Tuesday, November 30, 2010

  • Polanyi Prize for postdoc physicist
  • Federal development funds are available
  • VeloCity projects on show; other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Speaker and audience]

'People do business with those they know, like and trust,' Scott Stratten told a capacity audience at the Stratford campus last Wednesday night. The author of UnMarketing was speaking as part of Stratford's series of programs related to business and digital media.

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Polanyi Prize for postdoc physicist

Anne Broadbent, a post-doctoral fellow at Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing, is one of five winners of Ontario’s 2010 Polanyi Prizes, being honoured today at a ceremony in Toronto.

The province gives the Polanyi Prizes each year to recognize “outstanding contributions” in the areas of chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, physics and economics — the same fields in which the Nobel Prizes are awarded. The Polanyi program was established in 1987 to honour the achievements of John Charles Polanyi, the 1986 recipient of the Nobel in chemistry. The honours go to “outstanding young researchers in the early stages of their careers at Ontario universities”.

[Broadbent at lectern]Broadbent’s award is in the physics category. The other Polanyi winners for 2010 are Todd Hoare (McMaster University) in chemistry, Benjamin Lester (Western Ontario) in economics, Anna Lewis (Ottawa) in literature, and Alex Wong (also Ottawa) in physiology/medicine. The Ontario Council on Graduate Studies, an affiliate of the Council of Ontario Universities, establishes a panel on behalf of the government to solicit nominations and select the award winners.

Broadbent is a Waterloo BMath graduate who then did her master’s and doctoral work at the Université de Montréal, returning to Waterloo to tackle complex mathematical questions as part of the process by which IQC is imagining and building the world’s first quantum computers.

She’s pictured (left) speaking at a “Ladies’ Night Out” event held recently in Listowel, northwest of Waterloo, near the 10-acre farm where she lives with her husband and baby son.

The Polanyi Prize citation says Broadbent “is exploring how to optimize the processing of quantum information. Her research on quantum communication protocols will help scientists gain new insights that may lead to the development of computers capable of performing complex computations beyond the scope of classical computers.”

On her own web site, Broadbent puts it a little differently: “I am interested in quantum nonlocality, complexity and cryptography; my current investigations involve quantum multi-party cryptographic protocols that are information-theoretically secure.… Together with Joseph Fitzsimons and Elham Kashefi, I have recently posted a paper that establishes that, in the context of multi-prover interactive proofs where the provers share an unlimited amount of entanglement, a classical verifier has the same power as a quantum verifier, i.e. QMIP = MIP*.”

For an interview that appeared in the Waterloo Region Record in April, Broadbent described her work as “weird and very counterintuitive… like putting together a puzzle, but you don’t know what the final outcome will look like. These are the pieces, what can I build with them?”

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Federal development funds are available

The university’s research office now has $750,000 in federal funding to spend on “University-based projects” that will help small businesses with applied research, engineering design, technology development, product testing, and certification. The money comes from a new Applied Research and Commercialization Initiative launched as part of the government’s Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, or FedDev — all under the umbrella of “Canada’s Action Plan”.

[Action Plan logo]Grants of similar amounts to Conestoga College and the University of Guelph were also announced last month as the first ones under the new program, and a total of $15 million in grants is planned.

“We’ve been working on getting the program information onto the office of research website,” says Gary Brock, director of strategic initiatives for the commercialization office in Needles Hall. The details are now there: “Applications are now being sought from University of Waterloo faculty and Southern Ontario SMEs interested in accessing this funding to bring innovative products and processes to market, improving Ontario's competitiveness within three vital sectors — Information Technology, Energy & Environment, and Manufacturing.”

Says Gary Goodyear, federal minister of state for FedDev: “This new program will create more jobs and sustain economic growth by helping small businesses get new ideas into the marketplace faster. Our government is committed to supporting families, businesses and communities of southern Ontario."

A government news release says the funding “is a direct result of feedback from business leaders, academics and community leaders from across southern Ontario, who suggested FedDev Ontario take a leadership role in addressing the gap between research and commercialization.” FedDev is a whole is “designed to support businesses and other organizations through partnerships and investments in skills and training; innovation; research and development; and increased productivity.”

The research office web site says applications are welcome now. “Eligible pre-commercialization activities include product and process applied research: modelling, simulation, processing, and characterization; engineering design: modelling, simulation, and design; technology development: modelling, simulation, design, fabrication, and testing; proof of concept: prototyping and testing; piloting and demonstration: fabrication and scale up; problem solving: modelling, simulation, and data analysis; product testing: quantitative analysis and material characterization, on activities such as applied research, engineering design, technology development, product testing, and certification.

“Approved projects will be eligible to receive up to $50,000 of funding through FedDev Ontario when matched with a minimum SME contribution of $25,000 cash and/or in-kind.”

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VeloCity projects on show; other notes

Fifteen projects developed by students at the VeloCity “incubator” residence and the Hub accelerator in Kitchener will be shown off in the Student Life Centre today, with a cash prize on the line based on votes by the audience. Among the innovations are Synekism, a new 3D city simulation video game focused on dynamically generated content; ClassMate, a website designed to help students in managing course-related information; InWave, a wireless health detector that communicates through a smartphone when its user is having a health-related emergency; and NoteWagon, an online marketplace for students to buy and sell university notes and revision materials. Students “have put four months of work into these projects,” says Laura McQuinn, manager of VeloCity. “We've teamed up with Desire2Learn, who are handing over a cash prize to the winner of the pitch competition. This term's best innovation will be decided by audience vote; throughout the course of the event, students will be able to text in the letter of their favourite project to a specific text message number which they will be able to send through cell phones or iPads.” “Boothing” runs from 11:00 to 1:25, followed by an hour of three-minute pitches by the project teams.

Risks, hazards, emergencies and catastrophes — that’s the agenda for a conference to be held Wednesday through Friday, largely organized by a trio of graduate students from the earth and environmental sciences department and the school of computer science. The First Waterloo Conference on Characteristics, Risk and Management (ChaRisMa) of Natural Hazards will take place in and around the Humanities Theatre. Myung G. Kim, a grad student in the earth sciences department’s Atmosphere-land Interactions Research Group, says the conference will address “methods of risk assessment, management and engineering solutions for natural hazards (Environmental, Geophysical, Geological, Health-related, Climate-change-related and more). It is a great opportunity to meet experts of this field in the university and the neighbourhood, new collaboration possibilities and exchange ideas.” The Graduate Studies Endowment Fund as well as several academic units at Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University are backing the event. Keynote speakers are Gordon Woo of Risk Management Solutions, author of The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes, and Richard Wilson of Harvard University, who will talk about the distinction between natural and human disasters: “We begin to foresee natural disasters. We can look for precursors. We can take precautions. We can be ready for emergency action. There is no need to blame God for human carelessness.”

The provincial ministry of research and innovation has announced that Waterloo Region’s Communitech has been selected to join the new Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE), which consists of 14 regional innovation centres across Ontario. “These centres,” says a news release, “help local entrepreneurs bring new and innovative ideas to the marketplace, such as new ways to treat disease, cleaner ways to produce power and next-generation digital entertainment. The centres also give entrepreneurs access to a broad range of experts, including researchers, academics, businesses, government and investors, who can help sell an idea and grow a business worldwide.” Iain Klugman, president of Communitech, boasted that his organization “has built a highly entrepreneurial community with over 700 tech firms — big and small — capturing international attention. ONE allows us to quickly and easily share our expertise with Regional Innovation Centres across the province; and in turn, Communitech benefits from the proven success and knowledge of other top-notch Ontario organizations.”

A memo sent across campus this week comes from the human resources department and is addressed to all faculty and staff members in the UW pension plan, but particularly those who have maxed out their RRSPs and are looking for a way to put aside more money towards retirement. It makes the annual suggestion that money can be invested in the Flexible Pension Plan, but only with caution — the more so since the end of compulsory retirement at age 65. "Caution is advised to those members intending to work past age 65 who have participated in the past or plan to participate now in the Flex Plan," it says. "There is a greater risk of losing your flex contributions." That's because (the rules are complicated) the pension generated by those extra contributions can be used only in certain ways, and one of the chief of them is improving the level of pension after early retirement. There are details on the HR web site.

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics — not part of the university, but physically and academically close — was basking in a major funding announcement yesterday. BMO Financial Group said it would give $4 million to establish the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair, the first of what Perimeter says will be “five such positions to be named after scientists whose insights have defined modern physics:  Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein and Paul Dirac”. The gift is the biggest corporate donation ever received by Perimeter, and the biggest gift from BMO to support science in Canada. The $4 million will be matched by $4 million in private funds from PI’s existing endowment for a total of $8 million, and “it is anticipated this private core funding will attract additional funding partners,” a news release said. “The Chair will be identified through a highly competitive and rigorous international search and only scientists of the very highest international calibre will be considered.” Bill Downe, president of BMO Financial, said that “We couldn’t be more proud of this association and hope that our unique investment in the BMO Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics will enhance innovation in Canada and encourage other private sector donors to fund Chairs at PI.”


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[W]Warrior sports

Weekly report, November 29

Link of the day

St. Andrew

When and where

Co-op job rankings for architecture students close today.

Canadian Association of University Research Administrators meets at Waterloo November 29-30. Details.

Hagey student colloquium: John Mighton, “The Open Mind” 10 a.m.,  Doug Wright Engineering room 3518.

PDEng presents “Beyond the Ring: Bridging the Gap Between University and the Workforce” 11:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Christmas lunch buffet at University Club November 29 through December 22, 11:30 to 2:00, reservations ext. 33801.

‘Student Voices: Making Connections Between Learning Inside the Classroom and Learning Outside the Classroom’ panel sponsored by Teaching Excellence Council and Centre for the Advancement of Cooperative Education, 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 329.

Student recitals by Waterloo music students Monday-Thursday 12:30, Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Organizational and Human Development workshop: “Email Strategies” 1:00. Details.

‘Technology to Support Graduate Supervision’ workshop organized by Learning Community on Graduate Teaching and Learning, 1:30, Humanities room 336. Details.

Techno Tuesday teaching workshop: “Data Visualization Tools” 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

WatRISQ presents Ji-Eun Choi, actuarial consultant, Milliman, “Post-Crisis Variable Annuity Market and Its Future” 4:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Imaginus poster sale Wednesday-Thursday 10:00 to 8:00, Student Life Centre.

Centre for Teaching Excellence and department of physics present Eric Mazur, Harvard University, “Memorization or Understanding: Are We Teaching the Right Thing?” Wednesday 11:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 105.

Christmas lunch at Brubakers cafeteria, Student Life Centre, Wednesday 11:00 to 2:00.

PDEng presentation: “Training with Purpose: Developing Our Human Resources  Toward Program Success” Wednesday 12:30, Davis Centre room 1568.

Biomedical discussion group: Joseph Tauskela, National Research Council, “A Framework for Pursuing Neuroprotection in Cerebral Ischemia” Wednesday 2:30, CEIT room 3142.

International exchange programs (Ontario/Rhône-Alpes) information session Wednesday 3:00, Needles Hall room 1116.

Christmas dinner at REVelation cafeteria, Ron Eydt Village, Wednesday 4:30 to 8:00.

Perimeter Institute lecture: Eric Mazur, Harvard University, “Stopping Time” Wednesday 7:00, Waterloo Collegiate Institute. Details.

Ideas Start workshop: Andy Houston, “Collaborating with Audiences” Thursday 9:00 to 12:00, Stratford campus, 6 Wellington Street.

Orchestra @ UWaterloo end-of-term concert, “Three Edwards”, work by Grieg, Elgar, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Boyd McDonald, piano and cello soloist Edward Cho, Thursday 8 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Engineering Jazz Band charity performance Saturday 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Last day of lectures for fall term Monday, December 6. Exams run December 9-22 (online class exams, December 10-11).

WatITis conference for information technology staff, December 7, Rod Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall. Details.

Faculty association fall general meeting December 7, 2:00, Math and Computer room 4059.

R&T Park winter market with booths offering holiday gifts, December 9 and 10, 4:00 to 8:00, TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

‘Getting Things Done’ course offered by organizational and human development, Friday, December 17, 8:30 a.m. Details.

Christmas and New Year’s holiday: last day of work Thursday, December 23; UW closed December 24 through January 3; first day of work in 2011 is Tuesday, January 4.

PhD oral defences

Psychology. Marc Hurwitz, “Dynamic Judgments of Spatial Extent: Behavioural, Neural, and Computational Studies.” Supervisors, James Danckert and Chris Eliasmith. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Tuesday, December 7, 10:00 a.m., PAS building room 3026.

Psychology. Michael Coons, “The Influence of Diabetes-Related Worry and Worry-Driven Behaviour on the Self-Management of Type I Diabetes Mellitus.” Supervisor, Peter A. Hall. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence  Tuesday, December 7, 1:30 p.m., PAS building room 3026.

Applied mathematics. Jun Liu, “Qualitative Studies on Nonlinear Hybrid Systems.” Supervisors, Xinzhi Liu and Wei-Chau Xie. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Tuesday, December 7, 2:00 p.m., Mathematics and Computer room 5158.

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