Thursday, May 14, 2009

  • Innovation awards to three UW profs
  • Subway and salads coming to SLC cafeteria
  • Pop musical hits T of A stage tonight
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Innovation awards to three UW profs

Three UW faculty members are among the creators of “thirteen outstanding scientific achievements” that were recognized this week by the 2009 Ontario Premier's Innovation Awards.

The provincial government announced a total of $12.95 million to the award winners, from the academic and business sectors, at a celebration Tuesday night at the MaRS Discovery District technology centre in Toronto.

Said Ontario innovation minister John Wilkinson: “The Premier’s Innovation Awards are a testament of Ontario’s world-class research and innovation strength. This important occasion celebrates the people whose talents, skills and dedication are creating a better world and a brighter future for us all.”

The winners from Waterloo, all of them involved in spinoff companies:

Scott Vanstone, professor of combinatorics and optimization at UW and St. Jerome’s University and founder of Certicom Corp., a company that markets mathematical data security techniques. He was given one of the province’s $200,000 “Catalyst” awards for “Lifetime Leadership in Innovation”.

Said a citation: “For the U.S. National Security Agency and Communications Security Establishment Canada, lives can depend on secure communications and the secrecy of data. Certicom’s Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) is the technology of choice to secure all top-secret, mission-critical and sensitive data and communications.

“Developed by Certicom co-founder Dr. Scott Vanstone, ECC uses sophisticated mathematics to secure a wide array of high technology hardware and software products — from cell phones to smart cards, wireless emails to e-commerce. This elegant technology has won Dr. Vanstone numerous awards, as well as recognition from influential EE Times as one of the 25 greatest minds in the world. Dr. Vanstone also was instrumental in the creation of the Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research at the University of Waterloo, a world-leading institution.”

Bin Ma of the school of computer science, recognized as “Best Young Innovator” and also awarded $200,000 in the Catalyst category. Ma also serves as chief technology officer of Bioinformatics Solutions Inc.

Said his citation: “Bioinformatics researchers have been searching for a precise way to identify novel proteins since the early 1980s. It took Dr. Bin Ma, Chief Technology Officer at Bioinformatics Solutions, to succeed where no-one else had.

“In 2002 he developed PEAKS. Used by leading pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology firms, research hospitals, government labs and university research centres worldwide, PEAKS has filled a pressing need for accurate and rapid protein identification which helps accelerate drug development. Dr. Ma has been equally innovative in marketing PEAKS, increasing sales by 20 to 40 per cent a year since its launch and helping Bioinformatics Solutions become the world’s second largest protein identification software provider.”

Ming Li, also of the school of computer science and also of Bioinformatics Solutions, who received a $250,000 Discovery Award to recognize “Innovation Leadership”.

Says his citation: “Dr. Ming Li is a leader in the emerging field of bioinformatics, which uses computers to tackle challenges in life sciences. His work has been influential, widely referenced and profitably commercialized through his company, Bioinformatics Solutions. Dr. Li and his colleagues opened the door to modern homology search methods with their PatternHunter software for identifying structural similarities.

“Their RAPTOR software for protein structure prediction and their PEAKS software for identifying proteins are used by scientists in leading genomics research centres worldwide to advance drug discovery. To train the next generation of bioinformatics researchers, Dr. Li created the University of Waterloo’s co-operative undergraduate bioinformatics program, now rated one of the best in North America.”

The Premier’s Catalyst Awards “celebrate exceptional unions of innovation and entrepreneurship in Ontario”, the province says. “Awards are presented to companies that have championed a new or significantly improved product or service based on breakthrough technology. Innovations must be commercially successful and have the potential to enhance Ontario's economy, society or sustainable development.

“The award recipients are working to conquer disease, find solutions to climate change and develop advanced digital technologies. Their research and development is helping to create Ontario's next generation of jobs.”

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Subway and salads coming to SLC cafeteria

Brubakers cafeteria in the Student Life Centre is closed for the summer and will look very different when it reopens for the fall term, says Lee Elkas, director of UW’s food services.

In an e-mail message this week, he explained the overhaul of Brubakers, which opened in 1995, has been featuring “deli sandwiches and pitas, pizza, pasta, and a Daily Pub Grub menu item” and includes Pizza Pizza and Teriyaki Made in Japan franchises.

Says Elkas: “Brubakers is undergoing a spring/summer renovation to re-open for August 31 in time for training and orientation. The Student Life Centre is a major hub for students and Brubakers needs to grow with the campus. We are expanding the Brubaker footprint and adding value added food options, with a slant on health and nutritional menus.

“While Pizza Pizza and Teriyaki Made in Japan will continue to be available, the deli and toasted sandwich option will be replaced. In its place, we're adding a Subway franchise, a Pita concept, a Salad concept and a Fruit Smoothie concept. We feel that these four new options not only complement each other, they'll provide affordable nutritious and popular food options for today’s students, faculty and staff in our community. All four new concepts (and including Teriyaki MIJ) offer fresh, made-to-order lunches and dinners.

“With the increase in production, we've increased our fridge and freezer capacities. Seating will be reduced by 24 to 28 seats. However, with the new addition, we plan to remove tray service while providing more ‘Grab 'n Go’ options for our busy students on the go.

“While we are excited with all our new concepts, we feel the Salad concept will be very popular. Students will be able to choose their lettuce and many toppings including grilled chicken or vegetables, mixed with their dressing of choice, then packaged to go.

“Brubakers will continue to offer a home cooked dinner counter with daily specials, Fair Trade coffees, soup, fresh fruit, and a variety of beverages and desserts. New hours of operation will be determined in August.”

