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Friday, November 19, 2004

  • 10 new Canada Research Chairs
  • About the new CRCs at Waterloo
  • Happening on a damp campus
Chris Redmond

Universal Children's Day tomorrow

[Pepperoni pizza]

Pizza day: Faculty, staff and students are invited to a pizza lunch today in the Davis Centre. The food is provided by UW's president as a thank-you following the university's ranking as "best overall" Canadian university this year, according to Maclean's magazine. The first such celebration was held last week, and it's being repeated today for the benefit of those who weren't able to take part before. The party will run from 11:30 to 1:00 in the Davis great hall.

10 new Canada Research Chairs

Ten UW researchers -- working in such areas as health policy, water quality and "tetherless computing" -- have been named to Canada Research Chairs. The title means not just prestige, but also federal funding to support their salaries and their research work.

The 10 appointments bring the total number of Canada Research Chairs at Waterloo to 39, with three more decisions expected shortly. UW is expecting a total of 53 CRCs when the program is in full swing, says Andrew Barker of the research office.

Canada-wide, the government announced 194 new CRCs last week, bringing the total to 1,348 since the program was launched four years ago. Eventually there are to be 2,000.

More women than in the past
The chairs come at two levels -- Tier I, valued at $200,000 a year for seven years, to cover salary and research expenses, and Tier II, $100,000 a year for five years. Either way, the chairs are seen as strengthening research by creating new posts for world-class researchers, including many Canadians returning to this country, or supporting existing researchers while their existing positions become available for newcomers. At UW, the CRCs are seen as a contributor to increasing the total number of faculty members, although they teach only a partial load.

"The funding announced today will support research by Canada's leading scholarly and scientific minds," said last week's announcement on behalf of prime minister Paul Martin. "From health care, to the environment, to building stronger communities, the work will have a direct impact on the lives of Canadians and help position Canada as a world leader in the 21st century economy."

The chairs also routinely get funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation "infrastructure" program to support their work.

[Four people, one microphone]

Eyes on Haiti: A news conference on Wednesday, held at Conrad Grebel University College, kicked off a week of events sponsored by the Foundation for International Development Assistance, looking at possible Canadian responses to the crisis in Haiti.

About the new CRCs at Waterloo -- from the UW media relations office

Pu Chen, chemical engineering, "Canada Research Chair in Nano-biomaterials." CFI Infrastructure funding: $153,702. Chen says the award will enable him to expand research efforts in bio-nanotechnology, generating new bio-engineering solutions from atomic- and molecular-scale manipulation. "We will study the self-assembly of biomolecular building blocks and develop new engineering principles for application in anti-cancer drug and gene therapy."

Richard Cook, statistics and actuarial science, "Canada Research Chair in Statistical Methods for Health Research." CFI Infrastructure funding: $142,793. "This Chair will enable me to develop new and innovative biostatistical methods to characterize the incidence and progression of chronic diseases," Cook says, adding that areas of primary focus will be oncology, hematology and rheumatology. "These methods will lead to the identification and quantification of risk factors and treatments effects which will help identify patients at greatest need for interventions and the treatments with greatest therapeutic effects." He said the infrastructure award will support computationally demanding problems such as the analysis of incomplete data on the progression of= chronic diseases. Renovations for research space will ease interactive interdisciplinary collaborations between faculty and graduate students in biostatistics, as well as local, national and international health researchers visiting UW.

Lori Curtis, economics, "Canada Research Chair in CFI Infrastructure funding: $34,891. Curtis says the award will enable her to undertake and promote research into the effects of health and social policy on the health and well-being of individuals, particularly women, children and those in disadvantaged circumstances. The CFI funding will be used to develop a fully equipped health economics statistical data laboratory, "The Waterloo Health Economics Data Laboratory", to collate, manage and analyze extensive regional, national and international health and social-related data. The analytical work will be vital in directing future health policy in Canada as it will provide data on groups that have traditionally been under-represented in health economics, such as women, children and immigrants.

Amir Khandani, electrical and computer engineering, "Canada Research Chair in Wireless Systems." CFI Infrastructure funding: $130,659. Khandani says the Chair and the CFI funding will support several novel research directions aimed at increasing the efficiency of wireless networks, along with methods for fast and power efficient implementation of the underlying communication algorithms. "This includes advanced methods for networking of mobile users equipped with multiple antennas relying on a cross layer approach. The mission is to contribute to bridging the gap between theory and practice in these emerging fields."

