Tuesday, May 18, 2010

  • Two multi-million-dollar federal chairs
  • Introducing Waterloo’s two chairholders
  • Mental health, climate change, legal studies
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

Two multi-million-dollar federal chairs

Two of the federal government’s 19 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs are coming to Waterloo, officials announced yesterday, describing the chairs as “funded at an unparalleled level in Canada — up to $10 million over seven years”.

[Van Cappellen]New chairs at this university will be David Cory, currently of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in chemistry and quantum computing, and Philippe Van Cappellen (right), now at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in earth and environmental sciences.

"The federal government is to be commended for providing an unprecedented level of support for these Canada Excellence Research Chairs in a range of important disciplines," said David Johnston, president of the university, in a statement as the chairs were celebrated yesterday morning.

"Our own chairholders will work to improve society in two key ways,” he said, “in one case developing quantum devices to solve problems beyond our current abilities, and in the other case helping to establish guidelines to best balance the water needs of people and natural ecosystems.”

The 19 chairs were announced at a national event in Toronto as well as local events, including one held in Waterloo’s brand-new Research Advancement Centre 2, the building where Cory will have his laboratory. At the local ceremony, the government was represented by Kitchener-Waterloo MP Peter Braid, who observed that “the cutting-edge research conducted by these global leaders will spur innovation in Waterloo Region and positively contribute to Canada’s competitiveness and future prosperity.”

Four of the new chairs are going to the University of Alberta, two each to Waterloo, Toronto and Laval, and one each to nine other institutions from coast to coast.

They’re being supported by the three federal research granting councils: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“The arrival of these globally respected researchers will have multiple benefits for Canada,” said SSHRC president Chad Gaffield. “Research chairs of this calibre working together with other researchers, students and postdoctoral fellows already in Canada will create meaningful new opportunities.”

The CERC program was announced in the 2008 federal budget as part of the government’s science and technology strategy “to help build expertise in strategic areas”. Research conducted by the chairholders ranges over the environmental sciences and technologies, natural resources and energy, health and related life sciences and technologies, and information and communications technologies.

Funding for each chair, up to $10 million over seven years, will “support chairholders and their research teams in undertaking ambitious research programs”, the government said.

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Introducing Waterloo’s two chairholders

[Cory in laboratory]Says a news release issued yesterday to announce his appointment: “A pioneer and leader in quantum information processing, David Cory (left) engineers the tools needed to navigate, control and exploit the quantum world. Called quantum sensors and actuators, these tools will form the building blocks for future quantum computers.”

Cory, whose doctorate is from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, is a professor of nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With the title of Canada Excellence Research Chair in  Quantum Information Processing, he’ll be joining Waterloo’s chemistry department and the Institute for Quantum Computing on June 1, and will also hold a visiting appointment at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

He will lead a new experimental IQC research centre, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities in a 10,000-square-foot laboratory, where his research is expected to contribute toward the world's first generation of practical quantum devices. These new quantum technologies will have immediate and future applications in medicine, communications, biochemistry, physics and nanoscience.

"This chair will provide the resources needed to design, fabricate and test a first generation of quantum devices," says Cory. "Over the past decade, the engineering of quantum systems has become a reality. Now we aim to deploy quantum devices." He serves as chair of the advisory committee of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

As the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ecohydrology, Philippe Van Cappellen “will seek to increase understanding of how groundwater and surface waters interact, and how they affect the health of human populations and aquatic ecosystems,” says the news release. His research focuses on the movement of nutrient elements and toxic metals between groundwater and surface water.

Van Cappellen, whose PhD is from Yale, is the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Global Environmental Studies in the school of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He is also a part-time professor in the department of earth sciences at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He will join Waterloo’s department of earth and environmental sciences when his appointment begins in 2011.

Combining laboratory and field experiments with mathematical modelling, Van Cappellen will work to to define the accompanying biogeochemical changes and their impacts on water quality and ecosystem health. He will use experimental data and theoretical modelling to develop an environmental simulation tool that can be applied to river catchments around the world. This tool will ultimately be capable of predicting how hydrological systems, which are crucial to our social and economic well-being, respond to natural and human-induced changes.

"The most beneficial outcome is that we will have a much better characterization of how humans impact water quality and quantity," says Van Cappellen. "That will help develop guidelines to better manage our limited water resources by balancing the water needs of society with those of natural ecosystems."

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Mental health, climate change, legal studies

More than 70 people are registered to take part in the President David Johnston Run for Mental Health around the ring road this afternoon. That's more than twice last year's turnout, and more participants are expected, right up to the 5:00 race time, according to Jenny Mackay of the athletics department, who's one of the organizers. So far, she adds, the event has raised some $1,500 for the UW Suicide Prevention Committee and the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council. The committee "is very excited for the event," which is in its fifth year, Mackay said. "The support from the community has been tremendous." The run will start and finish at the Student Life Centre, and volunteer marshals in safety vests will be stationed at high-traffic points and construction sites around the route, with UW police providing an escort. Runners will circle the 2.65-km ring road twice and walkers once; refreshments at the SLC will follow the event.

This year's Canada Trust Walter Bean Visiting Professor in the Environment will be on campus this week, and returning in the fall to give the formal public lecture that's a traditional part of the position. The visitor is Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, one of the world's most prominent climatologists and author of Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save the Earth's Climate. The faculty of environment will hold several specialized events this week at which Schneider will appear, and there will also be one public lecture, tonight at 7:00 in Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University. The title is advertised as "Truth or Consequences", and the subtitle: "What can I do about Climate Change since I can’t negotiate with China?" Schneider's fall lecture will be scheduled for September 30, says Betty Bax, communications officer in ENV.

