Monday, February 2, 2009

  • Arts team promoting theatre technology
  • More profs on sabbatical this term
  • Other notes as a new month begins
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Arts team promoting theatre technology

from an article by Angela Roorda in the Arts Research Update newsletter

A team of UW arts researchers has plunged into the world of technology transfer and innovation commercialization, demonstrating that scientists and engineers are not the only academics who can swim in those waters.

Jill Tomasson Goodwin and David Goodwin of UW’s Canadian Centre of Arts and Technology are heading the Seeding a Lead project. In this venture, CCAT and a multi-disciplinary group of researchers will take a pre-market digital display prototype created by Christie Digital Systems, develop strategies to improve how people use it, and generate new marketing opportunities in cultural industries.

Christie is a Kitchener company that specializes in the design of digital display technologies, including digital movie projectors for most Hollywood studios and, increasingly, virtual reality and simulation environments. Seeding a Lead started out as a $250,000 contract with Christie, with CCAT spearheading research to explore how people perceive and react to a new technology Christie had recently developed but not yet released to market.

CCAT leveraged the industry funding into an additional $222,000 Management, Business and Finance Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project got under way in spring 2008.

Seeding a Lead takes its name from the novel approach the team is taking to facilitate technology transfer and commercialization. (The approach is inspired by MIT professor Eric von Hippel‘s notion of “lead users” — people who face needs and devise solutions that are both typical and in advance of a larger market.) The project provides lead users with early-stage, pre-market technologies to see how they adapt them to meet needs previously unknown to the manufacturer. Knowledge gained here will help accelerate both technology transfer and product design for next-generation manufacturing.

In the current project, Christie Digital’s pre-market digital display prototype will be “seeded” into the theatre industry, a culture sector that Christie hadn‘t initially considered targeting, but which has the potential to become a commercially significant market.

Following some initial human factors testing, the technology will be adapted and showcased in a high-quality original production to be staged for major players in the theatre industry, as well as representatives from museums, art galleries, and theme parks. The idea is that once exposed to the aesthetic and commercial potential of Christie’s new technology, these industry leaders will adopt, experiment with, and disseminate it within their spheres of influence, which will seed the technology even further.

CCAT members Jill Tomasson Goodwin, David Goodwin, and Glenn Stillar will oversee the project and, with input from optometry and architecture researchers, will contribute particularly to the human factors research. Drama professor Gerd Hauck, along with a playwright, a dramaturge, and a team of technical consultants, will prepare and mount the showcase production. Douglas Sparkes of UW‘s Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology and Paul Guild, a professor in management sciences, will head the commercialization research. Undergraduate and graduate students will work as research assistants.

At the end of the three-year project, CCAT anticipates that it will not only have helped to introduce Christie Digital to a significant new cultural market that it might otherwise have missed, but that also have provided a much-needed shot in the arm to a theatre industry looking for new ways to retain its audiences in the face of competing entertainments such as video games, the Internet, and YouTube.

Most importantly, however, the Seeding a Lead project will serve as a model for how arts researchers can successfully navigate the world of innovation marketing and technology transfer.

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More profs on sabbatical this term

Here’s yet another list of some UW faculty members who are on sabbatical leaves that began January 1. In each case, the summary of sabbatical plans is from the information presented to the university’s board of governors, which has to give approval to each sabbatical.

Kevin McGuirk, department of English (four months’ leave): “I plan to complete two projects already underway: a large edition of the correspondence of the American poet A. R. Ammons and a book of series of articles on the first half of Ammons’s career (early 1950s to mid-1970s) considered in terms of the sociology of the literary career and the social form of the poetry.”

Owen Ward, biology (twelve months): “To carry out research on the processing and recycling of liquidised biosolids, including digestion to reduce biosolids for off-site disposal, production of biofuel, drying and solidification, fertilizer formulation. To prepare a number of papers and a book for publication.”

Craig Hardiman, classical studies (six months): “During the proposed sabbatical leave I plan to conduct my research at the University of Edinburgh. Utilizing their facilities I will complete two articles and write at least two chapters of a forthcoming monograph. I will also utilize Edinburgh and the Classical Association (UK) as fora for disseminating my research and enhancing my international profile.”

