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Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • Time to nominate 'extraordinary' alumni
  • What more profs are doing with sabbaticals
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Cameraman on this side of the glass]

More publicity for the slapshot robot developed by systems design engineering professor John McPhee and a student team: a camera crew from CTV's "Canada AM" was on campus this week to film a segment about the device, which is expected to play a role in testing future hockey equipment. Defenceman Ryan Molle of the Warriors joined in the demonstration. The television segment is scheduled to air today.

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Time to nominate 'extraordinary' alumni

The monthly e-newsletter for Waterloo alumni will be going out today, carrying an invitation for nominations of “extraordinary” graduates. “It’s time to recognize Waterloo alumni who are working to make the world a better place,” says an article prepared for April’s online roundup. “Each year, the faculties and university colleges choose individuals to receive the highest honour they can bestow — the Alumni Achievement Award. What kind of people earn these prestigious awards? People who have made significant contributions to their disciplines, communities and the university.” It mentions a few of the previous winners: “science alumnus Dr. Stephen Scherer (BSc ‘87, Biology) whose research on the human genome may allow for the early detection and treatment of conditions such as autism; AHS alumnus Mano Watsa (BA ’99, Recreation and Leisure), whose basketball camps teach young athletes to excel not only on the court, but also in life; Arts alumna Lenora Hume (BA ’74) who, as a senior executive with companies such as Disney and HIT Entertainment, has produced award-winning children’s programming, including The Care Bears, Babar, and the animated Beetlejuice series.” Details about the available awards and nomination procedure are online. “You’ll not only bring recognition to a deserving individual,” alumni are told, “you’ll help promote Waterloo as a university that produces exceptional graduates.”

Engineering dean Adel Sedra has sent a memo to all students in his faculty, following an incident that hit the news this week. Says the dean: “The Faculty of Engineering has temporarily suspended operation of the Formula SAE student team until June 1, 2011. The suspension results from misuse of the Student Design Centre space for an unauthorized photo shoot involving the Formula SAE vehicle. We recognize that there was no malicious intent.” A female member of the SAE team posed in a bikini for a photo meant to be entered in a calendar competition benefiting the Canadian Cancer Society. In an interview with the Record newspaper this morning, Sedra says the photo incident “can be thought of as denigrating to women” and “a setback” to the work the university has done to make engineering a hospitable place for women as well as men. The faculty advisor to the SAE team, mechanical and mechatronics professor Steve Lambert, says in a letter posted on the team site that the photo project “gave insufficient consideration to the consequences of using University property and linking this action so closely with the team.… I want to reiterate how very proud I am of the team and their response to this very difficult situation.” The suspension means Waterloo can’t enter this year’s Formula SAE competition, to be held at the Michigan International Speedway next month.

When Waterloo faculty members get their annual performance evaluations, they're rated on scholarship, teaching and service, with numbers somewhere from 2.0 ("outstanding") and 0.0 ("unsatisfactory"). In between, for many years now, have been ratings of 1.75 ("excellent"), 1.5, 1.25, 1.0 ("satisfactory") and 0.5 ("needs significant improvement"). By agreement with the faculty association, the scale is being changed, and at last week's meeting, the university's board of governors approved adding possible ratings of 0.75 ("needs some improvement") and 0.25 ("needs major improvement"). The expanded scale was recommended in 2009 by a working group that reviewed the whole faculty appraisal process; other changes are also in the works as a result of its recommendations.

[Brushey]A memo from Mark Seasons, dean of the faculty of environment, announces that Robin Brushey (left) "has accepted the position as Events Manager for the Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment. A familiar face in Huntsville, Robin has extensive experience planning, coordinating and implementing events and community projects in her various roles in Huntsville and the surrounding area. Her client and relationship building skills, most recently as General Manager of the Downtown Huntsville Business Improvement Area, will be a tremendous asset in her role with the Centre. As Events Manager, Robin will work closely with the Town of Huntsville and the University of Waterloo to manage the day-to-day operations necessary for positive and successful occupancy at the Centre and to effectively represent the University at the Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment. This position reports to the Dean, Faculty of Environment. Robin takes up this position April 26."

[Review cover, in black and pink]Volume 1, number 1, of something called the Waterloo Mathematics Review was released a few days ago in both print and online editions. "We are pleased to present the inaugural issue," student editors-in-chief Edgar A. Bering IV, Eeshan Wagh and Frank Ban write. "The Review originated from a desire to inspire students by exposing them to front-line mathematics. For the inaugural issue we have selected articles from a wide range of mathematical areas reflecting the breadth of mathematical interest at the University of Waterloo. In this issue, you will find a discussion of diverse disciplines of mathematics from Algebraic Combinatorics to Quantum Theory.”

The retirees’ association is moving ahead, in a small way, with its announced plan to give some retired faculty and staff members a way of volunteering for the university. “An initial meeting with university staff involved in student life generated a list of potential placement opportunities,” the association’s president, Shirley Thomson, writes in the spring issue of its newsletter. “Before jumping on board, however, we wanted to be sure that students would indeed be receptive.” The conclusion after some consultations: start with a pilot project. “We have decided,” Thomson reports, “to focus in the first instance on cooking shows, because of the students’ enthusiasm.” Lee Elkas, director of food services, Heather Westmorland, director of student life, and Katie Eley, coordinator of the student resource office, are now helping to work out the details.

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What more profs are doing with sabbaticals

Here’s a further list of Waterloo faculty members who are currently on sabbatical leave. The plans quoted are taken from documents submitted to the university’s board of governors, which has to approve all sabbaticals. All these leaves are for six months that began January 1, 2011.

Kenneth Davidson, pure mathematics: “I plan to pursue my research program in operator algebras. I will remain based in Waterloo with a number of short trips to collaborate with various co-authors. I will continue to supervise my graduate students during this period.”

Myra Fernandes, psychology: “First, I will visit colleagues at the University of Hong Kong to give an Invited Colloquium talk, and to exchange ideas relating to current models of memory and cognitive decline associated with normal aging. During my visit to the Psychology Department there, I plan on collecting data in a short experiment, in which memory for Chinese characters is measured, as these data can be compared to those collected here at the University of Waterloo to establish the generalizability of results. Second, I will design and implement a neuroimaging study at Grand River Hospital in which I examine brain regions contributing to memory performance in normal aging senior citizens. Third, I will focus on writing manuscripts (3 to 4 of these) stemming from projects in my lab conducted over the past 2 years.”

Brian Forrest, pure mathematics: “I will use my sabbatical leave to continue my research on Banach algebras arising from locally compact groups. In particular, I intend to work on problems concerning the Fourier algebra with my postdoctoral fellow Michael Cheng. I will also organize a large international conference in Banach Algebras to be held at Waterloo in August 2011.”

Michael Fowler, chemical engineering: “The sabbatical leave period will be used to strengthen research collaborations with industrial partners, develop new research proposals, design and build a significant new electrochemical power source test bench in a new research area, and to move the current experimental research lab to the new building. A new research program will be developed with respect to zinc bromine flowing electrolyte batteries.”

Liping Fu, civil and environmental engineering: “During this requested sabbatical leave, I will focus on three main activities including organizing a technical conference, expanding my research field and applying for new research funding. Furthermore, I plan to strengthen professional relationships with some leading research institutes around the world.”

Alexander Brenning, geography and environmental management: “The early sabbatical is intended to prepare for the application for tenure and promotion in 2011 by conducting research on spatial modeling in mountain geomorphology on campus and abroad. A 3-month stay at Catholic University, Santiago, Chile is planned during this leave. This planned stay would be partly funded by funds available at UW, and partly with funds applied for at the Chilean university.”

Kareen Brown, accounting and finance: “The purpose for applying for the leave is to complete unfinished research projects and start a couple of new projects. Currently, I have six research papers under or close to submission to peer-reviewed journals. In addition, I wish to focus on further research on severance pay in North American firms, for which I received a SSHRC grant.”

David Toman, computer science: “Visit and research collaboration and premier international institutions (tentatively NII, NICTA, Oxford) on topics spanning Description Logics and their applications to Database Systems.”

Douglas Stinson, computer science: “Completion of fourth edition of Cryptography: Theory and Practice, a popular textbook on cryptography. Collaborative research projects on key management in sensor networks, secret sharing schemes, signature schemes, hash functions, and combinatorial designs.”

Greta Kroeker, history: “I plan to work on my new book project, the Era of Catholic Innovation. To that end, I will visit archives in Toronto, Berkeley, Basel (Switzerland) and Paris.”


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Link of the day


When and where

Library extended hours during exam season: to April 21, Davis Centre library open 24 hours (except Sunday 2 to 8 a.m.), Dana Porter Library open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

Winter term examinations April 8-21; unofficial grades begin to appear in Quest, April 22; grades become official, May 24.

Staff career seminar: “Trends in Leadership from UW Recruiters” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

Dance Canada competition Friday-Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

[Bust of Newton]‘Let Newton Be!’ play by Craig Baxter, life of Sir Isaac Newton, Friday 7:30, Theatre of the Arts, tickets $15.

E-waste green day dropoff for staff, faculty and the public, Saturday 8:00 to 4:00, East Campus Hall (off Phillip Street): computers, peripherals, TV sets, phones, microwave ovens, stereos, cellphones accepted for recycling.

International spouses visit to The Museum, Kitchener, for “Searching for Tom Thomson” exhibit, family welcome, Sunday 1:30, 10 King Street West. Details.

Birding hike on the Healthy Valley Trail, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee , Sunday 2:00.

University senate Monday 4:00, Needles Hall room 3001.

Teaching Excellence Academy for faculty members April 19-21 and 25. Details.

Discovery Days in Health Sciences for high school visitors, Tuesday 8:30 to 3:30, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Learning Management System open house with representatives of Desire2Learn (planned replacement for UW-ACE) as well as university officials, Tuesday 10:30, CEIT building room 1015.

Retirees Association spring luncheon, speaker Ken Coates, dean of arts, Tuesday, Luther Village great hall, cash bar 11:30, meal 12:00, tickets $25, phone 519-888-0334.

Education Credit Union lunch-and-learn session: “Purchasing a Vehicle” April 21, 12:10, Davis Centre room 1302, RSVP by April 15 to janinew@

‘Facts of Fishing Live’ starring Dave Mercer, April 21, 7:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Good Friday, April 22, university closed.

Graduate Student Research Conference April 25-28; keynote speaker, cartoonist Jorge Cham, Monday 3:00, Davis Centre. Details.

Opportunities and New Directions teaching and learning conference sponsored by Teaching Based Research Group, keynote addresses and workshop sessions, April 27-28, Hagey Hall. Details.

Federal election debate for local candidates, hosted by Federation of Students, April 27, 10:30, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

PhD oral defences

Geography and environmental management. Shaojun Ji, “Projected and Perceived Destination Images of Qingdao, China.” Supervisor, Geoffrey  Wall. On display in the faculty of environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Wednesday, April 27, 10:00 a.m., Environment 1 room 221.

Electrical and computer engineering. Bong Jun Choi, “Energy Efficient Protocols for Delay Tolerant Networks.” Supervisor, Sherman X. Shen. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, April 28, 10:00 a.m., CEIT building room 3142.

Religious studies. Margaretta Patrick, “Playing for Keeps: The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada in the Public Sphere, 1983-2006.” Supervisor, Scott Kline. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Friday, April 29, 9:30 a.m., Hagey Hall room 373.

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