Working at the WCA


All new employees are required to complete the following training:

  • Employee Safety Orientation (SO1001)
  • WHMIS 21015 (SO2017)
  • Workplace Violence Awareness (SO1081)
  • Accessibility Training

Please visit the safety office website for more information and follow the links to register for the courses in LEARN.

Online Communications

  • Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics website
  • Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics Twitter
  • Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics Instagram
  • Slack space
    • Ask Carolyn to arrange an invitation. To avoid confusion, please use your real name. 
  • WCA mailing lists have the form  astro**** where **** is one of the following:
    • astrostaff – WCA postdoctoral fellows & admin
    • astrofac – WCA faculty members
    • astrograd – WCA Graduate students
    • astrogroup – astrofac + astrostaff + astrogroup
    • astroseminar – astrogroup plus other parties interested in the astroseminars (some science students, some PI people, science faculty and physics staff)
      • Carolyn will add you to astrostaff when you arrive.
      • You need to be a member of a list to receive email directed to it but you can email all of the lists.
  • You should also receive mail from the Physics and Astronomy department physpost mailing list.  Please let Carolyn know if you are not receiving it.

Mentorship and representation

You will be given the opportunity to select (or have selected for you) a “non-academic mentor”.  This will be a member of the WCA faculty who is not your academic mentor.  Your non-academic mentor is someone who can provide additional career advice; a different perspective on research problems, or on any matter; and assistance if your relationship with your academic mentor is not going well. 

You can expect to meet with your non-academic mentor at least once a year but should feel free to reach out any time that you would like to talk with them.

A postdoc rep is selected from the WCA Postdoctoral Fellows to represent them at the WCA executive monthly meetings.  The WCA Postdoctoral Fellows hold a meeting before each WCA monthly meeting to discuss any issues or requests that should be taken by the postdoc rep to the meeting.

Regular events 

See regular events.


The Canadian Astronomical Society meets annually in May and shares news and opportunities by email through the CASCA exploder.  The meeting is a good way to promote yourself in Canada and to connect with other Astronomers.  There is a membership fee.


If you have any questions about expenses and reimbursements, please contact Carolyn ( or the Physics financial officer, Anja Drygala (

Initial set-up (Concur)

Once you arrive, we will need to set you up the online reimbursement system (Concur) that UW uses to reimburse staff. When you first arrive, please send Carolyn an email with your full name and employee ID number.

Once your account is set up, you will receive confirmation of the set up, training documents to explain how to use Concur, and other important information relating to your account.

When purchasing items, please remember to keep all receipts and proof of payment in order to submit expenses on Concur. Claims should be submitted through Concur within 120 days of purchase.

Moving expenses

Relocation costs for you, immediate family you bring with you and your household goods are reimbursable up to the amount specified in your contract.  Expenses related to travel to apply for immigration paperwork can also be claimed.  Please keep any receipts and boarding passes (if applicable) to support your claim.

Please refer policy 28 for more details about reimbursement for relocation costs.

Research expenses

Postdoctoral fellows can purchase equipment on their own and have it reimbursed if it is under $3,000. Anything over $3,000 needs to be purchased through a different system, so please inquire with Carolyn should you exceed this amount.

The University of Waterloo can get competitive pricing on most Apple products.

When purchasing equipment, including computers, please note that the university regulations stipulate that equipment purchased with funds allocated is the property of the university and must be returned at the end of your contract.

Postdocs can move up to half of their allowance, if unspent, from the previous year into the current year. We will also allow postdocs to move up to half of their allowance from the adjacent future year if a significant amount has been spent in the current year on non-travel expenses such as computing. This is usually the case in the first year of employment. Any movement in allowance is subject to remaining within the total for the length of employment, obtained by multiplying the number of years’ service by the allowance per year.

Postdocs are expected to keep a tally of their expenses and self-regulate within the limits. If it becomes apparent that an overspend has occurred, the WCA reserves the right to refuse to refund claims.

Taking a speaker/visitor out for a meal

You can claim expenses related to taking a visitor/speaker out for a meal, subject to the following conditions:

  • You must note in the claim that this was a hospitality meal for a visiting speaker.
  • You must include all the names and affiliations of all present at the meal.
  • The speaker is covered up to $100, all others are covered up to $40, for a total of $250 for the meal.
  • The cost of alcohol cannot be reimbursed.

