Skip to the content of the web site.

Monday, February 7, 2011

  • Awards spotlight 'research excellence'
  • Monday notes, and an election video
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[George and Claxton seated]

Renison University College social work professor Miriam George chats with university secretary Lois Claxton at last week’s reception.

Awards spotlight 'research excellence'

by Janet Janes, office of research

Psychology professor Colin Ellard is fascinated with how people find their way around buildings, cities, or any other new place and the emotions they experience in doing so. Using the technology of the 21st century, he would like to take people virtually to these unknown areas and monitor their reactions. Funders are a bit wary, however, about whether technology can provide true results.

An award Ellard received last week will give him an opportunity to launch his research project on a smaller scale. Worth up to $5,500, the Lois Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences Award makes it possible for him to hire a couple of students, conduct research at student centres on campus and at the University of Toronto, and collect data that will demonstrate the value of his research. This initial project will, he hopes, earn him a larger grant in a couple of years as his project evolves.

Ellard is one of seven faculty members who were presented with either the Robert Harding Humanities and Social Sciences Award or Lois Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences Award by vice-president (university research) George Dixon at Tuesday morning’s event. Dixon introduced each of the award winners, who then spoke briefly about their research focus, how they would use the award to further their research, and work done to date. Dixon observed that such an occasion lets participants “reconnect with the scope and depth of scholarship underway across campus”.

The awards come from the Robert Harding Humanities and Social Sciences Endowment, established in 2008 by Bob Harding, chair of the board of governors. Recognizing the value of humanities and social sciences research, as well as a need for funding in this area, Harding donated $1 million to launch the fund and the university matched it with another million. Harding also chose to honour Lois Claxton, the secretary of the university, for her leadership and years of dedication to Waterloo by having half of the awards made in her name each year.

The endowment is meant to help researchers in the humanities, social sciences, and fine and performing arts improve their success in securing external grants and support small-scale or startup projects.

Besides Ellard, winners of the Claxton awards this year are Nancy Barrickman of anthropology and Miriam George of social work. Winners of the Harding awards are Amelia Clarke, Olaf Weber and Jennifer Lynes, all of the school of environment, enterprise and development, and Jennifer Simpson of drama and speech communication.

Ellard says funding opportunities for large, well-known projects aren’t too challenging to find, but money is rather scarce for those who aren’t working in a mainstream or widely recognized area. “It’s not easy finding funding sources for work that’s interdisciplinary,” he says. “This award was designed exactly to help people who are interdisciplinary.”

Celebrating research excellence goes beyond the awards. It’s the theme behind an initiative launched by the Office of Research two years ago to recognize the high-quality research underway on campus and increase visibility of Waterloo researchers nationally and internationally. Recognizing this need, the Office of Research established a Waterloo Awards Committee made up of 12 members, representing researchers and staff from each faculty.

The Robert Harding and Lois Claxton awards are just one initiative. The committee members have taken a proactive approach to encouraging researchers to apply for awards by making recommendations for applicants. They’ve also tried to help researchers find new sources of funding by creating an awards catalogue, Celebrating Research Excellence Award Opportunities, which lists details of more than 130 awards. The Office of Research continues to guide and support researchers in submitting grant applications and, depending on the award, will provide the support of a writer in developing the application.

Earning an award is a tremendous achievement for a researcher, but it also helps to secure continued funding when cited on grant applications, says Tom Barber, manager of grants and government research contracts in the research office. “That’s why we want to give them these awards. They deserve them because they work so hard — and awards and funding go hand-in-hand.”

Claxton, who will end 20 years of service as university secretary later this month when she joins the staff of the Governor General of Canada, was the final speaker at Tuesday’s reception. She talked about board chair Harding (who wasn't able to attend) and of his commitment to the university, through his many volunteer activities and over such a long period of time, and thanked him for his support in establishing the awards.

Back to top

[Wall of balloons]

No globophobia here: Hundreds of balloons decorated the Carl Pollock Hall overpass (and some other places too) on Friday morning, as part of the Iron Ring celebrations indulged in by soon-to-be-graduated engineering students. Friday's Daily Bulletin gave some background, and carelessly said that GradComm, which organizes festivities for this time of year, was a unit of the Engineering Society. The two groups "are somewhat affiliated" but no more than that, somebody in the know quickly explained. • Friday's headline-grabbing prank was a memo "from the dean of engineering" announcing the return of the not-very-popular PDEng program. Officials scrambled to make clear that it was a hoax.

