Wednesday, March 4, 2009

  • Lab-on-a-chip and others win $8.5 million in CRC funding
  • Breaking the barriers to Internet access
  • Notes on a cold March day
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Lab-on-a-chip and others win $8.5 million in CRC funding

A release from UW Media Relations

A University of Waterloo professor will investigate how to develop tiny devices for biomedical diagnostics while another will probe how best to use decentralized energy sources with support from two new Canada research chairs awarded by the federal government.

As well, six other Waterloo professors obtained renewals for their existing Canada research chairs. The federal program gives the eight researchers $8.5 million in total over five to seven years. That figure includes support for research infrastructure, such as laboratories and equipment, from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

"This announcement allows Waterloo to continue to create an environment conductive for ground-breaking research and offer a stimulating setting for our graduate students to engage in research," said George Dixon, UW's vice-president of university research.

One of UW's new Canada research chairholders is Dongqing Li, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering (right, in his lab at Vanderbilt University before coming to UW). He holds the Canada Research Chair in Micro-Fluidics and Nano-Fluidics. He will receive $200,000 annually for seven years, along with $360,000 in CFI money for research infrastructure.

The research explores micro-fluidic and nano-fluidic phenomena and processes. In other words, transport of liquids, macro-molecules, particles and cells in micro- and nano-scale channels. Li will examine how to develop these phenomena into new technology in lab-on-a-chip miniaturized devices.

His work will result in new hand-held diagnostic tools for applications in biomedical clinical diagnosis, environmental monitoring, food safety and anti-bioterrorism.

The other new Canada research chair goes to Ehab El-Saadany, professor of electrical and computer engineering. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Energy Systems New Natural Sciences and Engineering. He will receive $100,000 annually for five years, plus $150,000 in CFI money for research infrastructure.

The research examines how to integrate decentralized power generation sources into the central electricity system. Installing environmentally sustainable distributed generation in the system will result in reliable and efficient service.

El-Saadany will provide both knowledge and cost-effective measures so electric utilities can increase their use of clean-power generating technologies.

Six UW researchers won renewals for their Canada research chairs. Entering their second terms are Jim Geelen, Canada Research Chair in Combinatorial Optimization, $500,000; John Heikkila, Canada Research Chair in Stress Protein Gene Research, $1.4 million; Raymond Laflamme, Canada Research Chair in Quantum Information, $1.4 million; Ian Munro, Canada Research Chair in Algorithm Design, $1.4 million; Alexander Penlidis, Canada Research Chair in Engineering of Polymers with Tailor-made Properties, $1.4 million; and James Rush, Canada Research Chair in Integrative Vascular Biology, $500,000.

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Breaking the barriers to Internet access

Ming Li, a UW computer science professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics, and Xiaoyan Zhu, IDRC Research Chair in Information Technology at Tsinghua University in China, are teaming up to make the Internet more accessible to people in China.

Their project is one of eight research partnerships between outstanding university scholars in Canada and their peers in the developing world, under the International Research Chairs Initiative, a program announced in late February by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canada Research Chairs program. Each team is to receive up to $1 million over five years and each will address important development issues.

The UW-Tsinghua partnership will take on the task of “breaking the barriers to Internet access” in China. From the project description on the IDRC website: “Internet search engines are the most efficient method of acquiring information. This poses three problems in China. The first is that 1.3 billion people cannot read English. The second is that there are 16 million visually impaired people in China who cannot use traditional search engines. Third, only 163 million of China’s population use the Internet, although 580 million use mobile phones.

“To overcome the language barrier, commercial search engines translate complete web pages, with often unreadable results. An alternative solution would be for the search engine to find the ‘answers’ and translate the short answers only. To meet the needs of the visually impaired, that short answer should be convertible to Braille or sound.

“The research will seek to develop a natural language search engine that gives concise answers, eliminating the multiple interactive processes in current search engines. The team will develop this technology based on a novel information distance theory, as well as its prior work on Braille systems and question and answer systems. And to overcome the limited Internet access, the team will capitalize on the skill of the majority of Chinese mobile phone users to send short text messages.”

Ming Li is the world’s leading expert on measuring information distance between two information carrying entities. Xiaoyan Zhu, the deputy head of the State Key Lab of Intelligent Technology and Systems, is an acknowledged leader in areas of information processing. More about the researchers and projects.

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Notes on a cold March day

Louise Liliefeldt (far right) will be delivering a talk Wednesday at 1 p.m. in East Campus Hall room 1219. This note comes by way of Bruce Taylor, chair of fine arts. “Louise Liliefeldt is a Toronto-based performance artist and painter. Her work has been described as ‘iconographic portraits’ and is predominately concerned with the politics of identity as it intersects with gender, race and class. . . . When performing, Liliefeldt's body becomes a space. The person or self that she is everyday becomes a metaphor along with those objects or materials she has chosen to represent various themes. . . . Born in Cape Town, South Africa, with a lineage of relatives from Madagascar, Namibia, Germany, Zulu and Dutch it is easy to understand why issues of identity are vital in her artist practice. Living in a city as multicultural as Toronto is something she takes into consideration.” More about the artist here.

Remembering Africa Again, a performance of three African-related works by music professor Carol Ann Weaver, will take place twice this week: in Conrad Grebel Chapel today at 12:30, and on Thursday at 12:10 in the MacKinnon Building concert hall at the University of Guelph. The featured piece is Daughter of Olapa. Performers include vocalist Rebecca Campbell, violinist Anne Lindsay, Dutch flautist Emma Elkinson, and cellist Ben Bolt-Martin, with Weaver on piano. The performance is timely, Weaver says: “The piece is based on rare folk legends I garnered from Barack Obama's homeland and his people, the Luo of Kenya, when I lived in Kenya. . . . I am a Canadian composer but also a USA citizen, and was actually able to vote for Obama, absentee. This concert is my way of lauding a man who is changing the face of history.” Both concerts are free. More about Weaver and her music is here.

Sandra CampbellSandra Loucks Campbell (left), UW social work professor and co-ordinator of the part-time BSW program at Renison University College, has received the 2009 Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for Ontario “for her commitment to the social work profession and to her professional association.” Campbell has taught social work since 2001 at UW, Laurier and Guelph, and has a private practice. Her special focus is on elder abuse and ageism, organizational decision-making and counselling processes. She chairs the Professional Development Committee of the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE). A long-time member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers, she has “provided leadership and dedication to the labour-intensive initiative of updating OASW’s Elder Abuse Handbook.”

Noel Hynes (right), professor emeritus, and Waterloo’s first chair of biology, died on March 2. A note on the Canadian Rivers Institute (UNB) website refers to him as “the world’s most renowned freshwater biologist,” and “the father of running water ecology.” He was awarded the Naumann-Thienemann Medal in 1998, the highest award given to an aquatic biologist by the Societas Internationalis Limnologiciae, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

CPA staff

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When and where

UW Directions, Aboriginal High School Enrichment Conference, continues to Saturday, St. Paul’s College. Details.

Engineering Shadow Day for Grade 11 and 12 students, Wednesday. Details.

Free noon concert: Carol Ann Weaver, Rebecca Campbell and others, “Remembering Africa Again” Wednesday, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Louise Liliefeldt, Toronto performance artist and painter: artist talk, Wednesday, 1 p.m., East Campus Hall room 1219.

AGFA site tour for UW students, Wednesday, 2 – 3:30 p.m. Meet group outside Davis Centre room 1330 at 1:40 p.m. or at the AGFA site, 455 Phillip Street, at 2 p.m. Numbers are limited: register at

‘Mourning the Unborn Dead’: Religious Studies Society presents Jeff Wilson, RS department, “A Buddhist Ritual Comes to America”, marking the release of his new book, Wednesday, 2:30 p.m., Renison UC great hall.

UW Biomedical Discussion Group, Wednesday, EIT 3142, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Speakers: Carolyn Ren (mechanical & mechatronics engineering), Guy Guillemette (chemistry). All welcome. Details.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” Wednesday, 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

How Green is UW? Discuss results of the College Sustainability Report Card, compare UW to others. Wednesday, 6:30 - 8 p.m., R.J. Coutts Hall, room 204.

Climate change lecture: Mark Serreze, University of Colorado at Boulder, “Cranking Up the Arctic Heat”, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., Federation Hall. To register

International Celebrations Week. Movie, “The Italian.” Wednesday, 7 – 9 p.m., Math and Computer room 2065.

‘Interactive Teaching and Learning Strategies’ three-day workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, continues March 5 and 10. Details.

ICR Seminar: Nate Foster, University of Pennsylvania, “Bidirectional Programming Languages.” Thursday, 11 a.m. – noon, Davis Centre room 1304. Abstract.

Career workshops Thursday: “Writing CVs and Cover Letters” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details. “Are You Thinking About Teaching?” 3:30, TC room 1208. Details.

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

International Women’s Day dinner with speaker Yan Li (Confucius Institute, Renison UC), Thursday, 5:00 for 6:00, University Club. Details.

German film series: “My Father Is Coming” (1991), Thursday, 6:00, East Campus Hall room 1220.

International Celebrations Week. UW Aboriginal Services presents Darren Thomas, Comedic Hypnotist. Thursday, 6 p.m., St. Paul’s College, MacKirdy Hall.

International Celebrations Week. Cultural Caravan: cultural performances, displays and food. Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to midnight, Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Craig Cardiff fund-raising concert in support of Engineers Without Borders and Mennonite Central Committee, Thursday, 8:00, Humanities Theatre.

IST Professional Development Seminar: 1. Online learning environment. 2. Exchange calendar. Friday, 9 - 9:45 a.m., Math and Computer room 2009.

Healthy Active Promotion Network yoga class Friday, 2:30 to 4:00, Physical Activities Complex studio 2. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Whitney Lackenbauer, St. Jerome's University, on "Experiencing Canada through the Living History of the Canadian Rangers." Friday, 2:30- 4 p.m., Environment 2, room 2002.

Faculty of Arts Dean’s Honours List reception Friday, 4 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, by invitation.

Rupert Soar, Rapid Manufacturing Research Group (RMRG). Lecture: "What can termites contribute to sustainable construction methods?" Friday, 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

St. Jerome’s University presents Carolyn Whitney-Brown, “Celebrating the Life and Work of Jean Vanier” Friday, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

International Celebrations Week in partnership with Warrior Weekends. Closing ceremonies. Water Boys performance, World Cafe (Coffee Bar), Campus Chat, and Make your own sushi! Friday, 9 – 11 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Director, student awards and financial aid, Office of the Registrar, USG 14

• Associate director, Velocity, USG 11. Internal secondment or external contract opportunity.

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