Monday, March 1, 2010

  • Database offers expertise to the media
  • $20 million in Ontario research funding
  • March coming in like a . . . something
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Towering above patio railings]

'This life-size bear,' Eric Kennedy writes from Conrad Grebel University College, "appeared on Grebel's back patio thanks to several students. Appropriately, it bears quite a resemblance to the Spirit Bear from the Olympic opening ceremonies." The photo is by another first-year Grebel resident, Andrea Blezy.

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Database offers expertise to the media

from the media relations office

Feridun Hamdullahpur is an expert in combustion, the environment, climate change, fuel cells and energy. Ken Coates is happy to discuss Aboriginal rights, Northern history, studies of Japan and post-secondary education. And Ray Laflamme is an expert in, no surprise here, four different branches of quantum science.

These are just three of the 150 or so individuals who have registered to be in a new service (a database with two user interfaces) designed to increase awareness of the significant academic expertise found at Waterloo.

Communications and Public Affairs today launches a new "experts and speakers guide" for media and community groups seeking experts who can increase public understanding on a wide range of topics. The database will allow users to locate the expert willing and able to share their understanding.

“There’s no shortage of experts on campus willing to share what they know with the wider public, and all have something significant to contribute to the public’s understanding of their areas,” says Michael Strickland, who manages media relations for the university.  “The guide will allow people to quickly find and reach out to the right expert.

“Speed and ease are of particular importance as we work to increase awareness of the good work underway at Waterloo. If the Globe and Mail is looking for an expert — whether in Asian studies, zoology or the fields in between — they are probably contacting other universities and, sometimes, the expert quoted is the first one they reach. We want that expert to be from Waterloo; our people and programs are at the top of their fields and deserve the recognition.”

All academics, and a few administrators, were invited to register themselves, a process that which allows them to control the information that appears. The database allows members to decide if they want to speak to media, community groups or both, and also lets them differentiate the topics they want to address.

“An academic interested in speaking before the Rotary Club may not be comfortable doing a live TV interview, while some may want to speak to the media, but not community groups,” said Nancy Heide of CPA, who looks after community outreach.

The database allows the users to locate the right academic using a keyword search or by scanning the people listed by area. The database includes all academic departments, some of the non-academic departments, plus senate-approved research centres and institutes.

But a unit is visible only if at least one member is willing to speak to media and/or community groups. “We very much wanted every department, centre or institute represented,” says Strickland. “But we ultimately decided there was no point in telling media or community groups that we have tremendous expertise in an area, if no one in the area was willing to share their expertise in this way.”

He said a soft launch of the database is under way today, introducing it to the campus community and select media, and inviting feedback. The database will be tweaked as required before it’s shared more widely with media across the country. Interested faculty can register themselves at any time and, if they are the first from their area, it will appear on the list.

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$20 million in Ontario research funding

[Pendergast with UW president David Johnston]

Leeanna Pendergast, Liberal MPP for the riding of Kitchener-Conestoga, came to the campus Friday afternoon (left) to announce more than $20 million in grants from the Ontario Research Fund for six Waterloo-based projects.

“Funding world-class research is part of Ontario’s Innovation Agenda,” said a statement from Pendergast, referring to “the McGuinty government’s plan to build an innovation economy that turns new knowledge into new jobs, better health care, a cleaner environment and endless possibilities for Ontario families.” The $20,826,487 in funding comes from the ORF’s Research Excellence program. The six projects:

• $1.6 million for “Advancing Nanotechnology: Development of Novel Scanning Probe Tools for Applications in Atomically Precise Fabrication, Characterization and Metrology”. The work is headed by Raafat Mansour of the electrical and computer engineering department, and involves some 10 researchers and links to three private-sector companies. A news release says Mansour and his team “are leveraging recent engineering developments in scanning probe microscopy techniques and micro-scale scanning probe instrument to create the next generation of nano devices”.

• $8 million for “Green Intelligent Transportation Systems”, a project headed by Amir Khajepour of mechanical and mechatronics engineering. The work involves 26 researchers and has three private-sector partners. “The shift from gasoline-powered to electric cars will affect everything from the design and manufacture of the vehicles themselves, to the supporting infrastructure they require,” the news release explains. Khajepour “is leading a multi-disciplinary team of researchers who are addressing the entire green transportation paradigm, from the vehicle and vehicle intelligence, through power generation and distribution, to the effects of electric vehicles on traffic flow and infrastructure”.

• $2.1 million for “Next Generation Web Approaches and Tools”, a project headed by Donald Cowan of computer science, with three researchers working in collaboration with the Centre for Community Mapping and Sybase. “With our expertise in ICT,” the release says, “Ontario has an unprecedented opportunity to define, build and deploy the services that will form the foundation of the next generation of web-based applications. Cowan’s work aims to keep Ontario — and Ontario ICT companies — in the lead in a sector that’s changing rapidly.”

• $4.9 million for “Multi-platform Digital Media Enabling Technologies”, a project headed by Tamer Özsu of computer science. A total of 16 researchers from UW and Sheridan College will be helped by the grant, ORF says, and three software firms are partners in the project. The work involves “multiple technologies (e.g., live action, animation, 3D special effects) on multiple platforms (e.g., film, television, Xbox). It is groundbreaking research that will enhance the bottom line for producers, while establishing Ontario’s reputation as a global leader in enabling technologies and the production of digital content.”

• $1.8 million for “Privacy and Security in Mobile Ad Hoc Communications and Embedded Systems”, a project headed by Guang Gong of electrical and computer engineering. Three corporate partners are involved — Authenticrypt Corporation, Pitney Bowes, and Research in Motion — and six researchers are taking part. “From cell phones to digital audio players to global positioning systems,” the news release explains, “mobile ad hoc communication and embedded systems are becoming an indispensable part of our daily lives. But their rapid development is raising serious privacy and security concerns that current technologies cannot solve. Guang Gong and her team are focused on developing new security solutions for current and emerging ad hoc communication and embedded systems.”

• $2.5 million for “Retinal Oxygen Saturation, Blood Flow, Vascular Function and High Resolution Morphometric Imaging in the Living Human Eye”, a project headed by Christopher Hudson of the school of optometry. Nine researchers at UW and the University of Toronto are involved in the project, and there are two corporate partners. “Vision loss robs individuals of their quality of life and costs the economy an estimated $15.8 billion a year,” the releases says. “While the majority of vision loss is preventable, better tools are needed to combat the pending epidemic. Hudson and his team of researchers are developing retinal imaging instruments that will allow the early detection and improved management of the three most common causes of age-related vision loss: macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.”

The funding announced at Waterloo is part of a larger investment in research that will support at least 214 scientists across the province, said John Milloy, the minister of research and innovation. “We are demonstrating, once again, that our government understands the value of science to our economy today and for creating the jobs of the future.”

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March coming in like a . . . something

Well, the Olympics are over; and yep, that was a hockey game for the ages, reminding some of us (those who have been here for a long, long time) of September 28, 1972, and the yells that echoed through the corridors of Hagey Hall that afternoon when Paul Henderson scored his dramatic goal. I'm not sure how much yelling there was on campus yesterday, but I hear the party down on King Street was pretty lively. And now, well, back to normal life across this broad dominion. . . .

Registration opens today for the 2010 UW Staff Conference, which will take place on April 6-7. The Organizational & Human Development office promises to build on the success of the previous conferences and provide two days of engagement through four keynote speakers, ten interactive workshops, and a live theatrical performance: "Share expertise, experiences and best practices for your professional and personal development. Participate in workshops on creativity, student engagement, mindsets, and much more. Please review your Staff Conference 2010 invitation and discuss it with your co-workers so that together you select which sessions of the conference you wish to attend. Remember that workshop sessions are duplicated to allow staff flexible registration choices while also providing the ability to spilt duties/times with co-workers in the office.  Register early as some sessions fill up quickly." Registration runs through March 29. As planning continues, OHD is also currently looking for a number of volunteers — "for lots of different activities: pre-conference, post-conference, for part of a day, one day, or both of days, it’s up to you. This is a wonderful opportunity for staff to collaborate with your campus colleagues on a stimulating event." Anyone interested should e-mail lnevills@

“You can now apply for URI funding online!” says a note to faculty members from the department of co-op education and career services. “On Monday, March 1, a website for use by faculty to apply for Undergraduate Research Internship funding will be opened. This new application method is designed to simplify and streamline the administration of these funds. Students must receive a total minimum pay of $6,000 or more for the term. You can use any source for your portion of funding (other grant arrangements, programs, etc.). The program provides a University subsidy of $2,500 for hiring a first work term co-op student (you provide a minimum of $3,500) or $1,500 for any other student, co-op or regular (you provide a minimum of $4,500). How to get started? Prepare a job description, then complete the online application form. Please direct questions to Judi Whitfield at jwhit@ or call ext. 36062. Flyers containing details of the URI funding program are being mailed to all faculty within a week.”

As mentioned in the Daily Bulletin the other day, UW will soon be looking for a new dean of arts. Hence this official notice from the university secretariat: "Ken Coates’ term as Dean of Arts expires June 30, 2011 and, as required by Policy 45, The Dean of a Faculty, the process for constituting the nominating committee is under way. Nominations are requested for one staff member elected by and from the regular staff of the Faculty of Arts.  At least three nominators are required in each case. Completed nomination forms should be submitted to the Chief Returning Officer, Secretariat, Needles Hall, Room 3060, no later than 3:00 p.m., Friday, March 12, 2010.  An election will follow if necessary."

Today being March 1, there's a change in the university's administrative ranks, as Tim Jackson officially becomes associate vice-president (commercialization) and chief executive of the Accelerator Centre. • Here's a reminder that pre-enrolment for fall term undergraduate courses starts today and runs through March 7 on Quest. • Nominations are open (until March 26) for the annual Engineering Teaching Assistant Awards; paperwork is available at the undergraduate studies office on the first floor of Carl Pollock Hall.


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Link of the day

Dewy Sant

When and where

Graduate Student Association referenda on bus pass and expansion of health services, polls open until Thursday midnight. Details.

‘Find books and more’ workshop on doing research in the UW library, 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

UW Recreation Committee presents Giles Malet, information systems and technology, “Ensuring E-mail Does (or Doesn’t) Get into Your Inbox” 12:00, Math and Computer room 2009.

Library workshop: “Conference Proceedings” 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ events organized by Students for Palestinian Rights: march leaves from Dana Porter Library Monday 1:30 p.m.; film “Britain and the Struggle for the Holy Land” Tuesday 1:30, Student Life Centre great hall; human rights advocate Suzanne Weiss speaks Tuesday 6 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 307; humanitarian Hannah Carter, “A Journey Through the West Bank” Wednesday 6:30, SLC multipurpose room.

Career workshops today: “Career Interest Assessment” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1112; “Work Search Strategies for International Students” 4:30, Tatham room 1208. Details.

Senate executive committee 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Co-op job matches for spring term (main group) results open 4 p.m. on JobMine.

Cultural Encounters, Encountering Cultures series: Mario  Boido, Spanish and Latin American studies, “Politics, Identity, and the Latin American Avant Garde” 4:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Embassy Church 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

RefWorks introductory workshop presented by UW library, Tuesday 11:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

UW Recreation Committee presents Marilyn Smith, school of optometry, “The 45-Plus Eye” Tuesday 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 329.

Career workshops Tuesday: “Writing CVs and Cover Letters” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218; “Interview Skills, Preparing for Questions” 3:30, Tatham room 1208. Details.

Joint health and safety committee Tuesday 1:30 p.m., Commissary room 112D.

Library workshop: “Assess Your Research Impact” Tuesday 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology presents Marc Aucoin, chemical engineering, “Baculoviruses, What Can’t They Do” Tuesday 3:30, Chemistry II room 361.

Student Climate Change Colloquium (second annual) sponsored by Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change, Wednesday-Thursday, South Campus Hall. Details.

Perimeter Institute public lecture: Joseph Emerson, Institute for Quantum Computing, “The Quantum World, from Weird to Wired” Wednesday 7:00,  Waterloo Collegiate Institute. Details.

Observatory night with brief talk on astronomy, tour of UW observatory and chance to look through telescope, Wednesday 8:00, Physics room 308.

Fifth Annual International Women’s Day Dinner, Thursday 4:30 p.m. cocktail hour, 5:30 p.m. dinner, University Club. Tickets at Humanities box office, 519-888-4908. Details.

Public Service Leadership reception and announcement, Friday 12:00, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, by invitation, information shannig@

St. Jerome’s University Scarboro Missions Lecture: Vincent Miller, University of Dayton, “Where Are We? Responsibility, Spirituality and Place in a Global Age” Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

Etiquette Essentials: Dinner and workshop for graduating students, hosted by Student Life Office and Alumni Affairs, March 9, 5:30 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

‘Arcadia’ by Tom Stoppard, drama department spring production, preview by invitation March 10, 7:00; public performances March 11-13 and 18-20, 8 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $12 general, students $10. Details.

Opera Kitchener performance of “Madama Butterfly” March 14, 3 p.m., Humanities Theatre. Details.

PhD oral defences

Statistics and actuarial science. Wu Zhou, “A New Framework for Clustering.” Supervisor, Wayne Oldford. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, March 11, 10:00 a.m., Mathematics and Computer room 6027.

Sociology and legal studies. Joanna Jacob, “Pathways of Crime and Delinquency: A Life-Course Analysis of Informal Social Control of Antisocial Behaviour.” Supervisor, Peter Carrington. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Monday, March 15, 10:30 a.m., PAS building room 2030.

Recreation and leisure studies. Grace Bandoh, “Conservation and Natural Resource Management in the Ankasa Resource Reserve, Ghana.” Supervisor, Paul Eagles. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, March 16, 9:00 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

Computer science. Alexander Hudek, “Improvements in the Accuracy of Pairwise Genomic Alignment.” Supervisor, Daniel Brown. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Tuesday, March 16, 10:00 a.m., Davis Centre room 2314.

Friday's Daily Bulletin