Travel advance

You can request a cash advance in advance of travel or other significant expense from within Concur.  Cash advances will not be issued within ten days of the travel or expense start. 

You can also purchase flights and accommodation directly from the grant you are funded from through Concur using the University's apporved travel agent.  Please be aware that you are offered more limited and usually more expensive options than you can find for yourself.  

Travel insurance

If you are enrolled in the extended health benefits, travel insurance (for health coverage) is covered. For more information about travel insurance, please visit the Human Resources website.

Purchansing software

Please note that paid software is not an eligible expense if there is an alternative is free or is licensed centrally by the University of Waterloo, without strong justification. (Being used to one piece of software is not a strong justification!)

Zoom:  The University of Waterloo has a Zoom license for employees, faculty, and graduate students to use. Please do not purchase an additional Zoom account. To create an account, please go to, click “Sign In” and log in with your credentials. If you have any questions about the Zoom license and account available for employees, please submit a ticket to to receive support from IST.

Microsoft Teams: Employees can request to have a Microsoft Teams account created with their University of Waterloo information at no cost. To request an account, please visit the IST website.


The Science faculty has guidelines for inviting Canadian and foreign visitors to the University of Waterloo. If you have visitors coming to UW for three days or longer, strict procedures need to be followed. You will be required to fill in a Visitors checklist which included all details of their visit, along with an appointment form.

If you would like to invite a visitor to the University of Waterloo, please speak with Carolyn to ensure the proper procedures are followed and paperwork is completed. If it is determined that a work permit is required, additional paperwork will be necessary; it is imperative that this be completed BEFORE your visitor arrives.

The WCA has funding to support visitors; please see the notes above regarding making a claim for taking a speaker out for a meal.

For more information about visitors coming to the University of Waterloo, please reach out to Carolyn.

Immigration (again)

If your passport expires while you are here, you will need to get a new work permit along with your new passport.  You can extend or change the conditions of your work permit online from the Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

If you have applied for Permanent Residency (PR), you will still need a work permit until you are awarded residency.  You can apply for a bridging open work permit to extend your existing work permit until you have PR.

Mail and Stationary

Mail and stationary items for postdoctoral fellows’ use can be found in the main Physics Xerox room (PHY 246).

Mail is sorted alphabetically by surname and put in the mail slots to the left of the door.  If the mail is addressed "c/o Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics" one of the Main Office staff may walk it down to the WCA offices.  (Sometimes it is put in Carolyn McCoey's mail slot in the Main Office.)

There is a desk in the main Physics office (PHY 262) with a round container with pens in it. Inside this is a key chain with a wrench on it – these keys will open the supply cabinets in the Xerox room.

UWaterloo services and resources for postdoctoral fellows

The Graduate studies and postdoctoral affairs website has resources and supports for future and current postdocs.  Graduate and postdoctoral affairs is located on the 2nd floor of Needles Hall building. Email support is available at

The Writing and Communications Centre has services and learning resources for students and postdoctoral fellows.

The Centre for Career Action provides workshops, appointments and other resources to support your future career.

On-campus resources

  • Campus Wellness & Counselling Services
  • Printing services
    • W Print can help with your printing needs including printing black and white or colour projects, high volume printing and large format poster/banner printing.
  • Student Life Centre
    • The Student Life Centre space is open 24 hours a day, and has study space, events, and activities.
  • On campus food options
    • There are many food/coffee options on campus including Starbucks, Tim Hortons, and The Market. On campus food locations can be found online.   
    • University Plaza is located just off campus (170 University Ave W). The plaza is a 5-minute walk from the Physics building and has a variety of fast food and restaurant options.

On-campus safety and emergency

Every employee of the University must complete safety training including Employee Safety Orientation, WHMIS 2015 and Workplace Violence Awareness. These courses can be accessed through LEARN. More information about safety training can be found on the Safety Office website.

For emergency situations, see below contacts:

  • University of Waterloo Special Constable Service (available 24/7)
    • Call extension 22222 or 519-888-4911
    • To learn when it is appropriate to call the University of Waterloo special constable service, please refer to their website.
  • 9-1-1
    • The 9-1-1 emergency telephone number is used in Canada for emergency situations only.
    • 911 can be called from any landline phone on campus, or from your mobile phone.

Covid-19 policies

The Covid-19 policies at the University of Waterloo change as required. To keep updated with vaccine and masking mandates, please visit the Covid-19 Information website.