Tuesday, April 22, 2008

  • Endowment to boost SSHRC research
  • Grad studies local omega-3 intake
  • In the final days of winter exams
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

Endowment to boost SSHRC research

UW is creating an endowment to provide seed funding that should boost research work in the social sciences and humanities, says a memo issued a few days ago by provost Amit Chakma. Here’s what he told faculty members and administrators:

“I am very pleased to advise you that the Board of Governors approved the establishment of a Humanities and Social Sciences Research Endowment to support and foster research and scholarship in these areas. The board also approved an initial seed funding of $1 million for this endowment.

“The University of Waterloo’s performance in these critical national competitions is improving but we need to do more. Only 18% of UW SSHRC eligible professors receive SSHRC grants compared to 38% for McGill. UW ranks 11th in terms of SSHRC funding per eligible faculty. Long-established universities like McGill, UBC and the University of Toronto have other sources, including endowments, which provide vital seed funding to SSHRC scholars. These start-up grants afford the researchers to make preliminary visits to archives, conduct initial interviews and surveys and otherwise prepare the foundation for successful SSHRC applications. The establishment of the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Endowment will allow UW to provide such seed funding.

“I have requested Dean Ken Coates to chair a task force to advise me on the terms of reference for the endowment by September 2008. . . . The committee will draft the terms and conditions of the endowment, including the following: Research projects eligible for support (size, nature, etc); Faculty eligibility for support, including eligibility for subsequent grants; Application forms and process, including dates; Application review and selection procedures; Reporting requirements for grant recipients; Expectations of grant recipients, if any (i.e. public lectures, external grant applications, etc.); Fund raising and matching opportunities.

“The members of the task force are: Ken Coates, Dean of Arts (Chair; George Dixon, VP Research; Sue Shaw, Applied Health Sciences; Bruce Muirhead, Arts; Ian Rowlands, Environmental Studies; Joan Coutu, Fine Arts; Mary Stanley, Library; Tom Jenkins, Open Text Corporation.”

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Grad studies local omega-3 intake

How do Canadians like their omega-3 fatty acids? That’s the question Ashley Patterson hopes to answer.

It has been demonstrated that eating omega-3 fatty acids, particularly the longer chain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) usually found in fish, has various potential health benefits. “Unfortunately, most Canadians don’t eat fish” says Patterson, a UW graduate student. “There are many new food products enriched with EPA and DHA, but we don’t know how effective they are for increasing EPA and DHA intakes.”

[Student at laboratory bench]Patterson (left) explains that these novel foods — including eggs, juices, breads, margarines and yogurts — are called “functional foods”. Patterson, an MSc candidate in kinesiology, has previously demonstrated that if you combine several of these functional foods, you can increase your intake of EPA plus DHA to greater than 500 milligrams per day, an amount that could significantly reduce the risk of death from a heart attack. To put this in perspective, the typical Canadian eats 100 mg per day or less of EPA plus DHA.

In addition to eating fish and omega-3 functional foods, Patterson explains that there is a third way to increase your EPA plus DHA intake: taking encapsulated fish oil supplements, what she calls the “nutraceutical” approach. Because this “drug-like” delivery method is easy to control, it is used in most clinical trials to examine omega-3 health benefits, but it is not often used by the general public as part of their daily routine.

Presently, Patterson is examining which of these dietary strategies is preferred by local residents and determining which is the most effective at increasing diet intake and blood levels of EPA plus DHA over a period of a year. She is also tracking how much each of these strategies would cost consumers. “The cost of the omega-3 foods is higher than regular foods, but on a daily basis it tends to be less than buying a cup of coffee,” she says.

Patterson is working on the study in a new nutrition research laboratory in the kin department under the supervision of Ken Stark and in collaboration with Rhona Hanning in health studies. “Ashley generated some exciting data as an undergraduate research assistant, so we put together a grant to expand the project,” says Stark. The grant was funded by the Canadian Foundation of Dietetic Research last year. The results of the study are expected to help dietitians to provide dietary advice that has the best potential to help Canadians eat more EPA and DHA.

While the study has already started, Patterson is still recruiting men and women between the ages of 35 and 50 to participate in the study. Anyone interested should contact her at the lab (ext. 37873) or email apatters@uwaterloo.ca for details. Male participants are particularly needed.

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In the final days of winter exams

The annual Graduate Student Research Conference — bigger and better than ever this year — is entering its second day, with oral presentations and poster sessions in several rooms in the Davis Centre and the Optometry building. A glance at the program, which is online, reveals these topics among many others: “Multiaxial Fatigue Design of Automotive Magnesium Alloys”, by Jafar Al Bin Mousa, mechanical and mechatronics engineering; “Blood Flow in the Reptilian Spectacle”, by Kevin van Doorn, optometry; “Geomatics Learning Challenges in the Faculty of Environmental Studies”, by Chris Lemieux, geography; “Climate Change Integration in Ontario Conservation Authorities”, by Lyndsay Kean, environment and resource studies. Today also brings a keynote address by Jake Sivak of the school of optometry, a former dean of graduate studies.

In a related development, nominations are being invited for this year’s Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision. Says a memo: “The Graduate Studies Office in collaboration with the Graduate Student Association established this award to recognize exemplary faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in graduate student supervision. Normally three faculty members will be recognized each year. The recipients will be honoured with a Plaque and a $1,000 award. Graduate student supervision requires complex interaction between graduate students and the graduate supervisor. An outstanding graduate supervisor is a mentor, an advisor, a role model, a humanist and a strategist. A caring and effective supervisor possesses a high level of energy and ingenuity. Each nomination must be made by current or former graduate student(s) supervised by the nominee and supported by one or more senior academic colleagues who are familiar with the supervisory record of the nominee.” Nominations are due at the graduate studies office no later than June 13.

The UW library’s e-newsletter announces that the big renovation project in the Dana Porter Library building will start as soon as exams are over. “The main floor of the Dana Porter Library will be closed for renovations starting April 26,” the newsletter says. “The rest of the Library will remain open during the renovations, which are scheduled to run tentatively until mid-August. The temporary entrance will be located on the west side of the building (across from Needles Hall), and the main floor services will be relocated elsewhere in the Library and on campus.” The circulation desk and information desk will move to the first (lower) floor, reference books mostly to the first and sixth floors, the Adaptive Technology Centre to the fifth floor, and individual staff members “dispersed throughout the library” as space allows — there’s a list online. Perhaps most important of all to some people: Browsers coffee shop will be closed for the duration. “The nearest coffee shop,” says the library’s web site, “is the Tim Horton’s located in the lower level of the Modern Languages building.”

The e-newsletter also reports on the work of two new staff members in the special collections department, Joseph Wong and Luvneet Rana, both involved in processing a selection of the department's prized archival collections. It says: “Joseph, a UW co-op student hired for the term, worked largely on digitizing and preparing preservation copies of archival materials. He began his work by scanning negatives from the collection of local photographer Charles Belair who had donated his collection representing over 75 years of photography in the KW area. Luvneet, a master’s student from the University of Western Ontario whose internship was sponsored by the Gladys Srivastava Endowment for the fall 2007 and winter 2008 terms, has also been working with early documentation about the local YWCA, processing an accrual to the YWCA’s collection originally received in 1990 and added to regularly over the years. Luvneet's work has included adding content to Special Collections' web pages, scanning materials, and cataloguing files of archival materials and photographic negatives. . . . Joseph and Luvneet's efforts have been instrumental in assisting the department to preserve fragile and valuable documents, and in enabling the Library to make these unique resources widely available online.”

And . . . “there was a team of us,” writes Alison Boyd of the office of development and alumni affairs, “that climbed the CN Tower yesterday" (actually last Thursday, I think) "to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund to help fight climate change. Generous donations were motivating us with every step! We all finished in less than 30 minutes (plus 58 seconds to come back down on the elevator. Overall, Climbing for Critters raised $2,205.00!” Participants along with Boyd were Kim Bast, Janet Hahn, and Chantel Franklin, and they’d welcome company next time: “If you are interested in climbing next year — as a member of Climbing for Critters, another team, or on your own — we'd be happy to answer any questions you have and help you get signed up.”


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Link of th[globe] day

Earth Day

When and where

Winter term examinations continue through Thursday; schedule is online. Unofficial grades for winter term courses begin appearing on Quest on Friday; grades become official May 26.

Staff Appreciation Week lunch available at University Club, Monday-Friday 11:30 to 2:00, $18.00 per person, reservations ext. 33801.

Beethoven Lecture Series: Cecile Monique Michniewicz, third-year music student, on “The Psychology of Beethoven”, Tuesday 1:00 to 3:00, and “The Philosophy of Beethoven”, Wednesday 1:00 to 3:00, Conrad Grebel University College room 1302, all welcome, refreshments.


School of Pharmacy presents Robert S. Langer (pictured), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Advances in Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering”, 1:30, Math and Computer room 2065, all welcome, reception follows.

Staff salary system and settlement information session (repeated from last week), Wednesday 12:30 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Spiritual Heritage Education Network presents documentary video, “Doing Time, Doing Vipassana” on how meditation affected the Tihar prison, Wednesday 7:30 p.m., CEIT room 1015.

Chemical engineering seminar: Mosto Bousmina, Université Laval, “Bricklaying at Nanoscale”, Thursday 11:30 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2529.

Permanent residence in Canada: speaker from Canada’s Consulate-General in Buffalo, sponsored by new faculty recruitment office and Waterloo International, Thursday 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 116, register online.

UW alumni in Hamilton networking reception Thursday 6:30 to 8:30, Canadian Warplane Heritage, details online.

Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry annual general meeting Friday 1:00 p.m., CEIT room 1015, followed by seminar, “Small Contributions to the Emerging Field of Sulfenic Acid Anion Chemistry”, by Adrian Schwan, University of Guelph, 3:00, then graduate student poster session and awards presentations.

Philosophy colloquium: Doreen Fraser, “The Applicability of Mathematics and A Priori Knowledge”, Friday 3:30, Humanities room 373.

Going Green workshop series sponsored by Grand House student co-op: “Making Concrete Countertops” April 26, “Black Water, Grey Water and Living Machines” May 3, “Natural Landscaping” May 10, details online.

Engineering alumni Rick Matzeg Memorial Event, Saturday 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., Luther Village, details online.

Fee payment deadline for the spring term is April 28 (cheque, money order, promissory note) or May 1 (bank payment or international wire transfer), details online.

Fire drills on main campus Tuesday, April 29, schedule to be announced.

‘Financing and Purchasing a Vehicle’ seminar sponsored by Education Credit Union, speaker Tony Verbeek, Tuesday, April 29, 12:15 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Internet outage: interruption in external network connections to UW, Wednesday, April 30, 7:00 to 8:00 a.m., to install new border router.

‘Cinema and Social Change in Germany and Austria’ conference hosted by Germanic and Slavic studies department, May 1-3, details online; “Kinofest: New Films from Germany and Austria” festival begins April 30 at Princess Cinema.

‘Reaching for Nothing: Water’s Thirst’ interdisciplinary work by composer Peter Hatch, visual artist Dereck Revington (UW school of architecture) and dance choreographer David Earle, May 1 and 2, 8:00 p.m., Perimeter Institute, tickets $29 (students $19), 519-883-4480.

Spring term classes begin Monday, May 5.

President David Johnston Run for Health (3rd annual), Wednesday, May 7, 4:30 p.m., 5-km run or 2.5-km walk around ring road, relay teams welcome, registration free, details online.

Learning about Teaching annual symposium May 12-14, details online, including Presidents’ Colloquium Monday May 12, 2:00, Humanities Theatre: Marilla Svinicki, University of Texas at Austin, “Changing Students’ Attitudes about Who’s Responsible for Learning,” reception follows, all welcome.

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