The university senate gave approval last night to change the name of UW's sociology department to "sociology and legal studies". Since it was created in 2004, the undergraduate legal studies stream "has operated only as a program rather than as a formal academic department", says a memo from soc department chair Keith Warriner that was provided to students some months ago as the proposed change worked its way toward approval. Bringing the program into a full-fledged department "will provide much more support for Legal Studies students", he said. "The members of the new Department of Sociology and Legal Studies will be working very hard to make it a highly supportive learning environment for Legal Studies students." The two undergraduate programs remain separate, he stressed: the goal is to support LS students better and "to create administrative efficiencies, not to amalgamate the two programs". Depending on exactly how you count, that makes 18 academic departments and schools with an "and" in their names — most of them added in the last five years.

Faith-Anne Wagler of the housing and residences department must need oversized business cards for her title: "Assistant Programs Co-ordinator, Desk Services and Living-Learning". That role leads her to be announcing this week that her office is hiring "peer leaders" for some of the Living-Learning communities that will be operating in the residences in future terms. In particular, applications are open (from today through June 6) for leadership roles in the Arts and Business and China 2+2 L-L communities (fall 2010 and winter 2011) and the Accounting and Finance L-L community (winter 2011). There's more information online.


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Link of the day

International Museum Day

When and where

Waterloo Region public meetings: Draft Regional Transportation Corridor Guidelines, today from 9:00; Regional Transportation Master Plan 7 p.m., both at Regional council chambers, 150 Frederick Street. Details.

Library workshop: “Better Searching, Better Marks” today 10:00 or Thursday 1:00, Flex lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Engineering exchange programs information session 11:30, Carl Pollock Hall room 3604.

Career workshops Tuesday: “The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 1208; “Career Exploration and Decision Making” 2:30, Tatham 1112; “Working Effectively in Another Culture” 3:00, Tatham 1208. Details.

[Schrock]Arthur J. Carty Lecture by Richard Schrock, Nobel laureate, MIT, on research results in olefin metathesis chemistry, 3:00, Davis Centre room 1350, reception follows.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Prezi, a Pan and Zoom Presentation Tool” 3:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Songwriting competition at the Graduate House: finals tonight at 6:00. Details.

Communitech and Accelerator Centre present lunch-and-learn with Innosphere Mobile, Wednesday 11:00, 295 Hagey Boulevard, north campus, RSVP bmuise@ acceleratorcentre.com.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Critical Thinking” Wednesday 12:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

UWRC Book Club discusses Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross, Wednesday 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

Fair trade olive oil briefing by Robert Massoud of the Palestinian organization Zatoun (oil available for purchase) Wednesday 2:00 to 3:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 105.

Career workshops Wednesday: “Thinking about an International Experience?” 2:00, “International Work Term Procedures” 3:30, both in Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Waterloo Space Society lecture: Eric Choi, Com Dev, “Adventures in the Canadian Space Industry” Wednesday 5:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 305.

Innovators in Action speaker series sponsored by Social Innovation Generation: Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, Wednesday 7:00, The Museum, 10 King Street West, Kitchener. Details.

You @ Waterloo Day for applicants considering offers of admission, Thursday 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., headquarters at Student Life Centre. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy presents Prabha Kundur of Kundur Power System Solutions, “Sustainable Electric Power Systems in the 21st Century” Thursday 5:30, CEIT room 3142.

‘Ash from Iceland’ public lecture by Alan Morgan, department of earth and environmental sciences, Thursday 6:30, Math and Computer room 2065.

‘Dancing in the Dark’ fund-raiser for Canadian National Institute for the Blind, sponsored by UW pharmacy students, Thursday 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., The Vault lounge, Waterloo.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 24, UW offices and most services closed, classes not held.

Procurement and contract services annual trade show in Davis Centre lounge: technology and computers, May 25; Staples, May 26; e-procurement, May 27. Details.

Education Credit Union seminar: “Wills, Power of Attorney and Living Wills” May 25, 12:05, Davis Centre room 1302, reservations janinew@ ecusolutions.com.

Retirees Association spring luncheon May 27, 11:30, Sunshine Centre, Luther Village, tickets $25, information 519-888-0334.

‘Max & Ruby: Our Favourite Things’ children’s live theatre May 30, 1:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

UW board of governors June 1, 2:30 p.m., CEIT building room 3142.

Keystone Campaign annual picnic, “Keystone: Final Answer” June 3, 12:00, Graduate House green. Details.

PhD oral defences

Biology. Zhenyu Cheng, “Proteomic Analyses of Plant-Bacterial Interactions.” Supervisors, Bernard R. Glick and Brendan J. McConkey. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, May 20, 9:00 a.m., Biology I room 266.

Combinatorics and optimization. Matthew McKague, “Quantum Information Processing with Adversarial Devices.” On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, May 20, 9:30 a.m., Research Advancement Centre 1 room 2004.

Psychology. Danielle Gaucher, “Institutional-Level Contributors in Inequality: The Existence and Impact of Gendered Wording Within Job Advertisements.” Supervisor, Aaron Kay. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Friday, May 21, 10:00 a.m., PAS building room 3026.

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