Monday, February 26, 2007

  • New master's in 'computational' math
  • Ex-premier speaks about cities
  • What to care about, if you care
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

The February 26 incident

When and where

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

Psychology professor Bob Seim speaks on "The dilemma of Attachment for Foster and Adoptive Children", 12 noon, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Senate long-range planning committee meets Monday 3:15, Needles Hall room 3004; agenda includes position papers on Post-Doctoral Fellows and lifelong learning.

'iLife Interactive' drop-in presentation by Apple representatives, Tuesday and Wednesday 11:00 to 3:00, Campus TechShop, Student Life Centre.

Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian speaks on "Privacy by Design", sponsored by Engineering Society and other societies and faculties, Tuesday 12 noon, Theatre of the Arts, registration online.

'Your Future UW Pension' information session sponsored by faculty association, staff association and CUPE local 793, Tuesday 12 noon, Humanities Theatre.

Federation of Students executive meet-and-greet session, Tuesday 3:30, Student Life Centre great hall.

Seattle alumni celebration, Tuesday 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Bellevue Arts Museum, details online.

National Engineering Week event: Erin Bourke-Dunphy, 1998 graduate in electrical and computer engineering, "A Woman's Perspective", Tuesday 4:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 103; then "Dynamic Systems: The Move to Knowledge-Driven Management", 6 p.m., RCH room 101.

'Connecting Communities: The Uniting Power of Art' sponsored by The New Quarterly, Alternatives Journal, and Waterloo Unlimited, Tuesday 7 to 9 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College great hall, free.

Arriscraft Lecture by Michael Stacey, University of Nottingham, "Aluminium, Excellence and Sustainability", Tuesday 7 p.m., Architecture lecture hall.

Centre for Family Business, Conrad Grebel University College, one-day workshop: "Learn to Develop Your Emotional Intelligence", Wednesday, details online.

Canada Council representatives explain Killam Research Fellowship program, presentation Wednesday 9:00 a.m., Needles Hall room 3001; individual appointments available (e-mail

Smarter Health seminar: Vimla L. Patel, Columbia University, "Why Not a Cognitive Science Approach to Understanding Clinician-Computer Interaction?" Wednesday 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Application deadline for admission to UW for spring term, March 1; fall term, March 30, earlier cutoffs in some cases, details online.

Surplus sale of UW property, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, central stores, East Campus Hall (off Phillip Street).

International Student Development Conference Friday-Saturday, Rod Coutts Hall, agenda now online.

'Working through conflict' presentation sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, March 5, 12:00 noon, Davis Centre room 1302 (note change from previously announced date).

Campus Day open house for future students and family members, Tuesday, March 13, programming 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., details online.

PhD oral defences

Planning. Nora Doerr-MacEwen, "The Management of Human Pharmaceuticals in the Environment." Supervisor, M. Haight. On display in the faculty of environmental studies, ES1 3353. Oral defence Thursday, March 15, 9:00 a.m., Environmental Studies I room 221.

Chemical engineering. Reza Gheshlaghi, "Optimization of Recombinant Protein Production by a Fungal Host." Supervisors, Peter Douglas, Murray Moo-Young and Jeno M. Scharer. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Monday, March 19, 2:30 p.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Systems design engineering. Mubarak Al-Mutairi, "Preference Uncertainty and Trust in Decision Making." Supervisors: Keith Hipel and Mohamed Kamel. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Friday, March 23, 10:00 a.m., Davis Centre room 2584.

Kinesiology. Joan Scannell, "In Vitro and In Vivo Biomechanical Investigation of the Clinical Practice of Disc Prolapse Prevention and Rehabilitation." Supervisor, Stuart McGill. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Monday, March 26, 8:30 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

New master's in 'computational' math

by Patricia Bow

A UW Master of Mathematics program in computational mathematics is coming to UW's senate for final approval today, and will be ready to admit students in September.

