Friday, January 29, 2010

  • Fire displaces 3 students on frigid night
  • What some profs are doing on sabbatical
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Sitting and standing in Festival Room]

The Graduate Studies Awards Reception, held Tuesday in the Festival Room of South Campus Hall, “was a huge success with a fabulous turnout”, says Marta Bailey, manager of graduate studies communication. The event, honouring recipients of recipients of the President’s Graduate Scholarship, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award, drew “a great mix of grad students, faculty, staff and senior administration”, she said. UW president David Johnston and associate provost (graduate studies) Sue Horton were among the speakers. Computer science grad student Dan Roche also spoke, talking about “what an honour and  privilege it is to be able to do what you love”, especially with “the financial support of people who believe in the work you are doing”.

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Fire displaces 3 students on frigid night

Three students were among the residents displaced by a fire overnight in a townhouse complex on Westcourt Place, off Westmount Road at the edge of the main campus. The three, all women, were taken to temporary shelter in Village I. Bud Walker, the university's director of business operations, says there's a standing procedure by which local emergency services will notify UW police if students are affected in such a crisis. One of the residence life coordinators was roused in the small hours of the morning and made the necessary arrangements. It's the third time this year that the residences have provided emergency help for displaced students, although the first two incidents didn't involve fires, says university housing officer Chris Read. The fire is still under investigation this morning, according to local media. No one was injured. It all happened on the coldest night we've experienced in some while. The UW weather station's web site is headlined "Warm stretch ends", and records that the air temperature around 12:30 this morning, when the fire broke out, was minus-15 Celsius.

Much is happening on campus this weekend, headlined by the three-day Ontario Engineering Competition, with teams from universities across the province competing in design, debate and other kinds of achievement. A facet of the OEC is a graduate study and career fair that will run from 10:00 to 4:00 Saturday in the great hall of the Davis Centre (all Waterloo students are welcome). Also happening within the next 72 hours: WPIRG's "social justice and environmental activism school", under the title “inSPIre!”; a Saturday afternoon coffee house at Conrad Grebel University College, in support of Haiti earthquake relief; Warrior Weekend activities Friday and Saturday nights in the Student Life Centre (tonight, snowman building provides the chill, and salsa dance lessons the heat); and Fantastic Alumni, Faculty and Staff Day promotions as part of Saturday afternoon's Warrior basketball double-header. Oh, and need I add that the Federation of Students election campaign is in full swing; the candidates' "media forum" starts at 12:30 today in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. Links, and a few more details, about all these events can be found in the "When and where" column at right — along with the lowdown on many other events at Waterloo.

The editors of the UW-published New Quarterly will host a get-together at an Ottawa pub tomorrow and present the $1,000 “Edna Award” to Ottawa writer Elizabeth Hay. She’s being honoured for “Last Poems,” her memoir of a hot summer suffered in a cramped apartment in New York City when she was pregnant with her second child and struggling to keep alive her aspirations as a writer.  The award is given annually for the best non-fiction published in TNQ in the previous year, and is named for writer and philanthropist Edna Staebler. Shortly before her death in 2006 at the age of 100, she made a $25,000 gift to the magazine which now sustains the prize. New Quarterly editor Kim Jernigan says the magazine channeled Staebler’s spirit when they established the award: “The winner doesn’t know he or she is in contention until the cheque arrives in the mail with the same short note attached—alas, no longer in Edna’s own hand.” Hay will be recognized at a launch of the magazine’s winter issue at the Manx Pub on Elgin Street tomorrow at 5 p.m.

A team of four graduate students in the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology program report that they’ve reached the peer-voting stage in the RBC Innovation Challenge, and now need supporters’ online votes to make it to the Top 5 out of more than 100 teams. [Team members]Gabriel Tomescu, Jarazet Altamirano, Farhad Mibody, and Shawn Watt (right) have taken up this year’s challenge: "Suggest innovative methods or tactics to transform the workplace to match the needs of an evolving and increasingly diverse workforce." They’re offering a four-part solution: boot camp recruitment (“a paid week of rigorous case-based training and two-way assessment”); integration involving a personal presentation by each newcomer to his or her work team, plus a shadowing program; “the 2-dimensional job role” that gives employees time for projects in a field of their own choosing, as well as their basic responsibilities; and an “across-generational mentorship program”. Online voting is open until February 7, and the quartet are urging daily clicks in support of “Team 4”.

Bob Hicks of the information systems and technology department sends word that “IST has subscribed to, a web-based software training company. The advantages of web-based training is it’s just-in-time training (don’t have to wait for an IST course to learn software), provides training in more topics than offered by IST, and the training is available 24/7. There are over 700 courses. Try a free course to see how the courses are presented. If you would like to use an account for two weeks, please call IST at ext. 33456, or send in a request (email request@ This training is available to all Waterloo faculty, staff and students.”

The University of Toronto has announced that Marie Sanderson, a long-time faculty member in UW’s geography department, will receive an honorary degree later this year, to go with the one Waterloo gave her in 1998. • Today is the closing day for an exhibition of work by four printmakers associated with the department of fine arts, which has been running for the past week in the Front Gallery, East Campus Hall. • Lunch today in Mudie’s cafeteria in Village I includes the conventional (a beef melt) and the less conventional: “Island Treasure Sweet Potato and Bean Ragout”.

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What some profs are doing on sabbatical

Here’s another list of Waterloo faculty members who are on sabbatical this term, along with their plans for using the time, as reported to the university’s board of governors. All these sabbaticals began January 1 and all are six months long.

Brent Doberstein, department of geography: “My sabbatical will be used to complete field research on post-disaster reconstruction in Bukit Lawang, Northern Sumatra, and to publish the results of this and several past field research projects. I will also submit two funding applications for international collaborative research on environmental protection and hazard mitigation, and plan to attend the 2010 International Disaster and Risk Conference in Davos, Switzerland.”

Ori Friedman, psychology: “I intend to write up unpublished data, to write a theoretical paper on ownership of property, and to prepare an NSERC application. I will continue to maintain my research program at Waterloo through regular contact with graduate students, undergraduate thesis students, and research assistants. Assuming I am stationed at another institute for the sabbatical, I hope to start new collaborations.”

David Jao, combinatorics and optimization: “The purpose of this sabbatical is to focus on research in arithmetic algebraic geometry and its applications to the areas of elliptic and hyperelliptic curve cryptography. I will be visiting the University of California, Davis, and collaborating with Brian Ossermann.”

Victoria Lamont, English language and literature: “To complete book Westerns: A Women’s History.”

Jee Hae Lim, accounting and finance: “The purpose for this leave of absence is to complete my unfinished research projects and start a couple of new projects. Currently, I have seven research papers for further revisions and resubmissions to top-tier journals. In addition, I have five research projects that are in progress and several research ideas to further explore.”

Ravi Mazumdar, electrical and computer engineering: “I plan on utilizing my sabbatical to complete a text on stochastic processes as well as visiting MIT in the US as well as the École Normale Supérieure and INRIA, Paris, for four months in total and other shorter visits. I will meet with my research students in Waterloo regularly.”

John Medley, mechanical and mechatronics engineering: “My sabbatical involves spending about 70% of my time here at the University of Waterloo and 30% of my time at Montreal General Hospital/ McGill University. I will establish two new research areas: tissue engineering of articular cartilage and total level anthroplasty for the spine. In addition, I will do some administrative work on the MEng program and develop research programs with McGill University collaborators.”

James Taylor, physics and astronomy: “I propose to visit the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, Berkeley, and Birmingham University in the UK to work on collaborative projects with members of the COSMOS collaboration and the LoCuSS collaboration. I will also work on local projects with collaborators at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Physics in Toronto and the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo.”


