Friday, June 12, 2015

Mathematics Convocation ceremonies today

It's a by-the-numbers situation today as two ceremonies will see 1,079 Mathematics graduates cross the stage to receive their degrees.

At 10:00 a.m., 335 students from St. Jerome's University, Applied Mathematics, Combinatorics and Optimization, Computational Mathematics, Information Technology, Management, Mathematical Economics, Mathematical Finance, Mathematical Physics, Mathematical Studies, Mathematics/Business, Administration, Mathematics/Chartered Accountancy, Mathematics/Financial Analysis and Risk Management, Mathematics/Teaching, Mathematics Three Year General, Operations Research, and Pure Mathematics will receive their degrees.

Professor Noga Alon.Professor Noga Alon will receive an honorary Doctor of Mathematics. Professor Alon, of Tel Aviv University, is one of the world’s most prominent researchers in combinatorics and has also made many important and seminal contributions to computer science.

Best known for his work with probabilistic methods in combinatorics, his book on this subject (co-authored with Joel Spencer, now in its 3rd edition) was published in 1992 and endures as one of the standard references on the subject. His work on expanders is also of the greatest importance and has been heavily cited. While renowned for his work using the probabilistic method, he also utilizes ideas from a wide range of areas (coding theory, algebraic geometry, graph spectra, among others) and a number of these ideas have now been accepted as standard tools in combinatorics.

He has given plenary addresses at many important mathematical gatherings, in particular the 1996 European Congress of Mathematics and at the 1990 and 2002 International Congresses of Mathematics. He has held visiting positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, IBM Almaden Research Center, Bell Laboratories, Bellcore and Microsoft Research, and has also served as adjunct professor at Waterloo in combinatorics & optimization. His work has earned him many prizes: the Erdös prize (1989), the Feher Prize (1991), the Polya Prize (2000), the Bruno Memorial Award (2001), the Landau Prize (2005), the Gödel Prize (2005), the Israel Prize (2008), and the EMET Prize (2011). In 2013 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich). Professor Alon will address Convocation after receiving his degree.

Krishna Murali will deliver the morning's valedictory address.

William Cook.William Cook will be invested with the title University Professor. Cook is professor of combinatorics and optimization at the University of Waterloo.

Professor Cook received his BA from Rutgers University, his MS in operations research from Stanford University and his PhD in combinatorics and optimization from the University of Waterloo. His research interests are in integer programming and combinatorial optimization, and he is renowned for his work on the travelling salesman problem. He is the founding editor of Mathematical Programming Computation. Prior to joining on at Waterloo he was Chandler Family Chair Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and he has twice been visiting professor at Princeton University.

He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honours including the Beale-Orchard-Hays Prize from the Mathematical Programming Society, the Lanchester Prize from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and fellowships in the American Mathematical Society, INFORMS, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2011.

Chris Godsil.Chris Godsil will receive an Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision. Professor Godsil, a faculty member in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization since 1987, has served the department very well over the past 27 years, as instructor of a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, as a researcher and student supervisor, and as Associate Chair for Graduate Studies. 

Chris is a world researcher in algebraic combinatorics with his specialty being algebraic graph theory. He has authored two of the standard textbooks on the topic, and more recently, has been a pioneer in using techniques from algebraic combinatorics to tackle some fundamental questions in quantum information theory. 

Chris has been the department's most active graduate student supervisor, and has also supervised 16 undergraduate research assistants since 1998. He has extremely high standards and demands the best from his students. At the same time, he is encouraging, supportive, and very conscientious about developing his students into capable and independent research mathematicians.

Jason Blais will be awarded the Governor General's Silver Medal.

The Governor General's Gold Medal will go to Abbas Mehrabian.        

In the afternoon ceremony at 2:30 p.m., 744 students from Actuarial Science, Business Administration and Computer Science, Business Administration and Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Finance, Software Engineering, and Statistics will receive their degrees.

Bearing the mace will be Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies Steven Furino.

Nancy Reid.Nancy Reid will receive an honorary Doctor of Mathematics. Reid completed a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo in 1974, followed by a Master's of Science from University of British Columbia (1976) and a doctorate from Stanford University (1979). She has had a long and illustrious career involving groundbreaking and influential contributions to statistical theory through the study of likelihood.

Her research has addressed foundational issues such as the study of the value and rationale for conditioning, the use of high order asymptotics to ensure highly-accurate inferences for small samples, and the importance of robust inferences based on likelihood-based methods for partially specified models through use of composite likelihood. Her contributions feature the highest degree of mathematical rigour and have both deep and broad impact, primarily in the statistical sciences, but also in fields such as physics, genomics and health research. She has also exhibited a consistent and strong commitment to leadership in her scientific community. She has been president of several professional organizations, including the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (1997) and the Statistical Society of Canada (2004-05). She has long been a leading member of scientific boards, including the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and the Banff International Research Station, and has held several leadership positions at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Professor Reid's crowning achievement in service to the cause of statistics in Canada was serving as chair of the steering committee for the NSERC Long Range Plan for the Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. Under her leadership, this committee developed a shared vision for the future of the statistical and mathematical sciences through careful consultation with the scientific communities across Canada. This exercise has set the course for research funding strategy in two of the most important disciplines for Canada. Moreover, the efforts of the Long Range Planning Committee helped the Statistical Society of Canada to form a new Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI) which was launched in 2013. This was only possible with Reid's leadership, dedication, and ability to bring about this ambitious, timely and shared vision.

Shale Craig will deliver the afternoon ceremony's valedictory address.

Trevor Grove.Trevor Grove will be named an Honorary Member of the University. Grove retired from the University of Waterloo in November 2014 after being involved at the University in one capacity or another since he started his Bachelor of Mathematics in computer science in 1974. He has been a student, researcher, lecturer, staff member, and president of the staff association and his involvement has covered all the key facets of the University – teaching, research and administration.

As University of Waterloo Staff Association president he helped strengthen the relationship between staff and the university administration in a thoughtful and respectful way, working to preserve the collegial approach to staff relations. He helped drive the revision of Policy 18 (Staff Employment), develop the current campus copyright guidelines and he was very active in campus committees such as the Staff Relations Committee and the UWSA's Member Advisory Committee which works with staff having difficulties in the workplace. As a member of the board for the Hildegard Marsden Co-op Day Nursery, he was instrumental in the process of creating a new building for the daycare.

Beyond his formal relationships, Trevor acquired a strong reputation as an able mediator in solving staff issues without the need to pursue any formal process. This would often require interaction with human resources personnel with whom he maintained a strong working relationship. Through his involvement, many issues crucial to individual staff members were resolved with ease.

Tom Duff will receive the J.W. Graham Medal.

Brett Coburn will be awarded the Alumni Gold Medal. 

Rutger Campbell and Melanie Chanona will receive the Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.

The Samuel Eckler Medal for Highest Standing in Actuarial Science will be given to Zhiyu Tian.

The Sandford Fleming Foundation Medal for Academic Excellence will be awarded to Murphy Berzish and the Sandford Fleming Foundation Medal for Co-operative Work Term Proficiency will be given to Shival Maharaj.

Hanmeng Zhan will receive the Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies award for the master's level.

Convocation concludes Saturday with Engineering

Convocation will conclude this Saturday with two ceremonies for the Faculty of Engineering, with 1,475 students receiving degrees.

In the morning ceremony at 10:00 a.m., 835 graduands will cross the stage to receive degrees in Architecture, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Geological Engineering, Management Engineering, Management Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, and Mechatronics Engineering.

Rick Haldenby, professor in the School of Architecture will bear the mace.

Farhan Panthaki will deliver the morning ceremony's valedictory address.

Reinhold Schuster.Reinhold Schuster will be named Distinguished Professor Emeritus. In his 35 years at Waterloo, Professor Schuster has made lasting impacts on generations of engineering students. A highly respected educator, researcher and structural engineer, he has made major contributions to the development of his field with his work having been recognized nationally and internationally through various honours and awards and professional memberships, including: CAN-AM Amity Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers; Germany's Commander's Cross of Merit (similar to the Order of Canada); and as Fellow of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers. As one of Canada's foremost researchers in the cold-forming of steel structures, he continues to play a leading role in the development of national and international design standards. These efforts have been extensively recognized by professional and technical societies, and he is widely sought-after for his consultancy services across the globe.