What is computational mathematics? Bruce Simpson, the program’s interim director, supplies a very basic layman’s definition: “It’s mathematics as you do it on the computer instead of in your head.” Specifically, it’s the math that supports complex computer models created to solve very large mathematical problems, on the scale encountered in the study of climate and the atmosphere, biological systems, data security, risk calculation, financial analysis, and statistics. Large computer models also help to design things such as airplanes and water systems, and to manage complex tasks such as surgery, through medical imaging.

As a discipline, it’s a hybrid of computing and mathematics. The applications also tend to bring together people from different fields. The computational mathematics specialist needs to have the interdisciplinary skills to “talk the language of the application field,” Simpson says, although he or she needn’t be an expert on civil engineering or medical imaging.

According to the program’s report to Senate, “Developing, analyzing, and applying such models requires more than mathematics. It also demands addressing myriad important computational issues such as the efficiency, accuracy and stability of numerical computations, the development and maintenance of mathematical software, and the effects of modern developments in computer architectures and networks.”

One feature that distinguishes this program from conventional grad programs, Simpson says, is the format: one year of intensive study designed to give students an advanced understanding of the field, quickly preparing them to enter the work force or go on to further study. They will complete six courses in eight months, followed by a four-month research project, instead working for up to two years and producing a thesis.

Computational mathematics as an organized venture is relatively new at UW. The undergrad program began in fall 2004. The Centre for Computational Mathematics in Industry and Commerce opened the following January to manage the degree programs and serve as an umbrella for collaborative research. The professors — more than 40 in all (including a dozen core faculty members, most of whom were hired specifically for the program) — are based in all five academic units of the mathematics faculty, with a few in science and engineering.

The program will be submitted to Senate for approval on February 26. Applications are already being received, with a deadline of March 31. Acceptances will be issued after approval of the program by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS).

Tonight's senate meeting starts at 4:30 in Needles Hall room 3001. The agenda is a heavy one because of items carried over from the January meeting, cancelled by a storm day. Among proposals for approval are a PhD program in French studies, a PhD in "work and health", and online "professional development" courses for co-op students in arts and environmental studies. In the confidential portion of the meeting, a report is expected from the nominating committee for the dean of the science faculty.

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Ex-premier speaks about cities

A former premier of British Columbia will share insights on innovative and environmentally sustainable cities and offer creative solutions during a public talk tomorrow. [Harcourt on cover of 'Plan B']Mike Harcourt (right), UW's 2007 TD Canada Trust/Walter Bean Visiting Professor in the Environment, will deliver a lecture entitled "Canada's Cities: Competitive and Sustainable?" The event, open to the public, will start at 3:30 p.m. in the Humanities Theatre.

In his talk, Harcourt will offer some tangible solutions aimed at improving the creativity, innovative capacity and environmental sustainability of Canadian communities. As well, he will describe a strategy of "double devolution", which calls for a radical shift in responsibility, resources and decision-making from the highest levels of government to the most local level.

"Governments are not responding to global change rapidly enough to meet issues confronting our cities and towns, including urban sprawl, climate change and increasing poverty," says Mark Seasons, associate dean of UW's faculty of environmental studies and a planning professor. "Canada has the worst environmental footprint of any country and our communities are not moving toward environmental sustainability." He adds that Harcourt will offer creative solutions for citizens and leaders to consider as they tackle the urgent problems facing cities and towns.

The TD Canada Trust/Walter Bean Visiting Professorship in the Environment provides students with an opportunity to study with ranking experts active in the fields in which they plan to work.

During his stay at UW — this week and then March 12-16 — Harcourt will be based in the ES faculty and will teach graduate and undergraduate students. The ex-premier and former mayor of Vancouver, who has done extensive work on medium-sized cities, will also be briefed by Waterloo Region planners on the area's innovative growth management strategy.

Harcourt served as B.C. premier from 1991 to 1996. By focusing on conservation and sustainable development, he "helped Canada's westernmost province earn its reputation as one of the most livable places in the world", the announcement of his UW visit boasts. Harcourt is past chair of the External Advisory Committee on Cities and Communities, appointed by former prime minister Paul Martin. He also was a member of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy from 1996 to 2004, serving on the executive committee and chairing the urban sustainability program. A recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2005, Harcourt was presented with the Canadian Urban Institute's Jane Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

The UW visiting professorship was founded in 1992 by Walter Bean, who was president of Waterloo Trust until its merger with Canada Trust in 1968 (today it is TD Canada Trust). The professorship seeks to promote a legacy of community involvement and commitment to youth, education and community, and involves UW's faculties of environmental studies, engineering and science.

