Thursday, May 21, 2009

  • Former national librarian joins UW-Stratford
  • Low-cost, powerful batteries coming soon
  • Notes on learning and growing
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Former national librarian joins UW-Stratford

from UW Media Relations

Ian Wilson, former Chief Librarian of CanadaCanada's former chief librarian and archivist, Ian E. Wilson (left), will help guide the development of the University of Waterloo's new research facility in Stratford.

Yesterday the university introduced Wilson as strategic adviser to UW on the Stratford Institute during a public event on the Waterloo campus. Wilson recently retired from the post of Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

He will lead the development of the UW Stratford Institute, an undertaking supported by the City of Stratford, the Ministry of Research and Innovation, Industry Canada and Open Text.

"Ian Wilson is an internationally known proponent of digitization and cultural preservation," said Ken Coates, dean of arts. "Mr. Wilson is a well-respected and experienced national leader and will be a wonderful addition to the University of Waterloo and we look forward to his leadership in building the proposed UW Stratford Institute."

As Canada's first librarian and archivist, Wilson played a key role in creating a new knowledge institution for Canada, the integrated Library and Archives of Canada. His distinguished career has included archival and information management, university teaching, and government service. He has published widely on history, archives, heritage, and information management, as well as lecturing both nationally and abroad.

"The UW Stratford Institute will bring together Stratford's renowned strengths in arts and culture with the University of Waterloo's strengths in technology to create the next generation of digital media products and services, while producing the managerial talent needed to grow new Ontario ideas into globally focused companies," said John Wilkinson, Ontario's minister of research and innovation. "Today's announcement is an important milestone in making this new campus a reality."

Wilson is a member of the Order of Canada and Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). He received the 2005 Award of Merit from the Association for Canadian Studies and an Outstanding Career Achievement Award from the Public Service of Canada.

"Ian Wilson is the perfect addition to the leadership and momentum driving the establishment of the Stratford Institute," said Tom Jenkins, executive chairman and chief strategy officer at Open Text, who is a key supporter of the Stratford initiative. "His experience building a national institution like Library and Archives Canada will propel Stratford to the world stage in digital media."

UW's Stratford Institute is a think-tank, integrator and training institute devoted to collaboration between digital media, international commerce and culture.

"As Canada's first librarian and archivist, Mr. Ian Wilson has a unique understanding of the vital opportunities to connect culture with the digital media, wireless platforms, and information technologies of the future," said Aileen Carroll, Ontario's minister of culture. "He will be a great asset to the development of this sector in Ontario."

The Stratford Institute was established with a $10 million investment from the Government of Ontario and a $10 million investment from the City of Stratford.

"We are delighted to welcome Ian Wilson to Stratford and to help bring the dream of the University of Waterloo Stratford Institute to life," said Dan Mathieson, mayor of Stratford.

The institute is one of two hubs within the Canadian Digital Media Network. The network was established earlier this year with $10.7 million in federal funding to link Canada's digital media clusters from coast to coast, creating a digital convergence corridor and enabling collaboration between researchers, implementers and entrepreneurs.

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Low-cost, powerful batteries coming soon

Linda Nazar, chemistry professorBreakthrough research in low-cost batteries by chemistry professor Linda Nazar (right) is headline news at the CBC, Science Daily and other mainstream media.

The following account is from a newsletter from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC):

An NSERC-funded lab at the University of Waterloo has laid the groundwork for a lithium battery that can store and deliver more than three times the power of conventional lithium ion batteries.

The research team of professor Linda Nazar, graduate student David Xiulei Ji and postdoctoral fellow Kyu Tae Lee are one of the first to demonstrate robust electrochemical performance for a lithium-sulphur battery. The finding is reported in the May 17 on-line issue of Nature Materials.

The prospect of lithium-sulphur batteries has tantalized chemists for two decades, and not just because successfully combining the two chemistries delivers much higher energy densities. Sulphur is cheaper than many other materials currently used in lithium batteries. It has always showed great promise as the ideal partner for a safe, low cost, long lasting rechargeable battery, exactly the kind of battery needed for energy storage and transportation in a low carbon emission energy economy.

