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Thursday, March 22, 2012

  • "The warmest winter ever"
  • New Canada Research Chairs for Waterloo
  • Performance artist opens "Faust in the Box"
  • UN water report launched; other notes
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

"The warmest winter ever"

"I think the headline says it all," writes University of Waterloo weather station co-ordinator Frank Seglenieks in his latest weather summary. "At almost 5 degrees above average it was the warmest winter we have seen since records began in the area almost 100 years ago. This was about half a degree more than the previous warmest winter of 1931-32."

Seglenieks reports that the heat was consistent throughout the season, with each month well above average. "The last week of winter felt more like summer with temperatures around 20 degrees higher than average."

This winter, the longest streak of below-zero temperatures was for four days, in contrast to last year, when between January 1 and February 13, it went above zero only once.

The total precipitation of 158.3 mm was "not that far off of the average" of 189.3 mm. "It was wetter at the beginning of the winter and started to get drier in the second half. This winter, 71 cm of snow fell, compared to the average of 103 cm. "I think it seemed like a lot less as any snow we did have didn't last very long," writes Seglenieks.

The numbers tell the story: the maximum temperature for the 2011/2012 winter season was 22.2°C, with the minimum hitting -18.3°C. The average daily high was 3.0°C, and the daily low was -4.7°C.

Seglenieks invites comments about the weather summary on the UW Weather station blog.

The University of Waterloo weather station is supported by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Department of Geography, the Climate Research Branch of Environment Canada, and Campbell Scientific Canada.

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New Canada Research Chairs for Waterloo

a news release from the media relations office

The University of Waterloo has cemented its place in the top echelon of Canadian research centres after six of its researchers received $7.5-million to pursue projects ranging from alternative energy storage to improved interactive audio.

The latest round of funding for Canada Research Chairs puts Waterloo in the top five research universities across the country. These research professorships allow faculty members to focus on their research and train the next generation of leading scientists.

“This support underscores the importance and impact of research taking place at the University of Waterloo,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “Not only is the work that received this funding changing how we interact with technology and live our lives today, but it is shaping how our society will work in the future.”

The six Canada Research Chairs from the University of Waterloo included in this latest round of funding are:

Dr. Linda Nazar, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology
CRC in: Solid State Energy Materials
Received: $1.4-million over seven years
Research: One of the greatest challenges to the sustainable energy field is adequate storage. For 15 years, Dr Linda Nazar has focused her research on developing new materials to store and deliver energy at a high rate. This ongoing work is exploring the potential of nanotechnology to improve rechargeable batteries, like those used in plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Dr. Richard Cook, Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
CRC in: Statistical Methods for Health Research
Received: $1.4-million over seven years
Research: Huge amounts of information and data are collected in medical research, from dates of diagnoses and history of health issues to contact with possible agents of causation. Dr Richard Cook works with oncologists, epidemiologists and rheumatologists to study this data in a bid to better understand the natural history of disease, to identify risk factors in disease progression, and to better predict the course of a disease for a person or a wider population.

Dr. Brian B. Dixon, Department of Biology
CRC in: Fish and Environmental Immunology
Received: $1.4-million over seven years
Research: While we know much about disease prevention in mammals, the world of fish is another matter. Only a handful of immunologically important molecules have been found in fish, making it difficult to create vaccines and drugs for the aquaculture industry. Dr Brian Dixon studies the immune systems of fish and frogs in the hope of working out how these systems work. This information will not only help create vaccines and drugs for fisheries, but it will help us better understand ecosystems including the Great Lakes, and the evolution and function of similar immune-system molecules in mammals.

Dr. Carl Haas, Centre for Paving and Transportation Technology
CRC in: Construction and Management of Sustainable Infrastructure
Received: $1.4-million over seven years
Research: Canada’s civil infrastructure is worth more than $3 trillion, encompassing everything from roads and sewers to suspension bridges, skyscrapers, and miles-long tunnels, and Dr Carl Haas and his research team want to find the most sustainable ways to make and manage it. By studying 3D scanning of road surface aggregates, the role of teleoperated robots in hazardous environments, automated infrastructure maintenance, remote highway condition, and other issues, Dr Haas aims to make things better for longer, and in doing so ensure Canada’s economic competitiveness and well-being.

