Friday, February 20, 2009

  • Perimeter to teach physics master's
  • UW considered hiring 83 faculty
  • A few other notes in reading week
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Perimeter to teach physics master's

a news release from the Perimeter Institute

Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, has launched Perimeter Scholars International, a concentrated master’s level course for exceptional students who wish to become researchers in theoretical physics.

The 10-month course will be taught at the Perimeter Institute by outstanding international lecturers. Participants will be brought to the cutting edge of fundamental physics across a wide range of research disciplines, and conduct a specialized research project under the supervision of a faculty member at one of the local universities. The course will prepare students for PhD research in theoretical physics.

“Theoretical physics is the basis for much of modern science and technology. PSI is designed for adventurous students who wish to understand the deep principles underlying the physical world and how to translate them into observational predictions,” says Neil Turok, Perimeter Institute director. “Our aim is to attract and nurture the brightest talents from across Canada and around the world and enable them to become brilliant young researchers contributing to future discoveries.”

The master's degree will be issued by the University of Waterloo, an internationally recognized university within walking distance of PI. UW president David Johnston says, “We are very pleased to join forces with Perimeter Institute and help propel this new model for research training. Such a program is long overdue. The ingenuity of PI and the academic foundation at UW will provide young researchers with unique opportunities to develop their skills.”

Amit Chakma, UW vice-president (academic) and provost, adds, “PSI will see an influx of top talent into the existing research culture here in Waterloo, Ontario, while stimulating a new generation of scientists who can drive future discoveries of incalculable benefit to our world.”

PSI will enroll its first 25 students in August 2009, and will eventually grow to 50 scholars per year. Fully funded scholarships will be available as needed.

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UW considered hiring 83 faculty

UW's six faculties sought to hire a total of 83 new professors in 2007-08, says the annual report of the University Appointments Review Committee, adding that the candidates included 62 men and 21 women.

Its report, which will go to the university senate at its monthly meeting on Monday, covers twelve months from September 2007 to September 2008, just before officials announced a hiring "postponement" because of the economic crisis. In 2006-07, the number had been 90; in 2005-06 it was 86.

"Appointment proposals from academic units and Faculties generally continue to be very good," says the report, signed by Ellsworth LeDrew of geography and environmental management, who chairs UARC this year. He writes that the committee is supposed to review each proposed hiring within five working days, and usually has been able to do it faster than that. He also notes that "a trial to produce a paperless document review" was part of last year's work, and a report on its success has been submitted to the provost and the president of the faculty association.

The report says 9 of the proposed hires were for tenured positions, 62 for probationary positions (those that would eventually lead to tenure), and 12 for definite term appointments. As in the past, there's no guarantee that all the 83 people actually came to UW as faculty members, since someone might turn down a job offer or something else could go wrong with the process at the last minute.

Breakdown of the 83 proposed hires by faculty: 4 in applied health sciences, 26 in arts, 21 in engineering, 7 in environment, 15 in mathematics and 10 in science.

The committee also reports that 55 of the 83 were Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada, while 28 were foreign. Six were proposed for positions as full professor, 8 as associate professor, 58 as assistant professor (the usual rank for beginning faculty), and 11 as lecturers.

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A few other notes in reading week

“It is only appropriate,” Frank Seglenieks of the UW weather station wrote yesterday, “to start the weather station contest on a cold, blustery day like today.” That’s because it offers a chance to think of spring: the idea in the annual contest is to predict the date and time when the temperature (at the station’s instrumentation cluster on the north campus) will first reach 20 degrees Celsius. Entries are due by 3:00 on February 27, and then it’s a matter of waiting until the balmy day. Says the station web site: “The winners are expected to pick up their prizes at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Hydrology Lab on the UW campus. This is important as we won't send the prizes to you, so you can enter the contest from Finland, but it might not be worth your while making the trip to Waterloo to pick up your prize. There are prizes for both the person with the closest guess and the next closest guess. The prizes this year are books on weather forecasting (who knows maybe they will help with next year's contest). As well there will be a few random prizes just for entering. All of these prizes are only possible because of the sponsorship of the UW Shop and the bookstore.” The winning date and time last year were April 17 at 4:00 (but in 2000, the great moment came as early as March 8). Meanwhile, Seglenieks has posted a snowfall update (and graph) on his blog. “We are at 211 cm since the fall,” he reports. “This still puts us ahead of last year at this time (about 180 cm) but the gap is closing. We will see in the next few weeks if we can set a new record.”

City bus service, operated by Grand River Transit, may or may not be running on schedule tomorrow and on the days that follow. Officials at Waterloo Region, which operates the bus system, yesterday issued "an important announcement regarding potential GRT service disruptions". It says: "Discussions are continuing between the Region of Waterloo and Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Union Local 4304 (Grand River Transit/MobilityPLUS). The CAW will legally be in a position to strike as early as 12:01 a.m. the morning of Sunday, February 22, 2009. Should there be a strike, conventional bus and specialized transit services in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge will be disrupted. Grand River Transit is asking those who depend on transit to plan ahead and find alternative means of transportation. Please monitor your local media for up-to-date information or visit the GRT website. The parties have mutually agreed to a media blackout which will be in effect until further notice. For information on the status of transit services, call the GRT Information Line at 519-585-7555, TTY: 519-585-7796."

It's been more than two years now that UW graduate students have been required to submit their theses electronically, and while many of the documents are still very conventional, others take advantage of a lively range of formats. Christine Jewell of the UW library, involved for many years with the management of electronic theses, sends word that "the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations has sent out a call for nominations for ETD awards. The NDLTD is an international organization dedicated to the promotion of electronic submission and open access to theses and dissertations. UW is a member and so we are eligible to submit a nomination. Awards will be presented at the annual conference in Pittsburgh in June. Last year one of our own students won the Innovative ETD Award. Richard Schippling traveled to the conference at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, to receive the award in person. Rick received his master’s degree from UW’s School of Planning in 2007 under Laura Johnson’s supervision. His thesis, 'Public Housing Redevelopment: Residents' Experiences with Relocation from Phase 1 of Toronto's Regent Park Revitalization', includes his documentary: 'Breaking Ground'." Jewell says simply: "It’s brilliant."

With interuniversity sports seasons coming to an end one after another, Ontario University Athletics has announced a number of awards and all-star designations recognizing the members of Warrior teams. Named in the past few days: Eric Dingle of Waterloo as the OUA Squash Player of the Year (the third time he's been given that honour); Laura Klein as the top rookie in women's volleyball in the OUA west division; Kate Flanagan to the first team all-stars and Bojana Josipovic to the second team, also in women's squash; Tyler Vivian to the second team all-stars in men's volleyball; and swimmers Keith Beavers, Oleg Chernukhin, Wesley Greig and Paul Niglas to the provincial all-star squad.

And . . . "UW T4s are going to home addresses beginning today," says Sandie Hurlburt, assistant director in human resources, referring to the documents about 2008 earnings that UW employees will need as they file their income tax returns. "People should see them next week. The T4As (scholarship, research grants, consulting, etc.) are being printed and will be going out to home addresses around February 26."


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[Grins as he tries the T-shirt]

Author Lawrence Hill drew more than 400 people to hear him read from his work Friday night at St. Jerome's University. Tristanne Connolly of the St. Jerome's English department offers him a gift after the question-and-answer period, which covered issues from family as creative inspiration to the issue of present-day slavery.

Link of the day

World Day of Social Justice

When and where

myPENSIONinfo self-service pension information web site down for maintenance Thursday 4 p.m. through Monday morning.

Last day for 50 per cent tuition fee refund, February 20.

Warrior sports this weekend: Track and field (men and women) at Toronto, Friday. • Men’s basketball vs. McMaster, Saturday 4:00, PAC. • Men’s hockey vs. Lakehead (playoffs), Saturday and Sunday 7:30, Icefield. • Women’s hockey at York, Sunday.

UWdir partially out of operation Friday-Sunday; new identity management system, WatIAM, available as of February 23. Details.

Employer interviews for spring co-op work term resume February 23; rankings open February 27, 1 p.m.

Leave the Pack Behind information booth for Smoker’s Helpline, and hot chocolate handout, Monday 9:30 to 11:30, outside South Campus Hall. Details.

QPR suicide prevention training session February 23, 11:30 to 1:00, Math and Computer room 4068, register with counselling services, ext. 33528.

English professor Steve Bennett, “Who and/or What Was Truly Celebrated? Robert Hunter’s Elegy for Jerry (Garcia),” Monday 12:00 noon, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Joint Health and Safety Committee Monday 1:30, Commissary building room 112D.

Career workshops Monday: “Career Interest Assessment” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1112; “Successfully Negotiating Job Offers” 4:30, TC 1208. Details.

UW Senate meets Monday 4:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Employee Assistance Program presents “Seven Strategies for Highly Healthy Eating” Tuesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Pascal Lectures on Christianity and the University: Denis Alexander, University of Cambridge, “Rescuing Darwin” February 25, “Is Darwinism Incompatible with Purpose?” February 26, both 8:00, Conrad Grebel UC great hall. Details.

Drama department production of “Mad Forest” by Caryl Churchill, March 18-21 at 8 p.m. and March 21 at 2:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets from Humanities box office, 519-888-4908; preview performance by invitation, March 17 at 7:00.

FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students, March 20-22, Physical Activities Complex; public competitions Friday 9:30 to 4:00, Saturday 9:30 to 4:15, admission free. Details.

PhD oral defences

Kinesiology. Nadine Dunk, oral defence previously announced for February 25, postponed.

Civil and environmental engineering. Yanjung Yang, “Nondestructive Crack Depth Evaluation in Concrete Plates Using Surface Waves.” Supervisors, Giovanni Cascante and Maria Anna Polak. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, March 5, 1:00 p.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Combinatorics and optimization. Douglas Stebila, “Classical Authenticated Key Exchange and Quantum Cryptography.” Supervisor, Michele Mosca. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, March 5, 2:00 p.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Recreation and leisure studies. Linda Robson, “Perceptions of Risk at Events: A Planner’s Perspective.” Supervisor, Steve Smith. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, March 10, 3:00 p.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

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