"The difficult challenge was always the cathode, the part of the battery that stores and releases electrons in the charge and recharge cycles," said Dr. Nazar. "To enable a reversible electrochemical reaction at high current rates, the electrically active sulphur needs to remain in the most intimate contact with a conductor, such as carbon."

The Canadian research team leap-frogged the performance of other carbon-sulphur combinations by tackling the contact issue at the nanoscale level. Although they say the same approach could be used with other materials, for their proof of concept study they chose a member of a highly structured and porous carbon family called mesoporous carbon. At the nanoscale level, this type of carbon has a very uniform pore diameter and pore volume.

Using a nanocasting method, the team assembled a structure of 6.5 nanometre thick carbon rods separated by empty three to four nanometre wide channels. Carbon microfibres spanning the empty channels kept the voids open and prevented collapse of the architecture.

Filling the tiny voids proved simple. Sulphur was heated and melted. Once in contact with the carbon, it was drawn or imbibed into the channels by capillary forces, where it solidified and shrunk to form sulphur nanofibres. Scanning electron microscope sections revealed that all the spaces were uniformly filled with sulphur, exposing an enormous surface area of the active element to carbon and driving the exceptional test results of the new battery.

"This composite material can supply up to nearly 80 percent of the theoretical capacity of sulphur, which is three times the energy density of lithium transition metal oxide cathodes, at reasonable rates with good cycling stability," said Dr. Nazar.

What is more, the researchers say, the high capacity of the carbon to incorporate active material opens the door for similar "imbibed" composites that could have applications in many areas of materials science.

The research team continues to study the material to work out remaining challenges and refine the cathode's architecture and performance.

Dr. Nazar said a patent has been filed, and she is reviewing options for commercialization and practical applications.

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For active minds and active bodies

Pat Webster, gardener“In ‘Site and Insight,’ garden designer and artist Pat Webster (left) shows how the history of a site continues to affect the emotional experience of people using the land today,” reports Andrew Smith for Faculty of Environment News. “Understanding the life stories of previous inhabitants provides insight into the choices that shaped the land. By recycling historical and geographical elements in a landscape, Webster shows how using the past can make a landscape uniquely personal. Raised in the American South, Pat Webster lives in North Hatley, Quebec on the grounds of a ruined former resort hotel.” Hear more today, 11:20 - 12:20 p.m., in Environment II, room 2002.

A staff development announcement from Organizational & Human Development (OHD): the E.D.G.E. (Educate, Develop, Grow, and Experience) Brochure for Spring / Summer 2009 courses is available online in PDF format. Course offerings include M.E.E.T. the Multigenerations, the much requested Leadership for Results series, Effective Presentations and Proofreading & Editing. To download the OHD Registration PDF directly from the website, visit and choose “Registration” from the left-hand navigation menu. More information about courses is here.

Always wanted to learn to golf? Here’s an invitation from the Waterloo Warriors Varsity Golf Team. “A look at the etiquette, rules and fundamentals of a game you can play well into your 80s. Join these fun classes with a friend and learn how to putt, chip and swing.” Register in the PAC Athletics Office up to Friday, May 29. Five classes cost $100; golf clubs are provided. Classes are held Sundays at 4, 5, or 6 p.m., beginning June 7, at the Waterloo Golf Academy, 100 Wilmot Line, Waterloo. More information from

The University of Waterloo has signed up as a participating workplace in the 2009 Commuter Challenge, "a national program that encourages Canadians to walk, cycle, ride-share/carpool, tele-work or take transit instead of driving alone to work. We encourage you to give your car some time off in June and make a difference!” To participate in the Commuter Challenge, you may register individually or as part of the university by entering “University of Waterloo” in the company search area, then selecting “Register with the University of Waterloo.” The challenge runs May 31 - June 6.

And as summerlike weather arrives, Melissa Onn of FEDS sends word that the Bomber patio is open for the spring term. "To accommodate patrons during the construction we've put up some high walls and new fencing and will be doing some murals soon as well, and we're working on solutions for the atmosphere of the patio ... so people on campus still have a patio to enjoy during the nice weather. We also have some new great food and drinks specials we're offering, which are listed on our website."

CPA staff

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When and where

‘The Wedding Singer’ produced by K-W Musical Productions, continues until Saturday at 8 p.m., also Saturday at 2 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $29 at Humanities box office.

Research Advancement Centre (475 Wes Graham Way) electrical power shutdown 6 to 9 a.m.

Avogadro Exam offered by UW department of chemistry for high school science students. Details.

‘So You Want to Be a Faculty Member?’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, 9:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Relaxation sessions presented by the Employee Assistance Program. Cortical relaxation, 12:15-12:45, Math and Computing room 2018.

Computer science Distinguished Lecture: Thomas A. Furness III, University of Washington, “Cobwebs in a Virtual Brain” 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Introducing Windows Azure. Free talk by Microsoft's Paul Laberge, 5 - 7:30 p.m., Accelerator Centre Building main foyer, 295 Hagey Blvd, Waterloo. RSVP.

Last day to drop or withdraw from courses with 100 per cent fee refund; “drop, no penalty” period ends, Friday.

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

Microteaching session organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Friday 10 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Bombshelter Pub concert: “My Darkest Days” with “Age of Daze” Friday, doors open 9 p.m., $10 at door.

You@Waterloo Day open house for students who have received offers of admission to UW, and their families, Saturday 10 to 2, headquarters in Student Life Centre. Details. Bookstore, UW Shop, TechWorx and Campus TechShop open noon to 4 p.m.

Niagara Region wine tour organized by UW staff association, Saturday. Details.

Renison University College 50th anniversary alumni dinner, speaker Bob Rae, Saturday 6:30 p.m., tickets $100, information ext. 28657.

Bike repair for beginners sponsored by UW Bike Centre and Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, Sunday, May 24 and 31, 1 to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre. Details.

Winter term grades become official May 25 on Quest.

Canadian Health Economics Study Group annual conference May 26-27, Arts Lecture Hall. Details.

‘Understanding the Learner’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday, May 27, 12:30, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Smarter Health seminar: Carolyn McGregor, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, “Neonatal Health Informatics: Uncharted Discovery” Wednesday, May 27, 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

International Spouses “Grow Your Own Herb Garden” presentation by Samm McKay, Thursday, May 28, 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre, pre-register by e-mail (dtamsg@ by May 22. Details.

Health and Healing lecture series launches with talk by Pharmacy director Jake Thiessen, "Building a Healthier Future: Discovery and Innovation at the Health Sciences Campus." Thursday, May 28, 7 pm, School of Pharmacy, 10 Victoria Street South, Kitchener. Free. RSVP by email or 519-888-4499

Final day for fee arrangements for spring term, May 29.

Retirement party for Marie Schmidt of Finance after 31 years at UW. Friday, May 29, 3 - 5 p.m., presentation at 4 p.m., Davis Centre room 1301. RSVP by May 26.

Matthews Golf Tournament logo

Matthews Golf Classic for students, staff, faculty, retirees and guests, Monday, June 15, 12:00 noon, Grand Valley Golf Course. Registration closes May 29. Details.

PhD oral defences

Chemical engineering. Lesley James, “Mass Transfer Mechanisms During the Solvent Recovery of Heavy Oil.” Supervisor, I. Chatzis. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, May 29, 9 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Physics and astronomy. Joel R. Brownstein, “Modified Gravity and the Phantom of Dark Matter.” Supervisors, John Moffat and Robert B. Mann. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, June 1, 1 p.m., CEIT building room 2053.

Recreation and leisure studies. Linda Robson, “Perceptions of Risk at Meetings and Conferences: A Planner’s Perspective.” Supervisor, Steve Smith. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, June 2, 2 p.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

Electrical and computer engineering. Muhammad Mehboob Fareed, “Optimum Power Allocation for Cooperative Communication.” Supervisor, Murat Uysal. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, June 3, 2:30 p.m., CEIT room 3142.

Earth and environmental sciences. Richard H. Guthrie, “The Occurrence and Behavior of Rainfall-Triggered Landslides in Coastal British Columbia.” Supervisor, Stephen Evans. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, June 4, 10:30 a.m., CEIT building room 2053.

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