Tuesday, August 29, 2006

  • High school ‘olympiad’ coming to UW
  • Looking ahead to orientation
  • What retired psych prof is doing
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Link of the day

'The Loss of the Royal George'

When and where

Making students welcome: information session for residents, sponsored by City of Waterloo, Wednesday 7 p.m., St. Michael's Church hall, University Avenue.

'Single and Sexy' preview performance Friday, September 1, 11:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre, admission free. Shows for first-year students: Tuesday, September 5, at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m.; Wednesday at 9:30, 1:00, 4:00; Thursday at 10:00, 1:00, 4:00.

Labour Day holiday Monday, September 4; UW offices will be closed and most services will not operate, except those involved with residence move-in.

Seminar for graduate students who are preparing applications for postdoctoral fellowships, Thursday, September 7, 1:30, Needles Hall room 3001, organized by graduate studies office.

PhD oral defences

History. Mary Tivy, “The Local History Museum in Ontario: An Intellectual History 1851-1985.” Supervisor, Stan Johannesen. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Wednesday, September 20, 2 p.m., Humanities room 118.

Electrical and computer engineering. Yasser S. Abdalla, “Design of High Speed MUX/DMUX using a New All-Time-On Single-Ended CMOS Logic.” Supervisor, M. I. A. Elmasry. On deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Thursday, September 21, 1:30 p.m., CEIT room 3142.

Civil and environmental engineering. Luis Fernando Miranda-Moreno, “Statistical Models and Methods for Identifying Hazardous Locations for Safety Improvements.” Supervisors, L. Fu and F. Saccomanno. On deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Friday, September 22, 9 a.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Planning. Anne Varangu, “Exploring Usage of the Word ‘Values’: Implications and Opportunities for Planning.” Supervisors, Robert Gibson and Gordon Nelson. On deposit in the faculty of environmental studies, ES I-335. Oral defence Tuesday, September 26, 9:30 a.m., Environmental Studies I room 221.

Electrical and computer engineering. Khaled Shaban, “A Semantic Graph Model for Text Representation and Matching in Document Mining.” Supervisors, O. Basir and M. Kamel. On deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Friday, September 29, 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Chemistry. Andy Chung-Man Mak, “Adsorption Kinetics of Thiolate Self-Assembly on Gold Surface: An Electrochemical and High-Resolution Microscopical Study.” Supervisor, S. R. Mikkelsen. On deposit in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, October 2, 10:30 a.m., Chemistry II room 361.

High school ‘olympiad’ coming to UW

The mathematics faculty happily announced yesterday that Waterloo has been picked to host the International Olympiad of Informatics — a world competition for top high school students in computer science — in 2010. It’ll be the first time the IOI has taken place in Canada.

“We are excited” by the news, said Amy Aldous, executive director of Industrial Research Alliances in the dean of math office. “This international event puts a positive spotlight on Canada and UW.” The annual event will come to UW in August of 2010. The site was chosen during the most recent IOI, held in Merida, Mexico, earlier this month.

"It is a great opportunity for the IOI to be held at the University of Waterloo,” says Troy Vasiga, who will serve as Chair of IOI 2010. He’s a faculty member in the School of Computer Science and associate director of UW’s Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing. "With over 80 countries and more than 500 people from around the world taking part, this event will provide an international stage to showcase the University of Waterloo,” Vasiga said. “I look forward to working with colleagues at UW as well as sponsors and partners outside UW in making IOI 2010 an outstanding event."

Held annually since 1989, the IOI is one of seven such “olympiads” in scientific fields. The high school contestants have to show skill in problem analysis, algorithm design and data structures as well as programming and testing of their solutions. Competitions are scheduled for Croatia in 2007, Egypt in 2008 and Bulgaria in 2009.

Ian VanderBurgh, director of the UW CEMC, observes that UW “is known for its tradition of internationally recognized outreach and enrichment programs in computer science and mathematics. The CEMC, which coordinates Canada's annual delegation to the IOI, is thrilled that the IOI will be coming to Waterloo in 2010. This is an excellent opportunity for Canadians to recognize Canada's achievements in education in computer science and mathematics and to strive for even more success."

Thomas F. Coleman, dean of mathematics, adds that IOI 2010 “will attract some of the world's strongest young computer scientists. We're excited to profile UW expertise in this area by hosting these students and their faculty advisors. The event fits perfectly with our goal of attracting outstanding talent from all over the world."

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Looking ahead to orientation

The arrival of thousands of new students is just days away now, and staff as well as orientation volunteers are preparing for everything from the residence move-in (this Sunday and Monday) to meet-the-dean sessions, scavenger hunts and registration paperwork. In other words: orientation week is nearly here.

Orientation is organized by a hierarchy of volunteer groups, headed by the Federation Orientation Committee, which works with officials from UW's student life office. That means the key people for this year include Becky Wroe of the Federation of Students staff, FOC coordinator (and history student) Cara Culkin, and student life director Heather FitzGerald.

Some of the information on the orientation web site still relates to September 2005, but a schedule for 2006 orientation is just about final, with only small changes from what appears in material that's been mailed to the 5,400 incoming first-year students. It's customized for the faculty and residence of each individual, so that one student has received details that include the "Science Luau" and Renison College "Sneaking Out" event, while another is scheduled for the engineering "Hard Hat Ceremony" and Village floor breakfasts.

A special program organized by the "off-campus dons" is provided for students who won't be living in any of UW's residences but still need to meet people, build community and fill the hours and days of orientation, from Labour Day through Saturday, September 9.

The week includes three major campus-wide events. On Thursday evening (September 7), the semi-formal Monte Carlo Night will take over the Student Life Centre. Saturday morning it's Black and Gold Day with school spirit events and a chance to watch the men's rugby Warriors on the north campus. And Saturday night brings two opportunities: "see an improv group at Federation Hall," the new students are urged, "or attend the largest Toga party in Canada."

All first-year students will also be exposed to "Single and Sexy", the free play that raises issues of sex, substances and social responsibility. Many will also write the English Language Proficiency Exam. During orientation week students will also buy books (the UW bookstore has 1,368 textbook titles in stock for the fall term), get e-mail accounts set up, and otherwise prepare for the big day: classes start on Monday, September 11.

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What retired psych prof is doing

by Jennifer Chen, shortened from the WatTimes newsletter published by the UW Retirees Association

When professors retire, one might wonder where they go or how they occupy their free time. In some cases, they move to a lovely seaside home in Florida. In Don Meichenbaum's case, sometimes professors also spearhead a non-profit research and consulting organization in violence prevention.

[Meichenbaum]After a notable 30-year career as a professor in the department of psychology, Meichenbaum (left) retired in 1996. He says early retirement "turned out to be a really good decision", primarily because it gave him more free time to pursue some projects and activities that he feels passionately about.

Throughout the years, in addition to being named the most cited psychology researcher within Canadian universities, he earned many distinctions and awards. Among these distinctions, he was voted as "one of the ten most influential psychotherapists of the century" by North American clinicians in American Psychologist, an honour that sent him traveling all over the world to lecture and provide consultations in clinical psychology. He has provided consultations for a variety of clinical populations including the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the 1993 Oklahoma bombing, and the Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan; however, he has also investigated situations closer to home such as Canadian Native Inuit population in northern Canada. Meichenbaum is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the university, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and both the American and Canadian Psychological Associations. His passion for clinical research and making a difference in people’s lives clearly fueled his motivations for pursuing his current retirement activities.

This is where the Melissa Institute For Violence Prevention and Treatment comes in. Shortly after retiring a decade ago, Meichenbaum was instrumental in founding this non-profit institute, which provides education, consulting, and research in violence prevention. It was created in memory of Miami native Melissa Aptman, a young woman who was murdered in St. Louis two weeks before graduating from Washington University.

This organization aims to raise community awareness about violence prevention, and to make a difference by holding conferences, working with government policy makers and school officials, and conducting research. It was primarily designed to bridge the gap between research, clinical and educational practices, and public policy. For example, currently, the institute is promoting reading and mentoring programs as methods of preventing bullying and aggression amongst children in schools.

Drawing on his background as a clinical psychologist and researcher, Meichenbaum has remained actively involved with the institute as a volunteer research director and a member of the Scientific Board for the past decade. When asked about his motivations for continuing this sort of work for no pay, he stresses the importance of "making the world safer" for the future generations, and cites "altruistic" motivations for continuing his research in this area.

In some ways, retirement for Don Meichenbaum is not much different from his pre-retirement days. He devotes “two or three days a week" to the Melissa Institute, and jokes that he works more than his wife would like him to. Although he enjoys the freedom to set his own schedule and choose which activities to pursue, he also notes that as a retired professor, you "lose access to colleagues" at the university and interacting with students - something he says he truly misses.

Although he lives in Florida from October to June each year, he's usually in his Oakville home for the summer. So he has not cut his Canadian ties completely. His three grandchildren (and one more on the way) reside in Toronto and Buffalo, so the Oakville location is ideal for visits and babysitting occasionally. He says that he prefers the milder Florida weather, and does not particularly miss the Canadian winters. He jokes, "If you like hurricanes, it is the place to be." Otherwise, when he's in Florida, he enjoys simpler things in life such as walking along the beach, watching sunsets, and "looking for dolphins".


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