Skip to the content of the web site.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

  • Bringing the world home
  • Ignorance was bliss at research event
  • Media training offered to researchers
  • Former safety director remembered
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Bringing the world home

reprinted with permission from the Office of Development's 2010-2011 Stakeholder Report

When science graduate Natasha Moes (BSc '11) took a co-op term with an HIV/AIDS community development team in Africa, she felt she had a good understanding of the challenges faced by those living in poverty. When she returned to Canada, she realized her assumptions about the world had been challenged and the experience had changed her — for the better.

"My experience in Uganda was a formative part of my undergraduate experience," says Natasha. "International development is much more complicated than I had imagined. There are no easy answers to complex issues like endemic disease, malnutrition, or lack of drinking water."Natasha Moes.

Natasha (left) also discovered living in another culture can be quite difficult at first and has a new appreciation for newcomers to Canada. "I remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the task of making meals for myself because I didn't know how to prepare local foods," she says. "It took a long time just to feel confident shopping at the market."

Natasha credits the Kavelman-Fonn Foundation International Experience Award for not only allowing her the freedom to pursue unpaid international work, but feeling a sense of community support. "The award took away some of the financial stress and it was a reminder that Waterloo supports my learning and growth, no matter where it happens," says Natasha. "It felt great to know that people in my school community stood behind me."

She's a big believer that people need each other and that lives can be enriched by learning from and working alongside people in different cultural contexts. Back in Canada, Natasha continues to be involved with initiatives that challenge perceptions and improve lives. "I started an online craft blog and the Lunch Hour Craft Shop to sell jewelry and handcrafted items to raise money for a shelter supporting women leaving the sex-trade industry in the Philippines."

Thanks to the support of those close to home, an international experience can inspire generosity that reaches around the world.

Back to top

Ignorance was bliss at research event

by Wendy Philpott

“You're all used to speaking about what you know, but the idea behind this event is to have people speak about what they DON'T know” stated the researchers’ invitation to Waterloo Ignorance Day held on December 6.

Waterloo Ignorance Day poster.Paul Thagard of the Department of Philosophy and Director of the interdisciplinary Cognitive Science program developed the idea for a day discussing ‘What I Wish I Knew About the Mind, Brain, and Intelligence’. Randy Harris of the Department of English Language and Literature dubbed it ‘Waterloo Ignorance Day’, contrasting the annual speaker event known as Waterloo Brain Day. “Brain Day and Ignorance Day are separate,” explains Thagard, although “both attempt to stimulate interdisciplinary research concerning the mind.” And stimulate it did.

It seems that when we admit what we don’t know but want to know about the workings of the mind, different disciplines have a lot to share with each other. Hence, the packed program of discussions on ignorance and inquiry by eight Waterloo researchers represented perspectives of Philosophy, Biology, Systems Design, English, Psychology, German and Computer Science.

With at least 38 Waterloo faculty from across campus with cognitive science interests, there is much potential for cross-disciplinary fertilization on the topic of the mind. And this is also evident by the wide range of student participation at Ignorance Day. After each speaker presented their points of ‘ignorance’, the questions and discussion could have gone well beyond the allotted time. “I was delighted by the good attendance (70+) and the high level of discussion” comments Thagard.

Paul Thagard and Jessey Wright.The winner of Ignorance Day’s student competition for the most creative connection between topics was Jessey Wright (right, no pun intended), an MA candidate in Philosophy focused on philosophy of quantum field theory (physics). Judged ‘blind’ by three faculty members, Jessey connected the presentations of: Chris Eliasmith (Philosophy/Systems Design), How is biologically-based cognition coordinated and integrated across the whole brain?; Matt van der Meer (Biology) Are there alternatives to the two-stage model of decision making which separates perception and action?; and, Randy Harris (English) Where is metaphor?.

Impressively synthesizing complex questions ‘on the spot’ at end of the Ignorance Day event, Jessey proposes that an alternative to ‘functional models’ of inquiry into mind/cognition might be a broader ‘analogical model’ (i.e. metaphor). “For example,” wrote Jessey in his winning entry, “a metaphorical process could provide means for a system to develop, adapt and learn by relating what it doesn’t know (the desire to learn) to what it does.” Of course, there’s more to it, but you may have to wait for the book. And that’s just the point of Ignorance Day, to spark new ideas from across campus that can grow.

Back to top

Media training offered to researchers

Researchers from across campus are being invited to "Journalism 101 for Scientists," a workshop led by the Science Media Centre of Canada, a group of journalists who are committed to helping improve coverage of scientific topics in the Canadian mass media to raise the level of public discussion of issues with a scientific dimension.

The event, to be held on February 7 in room 1302 of the Davis Centre, is being sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Hosting the event will be Peter Calamai, Director of Youth Science Canada and adjunct professor of journalism at Carleton University. Special guests include Jim Handman, executive producer of Quirks and Quarks, and Hannah Hoag, science journalist and editor.

"Science has never been as prominent in the news as it is today," reads the invitation. "and it's paramount that issues are communicated clearly and accurately which requires direct involvement from the experts themselves."

