Friday, June 19, 2009

  • Prof heads children's obesity study
  • Last-choice co-op job led to his career
  • What should have been said here
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Kids behind a barrier watching]

Fascinated by Freckles: Children at UW’s Early Childhood Education Centre, an arm of the psychology department, were thrilled on Monday when Freckles visited from Mill Creek Stables in Cambridge. Says ECEC director Val Rozon: “The children wanted to know about what horses ate, did they have baths, how were they cleaned, did she have babies and how high could she jump. After visiting with Freckles they had a chance to sit on a saddle strapped to a hay bale to imagine what it would be like to ride a real horse.”

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Prof heads children's obesity study

Research by a UW professor will get a share of $1.9 million in new funding aimed at reducing childhood obesity in Canada, announced this week as part of a four-way partnership involving the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Rx&D Health Research Foundation, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada.

The research projects aim to better understand eating and exercise behaviours and to explore new ways that Canadian children can avoid obesity or control it. “Currently,” a news release explains, “more than one in four Canadian children and youth are overweight or obese, with a much greater risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.”

[Hanning at microphone]The Waterloo researcher who is involved is Rhona Hanning of the department of health studies and gerontology (left, at an announcement Wednesday in Ottawa).

Hanning will coordinate a web-based survey to assess food intake and physical activity by Cree schoolchildren in grades 6 to 10. The study, the release says, “will assess and monitor eating and physical activity. The survey of eating habits will record consumption of traditional foods versus ‘western’ foods; meal patterns (with whom and where students eat); as well as activity, food knowledge and eating preferences.

“The information will be used to partner with the five First Nations communities along the Western James Bay coast to adapt existing community programs (e.g., school snacks/ breakfast, greenhouse, recreation programs), develop new ones, and evaluate them. Eventually, the researchers will produce a survey template for dissemination to other Aboriginal communities across Canada.”

Other projects, based at universities across the country, will deal with family and peer influences on overweight adolescents, the effect of pregnant women’s diet and activity on their children’s weight, and how urban street design can lead to neighbourhoods that foster behaviours to reduce weight.

“Controlling obesity and the diseases related to it requires research into wellness strategies that allow individual Canadians – starting especially with our children – to better maintain their personal health through healthy lifestyles,” says Alain Beaudet, president of CIHR.

Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, adds that “More and more of our children are sedentary, have too much screen time, and are eating unhealthy foods. This imminent health crisis is preventable. We need to find solutions to address childhood obesity and help our kids before they become the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”

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Last-choice co-op job led to his career

by Jennifer Pepper, from the May issue of the Inside Scoop newsletter for UW co-op students

It’s a situation that most of us in co-op have been warned about: an unassuming student goes for an interview and happens to dislike the job for a variety of reasons, ranks the job with a nine, yet must take the position when matched.

[Junginger]Although this is a rarity, co-op advisors warn that it can happen. But, all things considered, this situation may not be a nightmare. Johann Junginger (right), a former UW co-op student, is living proof. In a twist of fate, his “nine” ended up being the position of his dreams. In fact, he’s returned to the company he’d ranked those 13 years ago and really enjoys his job.

Currently a physicist at the Xerox research centre in Canada, Junginger tests materials and works with chemists who invent products for Xerox machines. Having graduated from UW as a co-op student in 1996 with a BSc in physics, he explains his job as a research scientist in the Materials Integration Laboratory is exactly what he’s been searching for.

Reflecting upon the factors that contributed to his decision to rank the job so poorly, he says, “Initially, I had blamed the interviewer. He was a huge bear of a man and he really intimidated me. I hadn’t really done any preparation for the interview so I knew nothing about Xerox or what they did.”

Unprepared, Junginger was further discouraged when he was required to solve problems on the spot. “He gave me what I like to call a BS-detector quiz. He scribbled three elementary circuits on the back of a napkin and he asked me if I could solve them. But I’d never taken a circuitry course in my life, so basically I failed his test completely. It was one of those first impression situations where the impressions didn’t really mesh. I was also unimpressed with the location because I do not drive and back then the location had very poor access to public transit.”

Upon discovering the match result he recalls, “I was absolutely devastated. It was the end of the world (he laughs). I was ranting and raving and screaming.”

However, within half a day of showing up at the workplace, “I realized that my misgivings about the interviewer were completely misplaced That crazy man who interviewed me before, he’s now one of my best friends and mentors. He retired years ago but we still go out for a beer and chicken wings to talk things over. He’s my favourite Xerox scientist.”

Junginger discovered that the reason why he wanted to stay at Xerox was the learning he experienced there compared with other jobs in the industry. “I learned to get my hands dirty in the lab and to solve real problems. In other jobs I didn’t have the satisfaction of knowing my contributions were impacting the operations of the company.”

Now the tables have turned and Junginger is the co-op interviewer from Xerox. Knowing, first hand, the complications involved with first impressions, Junginger’s references are on his business card and he encourages the students he interviews to call his previous co-ops to ask what it was like working for him. Overall he advises co-op students: “Remember that you aren’t making a firm long term commitment. Try different career paths — it’s really a way to explore what the working world has to offer.”

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What should have been said here

A few follow-ups and corrections from recent Daily Bulletins:

• It said in this space on Monday that “Curtis Woodford, graduating with a BASc in chemical engineering, received the alumni gold medal as the top graduating engineering student of the year. Phillip Nadeau, receiving his BASc in electrical engineering, received a Governor General’s Silver Medal.” In fact, the registrar’s office confirms that it was Nadeau, the silver medal winner, who had the highest standing in the undergraduate engineering program for this year.

• On Wednesday, Paul McDonald was identified as a faculty member in recreation and leisure studies. In fact, he’s a member of the neighbouring department of health studies and gerontology.

• Yesterday, a 1984 picture of then UW president Doug Wright showed him with an unidentified representative of spinoff company Watcom. The young entrepreneur in the photo was Ian McPhee, who has played major roles in a series of software companies over the ensuing years, and is now vice-chair of the UW board of governors.


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Links of the day

JuneteenthDuct tapeSaunteringFathers' Day

When and where

Last day for 50 per cent fee refund for dropped courses, June 19.

Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering Quebec-Ontario Biotechnology Division annual meeting Thursday-Friday, Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University. Details.

Canada’s Wonderland trip today, buses leave Davis Centre 9:30 a.m., tickets $45 at Federation of Students office.

Co-op job ranking for fall term opens 1:00 p.m., closes Monday 2:00 p.m.; match results available Monday 4:00 p.m.

Kairos social justice ‘gathering’ continues. Public events in Theatre of the Arts: “Community Resistance and Corporate Accountability in Extractive Industries” Friday 2:30; “Word and the World: Biblical Activism” Saturday 2:00.

Bojangles Dance performances Saturday 12:00 and 6:00, Humanities Theatre.

The New Quarterly presents three storytellers (including Gail Corning, UW speech communication) as part of Latitudes Storytelling Festival, Saturday 3:00, Victoria Park, Kitchener.

Waterloo Classic road races (10-km, 5-km and 3-km) Sunday, leave University Stadium 9 a.m.; Seagram Drive closed. Details.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term courses; appointments June 22-27 for continuing students, July 13-26 for new students; open enrolment begins July 27.

Waterloo Engineering Competition sponsored by Engineering Society and Sandford Fleming Foundation, opens Monday 10:00 a.m., continues through Saturday. Details.

Senate long-range planning committee Monday 3:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

Larry Lamb, Faculty of Environment ecology lab, retirement open house Monday 3:30 to 5:00, Environment I courtyard, RSVP ext. 33463.

Joanne Wade, retired from office of student awards, recognition reception Monday 4:00 to 6:00, University Club, RSVP bdenomme@

K-W Little Theatre auditions for fall production of “The Beggar’s Opera”, June 22-24, 7 to 10 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 113. Details.

Alzheimer Research and Education Program presents authors Heather Menzies and Richard Taylor, “Re-Connecting and Re-Learning How to Communicate with Persons with Dementia” Tuesday 1:00, Hallman Institute room 1621.

‘Wikis’ workshop organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Tuesday 3:00 p.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Economic discussion: Waterloo Investment Research Exchange presents experts from business, UW and WLU speaking on “Where Is the Economy Headed?” Tuesday 6:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Work reports from winter term co-op jobs, marked by coordinators, available for pickup at Tatham Centre, June 26.

The New Quarterly bus tour of Queen’s Bush settlement, followed by African feast, to explore The Book of Negroes, this year’s One Book One Community selection, with author Lawrence Hill, June 27, tickets $70. Details.

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