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Tuesday, March 25, 2014



  • Distinguished Teacher Award winners named
  • Students awarded for exceptional teaching
  • Social Entrepreneurship Fest next week
  • Children's attention study seeks participants
  • Registrar arrives and other notes



Distinguished Teacher Award winners named

with files from Husnia Barakzay, CTE special projects assistant.

Distinguished Teacher Awards for 2014 will be presented to four faculty members at convocation, associate vice-president, academic Mario Coniglio announced at last night's meeting of the university senate. The winners are: 

  • Kashif Memon;
  • Anindya Sen;
  • Levent Tuncel; and
  • Christina Vester.

Kashif Memon.Kashif Memon, an academic advisor, coordinator, and lecturer for Science and Business, has been teaching at the University of Waterloo since 2005. His students and colleagues give high praise to his dedication to excellence in teaching, his devotion to advising and mentoring, and his sincere concern for students. In addition, using group discussions in his classroom has made a valuable impact on student learning.  As one of his students notes, “I am extremely proud to be under the guidance of such an incredible educator. Kashif genuinely, and I cannot emphasize this enough, genuinely cares for his students”.  One student nomination summarizes Kashif’s teaching as “he captivates every class, fills us with information, teaches us how to apply concepts, provides support outside the classroom, and most importantly makes all those that he teaches strong, well-rounded individuals that are ready to take on any challenges that the world may throw their way”.  Kashif’s impact on student learning clearly extends far beyond the classroom.


Anindya Sen.Anindya Sen, an associate professor and associate chair in the Department of Economics, received support from his students and colleagues pointing out that he was successful in providing extremely positive and lasting learning experiences. As an alumnus states, “Captured in three words, Professor Sen’s teaching is succinct, simple, yet powerful”.  Dr. Sen pushes his students to take their thoughts to the next level and use them in real life applications.  In addition, he creates a comfortable environment for students to ask questions, and he always ensures that students in the class understand concepts before moving on to new material. A student reports that “I never gave much thought to economics before, but because Dr. Sen taught in such an easy to digest and approachable manner, my interest grew”.  Dr. Sen’s teaching style matches real life experiences with what is academically valuable to the students. Dr. Sen was able to lead many of his students to achieve both academic and professional success.

Levent Tuncel.Since joining the Faculty of Mathematics in 1992, Levent Tuncel has made an exceptional contribution to teaching undergraduate and graduate optimization courses. In addition, he played an integral role in developing and redesigning courses for the Combinatorics and Optimization Department. Students praise his teaching methods including the use of diagrams, geometric interpretations, and “carefully-crafted questions on assignments and exams.” As an alumnus states, “When I teach my own courses, I am influenced by Levent’s interplay of algebra and geometry, by his illuminating questions on assignments and exams, and by his continually-improving course notes”.  Dr. Levent’s well-prepared and well-organized lectures reflect his effort to ensure a positive learning environment for his students. Furthermore, Dr. Levent’s teachings are made more effective by his empathy with students and, as one student describes, by his “infectious” enthusiasm.


Christina Vester.Christina Vester, an associate professor and undergraduate advisor in the Department of Classical Studies, joined the University of Waterloo in 2004. Dr. Vester impacts students directly through her classroom teaching style, mentorship, engaging and fair teaching practices, and supportive character and indirectly through her contributions to strategic re-design of the Classics programs. A student reflects that “When I leave this year, I know I will take her words of encouragement with me: to experience as much of our vast world that I can, and never be afraid to push your limits”. 

Dr. Vester’s dedication manifested itself in the development of an online teaching tool called “Ketos” used for learning Ancient Greek.  The online tool is widely recognized as the most-user friendly of the Greek tutorial tools available online.  She has reshaped the Labyrinth site designed to “navigate the twists and turns of Classical and Medieval Studies” and initiated the undergraduate journal Tiresias.

"The Distinguished Teacher Award is given in recognition of persistent, sustained excellence in teaching at Waterloo," said Coniglio. "These individuals are outstanding role models for teaching."


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Students awarded for exceptional teaching

with files from Husnia Barakzay, CTE special projects assistant.

The recipients of the 2014 Amit & Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student were present at Monday's meeting of the university's senate, with Sue Horton making the announcement. The winners are:

  • Brenda Lee;
  • Nathaniel Barr; and
  • Rania Al-Hammoud.


Brenda Lee.Brenda Lee, a PhD graduate student and teaching assistant in Biology (Nanotechnology) at the University of Waterloo, is being recognized for her positive impact on student learning in various Biology labs. Her students share their high regards in her ability to give constructive criticism and explain concepts thoroughly. Students note that Brenda “used creative approaches such as demonstrations, drawings and thought provoking questions to make her points”. In addition, they describe her as “very friendly, approachable, helpful, and knowledgeable”. Her friendly demeanor, genuine interest in helping students, wealth of knowledge, and effective teaching skills have played a significant role in creating a positive learning experience for her students.  

Nathaniel Barr.Nathaniel Barr, a PhD graduate student in Psychology at the University of Waterloo, is known as a teacher who makes an admirable impact on student learning by creating a positive learning environment and expressing passion for the field of psychology. Nathaniel, as a teaching assistant and an instructor for various psychology courses, “went beyond and above in his teaching role”.  He recently taught PSYCH101 (online), PSYCH207 and PSYCH398 as an adjunct instructor.  A student commented that “No matter where his career takes him, he will have a profound and positive impact on those around him, although I truly believe that teaching is where he needs to be”.  A faculty member writes, “I know that teaching is his first love, and it shows!”

Rania Al-Hammoud.Rania Al-Hammoud completed her Masters of Applied Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo. From Fall 2010 to Fall 2013, Rania taught a total of ten undergraduate courses in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program including 4 different core second-year courses and 2 advanced fourth-year courses on structural systems and structural analysis. Her dedication to enhancing student learning in a range of undergraduate courses is greatly appreciated by the students. Students regard her as a “hard working, caring and intelligent instructor”. A student writes, “She would not rest until we not only knew how but also why.” Her extraordinary ability to teach and ensure student engagement and a deep understanding of the course material through various interactive teaching methods, in particular within large classes, has had a great influence on student learning. She recently secured a faculty position at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota-Duluth.


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Social Entrepreneurship Fest next week

Social Entrepreneur Fest poster.St. Paul's GreenHouse and the Faculty of Environment's International Development program will be celebrating the culture of youth-led social entrepreneurship on campus at Waterloo on Monday, March 31 at 5:30 p.m. with Social Entrepreneurship Fest 2014 (Or #SocEntFest2014, if you prefer).

The event will begin with a networking reception and the opening of social entrepreneurship displays, followed by remarks and a panel discussion on social entrepreneurship. Howard Armitage, special advisor to the president on entrepreneurship, will deliver the opening remarks.

The lecture will take place in St. Paul's Alumni Hall, STP-201 and the event is open to the entire campus community. Food and refreshments will be provided.

Anyone interested in attending can register online.


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Children's attention study seeks participants

Research from a team of clinical psychologists at the University of Waterloo has the potential to improve the lives of children with learning and behavioural difficulties, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The researchers are seeking participants for their ongoing study.

According to the Waterloo psychologists, children with ADHD, though a diverse group, are generally at increased risk of negative outcomes later, including academic underachievement, underemployment, and poor social relationships. This project aims to understand the factors that both protect children from and lead to these negative outcomes. Ultimately, the goal is to gather information that will lead to the development of practical interventions.

"The study will offer parents and schools more effective approaches for supporting children with issues such as ADHD and other learning and behavioral difficulties," said Professor Tara McAuley, co-investigator of the project. “Our findings may enable us to develop interventions that result in improved student outcomes."

Parents and teachers involved are asked to complete questionnaires about the child's behaviour in home and school settings. The parents would also participate in an interview with the researchers, taking up to 90 minutes. It is not necessary for the child to have received an assessment or diagnosis prior to participating in this project.

Professor McAuley and Professor Elizabeth Nilsen, both from the Department of Psychology at Waterloo, are leading the project. They investigate children’s cognitive and behavioural development and are co-directors of the Child and Adolescent Clinical Research Group (CACRG), which is affiliated with the Centre for Mental Health Research at Waterloo.

