative and productive ways. “With artists working alongside theorists, in ongoing conversation and collaboration, there is the potential for a new way of doing fine arts research, one that can take the relation between art and science to a new level of sophistication,” he says.

Along with his postdoctoral colleagues, Linsley himself, through both creative and theoretical projects, is exploring the limits of the canvas’s surface, just as physicists are exploring the contours and limits of physical space. In a method and style that recalls that of abstract painter Jackson Pollock, Linsley takes buckets of commercial paint, creates not-quite-random collections of “puddles” on the canvas, and then shakes the canvas around —sometimes overhead —until the desired ragged-edged effect is achieved. Says Roorda: “These intriguing paintings acquire a spatial and metaphoric dimension when Linsley gives them titles that suggest geography and a cartography of imaginary islands: ‘Domains in the Sea of Milk,’ ‘Island Prospect,’ and ‘Easy Straits.’ Linsley’s two-dimensional canvases playfully evoke other two dimensional surfaces — maps — which in turn carry diagrammatic information about unseen, three dimensional topographies. Not unlike the Bekenstein Bound.”

The exhibition of work by the fine arts department’s New Research in Abstraction group, consisting of Linsley and his research colleagues, Mike Murphy, Jennifer Phelps, and Sasha Pierce, continues all month at the Hacienda Sarria, 1254 Union Street, Kitchener.

Back to top

Sympathy to Dawson, and other notes

About 60 people attended yesterday's noon-hour session in the Theatre of the Arts to discuss last week's shootings at Dawson College and how Canada might prevent future acts of violence on campuses and elsewhere. In addition to the academic panel, organized by dean of arts Ken Coates, the gathering heard words from first-year political science student Kavita Saini, who attended Dawson in downtown Montréal last year and has many friends still at the college. "I've stood there a hundred times," she said about the main entrance to the college's ancient building, bloodied after last Wednesday's violence that left one student dead. A poster-sized sympathy card from UW to the Dawson community is available in the lobby of the Modern Languages building today, says Tobi Day-Hamilton, marketing manager for the arts faculty. "We invite everyone on campus to come by and sign the poster, and we'll send it off to Dawson on Wednesday."

The fall program of non-credit courses from UW's continuing education office is beginning, and program coordinator Dean Perkins says he's picked out several courses that might be of interest to UW staff members, especially as they get a 50 per cent discount on the fees. "Many staff do like scheduling out-of-the-cubicle courses at least a few weeks in advance," he says, pointing to "Project Management Applied Tools and Techniques" October 16-18, "The Art of Influencing Difficult People" October 26, "Introduction to Financial Accounting" October 27, and "Coaching for Success" November 23. Course descriptions and details are available online, and all the courses are held at the CE headquarters ("UW's central campus", Perkins likes to call it) on Gage Avenue in Kitchener.

The September list of winners in the prize draw for Keystone Campaign donors has been posted on the Keystone web site. . . . The Record reports that the student group trying to build a student co-op residence on Ainslie Street in Cambridge, near the UW Architecture building, has raised the $50,000 required for a down payment and expected to close the land purchase yesterday. . . . William (Bill) Scherrer will retire October 1, ending twenty years as a UW staff member, most recently as supervisor of maintenance and cleaning at Columbia Lake Village. . . .

The engineering faculty's online newsletter reports that "Waterloo Engineering's Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CBET) will move into new facilities on the second floor of the Accelerator Building in the university's Research and Technology Park in January 2007. The centre, currently housed on the first floor of Needles Hall, joined the Faculty of Engineering last spring. In a recent centre update CBET Director Howard Armitage described the change as 'a wonderful move for CBET and the university'."

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin, quoting a news release, gave the wrong title for Heather Kelly of food services, who is in fact the "acting marketing coordinator" there. . . . The computing system called "jubilation", also known as "retirees", will be out of operation tomorrow from 10:00 to 1:00 for a system upgrade, the information systems and technology department warns. . . . The staff association says it will offer a $500 bursary to a staff member or relative at both the undergraduate and graduate levels again this term, and both awards will be matched by the Education Credit Union to bring the total to $1,000. . . .

A job ad is out for the position of Federation Orientation Committee administrative coordinator: part-time (10 hours a week) during the winter term and full-time next spring term. "This position," the notice explains, "will chair cross-campus events sub-committees and distribute tasks appropriately. . . . Extensive experience as either a Federation Orientation Committee member or an Orientation Leader is essential. . . . Proven event planning experience. Proven communication skills." And you've got to have experience "managing teams", but also the "ability to work independently". Applications are due by September 27; more information is available from Heather FitzGerald, director of the student life office, e-mail hafitzge@uwaterloo.ca.


Back to top

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin