Monday, April 7, 2008

  • Classes end; now, it's staff training
  • Passwords are private; more notes
  • Sabbatical plans for seven more profs
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

World Health Day

When and where

Senate executive committee 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Water Environment Association of Ontario social evening (pizza dinner and Brick Brewery) to mark last day of classes, from 6:00 p.m., tickets $8 for student members.

Internet downtime for Cogent upgrade, affecting connections to and from UW, a few minutes between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. Tuesday.

Faculty association annual general meeting Tuesday 2:00 p.m., Math and Computer room 1085.

Applied health sciences public lecture: Luis Rodriguez, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, "Aging, Communities and Planning for the Future", Tuesday 3:00, Lyle Hallman Institute room 1621.

UW Chamber Choir spring concert, Tuesday 7:30 p.m. (revised date and time), Waterloo North Mennonite Church, 100 Benjamin Road, admission $10 (students/seniors $8).

Graduate Conference in Philosophy (15th annual), keynote speaker Patricia Churchland, University of California at San Diego, Wednesday-Thursday, Humanities building, details online.

English Language Proficiency Examination Wednesday 5:30 p.m. (AHS, arts, CFM, ES, science) and 7:30 p.m. (engineering, math, software). Strategy sessions held across campus Tuesday, details online.

QPR suicide prevention training available April 11 (11:30), call ext. 33528 to register.

Benjamin Eby Lecture at Conrad Grebel University College: James Reimer, “Christian Theology Today: What Is at Stake?” Friday, April 11, 7:30 p.m., Grebel chapel.

CKMS-FM visioning session to discuss the station’s future, April 12, 11:00 a.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Athletics Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony, April 12, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Mathematics contests for high school students: Euclid (grade 12), April 15; Fryer (grade 9), Galois (grade 10) and Hypatia (grade 11), April 16; Gauss (grades 7 and 8), May 14; details online.

Staff salary system and settlement information sessions, Tuesday, April 15, 12:30 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 113, repeated April 23, same time and room.

Pat Cunningham, faculty of mathematics, retirement party Wednesday, April 16, 3:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre lounge, RSVP

‘The (Long) Tail of Waterloo Region’ leadership conference sponsored by Communitech, Thursday, May 1, details and registration online.

Learning about Teaching annual symposium May 12-14, including Presidents' Colloquium with address by Marilla Svinicki, University of Texas at Austin, May 12, 2:00, Humanities Theatre, details to be announced.

PhD oral defences

Physics and astronomy. Mark Chanachowicz, “On the Classification of the R-Separable Webs for the Laplace Equation in E3.” Supervisors, R. G. McLenaghan and R. B. Mann. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Wednesday, April 16, 2:00 p.m., Physics room 308.

Computer science. Huaxin Zhang, “Query Evaluation in the Presence of Fine-Grained Access Controls.” Supervisor, Ken Salem. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090 . Oral defence Friday, April 18, 9:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 2314.

Combinatorics and optimization. Martin Pei, “List Colouring Hypergraphs and Extremal Results for Acyclic Graphs.” Supervisor, Penny Haxell. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, April 18, 10:30 a.m., Math and Computer room 5158.

Mechanical and mechatronics engineering. Amir Baserinia, “Residual Based Isotropic and Anisotropic Mesh Adaptation for Computational Fluid Dynamics.” Supervisor, G. D. Stubley. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, April 21, 9:30 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 3517.

Electrical and computer engineering. Kai Wang, “Transparent Oxide Semiconductors: Fabrication, Properties and Applications.” Supervisors, Arokia Nathan and Sherman X. Shen. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, April 21, 12:30 p.m., CEIT room 3151.

[Black shirts and brass instruments]

The Engineering Jazz Band, otherwise known as "With Respect to Time", will give its end-of-term charity performance tomorrow night (7:00) in the Humanities Theatre. The show will also include a student-run jazz choir, Accent Choir. Tickets are $10 at the Humanities box office, with the proceeds going to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region and the UW chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

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Classes end; now, it's staff training

The end is at hand: today's the last day of lectures for the winter term, and for three or four thousand of UW's students, the last day they'll ever attend university classes, at least as undergraduates. One might almost say "congratulations", if it weren't that examination season lies just ahead. (Exams start Thursday and run through April 24; the schedule is online. Marks will start appearing on Quest the day after exams end, and become official as of May 26.)