Families participating in the study will be offered feedback in the form of a free assessment of their child’s functioning in several important areas, including attention and behaviour, emotional adjustment, executive functioning, communication skills, and social relationships.

“Although we’re not conducting comprehensive psycho-educational assessments, we do look at many areas that are known to impact a child’s ability to function in his or her environment,” said Professor McAuley.

For more information, interested families can call 519-888-4567 ext. 32298 or visit the CACRG website. All studies conducted have been reviewed and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Committee.


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Registrar arrives and other notes

University Registrar Ray Darling has taken up his duties, effective Monday, March 17.

Darling holds two degrees from the University of Guelph and has worked in the university sector since 1991, starting at the University of Guelph and later at Wilfrid Laurier University, where he was appointed Registrar in 2007.

The University Registrar is a key position within the university, overseeing undergraduate student recruitment and marketing, admissions, enrolment, examinations, the development and application of academic policies, and convocation.

Be sure to drop by the Student Life Centre today after 10:00 a.m. for the Warrior Spirit Day extravaganza. There promises to be an inflatable velcro wall and "bungee extreme" as well as music provided by the Warrior Band. Check out the details on the Federation of Students' website.

Here's the latest Nutrition Month "myth vs. fact" provided by Health Services Dietician Sandra Ace:

Myth: If you’re not hungry at breakfast, it’s OK to skip it.

Fact: It is important to fuel your brain and the rest of your body after an overnight fast. If you’re not hungry in the morning, it may be because you are eating a large evening meal or indulging in too much nighttime snacking. Even breakfast haters can learn healthier new habits when they put their mind to it. If you normally skip this meal, start out by eating something small: a piece of fruit, a hard-boiled egg, a yogurt cup or a slice of whole grain toast within an hour of waking up. Chances are, you’ll learn to embrace your new eating pattern that typically results in a morning energy boost and less late-night noshing. If you are looking for some breakfast inspiration that goes beyond the traditional toast, cereal or eggs, check out Cookspiration, a free app jam-packed with great ideas for meals and snacks for any time of day.


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President of Monash University to address campus

Ed Byrne, vice-chancellor and president of Australia's Monash University, will be visiting the University of Waterloo on Thursday, March 27.

President Byrne is was a founding director of the Melbourne Neuromuscular Research Unit and the Centre for Neuroscience in 1993 and has made significant contributions to biomedical teaching and research, as a scientist and academic mentor.

Waterloo will be hosting a guest lecture entitled "Opportunities and Challenges for Research Universities" from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in room 0101 of the Quantum-Nano Centre. Tours of the Institute for Quantum Computing and Kinesiology labs will follow Byrne's address.

Registration details are online.

Link of the day

15 years ago: NATO vs. Yugoslavia

When and where

Waterloo Store MONSTER Sale, Tuesday, March 25 and Wednesday, March 26, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., South Campus Hall concourse.

Centre for Teaching Excellence presents “Documenting Your Teaching for Tenure and Promotion (CTE908),” Tuesday, March 25, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., NH 3001. Open to faculty, registration required.

Professor Profile: Susan Roy, "The history and politics of Indigenous heritage sites in Canada," Tuesday, March 25, 12:30 p.m., HH 117.

Bookstore author event featuring Morteza Dehghani, English department, Tuesday, March 25, 4:30 p.m., Bookstore, South Campus Hall.

Retirement Drop In for Pat Mihm, Wednesday, March 26, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Safety Office Meeting Room 112D, Commissary Building. RSVP to Sheila Hurley.

Senate Long Range Planning committee meeting, Wednesday, March 26, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., NH 3001.

Waterloo Arts Distinguished Lecture in Economics featuring Randall Wright, University of Wisconsin, “Innovation and Growth With Financial and Other Frictions”, Wednesday, March 26, 3:00 p.m. Biology 1, Room 271. Details.

Fine Arts Life Drawing Open Session, Wednesday, March 26, 6:30 p.m., ECH 1224A. Details.

Wednesday Night Discussion Group, Wednesday, March 26, 7:15 p.m., MC 5136. Details.

Environmental and Geological Engineering Capstone Design Symposium, Thursday, March 27, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., location TBA. Details.

Velocity Fund Finals, Thursday, March 27, 11:00 a.m., SLC Great Hall.

Guest lecture featuring Ed Byrne, Vice-Chancellor and President of Monash University, Australia, Thursday, March 27, 2:00 p.m., QNC 0101. Details.

The Actuarial Science Distinguished Practitioner Series presents Neil Haynes, Senior Vice President of Finance at Sunlife Financial Corporate, "Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll: Can We Live Forever?" Thursday, March 27, 4:00 p.m., EIT 1015. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Hellenistic Studies presents Olga Palagia, professor of Classical Archaeology, National and Kapodistrian University, Athens, Greece, “The Impact of Alexander The Great on the Arts in Greece,” Thursday, March 27, 7:00 p.m., Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Details.

Pension Lunch and Learn session, “UW Pension Plan – The Basics Every Employee Needs to Know,” Friday, March 28, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., DC 1302.

Quantitative Biology seminar featuring Silvana Ilie, associate professor, Department of Mathematics, Ryerson University, "Efficient methods for stochastic simulations of biochemical systems," Friday, March 28, 2:30 p.m., EIT 1014.

SI Speaker Series: Fascism as a Temporary Default Setting in South Asia, Friday, March 28, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Dunker Family Lounge, Renison University College. Details.

UW Acappella End of Term Concerts, Friday, March 28, and Saturday, March 29, 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.,
Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages. $5 in advance at FEDS office, (SLC), $8 at the door. Details.

Spiritus Ensemble presents Bach/Kaiser/Handel's St Mark Passion (1747), Sunday, March 30, 7:00 p.m., St. John The Evangelist Anglican Church, 23 Water Street, Kitchener. $20 adult/senior, $10 full-time students. Sponsored by Conrad Grebel University College and the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund. Details.

Housing presents Reminiscing Rez, Monday, March 31, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

St. Paul's GreenHouse presents Social Entrepreneurship Fest, Monday, March 31, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., St. Paul's University College. Details.

Board of Governors Meeting, Tuesday, April 1.

Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Symposium, Wednesday, April 2, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sedra Student Design Centre, Engineering 5. Details.

Strategic Plan Mini-Town Hall - Internationalization, Wednesday, April 2, 3:00 p.m., Main atrium, Centre for Environmental and Information Technology (EIT). Details.

Institute for Quantum Computing Graduate Student Association presents a screening of "Gravity," Wednesday, April 2, 7:00 p.m., QNC 0101. Details.

History End-Of-Term Trivia Night, Thursday, April 3, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Bombshelter Pub.

Germanic and Slavic Studies presents the 2014 Diefenbaker Lecture Series featuring Elisabeth Herrmann, University of Alberta, “How Does Transnationalism Redefine Contemporary Literature? An Investigation of Five German Authors,” Thursday, April 3, 7:00 p.m., HH 1102. Details.

Lectures end, Friday, April 4.

St. Jerome's Relay for Life, Friday, April 4, 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Details.

Retirement celebration for Pam Van Allen, Wednesday, April 9, 3:30 p.m., University Club. RSVP to Lisa Weber by Friday, April 4.

Pre-examination study days, Friday, April 4 to Monday, April 7.

The Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience presents Waterloo Brain Day, Monday, April 7, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., EV3 1408. Details.

On-campus examinations begin, Tuesday, April 8.

Germanic and Slavic Studies presents the 2014 Diefenbaker Lecture Series featuring Laurie Johnson, University of Illinois, “Forgotten Dreams: Werner Herzog’s Romantic Cinema,” Tuesday, April 8, 7:00 p.m., HH 1102. Details.

Fine Arts Life Drawing Open Session, Wednesday, April 9, 6:30 p.m., ECH 1224A. Details.

Wednesday Night Discussion Group, Wednesday, April 9, 7:15 p.m., MC 5136. Details.

Online class examination days, Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12.


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