Dr. Amir Khandani, Electrical and Computer Engineering
CRC in: Multiuser Wireless Communications
Received: $1.4-million over seven years
Research: The future of wireless systems promise higher bit rates at lower costs, but it will also put huge pressure on the frequency spectrum. Dr Amir Khandani and his research team are developing new communication algorithms and circuits to handle the needs of the future wireless networks. By linking several high-impact areas of electrical engineering, his work could lead to breakthroughs in design and implementation.

Dr. Karen Collins, Canadian Centre for Arts and Technology
CRC in: Interactive Audio
Received: $500,000 over five years
Research: Emotional impact is one of the biggest challenges for interactive media creators, and sound is integral to creating the desired effect. Dr. Karen Collins is creating software to insert user-generated content into games, to make game sound more accessible, and to automatically generate sounds and music to accompany existing musical scores. Dr. Collins’ work could be used in any place or medium in which sound is used, and could open up a new realm of interactive media activity in Canada’s high-tech and cultural sectors.

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Performance artist opens "Faust in the Box"

A media release from the Waterloo Centre for German Studies

Bridge Markland.The Waterloo Centre for German Studies (WCGS) has invited Berlin performance artist Bridge Markland (right) to stage her one-woman-show Faust in the Box, based on Goethe’s famous play “Faust”, on March 27 and 28, 2012.

Crossing boundaries of gender, performance, theatre, cabaret, collage, and puppetry, Markland gives the story of Faust - an intellectual who sells his soul to the devil for knowledge - a new and interesting spin. Using only a cardboard box for a set, Markland switches effortlessly between the characters of Margaret (the girl Faust seduces), Mephisto (the devil), and Faust himself, using hand puppets to perform the multiple roles.

Bridge Markland has performed her many productions to critical acclaim in Germany, Europe, the USA, and Australia. Her performance at the University of Waterloo will be her first appearance in Canada.

Intellectually stimulating and highly entertaining, the performance is accompanied by an extraordinary sound collage and well-known pop tunes, making the 200+ year-old story more accessible to contemporary audiences of all ages. The juxtaposition of quotations from this literary classic with lines from the likes of The Rolling Stones, Rammstein, Robbie Williams, Metallica, Pink, Elvis, Madonna, Led Zeppelin, Depeche Mode, and Placebo leads to a new and inspiring understanding of the classical piece as well as the pop songs and their themes today.

Markland’s great achievement with Faust in the Box is in her dialogue between different streams of popular culture that highlight eternal themes of love and betrayal and of freedom and venality. The performance is great fun for everybody: those already familiar with the classical text by Goethe will discover many nuances and connections with popular culture today. And newcomers to Goethe’s “Faust” will be captivated by the performance and the unfolding story as it’s played with humour, emotion, sensitivity - as well as a good dose of the grotesque.

The first performance on March 27 is in German, and admission is free, though tickets are required (available at the door or at the uWaterloo box office). The second performance on March 28 is in English, and tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors. Both performances take place at the Theatre of the Arts at 8:00 p.m.

More information can be obtained online or by contacting Mat Schulze at 519-888-4567 x36627.

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UN water report launched; notes

The University of Waterloo, in partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University, will host the Canadian release of a United Nations (UN) international report on the state of the world’s water today.

The 2012 United Nations World Water Development Report, the UN’s flagship report on water, is released every three years. It gives an overall picture of the state of the world's freshwater resources and aims to provide decision-makers with the tools to implement sustainable use of our water. Representatives of the UN University's Canadian-based Institute on Water, Environment and Health, one of the report's contributors, will be at the Waterloo campus to release the document.

The World Water Day event will also feature speakers addressing what the report means for Canada, a talk about water careers, and a graduate fair featuring graduate research and scholarship awards.

The event takes place at 10:30 a.m. at Federation Hall. More details are available online.

00:00 image.The 38th Annual Fourth Year Undergraduate Exhibition, a long-standing tradition that celebrates the culmination of the four-year undergraduate program in Fine Arts, will be taking place tonight at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery beginning at 5:00 p.m. with an opening reception. The exhibition, entitled 00:00, "symbolizes both an ending and a beginning, a countdown that represents a moment of uncertainty but also one of infinite possibilities," reads the promotional materials. "It evokes a sense of closure after four years of creativity, collegiality and mentorship, while inviting the question: what's next?" The exhibition will represent a broad spectrum of themes, materials, and media that reflects the range and diversity of work produced by students completing the undergraduate program.