Linda Nazar, chemistry, "Canada Research Chair in Solid State Materials." CFI Infrastructure funding: $153,139. Nazar says her research explores the synthesis, and properties of solid-state materials with particular attention to developing properties for ion, electron and molecule transport in the solid state. "My work promises to offer developments in new materials for energy storage, conversion and delivery, including batteries, fuel cells, and electrodes based on novel conducting porous materials."

Mark Servos, biology, "Canada Research Chair in Water Quality Protection." Infrastructure funding: $279,000. "The importance of water quality to both ecosystem and human health has become more evident in recent years with increasing conflicts among the various uses and demands for water," Servos says. "These diverse demands for water will continue to grow and will remain a critical resource limitation that will influence quality of life, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability." Therefore, he says, developing and applying creative new technologies and approaches to address emerging threats to water quality will be one of the critical elements of ensuring the continued prosperity and health of communities.

Richard Staines, kinesiology, "Canada Research Chair in Sensorimotor Control." Infrastructure funding: $130,130. Staines says the Chair will allow him to take a multidisciplinary approach to translate basic research in sensorimotor control to applications for clinical populations. "By integrating state-of-the-art neuro-imaging and neuro-physiological techniques, I can pursue the goal of improving motor function following brain injury." CFI's infrastructure award will fund state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and software to conduct neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies. As a result, the award enables a multidisciplinary approach to transfer basic research in sensorimotor control to applications for clinical populations.

Srinivasan Keshav, computer science, "Canada Research Chair in Tetherless Computing." Infrastructure funding: $199,335. "The award will allow me to devote the bulk of my time and energy to research. I plan to establish a state-of-the-art laboratory in tetherless computing and guide an energetic and broad research program in this exciting area," Keshav said. Tetherless computing is a style of computing where smart mobile devices, such as personal digital assistants, communicate with centralized servers over many wireless networks. CFI's infrastructure award will provide an advanced lab and allow the transfer of knowledge to the field. "I particularly look forward to initiating cross-disciplinary research projects that use low-cost tetherless information technology for advancing health care, environmental monitoring and rural development."

Arokia Nathan, electrical and computer engineering, "Canada Research Chair in Nano-scale Elastic Circuits." Infrastructure funding: $140,000. The Chair will provide Nathan with the time to address the development of nano-crystalline silicon technology for mechanically flexible electronics on plastic substrates (underlying surfaces) for imaging and display applications. CFI's infrastructure money will permit the development of a "Facility for Fabrication, Test and Characterization of Nano-crystalline Silicon Thin Film Transistors and Circuits."

Michael Worswick, mechanical engineering, "Canada Research Chair in Lightweight Materials Under Extreme Deformation: Forming and Impact." Infrastructure funding: $127,026. The new chair will be the centrepiece of the UW's research focus in lightweight vehicle fabrication and crash worthiness research. Worswick says the award will give him the time and resources to focus on the core science aspects of lightweight vehicle fabrication and performance. "The challenge within such a large industrially driven activity is to maintain a focus on the core science that inevitably will produce the long-term research breakthroughs so needed to maintain Canadian competitiveness." CFI's funding will be used to purchase new microscopy and densitometry equipment needed to characterize the damage done to materials after forming and impact, along with digital control systems.

Happening on a damp campus

"Christian Canada No More?" is a talk at St. Jerome's University tonight, given by Paul Bramadat of the University of Winnipeg. Says publicity for the event: "The 2001 Census showed a remarkable growth in the number of Canadian Muslims (129%), Buddhists (84%), Sikhs (89%) and Hindus (89%). It also showed the percentage of the population calling itself Christian dropped below 80%. Clearly, new waves of immigration have changed the Canadian religious landscape. At the same time, the events of September 11, 2001, have reminded us of the continued importance of religion in the lives of Canadians and others around the world. In this lecture, we will explore the extraordinary power of both religion and ethnicity in Canadian minority religious communities and international events. Frequently consulted by the Canadian government on issues of religion and multiculturalism as well as religion and conflict, Paul Bramadat has written extensively on religion and public policy. He is co-editor of Religion and Ethnicity in Canada (2004), a book that explore the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, and Chinese religious communities of Canada. He teaches and publishes mainly in the area of contemporary religion, ethnicity and public policy in Canada, but his interests also include fundamentalism, terrorism, and popular culture." Tonight's free lecture starts at 7:30 in Siegfried Hall at St. Jerome's. It's billed as the Joint Waterloo Region Catholic District School Board / St. Jerome's University Lecture for this year.

Craft and toy fair sponsored by Hildegard Marsden Day Nursery, last day, 8:30 to 4:45, Davis Centre room 1301.

'Data Day' hosted by South Western Ontario Research Data Centre, 9 a.m. to noon, Wilfrid Laurier University library, details online.

Author Wayson Choy reads his work 10:30, Wilfrid Laurier University, Bricker academic building room BA201.

Magic benefit show for kids, sponsored by Lions Club, 1:00, 5:30 and 8:00, Humanities Theatre.

Waterloo Potters' Workshop and Weavers' and Spinners' Guild sales this weekend: Friday 1:00 to 9:30, Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 4, at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.

'The Tempest', drama department fall production, final performances tonight and Saturday 8 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets 888-4908.

DaCapo Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, concert Saturday 8 p.m., St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener, tickets $15 (students $10).

'Artlantis', arts semi-formal, tonight at Federation Hall.

Scholastic Book Fair Monday-Wednesday at the early childhood education centre, PAS building.

Staff association craft sale November 25-26, Davis Centre lounge.

UW's newly launched Institute for Quantitative Finance and Insurance is holding a conference on hedge funds today at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. Titled "Hedge Funds: Heroes or Highwaymen?", the one-day conference will examine the pros and cons of these controversial investment tools. "Investors are becoming increasingly interested in hedge funds in this era of low interest rates and lackluster equity returns," says Phelim Boyle, scientific director for the institute. "Several Canadian pension plans have started to invest in hedge funds and others are about to dip into these investments." Speakers at today's event include leading international academics, institutional investors and experts from the global hedge fund industry. The conference is aimed at "portfolio managers, pension plan sponsors, chief investment officers, risk managers and regulators".

The co-op and career services department has issued final figures on jobs for the current fall term -- which, its memo notes, "is traditionally the easiest term for co-op employment as there are no first year students seeking employment. However, there were a substantially higher number of students unemployed at the beginning of the work term in September, which is a warning sign." In the end 3,644 students had jobs this term, 114 are listed as "not participating" in the co-op process, and just 40 students -- most of them in mathematics -- are unemployed for the term. Last year there were 60 unemployed in the fall term (and about 300 fewer students scheduled for work term jobs).

Vanessa Trumpickas, a student in applied health sciences, writes on behalf of a club called TABRA, or Transcending All Borders Relief Aid: "This week we are promoting Operation Christmas Child. We are giving out information so that people can donate items for the needy in developing countries and put them in a shoebox which we will be collecting from November 29 to December 1 and then giving them to the OCC headquarter in Kitchener. We have a table set up in the Student Life Centre vendor area. For the next week and a half (November 22 to December 1) we are promoting National AIDS Awareness Week."

A meeting of the pension and benefits committee that was previously announced for this morning has been cancelled. . . . Another alumni job search workshop is under way all day today in the Tatham Centre. . . . Renovations are under way in the dean of science office, and I understand that academic advisor Pam Van Allen is getting some teasing about her spiffy new office furniture. . . .

And word arrived this morning that the "STARS Technological Education Awards Gala" was held last night in Toronto, sponsored by the Yves Landry Foundation. "Awards of excellence" are given out to recognize "forging a link between business, education and government, and promoting technological education and skills training". This year's "company of the year" was Waterloo-based Research In Motion. Accepting the award: RIM president -- and UW chancellor -- Mike Lazaridis. Master of ceremonies last evening was former Ontario premier Bob Rae, who's currently doing the high-profile "review" of the province's post-secondary education.

Sports this weekend: women's hockey vs. Windsor Saturday at 7:30 (Columbia Icefield). Otherwise all the competition is out of town: men's hockey tonight at Toronto and Sunday at Ryerson; squash tomorrow at McMaster; basketball, both men's and women's, tonight at Queen's and tomorrow at the Royal Military College. The swim team is in the divisional championships at Toronto over the weekend, and the badminton squad will face McMaster in a semi-final game at Western on Sunday.


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