Friday, June 4, 2010

  • Postdocs in the park: raising group's profile
  • Distinct drops in the daily deluge
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Red shirts, in front of the game board]

Still whipping up Keystone spirit, that's Bob Norman, former dean of applied health sciences, now the retirees' co-chair of the Keystone Campaign, at the microphone during yesterday's "picnic" event. The noontime party was moved inside the Student Life Centre because of the threat of rain. The crowds ate with gusto and applauded as teams answered (or didn't answer) Waterloo trivia questions as part of an all-new quiz game. And speakers announced that total donations to the campaign, since it was introduced a decade ago, are now past $10 million. (Photo by Emily Huxley.)

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Postdocs in the park: raising group's profile

“We don’t know whether we’re faculty, we don’t know whether we’re students. We feel kind of left out!”

That was the consensus, says the associate provost (graduate studies), when her office did a survey of a little-known group at Waterloo: post-doctoral fellows. The survey also found that there were considerably more PDFs on campus than anybody realized, she adds.

The number is constantly varying, says associate provost Sue Horton, because postdocs can arrive or leave at any time of the year. When this month’s list was generated, she says, it included 240 names, including about 100 in engineering and 100 in science.

“Postdocs are not students,” Horton says firmly, although responsibility for them has always belonged to the graduate studies office. “UW had always recognized them as a special type of employee,” she adds — for example, a postdoc who’s at Waterloo for a year or more is entitled to employee health benefits. And that’s true even if the individual postdoc is being paid by an agency outside the university, such as one of the national granting councils.

The majority, though, are paid by the university from a research grant or other funding. Most fellowships are awarded for a year, although they’re often renewable and some postdocs stay for as long as five years.

Typically a postdoc — who, as the name suggests, has recently completed a doctoral degree — comes to the university to work with a particular senior researcher. As a result, their strong connection is with a local research group, and often nobody has taken much responsibility for orienting them to the whole university and the available services, from parking to libraries.

Another complication is that some postdocs teach courses and may be appointed as adjunct faculty members, so that their status as postdocs is less visible. Horton gives high praise to the human resources department for its work in identifying who the postdocs really are.

She emphasizes the importance of the Non-Faculty Appointment Form, a document that departments or faculties should submit when a postdoc is named, and the responsibility of departments to tell their new postdocs about services that are available to them at Waterloo.

“It’s an extremely international group,” says the associate provost, noting that while 30 per cent of graduate students come from outside Canada, for postdocs the figure is 50 per cent. As a result, when the survey was done, a top item on the list of services postdocs wanted was help with Canadian taxes. Other answers ranged from athletics to assistance with e-mail.

But two areas stood out: networking, and career assistance as they prepare to move from the postdoctoral years to either faculty positions or jobs in the non-academic world. So the grad studies office has organized two career workshops already, and more seminars are planned. Connections are also being made with other units on campus, from the career services office to the faculty recruitment coordinator.

Next on the schedule, which Horton hopes will eventually include almost monthly events, is a social get-together some time in the next few weeks. The great majority of postdocs have spouses or partners, and 40 per cent have children, the survey found, so plans are for an informal event in Waterloo Park, date to be announced.

The grad studies office has also created a listserv to send announcements to postdocs, and is working on improvements to what had been a rudimentary web site, including a blog where individual postdocs can share messages.

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[Car sending up high spray]Distinct drops in the daily deluge

It didn't actually rain until just after 1:30 yesterday — when the Keystone Campaign event officially ended — but the dark clouds were there, and then the heavens opened. A few minutes later, there was water across the ring road just outside Needles Hall, as seen at right; thanks to Erin Smith of the registrar's office for the photo. The morning after? Sunshine.

Tomorrow in the Architecture building in Cambridge, the Cambridge Galleries will hold a one-day printmaking fair and sale, featuring hands-on demonstrations and an exhibition of original works by Ontario artists. They’ll will display original fine art prints (intaglio, relief, planographic) framed and unframed, for sale “at all price points”, an announcement says. “Visitors are invited to tour the gallery and printmaking studio and participate in free hands-on printmaking demonstrations throughout the day facilitated by members of the Riverside Print Group.” The Cambridge Galleries printmaking studio opened in 2005 as part of the Riverside Gallery on the first floor of the Architecture building, on the banks of the Grand River in downtown Cambridge. Tomorrow’s event coincides with the Cambridge Arts Festival, “for great music, art and more”, a few minutes’ walk to the north, and Riverfest at the nearby Riverbluffs Park. The print fair runs from 10:00 to 4:00 tomorrow; admission is free.

The math faculty’s Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing will host the week-long Lloyd Auckland Invitational Mathematics Seminar starting on Sunday. “This is a week of mathematical discovery and problem solving,” says Judith Koeller of CEMC. “Attending will be high school students from across Canada whose performance was excellent on the Cayley, Fermat, Euclid, Galois and Hypatia contests. There will also be representation from the Canadian Mathematics Olympiad team.” Guest lecturers include two Waterloo faculty members, Michele Mosca and Steve Brown. But the event won’t be all work; social activities include a trip to Bingeman Park, banquets and karaoke night. Formerly called the Canadian Mathematics Competition Seminar, this event has been held annually for over 45 years. The seminar has been re-named, Koeller explains, in honour of Lloyd Auckland, a retired math teacher. Auckland has volunteered for the Canadian Mathematics Competition since 1970, and taught one of the first mathematics classes ever held at the University of Waterloo. “It is always exciting to see the energy of the young people attending this seminar,” says Koeller. “They are keen, motivated and excited. Many go on to attend University of Waterloo.”

The DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, will perform on Sunday night at Centre in the Square, as part of the program when this year's Kitchener-Waterloo Arts Awards are presented. • The school of planning held the spring gathering of its advisory Pragma Council last week, with discussions held under the title "Madly Off in All Directions: Implementing the Provincial Growth Plan". • User testing in connection with the web redesign project has resumed, and volunteers from staff, faculty, graduate students and alumni are particularly wanted at present.

[Payne]A number of Waterloo staff members officially retired on June 1. Among them: Doug Payne (left), manager of network services in information systems and technology, who came to the university in 1974; Adelio Pereira, custodian in plant operations, a staff member since 2004; Pauline Bevers, administrator in the optometry school's Centre for Sight Enhancement, who had worked at the university since 1986; Ruth Anne Walters, technician in earth and environmental sciences, whose UW career began in 1987.

The staff association is inviting nominations (deadline June 15) for this term’s three student bursaries, each valued at $500. “One of the awards is for a graduate student, and the other two are for undergraduate students,” an announcement notes. “One of the undergraduate awards is proudly sponsored and funded by the Education Credit Union. Eligibility for these awards requires that the recipient be a full or part-time student in a degree program at UW, and must be a member of the Staff Association, or be the spouse, child, grandchild or dependent of a Staff Association member.” Details of the undergraduate and graduate awards is online.

Don’t for a minute think that high-tech companies are interested only in technical fields, says Fraser Easton, chair of the department of English, who provides this announcement: “The Department of English Language and Literature is delighted to announce the Research In Motion Graduate Scholarships in English Language and Literature.  This generous commitment of $50,000 per year for graduate scholarships strengthens and broadens an important relationship between Research In Motion and the Department of English. The scholarships will be awarded to students of outstanding potential and achievement enrolling in the Department's unique PhD program in literary studies and rhetoric or in one of its three MA programs (Literary Studies, Rhetoric and Communication Design, and the program in Experimental Digital Media now being reviewed by OCGS). This much appreciated donation will make it possible for the Department to recruit the very best graduate students and to ensure that deserving students get the support they need to become valued scholars and skilled, imaginative contributors to our society."

Stephen Drew of UW's department of athletics and recreational services was the top Canadian finisher in the men's division of the National Capital Marathon on Sunday. • Offensive lineman Michael Warner of the football Warriors has signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and is on the field at rookie camp this week. • There are spaces available in the August 3-13 and August 16-29 sessions of Arts Computer Experience, one of the university's two major children's summer day camp programs.

