Friday, October 26, 2007

  • Top fellowship for recent UW grad
  • PhD research leads to acclaimed book
  • Notes, readable by 4,000 Nexus users
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

Hunter's moon

Parking notes

Sharon Rumpel, UW’s parking manager, has announced changes to two outlying lots. In Lot O, east of the optometry building, cement blocks have been placed between the section for visitors and the section for faculty and staff. “This ensures faculty and staff are parking in the appropriate lot and leaves sufficient visitor parking for the optometry clinic,” Rumpel says. In Lot E — the most westerly section of the gravel lot beside Rink in the Park on Seagram Drive — three-hour free parking has given way to Contractor Permit Parking only. “All other vehicles not displaying a contractor permit will be ticketed by UW Parking Services.

When and where

Centre for International Governance Innovation third annual conference, "Towards Sustainable Energy Futures", Friday-Saturday, details online.

Wilfrid Laurier University fall Convocation 10:00 and 1:30, Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.

Used book sale in support of United Way, organized by Communications & Public Affairs, 12:00 to 1:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Keystone Run for Excellence walk or run around the ring road, start time 12:15, entry fee $10, registration online.

Institute for Computer Research presents Peter Jackson, Thomson Corporation, "Optimizing a Document Recommendation System", 1:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Radarsat Antarctic mapping mission seminar by geography graduate John Crawford, 1:30, Environmental Studies I room 132.

Pascal seminar: Rosalind Picard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "Emotionally Intelligent Technology" 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Philosophy seminar: Joseph Novak, “Images of Mind in Science Fiction”, 3:30, Humanities room 334.

Pub Night at Graduate House, doors open 5:00, featuring Genevieve Marchesseau (6:00 to 8:00), jazz bands (from 9:00), free for grad students, $5 for others.

Warrior sports: Volleyball vs. Windsor tonight (women 6:00, men 8:00), PAC. Men’s hockey vs. Windsor, 7:30, Icefield.

Tatham Centre doors: The main (east) entrance of the co-op building will be closed for repairs on Saturday and Sunday. The west entrance is open.

'History on the Grand' local history symposium Saturday, Architecture building, Cambridge, details online.

UW Genocide Action Group with Waterloo Region Holocaust Education Committee and UW Armenian Students Association presents “Perspectives on the International Reaction to Genocide” Sunday 11:00 to 5:00, Arts Lecture Hall, information

‘Islamic Sciences, Arts and Architectures,” Seyyed Hossein Nasr, George Washington University, Sunday 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

QPR suicide prevention training Monday 9:30 to 11:00 (sessions also available November 5 and 12, December 10), information ext. 33528.

The Tata Lecture: Alan Rosling, executive director of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, “India’s Internationalization Agenda”, Monday 11:30, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, information ext. 33580.

Applied health sciences guest lecture: leaders of Calgary Health Region speaking on “Electronic Patient Records: Can They Really Improve Patient Safety and Outcomes?” Monday 11:30, Humanities room 159; seminar 2:30, Matthews Hall room 3119 (seminar registration

Education Credit Union seminar: Stewart Duckworth, “Investments, Assessing Your Risk” Tuesday 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302.

'Becoming Canada's Knowledge Capital' update for K-W Chamber of Commerce from UW president David Johnston, October 31, 7:30 a.m., Delta K-W, details and tickets online.

One Waterloo presents Seung Bok Lee, former Korean Olympic candidate, now in a wheelchair, professor at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, November 1, 6:00, Student Life Centre great hall.

One click away

Arts and crafts night at UW's Grad House
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Wired magazine comments on architecture prof's work
'A university crowd' involved in illegal gambling
Student newsletter traces 'the evolution of co-op'
Laurier launches campaign to get people reading and discussing books
'High-tech never looked so good': co-op students at Sybase
Stats Canada reports on this year's tuition fee increasesComment from Ontario students
Campaign to keep a major Canadian archives from closing
Costs outside tuition fees increase 'dramatically' (Globe)
Israel's professors go on strike
CIGI fellow finds elaborate 'red tape' for returning Canadian
For international students, 'a helping hand in a strange land' (University Affairs)
Pepperdine U in the middle of California fires
Jamaica welcomes world's universities, including UW
'The Communitech minute' on local radio station
Dalhousie study finds CS enrolment down across Canada
Canada's top corporate R&D spenders
Doctorates in science and engineering (Stats Canada)

[Litt]Top fellowship for recent UW grad

Abninder Litt, a recent UW computer science graduate who also took the Cognitive Science Option, has been awarded this year’s William E. Taylor Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, recognizing Canada's top PhD proposal for 2007.

Litt’s doctoral work in marketing at Stanford University is expected to use findings from neuroscience, psychology and consumer studies to look at the emotional side of decision-making.

“All the winners were selected by a rigorous peer-review process, and prize funds must be spent on research activities,” SSHRC said in announcing the award.

Litt explains what he does: "My research is looking at how emotions influence people’s decisions: from the level of individual brain processes to these really large social trends that can move millions. How do people’s emotions influence their decisions without them even being aware of it?"

SSHRC calls Litt’s undergraduate career “stellar”, adding that he “is quickly gaining a reputation as a talented interdisciplinary researcher. His research has already been published in peer-reviewed journals, presented at academic conferences, and included in a chapter for the forthcoming Cambridge Handbook of Computational Psychology from Cambridge University Press.”

Paul Thagard of the UW philosophy department, who supervised Litt during several co-op work terms, calls him a brilliant interdisciplinary thinker who, even at the undergraduate level, was able to make original research contributions to the fields of cognitive and theoretical neuroscience. His first paper, "Is the brain a quantum computer?", was co-written with Thagard and philosophy faculty members Chris Eliasmith and Steve Weinstein, and was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Cognitive Science.

Entering Stanford, Litt has also won a prestigious Jaedicke Fellowship. “From how brain chemistry influences brand loyalty to how emotional events affect financial decision-making,” says SSHRC, “Litt’s research will have a direct impact on the way products and services are marketed to the public. As well, his investigations into why some people consistently make impulsive and irresponsible choices may influence theories and treatments related to addictions, criminal behaviour and other dangerous activities.”

SSHRC invests in the nation’s brightest minds,” said Chad Gaffield, president of the SSHRC. “We are very proud to honour our prize winners, whose achievements mark important contributions to international developments in science, new technologies, health policy and medical training around the world. Their work has created, and will continue to create, healthier and more prosperous communities in Canada and around the world.” The council also awarded this year’s $100,000 Gold Medal for Achievement in Research to medical anthropologist Margaret Lock of McGill University.

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PhD research leads to acclaimed book

A book based on a PhD thesis from the UW history department has been nominated for this year’s Governor General’s Award for Canadian non-fiction books — right beside a biography written by a senior faculty member in the history department.

The biography is Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Volume One: 1919-1968, by John English, who is also author of a two-volume biography of Lester B. Pearson, as well as being director of the Centre for International Governance Innovation and a former Member of Parliament.

[Glory Land cover]The other book is I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad, by Karolyn Smardz Frost. History professor Jim Walker, who was her PhD supervisor, tells the story:

“Karolyn Smardz first approached me in the mid-1990s with an intriguing story she had uncovered, quite literally, while doing an archaeological dig in Toronto a decade earlier. It concerned an enslaved couple, Thornton and Lucie Blackburn, who fled from slavery in Kentucky to Detroit, were recaptured, and after a daring and dramatic rescue came to Toronto where they spent the rest of their lives. When the Americans sought their extradition in 1833, the government of Upper Canada refused, thus setting a precedent for succeeding fugitives from American slavery for the next thirty years. Karolyn wondered if this would be a suitable topic for a PhD thesis, and I was able to encourage her to pursue this plan.

“In 1997 she registered as my student at the University of Waterloo, where she engaged in strenuous research efforts to uncover the intimacies of the Blackburns’ lives in slavery and in freedom. After successfully completing her PhD Karolyn conducted further research and re-wrote her manuscript for a more general audience. The result, I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land, was published this year, and has been reviewed widely and enthusiastically both in the United States and in Canada.”

Walker notes that the presence of both English and Smardz Frost on the list make UW’s history department “the only double nominee in this year’s distinguished contest”. There are five nominees for the English-language non-fiction award.

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Notes, readable by 4,000 Nexus users

The Nexus computer system reached a milestone this week, having amassed 4,000 computers across the six faculties, Erick Engelke of engineering computing reports. He adds: "Nexus began in 2001 as a modern replacement for the Watstar and Polaris systems running DOS and Windows 95 respectively. It has grown at an average rate of about 700 computers annually. Although many people associate Nexus with classrooms and teaching labs, today most of the its stations are actually in the private offices and research labs. The need for managed environments like Nexus has never been greater. We have an ever-increasing array of software and services people need deployed, and managed environments also provide the best relief from hackers."

Elliott Avedon, founding director of the UW Museum and Archive of Games, writes: " For the Winter and Spring terms the Museum is planning an exhibit of Electronic Games. As you know we have collected lots of interesting examples over the past 30-plus years, from battery operated, to paste a transparent board on an old TV set, to early electronic chess sets, to 3D jigsaw puzzles for your microcomputer. We’ve been wondering if faculty, staff, or students have any old hand-held or other electronic games or archaic game software that no longer want and they would like to lend (or give) it to the Museum for use in the forthcoming exhibit and to add to the collection."

Arts students voted to create an Endowment Fund like the ones that already existed in some other faculties, they started paying a refundable fee to support it, and now there's money in the Arts Endowment Fund for the improvement of teaching in that faculty. Political science student Caitlin Cull is actively involved, and writes with word of the first call for proposals about how the money should be disbursed. "We are now accepting proposals (the forms can be downloaded from, which can be dropped off at the Arts Undergrad Office (Modern Languages 254), St. Jerome's University College main reception, or the Renison College main office during regular office hours. Proposals will be accepted until November 14."

[Green sprout from red beam]Doug Morton of the Davis Centre library staff spotted what he calls "an inadvertently green roof" (right) atop Davis the other day. • Ken Hunt, who served as assistant to UW's dean of mathematics from 1970 to 1982, died October 6 in Calgary, aged 85. • The colourfully named Bearskin Airlines, which runs scheduled service to Ottawa from Waterloo Region airport, says it's adding extra flights over the Christmas period, largely for the sake of students who want to zip home. • And from yesterday’s K-W Record: “UW’s Diane Kelly was named the most valuable player in her rugby division, Ontario University Athletics announced yesterday. Kelly, a fifth-year senior from Ripley, Ontario, will lead her team against the Western Mustangs in the Ontario final this weekend in London, Ontario.”

Getting ready for its big international conference, yesterday through Saturday, the Centre for International Governance Innovation invited UW student artists to submit work for a juried exhibition. Works are expected to complement the conference theme, “Energy and the Environment”. Winning entries as selected by the jury, CIGI has announced, came from Miranda Urbanski ("Reciprocity") and Stephen Moore ("Five to Twelve"). All the submitted works will be on display at CIGI headquarters in Waterloo until November 25, and the winners will become part of CIGI’s permanent art collection.

As Wilfrid Laurier University holds its fall Convocation today (10:00 and 1:30, Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex), one of its honorary degres is going to Allon Bross, a UW graduate who taught in the Renison College social development studies program on the way to an international reputation as a social work pioneer. • Applications for this year's "course internationalization grants" are due no later than Monday, the Centre for Teaching Excellence says. • And applications to be a don in the UW residences for the spring 2008 term are due November 2.

UW’s student solar car team, Midnight Sun IX, has been in Australia, competing since Sunday in the 20th World Solar Challenge. Yesterday, their website recorded that they were in 18th place overall, but feeling optimistic. “We are camped outside of a town called Coober Pedy, a mining town (opals). Today was an amazing race day for our solar car team! We drove over 500 kms and our battery pack is still in good shape!” The race —3000 kilometres from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south — is to finish this weekend, although the first car — Nuna4, from the Nuon team of the Netherlands — has already arrived in Adelaide.

And, contrary to what was said in yesterday's Bulletin, co-op students can rank jobs starting at 1:00 today, based on the recent round of employer interviews, and will find out Monday afternoon whether they've been matched with a post for the winter term.


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