Friday, April 24, 2009

  • UW has 4 research chair finalists
  • Grad students show off their research
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Swordfighting with litter pickers]

Battling litter on UW's north campus last Friday were Marc Johnston and Meghan Dawe, both of the staff of Sybase iAnywhere. They joined a "20-minute makeover" of their Wes Graham Way neighbourhood, organized by tenants of the Research and Technology Park in advance of this week's Earth Day.

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UW has 4 research chair finalists

The federal government last night announced the details of 40 proposals from Canadian universities for new Canada Excellence Research Chairs, and four of the 40 are from Waterloo.

In an event that one newspaper described as “a peacemaking moment between the federal government and Canada's research community”, industry minister Tony Clement met with university leaders and revealed “the winners of the first phase of the inaugural competition” for the CERC program. “The goal of the CERC program,” a news release said, “is to support the development of innovative ideas and cutting-edge research discoveries in Canada.”

Said Clement: “The Government of Canada recognizes the important role that research excellence plays in furthering innovation and competitiveness; this is why we are investing $5.1 billion in science and technology this year alone in Canada’s Economic Action Plan. With these exceptional proposals, Canada will play a lead role in developing innovative ideas that will address environmental, health, and other social challenges, while also improving Canada’s economic competitiveness.”

Ottawa will eventually approve “up to 20” of the 40 finalists, which come from 17 universities across the country and were selected from the 135 proposals submitted last winter.

“These universities,” the government explains, “will now be invited to nominate world-class researchers for the second phase of the competition. Up to 20 successful chairholders, and their research teams, will each receive up to $10 million over seven years to establish ambitious research programs in Canada.”

The selection process “was highly competitive,” according to Derek Burney, chair of the CERC selection board. “The renowned international experts on the blue-ribbon selection board identified 40 outstanding proposals in a broad range of research areas, from Arctic research to vital health issues, where Canada and the world can reap significant benefits.”

The chairs are meant for “world-class researchers in four research areas of strategic importance to Canada: environmental sciences and technologies; natural resources and energy; health and related life sciences and technologies; and information and communication technologies.”

These are the four proposals from UW that have made it to the final round:

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ecohydrology: Sustainable Groundwater Management for Aquatic Ecosystem Health. ” Current regulations and policies generally require that in order to meet the goals of sustainability, the use of groundwater must not have a significantly adverse effect on aquatic ecosystems. However, the science necessary to understand the complex interactions between groundwater discharge and ecosystem health is in its infancy. The proposed multidisciplinary research program is directed at filling this void in our knowledge of the natural environment.”

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Experimental Quantum Information Processing. ”Quantum information processing holds the promise of an emerging technology that could lead to immensely powerful computers and unbreakable data security. The Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo has become a global leader in this field. The creation of a Chair in Experimental Quantum Information Processing would lead to the development of the first generation of quantum-enabled devices and practical quantum cryptographic technologies.”

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Green Mechatronic Automobiles. ”In order to survive, Canada's automotive industry will need to quickly adapt to the electrification of vehicles, as mechanical components are replaced with smarter, lighter, greener mechatronic systems. This Chair would address this rapid technological change, advancing sensing, embedded software, hybrid drive train, and mechatronics engineering. The Chair would focus on integrating reliable automotive mechatronics systems — a key requirement for the next generation of green, intelligent vehicles.”

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Integrated Wireless Communication Technology. ”Demand is intensifying for secure, highly mobile systems that transfer tremendous amounts of data at increasingly high speeds. Next-generation wireless systems (fourth-generation and beyond) are now being developed to address future needs. This proposed Chair would transform telecommunication by integrating research on hardware, systems and networks to develop future wireless systems.”

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Grad students show off their research

UW graduate students will share their discoveries with the public next week at the largest research conference of its kind in Canada. The ninth annual grad student research conference, to be held Monday through Thursday under the title "Sharing Discovery", unveils research accomplishments by more than 200 Waterloo master's and doctoral students from all six faculties.

They will give poster or oral presentations on three theme areas: health, life and environment; humanities and social sciences; and physical science, mathematics and technology. All sessions will be held in the Davis Centre, starting at 8:45 a.m. each day. The event is open to the public. A program schedule and research paper abstracts are online.

"This year's edition of the conference upholds the vision of the first organizers of these annual meetings — to profile and promote excellence in graduate studies at Waterloo, to bring graduate students from all disciplines together and give them the opportunity to share their research findings, and to encourage and foster interdisciplinary research," says Bill Power, chemistry professor and associate dean of graduate studies. "This program is the latest evidence of the students' own efforts to realize this vision."

Among the topics that will be presented next week, some orally and some through posters:

  • Why Women Find Caring, Nurturing Men More Attractive During an Economic, Political Crisis — Grace Lau, psychology.
  • Response of pan-Arctic Vegetation to Recent Climate Change (1982-present) — Kristina Luus, geography and environmental management.
  • Utilizing In Situ Chemical Oxidation to Remediate Gasoline-Contaminated Soil and Groundwater — Kammy Sra, civil and environmental engineering.
  • Accommodation, Refraction and Early Literacy Skills in Children with Down Syndrome — Krithika Nandakumar, school of optometry.
  • A Multilevel Examination of School and Student Characteristics Associated with Physical Education Class Enrolment Among High School Students — Eric Hobin, health studies and gerontology.
  • Identity Management and Resource Allocation in the Network Virtualization Environment — Mosharaf Kabir Chowdhury, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science.

