Justin Wan receives Arthur Beaumont Distinguished Service Award from CAIMS

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Professor Justin Wan has received the 2023 Arthur Beaumont Distinguished Service Award from CAIMS, the Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society. Named after its first recipient, the award was established in 1987 to honour Waterloo Applied Mathematics Professor Arthur Beaumont for his many years of service to the society. The prestigious award has been conferred annually since then to recognize a member’s outstanding contributions to the society or to the field of applied mathematics in Canada.

photo of Professor Justin Wan in the Davis Centre

Professor Wan’s research area is scientific computing. By combining ideas and theories from mathematical modelling and numerical computation, he and his students develop advanced, robust and efficient numerical techniques to solve complex problems arising in science, engineering, finance and economics. Applications of his research include medical image processing, machine learning and neural network models for financial applications, and simulation of physical phenomena.

At Waterloo, Professor Wan directed the Centre of Computational Mathematics for Industry and Commerce from 2010 to 2015. He was the Associate Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science from 2015 to 2018 and its Director of Graduate Studies from 2019 to 2021. Currently, he co-directs the Computing and Financial Management Program, a position he has held since 2019.

Professor Wan has been an integral member of CAIMS since joining in 2002. He has been a member of the Liaison Committee for Membership since 2007, and has served as a CAIMS representative, keeping colleagues informed about CAIMS activities and encouraging them to join the society. Over the past two decades, he has taken on key administrative roles as well as participated regularly in CAIMS events.

Professor Wan’s major service to CAIMS was as its secretary. He was elected to this important role in 2015 and re-elected in 2017. Over the five years he held the position, Professor Wan organized official meetings, ran annual elections for the CAIMS board, served as editor-in-chief of the annual newsletter, and prepared and archived important society documents. Moreover, since its inception in 2019, he has been an associate editor of Mathematics in Science and Industry, the official journal of CAIMS.

His tenure as secretary was during turbulent times for the society. Much of the workflow followed old practices and used inefficient technology. Professor Wan modernized many of these processes, among them a new online election platform and voting service for members. With these changes, voting rates in subsequent years almost doubled.

From 2017 to 2019, CAIMS faced an extraordinary challenge. The Canadian laws for non-for-profit organizations and related taxation regulations had changed. CAIMS was forced to overhaul its bylaws to comply with new Canadian corporate laws. Professor Wan worked closely with CAIMS treasurer Lucy Campbell preparing new bylaws, spending countless hours drafting legal text and reformulating regulations. Quite simply, without Professor Wan and Lucy Campbell’s efforts, CAIMS would not have survived as an organization.

After his tenure as secretary ended, Professor Wan co-organized with Waterloo Mathematics Professors Brian Ingalls and Anita Layton the 2021 CAIMS Annual Meeting, a successful conference with multiple themes that was well attended by some 200 undergrads, grads, faculty and industry professionals across Canada and internationally, despite the requirement to run all sessions virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Wan and his co-organizers adopted the Sococo online platform, which allowed speakers to give their presentations virtually during group plenaries and in smaller sessions and, equally important, for participants to network and interact with each other as they would at a face-to-face conference. 

“Justin cares deeply about the well-being of CAIMS,” wrote University of Waterloo Professor Yuying Li and University of Alberta Professor Thomas Hillen in their nomination letter. “He has been active in various roles over the past 21 years, and has shown great leadership when faced with changes in corporate law. His contributions to CAIMS over these past two decades are nothing short of outstanding.”

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