Monday, October 16, 2006

  • UW welcomed in ancient Chinese city
  • Archive of talks on 'smart health'
  • Device to search universe for water
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Wash Your Hands Often sticker]

It's advice with special impact this week, as an outbreak of a virus causing vomiting and diarrhea has largely shut down New Brunswick's Mount Allison University.

Link of the day

World Food Day

When and where

Used book sale sponsored by Mature Student Services, today and Tuesday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Modern Languages building foyer: fiction, textbooks, language texts, CDs; proceeds to bursary fund.

Senate long-range planning committee 3:15, Needles Hall room 3004.

'Snakes in Space' lecture by Alan Hargens, former NASA scientist, now professor of orthopaedic surgery at University of California, San Diego, Tuesday 3:30, Lyle Hallman Institute room 1621.

Professional School and Post-Degree Day information displays October 18 and 19, 11:00 to 2:00, great hall, Student Life Centre.

'Does God Exist?' Debate sponsored by Campus for Christ, Wednesday 3:30, Humanities Theatre.

Fall convocation Saturday, October 21, Physical Activities Complex: applied health sciences, arts, independent studies, social work 10 a.m.; engineering, MBET, environmental studies, math, science, 2 p.m.

Also today

Philip Steenkamp, deputy minister in the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, will be on campus today to meet with the President and Provost and with student leaders. He'll also have a brief tour of the Institute for Quantum Computing, followed by lunch with members of Deans' Council. It's his first official visit to UW since he took the post in March.

A conference on 'Strategic Policy Directions for Air Quality Risk Management', fifth in a series sponsored by the UW-based Network for Environmental Risk Assessment and Management, opens today in Vancouver. More than 80 representatives of international and government agencies and academe are expected.

A three-day course on Project Management Applied Tools and Techniques, organized by UW's continuing education office, begins today.

Accounting students preparing to go on work term in January will rank their job choices this morning and will get match results on JobMine by noon.

UW welcomed in ancient Chinese city

UW's senate will get a briefing tonight about high hopes for Waterloo links with higher education in Nanjing, the eighth largest city in China.

Several projects are proposed that would connect UW with Nanjing University, one of China's leading universities, which traces its history to the Imperial Central College of ancient times and during the 20th century was the first Chinese university to offer doctoral degrees. It currently boasts about 3,000 faculty members and 20,000 students.

Earlier this year, Waterloo and Nanjing signed an agreement for steps toward a "Sino-Canadian College" on a planned "international higher education park" just outside the city. Sponsored by the government of Jiangsu province, which surrounds Nanjing, it's intended to be home for several such colleges involving various countries. It's proposed that UW and Nanjing University be the lead institutions for creating the Canadian college.

Bruce Mitchell, UW's associate provost (academic and student affairs), says the college "would facilitate joint degrees" offered by the two universities, as well as student and faculty exchanges and research collaborations. He said at least one faculty at UW — environmental studies — is already committed to the idea of a "2 plus 2" program by which undergraduate students could take the first two years of a degree at Nanjing, then finish their studies in Waterloo. Other faculties may sign on as well, said Mitchell, who will be giving part of tonight's briefing to the senate.

He noted that collaboration with Nanjing began in the ES faculty, with a longstanding project headed by geography professor Geoff Wall, now called Ecoplan China. Waterloo and Nanjing experts are both involved in offering environmental training and expertise in the Dalian region of southeastern China. As that project moved along well, Nanjing officials suggested that Waterloo could be involved in similar collaborations in Jiangsu itself, and things moved along from there, Mitchell said.

Progress was helped by an existing governmental agreement between Jiangsu province and Ontario, he added. Mitchell — a geographer himself — has spent time in Nanjing and heard the level of enthusiasm that Nanjing officials have for working with UW. On this end, he added, student exchanges might be especially popular: "we've got lots of people who have grown up in Mandarin-speaking homes" and could function immediately in the Chinese environment.

Other projects have been proposed as well, including a Waterloo presence in Nanjing to teach information technology, an environment-and-business program involving the Nanjing University of Finance and Economics (a separate institution), and the Confucius Institute being established at Renison College, in which Nanjing University plays a role. A key question, Mitchell said, is how fast UW can deal with all these proposals and new activities.

He'll be reporting at tonight's senate meeting along with associate vice-president (academic) Gail Cuthbert Brandt. The meeting starts at 4:30 in Needles Hall room 3001. Also on the agenda are a progress report on the Abu Dhabi proposal, an update on changes to the co–op and career services department since last year's comprehensive report, and a proposal for a Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience.

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Archive of talks on 'smart health'

from the UW media relations office

Over the last four years, the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research has developed Canada's most comprehensive source of recorded presentations on an innovative discipline aimed at improving health services. The Health Informatics Alive archive, featuring presentations by leaders in health informatics, now can be visited by anyone interested in the potential of health informatics solutions to support a sustainable health system.

Health informatics is an interdisciplinary area that develops new informatics concepts, as well as extending and applying ideas from computer science, information science, telecommunications and other disciplines with the goal of supporting the improvement of the effectiveness and efficiency of the health system.

WIHIR's archive includes more than 40 presentations in WIHIR's Smarter Health seminar series, about 15 presentations from two conferences, 20 presentations from WIHIR's health informatics research seminars and 24 presentations by health informatics students on a wide variety of topics. The comprehensive presentations can be viewed as videos or as slides.

"We are very pleased to make this health informatics learning archive available," said Shirley Fenton, managing director of WIHIR. "This is the largest and easiest to access source of health informatics presentation content in Canada and it is available at no cost to all."

Speakers whose presentations are recorded in the archive include academics, industry professionals, and health-care professionals. Topics range across all aspects of health informatics, from the technological to the psycho-social. "Anyone with an interest in how information and communications technologies can be of value in the health system will find the archive to be an excellent source of information and an inspiration to excellence," Fenton said.

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Device to search universe for water

A $10 million black box was unveiled Friday at a media event that featured UW physics professor Michel Fich, leader of a Canadian scientific team that will make use of it.

The device has been created by COM DEV International Ltd. of Cambridge, Canada's largest manufacturer of space hardware subsystems. It’s a key component of the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory, an international satellite that will, among other things, search for water in the deepest reaches of space.

The Canadian Space Agency financed the $10-million cost of designing and building the Local Oscillator Source Unit. In exchange for Canada's contributions to the Herschel mission, Fich and his team will have access to the observatory's research capabilities.

Herschel, dubbed the Hubble of longwaves and scheduled to launch by 2008, will inaugurate a new generation of space telescopes, a news release on Friday explained. The huge observatory will be deployed 1.5 million kilometres away from Earth, in a very cold and dark environment. Its 3.5-metre mirror will collect light from distant and poorly known objects, such as newborn galaxies thousands of millions of light-years away. Herschel will be equipped with three very sensitive instruments kept at temperatures close to absolute zero.

The COM DEV-built LSU is a very efficient low-noise stable frequency standard, emitting a reference frequency, somewhat like a tuning fork does for musicians. This unit will be at the heart of the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI), one of Herschel's three instruments.

“The LSU project is a very important civil space mandate for the company," said John Keating, CEO of COM DEV. "It has very demanding technical requirements for frequency synthesis that may offer some leverage into the commercial space market. We are also pleased to participate in a program which contributes to the expansion of human knowledge, a key element of our mission."

Fich leads a team of some 30 astronomers from institutions across Canada who will use HIFI to search for water in the Universe. They will look for the H2O chemical signature in extremely young solar systems, in dense interstellar clouds where stars are just beginning to form, and in other galaxies. HIFI will also be used to study many other simple molecules in the first detailed astrochemistry mission in space.

"Herschel will be a major space observatory, much like the Hubble Space Telescope. However, it will work at the longer wavelengths of light, where the processes creating planets, stars and galaxies become visible," Fich said. "Canadian astronomers will use HIFI, the high resolution instrument on Herschel, to make the first detailed studies of water, the basic molecule of life, in all of these parts of the Universe."


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