Skip to the content of the web site.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

  • Silver lining for men's curling team
  • Event examines science in society
  • Rebuilding peatlands in oil sands country
  • Library hours updated; other notes
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Waterloo Warriors men's curling team.
Silver lining for men's curling team

by Dan Ackerman, communications co-ordinator, University of Waterloo Athletics

The Waterloo Warriors men's curling team walked away with a silver medal at the 2012 CIS/CCA Curling Championship hosted by Brock University at the Welland Curling Club. The Warriors fell in the gold medal game 7-1 to the Alberta Golden Bears, their first national title.

Waterloo found itself in the gold medal game after an 8-5 win over the host Badgers in the semifinal game last night only a couple hours after falling to Brock in their final round robin game. Waterloo went 5-2 in round robin play and looked poised to capture their first ever national title but were denied by a hot Golden Bears team who lost only one game the entire tournament.

Pictured above are team members (l-r) Jake Walker, Edward Cyr, Geoff Chambers, James Freeman, Nathan Ransom, and coach Scott Allen.

Waterloo skip and 2010 Canadian Junior Champion Jake Walker (Minden) led all skips with a 76 shooting percentage while third Edward Cyr (Minden) was also a consistent force for Waterloo with 75 percent. Both Walker and Cyr were named Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) first-team all-Canadians for their strong play throughout the championship.

“Before today, we played really well.” Walker admitted after Alberta claimed the championship. “We obviously just couldn't make that happen in the final. It's obviously disappointing to lose a final, but really it just comes down to execution and we just didn't execute. We didn't make shots. They made a lot of good shots, we just missed. We just didn't have it today.”

Waterloo second Geoff Chambers (Innerkip) was third best at his position with a 74 shooting percentage which earned him a CIS second-team all-Canadian nod while lead James Freeman (Brantford) was at 70 percent for the championship. Alberta skip Brendan Bottcher saved his best game for the end as he fired a sizzling 88 percent in the gold medal match, compared to Walker's 65 percent.

The Warriors should do nothing but hold their heads up high on a very successful curling season which saw the black and gold win 22 games and lose only six.

Back to top

Event examines science in society

by Angela Roorda, Research Development Officer, Faculty of Arts)

Who gets to be called a scientific “expert”? Beyond not falsifying results, what responsibilities do scientists have to society? How do the practices and technologies of scientific communities affect the science produced? And does a commitment to diversity in engineering departments necessarily lead to compromises in research excellence?

These are some of the questions to be grappled with at this Friday’s first annual Science and Technology in Society Day, which will be held this Friday, March 23, in Conrad Grebel University College’s Great Hall. Organized by two new members of Waterloo’s philosophy department, Carla Fehr (Wolfe Chair in Science and Technology) and Heather Douglas (Waterloo Chair in Science and Society), the day will feature talks and panel discussions by researchers from across campus. Heather Douglas will start things off with a talk entitled “Scientists and the Burden of Responsibility.” Following this, Lee Smolin (Perimeter Institute), Trefford Simpson (Optometry), and Richard Wells (Kinesiology) will look at “Structural Obstacles to Scientific Investigation.” In the afternoon, panelists Kathryn Plaisance (Centre for Knowledge Integration), Christine Logel (Psychology, Renison), and Jennifer Liu (Anthropology) will address the question “Science and Technology: Who is in/Who is out?” Carla Fehr will round things off with her presentation, “If You Want Research Excellence, Fight for Diversity.”

All members of the university community are invited to attend this free event, which promises to be an engaging exploration of some of the big questions facing scientists and engineers today. “What better place to foster and intensify these conversations than at Waterloo, where science and technology thrive?” remarks Douglas. “Science is embedded in society, and understanding the implications of that—and the opportunities --requires the participation of all stakeholders.” According to Fehr, Science and Technology in Society Day is just one of a slate of academic and public outreach initiatives she and Douglas are spearheading over the next year. “Part of our mandate as Chairs in Science and Technology/Society is to provide a range of venues through which to move the conversation forward.” One of these is a new cross-faculty working group focused on undergraduate education about the relationships between values, and science and technology. “So far, we have participants from Arts, Engineering and Environment. Anyone interested in these pursuing these issues with us is welcome to join,” says Fehr.

Full details and pre-registration this event can be found on the Science and Technology in Society website. Those interested in learning more about the Values, Science and Technology working group at Waterloo can contact Carla Fehr directly.

Back to top

Rebuilding peatlands in oil sands country

A news release by the media relations department

A University of Waterloo geographer is leading a trailblazing effort to reclaim environmentally important peatlands that once covered more than half the Athabasca landscape but have been scraped away by oil sands mining.

Jonathan Price, a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, and his group of researchers recently received $6.7 million in funding for the project. It’s one of the largest-ever Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) Grants, a grant program that combines funding from industry and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Of the funding, $2.65 million is from NSERC, and the rest is from Suncor Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Resources Ltd., and Shell Canada Energy.

The team consists of Price; Richard Petrone, associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies; Maria Strack, assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Department of Geography; and David Cooper, associate professor at Colorado State University’s Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship.

