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Monday, June 6, 2011

  • Waterloo, 'perfect place' to talk about energy
  • Change at high levels, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Everybody's standing but Johnston]

Applause for David Johnston was the order of the day on Sunday morning, beneath a tent erected on Hagey Boulevard. The occasion: the official naming of what's now the David Johnston Research and Technology Park in honour of the former University of Waterloo president, now Governor General of Canada. In his own remarks, Johnston joked that the announcement was "an enormous mistake" since he had always urged colleagues not to attach his name to anything. University, government and corporate leaders were among those invited to celebrate the occasion. Photo by Chris Hughes.

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Waterloo, 'perfect place' to talk about energy

by Karen Kawawada, Communications and Public Affairs

A high-profile international conference that aims to do no less than transform the energy future kicked off yesterday with remarks from Governor General David Johnston, who helped set the conference in motion when he was president of the University of Waterloo.

The Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 is hosted by the Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI), which is a partnership between the University of Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The Equinox Summit is the first of a series of major conferences, which will be put on every two years to catalyze what WGSI calls “long-range policy and investments in technological solutions for the future.”

This week, ten of the world’s top energy researchers, including Waterloo chemistry professor Linda Nazar, will be working with a group of up-and-coming young leaders and a group of industry and policy experts on developing a 20-year roadmap for transforming the way we generate, distribute and store energy.

[Hamdullahpur at WGSI lectern]In introducing the Governor General, Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur, himself a leading energy researcher, spoke (right; photo by Jens Langen) of how Waterloo is the “perfect venue” for a conversation on the future of sustainable energy. Waterloo, he said, is home to “a critical mass of researchers” such as the people affiliated with the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology.

Johnston spoke not only of Canada’s culture of innovation, but also about Renaissance Florence, a town of some 50,000 people that, in a relatively short period of time, produced world-changing leaps in art, science and scholarship. It wasn’t mere coincidence that produced Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Machiavelli — it was collaboration, Johnston asserted. He gave the example of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, which was not only a marvel of engineering, but also gave rise to an advance in astronomy that, in turn, improved ocean navigation.

The catalyst? The architect inviting his astronomer friend to place a bronze plate on top of the dome, turning it into a giant sundial that allowed him to calculate the exact moment of the summer solstice and vernal equinox with unprecedented accuracy.

The point of the story is “to emphasize the fruitful and often unexpected results of innovation and knowledge sharing,” said Johnston, commending the summit participants on their commitment to working together on big ideas.

“The world needs this summit,” he declared. “Let us imagine ourselves creating a renaissance of our own in Canada, where we learn from the past, embrace the future and above all work together for a smarter, more caring world.”

The summit is taking place at the Perimeter Institute building in central Waterloo. Today through Wednesday, the daily schedule includes plenary sessions at 9 a.m., public lectures at 4 p.m., and TVO panel discussions at 7:45 p.m. On Thursday at 2 p.m., the fruits of the private discussions between experts — the Equinox Communiqué, which will later be expanded into a blueprint with solid policy recommendations — will be presented. All these events will be live-streamed by TVOntario and on WGSI's own site, and the university web site has a special page with Summit news, photos and tweets.

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Change at high levels, and other notes

[Beckel]Friday was the last day for Meg Beckel (left) as vice-president (external relations). Beckel, who had been at the university since 2007, starts today as director of the Canadian Museum of Nature, a federal institution in Ottawa. [Jackson]Tim Jackson (right), hitherto the associate vice-president (commercialization), becomes interim VP (external). Provost Geoff McBoyle said on Friday that top officials are thinking hard about dividing the vice-presidency into two positions, one concentrating on fund-raising and one on activities such as government relations and communications, but a decision hasn’t been made yet.

The first-year class in September is going to be well stocked, says a memo issued Friday morning by Nancy Weiner, the associate registrar (admissions): “As of June 3, we’ve received a total of 6,164 first year confirmations, and last year at this time we had 6,351. This puts us at 108% of the first year target 5,682. As a result, we’re in a position to meet the November 1 enrolment target as we tend to lose 6% to 7% from now until the Nov 1 count date.” Confirmations are ahead of the target in all the faculties, with science showing the largest figure, 121 per cent of the 840-student target. More detailed figures are expected this week, including a breakdown of how many of the soon-to-be students are from outside Canada.

Summer seemed to be here last week, and definitely winter is over, though Frank Seglenieks of the university’s weather station is being professionally cautious. “It looks,” was the most he would say, “like April 30 will be the last frost day of the spring, which is the earliest last frost date since 1999.” His report on conditions for the month of May used the word “warm”, basing that assessment on higher-than-usual low temperatures more than outweighing the lower-than-usual high temperatures (yeah, I know, it helps to have a diagram of these minimax things). “It was a little more than 1 degree above average overall for the month,” says Seglenieks. “One reason for the warmer than average nights was the amount of cloud cover we had during the month and the 17 days with some precipitation, leading to the fifth wettest May since records began.”

[George]Alan George (left), who has been associate provost (information systems and technology) since 2003, is going to continue in that post for another year. In a memo late last week, provost Geoff McBoyle said George has been reappointed “for a one year term effective July 1, 2011”. He went on: “Professor George has served UW in many administrative leadership positions including a combined 18 years as Provost and Dean of Mathematics. I am grateful to Alan, for his long standing commitment and dedication to UW and his willingness to continue as Associate Provost, IST. The President and I look forward to continuing to work with him, and are confident that he will have your full cooperation and support.”

Waterloo Region’s Commuter Challenge for this year is under way this week. “Maybe it’s the perfect time to dust off that bicycle or riding your neighbourhood bus,” suggests Mark Lisetto-Smith of the organizational and human development office, who’s coordinating the university’s involvement. “Or, if you already partake in these activities, feel free to sign up and add your numbers to the University of Waterloo total numbers.” Several special events are on the schedule, starting with “Walk to Work Monday” today and “Two-For-One Transit Tuesday” tomorrow. Says Lisetto-Smith: “Waterloo Region is competing against other regions and cities across the country. Now is your opportunity to walk, run, in-line skate, bike, carpool, or take transit! Do you connect remotely? That counts, too! Let's have fun and be part of the solution to improve our environment. You might even win a draw prize from the Region for your dedication.”

Judith Koeller of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing sends word that CEMC is hosting the Lloyd Auckland Invitational Mathematics Seminar June 5-11 — “a week of mathematical discovery and problem solving for high school students from across Canada whose performance was excellent on the Cayley and Fermat contests. Guest lecturers include Dr. Steve Brown from the department of Statistics and Actuarial Science and Dr. David McKinnon from Pure Mathematics. Formerly called the Canadian Mathematics Competition Seminar, this event has been held annually for over 45 years. The workshop is named in honour of Lloyd Auckland, a retired math teacher. Auckland has volunteered for the Canadian Mathematics Competition since 1970, and taught one of the first mathematics classes ever held at the University of Waterloo. It is always exciting to see the energy of the young people attending this workshop – they are keen, motivated and excited. Many go on to attend University of Waterloo.”

News from the department of biology: “Recent honours biochemistry graduate Danielle Weber-Adrian is one of four Canadian students to be awarded a Summer Student Research Award worth $5,000 from Epilepsy Canada. Danielle will be continuing to work in Dr. David Spafford’s lab to find drug targets for the low voltage-gated T-Type calcium channel that could be used in the treatment of epilepsy. Danielle will generate stably transfected cell lines expressing three [Zorian in western outfit]variants of human T-Type channels as well as a unique T-type channel of snail origin. These cell lines will facilitate high-throughput screening of peptides to identify novel channel inhibitors. Successful inhibitor candidates can then be refined to produce a more specific and effective drug for the treatment of epilepsy.”

