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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

  • Top national prize for psych professor
  • High schoolers will face science questions
  • Phones and wifi fail, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Top national prize for psych professor

[Zanna]Psychology professor Mark Zanna (left) was yesterday awarded a $100,000 Killam Prize — one of five such prizes, called “Canada’s most distinguished annual awards”, given by the Canada Council for the Arts.

The prizes are given annually, one each for for career achievements in health sciences, engineering, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. Zanna’s prize is for the social sciences; the other 2011 winners came from the Universities of Montréal, Toronto, Manitoba and British Columbia. The announcement was made in a ceremony in Vancouver, at UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

It's the second year in a row that one of the Killams has come to Waterloo; computer scientist Ming Li was a 2010 winner.

A news release quotes Joseph L. Rotman, chair of the Canada Council: “One of the most prestigious research awards in the world, the Killam Prizes recognize the incredible accomplishments of these five internationally renowned experts. They bring creativity and dedication to their fields of study, introducing innovations that ultimately have an impact on the lives of Canadians.”

Zanna is already a University Professor at Waterloo, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a winner of Waterloo’s awards for “excellence in research” and “excellence in graduate supervision”. A former chair of the psychology department, he received his BA and PhD from Yale University, and came to this university in 1975 after five years at Princeton.

According to a Canada Council news release, he “is one of only a handful of academic social psychologists whose theories have been applied to major social issues such as racial prejudice. Described by his peers as one of the leading social psychologists in Canada, he is among the most cited social psychologists in the world.

“Professor Zanna’s research is enabling Canadians to better respond to some of the most challenging social issues of our time. Through his collaborative work on the International Tobacco Control Policy Survey, a population-based, national survey undertaken in 14 countries, he and his colleagues have made important contributions to the evaluation of national tobacco control policies. Continuing his health promotion efforts, Professor Zanna has evaluated Canada’s cigarette warning labels and has tested the subtle effects of movie stars’ smoking in films.

“Professor Zanna has given research into social attitudes momentum and direction. He and his colleagues are credited with establishing one of the world’s top social psychology programs at the University of Waterloo.”

His own documentation notes that his area of research “is the psychology of attitudes. Primarily funded over the years by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, he has studied attitude structure and function, attitude formation and change, communication and persuasion (including the persistence of persuasion), and the attitude-behaviour relation. Currently, he is conducting research on overcoming resistance to persuasion, including research on subliminal priming and persuasion, self- affirmation and persuasion, and narrative persuasion, and implicit attitudes.”

He has held various editorships, been president of both the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, and received a number of awards. According to an analysis of how often researchers’ publications are consulted by others, he “ranks 12th and 20th worldwide in citations in recent social psychology textbooks and handbooks, respectively.”

The Killam Prizes were inaugurated in 1981 with a donation by Dorothy J. Killam in memory of her husband, Nova Scotia financier Izaak Walton Killam. The prizes were created “to honour eminent Canadian scholars and scientists actively engaged in research, whether in industry, government agencies or universities”.

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High schoolers will face science questions

More than 180 students from across Waterloo Region and nearby will test their scientific knowledge in a competition tomorrow in the Arts Lecture Hall.

The All Science Challenge features a question-and-answer period and fun, hands-on design activities that inspire Grades 6, 7 and 8 students to acquire science knowledge beyond their curriculum. Designed by post-secondary science students, the All Science Challenge is a unique, team-based event that is part of the nationwide Let's Talk Science Outreach program.

"This day-long enrichment competition helps kids get excited about science," said event co-ordinator Erin Bresser of the dean of science office. "We are looking forward to welcoming 45 teams of young science enthusiasts to our campus this year."

After opening ceremonies at 10 a.m., the teams will participate in two rounds of individual and group questions, with professors, post-doctoral fellows, staff and university students serving as judges to gauge the correctness of their answers. Students will test their knowledge in a wide range of disciplines, such as earth sciences, biology, chemistry and physics.

In the last preliminary round, teams will compete in a design activity where they are challenged to build an object with the materials supplied to them. In past design challenges, students have constructed objects like a rudimentary Morse code machine using only a nail, copper wire, paper clips and battery. Students will be judged on their problem-solving skills, teamwork and design demonstration. Following lunch, the top teams with the highest score will face off in two final rounds of competition.

"We are pleased the University of Waterloo continues to support this wonderful initiative," said Bonnie Schmidt, founder and president of Let's Talk Science. "We hope the All Science Challenge will keep youth engaged in science and develop their potential to become future innovators and leaders." Let’s Talk Science is a national science outreach organization that reaches more than 110,000 youngsters each year with the help of some 2,200 post-secondary student volunteers at 33 universities and colleges across Canada.