This year, the conference will feature seven keynote speakers, most of whom have UW connections:

  • Adalsteinn Brown, assistant deputy minister, health system strategy division, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and professor, department of health policy, management and evaluation, faculty of medicine, University of Toronto, "Translating Research into Practice: Strategies to Bridge the Gap between Researchers and Policy-Makers." Monday 1 p.m., Davis room 1350.
  • Howard Burton, founding executive director, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, "First Principles: The Crazy Business of Doing Science." Book sale and signing to follow. Tuesday 1:30 p.m., Davis room 1350.
  • Joram Piatigorsky, chief, laboratory of molecular and developmental biology, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, "Gene Sharing and Evolutionary Lessons From Lens and Corneal Crystallins." Tuesday 4 p.m., Davis room 1351.
  • Peter Forsyth, UW professor of computer science, "A Hamilton Jacobi Bellman Approach to Optimal Trade Execution." Tuesday 11:15 a.m., Davis room 1302.
  • John Garcia, director, population health, department of prevention and screening, Cancer Care Ontario. Untitled. Wednesday 1:30 p.m., Davis room 1350.
  • Josh Neufeld, UW professor of biology. Untitled. Wednesday 4:15 p.m., Davis room 1302.
  • Kathleen Bloom, executive director, Canadian Centre for Knowledge Mobilisation, and UW professor of psychology, "Knowledge Translation and Exchange: Moving Your Research Skills Beyond the Walls of Academia." Thursday 1:30 p.m., Davis room 1350.

The conference also plays host to several specialty sessions: vision science, biology, certificate in university teaching, aging health and well-being, and the Institute for Quantitative Finance and Insurance. The conference, organized through the office of the dean of graduate studies, has received support from the Graduate Student Association, the graduate studies endowment fund, retail services and faculty deans.


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Last day of exams; fewer services next week

Today is the final day of winter term examinations. Unofficial grades appear in Quest beginning Monday, and grades become official May 25.

Library extended hours for exam season are ending: the Dana Porter Library closes at 11:00 tonight and the Davis Centre library at midnight. The libraries will be open noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. next week.

Mudie's cafeteria in Village I closes at 7:00 tonight, and Tim Hortons in the Student Life Centre closes at midnight. Most food services outlets will be closed next week, not reopening at least until the spring term begins. The exceptions are Brubakers in the Student Life Centre, Browsers in the Dana Porter Library, Pastry Plus in Needles Hall and Tim Hortons in the Davis Centre and South Campus Hall.

Walking yoga

Things are going well for the UW Recreation Committee, dedicated to providing social opportunities for staff and faculty. "We had over 25 people participate in the walking yoga class on Wednesday," one of the organizers reports. As a result of that interest, the group will offer a six-week walking yoga class that will begin at noontime next Tuesday, April 28. "There is a cost involved," UWRC says, but the price will go down as the number of people goes up, so registrations are invited: e-mail uwrc@

Link of the day

Open Ears Festival

When and where

Used book sale sponsored by local chapter of Canadian Federation of University Women, Friday (9:00 to 9:00) and Saturday (9:00 to 1:00), First United Church, King and William Streets.

‘Radio systems’ one-day short course by Tajinder Manku, founder of Sirific Wireless, sponsored by Institute for Computer Research, 9:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Health informatics seminar: Pavel Roshanov and Noemi Chanda, UW students, report on their Agfa Healthcare Innovation Award project, “Case-Based Reasoning for Patient Self-Management of Oral Anticoagulant Medications”, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, annual general meeting, 1:00 p.m., University of Guelph Thornbrough building room 1200; seminar, Tong Leung of UW, “Surface Science of Some Nano Stuff”, 3:00; graduate student poster session and awards presentation follow, Peter Clark Hall, U of G.

Chinese competition: Ontario University Students Chinese Proficiency Competition, hosted by Renison University College, 1:30 p.m. Details.

Dance Odyssey competition Friday-Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

Chapel Choir spring concert tour: Friday at Hamilton Mennonite Church, Saturday at Niagara United Mennonite Church, Sunday at Floradale Mennonite Church, all concerts 7:30 p.m.

New Accountancy wing smoke evacuation test 6:00 today; fire officials on site for demonstration.

Pharmacy building electrical power shut down Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., for high-voltage connection to new medical building.

Art gallery reception: Opening of “Performative Gestures” by fine arts graduate student Miranda Urbanski, Saturday 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Render gallery, East Campus Hall (exhibition through April 30).

Bike for AIDS fund-raiser sponsored by World University Services of Canada, Sunday 12:00 to 4:00, Columbia Icefield. Details.

Bach Cantata 12 conducted by Ken Hull, Conrad Grebel University College, with volunteer singers and instrumental ensemble, Sunday 4 p.m., St. John’s Anglican Church, Kitchener, voluntary offering.

Fee payment deadline for the spring term: April 27 (cheque, money order or fee arrangements), April 30 (bank transfer). Details.

‘Permanent Residency: What You Need to Have to Prepare for It.’ Presentation by Canadian consulate in Buffalo, aimed at new UW faculty members, Monday 9:00 or 2:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 113. Details.

UW-ACE system will be down Tuesday 6:30 a.m., to Wednesday 12:00 noon.

Annual fire drills in academic and administrative buildings, Tuesday.

‘Scared Buyers Seminar’, Sandra Dimock of Remax Twin City Realty speaking on the housing market, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Tuesday 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 329.

Renison University College book launch for Bold and Courageous Dreams: A History of Renison University College 1959-2009 by Gail Cuthbert Brandt, hosted by UW bookstore, Tuesday 4:00, Dana Porter Library first floor, RSVP k4king@

Howard Burton, former executive director of Perimeter Institute, speaks about his forthcoming book, Tuesday 7:00 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, free, sponsored by retail services.

K-W Symphony “Fearless Piano”, soloist Eve Egoyan, Thursday 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

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