And . . . the “sheriff” at right (Alison Zorian, whose day job is in the dean of mathematics office) is there to remind us that the annual Keystone Campaign celebration, dubbed Wild Wild Waterloo, is happening tomorrow. It’s scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the Graduate House green. Keystone is the continuing program inviting financial support for the university from faculty, staff members and retirees, who are the audience for tomorrow’s event (and its organizers too). The celebration promises a live DJ, line dancing lessons, food (reportedly burgers), prizes, games, a western-themed photo booth, and carriage rides. Prize draws and speeches take place at 12:30. Everybody’s encouraged to bring a reusable bottle or cup for water. A follow-up celebration for evening staff will be held Friday at 6 p.m. in Environment 1, room 250.


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Link of the day


When and where

Co-op employer interviews for fall work term (main group) continue through June 16. Rankings open June 17 at 1:00, close June 20 at 2:00; match results available 4:00.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: continuing students, June 6-11; for first-time students, July 11-24; open class enrolment, July 25.

President’s Golf Tournament in support of Athletics Excellence and Awards Fund, today, Westmount Golf and Country Club. Details.

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

International spouses “walk and talk” event: concert at Waterloo Public Square, 7:15 p.m. Information: intlspouses@

Chemistry seminar: Harald Hillebrecht, University of Freiburg, Germany, “Syntheses in Molten Metals” Tuesday 10:30, Chemistry 2 room 361.

Keystone Campaign picnic, Tuesday 11:30 to 1:30, Graduate House green (rain location: Student Life Centre).

Career workshop: Careers Beyond Academia, Tuesday 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Quantitative Data Analysis for Researching Teaching and Learning” Tuesday 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Stress management workshops from Counselling Services, June 7, 14, 21, 5:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 2080. Details.

Retirees Association bus tour of Grand River villages north, lunch at Flesherton, Wednesday, tickets $59, information 519-744-3246.

Conrad Grebel University College fundraising banquet for Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training, speaker Rebecca Slough, Associated Mennonite Bible Seminary, Thursday 6:30, Grebel dining room, tickets $50, ext. 24237.

Vic Neglia, Arts Computing, retirement party recognizing 39 years at Waterloo, Friday 3 to 5 p.m., Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, information ext. 35206.

Matthews Golf Classic (21st annual), June 13, Grand Valley Golf Club. Details.

Board of governors meeting Tuesday, June 14, 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Garnet Wagner, science technical services, retirement reception marking 29 years of service, June 15, 3 to 5 p.m., Davis Centre room 1301, RSVP ext. 36599.

Spring Convocation: Wednesday, June 15, 10 a.m. (AHS and environment) and 2:30 p.m. (science). Thursday, June 16, 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (arts). Friday, June 17, 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (mathematics); Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (engineering), all ceremonies in Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Deadline for 50 per cent tuition fee refund for spring term courses, June 17.

Heritage Resources Centre workshop on “Cultural Heritage Landscapes” June 18-19, Picton, Ontario. Details.

25-Year Club annual reception June 21, 6:00, Physical Activities Complex, information ext. 32078.

Canada’s Wonderland trip organized by Federation of Students, June 25, $54 in advance at Feds office, Student Life Centre.

Canada Day, Friday, July 1, university closed.

Drop, penalty 1 period for spring term courses ends July 8.

Staff association golf social July 112, 4:00, Brookfield Country Club, $45 basic fee. Details.

Positions available

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

• Gift processing assistant, development and alumni affairs, USG 5
• Kitchen porter, food services, 2 positions
• Research training and compliance officer, office of research, USG 8
• Development officer, dean of mathematics office, USG 9
• Web designer/ administrator, mapping, analysis and design, USG 8-9
• Senior development officer, dean of mathematics office, USG 11
• Records and systems analyst, office of the registrar, USG 8-9
• Administrative assistant, secretariat, USG 6
• Project manager, integrated and interactive media, marketing and undergraduate recruitment, USG 9, 14-month secondment or contract
• Scheduling specialist, office of the registrar, USG 6, 2-year secondment or contract

Friday's Daily Bulletin