“The important work of these environmental scientists will have long-term benefits,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “This collaborative approach demonstrates the kind of innovative thinking taking place at Waterloo that will help solve some of our greatest environmental challenges.”

In 2003, Price was at a meeting in Fort McMurray, Alberta, at which an oil industry expert stated that reclaiming peatlands would be impossible. Price immediately challenged that notion. He had previously been involved in a prize-winning project to restore damaged peatlands and believed it would be possible and important to rebuild a fen peatland from scratch. Fens are the predominant type of peatland in northern Alberta. They have a relatively high and stable water table, less acidity, and more nutrients than bogs, and therefore support a diverse range of plants and animals. They’re also important for sequestering carbon.

“Research is vitally important to an economically and socially sustainable oil sands industry. Successful reclamation of the land used for mining is a big part of that,” said NSERC President, Dr. Suzanne Fortier. “The research being done by Dr. Price and his team will help Canadian companies reintroduce plants and forests into regions after mining operations have ended, furthering Canada’s leadership in this important research area.”

Price and his colleagues have now developed a plan and started to put it into action at one pilot site on Suncor land in northern Alberta. It involves situating donor peat and fen plants in a re-contoured landscape with a constructed upland aquifer that provides water to the new fen. Water quality is a challenge because the team is using tailings materials to create the aquifer. A liner will separate the old tailings dump from the fen, but the water flowing from the created aquifer will be high in sodium and naphthenic acid, a residual compound in the processed tailings sand. Nonetheless, Price and his colleagues believe they can make it work.

“I think in 10 years we’ll see an ecosystem that has many of the features of a fen peatland, though it will be a system that’s still evolving and changing as the solute redistributes and the plant layer develops,” said Price. “I feel optimistic.”

“We have previously studied how natural fens in this climate type function, and have used this knowledge to design the fen in this project,” said Petrone. “I am sure there will be some surprises as the site evolves, but we expect to see that this fen will be on the trajectory to becoming a self-sustaining peat-accumulating system over the next decade.”

“Sustainability of the environment is one of the grand challenges of this century,” said Abby Goodrum, Laurier's vice-president: research. “Laurier and Waterloo have a long history of research collaboration around environmental sustainability, and we are excited by the role Dr. Petrone and his team will play in this collaboration.”

The scientists involved have complementary fields of expertise. Price is an expert in wetland hydrology and reclamation. Petrone will be responsible for looking at the exchange of carbon and water between the fen and atmosphere, and tracking how the constructed fen compares to nearby natural ecosystems. Strack works on carbon biogeochemistry in wetland systems, and Cooper examines the links between hydrology, geochemistry and plant distribution.

Back to top

Library hours updated; other notes

The hours for the Davis Centre and Dana Porter Libraries will be changing for the upcoming exam period starting March 25 through to April 21.

The Davis branch will be open 24 hours, except for Sundays, when it will be closed from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. The Dana Porter library will be open Monday to Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

During this time, service desks and related services will close at the regular times, which for Dana Porter is 11:00 p.m. and for Davis, midnight. There will be attendants present at the libraries for security purposes. At Davis, staff will also monitor for noise, cell phone use, and hot foods that are not permitted in the library.

On the last day of extended hours (April 21), Davis will close at midnight and Porter will close at 11:00 p.m.

The libraries will be open for intersession, which runs from Sunday, April 22 to Monday, April 30, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

"The University of Waterloo weather station contest ended on March 16 at 3:30 p.m. when the temperature went above 20 degrees for the first time this year," writes weather station co-ordinator Frank Seglenieks. "Congratulations to Sanda Hayden who was only 15 minutes off the winning time and to second place winner Mary Power." Seglenieks notes that with the recent warm temperatures, it probably won't surprise anyone to learn that March 16 was the second earliest winning date since the contest to pinpoint the first time the temperature rises above 20 degrees began back in 2000.

Here's the latest Nutrition Month "myth vs. truth" nutrition tip provided by Health Services dietician Sandra Ace.

"Myth": Cows’ milk is full of hormones and antibiotics.
"Truth": Not true! Canadian milk, both organic and non-organic, meets strict government standards so it’s safe and healthy. Growth hormones to stimulate milk production are not permitted for use in Canadian dairy cattle. Just like humans, cows sometimes get sick and need medications like antibiotics. If this happens, the cow is identified and milked separately until she is healthy again. Her milk is properly disposed of until the medication is out of her system.

If you have comments or questions about these tips in support of Nutrition Month, which runs the month of March, please contact Sandra Ace at sace@

Back to top

Link of the day

Snowman Burning

When and where

Vision 2015 Town Hall for engineering faculty, Tuesday, March 20, 2:30 p.m., EIT 3142.

The Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (I.B.M.B.) seminar series featuring Prof. Donald Spratt, Department of Biochemistry, Western University. "Structure and Mechanism of E2 and E3 Enzymes in Ubiquitylation", Tuesday, March 20, 3:30 p.m. C2-361.

