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Monday, August 8, 2011

  • Report surveys 'sustainable development'
  • Research addresses antibiotics and cancer
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Seasons and Roy facing across desk]

The desk was clear and the bookcases were empty when the new dean of the environment faculty, André Roy (right), reported for work last week. They won't likely stay that way for long. An early visitor for the new dean: Mark Seasons of the school of planning, who served as interim dean of the faculty for 13 months that ended July 31.

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Report surveys 'sustainable development'

by Kelley Teahen, communications and public affairs

A new report on sustainable development at the University of Waterloo is part of the university’s commitment to the Council of Ontario Universities sustainability pledgeOntario Universities: Committed to a Greener World, says president Feridun Hamdullahpur.

The University of Waterloo Sustainable Development Report, released this month, began its life in summer 2010 in response to a direction from the Dean’s Advisory Council in the Faculty of Environment to create such a report, which has been done in many other Canadian universities.

Master’s student Natalia Moudrak gathered the research, working closely with staff across campus, including Plant Operations. The document is now on the university’s sustainability web site.

An advisory committee reviewed her initial draft and, to make the report consistent with the COU sustainability pledge commitments, it was organized to document the university’s sustainable development performance according to the following four areas: 

Environmental responsibility: minimize adverse environmental impacts and identify means to protect and enhance the biophysical environment.  

Social leadership: promote a healthy, equitable, diverse and just environment that supports the wellbeing of our community.

Economic health: manage university resources for both short- and long-term prosperity and contribute to the economic health and vitality of the communities in which we operate.  

Academic excellence: spearhead exemplary teaching and research to contribute to the advancement of knowledge.

The report looks at both key performance successes, and key challenges in each area, and makes a series of recommendations. Among them:

  • Implementing individual building energy and water metering
  • Undertaking a new waste audit
  • Devising a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
  • Developing strategies to lower employee injury frequency and injury severity rates
  • Implementing programs to officially recognize student non-academic involvement and boost student engagement

Hamdullahpur has provided a foreword for the report, and says the university commits “to review and benchmark sustainable development performance congruent with the Ontario Universities: Committed to a Greener World pledge and to share findings publicly. We welcome your feedback on the report and encourage an open, participatory, and responsive decision-making environment that engages all members of our community.

“For us, sustainable development means pursuing strategies and activities that meet the needs of our students, employees, alumni and the communities in which we operate, in a manner that enhances both the independent and the integrated relationships of the environment, society and the economy today and into the future.”

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Research addresses antibiotics and cancer

The government of Canada “will provide funding for research to develop new treatments for lung, breast and ovarian cancers, as well as other life-threatening diseases”, a news release promised Friday as Maxime Bernier, federal minister of state for small business and tourism, visited campus to help celebrate two grants from the Collaborative Health Research Projects Program.

The funding, one for a researcher in chemistry and one for a researcher in applied mathematics, “will lead to direct health benefits for Canadians, more effective health services and economic development in health-related areas,” said the release from Industry Canada.

“Our government supports health research because it improves the lives of Canadians,” said Bernier. “These investments will bring together world-leading scientists to seek solutions to important health care problems that can lead to new treatments and technologies that will help patients across the country and around the world.”

[Bernier speaks]On June 9, science minister Gary Goodyear announced that 17 universities would share $15 million in funding through the CHRPP, which is supported jointly by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The grants are designed to assist new projects that involve interdisciplinary collaborations between fields in the natural sciences or engineering and the health sciences.

The two Waterloo recipients announced Friday will have more than $888,000 to develop less toxic treatments for children with cancer and to explore ways to improve the potency of antibiotics, the release said. “There is no doubt that the impact of this research will be felt here in Canada and around the world,” said Suzanne Fortier, president of NSERC.

The grant recipients across Canada were selected following a peer-reviewed competition. Each recipient will receive between $150,000 and $690,000 over three years.

At Waterloo, Michael M. Palmer of chemistry will receive $420,029 for his research on “novel daptomycin-derived lipopeptide antibiotics for overcoming resistance in gram-positive bacteria”. After a ceremony Friday afternoon in the atrium of the CEIT building (left), Bernier and other visitors were taken on a tour of Palmer’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance laboratory in Chemistry 2. This facility houses research on daptomycin, an antibiotic that is used against certain types of otherwise resistant bacteria. The Palmer team will investigate in more detail how it works, and then use this knowledge to synthesize improved variants of the molecule.

In the other project, applied math professor Sivabal S. Sivaloganathan will receive $468,819 for work on “the effective estimation of second cancer risks and resultant possible improvements of treatment protocols”.

Elsewhere in Canada, CHRPP projects are promising progress on a bioengineered cell delivery system to help repair spinal cord injuries; risk factors and an optimization model for breast cancer screening; a new intelligent, mobile device for the diagnosis and management of respiratory disease; and the development of new technologies to assess the effects of long-term exposure to air pollution.

“This interface with NSERC is one of the frontiers of the health sciences,” said Alain Beaudet, president of CIHR. “The Collaborative Health Research Projects brings scientific and engineering disciplines into the realm of health research to develop innovative technologies that are at the forefront of health care, including medical devices, robotics, and imaging.”


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Link of the day


When and where

Summer camps for children: Arts Computer Experience; Engineering Science Quest.

Examinations for spring term courses, through August 13. Unofficial grades begin to appear in Quest August 15; grades become official September 19.

Library hours during exams: Davis, 24 hours a day except closed Sundays 2 to 8 a.m.; Porter, Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Student Life 101 visit for future first-year students, final session, August 8-9. Details.

Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students (grades 10-12), August 8-12. Details.

Peace Camp for students who have completed grades 6-8, August 8-12, Conrad Grebel University College.

Warrior athletics camps August 8-12: Women’s hockey. Details.

Federal Economic Development Agency announcement by Peter Braid, MP, Tuesday 1:30, Engineering 3 room 2106, by invitation.

Teaching orientation days for new faculty, Wednesday-Thursday from 9 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Star-Gazing Party sponsored by faculty of science: watch the Perseid meteor shower, Friday 8 p.m. to midnight, north campus soccer pitch. Details.

Retail services and New Media services outlets (bookstore, Waterloo Store, Write Stuff, E-Smart, Campus Tech, Media.doc) closed Tuesday, August 16, for staff general meeting.

Electrical power shutdown for most buildings inside ring road (but not  Student Life Centre, PAC, BMH, Math and Computer or main wing of Davis) August 20, 6 a.m. to midnight; cooling and ventilation also shut down.

Labour Day, Monday, September 5, university closed.

New faculty welcoming barbecue Tuesday, September 6, 5:30 p.m., by invitation. Details.

New faculty presentations Wednesday, September 7, 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall rooms 308-309 and South Campus Hall Festival Room. Details.

First day of classes for the fall term, Monday, September 12.

Retirees Association bus trip to Hamilton Harbour and Museum of Steam and Technology, September 14, tickets $88, information 519-744-3246.

Perimeter Institute celebration of Stephen Hawking Centre opening, September 16-18. Details.

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