And . . . in case you believed everything you read in the May 31 Daily Bulletin, don't. The article about the details of this month's 100th Convocation ceremonies said that the afternoon session for arts (on Thursday, June 17) would start at 2 p.m. In fact — and it's been correct on some other occasions — all afternoon Convocation sessions will begin at 2:30.


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Link of the day

Tiananmen Square

When and where

Annual Child Care Festival organized by four day care centres, guest performer Erick Traplin, 9:45 to 10:30 a.m., Village green.

Club That Really Likes Anime weekend of shows, Friday from 4:30, Saturday from 2:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 116. Details.

Let’s Dance recital Saturday-Sunday 1:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Class enrolment for fall term undergraduate courses, June 7-12; see appointment times in Quest.

Wilfrid Laurier University convocation June 7-11 (two ceremonies each day in WLU athletic complex); June 23 (two ceremonies in Brantford. Details. Honorary degrees to singer Buffy Sainte-Marie, author Wayson Choy and others (details).

Career workshop for graduate students: “Careers Beyond Academia” Monday 12 noon, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

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

Senate undergraduate council Tuesday 12:00 noon, Needles Hall room 3004.

Conrad Grebel University College fund-raising banquet for Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training, speaker Gareth Brandt, Columbia Bible College, “Leadership for the Next Generation: Is the Church Ready?” Tuesday 6:30 p.m. at Grebel, tickets $50, phone ext. 24237.

Retirees Association bus tour, “Castle  Gardens and Wings” (Casa Loma and Canadian Air and Space Museum) Wednesday, details 519-885-6719.

Health and wellness fair for people with developmental disabilities and their families, featuring School of Pharmacy students and other groups, Wednesday 5:30 to 8:30, Creekside Church, 660 Conservation Drive.

Ring road closed between PAS building and Needles Hall, because of Environment 3 construction work, June 10 to July 12.

Net Change Week webcast, “The Future” and “Cybersecurity” panels, Thursday 12:00 to 4:00, Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

Retirees Association annual general meeting Thursday 3:30, Sunshine Centre, Luther Village, information 519-888-0334.

Alumni networking event at CBC headquarters, Toronto, guest Denise Donlon of CBC radio, June 14, 6:00. Details.

‘Yoga on the Green’ led by Sandra Gibson, health services, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, June 15, 12:00, outside Graduate House.

Centre for Extended Learning (formerly distance and continuing education) open house and name change celebration, June 15, 3:30 to 5:30, 335 Gage Avenue, Kitchener, RSVP jmoser@

Last day for 50 per cent tuition refund for spring term courses, June 18; “drop, penalty 1” period ends June 25.

Mahler Conference 2010: “A Symphony Must Be Like the World” June 19, 2:00 to 7:00, Conrad Grebel UC. Details.

25-Year Club annual reception June 22, 6:00, Physical Activities Complex, by invitation, information ext. 32078.

Female faculty networking opportunity sponsored by faculty association Status of Women and Equity Committee, June 24, 4:00 to 6:00, Graduate House upstairs lounge, information ext. 33468.

Applied Health Informatics Bootcamp sponsored by Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research, June 27-29. Details.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “19 Technologies in 89 Minutes” June 29, 2:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Waterloo tweets

• "A goose just threw a rock off the Needles Hall roof — landed only a metre away from me!"

• "Chinese intruders sure want into our library system. Is stealing access to journal articles really that valuable?"

• "Graduate student residence is still available for fall 2010! Apply at"

• "Pakistani Students' Association is having their Basant Festival! Kite's! BBQ! The welcoming of Spring! @ the Green between SLC, MC, and PAC!"

• "I was sitting in French class reciting verbs when all of a sudden I noticed that the ceiling was falling down. Rain in RCH."

• "Less than 95 days left until Orientation! Who is excited?"

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin