Tuesday, January 13, 2009

  • Staff member knows his gift's impact
  • Creating lakes amid the oil sands
  • Student mourned, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Forrest working atop a ladder]
Staff member knows his gift's impact

a feature article from UW’s 2007-08 “Report on Giving”

Three years ago, Stewart Forrest (above) had no idea what a difference $20 could make. He knew it could pay for an evening at the movies or top-up his gas tank at the pump. But when he began giving $20 each month to UW, Forrest saw first-hand how a little generosity and a lot of teamwork can impact a student.

When he's "on the clock," you can often find him high up on a ladder, clad in green, tinkering with heating and cooling controls around campus. But his day at UW is not confined to his regular shift, and his support for the university doesn't solely come from his wallet. Long after he punches out, it's not uncommon to find him on campus, attending meetings or addressing staff at special events. Through word and deed, Forrest fervently advocates for the Keystone Campaign — the program for current and retired staff and faculty to raise support for the university. And many of his colleagues follow his lead. Each year, more than 10 per cent of UW staff and faculty volunteer their time to various initiatives across campus, and nearly half of UW's employees donate to the university.

When designating his gift, Forrest’s priority is always scholarship support. "It doesn't cost me much to give $20 each month," he says, "but when 49 of my colleagues also give that amount, the impact of a $1,000 scholarship can be enormous for a student!" In his mind, that student has a name — David.

The 20-year-old studying geological engineering is Stewart's son. David was awarded a scholarship in his first year at UW. Through that support, he was afforded the financial liberty to focus wholeheartedly on his studies without the distraction of a part-time job. He was able to select a co-op placement that year primarily for its experiential merit, rather than the paycheque.

Stewart Forrest knows that when he and his colleagues support scholarships, they're doing their part to ensure that students have a good future. And that kind of satisfaction can't be found in an evening at the movies or a full tank of gas.

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Creating lakes amid the oil sands

“Waterloo is the centre of water research in Canada,” says Mark Servos, scientific director of the Canadian Water Network, telling readers of the UW Magazine that “there’s a reason” the CWN is based at this campus rather than one of its other 30 member universities across the country.

[Magazine cover]Water research, drawing on dozens of UW faculty members including the holders of six designated faculty chairs, is profiled in an article by Pat Bow, of communications and public affairs, in the latest issue of the magazine (left).

The piece is introduced with a big photo of dozens of water researchers sitting on one of the Laurel Creek bridges (and three of them, protected by hip-waders, standing in the water below). The picture was taken last summer by freelance photographer Simon Wilson.

“For more than three decades,” Bow writes, “professors in science, engineering, and environment have been tracing groundwater flows, monitoring the health of waterways, exploring new ways of keeping our water clean, and studying sustainable water use.” One excerpt from the article:

“George Dixon, UW's vice-president, university research, is a biology professor with an international reputation as an eco-toxicologist. For the past 15 years he's been studying the environmental impact of the Alberta oil sands industry — a challenge as massive as the oil sands themselves, which contain the second-largest oil reserves in world, after Saudi Arabia's.

“The oil — thick bitumen mixed with sand and clay — is costly to extract, but increasingly worth it as oil prices rise. At the same time, the potential exists for long-term contamination of the Athabasca River basin, one of the largest watersheds in Canada.

“For each barrel of oil produced, you get six to seven barrels of tailings — oily sand, clay, and water, laced with contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and naphthenic acids (NAs). The tailings are dumped into pits as a temporary storage method.

“Over the next four years, Dixon will be leading 20 professors and their teams from seven universities and Environment Canada (including 10 profs from UW) in a bid to develop more sustainable solutions to the problem of oil sands byproducts. They are monitoring contaminant levels and effects on aquatic organisms in waters near mining operations. Another concern is to map the pathways these contaminants could follow in groundwater.

“They are also studying waterways that have worn down to oil sands level over the millennia. (‘You'd swear they were paved with asphalt,’ Dixon says.) Understanding how fish and plants survive in these naturally contaminated waters could help the scientists design a solution — manufactured lakes that mimic the chemistry and biology of natural ones.

“Over the next 30 years, more than 30 lakes hundreds of hectares in size will be created by diverting stored tailings to mined-out areas, which will then be capped with clean water. The first lake will be flooded in 2011. The next step will be to monitor the created lakes, to see whether natural chemical and biological processes transform them into healthy ecosystems.

"The goal will be to connect these created lakes, once they've matured, with streams and rivers, and to reintegrate them with the watershed, Dixon says. ‘The idea is to end with a self-managing system.’”

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[Cockett]Student mourned, and other notes

A memorial service will be held Saturday for Barrington Cockett (right), a student in UW's geography program who died December 27. "Barrington was an international student from Jamaica, who decided to return to university later in life to pursue his dream of completing his tertiary degree," writes Calvin Weekes, president of the Association of Caribbean
Students — of which Cockett was "a dedicated and very vocal member. He will always be remembered for his cheerfulness, enthusiasm and determination to succeed. Barrington was also a former staff member of UW Food Services, and the Brubakers staff are deeply saddened by his passing. In his three years at UW he touched many lives." The ACS has planned the memorial service for Saturday, starting at 4:00, in the St. Jerome's University chapel, "to facilitate the many students who were unable to attend his funeral service due to being away from university for the holidays."

A memo went out from the human resources department late last week, aimed at all the thousands of people who were paid by UW during 2008 and so are due to receive T4 documentation in this income tax season. The memo notes that T4s and T4As will be mailed out in late February, and makes this request: “Human Resources would like to ask you to verify the address we have on file for you. Please log into myHRinfo and check that we have your correct address. If you don’t remember your UWdir username and password needed to log into myHRinfo, please contact the IST help desk to have your password reset. Once logged in, navigate to the Personal Information Summary page. Here you can view the address on file in Human Resources. If this is not the address you would like your tax forms mailed to when they are printed in February 2009 then click on the yellow button to Change home address. Human Resources appreciates your time in verifying this information is correct.”

Want to put back trouble behind you? Marilyn Perdue, of UW's counselling services, promises "A Mindful Approach to Ending Chronic Back Pain" at a noon-hour session today, sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program. Says a flyer: "A recent Global News program reported that one third of people suffer from chronic pain, and fully 50% of us suffer from chronic back pain. If you are one of the many people who are sick and tired of coping with this often debilitating condition, there is hope in a new treatment approach. Based on recent scientific research Marilyn’s talk will highlight the details of this approach, which includes information showing most chronic back pain is caused by stress, fear, muscle tension and inactivity. Are you still sceptical? Bring your lunch and an open mind — it may just change your life." Today's event starts at 12:00 in Davis Centre room 1302.

One of UW’s newest research centres — the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change (IC3) — is launching its inaugural seminar series tomorrow. Half a dozen guest speakers from Canada and the United States are expected this term, including one of North America’s top climate researchers, Mark Serreze of the University of Colorado at Boulder. The seminars start tomorrow at noon with Antoni Lewkowicz of the University of Ottawa, who has been researching permafrost in the Canadian Arctic archipelago for more than 30 years and done field research in the Mackenzie Valley and Delta, the Yukon, northern Norway, and Antarctica. He has published extensively and is an expert in the area of permafrost science. His talk starts at 12:00 noon on Wednesday in Environment I room 221. IC3, based in the Faculty of Environment, brings together researchers from engineering, environment, mathematics, and science as well as from Environment Canada and Wilfrid Laurier University. Serreze, the featured speaker of the seminar series, is scheduled to give a public talk at Federation Hall on March 4, starting at 7 p.m.


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Link of the day

Alzheimer Awareness Month

When and where

Senate undergraduate council 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, 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”, 12:00, University Club. Details.

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

Arts faculty council 3:30 p.m., Humanities room 373.

Dental school interviews workshop 5:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Engineering alumni reception at annual meetings of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, Tuesday 6:00 p.m., Marriott Wardmann Park Hotel. Details.

Application deadline for September 2009 undergraduate admission is January 14 for Ontario secondary school students. General deadline, March 31. Exceptions include pharmacy (for January 2010) January 30; accounting and architecture, February 13; engineering and software March 2. Details.

‘Exploring Your Personality Type’ career workshop January 14 and 21, 10:00 a.m., Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

Heritage Resources Centre lunch-and-learn series: Robert MacDonald, Archaeological Services Inc., “Managing Our Invisible Cultural Heritage”, Wednesday 12:00, Environment I room 317.

Free noon concert: TorQ Percussion Ensemble, Wednesday 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

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

Student exchanges to Baden-Württemburg (Germany) and Rhône-Alpes (France) for 2009-10, information session Wednesday 3:00, Needles Hall room 1101, information ext. 33999.

Dons Do Dinner events in residence cafeterias: Italian, Wednesday at REVelation, Ron Eydt Village; Caribbean, Thursday at Mudie’s, Village I, from 4:30 p.m.

‘Shoot for Tuition’ promotion at halftime of Warrior basketball games Wednesday, women’s game 6:00, men’s game 8:00, Physical Activities Complex, free for UW students with WatCard.

Clubs, Services and Society Days with tables and displays in the Student Life Centre great hall, January 15 and 16, 10:00 to 3:00.

Study in China summer program information meeting Friday 12:00 noon, Renison University College cafeteria (also February 13 and March 13).

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

Fantastic Alumni, Staff and Faculty Day at Warrior basketball games, Saturday, women 2 p.m., men 4 p.m. vs. Guelph, Physical Activities Complex, half-time promotions. Details.

Artery Gallery operated by UW fine arts students holds opening reception for “Bandy”, exhibition of local music and art, Saturday 6:00 p.m., 158 King Street West, admission $5, exhibition continues through January 31.

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

Winter term reading week February 16-20. Family Day holiday Monday, February 16: UW offices and most services will be closed.

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