Friday, October 23, 2009

  • Gold medals at tomorrow's Convocation
  • UW gets A grades from Globe; other notes
  • Kids invited to annual science open house
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Gold medals at tomorrow's Convocation

UW will give degrees to 1,527 students at the two sessions of tomorrow’s 99th Convocation, as well as awarding two Alumni Gold Medals, five honorary doctorates and other honours.

A total of 865 undergraduates and 662 graduate students will receive their degrees and diplomas during the 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ceremonies at the Physical Activities Complex. Among the graduating students is the first PhD recipient in recreation and leisure studies (aging, health and well-being). Mary Rebecca Genoe will receive that degree during the morning session, for graduates in arts and applied health sciences. In the afternoon ceremony, for the other four faculties, nine graduates will receive the inaugural Master of Mathematics degrees in computational mathematics.

In another feature of tomorrow’s graduating classes, the School of Architecture will see its largest output ever: 103 students, with 70 receiving a Bachelor of Architecture Studies degree and 33 receiving a Master of Architecture degree.

"The University of Waterloo is pleased to honour our graduating students' commitment and dedication to academic success," says registrar Ken Lavigne in a UW news release. "Convocation is a proud moment for both the graduates and their families because it marks the end of a long journey filled with hard work and accomplishments."

As happens at fall Convocation each year, Alumni Gold Medals will be given to the top graduates of the past year at the PhD and master’s degree level. The winners:

• Jie Zhang, receiving a PhD in computer science for a thesis (“Promoting Honesty in E-Marketplaces”) supervised by CS faculty member Robin Cohen. Zhang is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Saskatchewan and is on his way to a faculty position at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

• Christopher Ramsey, who received an MMath last spring and is now in the doctoral program in pure math at UW. His master’s degree work included a thesis on “Algebraic Characterization of Multivariable Dynamics”, supervised by Ken Davidson.

Two students — James She of electrical and computer engineering and Jason Ventikeswaran of earth and environmental sciences — are being cited for “outstanding achievement” in their PhD work.

Prominent civil rights lawyer Alan Borovoy will be one of the honorary degree recipients, becoming a Doctor of Laws and giving the address at the morning ceremony. Borovoy retired as general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association last April, after 41 years of service.

At the same ceremony, French academic Claude Gharib, an international expert on space travel and its impact on the human body, will receive a doctor of science degree. A professor emeritus at Université Claude Bernard Lyon I in France, Gharib provided support over the years in establishing a top quality space physiology program at Waterloo.

In the afternoon ceremony, Kenneth Ogilvie, former executive director of Pollution Probe, will receive a Doctor of Environmental Studies degree, and will give the convocation address.

Also at the 2:30 ceremony, influential cryptographer Adi Shamir, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, will become a Doctor of Mathematics. And international engineer Peter Watson will become a doctor of engineering. Watson, a Waterloo alumnus, is well-known for his innovative research on the fatigue behaviour of metals. Until 2005, he served as chair and chief executive officer of AEA Technology, Britain's largest science and engineering company.

Three retired faculty members will be awarded the title of professor emeritus or emerita tomorrow. They are Alison Pedlar, retired from the recreation and leisure studies department, and Mariela Gutiérrez, of Spanish and Latin American studies, both at the morning ceremony, and Nicholas Kouwen, of civil and environmental engineering, in the afternoon.

Judy McCrae, the university's first female director of athletics, will be recognized as an honorary member of the university at the morning event, and Paul Schellenberg, a retired professor of combinatorics and optimization and former acting dean of mathematics, will receive the same honour in the afternoon.

Other honours to be presented tomorrow morning: the AHS alumni achievement award, Ronald Noble; the AHS young alumni award, Rohit Ramchandani; the arts alumni achievement award, Ian Kyer. Afternoon awards: the James D. Leslie Prize for a top student graduating through distance education, Amar Nashi; the K. D. Fryer Gold Medal from mathematics, Vincent Chan.

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UW gets A grades from Globe; other notes

UW has finished in several top spots in the annual Globe and Mail “Canadian University Report Card”, released yesterday. Waterloo was ranked first or tied for first among large universities in three categories. Waterloo's B-plus was the highest grade awarded for career preparation. UW and the University of Western Ontario were the only two to receive an A for quality of education. And Waterloo and McGill both earned an A-plus for academic reputation. "The University of Waterloo is always pleased when an outside organization recognizes our particular strengths, and these rankings confirm the quality we are able to deliver in such areas as career preparation, education quality and academic reputation," says president David Johnston. "This recognition is the result of the hard work of the entire university community, and its members, more than anyone else, share in this success." Waterloo also ranked third with an A-minus in the student satisfaction category and second with a B-plus on course availability/variety, a UW news release notes.

Students’ council has officially called referenda for undergraduate students to decide on three proposed fees: for financing a Student Services Complex, an extension to Health Services, and Sound FM, the campus radio station. Voting is scheduled for November 9-11, says an announcement from the Federation of Students. There will be formal Yes and No committees on each question, and volunteers for the committees can get more information from the Feds’ web site. “The Student Services Complex and Health Services Extension referendum questions are student driven projects in partnership with the Graduate Students Association and the University of Waterloo,” the release said. “The question to support 100.3 Sound FM is being posed only to the undergraduate students. The Graduate Student Association will be continuing consultations with their members for the new Student Services Complex into the fall term, while calling the referendum for the Health Services expansion. The Federation of Students is asking full-time undergraduates to decide both questions this fall.” The campaign period preceding all three votes will begin this Tuesday.

UW president David Johnston is in Ottawa for a couple of days attending an event called the Presidents' National Dialogue at the University of Ottawa. He is one of five university presidents — the U of O's Allan Rock, Winnipeg's Lloyd Axworthy, Luc Vinet of the Université de Montréal, and Indira Samarasekera of Alberta — who agreed to organize a conference focused on enhancing the role of universities as centres of knowledge and expertise in public policy development. Each president will chair a panel of experts on a topic chosen ahead of time: environment, aboriginal issues, economy (Waterloo’s topic), health, and foreign affairs. The conference's keynote speaker is James Steinberg, United States deputy secretary of state.

New graduate programs are popping up in so many directions that UW’s senate asked Sue Horton, the associate provost (graduate studies), to provide a list of what’s new and what’s pending. At the October meeting, held last week, she obliged with a “matrix” of 24 programs, ranging from two that accepted their first students this fall (Master of Actuarial Science and PhD in social and ecological sustainability) to ones that are in the approval process and others “in the planning stages”. Watch for an MSc and PhD in pharmacy, the already discussed Master of Public Service program, three grad programs in quantum information, a Master of Water Governance degree to be offered through distance education, the Stratford-based Master of Digital Media, a Master of Ergonomics program, and a PhD in architecture, among others. It’s all part of expansion that’s intended to take UW to 8,000 graduate students — double the current enrolment — by the time its “sixth decade” ends in 2017.

[Cake with United Way logo]Events in support of the United Way continue almost daily on campus, including a coffee break in the research office the other day that featured a cake (right) made by staff member Selena Santi. • Cake can be great, but only as part of a “mindful” diet; anyone who missed the first session of counselling services’ “Mindful Eating” program, which meets from 4 to 6 on Tuesdays, can join in for the rest of the sessions by calling ext. 35481 to register. • Something else to savour: the track and field team will be doing its Florida citrus fund-raiser again this fall, with cases of oranges and grapefruits available next month.

Information Systems and Technology has released its second set of workshops for this fall. In addition to the familiar Skills for the Electronic Workplace programming, highlights of this autumn brochure include a new course, “BlackBerry Intro & Tips”, for the always-connected. In another session, says Mark Lisetto-Smith of organizational and human development, “a rep from Telephone Services will discuss the various plans and packages. As well, as we approach months of inclement weather (though, hopefully not too soon) and with current influenza concerns, SEW is offering the apt 'Tools for Working from Home' to illustrate how staff can utilize their desktop applications from the comfort of home. The registration brochure is currently available online in PDF format.”

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Kids invited to annual science open house

The annual UW science open house will introduce children and their parents to a variety of scientific experiments this weekend, including some involving quantum computing and nanotechnology.

The free event, hosted by Waterloo's faculty of science, offers activities and demonstrations directed at children from kindergarten to grade eight, as well as their families. Events for the science open house take place on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the CEIT building. The centre houses the earth sciences museum, which presents an associated gem and mineral show, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday.

"Our science open house and the gem and mineral show offer a range of fun and educational activities for the whole family," said Peter Russell, curator of the museum. "These events allow Waterloo's faculty of science and Engineering Science Quest to share their passion for science."

This year's open house will also feature new activities from the Institute for Quantum Computing, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology and the department of biology. Biology activities include banana DNA extraction and how to create your own plant.

The departments of chemistry and physics and astronomy will also offer activities such as fun with dry ice, turning copper into gold, making pop bottle rockets and mentos geysers. The popular chemistry magic show will take place at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Biology I room 271.

The gem and mineral show will feature a rock pile for young collectors, gold panning and digging for fossil fish and ancient shark teeth. Other demonstrations include rock-sphere making and hand-faceting gems. Emily Damstra, a scientific illustrator, will be on hand to display some of her work on fossils. Participants can also take part in hands-on activities from Mining Matters. This year's show theme is Fossils and Minerals of Ontario, and presents a display by Tim Elliot called Minerals from the Lafarge Quarry in Dundas, Ontario.

On Sunday, Waterloo earth scientist Alan Morgan will give a special lecture at 2 p.m. in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. The talk is entitled “In The Footsteps of Darwin”.

A “carbon grill” barbecue, cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs, will offer lunch for visitors outside the west entrance to the CEIT. Parking is available in cash lots around the campus.


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Link of the day

Mole Day

When and where

Employer interviews for winter term co-op jobs (main group) October 2-29; ranking opens October 30, 1:00 p.m. Details.

Grand River Film Festival through Sunday, showings at UW Architecture building and other locations in Cambridge and Kitchener. Details.

Jean Augustine, former federal cabinet minister, “African Canadians in Politics: Issues and Challenges” 10:30 a.m., PAS building room 4288, RSVP sdiebold@

Knowledge Integration seminar: educational consultant James Raffan, “Glimpses of an Interdisciplinarian’s Deliciously Chaotic Career” 1:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 208.

[Cherry]Farvolden Lecture in UW department of earth sciences: John Cherry (left), distinguished professor emeritus, “A Glimpse at Groundwater Contamination in China” 2:00, Humanities Theatre, reception follows.

Wilfrid Laurier University Hunsberger Memorial Lecture: Barbara Flese, University of Illinois, “Family Routines and Rituals: Everyday Opportunities to Build Health and Wellbeing” 2:30, Bricker Academic Building room BA101.

Philosophy colloquium: Marc Ramsay, Acadia University, “A Principled Approach to Damage Awards for Wrongful Pregnancy” 3:30, Humanities room 373.

International Trade Specialization 20th anniversary event, keynote address by Larry Smith (economics), entertainment, alumni presentations, 7:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall. Details.

Warrior sports this weekend: Men’s hockey vs. Guelph, 7:30 tonight, Icefield; at UOIT, Saturday. • Football vs. York, Saturday 1:00, Warrior Field. • Soccer vs. Brock Saturday, vs. McMaster Sunday, women 1:00, men 3:15, Columbia Field. • Women’s field hockey vs. Toronto 9:30 Saturday, vs. York 1:30 Saturday, Columbia Field. • Women’s hockey at Guelph Saturday; vs. Brock Sunday 2:00, Icefield. • Men’s basketball at Simon Fraser U, Friday; at British Columbia, Saturday. • Women’s volleyball (men and women) at York Friday; women at Brock Sunday. • Badminton at Toronto, Saturday. • Cross-country, Brock Invitational, Saturday. Men’s rugby at RMC, Saturday.

Warrior Weekend activities Friday and Saturday evenings, Student Life Centre and other venues: crafts, salsa dancing, bingo, music, concert by Waterboys, 11 p.m. movies (Friday “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, Saturday “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”). Details.

Waterloo Snowboard Coalition kickoff party Friday evening, Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre.

World Religions Conference sponsored by Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama; theme this year is “Is God Relevant in Today’s World?” Saturday 10:00 to 6:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Climate Action Project, a unit of Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, rally as part of International Day of Climate Action, Saturday 1 to 3 p.m., outside Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Caroline Street.

Embassy Church speaker: “A Million Miles Tour, an Evening with Donald Miller” Sunday 7:00, Humanities Theatre.

Pre-enrolment course selection week for spring 2010 undergraduate courses, October 26 through November 1. Details.

Career workshops Monday: “Academic Interview” 12:00, “Working Effectively in Another Culture” 3:00, both in Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Complexity and innovation seminar: Karen Houle, “Is Our Concept of Moral Responsibility Newtonian?” Monday 3:30, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP cmombour@

Used coat and jacket sale in support of the United Way, Tuesday-Wednesday 11:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room. Donations welcomed by Monday; call ext. 38120 for details.

Engineering exchange programs information sessions: October 27, November 3 and 10, 11:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 3517. Details.

Education Credit Union speaker Debbie Kinlin-Hynes, “Critical Illness Insurance”, Tuesday 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302, RSVP janinew@

UW board of governors meets Tuesday 1:30 p.m. (note revised time), Needles Hall room 3001.

Joint Health and Safety Committee Tuesday 1:30, Commissary room 112D.

Architecture lecture: Oren Safdie presents a screening of the film of his play “Private Jokes, Public Places” and reads from new play “The Bilbao Effect”, Tuesday 7:00, Architecture lecture hall.

Gairdner International Lectures by Peter Walter, University of California at San Francisco, Wednesday: student lecture, “Adventure Cell Biology”, 10:00; faculty lecture “Intracellular Signaling and Protein Quality Control” 12:30, both in Humanities Theatre.

PhD oral defences

Electrical and computer engineering. Mazeiar Salehie, “A Quality-Driven Approach to Enable Decision-Making in Self-Adaptive Software.” Supervisor, Ladan Tahvildari. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, October 30, 1:00 p.m., Engineering II room 1307G.

Computer science. Shuai Cheng Li, “New Approaches to Protein Structure Prediction and Practice.” Supervisors, Ming Li and Jinbo Xu. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Monday, November 2, 2:00 p.m., Davis Centre room 2314.

Chemistry. Xiulei Ji, “Nanostructured Materials for Energy Storage and Conversion.” Supervisor, Linda F. Nazar. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Friday, November 6, 2:30 p.m., Chemistry II room 361.

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