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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

  • Funding boosts climate change research
  • BBC-TV documentary to focus on Tutte
  • Back to school for politicians and more
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Funding boosts climate change research 

by Janet Janes, Office of Research

Changes to our global climate mean that coastal areas and their ecosystems are facing immense challenges that will affect every person and living thing, as well as the lifestyles and economies of coastal communities and island nations around the world.

Although the full impact of climate change and sea level rising may be 50 years away for some communities, for others, including many Caribbean countries, those effects will come much sooner. How do coastal communities prepare for these challenges? Fortunately, researchers at Waterloo are looking for answers to this question decades in advance.

During the last three years, Daniel Scott, (far left, with Murray Simpson, chair of the CARIBSAVE partnership, where Scott is chief scientific officer) a professor in geography and environmental management, and Canada Research Chair in Global Change and Tourism, has studied the impact of sea level rise on the economies of 15 Caribbean countries in collaboration with researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of the West Indies, and the United Nations Development Program.

Their latest report, “Modelling the Transformational Impacts and Costs of Sea Level Rise in the Caribbean,” was presented at last year’s UN Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico and provided key information to help policy leaders make informed decisions about how to respond and adapt to rising sea levels.

Now, Scott and a team of researchers from Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Prince Edward Island, St. Mary’s University, and the University of the West Indies have received an award for $2.5 million to continue research on climate change adaptation in coastal communities. The Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adaptation (ParCA) is a five-year project that will investigate how small and medium-sized coastal communities in Jamaica, Tobago, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island will adapt to the impact of rising sea levels and other climatic changes.

“Although located in very different areas of the world, these shorelines share many of the same risks,” says Scott.  “Small and medium-sized communities that often lack the technical and economic capacities of large cities face specific challenges of understanding the risks of climate change and mobilizing the resources needed for effective adaptation.”

ParCA will lead to the development of best practices guidelines for conducting this kind of research as well as lessons learned that can be applied to other coastal communities around the world. Scott’s team is one of five research teams selected to address an important gap in climate change knowledge, namely how to anticipate, manage, and reduce climate change vulnerability through adaptation.

The award was announced in June under the International Research Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change (IRIACC). Managed by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), IRIACC is the result of a unique funding collaboration between IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

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BBC-TV documentary to focus on Tutte

A BBC-TV crew are on campus this week, in and around the mathematics buildings, the Institute for Quantum computing, and the new Quantum-Nano Centre. They’re making a documentary titled “Code Breakers,” about the boffins of Bletchley Park, to be broadcast in the UK in October.

Why Waterloo? One focus of the documentary will be the life, work and impact of the late William Tutte (right), distinguished professor emeritus. Some of Tutte’s colleagues in the math faculty — professors Dan Younger, Bruce Richmond, and Bill Cunningham — will be interviewed.

Tutte was one of a group of brilliant young mathematicians at Bletchley Park who worked on breaking enemy encryption during the Second World War. With others, he helped to break the FISH code used by the German high command: work that led to the development of Colossus, sometimes described as the world's first electronic computer. The Bletchley codebreaking work was kept secret until 1993. Dan Younger’s biography of Tutte describes his contribution in detail.

At Waterloo, Tutte was a professor 1962-1985, an early member of the combinatorics and optimization department and, as a world-renowned graph theorist, a hiring coup for the university. “His presence was a magnet for combinatorialists from all over the world,” Younger writes. “Tutte was an important ingredient in the recipe that produced the Faculty of Mathematics in 1967.”

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Back to school for politicians and more

The Waterloo Federation of Students is taking local politicians “back to school” today, with the goal of building relationships between students and their local representatives, while helping politicians see education-related issues from a student perspective. The itinerary includes a campus tour, attending a class with students, a barbecue reception, and meetings with student leaders. Among the more than a dozen politicians attending, the Hon. John Milloy, minister of training, colleges and universities; Justin Trudeau, Liberal MP and postsecondary education critic; and Liz Witmer, Conservative MPP, will speak to students.

“The importance of diversity in engineering” is the topic of a Women + Engineering Forum happening today, 6-9 p.m., Coutts Hall Room 302. Hosted by the Engineering Society and Women in Engineering, with speakers (professors, counsellors, and industry professionals) as well as an undergrad student discussion period, this forum will focus on different perspectives and what’s important in engineering for everyone. Students, faculty, and staff are welcome. Dinner will be provided.

WatPD presents an information session on elective PD courses, Thursday, 1-1:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208. Presenters are PD teaching assistants who are or were PD students themselves. The session will help students choose their next elective PD courses. A list of courses is here. There will be pizza.

A Grassroots Facilitation workshop takes place Thursday, 5-7 p.m., Student Life Centre room 2135. “Come learn and share strategies for fostering good communication, equity, active listening and effective decision-making for meetings of all shapes and sizes.” The event is part of the Seeds of Resistance series of  social justice “awareness-raising, skill-building and analysis-developing workshops” held by the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG). Workshops are free and open to all. Food and bus tickets will be provided, and child care is available on request. To register, or for more information, email

The UW Management Consulting Club is hosting the CEO Factory, Thursday, 7-9:30 p.m., in CEIT room 1015. Consultants from Deloitte Consulting, McKinsey & Company, Oliver Wyman, and ZS Associates will take part in a panel discussion, followed by informal networking. Industry representatives will speak on the consulting business, how to get into the profession, and management consulting as a career. Cost is $5; refreshments provided. To register and for information, check Facebook at

CPA Staff

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Link of the day

Rosalyn Yalow would have been 90

When and where

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: first-time students, July 11-24; open class enrolment, July 25.

Warrior athletics camps week of July 18: women’s volleyball. Details.

Student Life 101 visits for future first-year students, July 18-19.  Details.

A visitation and reception for family and friends of Maurice Green is being held at the Kitching, Steepe & Ludwig Funeral Home, 146 Mill St., N., Waterdown, today, 1 - 5 p.m. Please sign the Book of Condolence.

Career workshop Today: “Medical School Applications”, 5:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Career workshops Wednesday: “Job Information Session for Graduating Students,” 11:30 a.m., Physics Building room 145; “Successfully Negotiating Job Offers”, 3 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Bombshelter Pub, Student Life Centre, end-of-term party all-day celebrations Wednesday.

UWRC Book Club: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Wednesday, 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

VeloCity end-of-term exhibition of student projects, Wednesday, 12:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre.

Hawaiian Christmas Luau served at the University Club, Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Reserve at ext. 33801. Menu here.

Christmas in July dinner at Mudie’s cafeteria, Village I, Wednesday, 4:30 to 7:00.

University Choir concert Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Knox Presbyterian Church, 50 Erb Street West, Waterloo. Tickets $10 ($5 students, seniors).

Farm market Thursday, July 21, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Environment I courtyard.

Career workshops Thursday, July 21: “Interview Skills: Preparing for Questions,” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; “Job Information Session for Graduating Students,” 3:30, Physics Building room 145. Details.

GM is coming to campus. See the 2012 Chevrolet Volt, first extended-range electric vehicle, Thursday, July 21, 3 p.m., Engineering 5 Student Design Centre atrium.

"Just Food" travelling art exhibit sponsored by Mennonite Committee on Human Rights, through to September 27 in Conrad Grebel UC atrium. Official opening Thursday, July 21, 4 to 6 p.m. Information: 519-885-0220 and online.

Skip (Steve) Wiles of the locksmith shop in Plant Operations will officially retire September 30, but his last working day — after 29 years of service — will be July 22.

International Spouses' Potluck Lunch. Friday, July 22, 12:45 p.m., indoors at the air-conditioned CLV Community Centre, off Columbia between Westmount and Fischer-Hallman. (Changed location due to expected high humidex.) More information on website. Questions:

Huron Natural Area walk and picnic hosted by UWS, Sunday, July 24, leaving outside Davis Centre 11 a.m. Tickets $5 at Environment Coffee Shop or FEDs office in the Student Life Centre; deadline to buy is July 21. Information at

UW Instrumental Chamber Ensembles concert: Monday, July 25, 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel. free.

Last day of classes for spring term, July 26.

English department guest lecture: Prof. Jennifer Harris, Mount Allison U., "From Montreal to Boston: Mystery authors and a secret cache of 19th-century Canadian writings." Wednesday, July 27, 3 p.m., Hagey Hall room 150. All welcome.

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