Desmond Fonn, optometry (twelve months): “The sabbatical leave that I intend to take will be spent almost entirely at our Centre for Contact Lens Research on administration and funding of the Centre. I will probably spend 1 to 1½ months in Australia at the University of New South Wales School of Optometry, working on collaborative research that we initiated years ago that include the ocular response to contact lens wear.”

Ranjini Jha, accounting and finance (six months): “I will pursue research in two areas: (i) the quality of financial statements information in China and India, a topic of considerable interest to North American firms and investment funds that aim to diversify beyond North American markets into China and India (e.g. I will examine earnings quality of Indian and Chinese domestic firms, and firms that are cross-listed in the US and in Canadian stock exchanges and are thus expected to meet higher regulatory standards); (ii) dissemination of information around mergers and acquisitions announcements in the equity, bond and option markets (e.g. I will study the market effects and trading activity of acquirers and targets and their peers in the equity, bond and options markets in the US around M&A announcements during the past decade).”

João Soares, chemical engineering (six months): “I will dedicate most of my time writing an advanced graduate level textbook on my area of expertise, polyolefin reaction engineering. The deadline for delivering the book to the publisher (Wiley-VCH) is June 2009. I do not anticipate being away from Waterloo for any extended period of time and plan to follow closely the work of my 6 graduate students, 1 post-doctoral fellow, and 2 visiting scientists.”

Sandra Burt, political science (twelve months): “I propose to continue my work on nutrition policies in Canada. I began this work with the Pan American Health Organization in 2006. I have reported on early results at four major international conferences. In this project I will examine the formulation and implementation of the federal government’s policies on trans fats and the Canada Food Guide.”

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Other notes as a new month begins

An online application form is all ready, officials said last week, and just waiting for applicants as UW prepares to fill the September 2009 first-year classes in chemical and civil engineering at the United Arab Emirates campus. "Future students who are interested in applying to study at the UAE campus can find information on the programs available and application criteria," says Wendy Mertz of Waterloo International. There are also e-mail addresses for applications (uaeapp@ and general UAE inquiries (uae@ Meanwhile, Kate Jessop of the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office is off to the Emirates for the next few days, partly to meet the roughly 200 students from that area who have applied for entrance to UW's Waterloo-based programs this year. She'll answer questions and help with any remaining pieces of the application process. Jessop will also visit a number of schools, mostly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to talk to future years' potential students, including some who might come to Canada and others who might choose the engineering and, soon, mathematics programs planned for the UAE site.

A newly-approved UW policy document is not the shortest in the whole arsenal of policies (that would be Policy 29 banning smoking, at just 74 words), but it's certainly concise. Here is the complete 88-word text of Policy 61, which became effective January 27 after approval by the president: "The university will provide time off to accommodate religious observances; however, there is no obligation to provide paid time. Employees who request time off for religious observances may select from a menu of options including a revised work schedule, use of flex time, use of vacation time, use of overtime or an unpaid leave. Options must be discussed with the employee’s supervisor or manager and approved in advance of the time to be taken as a religious observance. Contact Human Resources for advice and assistance concerning this policy."

Tickets go on sale today for UW’s annual International Women’s Day Dinner, to be held Thursday, March 5, at the University Club. The dinner, organized by volunteers from staff and faculty, is meant to celebrate women’s experiences and contributions. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women’s Journeys …. from there to here.” Keynote speaker is Yan Li, adjunct assistant professor at Renison University College and director of the Confucius Institute. Li, born in China, is also a novelist whose first English-language book, Daughters of the Red Land, was published in 1995. It was a finalist for Books in Canada's First Novel Award. Her most recent English-language work, Lily in the Snow, is scheduled for publication this fall. Her books in Chinese include Married to the West Wind, The Living White House and The Lambs of Mapleton, a collection of stories published in Shanghai in 2008. Li has been the vice-president of the Chinese Pen Society of Canada since 2003. Also on the program is guitarist, singer, and composer Aimée Lyn Villapando, a student in her final term in honours drama and business and a don in Village I. Villapando is a cast member of the UW production of "Mad Forest", which will be playing at the Theatre of the Arts in March. The three-course menu for the March 5 dinner will have an Asian theme, with a choice of a chicken or vegetarian entrée. Tickets are $32 from the Humanities box office (519-888-4908).

Here's news from Rachel Mahrer of UW's health services: "Saturday, February 7, MATES would like to invite you to the Chilly Dog Run. Come help us kick off Psychology Month with a 5-kilometre walk or run around the Ring Road and end with a steaming bowl of chili. It's a great way to meet your fellow students and shake off those winter blues! The event starts at the Student Life Centre at 10:30. Cost is $5, which covers entry fee, T-shirt and lunch." Registration is with Mahrer at health services (phone ext. 33308) or her colleague Johan Reis (ext. 84839). MATES — Moods Assistance Through Educational Support — is "a student outreach program that seeks to promote the well-being of students coping with mental health issues."

Imprint reports that CKMS-FM, also known as Radio Waterloo and Sound FM, is circulating a petition for a student referendum on a $2.50-a-term fee that would replace the one abolished as the result of a vote last year. • The staff association says that retailer Sam's Club is offering a discount fee for its members ($20 a year rather than $45) if at least 50 members of the group sign up through the association office. • Kenneth Weir, who worked as a technician in UW's psychology department from 1965 to his retirement in 1993, died January 11.


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Chef Trevor Moreland of Village I was in front of the cameras yesterday as a crew visited from The Food Network. Moreland and his tuna casserole will be appearing on a future episode of "Eat, Shrink and Be Merry", the show where Janet and Greta Podleski "take your favourite comfort foods and give 'em a healthy twist". The Looneyspoons duo will be doing the cooking today, showing Moreland how they "healthy up" his popular recipe without — they hope — sacrificing flavour. Taste testing is scheduled for 11:00 to 12:30 in Mudie's cafeteria.

Link of the day

Groundhog Day

When and where

Geography and environmental management professor Johanna Wandel, “Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in Canada’s High Arctic and Dry Belt” 12:00, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

‘Wellness and Health: Eating Mindfully for 2009’ sponsored by counselling services and health services, 12:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Week student-run information booth Monday and Tuesday 1:00 to 5:00, Student Life Centre. Meet local recreation therapists Wednesday 1:00 to 2:30, SLC multipurpose room.

Career workshop: “Exploring Your Personality”, first session today 2:30, second session February 9, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

Montréal alumni reception 6:00 p.m., Wienstein & Gavino’s, Crescent Street. Details.

Engineering Society forum for candidates in student elections, Tuesday 11:30 to 1:30, Carl Pollock Hall foyer.

UW board of governors meets Tuesday 2:30 p.m. (Pre-meeting briefing on academic progress, 1:15 p.m.)

Career workshop: “Work Search Strategies for International Students” Tuesday 3:00, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Ontario/Jiangsu student exchange information session Tuesday 3:00, Needles Hall room 1116. Information: ext. 33999.

'UpStart Women' festival presented by department of drama: three plays ("Cliques That Click", "Surface Tension", "Bittergirl") February 3, 5 and 7 at 7:00 p.m., three other plays ("The Hair Affair", "Clothture", "The Red Tent") February 4 and 6 at 7:00 and February 7 at 2:00. General admission $12 ($20 for both shows), students $10 ($16).

The Three Cantors benefit concert celebrating 10th anniversary of the School of Social Work, Renison University College, Tuesday 7:30 p.m., St. John the Evangelist church, Kitchener, tickets $25 (students $20), information ext. 28644.

Job Fair 2009 sponsored by UW and other post-secondary institutions, Wednesday 10:00 to 3:30, RIM Park, Waterloo. Details.

Entrepreneurship: A student’s perspective, from Harpaul Sambhi, fourth-year electrical engineering, founder of two companies, Wednesday 12:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology information session Wednesday 4:00 p.m., 295 Hagey Boulevard (also February 11).

Blood donor clinic Thursday 10:00 to 4:00 and Friday 9:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre, book appointments at turnkey desk or call 1-888-236-6283.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

Ottawa alumni event: Reception at Canadian Museum of Civilization marking “the early stages of UW’s Centre for Public Service”, Thursday 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Details.

Doctors Without Borders founder Richard Heinzl speaks, sponsored by UW International Health Development Association and other agencies, Thursday 7:00 p.m., Federation Hall, admission free.

FASS 2009: ‘Live FASS, Die Tomorrow’, a “spy-themed musical comedy” performed by faculty, alumni, students and staff, Thursday (8:00), Friday (7:00 and 10:00) and Saturday (8:00), Humanities Theatre, tickets $7 on Thursday, $10 other nights, at Humanities box office.

Graduate Student Research Conference (April 27-30), deadline for submission of abstracts is February 6. Details.

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