On Tuesday, TD Canada Trust representatives will present a $150,000 cheque, the final instalment of a $1-million pledge for the professorship. The professorship attracts researchers with international reputations in engineering, science and environmental studies to give lectures and teach classes, along with meeting faculty members and students. Previous visiting lecturers include Steve Hrudey, a leading expert on environmental health risks; Frank Schwartz, a top researcher on contaminant hydrogeology and groundwater geochemistry; Jorg Imberger, an expert on water flows and water resources; and David Schindler, a renowned researcher in freshwater environmental science.

Admission to the public lecture is free, though organizers suggest that people confirm attendance by calling 519-888-4973.

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What to care about, if you care

Apathy, so often cited as a malaise among students, is "not a problem", Michael L. Davenport wrote in an interesting piece in Friday's Imprint. An excerpt: "I wandered into the Davis Centre library one Sunday to check out a book, and it struck me how full the library was. On Sunday. Tables and tables of students as far as the eye could see, most of them hunched over books. It would be a misnomer to call those students apathetic, because clearly they are spending a lot of time and energy caring about something. This is the challenge facing our Feds, why we could never be like Western: ours is a university of keeners. As such, events like Polar Jam have to compete with school for attention, because we all care so deeply about school. You could try to convince UW administration to seek fewer keen students and recruit more of the 'university is for sex and booze' variety, but somehow I doubt you’ll get them to put that in the Sixth Decade Plan." Those keen students will want to be aware that the April exam schedule is now available online, and also that this week is "Pick Your Plan Week" for undergraduates who need to select or change a major, minor or option. (For arts students in first year, a "Pick Your Plan Fair" is scheduled for today from 5 to 7 p.m. at Ron Eydt Village, with advisors available to talk about programs and answer questions.)

Also today, as everybody's back from reading week, employer interviews resume with an eye to the spring co-op work term. Thursday is the last day for interviews in the main cycle, and job ranking day is this Friday.

Another activity this week is introduced succinctly in this e-mail from psychology student Angie Goertz: "Counselling Services will be hosting an Eating Disorders Awareness Week from Monday to Wednesday. Display tables will be set up in the SLC with information and resources on eating disorders, body image and healthy eating. On Tuesday, a video on body image, 'Turning Points', will be shown followed by a panel discussion in the Multi-purpose room from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m."

Grade 10 students from as far away as Winnipeg arrived on campus last night for a week-long program organized by Waterloo Unlimited, based on the theme of Vision. Betty Bax of Unlimited says the 33 students will experience "a week packed full of enrichment experiences that include lectures, workshops, public talks and presentations. The students will learn about vision in the context of varied disciplines presented by professors from faculties and programs across campus including engineering, psychology, applied health sciences, optometry and others. They will also attend skills sessions, such as lecture taking, ethical communications, problem-solving, and participate in group assignments and activities."

[Kazerni]Electrical engineering student Ali Kazerni (left) is featured on the co-op education web site as winner of the John R. Conrad Award of Excellence, worth $2,500, from co-op employer S&C Electric. • The campus recreation program "wants to thank all those that attended and made this annual trip a great success", referring to four busloads of students who headed for a Raptors game at the Air Canada Centre on Valentine's Day. •  Kathleen Bloom of the psychology department spoke to the Waterloo Rotary Club, meeting last week in South Campus Hall, about "Knowledge-Based Investments in Social Innovation".

And . . . the men's hockey Warriors have won their OUA playoff round against the Western Mustangs. They took the first game in the best-of-three series last Wednesday, lost 3-2 in double overtime on Saturday, but came back with a 2-1 win last night at the Icefield. The Warriors move on to face Laurier's Golden Hawks in the next round, starting Friday night.


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Friday's Daily Bulletin