Celebrations and ceremonies mark this historic day, including something new in the faculty of arts: "Your Last Lecture" for students who are graduating this spring. That's an event in the Humanities Theatre, starting at 12:30, that will include words from UW's president and the dean of arts, as well as at least one special guest. In a perhaps more frivolous vein, Federation Hall is holding the Fed 202 end-of-term party tonight. And beyond doubt the libraries will be full of students for whom exams are a living, and scary, presence. (The Davis Centre library is running 24 hours a day these days, and the Dana Porter Library is open to 2 a.m. nightly.)

There's also a celebration tonight in the Bombshelter pub in the Student Life Centre, especially for volunteers who've helped with the "One Waterloo" diversity campaign over the past term. The campaign "has seen many successes this year," writes Johnny Trinh of the student life office, 'and it is very much thanks to all of you."

The brief gap between classes and exams is a traditional time for staff development activities, and this time around it's the "Two Days for You" staff conference, happening tomorrow and Wednesday. The conference begins first thing Tuesday with "inspirational speaker" Sunjay Nath talking in the Humanities Theatre. His theme is "the 10-80-10 principle", which "rewards and grows Top 10 behaviors and eliminates Bottom 10 actions". Later sessions deal with networking, work-life balance, technology and diversity — and the conference will include campus tours, for the benefit of staff who are typically stuck in silos, or at least behind desks. Friday was the official deadline for staff to register, but it's still possible to take part. Katrina Di Gravio, director of organizational and human development, says there's space available for most of the keynote sessions. That would include Nath at 8:45 tomorrow in Humanities, and three sessions in the Theatre of the Arts: Bill Williams at 2:30 tomorrow ("Stephen Covey's 7th Habit, Sharpen the Saw"); Helice Bridges at 10:00 Thursday ("Who I Am Makes a Difference"); and Judy Suke at 2:30 Thursday ("Create the Life You Want, Let Laughter Lighten the Load"). Many of the smaller, concurrent sessions are hitting maximum seating capacity, she said. "The folks at the registration booths will have the most up-to-date lists for which sessions still have space." Location: first thing tomorrow in Humanities, otherwise in Rod Coutts Hall for the rest of the two days.

A training opportunity of a somewhat different kind comes from UW's continuing education department, which has these classroom courses, among others, scheduled for this month: "Understanding Human Behaviour", tomorrow; "The Art of Negotiation", April 10-11; "Introduction to Project Management", April 14; "The Art of Influencing Difficult People", April 15; "Introduction to Financial Accounting", April 18. Details are on the CE web site, and it's noteworthy that UW staff get a 50 per cent discount on the usual fee.

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Passwords are private; more notes

Computer users at UW “should be aware of recent confidence attacks, called spear phishing,” says Reg Quinton, the security expert in UW’s department of information systems and technology. Of the problems he's dealt with lately, says Quinton, “most have been confidence tricks of one sort or another. The phishing attack is but one. People have been pretty wise at not falling for these, but a few manage to get through.” This particular peril, he says, can be seen “where the attackers have tried to trick users here and elsewhere into revealing their passwords. You should know that support staff will never ask for your password. Be especially skeptical about email messages and web sites phishing for your password.” IST has issued a Security Tip under the title “Don't get hooked by a Phishing expedition”. Says Quinton: “Accounts which have been compromised are sometimes used for spam. But identity theft, data compromise, mischief, etc. are possible. You should be careful. If you receive any suspicious email asking for sensitive information — passwords should be not be revealed to anyone — please ask for help.” A couple of samples of the bad stuff are available on the IST web site, one dating from January and one from just last week.