Elkas also reports that a whole new food services outlet is on its way, with a café to open later this year in the new Accounting wing of Hagey Hall. It’ll specialize in organic and other “healthy” food — details to be announced.

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['Wedding Singer' band in action]
Pop musical hits T of A stage tonight

Eighties pop culture is back, in the Broadway musical comedy “The Wedding Singer”, as Kitchener-Waterloo Musical Productions presents the hit pop-rock musical for eight performances tonight through May 23 at the Theatre of the Arts.

Says a KWMP news release, totally objectively: “This incredibly funny romantic comedy will have audiences laughing hysterically, rockin’ out to the catchy eighties-inspired tunes, and falling in love all over again with all things 1985!

“The Wedding Singer is based on the wildly popular New Line Cinema film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The stage musical adaptation opened on Broadway in 2006 and even spawned a U.S. national tour. The theatrical rights were recently released, and KWMP is one of the first companies in North America to produce a regional production.”

The background: “In 1985 in Ridgefield, New Jersey, wedding singer and aspiring rock star Robbie Hart is left at the altar by fiancée Linda. Shot through the heart, Robbie makes every wedding as disastrous as his own. Enter Julia, a sweet-tempered waitress who wins his affection. The only trouble is, Julia is about to be married to a Wall Street shark. Unless Robbie can pull off the performance of the decade, the girl of his dreams will be gone forever.

“With a brand new score that pays loving homage to the pop songs of the ‘80s, The Wedding Singer takes us back to a time when hair was big, greed was good, collars were up and a wedding singer just might be the coolest guy in the room.”

KWMP, “the region’s foremost community theatre group”, was formed in 1948 and has produced more than 70 musicals at various venues throughout the Kitchener-Waterloo area. “In 1998,” the release explains, “KWMP began producing a spring production in a more intimate venue. The productions began as musical revues and have blossomed into presentations of more contemporary musicals at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

“Due to a scheduling conflict with the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, KWMP originally intended to present this production at the King Street Theatre before it announced its closure earlier this year. Thanks to an opening in the schedule at the University of Waterloo’s Theatre of the Arts, the show will go on.”

The performing company “touts an impressive list of alumni”, it claims, ranging from Alex Mustakas, mastermind of Drayton Entertainment, to actress Marisa McIntyre. In the current generation of performers and backstage folks are a number of UW people, ranging from associate dean of math Steve Brown to students David Bui and Allison Howarth, and Mike Iley of the dean’s office in applied health sciences.

Tickets for “The Wedding Singer” are on sale at the Humanities box office, priced from $20 to $29.


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[Cover of book]

Book launch: Where Am I? Why We Can Find our Way to the Moon but Get Lost in the Mall by Colin Ellard, of UW's department of psychology, will be launched at 3:30 today in the UW bookstore, South Campus Hall. A reading from the book will be followed by book-signing and a reception.

Link of the day

Hepatitis Awareness Month

When and where

Herschel Space Observatory launch event with live video and remarks about UW’s involvement, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre.

Campus recreation instructional program registration for the spring term, final day. Details.

Communitech Tech Leadership Conference, Bingemans Conference Centre, Kitchener. Details.

Chem 13 News exam for high school science students, sponsored by UW and University of Toronto chemistry departments, today. Details.

Library workshop: “Introduction to RefWorks” 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Residences and off-campus housing open house at new office, Student Life Centre lower atrium, 12:00 to 2:30.

Microteaching session sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Mathematics alumni lunch at Ontario Association of Mathematics Educators annual meeting, 2:30, Baker’s Grille, Carleton University, Ottawa. Details.

Chemical engineering seminar: George Pharr, University of Tennessee, “Probing the Mechanical Properties of Materials at Small Scales”, 3:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 307.

UW Alternative Fuels Team general recruitment session 5:00, Doug Wright Engineering room 2536. Details.

Orchestra@ UWaterloo first rehearsal 7:00, Conrad Grebel University College great hall. Details.

‘61 Years of Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine’ presentation hosted by Students for Palestinian Rights, Friday, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

‘Global Financial Crisis’ one-day conference at Wilfrid Laurier University, Friday; free panel discussion, “Lessons from the Financial Crisis”, 3:30, SBE building room 1220. Details.

Canoeing the Grand: outing sponsored by International Student Connection, Saturday, bus leaves campus 11 a.m., tickets $30 from Federation of Students office.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 18: UW offices and most services closed, and classes cancelled.

Energy Futures one-day conference on residential energy systems, hosted by UW faculty of environment and other agencies, Tuesday at Centre for International Governance Innovation. Details.

Waterloo Region rapid transit public consultation centres Tuesday 2:00 to 8:00, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kitchener; May 26, 2:00 to 8:00, First United Church, Waterloo. Details.

UW Senate meets Tuesday 4:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Sharcnet Symposium on GPU and Cell Computing, May 20, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Last day to drop or withdraw from courses with 100 per cent fee refund; “drop, no penalty” period ends, May 22.

You@Waterloo Day open house for students who have received offers of admission to UW, and their families, May 23, 10:00 to 2:00, headquarters in Student Life Centre. Details.

Winter term grades become official May 25 on Quest.

‘Learning from Ontario’s Best Lecturers’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, May 28, 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

President’s Golf Tournament in support of athletic scholarships, June 1, Westmount Golf and Country Club. Details.

UW board of governors meets June 2, 2:30 p.m.

School of Optometry continuing education weekend June 5-7; Woodruff Lecture by Judith West-Mays, McMaster University; Clair Bobier lecture by William Bobier, UW optometry; reunion dinner; optometric assistants’ program; official opening of Optometry building expansion. Details.

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