The workshop is geared towards those scientists with little to no media experience and will offer insight into how the news media works, and how researchers can tell their story effectively. Topics that will be covered include deadlines, how journalists find their stories, the importance of engaging with the media, and how university communications staff can help researchers tell their stories.

There is no charge to attend this event, however space is limited to the first 50 registrants. Registration is available online. The event runs from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., with a wine and cheese reception to follow.

Back to top

Former safety director remembered

Nick OzarukNick Ozaruk (right), former director of safety at the university, died on January 24 at the age of 84. Ozaruk joined the university in 1965 as a project co-ordinator and construction planner, and later served as Director of Safety, retiring in 1991. Visitations are scheduled for Friday, January 27 at the Westmount Funeral Chapel at 1001 Ottawa Street South in Kitchener, from 2:00 - 4:00 and 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 28 at 11:00 a.m. at the same location with interment to follow at a later date.


Back to top

Links of the day

Australia and India celebrate

When and where

OnBase document management system upgrade, service unavailable Thursday, January 26, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Maintaining Mental Fitness for Life, Thursday, January 26, 12:00 p.m., DC 1304.

Working Effectively in Another Culture info session for co-op students,Thursday, January 26, 1:00 p.m., TC 1208, hosted by the Centre for Career Action.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday, January 26, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

VeloCity Venture Fund finals, Thursday, January 26, 3:00 p.m., Davis Centre foyer.

Warriors Band practice, Thursday, January 26, 5:30 p.m., PAC 1001.

uWaterloo alumni networking event in Bermuda, Thursday, January 26, 6:00 p.m., Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Bermuda.

Benjamin Eby lecture with Professor Jim Pankratz "Gandhi and Mennonites in India" Friday, January 27, 7:30 p.m.  Details.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: John Baker, founder, president, and CEO, Desire2Learn, Friday, January 27 2:30 p.m., St. Paul's University College room 105.

AIDS Awareness Fundraiser, Race for Dignity, Saturday, January 28, 9:30 a.m., SLC Great Hall, hosted by UW Dignitas Youth Club.

Petition to the Registrar to Register Late form required after January 31 to become fees arranged.

Federation of Students election campaign period begins Tuesday, January 31.

Medications and Alzheimer's Disease public lecture by Dr. Carlos Rojas-Fernandez, Tuesday, January 31, 7:00 p.m., School of Pharmacy. Register by emailing tracy.jacobs@

Dr. Edward Breuer lecture: "Can Jews and Christians be friends?" Tuesday, January 31, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University, free and open to all.

Upstart 2012 “festival of innovative Canadian theatre” February 2-4 and 9-11, Studio 180, Hagey Hall, organized by department of drama, details to be announced.

Philosophy Colloquium, featuring Alice MacLachlan of York University, "Practices of Public Apologies," Friday, February 3, 3:30 p.m., HH 373.

Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Conference, February 3-5, Conrad Grebel University. Details.

Knowledge Integration Seminar featuring Mark Weber, "Hanging out in the borderlands between psychology and economics (and management, and social innovation...)", Friday, February 3, 2:30 p.m., St. Paul's University College Room 105.

Super Bowl Sunday Tailgate Party, Saturday, February 4, 4:30 p.m., REVelation.

Board of governors Tuesday, February 7, 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Polynesian Night at Mudie's, Wednesday, February 8, 4:30 p.m.

Reading at St. Jerome’s University: poets Rishma Dunlop and Tanis MacDonald, Thursday, February 9, 4:30, StJ room 3014.

Waterloo Lecture: "Harry Potter: Heroic Fantasy, Murder Mystery or Videogame." Neil Randall, Wednesday, February 15, 7:00 p.m., Stratford Public Library. Hosted by the Waterloo Stratford Campus.

PhD Oral Defences

English. Stephanie Bell, "Under Review: Source Use and Speech Representation in the Critical Review Essay." Supervisor, Catherine Schryer. Oral defence Thursday, January 26, 9:00 a.m., HH 373.

Civil and environmental engineering. Tussanee Nettasana, “Conceptual Model Uncertainty in the Management of the Chi River Basin, Thailand.” Supervisors, Jon Sykes, Bryan Tolson and James Craig. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, January 30, 1:00 p.m., Engineering 2 room 3324.

Civil and environmental engineering. Marcela Alondra Chamorro Gine, “Development of a Sustainable Management System for Rural Road Networks in Developing Countries.” Supervisor, Susan Tighe. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, January 30, 1:30 p.m., Carl Pollock Hall room 2371.

Kinesiology. Tyson Beach, “Firefighter Fitness, Movement Qualities, Occupational Low-Back Loading Demands and Injury Potential.” Supervisor, Jack Callaghan. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Friday, February 3, 9:00 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

Earth and environmental sciences. Colby M. Steelman, “Evaluating Vadose Zone Moisture Dynamics Using Ground-Penetrating Radar.” Supervisor, Anthony L. Endres. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, February 9, 1:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin