Friday, January 8, 2010

  • VP sees research funding going up
  • Other notes on a white Friday
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

VP sees research funding going up

Turning the calendar page from 2009 to 2010 wasn’t really a signal for a new start in UW’s office of research, where the important year-ends come in March and April. Still, the vice-president (university research) was quite willing to sum up the work of 2009 in a few words when he was asked this week.

“It was good!” said George Dixon happily.

That means that the money kept flowing to UW researchers at a brisk pace, from sources in the federal government, the Ontario government, non-profit organizations, corporations, and some American and overseas agencies. (More than half comes from the federal government alone, with 29 per cent of the total being disbursed by the three federal granting councils known as NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR.)

The research office doesn’t keep statistics by the calendar year, because UW’s fiscal year ends on April 30 and the federal and provincial governments’ year ends on March 31. But in 2008-09, as measured by the university, the total was $144,089,362 — or approximately $400,000 for every day of a 365-day cycle. That number was up by 9.6 per cent from the preceding year.

[Dixon]For 2009-10, “it’s very hard to make a prediction,” says Dixon (left), but he’s confident the total will go up again. As 2009 came to an end, new grants and contracts were continuing to flow in. An announcement from the federal Canada Foundation for Innovation in late December, promising more than $795,000 for six UW projects, was the crowning touch for the year.

“We are highly competitive in terms of trying to get access to the resources that are available,” says Dixon, who frequently compares Waterloo’s research activity with what’s reported from the rest of the big “G13” universities across Canada. Last year, for instance, Waterloo laid claim to 4.97 per cent of the $863 million made available by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, putting UW in fifth place behind Toronto, British Columbia, Alberta and McGill.

Waterloo will likely lay claim to even more of that money in the years ahead, says the vice-president, pointing to new faculty members settling in here to work in such growth areas as pharmacy, digital media, quantum computing and nanotechnology. (“There’s a lag time between when they join and when you see the increase in funding,” he points out.)

The big question is how much money Ottawa and the province will make available for research, in times of economic uncertainty and government budget pressure. That money helps to drive other research sponsorship as well, since many projects, including those supported by CFI, are organized as “partnerships” with provincial and industrial money matching what comes from Ottawa.

The Ontario government “has very greatly increased” its research funding lately, Dixon says, and Ottawa has put additional resources into the CFI, not to mention its one-time “knowledge infrastructure” construction program. But pushing for governments to keep boosting their research budgets is an every-year activity for university leaders.

“I tend to look more at a longer view,” says Dixon, who likes to make a case for the impact of research on job creation and the Canadian standard of living.

He’s also putting more and more emphasis on the share of UW research that’s financed by agencies — including governments — outside Canada. A white paper on “international research strategy” is being considered by UW’s top executives, and Dixon notes that faculty involvement in overseas ventures, including the Nanjing and Dubai campuses, “is starting to generate increased research opportunities across the university” as faculty members happen to make new connections.

“Despite the electronic age,” he says, “a lot is still based on the interaction of individuals!”

Increasing the amount of research done at Waterloo is among the goals set out in the university’s Sixth Decade plan. By 2017, it promises, UW will “increase research revenue to 50% of the operating budget from the current level of 30% ... stand in the top five in Canada in per capita research intensity ... be in the top three in the country re: NSERC grants/FTE faculty ... be in the top ten in the country re: SSHRC grants/FTE faculty ... increase CIHR grants to $12.5 million.”

Research “intensity”, the amount of research work done by each faculty member, is a slippery thing to measure, says Dixon. But raising the overall average funding on campus is “quite attainable”, primarily by “identifying those areas where we can compete globally, and attempting to focus our energies. The excellence of the university is built on the activities of faculty members and graduate students!”