Back to top

Monday notes, and an election video

As RRSP season gets into high gear, the human resources department sent an e-mail memo to all faculty and staff members late last week, clarifying the relationship between Registered Retirement Savings Plans and the university pension plan: “Contributions you make to a personal RRSP are affected by the pension you earn under the UW Pension Plan. Each year a Pension Adjustment (PA) is reported to the Canada Revenue Agency on your T4 slip. CRA uses the PA to calculate your total available RRSP contribution room and provides this figure on your personal income tax assessment sent to you each year. The PA is the value of the pension benefit that you earned under the UW Pension Plan in a particular year. Please visit the HR web site for more information regarding RRSP contribution limits for the 2010 and 2011 taxation years.”

Voting starts tomorrow at 9 a.m., and runs until Thursday at 9 p.m., in the annual Federation of Students election — choosing the leadership of undergraduate Waterloo students for the year ahead. The Feds' indefatigable clubs director, Dave McDougall, stars in a promotional video (left) telling students how important their online vote can be. There are posters across the campus announcing the merits and platforms of both affiliated and independent candidates for the Federation presidency and three vice-presidential positions, as well as seats on students' council and the university senate. An official note: Rob Fry, the "Team Real" candidate for vice-president (internal), has withdrawn from the race.

Writing in the Iron Warrior newspaper, the director of engineering computing, Erick Engelke, describes some changes that are on the way: “The Faculty of Engineering is getting out of the Email business. Student Email is moving to IST’s Mailservices during reading week while faculty and staff are moving to IST’s Connect over the coming months. Your preferred new Email address will be userid@ Today our Engineering users communicate with people worldwide and they themselves are offsite — 65% forward Email to Gmail alone. This makes sense; Gmail does a better job than we can ever do on campus. They offer more storage, a better user interface, better spam handling, Email for life, etc. The days when UW could compete on Email are long over. There are essentially two reasons why people feel students need UW-related accounts (though they could be hosted offsite). Students need a way to communicate with faculty that is secure and uniquely identifies them (UWuserid) — but Email is still an insecure protocol, anyone can impersonate anyone else — a closed messaging system on ACE would be better. The other factor is that students prefer to correspond with employers and potential employers with a UW branded address.”

[Lunchbags in five colours]University president Feridun Hamdullahpur was among the signers of an open letter to federal politicians published in newspapers last week, calling for a change to tax laws that would encourage gifts of stocks and real estate to charitable organizations. • Insulated lunch bags (right) with the University of Waterloo wordmark are a new product at the Waterloo Store in South Campus Hall, priced at $4.99. • Brian Wenzel, who started work as an auto mechanic in the plant operations department in July 1972, officially retired as of February 1.

VeloCity — Waterloo’s “mobile and media dormcubator” — has announced its National Bootcamp for the spring term, described as “an intense program for Canada’s most promising post-secondary entrepreneurs”. For the first time VeloCity is welcoming 30 post-secondary students from across Canada to join 40 Waterloo students in experiencing the cutting-edge program. Says Jesse Rodgers, director of VeloCity: “We are looking for students with a desire to give the startup lifestyle a try.” From May to July, the bootcamp will offer entrepreneurial students “an intense term of exploring their ideas and launching them to the marketplace, while building a national network of entrepreneurial support in the VeloCity residence”. The program involves speakers, mentors and former VeloCity residence to offer motivating talks and advice. Students will develop, brand, promote and pitch their products during the three-month program. Says Rodgers: “We’ve seen our students achieve amazing successes. I can only imagine the successes we will see from this national program.”

Canadian Blood Services will hold blood donor clinics in the Student Life Centre on Thursday and Friday, and "we really need the students' help to meet our local hospital demand next week," according to Stephanie Blight of CBS. • The Political Science Students Association is organizing a trip to Washington, D.C., during reading week later this month (inquiries, e-mail uwaterloo.pssa@ • The Federation of Students is running a contest for videos proposing "a memorable event for your friends and peers", with a top prize of $5,000 for somebody to make the event a reality next month.

Gary Kosar of the plant operations department says 18 pairs of exterior doors are to be replaced on various main campus buildings over the days and weeks ahead. Work will start tomorrow; first building to get the installers' attention will be Biology 2, with new heavy-duty doors going onto the entrance that faces the ring road.

A few spots are still available in the 39th annual Hagey Bonspiel, to be held March 5 at the Ayr Curling Club. • The housing office is accepting applications (with a deadline of tomorrow) for positions as dons, peer leaders and front desk assistants during the fall and winter terms. • Somewhere during the excitement around Wednesday's snowstorm and the possibility of a weather closing day, the number of people following @uwdailybulletin on Twitter passed 1,000 for the first time.


Back to top

Link of the day

Sick of it all

When and where

Employer interviews for spring term co-op jobs (“main” group of students) through February 16. Ranking opens February 16 at 1 p.m., closes February 18 2 p.m., results available 4 p.m. Details.

Class enrolment appointments on Quest to choose spring term courses, February 7-12. Open enrolment begins February 14. Details.

Facilitated group drumming session in support of Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Week, 9:30, Student Life Centre.

Library workshop: “Better Searching, Better Marks” today and March 17, 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Career workshop: “Exploring Your Personality Type (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

Frank Esch and Andy Newman, plant operations, retirement reception 3:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre lounge, RSVP ext. 36822.

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

Tamil Students Association coffee house and demonstration about human rights issues in Sri Lanka, 5:00, Student Life Centre.

History professors Andrew Hunt (Dahlia Boyz) and Stan Johannesen (The Yellow Room) along with alumnus Mike Downing (Molasses) read from their novels 7 p.m., Starlight Lounge, 47A King Street North. Details.

Treat-a-gram delivery in support of Keystone Campaign, order deadline February 8, delivery on Valentine’s Day, February 14. Details.

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

Career workshops Tuesday: “Success on the Job” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; “Understanding the Multiple-Mini Interview” 5:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

TalEng Engineering Society talent show, Tuesday 7 p.m., Huether Hotel.

Library workshop: “Calculating Your Academic Footprint: Making Citation Tracking Easy” Wednesday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

‘Dissocia: A Digital Gambling Venture’ original production by department of drama, February 9-13 at 8 p.m., February 12-13 at 2 p.m., Hagey Hall Studio 180.

Paralympic movement: David Willsie of Canadian national wheelchair rugby team speaks on “Changing Minds, Changing Lives: Rehabilitation Through Sport” Thursday 1:00, Sun Life Financial Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute.

Pascal Lectures on Christianity and the University: Mary Poplin, Claremont Graduate University, “How the Religious Worldview Became a Secret” Thursday 7:30, Humanities Theatre; “Diminishing the Marketplace of Ideas” Friday 7:30, Humanities; student conversation, “Is Anything Sacred?” Friday 2:30, Hagey Hall room 1104. Details.

Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Registered Student (Amit and Meena Chakma Award) nominations due Friday. Details.

Organizational and Human Development speaker event: Dan Heath, “Switch, How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” Friday 8:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre. Details.

International Spouses “walk and talk” visit to Vincenzo’s Italian grocery, Friday 6 p.m., meet at 150 Caroline Street South, all welcome, e-mail intlspouses@ if attending.

‘Life After the U’ panel of retirees, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, February 15, 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, February 17, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

Dragons’ Den auditions for CBC television program, February 18, 11:00 to 6:00, CBET, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

Niagara Falls bus trip and winery tour organized by Federation of Students, February 19, buses leave 9:00, tickets $18 from Federation office, Student Life Centre.

Family Day holiday, university closed, Monday, February 21.

Reading week February 21-25, classes not held.

One click away

Poll asks Ottawa residents about higher education
Application for residence rooms, spring term
‘Job fears for a lost generation’
Unsecured wireless networks at Saskatchewan and Waterloo
‘Cuts threaten the University of California’s pre-eminence’
Training the next generation of tradespeople
‘The Ontario public sector wage freeze that wasn’t’
Universities suggest priorities for Ontario budget
Professors’ submission to Ontario budget consultations
David Johnston talks about international education
Nicol Entrepreneurial Award Competition for this year
WLU expands social work program to New Brunswick
Perimeter director named to government advisory body

Friday's Daily Bulletin