Waterloo Research Institute in Insurance, Securities and Quantitative Finance (WatRISQ) presents Tong Yu, associate professor of finance, College of Business Administration, "By Force of Habitat? On the Dynamics of Insurers' Government Bond Portfolio Durations," Tuesday, March 20, 4:00 p.m., M3 3127.

Capital Markets Roundtable: Energy, Opportunities and Challenges in 2012 and Beyond, Tuesday, March 20, 5:30 p.m.. Presented by the Accounting and Finance Student Association (AFSA). Details.

Electrical and computer engineering design symposium, Wednesday, March 21, 9:30 a.m., Davis Centre foyer. Details.

International workshop: Governing Wetlands and Watersheds: Issues, Cases, Practices, Wednesday, March 21, 11:30 a.m., Arts Lecture Hall.

Noon hour concert series, "Paraguay Primeval" featuring Rebecca Campbell (vocals), Carol Ann Weaver (piano), Katie Honek (flute), Ben Bolt-Martin (cello), Kyle Skillman (percussion), Wednesday, March 21, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel chapel.

Centre for Career Action Webinar: Writing an A+ resume, Wednesday, March 21, 4:30 p.m. Details.

Street party at Mudie's, Wednesday, March 21, 4:30 p.m.

Vision 2015 town hall for engineering undergraduates, Wednesday, March 21, 5:30 p.m., RCH 301.

Waterloo Lecture: Homer, the Brain, and Rhetoric, hosted by the Waterloo Stratford Campus, Wednesday, March 21, 7:00 p.m., Stratford Public Library.

Co-op Student of the Year Awards, Thursday, March 22.

World Water Day Graduate Research Fair and Water Celebration, Thursday, March 22, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Federation Hall.

Vision 2015 Town Hall for engineering staff, Thursday, March 22, 12:00 p.m., EIT 3142.

Weight Watchers At Work registration session, Thursday, March 22, 12:15 p.m., PAS 2438, for info call ext. 32218.

International Spouses event, "Painting with Imen," Thursday, March 22, 12:45 p.m. Please pre-register. Details.

Student Developer Network iOS workshop, Thursday, March 22, 6:00 p.m., MC 3003. Snacks provided.

Careers in Health Informatics and E-Health (CHiE) 2012 Career Fair, Thursday, March 22, 4:00 p.m., Kitchener City Hall. Register online.

Presentation by Som Seif, “Engineering Success” Thursday, March 22, 4:30 p.m. HH 1108. Details.

First annual Management Engineering Design Symposium, Friday, March 23, 10:00 a.m., Davis Centre foyer. Details.

CIGI-BSIA Signature Lecture with Saudi Ambassador Osamah Al Sanosi Ahmad: “Saudi Arabia in the 21st Century: Dialogue as a Means of Transformation,” Friday, March 23, 12:30 p.m., CIGI Campus Auditorium, 67 Erb St. West.

First annual nanotechnology and software engineering design symposia, Friday, March 23, 10:00 a.m., Davis Centre foyer.

Hackathon, Friday, March 23, 7:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m., MC comfy lounge.

Scarboro Missions Lecture featuring Dr. Heather Eaton, "One Earth, Many Religions: The Spiritual Quest for a Sustainable and Just Future." Friday, March 23, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University. Part of the Lectures in Catholic Experience series.

International Spouses event, "Movie and Coffee with Patty," (See "Willy Wonka" at Galaxy Cinemas for $5). Details.

University senate Monday, March 26, 3:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

4th Annual Pink Day, Tuesday, March 27, Pink Coffee break gets started at 9:00 a.m. in NH 1021.

Student appreciation night at REVelation, Tuesday, March 27, 4:30 p.m.

Reading and Q&A with children's author Robert Paul Weston ("Zorgamazoo", "Dust City"), Tuesday, March 27, 4:30 p.m., St. Jerome's room 2009. Part of the St. Jerome's Reading Series.

Waterloo Centre for German Studies presents Faust in the Box by Bridge Markland, Tuesday, March 27 (German-language performance) and Wednesday, March 27 (English-language performance), 8:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building. Tickets available at the door or at the uWaterloo box office. Details.

Digital Media Series: Virtual Worlds and Augmented Reality: Implications for Marketing, Wednesday, March 28, Stratford Campus.

Lunch 'N Learn event, "Mortgages Made Easy" featuring Sharon Feldmann and Paul O'Reilly, Thursday, March 29, 12:05 p.m., Davis Centre 1302. Please RSVP to Janine Warry, 519-722-3050 ext. 2423 or janinew@ Presented by the Education Credit Union.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday, March 29, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

Third annual SMF Symposium, Friday, March 30. Details.

Alyson Woloshyn fundraiser cocktail reception and silent auction, Saturday, March 31.

Lectures end April 2.

Staff conference April 3-4, Humanities Theatre and other rooms in Hagey Hall, details online.

Board of governors Tuesday, April 3, 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

The Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience presents the 6th annual Waterloo Brain Day, Wednesday, April 4, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., PAS 2083. Details.

Warrior W.Warrior sports

Weekly report, March 19.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin