Thursday, February 26, 2009

  • Top 40 Under 40 are Waterloo-heavy
  • Stereotypes hold back minorities, study finds
  • Untangling engineering's associate deans
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Top 40 Under 40 are Waterloo-heavy

Brandon Sweet, Communications and Public Affairs

Susan TigheThe Waterloo Region Record has announced their list of the Top 40 Under 40 in Waterloo Region, and almost half of the recipients – 19 out of 40 – have a connection to the University of Waterloo. Some, like Susan Tighe (left) have more than one connection.

Current students, alumni, faculty members, including two Canada Research Chairs, and staff were represented in the final tally of recipients, all of whom are under the age of 40.

“To have students, faculty, staff and alumni make up almost half of the Waterloo Region Record’s 40 Under 40 this year is a remarkable achievement,” said University of Waterloo president David Johnston. “We stand proudly beside each and every one of the recipients who have made such an impact in our community.”

A panel of judges sifted through the nominations made by community members. The award winners were announced publicly at a luncheon at the Waterloo Region Record’s offices in downtown Kitchener on Tuesday. “We’re celebrating the next generation of leaders in Waterloo Region,” said Lynn Haddrall, editor-in-chief. “Our community benefits from unheralded young leaders who may not be household names, but who work quietly to better our lives.”

A special 24-page insert was included in the Wednesday edition of the newspaper, with a photo of each recipient accompanying a paragraph outlining his or her accomplishments and community involvement.

The University of Waterloo-related winners include:

  • Quincy Almeida – grad; professor of kinesiology and physical education, WLU
  • Nolan Andres – grad; founder of Peaceworks Computer Consulting
  • John Baker – grad; founder of Desire2Learn, Inc.
  • Wendi Campbell – grad; executive director, Food Bank of Waterloo Region
  • Ray Cao – student; president of Impact Entrepreneurship Group
  • Chantal Cornu – grad; executive director of Grand House in Cambridge
  • Cheryl Cotten – grad; child and youth worker
  • James Danckert – UW psychology professor
  • Deborah DeJong – grad; director of family and community solutions at K-W Counselling; author
  • Stefanus Du Toit – grad; co-founder and chief architect of RapidMind, Inc.
  • Mark Eamer – grad; accountant and volunteer
  • Prem Gururajan –grad; CEO of Tangam Systems Inc.
  • Bruce Maier – UW staff, central stores
  • Daniel Scott – grad; UW environmental studies professor, Canada Research Chair
  • Peter Sweeney – grad; executive director of St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation
  • Susan Tighe – grad; UW civil and environmental engineering professor, Canada Research Chair
  • Mano Watsa – grad; founder and director of More than Hoops
  • Krysta Williams – grad; UW student leader
  • Brooke Young – grad; OK2BME co-ordinator at K-W Counselling

A slideshow featuring each recipient can be found at the Waterloo Region Record’s website.

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Stereotypes hold back minorities, study finds

Stanford University News Service

Let’s say a white student and a black student both score 1020 on their SATs. They’re performing right around the national average, so based on their scores it stands to reason they’re both typical students with the same level of potential, right?

Wrong, say psychologists at Stanford University and the University of Waterloo. According to a study slated for publication in Psychological Science, the black student is likely a better student and has more potential. His performance was likely hurt by the worry that he might be perceived as confirming the stereotype that blacks do poorly on intellectual tests. This worry, called stereotype threat, prevents him from doing as well as he could, the researchers say.

Stanford’s Greg Walton and Waterloo’s Steven Spencer tested nearly 19,000 students in the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Sweden. They found that when stereotype threat—which is often embedded in standardized testing and general classroom environments—is minimized, ethnic minorities and women outperform non-minorities and men at the same level of past performance. That means the black student who received the same 1020 on the SAT as his white classmate would likely have scored higher in the absence of stereotype threat. His 1020 underestimated his true ability.

Walton and Spencer found that stereotype threat causes a broad range of black and Hispanic students to underperform on the SAT by about 40 points. And it lowers many women’s scores on the math portion of the test by about 20 points.

“Women and minorities are running into a headwind,” said Walton, an assistant professor of psychology. “Their scores underestimate their true ability.”

Walton and Spencer call the idea “latent ability.” But the notion that stereotypes affect performance does not only apply to minorities and women in academic situations, the researchers say.

“The stereotype that white men can’t jump can undermine white men’s athletic performance,” Walton said. “A normal feature of how we work as humans is that we are affected by how other people may perceive us. It’s disturbing to think that, if you perform badly, other people could think negatively about your group. It’s distracting, and it undermines performance.”

When it comes to standardized tests like the SAT or GRE, stereotype threat comes across in subtle ways. Students are often asked to identify their race or gender before taking the exam, which puts those issues front and center in their minds. Or they may simply be aware of a general stereotype, such as “men are better at math than women,” so when they take a test the stereotype comes to mind and hurts their performance.

But by doing things like putting demographic questions at the end of the test, by telling students that tests are gender-fair or by having them reflect on their personal values before taking the exam, stereotype threat goes down and the performances of minorities and women go up, the researchers found.

“There’s enormous untapped potential in people who are targeted by negative stereotypes,” Walton said. “These people are performing at a level that doesn’t reflect their true ability. And if you do small but psychologically astute things, their performance rises dramatically.”

The findings have led Walton and Spencer to explore the practical and social implications of the latent ability effect. If standardized tests and other tools used to measure intellectual ability are biased against certain groups, what can be done about it? And if SAT scores or other measures of past performance mean different things for different groups, how does a university or business best judge someone applying for college or a job?

“Organizations should take into account bias on a test that hides the untapped potential of members of stereotyped groups,” said Spencer, a psychology professor. “To fail to do so would be to sanction discrimination. But that is not enough. In addition to correcting for the bias, schools and companies should work hard to create safe environments that minimize stereotype threat. That would allow everybody to perform at their best and ultimately would help organizations as a whole excel.”

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Untangling engineering's associate deans

Rick CulhamThe associate deanships in UW’s engineering faculty have been a little complicated in recent months, but are getting straightened out. Rick Culham (left) of the mechanical and mechatronics department had been acting in two portfolios: “research and external partnerships” and “co-operative education and professional affairs”. As of January 1, he’s been officially appointed to the “research” associate deanship (and among his first duties was presenting a proposal to engineering faculty council last week for the creation of a Centre for Control of Emerging Contaminants; that one is on its way to the UW senate for final approval).

Wayne ParkerAs of February 1, Culham relinquishes the “co-op and professional” portfolio to Wayne Parker (right), of the civil and environmental department, who will serve a three-year term (and who, incidentally, is in line to be scientific director of the Emerging Contaminants Centre).

Elsewhere in the executive suite, Peter Douglas of chemical engineering is serving as associate dean both for “graduate studies and international agreements” and for computing. Wayne Loucks of electrical and computer engineering is associate dean (undergraduate studies). And Mary Wells of mechanical and mechatronics was named last fall to the new post of associate dean (outreach).

CPA staff

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When and where

Drama thesis project: “High Life” by Lee MacDougall, directed by Monty Martin, continues Thursday and Friday, 8:00, Studio 180, Humanities building, tickets $10.

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

Drama thesis project: “Bent” by Martin Sherman, directed by Joe Recchia, continues Friday at 8:00, Saturday at 2:00, Studio 180, Humanities building, tickets $10.

The HAPN Great Race: teams of two compete to reach checkpoints across campus, Register till February 26. (Event is March 3, 6 to 8 p.m. Sponsored by Healthy Active Promotion Network; details.

UW International Spouses: "Love & Marriage Around the World." Share stories, bring wedding photos, traditional wedding clothes. today, 12:45 pm at Columbia Lake Village community centre (off Columbia between Westmount and Fischer-Hallman). Children welcome; childcare may be provided. Details at or website.

Arts Society Day: information session, today, 4 - 6:30 p.m., Village I.

Render (UW art gallery) and Critical Media Lab (department of English) present Rev. Luke Murphy, information-based artist, “The Cup of Loneliness”, today, 4:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

German film series: “Bagdad Café” (1990), today, 6:00, East Campus Hall room 1220.

Render (UW art gallery) opening reception for “Break It Down”, videos by Manuel Saiz, Rachel Scott and Lyntj Vosteveld, today 6 to 8 p.m., East Campus Hall; exhibition continues through March 21.

Texas Hold’em poker tournament today, 6:30 p.m., atrium of TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, tickets $60, proceeds to Food Bank, information 519-746-7416.

Arriscraft Lecture: Chris Perry, ‘servo’, New York, “Networks and Environments”, today, 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

Chemistry in society lecture: William Power, “Spectroscopy: Shedding Light on Our World”, today 7:00, Biology I room 271.

K-W Symphony “Bold and Brassy” with Alain Trudel, conductor and trombone, today, 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre. Information

International Women's Day Dinner: Friday is last day to buy tickets. Details

Drop (penalty 1) period ends, Friday; last day to receive a WD grade for dropped courses.

Pension and benefits committee Friday, 8:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Departmental IS projects, with speaker Dave Kibble, Friday, 9:00-9:45 a.m., Math and Computer room 2009. Details.

Co-op job rankings for spring open Friday, 1 p.m.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Kieran Bonner, St. Jerome's University, on "The Culture of Cities project: The Case of Hockey moves in Montreal and Toronto." Friday, 2:30- 4 p.m., Environment 2, room 2002. Details.

CASA Fashion Show Friday, 7:00, Humanities Theatre, proceeds to Canadian Cancer Society.

Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery presents “Whisky, Wakes and Wandering Spirits” with ghost stories and presentation on Victorian mourning rituals, Friday, 7:00, admission $5. Details.

‘Ugly Prom Night’ event at Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre, Saturday.

‘Let’s Dance Showcase’ Sunday, March 1, 1:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Victorian fashion show Sunday, March 1, 2:00, Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Caroline Street.

Application deadline for spring 2009 undergraduate admission is March 2. Details.

Application deadline for fall 2009 engineering year one admission is March 2. Details.

Pre-enrolment course selection week for fall term courses, March 2-8.

Innovation and Sustainable Community Change workshop sponsored by Social Innovation Generation Waterloo, Tuesday, March 3, 8:30 to 5:30, book launch 4 p.m., St. George’s Hall, 655 King Street North. Details.

UW Directions, Aboriginal High School Enrichment Conference, March 3-7, St. Paul’s College. Details.

‘Interactive Teaching and Learning Strategies’ three-day workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, March 3, 5 and 10. Details.

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