Back to top

[Priest admires framed artwork]

A highlight of the fall term at St. Jerome's University was the presentation of the 2009 Chancellor John Sweeney Award to local Roman Catholic celebrity Rev. Bernie Hayes. "Father Bernie has touched countless lives and hearts in this community," said the president of St. Jerome's, David Perrin, at the celebration of the ninth annual St. Jerome's Feast. Hayes was recognized for contributions to education over a long career at schools and colleges in Kitchener, North Bay, London, and Kentucky. The award is a tribute to all Resurrectionist priests, Hayes said in response: "I am blessed to have had their support and example over the years."

Other notes on a white Friday

The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy has a new director: Tracey Forrest, who most recently was director of marketing for the local high-tech firm EnerGXpert. “The director is responsible for key management functions,” says Jatin Nathwani, who has headed WISE until now and continues in the dual roles of executive director and Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy and Sustainable Energy Management (a faculty position in the civil and environmental engineering department). He mentions such challenges as building partnerships for the institute, promoting its activities, and managing its work and infrastructure. “Working with the Executive Director, the Board of Management, and the Faculties of Engineering, Environment and Science,” says Nathwani, “the Director will help shape and guide the research initiatives of the Institute and play a critical role in fostering ties with external agencies and institutions. This position further enhances the University of Waterloo’s commitment to be a leader in energy research.” Before coming to EnerGXpert, Forrest served as Director, Energy, for York University in Toronto.

Today's the last day at work on campus for Staff Sergeant Chris Goss, who ends his secondment to the UW police and heads back to a posting with the Waterloo Regional Police. He came initially for a one-year appointment, later extended by a few months, as part of a linkage between the municipal and university police forces that's thought to be unique in Canada. "Chris came to UW in August of 2008 to take on the role of Manager of Operations with UW Police," says the director of police and parking, Dan Anderson. "He quickly became accepted throughout our community, becoming an excellent resource for many committees and groups. Chris has been a wonderful mentor and supervisor for the UW Police officers. Having greatly enjoyed his time at UW, he is looking forward to knew new and exciting challenges. Chris will be taking a group of WRPS officers to British Columbia to assist with security during the Olympics. We will all greatly miss him and wish him well. Chris will be replaced by Staff Sergeant Greg Fiss, whom we will introduce next week."

Three years ago, Render — the UW art gallery — commissioned artist/curator Jeff Thomas to develop an exhibition and research project in response to several land disputes along the Grand River. The resulting project, titled "Home/land & Security", features new works by a dozen artists all reflecting on complex issues of home, identity, place and security. The exhibition opened in November and runs through February 12. On Render’s web site, Thomas gives some background: “The scenario I envisioned for the exhibition space was drawn from my childhood visits to the Six Nations Reserve. It was there that I learned about my Iroquois history from my elder Emily General, who had been an educator and a highly respected political activist in her day. I used to sit in Emily’s kitchen and listen to her conversations with old colleagues, family and friends — stories about Joseph Brant, the Haldimand land grant, legal battles with the Canadian government, and wampum belts. I was particularly intrigued by the ease with which everyone spoke and the transformation of a typical early 19th-century reserve farm kitchen into a type of think tank. My childhood memories of Emily’s kitchen table and the importance of political activism and dialogue became the prototype for this exhibition space and for the bringing together of these twelve. Caledonia still looms as an unresolved backdrop and will remain so until we find a common ground to begin talking to one another and bridging imposed racial borders.”

A number of retired UW staff members have died in recent days, according to notifications from the human resources department:

  • Susan Friesen, who was a secretary in the department of geography from 1973 to her retirement in 2000, died December 6.
  • James Dodd, a major figure in the management of computing at UW, died December 14. He came to the university in 1965 as a lecturer in mathematics, then became "space and schedules analyst" in 1968, and "assistant director, services" in what was then called the Computing Centre in 1971. He retired in 1996.
  • Gladys Monahan, who came to UW in 1967 and was secretary to the dean of applied health sciences until her retirement in 1988, died December 17.
  • Sandra Fogarty, who was a secretary in the earth sciences department from 1988 to her retirement in 2002, died December 29.
  • Doris Nyssen, who worked as a housekeeper in Village II (now Ron Eydt Village) from 1974 to her retirement in 1991, died December 31.


Back to top

Police still investigating Phillip Street robberies

Walk in a group, and consider taking the shuttle — that's the advice from the UW Police, all the time but especially in the wake of recent incidents along Phillip Street. Half a dozen robberies and attempted robberies have taken place since mid-December, with the latest as recent as this week, says UW police chief Dan Anderson. He said Waterloo Regional Police, who have jurisdiction because the incidents took place off campus, are "actively investigating". Personal safety advice and information about the UW shuttle service are on the police web site.

Link of the day

Santa Fe

When and where

Phrosh Week to welcome new pharmacy students continues with events today; main campus tours, barbecue and sports at Columbia Icefield Saturday. Details.

Campus recreation registration for intramural sports ends today; registration for instructional programs January 11-14, athletics office, Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Bookstore and other South Campus Hall stores open 9 to 5 today, 12 to 4 Saturday. Campus Tech, Student Life Centre, open 9 to 5 today.

Feds Used Books, Student Life Centre, open Monday-Friday 8:30 to 5:30 this week, Saturday 9 to 5.

Return-to-campus interviews for co-op students, ending today, Tatham Centre.

Chamber Choir auditions 1:00 to 5:00, Conrad Grebel UC chapel. Details.

Philosophy colloquium: Eric Mandelbaum, University of North Carolina, 4:00, Humanities room 373.

Auditions for FASS 2010 last day 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Hagey Hall room 119. Details.

Comedian Jon LaJoie at Humanities Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

St. Jerome’s University mini-course: Peter C. Erb, Wilfrid Laurier University, “Facing a Secular Age: Notes for the Modern Sceptic” January 8, 15 and 22, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall. Details.

BOT (Beginning Of Term) engineering pub, 9 p.m. to midnight, South Campus Hall. Details.

Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery Bee Keeper’s Ball murder mystery and masked ball, Saturday 8 p.m., 25 Caroline Street, Waterloo, tickets $20. Details.

Senate graduate and research council Monday 10:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Work term reports from fall term co-op jobs due Monday 4 p.m., Tatham Centre.

Philosophy colloquium: Nathan Ballantyne, University of Arizona, Monday 4:00 p.m., Humanities room 373.

Embassy Church Monday 7:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

On-campus recruitment information session organized by career services, Tuesday 11:30, or Thursday 1:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113. Details.

Canadian Institutes for Health Research grant-writing workshop Tuesday 2:30, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Alumni in Washington, DC: Engineering alumni reception at Transportation Research Board annual meeting, Tuesday 5:30 p.m., Marriott Wardmann Park Hotel. Details.

Waterloo Stratford Lecture: Kevin Harrigan, drama and speech communication, “Slot Machines: Are They Addictive” Tuesday 7:00, Stratford Public Library, 19 St. Andrew Street.

‘Will Ecology Dominate the 21st Century?’ panel discussion with Thomas Homer-Dixon and Robert Gibson (UW) and Stephen Bocking (Trent U), sponsored by UW-published Alternatives Journal, Tuesday 7:30 p.m., Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, tickets $10. Details.

Flu vaccination clinic January 14-15, 10:00 to 4:30, Student Life Centre 2134-2135. Shots available for both H1N1 and seasonal flu. Vaccinations are also available 10:00 to 11:30 daily at Health Services. Details.

One click away

How somebody could get a free education at Waterloo
Engineering web site features technologist
CAUT leader: 'Academic librarians are under attack'
'Web tools aim to open the gates to the ivory tower'
Enrolment decline in Dubai colleges and universities
Engineering student 'giving back in her own way'
Instability at U of Windsor medical school outpost
UW and Laurier 'brace for surge in applications'
Conference Board of Canada 'report card' on universities
NY Times on BlackBerry outages: UW prof quoted
'Call getting louder for student neighbourhood makeover'Blogger: Northdale falls far short of 'ghetto''A great place to live'
'Five misconceptions about innovation'

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin