Friday, January 9, 2009

  • CFI funding for 6 research projects
  • Social change event aimed at young people
  • Today's other news and announcements
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

CFI funding for 6 research projects

from a news release issued by UW media relations

UW researchers have been awarded grants totalling $659,400 for six projects in the latest cross-country funding announcement by the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The money comes from CFI's Leaders Opportunity Fund, meant to assist universities in attracting and retaining top faculty.

An announcement was made on campus yesterday by Gary Goodyear, MP for Cambridge and the federal minister of state for science and technology. UW's projects and the researchers involved:

• Infrastructure to Study Skeletal Muscle Apoptosis and Adaptation during Exercise and Disease. CFI funding: $164,400. Principal investigator: Joe Quadrilatero, kinesiology. The award will help establish a research facility to explore skeletal muscle apoptosis (cell death), function and adaptation during aging and disease, as well as in response to physical activity. In particular, the grant will provide advanced cell/tissue analysis and imaging infrastructure to examine how the skeletal muscle adapts at the cellular and molecular level.

"Investigating the biological mechanisms regulating skeletal muscle apoptosis during health and disease will not only improve our basic understanding of muscle adaptation, but will facilitate strategies to prevent and treat muscle atrophy and dysfunction across different populations," Quadrilatero says.

• Virus Containment Suite for the Study of Vector and Vaccine Production in Animal Cells. CFI funding: $78,000. Principal investigator: Marc Aucoin, chemical engineering.

The research seeks a better understanding into how viruses are made, through probing the interplay between DNA, RNA and proteins in cells infected with viruses. The grant provides the tools to safely culture and characterize the production of a variety of viruses, including influenza. "Targeting the molecular bottlenecks of virus production will allow the design of robust manufacturing methods ultimately lowering the costs of virus-based vaccines and gene therapy vectors," Aucoin says.

• Vision Physiology and Cell Biology Laboratory. CFI funding $125,000. Principal investigator: Vivian Choh, optometry. Choh studies the cellular and molecular factors affecting eye growth and ocular functions, such as focusing on nearby objects. The new infrastructure allows Choh's research team to carry out research investigating how biological processes at the cellular level regulate ocular functions and bring about abnormal eye conditions.

"This research will help in the development of strategies for myopia prevention and treatment," says Choh. "It could be important for future studies on how to prevent or delay myopia and other optical problems such as presbyopia and cataract development."

• Geomodeling Glaciated Terrains. CFI funding: $100,000. Principal investigator: Martin Ross, earth and environmental sciences.

The research project aims to improve understanding of key components of the Canadian glacial landscape and change the way sediment-landform assemblages are characterized. A large proportion of Canada's landscape formed underneath a continental glacier during the last glacial cycle. The work, which involves sedimentologic and subsurface geophysical techniques, focuses on geologic features for which the internal characteristics and origin are still poorly understood. It relies on computer three-dimensional modelling tools. "This research will address fundamental questions about ice-sheet dynamics and the evolution of glacial landscapes," Ross says. "This work has implications in earth system science as well as in a broad range of applications, especially in hydrogeology in order to model subsurface structures that control groundwater flow."

• Subsurface Imaging for Improved Contaminant Transport Predictions. CFI funding: $100,000. Principal investigator: Walter Illman, earth and environmental sciences.

The project studies subsurface imaging of hydraulic properties of soils and rocks, and contaminants. "Groundwater represents about 98 per cent of the world's available freshwater, hence it is of global importance to the health of humans and ecosystems," Illman says. The developed technology will better image subsurface hydraulic parameters, which are critical in subsurface contaminant migration and its remediation. This improved knowledge will hasten the cleanup of groundwater contamination and expand the choice of cleanup technology.

• Centre for Small Scale and Thin Film Mechanical Behaviours. CFI funding: $92,000. Principal investigator: Ting Tsui, chemical engineering. The research aims to advance nanomechanics, which investigates how materials behave mechanically at the nanometre scale — molecules or atoms thousands of times thinner than human hair. Resolving these mechanical issues is key to manufacturers in nanotechnology because of their potential to hinder the commercialization of new products.

"The goal of the centre is to provide a world-class research facility to study nanomechanics with an emphasis on environmental effects, such as temperature, atmospheric pressure and reactive gases on materials," says Tsui. "This knowledge will be applied to mechanical failure issues observed in the thin-film industries and in emerging nanotechnologies."

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Social change event aimed at young people

An event dubbed “studio | earth” will be held in downtown Kitchener on Sunday afternoon, sponsored by SiG@Waterloo — the university’s “Social Innovation Generation” agency.

“This half-day event,” says Renjie Butalid of SiG, “is an exciting opportunity for young people in Waterloo Region who are interested and want to get involved in creating environmental change. Participants will spend an afternoon involved in one of three expert-led workshops on designing for social change, connecting with others interested in social innovation and being inspired by environmentalist Severn Cullis-Suzuki.”

He notes that over the past year, SiG@Waterloo has hosted a seminar series held at Kitchener Public Library, organized workshops for local organizations, interviewed social innovators for an upcoming publication, and promoted the role of research-inspired innovation in Waterloo Region.

Sunday afternoon’s program, in the rotunda at Kitchener city hall on King Street, begins with check-in and a pizza lunch at 12:30 and ends at 5:00. Participants will attend one of three workshops: on social technology, social finance, and policy advocacy. Cost is $10 per participant; registration is online. More about the workshops:

• “Social finance is an approach to managing money that delivers a social dividend and an economic return. It is about increasing the flow of capital to projects that drive social and environmental change. In this session we will deliver an overview of social finance, explore a practical example and facilitate an exploration of how participants can get involved and incorporate it in their work.” Leaders: investor and advisor Michael Lewkowitz, and Karim Harji, a manager at a Toronto-based venture philanthropy firm.

• “Social technology: This workshop will focus on emerging online media strategies, products and services in order to advance social purpose work. The use of online media strategies is absolutely critical as we can no longer use old methodologies to look at new ways for solving problems.” Leaders: Joseph Dee and Lisa Torjman of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, and Ryerson University sociologist Sam Ladner.

• “Policy advocacy can be described as a series of organized attempts to legitimately influence a decision of government. In this workshop participants will be introduced to fundamental concepts on policy advocacy and how they can be applied.” Leader: Guelph-based activist Aiden Abram.

Keynote speaker Severn Cullis-Suzuki will wind up the afternoon. “Born in 1979,” says Butalid, “Cullis-Suzuki is one of Canada’s most prominent environmentalists. At the age of 9, she and some friends started the Environmental Children's Organization, a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. Three years later, at the age of 12, she and a group of friends traveled to 1992's Rio Earth Summit, where she gave a powerful speech that deeply affected the leaders who heard it. A video of this speech has been downloaded over 2 million times. She has also been a member of Kofi Annan’s Special Advisory Panel to the United Nations. Today, Cullis-Suzuki continues to inspire audiences with her message on building an environmentally sustainable world.”

Introductory remarks on Sunday will come from Cheryl Rose, SiG’s director of partnerships and projects.

Butalid adds: “We have launched a new website,, in addition to our existing SiG website. This new site is specifically designed to host information on Studio Earth and other ‘Studio’ projects as they develop in the coming years. It will be a very interactive website with forums, flickr and other new media tools that will be made public starting next week. We are hoping it will be a great tool for community members working towards social change as well as a resource to anyone interested in the subject of social change.”

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Today's other news and announcements

Every year around this time, the human resources office announces an updating to the "maxima" and related figures that limit benefits from UW's staff and faculty health and dental plans. Well, guess what? No changes for 2009, according to an e-mail memo sent this week to those employees who are members of the plans. "UW’s extended health and dental plans are reviewed annually and indexed to a cost of living adjustment," it says. "The Pensions and Benefits Committee has decided that due to the current economic conditions and because the current benefit limits are competitive when compared to other plans, not to index the health and dental maxima for 2009. Benefit maxima and out-of pocket limits will remain at the 2008 level. UW’s dental plan’s benefit reimbursement basis will move as scheduled in 2009 to the 2007 Ontario Dental Association dental fee guide."

The glass doors that open onto the Davis Centre great hall — one set facing the ring road, another the math quad — have been a source of grumbles (cold air, noise, traffic bottleneck) ever since the building was opened in 1987. Now word comes that the existing swing doors are going to be replaced with wider sliding doors in both locations. Gary Kosar of UW's plant operations department said yesterday that tenders from construction firms have been invited; they'll close next week (the tenders, not the doors) and the work will follow in due course. Also impending is a massive re-carpeting of the great hall, lobby areas and hallways throughout Davis. Details are to be announced.

[Laurence]Marlene Laurence (left) officially retired January 1, ending a 42-year career in UW's library, assisting researchers across campus with their interlibrary loan requests. • The Campus Response Team, a student volunteer group that provides first aid and emergency services, has a recruitment drive for new members under way this week. • The engineering faculty's e-newsletter reports that Alex Penlidis of chemical engineering, who was one of UW's earliest appointees to a Canada Research Chair, has received a renewal of his chair for a further seven years.

Current cards for the University Health Insurance Program — offered to international students and others who don’t get Ontario health insurance — have arrived for this term, a memo announces. In order to pick up a UHIP card, students "must be ‘fees arranged’ on Quest and have their student ID card," is the word from the Student Accounts Office in Needles Hall room 1110. "In order to reduce waiting time, the Student Accounts Office will provide an express line for UHIP card pick-up only from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This line will be at the second door to the Student Accounts Office until Friday, January 16. Students coming at other times or having other concerns and questions will have to use the regular line at the first door to the office.” Also: "UHIP coverage for dependents is compulsory and must be enrolled within thirty days of their arrival in Canada."

And . . . Ontario University Athletics announced yesterday that the men's hockey game between UW's Warriors and the Toronto Varsity Blues, which was to be played tonight at Varsity Arena in Toronto, has been postponed. "Members of the Waterloo Warriors," OUA said, "have been delayed returning from a European hockey tour due to extreme weather overseas. A make-up game will be announced at a later date." At this point Saturday's game at Ryerson is still on the schedule. Other Warrior fixtures this weekend: men's volleyball at Toronto tonight and at Ryerson tomorrow; basketball (both men and women) at Windsor on Saturday; women's hockey at Western tomorrow; men's and women's swimming at Brock tomorrow.


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Link of the day

Wolf Moon

When and where

Math and Computer building elevators out of service for maintenance, January-March, beginning with Northeast elevator #1, shut down as of January 5.

Return-to-campus interviews for co-op students, final day, Tatham Centre.

Knowledge Integration seminar series: Lt. Col. Jim Kile, “Building Trust: A Story of Canada’s Field Hospital in Afghanistan” 2:30, Clarica Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute.

Philosophy colloquium: Patti Tamara Lenard, Harvard University, “Culture, Freedom of Movement and Open Borders”, 3:30, Humanities room 373.

FASS auditions final day, 6 to 9 p.m., Humanities room 373. “Live FASS, Die Tomorrow” runs February 5-7. Details.

Engineering Jazz Band meeting and first rehearsal (“bring instruments if you can”), Sunday 6:30 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room, information e-mail info@

Club representatives meeting Monday 4:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Work reports from fall work term, to be marked by CECS coordinators, due Monday at 4 p.m.

‘Networking 101’ career services workshop, January 12 and 26, 4:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Stage Band auditions Monday 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Details.

Peer leader positions in residence living-learning communities, information meeting, Monday 6 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room, information vlehmann@

Centre for International Governance Innovation presents Parag Khanna, New America Foundation, "BRICS, Emerging Markets, and the Second World", Monday 7:30 p.m., 57 Erb Street West.

‘Back in Business’: Employee Assistance Program present Marilyn Perdue, counselling services, “A Mindful Approach to Ending Chronic Back Pain”, Tuesday 12:00 noon, Davis Centre room 1302.

Senate undergraduate council Tuesday 12:00 noon, Needles Hall room 3004.

Mumps immunization clinic organized by Ontario ministry of health, Waterloo Region public health, and UW health services, free, Tuesday 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall. Details.

Applied complexity and innovation seminar: Thomas Homer-Dixon, Balsillie School, “Adaptation Failure and Societal Crisis”, Tuesday 12:00, University Club. Details.

International student orientation Tuesday 12:30 to 3:10 p.m., Needles Hall room 1116. Details.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council president Chad Gaffield holds a town hall meeting, all welcome, Wednesday, January 14, 2:30 to 4:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts.

Graduate studies in mathematics information session for third-year and fourth-year undergraduates, Thursday, January 15, 4:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Nominating committee for provost: nominations for committee seats due Friday, January 16, 3:00 p.m. Details.

Co-op job postings for spring work term begin January 17; employer interviews begin January 29.

An Evening of Astronomy to mark the kickoff of the International Year of Astronomy (outside telescopes, inside talks and displays, refreshments), Saturday, January 17, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., Physics building. Details.

Faculty of Science presents Sydney Brenner, Nobel prize winner 2002, and John Bell, University of Oxford, “The Architecture of Biological Complexity,” Tuesday, January 20, 10:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre, admission free.

Electrical and computer engineering student design project symposium Wednesday, January 21, Davis Centre great hall. Details.

Volunteer/Internship Fair with representatives from many agencies, Wednesday, January 21, 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

Parents of Grade 10 students invited to an information session about planning for university application, organized by marketing and undergraduate recruitment office, Wednesday, January 21, 6:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts. Details.

Faculty of Science presents the 3rd annual Arthur Carty Lecture: Nina Fedoroff, Penn State University, “Seeds of a Perfect Storm: The Global Food Security Crisis”, Thursday, January 22, 3:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, free.

Faculty of Arts presents Anne-Marie Zajdliki, Masai Centre for Local, Regional and Global Health, “A Canadian Physician’s Dream for Africa” Thursday, January 22, 7:00, Humanities Theatre, tickets $10 at Humanities box office.

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