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Thursday, February 14, 2013



  • A social network built for two
  • A quantum of knowledge for AAAS
  • Thursday's love notes


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


A social network built for two

by Jodi Szimanski, Student Success Office

Are you in a long-distance relationship? There's an app for that.

With the arrival of Valentine’s Day and with many couples at the University of Waterloo separated by the distance of a co-op term, Waterloo alumni have launched a promo video for their web app, Couple (previously known as Pair).

Couple lets couples share everyday life even if they’re not in the same city. They can avoid communication breakdowns using Couple's features to chat (by video or text), share photos, sketch together and even give each other a “Thumbkiss”.

Founders Oleg Kostour (BAS, 12), Anton Krutiansky (BASc, 11 ), Aswin Rajendiran (BASc, 09), Michael Petrov (Computer Science/Economics) and Jamie Murai (no longer with the company) started their company Tenthbit Inc. at Y Combinator – an accelerator program for startups located in California. The five met at the VeloCity Residence in Waterloo in 2011 and developed Maide – a multi-touch tablet application for 3D Computer Aided Design – and were one of the first VeloCity Venture Fund winners.

Once in California, the team experienced the challenges of long-distance relationships and it got them thinking about having all modes of communications between a couple in one place, and Pair was born. The founders still use the app every day with their partners and other couples have jumped on board. Couple reports 800,000 downloads on iOS and Android and processes 1.25 million messages each day for a total of over 160 million messages sent. “Because couples are communicating in private, they communicate differently,” says Kostour. “The whole world isn’t watching their posts to each other like on other social media platforms.” Privacy is important to couples and led Tenthbit to acquire Cupple – an early innovator in the private sharing space – just last week and changed the app name from Pair to Couple.

While at Y Combinator Tenthbit met several investors and landed $4.2 million in seed funding from investors including Founder Collective, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, CrunchFund, Betaworks, Dave Marin, Yuri Milner, Michael Birch, Paul Buccheit, Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan and Gary Vaynerchuk. After the team’s time was done at Y Combinator, they returned to the VeloCity Garage in Kitchener. “VeloCity has a proactive atmosphere,” says Kostour. “We learned to just go ahead, start and see if it works.” They are now back in California capitalizing on access to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and advice from investors like Ashton Kutcher (Kutcher's A-Grade Ventures is also an investor). Excited to continue to represent Waterloo in the Valley, Couple is also looking to hire Waterloo co-op students to extend Couple's capabilities. “We want Couple to be an extension of a relationship,” says Krutiansky. “What you’d buy naturally in your relationship, like flowers, you could buy in Couple through the push of a button.”


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A quantum of knowledge for AAAS

by Stacey Ash, director, external communications

Researchers from the University of Waterloo will be among those sharing their discoveries when scientists from around the world gather at the prestigious annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) from February 14 to 18.

This year’s gathering of the world’s largest scientific society explores the Beauty and Benefits of Science.

On Friday, February 15, a panel organized by the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), will discuss Quantum Sensors: Toward the Ultimate Limits. The panel, organized by manager of scientific outreach Martin Laforest and moderated by executive director Raymond Laflamme, includes David Cory, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Information Processing at IQC. Cory will join Raffi Budakian of the University of Illinois and Amir Yacoby of Harvard University to discuss new tools and strategies in the exploration of the quantum realm.

On Sunday, February 17, Bernard Glick, a professor of biology in the Faculty of Science is part of a panel discussion entitled How Microbes Can Help Feed the World. With colleagues from the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Switzerland, Glick will share his research into bacteria that encourage plant growth in salt and metal-contaminated soil. Growth-promoting bacteria could someday replace the use of chemicals in agriculture, increasing productivity at an affordable cost.

In addition to his panel discussion, Cory will speak at a Canadian Press breakfast on February 17, organized by the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Laflamme will represent Waterloo in a roundtable discussion on Fostering Cultures of Innovation Through International Cooperation, taking place at the Canadian consulate in Boston during the conference. Sallie Keller, a professor of statistics and actuarial science is a member of the AAAS organizing committee.

Founded in 1848, the AAAS publishes Science, a peer-reviewed journal with an estimated one million readers. The annual meeting attracts thousands of scientists from around the world, along with media and members of the public interested in learning about breakthrough research.

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Thursday's love notes

This is a reminder that tickets have gone on sale for an International Women's Day Dinner at the University Club, hosted by the university's Women's Studies program, on Friday, March 8. Professor Wendy Mitchinson, Canada Research Chair in Gender and Medical History, will be the keynote speaker, with a talk entitled "Fighting Fat: Mother-Blaming in Canada, 1920-80."

The last day to vote in the Federation of Students’ Elections is February 14, 2013. Please visit to cast a ballot. There are two teams – Team Yellow and Team Teal – vying for the executive roles and an independent candidate, Moe Bdeir vying for the president role. More information about the candidates is available online.

Results will be shared on Friday, February 15 at 11 a.m. in the Student Life Centre Multi-Purpose room. The University community is invited to attend and light refreshments will be served.

Other seminars, lectures, and meetings in the near future include the latest in Architecture's Arriscraft Lecture series, featuring George Baird delivering a talk entitled "Thoughts on "Agency", "Utopia", and "Property", in Contemporary Architectural and Urban Theory," on Thursday, February 21 at 6:45 p.m., in the Cummings Lecture Hall at the School of Architecture.

On Friday, the Vision Science Research Seminar Series continues with remarks by Professor Agnes Wong of the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children entitled “Skew Deviation: From the Laboratory to Bedside”, at 3:30 p.m. in OPT 1129.

The university's Senate meets on Monday, February 25 at the usual time, 3:30 p.m. in NH 3001.

VeloCity is hosting a recruiting event aimed at "startups and Waterloo's tech talent" on Tuesday, February 26, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre. Registration details are available online.

The next Waterloo Women's Wednesday will be a workshop that features Jeremy Steffler and Katrina Di Gravio speaking on "Sexual Orientation and and Gender Identity," on Wednesday, February 27, starting at 4:00 p.m. in the Grad House.

The Department of English Language and Literature has a lecture on the books featuring Wayde Compton of Emily Carr University speaking on “Vancouver Versus Hogan's Alley: Urban Renewal, Negro Removal, and the Myth of Livability”, that will take place Thursday, February 28, at 4:00 p.m. in HH 373.


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Link of the day

Happy "Valenstine's" Day

When and where

Observations and Free Inquiries seminar featuring Hamid Tizhoosh, Systems Design Engineering, "Good, Evil and other Ideations - Why morality and ethics are useless" Thursday, February 14, 5:30 p.m., E5 6004. Details.

WIN Seminar Series featuring Professor Christof Schulz, University of Duisburg-Essen, "Laser diagnostics and kinetics studies for the combustion synthesis of nanoparticles", Friday, February 15, 11:00 a.m., QNC 1501. Details.

Conversation from Space with Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Friday, February 15, 11:30 a.m., Hagey Hall. Details.

Psychology Dept. Colloquium Series Presents Dr. Noam Soreni, "Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder", Friday, February 15, 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m., PAS 2083. Reception to follow.

Family Day, Monday, February 18, most university services closed.

Loving to Learn Day, Tuesday, February 19, all day. Details.

WISE Lecture Series featuring André Lucena, Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), "Brazil's Energy Plans and Strategies: Challenges Related to Climate Change," Tuesday, February 19, 1:00 p.m., CPH 4333. Details.

UWRC Book Club meeting, featuring "The House I Loved" by Tatiana de Rosnay, Wednesday, February 20, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.

Retirement party for Linda Kieswetter, Wednesday, February 20, 3:30 p.m., University Club.

Stratford Campus Open House, Wednesday, February 20, 6:00 p.m, Stratford Campus. Details.


PhD Oral Defences

Biology. Laura Dindia, "Rapid and Nongenomic Glucoccorticoid Signaling in Rainbow Trout." Supervisor, Matt Vijayan. On deposit in the Faculty of Science Graduate Office, ESC-254A. Oral defence Tuesday, February 19, 9:30 a.m., B1 266.

Earth and Environmental Sciences. Kenneth Walton, "On Modeling Three-Phase Flow in Discretely Fractured Rock." Supervisor, André Unger. On deposit in the Faculty of Science Graduate Office, ESC-254A. Oral defence Tuesday, February 26, 9:30 a.m., DC 1304.

Chemistry. Ting Wang, "Investigation of Optical Properties of Nanostructured Transparent Conducting Oxides." Supervisor, Pavle Radovanovic. On deposit in the Faculty of Science graduate office, ESC-254A. Oral defence Friday, March 1, 2:00 p.m., C2 278.

Systems Design Engineering. Timothy Lahey, "Modelling the Dynamics of Mass Capture." Supervisor, Glenn Heppler. On deposit in the Faculty of Engineering Graduate Office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, March 5, 9:30 a.m., MC 2009.


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