The exhibition features artwork by Rachel Abel, Afraz Arfeen, Casey Auty, Emily Biermann, Corey Blenkarn, Julie Burdett, Jennifer Collins, Kieran Darcy, Catharine Dixon, Alishia Ellis, Kevin Farrugie, Jenna Ferdinandi, Holly Forsyth, Adam Frank, Chelsea Friesen, Scott Futher, Stephen Gartshore, Valerie Heaton, Maria Holland, Michael Jeong, Ruby Kingsbury, Serena Lawrence, Joshua Levy, Jaime Liew, Kathleen Light, Nakita Martin-Rusillo, Tanya Matthews, Reed McCammon, Alicia Mizzi, Rachel Perrier, Melinda Poss, Susan Qu, Saabira Razac, Christine Royle, Constanza Salazar, Melissa Thurston, Jacqui To, Katarina Veljovic, Sarah Wang, and Marie Wong.

The undergraduate thesis exhibition runs from March 22 to April 7.

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

"Myth": Frozen and canned vegetables and fruits are not as nutritious as fresh.
"Truth": Nothing beats the taste of fresh produce in season, especially when it’s locally grown. But frozen and canned produce is also a healthy choice since it’s usually picked and packed at the peak of ripeness when nutrient levels are highest. Frozen or canned produce is affordable and allows Canadians to enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruits year-round. Cooking with frozen or canned produce can save you time in the kitchen but check out the labels - the healthiest choices contain no added sugar, fat or salt.

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FIRST Robotics competition begins

The 2012 FIRST Robotics Waterloo Regional competition gets underway today in the Physical Activities Complex. Waterloo will host 31 high school teams who will compete for a berth at the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.

Practice rounds begin today at 10:00 a.m., with opening ceremonies set for Friday, March 23, at 9:00 a.m. Seeding matches will then take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The competition continues Saturday with seeding matches from 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and the final rounds will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. A full schedule is available online.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition is a series of short games played by remote-controlled robots, designed and built within six weeks from a common set of basic parts, by a team of students and engineer-mentors.

The events are free and open to the public.

Link of the day

World Water Day

When and where

Engineering Shadow Days, Monday, March 19 to Friday, March 30.

Co-op Student of the Year Awards, Thursday, March 22, 11:00 a.m., TC 2218.

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.

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 party and silent auction, Saturday, March 31. Details.

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.

Designing the Future, Faculty of Engineering reception, Wednesday, April 4, 6:00 p.m., Student Design Centre, Engineering 5.

English Language Proficiency Exam in the Physical Activities Complex, Thursday, April 5.

Good Friday holiday April 6, university closed.

PhD Oral Defences

Civil and environmental engineering. Yelda Turkan, “Automated Construction Progress Tracking Using 3D Sensing Technologies.” Supervisors, Carl T. Haas, Ralph Haas. On deposit in the Engineering Graduate Office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, April 5, 2:00 p.m., E2-3324.

Computer Science. Patrick Kling, “Distributed XML Query Processing.” Supervisor, Tamer Ozsu. On display in the Mathematics Faculty Graduate Office, MC 5090. Oral defence Monday, April 9, 9:30 a.m., DC 1331.

Chemistry. Avisek Chatterjee, “Site Specific Surface Chemistry of Prototypical Amino Acid, Peptide and DNA Base Groups on Si(111)7x7.” Supervisor, Tong Leung. On deposit in the Faculty of Science Graduate Office, ESC-254A. Oral defence Tuesday, April 10, 10:00 a.m., C2 278.

Planning. Colin Yates, “Developing an Understanding for Wastewater Treatment in Remote Communities in Nunavut, Canada: Investigating the Performance, Planning Practice and Function of Tundra and Constructed Treatment Wetlands.” Supervisor, Stephen Murphy. On display in the Faculty of Environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Tuesday, April 10, 1:00 p.m., EV1 221.

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