Wednesday, March 10, 2010

  • Quantum link with Singapore institute
  • Home page features 16 new stories
  • Picking the next dean, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Handshake in lab]
Quantum link with Singapore institute

by Colin Hunter, Institute for Quantum Computing

In quantum research, “entanglement” refers to a powerful relationship between two distant particles. So entanglement might be a fitting term to describe the newly inked relationship between two of the world’s leading quantum computing research institutes — the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing and the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Quantum Technologies.

During a ceremony Monday morning at IQC’s temporary home in the north campus Research Advancement Centre, four distinguished guests from the Singapore institute were on hand for the signing of a memorandum of understanding that will foster the exchange of ideas, personnel and resources between IQC and CQT.

Both institutes employ top physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists and other scholars in the quest to build a new breed of supercomputer that harnesses the strange powers of quantum mechanics.

“It’s really an honour to take this big step forward in collaborating with the Institute for Quantum Computing,” said Tan Eng Chye, provost and deputy president for academic affairs at the National University of Singapore. He's pictured shaking hands with UW president David Johnston.

“Both institutes have a critical mass right now," said Tan. "If we put them together, the chances we will be successful are much higher.” The scholars who travelled from Singapore for the occasion also included Artur Ekert, director of CQT.

The memorandum of understanding formalizes an existing partnership between the two institutes, which have collaborated on experiments and research papers for several years.

“We’ve helped each other a lot over the years, and we want to continue sharing expertise,” said Michele Mosca, deputy director of IQC. “It’s an example of UW’s long history of international projects and collaboration.”

Monday’s signing event, held in the nuclear magnetic resonance lab at IQC, drew a number of distinguished academics, politicians and dignitaries. UW president David Johnston lauded the event as “another big step forward” in the university’s history of international cooperation.  “I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the next 10 years and what we are going to do together,” Johnston said of the collaboration.

In an interview with the Waterloo Region Record, CQT director Ekert said the collaboration symbolized that “there is now a feeling of working in a global village” in the field of quantum computing.

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Home page features 16 new stories

A look at Olaf Weber’s near-empty office in the Environment 1 building makes it clear the star finance expert hasn’t been warming his seat for long — not that anyone would blame Weber for not finding time to unpack. He’s been busy settling into his new job and a new country. 

“I’ve lived and worked in Switzerland and Austria. At least I’m used to this,” he says, motioning to the snow outside his window.

[Weber — photo by Simon Wilson]One of only a handful of experts globally in environmental finance, Weber (left) joined the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development as the Export Development Canada Chair of Environmental Finance in January 2010. The position is the first of its kind in North America. It’s designed to encourage companies to invest in socially responsible ways and merge green performance measures with business.

Weber has years of sustainable business analysis experience to back him up. Before coming to Canada, he focused primarily on the outcomes of sustainable and environmental behaviour in companies and banks, with emphasis on risk management.

He says he’s convinced banks can improve their risk management by using eco-friendly criteria. For instance, before a bank or financial institution offers a loan to a small or medium-sized business, it should look at how much energy the company uses or waste it produces. “If banks look at those things and take them into account when determining the amount of a loan, the risk could drop,” he says. “They are getting a fuller picture.”

A profile of Weber is one of 16 “attribute stories” that pop up in random order when someone looks at the university’s web home page. The current stories were put in place last week; others, viewed over the past several months, have now been relegated to an archive. Written in the university’s communications and public affairs office, they’re called “attribute stories” because they’re presented to illustrate the attribute words that are being used in marketing these days: Waterloo is “innovative”, “unconventional”, “collaborative” and so on.

Among the other stories currently featured on the home page:

• “Looking for a way to possibly slash your risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis? Ken Stark is researching ways to increase Canadian’s consumption of Omega-3.”

• “'In astronomy, every photon counts,' says Arsen Hajian. 'You’ve got to make the most of them, because what else can you do: turn up the stars?'”

• “Entering a nation-wide competition to design a sustainable community east of Regina, a team of six undergrad planning students from Waterloo tied for first with a graduate-level team — and inspired the developers to revise their plans.”

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Picking the next dean, and other notes

A memo from the university secretariat announces that the nominating committee to find the next dean of the faculty of environment “has held its first meeting and has begun the process of identifying Dean Saini’s successor. Over the next month, committee members intend to consult broadly, possibly including some individual interviews and/or meetings with small groups within the faculty. Notwithstanding, you are invited to convey your views on matters concerning the deanship to any member of the nominating committee. The committee especially seeks feedback on important issues, challenges and opportunities facing the Faculty of Environment. Your input and feedback will be very important in shaping the position profile and informing the direction of the search. Comments are due no later than April 9, 2010 and will be held in confidence within the committee.” Comments can go to the secretary, or any member, of the committee:

  • Feridun Hamdullahpur, chair, 519-888-4766; provost@
  • Lois Claxton, secretary of the university, 519-888-4012; lclaxton@
  • Jean Andrey, faculty member, Geography & Environmental Management, ext. 33629;  jandrey@
  • Betty Bax, staff member, Faculty of Environment, ext. 38100; bax@
  • Ken Coates, Dean of Arts, ext. 32217; kcoates@
  • Neil Craik, faculty member, SEED, ext. 36578; ncraik@
  • Don Duff-McCracken, staff member, Mapping, Analysis & Design, ext. 32151; dsmccracken@
  • Rob Feick, faculty member, School of Planning, ext. 35493; rdfeick@
  • Chrisa Hoicka, graduate student, Geography & Environmental Management, choicka@
  • Brendon Larson, faculty member, Environment and Resource Studies, ext. 38140; blarson@
  • Marc Leblanc, undergraduate student,
  • Dawn Parker, faculty member, School of Planning, ext. 38888; dcparker@
  • Daniel Scott, faculty member, Geography & Environmental Management, ext. 35497;  dj2scott@

BlackBerry at your belt? If you're one of the 650 people across campus who carry the Waterloo-made smart phone and buy their airwaves from Rogers through the university's information systems and technology department, you may want to attend a meeting this morning that will provide details on the latest pricing plan and conditions. Joe Allen of IST says new packages are negotiated periodically, in a very lively business climate for wireless communications. The "pooling plan" being presented today involves prices that start at $20 a month for voice service and $30 for data, but the details can get complex. Among them: the Rogers "hardware upgrade program", which makes a user eligible for a newer BlackBerry after 24 months of service, but imposes a fee for anybody switching toys sooner. Today's briefing starts at 10 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1302.

[With elegant cravat]The smirk and the cravat belong to Reid Vanier, playing Septimus in the drama department’s production of ‘Arcadia’ by Tom Stoppard, which goes before an audience for the first time tonight. It’s a by-invitation performance today, at 7:00 in the Theatre of the Arts; public performances run Thursday through Saturday, and again March 18-20, at 8:00. Says a publicity release: “Considered by many one of the greatest plays of our time, Arcadia celebrates the human thirst for knowledge fully cognizant that such knowledge will forever be elusive. Yet in the pursuit of sexy ideas about the universe it also celebrates universal ideas about sex, the one unpredictable attraction which Newton left out in his deterministic model of the world.” The Humanities box office has tickets.

It’ll be quite an evening of music, this Friday in the Humanities Theatre — a chance to hear the Water Boys, the Amati Ensemble, and (I’m picking names quite at random from a long list) Takayuki Fukada, Morgan MacLean, Niki Aghaei, Shirwan Sumaroo, and a dozen more. The occasion is the first-ever charity concert organized by a group that we haven’t heard much about lately, the UW Music Club. It “used to be a fairly well-known club, but it was inactive for several terms,” writes Natalie Livshitz, who has led the group’s resurrection and is now spreading the word about the Friday concert. “We are raising money to buy instruments for schools and community centres in disenfranchised areas in the Waterloo region,” she says. “We hope to give the students at these schools the opportunity to experience the gift of music that many of our members have had access to! The performances in this concert vary greatly in style and genre. We have classical musicians playing pieces by the likes of  Beethoven and Chopin, a Latin rock band, many vocalists/guitarists playing indie songs, a beatboxer, an a cappella group, and much more! It should be a great mix. Tickets are only five dollars!” The club will have a table today in the Student Life Centre, and also invites visitors to its weekly meeting, 5:30 p.m. in Rod Coutts Hall room 212. Friday night’s concert starts at 7:30 (doors open 7:00) in the Humanities Theatre.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin referred to Reid Pozen's book on the global economy as Too Big to Fail; as the photo made abundantly clear, it's actually titled Too Big to Save. • Jim Ostrowski, a postdoctoral fellow in the management sciences department, has finished second in this year's Nicholson Student Paper Competition for outstanding papers in operations research. • The Women’s Centre marks International Women’s Week with activities today running from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Student Life Centre multipurpose room.


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Link of the day

Women in engineering

When and where

Co-op job interviews for spring term positions, “continuous” phase March 9-31, rankings open every Tuesday and Thursday. Details.

Income tax information session for international students, 10:00 (Arts Lecture Hall room 208) or 2:00 (Environment 2 room 2002).

RefWorks advanced workshop, presented by UW library, Wednesday 10:00 or Thursday 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

School of Planning speaker: Dennis Wendland, Evergreen Learning Grounds, 12:30, Environment I room 354.

International treats at Renison Ministry Centre, Renison UC, 2:00 to 3:00.

Career workshops today: “Career Exploration and Decision-Making” 2:00, Tatham Centre room 1112; “Thinking About Optometry?” 5:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

Stratford Institute public update 5:30 p.m., Stratford City Hall auditorium.

Anthropology guest lecture: J.W.K. Harris, Rutgers University, "Our Earliest Hominin Ancestors, Bipedalism, and Tools: new insights into human origins on the African continent." 7 p.m., PAS building room 2083. Details.

‘What Is the Role of Post-Secondary Education in Society?’ discussion at Graduate House sponsored by Alternative Academics, 7 p.m.

Optometry building hot water shut down Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Graduate Conference in Philosophy (17th annual), March 11-12. Keynote speaker Mark Wilson, University of Pittsburgh, “how Wave Front Found Its Truth-Values” Friday 3:30, Student Life Centre multipurpose room. Details.

Career workshops Thursday: “Exploring Your Personality Type” 10:30, Tatham Centre room 1112; “Law School Bound” 12:30, Tatham 1208; “Preparing for the LSAT” 1:30, 1208; “Teaching English Abroad” 1:30, 1208; “GRE Information and Preparation” 3:30, 1208; “Foreign Lawyers and Law Graduates” 4:30, 1208. Details.

Employee Assistance Program brown bag seminar: "Career Planning: The How and Why Behind Getting Started or Switching Gears". Thursday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

‘Canadian by Choice’ documentary film on United States soldiers who deserted and moved to Canada, followed by question and answer session, Thursday 6:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Cultural Caravan performances by clubs, Thursday 6:30 p.m., Student Life Centre.

Arriscraft Lecture: Luis Callejas, Paisajes Emergentes, Colombia, “Projects, Competitions and Methods” Thursday 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

9/11 Research Group presents Michael Keefer, University of Guelph, “Critical Thinking on 9/11 and the War on Terror” Thursday 7:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Employee Assistance Program presents UW president David Johnston and Richard Ennis, psychology department, “Hitting the Wall and Moving through It: Using community relationships and resilience for success,” Friday 12 noon, CEIT room 1015.

Knowledge Integration seminar: “A Consideration of a Complex Health Care System” Friday 1:30, Environment II room 2002.

Club That Really Likes Anime final show of the term, Friday 4:30 to 10:30, CEITE room 1015, and Saturday 2:30 to 10:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 116. Details.

Waterloo Space Society unveils its new telescope Friday 7:30 to 11 p.m., Waterloo Park bandshell.

Warrior Weekend events Friday and Saturday evenings, with 28 straight hours of International Celebration Weekend, Student Life Centre, including Tamil dances, crafts, food, UW Breakers, jazz band, movies. Details.

Lights play at Federation Hall Friday, doors open 9 p.m., advance tickets $10 at Federation of Students office.

Niagara Falls and winery trip organized by International Student Connection, Saturday, bus tickets $20 at Federation of Students office.

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

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