UW’s Graduate Student Association announced this week that it has been officially accepted as a member of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. The step came in a unanimous vote at the March 22 general meeting of CASA in Moncton. “The decision to pursue membership in CASA,” leaders of the GSA report, “was supported by an overwhelming majority of graduate students at the GSA's Annual General Meeting on March 19. Joining CASA is a key component of the GSA's plan to expand its role in lobbying the government on graduate student issues.” Says the association’s president, Ian MacKinnon: "We're very excited about the new direction that CASA is taking in representing graduate students to the federal government. It's a great opportunity for Waterloo grads to help shape policy on research funding, access to post-grad education, and student visas." CASA now consists of 22 member organizations across Canada — including UW's undergraduate Federation of Students. CASA represents roughly 275,000 students, more than 13,000 of them graduate students. The UW GSA became the first member organization to consist entirely of grads, “heralding a renewed focus by CASA on graduate student issues,” a GSA news release says. “The graduate students represented in CASA prior to this are all from schools at which undergraduates and postgraduates share a single student union.”

The annual "Canstruction" display — sculptures made from cans of food, a fund-raiser and awareness-raiser for the Food Bank — is under way this week at Conestoga Mall in north Waterloo, and includes an entry by a team of UW architecture students, captained by Jane Wong. • Valerie Huggan, who's been a library clerk in the Dana Porter Library since May 1983, officially retired from UW's staff on April 1. • Jake Thiessen, director of the UW school of pharmacy, has been named to the board of directors of the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy.

A paper co-authored by mechanical and mechatronics engineering professor David Johnson, Tan Nguyen and David Weckman has won the 2008 Charles H. Jennings Memorial Award from the American Welding Society. The paper, titled "The Discontinuous Weld Bead Defect in High-Speed Gas Metal Arc Welds", was published in the Welding Journal last year.

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Sabbatical plans for seven more profs

Dozens of UW faculty members are on sabbatical leave this season, and here’s another list of some of them, with summaries of their sabbatical plans as submitted to the university’s board of governors. All the sabbaticals in this list are for six months that began January 1, 2008.

Laurent Marcoux, pure mathematics: “Over the next year I intend to focus my research in two areas of Operator Theory. First, I will continue to look into the question of which operator algebras are similar to C*-algebras, and second, I will be looking at a question regarding double commutants of subalgebras of operator algebras.”

Aimee Morrison, English: “My doctoral research and subsequent publications and teaching concern the cultural study of technology: how people integrate, or not, technologies into their everyday lives. This sabbatical will extend this work into a particular subfield, the study of the rhetorical construction of self-hood in online modes of life-writing, culminating in an article, several conference presentations, and a SSHRC Standard Research Grant proposal (with Linda Warley) in Fall 2008.”

Joan Coutu, fine arts: “My intention is to write the manuscript for a book, Whig Aesthetes and the Forming of English Taste, c. 1750. All of the primary and much of the secondary research has been completed. This is a project that was funded by a standard SSHRC grant.”

Chrysanne DiMarco, computer science: “I will be undertaking several collaborative projects: automated generation of personalized health information (collaborators: University Health Network Cancer Center; Grand River Hospital); automated classification of semantic links between documents (collaborators: Google; Professor Fraser Shein, University of Toronto (tentative). I am also transitioning into Bioinformatics, with a project in biomedical information extraction using discourse-based Computational Linguistics.

Weizhen Dong, sociology: “China is undergoing social and economic transformation. Health care system reform has been the most problematic social issue in China. My plan is to write a book on health care reform in Shanghai, China, especially the medical savings account and its equity implications.”

Diana Denton, drama and speech communication: “Using my CFI infrastructure in collaboration with colleagues at other universities in Canada and in the United States, I will be conducting research in the area of ‘Trans-traditional Spirituality: Communicating Across Differences’ to explore ways of integrating spirituality and intercultural dialogue into classroom practice and discover how students are integrating this learning experience. Results will be disseminated in journal articles and conferences.”

Pascal Poupart, computer science: “I will focus on the publication of some of my recent work on partially observable Markov decision processes and Bayesian reinforcement learning in first-rate journals, and the development of ‘intelligent walkers’ for eldercare. The intelligent walker project is a multi-disciplinary effort led by me in collaboration with the Research Institute in Aging at UW and Winston Park Retirement Homes in Kitchener. I expect to spend most of my time in Waterloo, but may occasionally travel to conferences and to visit colleagues at other universities.”


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Friday's Daily Bulletin