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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, November 3, 1998

  • New field for grads: biostatistics
  • High-tech visitors due tomorrow
  • Staff wanted for committees
  • Happening on this chilly day
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New field for grads: biostatistics

A "subspecialization" in biostatistics is to be offered to graduate students in UW's department of statistics and actuarial science, and the senate is being asked to approve it as an official field of study for the Master of Mathematics degree.

It's already been approved by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies, which coordinates graduate programs across the province, says Fahiem Bacchus, associate dean (graduate studies and research) in the math faculty.

Explain biostatistics, please:

Biostatistical research is typically directed at the development of statistical methods with a view to applications in the biological and medical sciences. Specific areas of biological research in which statisticians often play an important role are varied, including among others agriculture, forestry, ecology, kinesiology, and experimental biology. In medical research, statisticians are often involved in the design and analysis of cross-sectional studies with the objective of estimating disease prevalence, cohort studies with the objective of modelling disease progression, and prospective randomized clinical trials in which the objective is to evaluate experimental therapeutic interventions. Biostatisticians can work with a wide variety of people such as biologists, physicians, physiotherapists, veterinary scientists, and epidemiologists. Employment opportunities often arise in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, universities, and government agencies.
Students who choose the biostats option for the MMath will face the same requirements as other master's students in the stats department, except that they'll have to take two specific courses -- Stats 935, "Analysis of Survival Data", and a revised Stats 937 that will now be called "Introduction to Biostatistics and Epidemiology".

High-tech visitors due tomorrow

Tomorrow will bring a one-two-three-four punch of big-name visitors to UW, with three major lectures and, in the afternoon, a software giveaway that's described as "a significant gift" to UW and individual students, faculty and staff. Here are the big events, in chronological order:

The inventor of Java

James Gosling, the inventor of Java, will speak about the latest developments in Java at 9 a.m. in the Humanities Theatre. Admission is free.

Gosling is vice-president and Sun Fellow at Sun Microsystems, Inc. He is the lead engineer and key architect behind Sun's Java programming language and platform, which have brought the World Wide Web to life.

Gosling has been involved in distributed computing since his arrival at Sun in 1984. His first project was the NeWs window system. Before joining Sun, he built a multiprocessor version of Unix; the original Andrew window system and toolkit; and several compilers and mail systems. He also built the original Unix Emacs and helped build a satellite data acquisition system.

Software mogul with a gift

Dan Dodge, co-founder of QNX Software Systems, will visit this afternoon to give away free copies of "a full suite of software targeted at the demanding needs of high-tech research". Besides the QNX realtime operating system, the CD-ROM includes Watcom C and C++ compilers from Sybase Inc., and other programs.

Dodge was this year's recipient of the 1998 J.W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation from UW. He is a Waterloo graduate, who with fellow-student Gordon Bell founded QNX to continue work on operating systems that they had done during their undergraduate years. Dodge and Bell first worked at Bell Northern Research as programmers. By 1980, they were in a position to see an enormous opportunity when IBM introduced the PC. They devoted their spare time to the development of the QNX realtime operating system; the current version of the microkernel is now in use in more than a million computers around the world.

The presentation to UW will come at a special seminar at 1:30 tomorrow in Davis Centre room 1302, and the first copies of the free CD-ROM will be available then for interested faculty, staff and students.

Bagel commentator on society

Paul Hoffert, the author of The Bagel Effect: A Compass to Navigate Our Wired World, will speak about his new book at 4:30 in Davis Centre room 1302.

For years, Hoffert, a faculty member at York University, has straddled the arts and high-tech worlds, studying the impact of each on the other. Now, in The Bagel Effect, he shares his insights on how technology is affecting all areas of life -- from education and health care to business and the workplace. The Bagel Effect sorts the over-abundance of information bombarding us from every direction into clear trends and predictable outcomes.

Hoffert says what's dubbed "technology" today is simply the latest in a chain of technological advances that will help people do what they have always done: communicate. And, although recent technological developments are at least as significant as the invention of electric lights, automobiles, and movies at the close of the 19th century, they are nothing to fear. His book offers a reassuringly welcome path through the technology maze.

Hoffert is a scientist, researcher, writer, composer, musician and founder of York University's CulTech Collaborative Research Centre that focuses on studying how people relate to technology. He is the founder and jazz pianist of the Juno award-winning rock band Lighthouse and is a designer of high-tech audio equipment. Hoffert is also the executive director of Intercom Ontario, North America's first wired community, in Newmarket, Ontario.

Award-winning SF author

Science fiction writer Robert Sawyer will speak about "Science Fiction as the Conscience of the Technological Age" at 7:30 p.m. in the Humanities Theatre, as the last event of tomorrow's busy day. Admission is free.

Sawyer's fascination with the clash between what he sees as "the two most potent forces in shaping human society -- science and religion" has been the theme of at least two of his works, and has informed others. The award-winning Canadian writer takes a pro-science stance, but says his job as a science fiction writer is to look at changes in science and technology with a skeptical eye, and to help the reader sort out "what it all means".

He's president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer of America, and his work has won top SF awards in the United States, Japan, France, Spain and Canada. Among his best-known titles are The Terminal Experiment, Starplex, Frameshift and Golden Fleece. As well, his short stories have been included in several anthologies.

Staff wanted for committees

The UW staff association, which finds staff to serve on dozens of committees across the campus, is announcing some vacancies this week, for appointments that start January 1. "We want," says Karen LeDrew, chair of the association's nominating committee, "to encourage all staff members from across campus to consider these opportunities and submit their application if interested in serving on any of the committees listed."

Staff members who might be interested, but who aren't now members of the staff association, "are encouraged to join" by contacting Barb Yantha in the staff association office (phone ext. 3566, staffasc@mc1adm).

Currently available:

What to do if you're interested: "By November 18, 1998, please forward the following information to Karen LeDrew, SISP/IST, MC 4019 (or by email to ledrewbk@nh1adm): Name, department, extension, email address, years of service at UW, any relevant information, and indicate why you wish to represent Staff on a particular committee. The information that you provide is a key factor in the final selection of the Staff representative by the UWSA Executive."

Happening on this chilly day

A flea market in support of the United Way campaign will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Humanities lobby. "One person's junk is another person's treasure," the optimistic organizers say.

The Films for Awareness series is running again at Conrad Grebel College, putting such issues as violence, food and sexuality on the screen. Today at 12 noon (in Grebel room 267) it's "Affluenza", a 1997 film described as "a fascinating look at one of the greatest social, economic and environmental sicknesses of our time -- consumerism". Tomorrow night at 7, in the same room: "Manufacturing Consent", the well-known film about the life and ideas of linguist and activist Noam Chomsky.

The "Chew on This" series of noontime talks for co-op employers continues this week. Today brings a repeat performance of "Dialogue with the Director", starring co-op director Bruce Lumsden.

Vancouver artist Landon Mackenzie visits campus today, thanks to the Canada Council, and will speak at 1:30 p.m. in East Campus Hall room 1219.

"The UW Computer Store is having a blowout sale," writes Beth Alemany, marketing coordinator in the retail services department. "Stop by to check out the savings!"


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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