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Phones and wifi fail, and other notes

The university's phones went dead for a while yesterday morning. Bruce Campbell, director of network services for information systems and technology, and Rick Zalagenas, director of maintenance and utilities for plant operations, are investigating what went wrong, which started with some scheduled electrical work in the Physics building, where the telephone switch is located. The phones (and the wifi system) ran on backup power for about an hour and a half, starting at 8 a.m., but that backup system (the "uninterruptible power supply") ran out unexpectedly. Power was back at about 10:30, "followed," says Campbell, "by some challenges restoring external telephone service requiring assistance from Bell."

A research team is seeking local families with children who will be turning two this year to participate in the Toddler Language Study, a new project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The study by the Centre for Child Studies aims to chart toddlers’ growing language between two and three years of age. The researchers are interested in discovering in more detail how children’s language develops during that age period. "By taking part in this study, families will be helping researchers better understand the different ways that young children’s language grows during this important time of development," says Daniela O'Neill, director of the centre. A participating family will visit the centre when their child first turns two. In the one-hour meeting, parents will fill out a questionnaire about the child’s language development. Then they will play some games and read a book together. Afterward, the child will play a game with the researcher. Every three months for the next year until the child turns three, the centre will mail the family a 20-minute questionnaire about the child’s language development to complete and return by mail. The child will receive several small gifts throughout the year as thanks for taking part. Interested parents can contact the study’s coordinator, Julie Scott, by phone (ext. 31224) or by email, ccs@

The two-week "e-waste" pickup program that's just been held by Central Stores, with support from the Cambridge-based recycling company Greentec, "was a huge success," says Joel Norris, assistant manager at stores. He says the campus came up with enough junk electronics to fill three 53-foot tractor-trailers. "The general public e-waste drop-off day held Saturday was also successful," says Norris, "generating just over one tractor-trailer full of electronic waste. Who knows, if the weather had have been nicer, there could have been much more e-waste collected!"

Here's a reminder that voting will end tomorrow in the election of a staff representative to the university's board of governors — one of the two staff voices on the 36-member board. Voting for non-union staff is online, while there are paper ballots for Canadian Union of Public Employees members. The two candidates are Drew Knight (Office of Research) and Mark Walker (Registrar’s Office).


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[Shuffling the cards]

Another euchre tournament in the information systems and technology department has just finished, with the United Way and other charities benefiting from the $5-a-term entry fee. (That's Cathy May of IST shuffling the deck.) "There were 16 players," co-worker Joe Allen reports, but he thinks more players would mean more fun, and people from outside IST are definitely welcome. "It's a great opportunity to meet new people," he says, "and an enjoyable way to spend your lunch hour."

Link of the day

News of 100 years ago

When and where

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

Library extended hours during exam season: Davis Centre library open 24 hours today, closing midnight Thursday; Dana Porter Library open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. today, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday; closed Friday.

Recreation facilities (Physical Activities Complex and Columbia Icefield) 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. today and tomorrow, closed Friday-Sunday.

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

UWRC Book Club: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

Lunchtime walking meditation sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, meet 12:05 in front of Needles Hall.

Vote Mob at Student Life Centre courtyard, 2:00. Details.

General Services Complex and Commissary building, electrical power shutdown Thursday 5:00 to 8:00 a.m.

Education Credit Union lunch-and-learn session: “Purchasing a Vehicle” Thursday 12:10, Davis Centre room 1302, RSVP deadline is past.

QPR suicide prevention training session Thursday 1 p.m., Math and Computer room 4068, registration required, information ext. 32797.

Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibition, opening reception Thursday 5 to 8 p.m., art gallery, East Campus Hall; exhibition (work by Heidi Jahnke, Gary Carlson, Alison Shields) continues to May 14.

Stratford campus lecture series: Michael Ross, department of psychology, “The Art and Science of Apology” Thursday 7:00, Stratford Public Library.

‘Facts of Fishing Live’ starring Dave Mercer, Thursday 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.

‘Picnic the Polls’ pre-election gathering Monday 2:00, Student Life Centre courtyard.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable through myHRinfo:

• Manager, desk services, residence life, USG 7
• Mechanical repairperson, plant operations (mechanical)
• Electrical helper, plant operations (electrical)
• Faculty financial officer (research), dean of arts office, USG 10
• Information systems specialist, information systems and technology, USG 9-11
• IT hardware specialist, mechanical and mechatronics engineering, USG 7

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