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Link of the day

Tu b'Shvat

When and where

Federation of Students annual elections campaign period, through February 8. Polls open February 9 at 10 a.m., close February 11 at 8 p.m.

Last day to register and pay fees for winter term, January 29.

Ontario Engineering Competition hosted by UW this year, including displays, debates, career and graduate studies fair, keynote address by Larry Smith (economics), January 29-31. Details.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group presents “inSPIre! Creative Activism” Friday-Sunday, workshops, keynote talk by Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men (Friday 8 p.m., Theatre of the Arts), performance by Faith Nolan and others (Saturday 8 p.m., Huether Hotel), conference pass $8. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Jeff Anders, The Mark, “Knowledge Explosion and the End of Traditional Media” 1:30, Math and Computer room 4061.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Teaching Dossiers” 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Philosophy colloquium: Angela Mendelovici, Princeton University, “A Moderate Position on the Phenomenology of Thought” 3:30, Hagey Hall room 373.

‘Orientation 2.0’ at Federation Hall, music by Waterboys, motivational speaker Andy Thibodeau, booths for student services, dance party, doors open 6 p.m., free.

Warrior sports this weekend: Volleyball vs. Laurier Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m., PAC); at McMaster Saturday. • Men’s hockey vs. Brock, 7:30 Friday, Icefield; at Laurier, 7:30 Saturday (Waterloo Memorial Rec Complex). • Basketball (men and women) at McMaster Saturday. • Track and field at McGill, Friday-Saturday. • Women’s hockey at Brock Friday, at Guelph Saturday.

Big Rude Jake concert 8 p.m., great hall, Conrad Grebel University College, $10 at door (students $5).

Warrior Weekend activities in Student Life Centre, Friday and Saturday evenings from 9 p.m., including food, crafts, movies (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” Friday 11:00, “Zombieland” and “Time Traveller’s Wife” Saturday 9:00). Details.

Modern Languages building electrical power shut down Saturday 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

‘Training for the Skill and Soul of Nonviolence’ workshop, sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee of Ontario, Saturday 9:00 to 12:30, Conrad Grebel UC great hall, registration e-mail matthewbd@

‘Adopted to Adopting: Reflections on International/ Transracial Adoption and Its Future’ sponsored by Social Innovation Generation, featuring UW adoptees and adoptive parents and others, Saturday 10:00 to 2:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 116. Details.

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty and Staff Day Saturday, basketball games in Physical Activities Complex (women’s game 2:00, men 4:00); registration online.

Application deadline for pharmacy program, entrance in January 2011, is January 31, 2010. Details.

‘Facebook, Twitter and Social Networking’ presentation by Rudy Peariso, Centre for Extended Learning, Monday 12:00, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

‘Making Job Fair Work for You’ workshop in preparation for Wednesday’s fair, 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Joint health and safety committee Monday 1:30 p.m., Commissary room 112D.

Senate executive committee Monday 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Cultural Encounters, Encountering Cultures series: David John, Germanic and Slavic studies, “The Legend of Faust as a Mirror of European Culture” Monday 4:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

UW board of governors Tuesday 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Richard Holmes, department of philosophy, retirement reception Tuesday 4:00 to 6:00, Environment I atrium.

Job Fair sponsored by UW and other post-secondary institutions, Wednesday 10:00 to 3:30, RIM Park, Waterloo. Details.

‘Masks on Meds’ Commedia dell’Arte plays presented by UW department of drama, February 3-6, 8 p.m., Studio 180, Hagey Hall of the Humanities, tickets $12 (students $10). Details.

FASS 2010 (“Final Fassity MMV”) performances Thursday 8:00; Friday, February 5, 7:00 and 10:00; Saturday 8:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Waterloo Regional Police are looking to identify this man, who reportedly sexually assaulted a woman on a Greyhound bus travelling to Waterloo on January 18, then got off the bus at the UW main campus. Information: 519-650-8500 ext. 8639.

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