Renowned as a premier instructor for students in engineering and architecture, he made a priority of ensuring that they benefit from theoretical knowledge as well as the practical application of concepts and methods. He has lectured extensively to practicing engineers through short courses addressing behavior and strength of cold-formed steel structures as well as construction techniques and economics. He has authored or co-authored more than 60 scholarly contributions, including three books or book chapters, and has supervised 20 graduate students. Apart from his reputation as a profoundly talented instructor he was instrumental in the establishment, expansion, and stewardship of undergraduate exchange programs that connect Waterloo with leading institutions in Germany and Austria.

While he maintains directorship of the university’s Canadian Cold Formed Steel Research Group, he officially retired as a Waterloo professor in 2005.

Timothy Sipkens will receive the Governor General’s Gold Medal. 

Lydia Terisno will be awarded the Alumni Gold Medal.

Jeffrey West.Jeffrey West will receive the Distinguished Teacher Award. West is a Professional Engineer, Fellow of American Concrete Institute, Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Since joining the University of Waterloo in January 2008, West has supervised a dozen Master’s students, as well as supervised six PhD students. West is recognized as one of the top instructors in his department by excelling in leadership and mentoring, course design and delivery, as well as leadership in curriculum renewal. Student teaching evaluations have always been outstanding, conveying students’ appreciation for his effective teaching methods and learning environment. As one of his students notes, “His unique delivery method and organized presentation made each and every lecture a sheer joy to attend”. West is widely known for his ability to convey material to the class in a clear and concise manner by infusing lectures with step-by-step procedures and well-designed course notes that allow for the clarification of even the most abstract topics. Many nominators noted the continuous care and dedication that West provides to his students in and out of the classroom.

In the afternoon ceremony at 2:30 p.m., 640 students will receive their degrees in Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Nanotechnology Engineering, Systems Design Engineering.

Bearing the mace will be Associate Dean, Graduate Studies Bruce Hellinga.

Sarah Burke will deliver the afternoon valedictory address.

Patrick Mihm.Pat Mihm will be named Honorary Member of the University. Mihm was employed in Plant Operations as a certified sheet metal worker from June 1984 until his retirement in March 2014.

Outside of his regular work duties he made numerous and significant contributions both to the social and administrative elements of the University. The following is a list of some of his voluntary involvements: Board of Governors staff representative; CUPE Pension & Benefits Committee representative; CUPE EAP representative; committee member, Downey Tennisfest; committee member and co-chair, Matthews Golf Classic; committee member and co-chair, Hagey Bonspiel; Keystone Committee and Staff Co-Chair; Keystone Treat-a-gram volunteer; United Way representative; originator of CUPE student bursary. Many of these involvements were ongoing for more than 25 years, and indeed he continues with some into retirement.

Few if any other employees have undertaken so many voluntary activities in service to the university over such a sustained period of time. Mihm is the first CUPE Local 793 member so honoured.

The Amit and Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student will be given to Adam Neale.

The Albert Sherwood Barber Medal for Best Overall Work Term and Academic Performance will be awarded to Stephen Chou.

The Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering Gold Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement in Mechanical Engineering will go to Haris Shafique.

The George Dufault Medal for Excellence in Communication will be given to Riley McMillan.

Annamaria Reda will receive the John Fisher Award for Leadership.

The Ontario Professional Engineers Foundation For Education Gold Medal for Academic Achievement will be awarded to Nicholas Champion.

Jacob Terry will receive the Roy Duxbury Leadership Award.

The Sandford Fleming Foundation Medals for Academic Excellence will go to: Nicolas Arciniega, Emma Buckrell, Nicholas Champion, Carl C K Chan, Yoohee Choi, Sean Patrick Cormier, Ra’D Daoud, Andrew Holmes, Kevork Lochkajian, Dustin Martin, Riley McMillan​, Haris Shafique, Jeffrey Sullivan, and Rohin Suri.

The Sandford Fleming Foundation Medals for Co-operative Work Term Proficiency will be awarded to Janice Cooper, Sadat Islam, Eleanor Yi Kei Mak, Yash Malik, Chelsea Marr, Stuart McColl, Logan Money, Bryan Nerger, Nicholas Roberts, Amanda Shorter, Mark Walsh, and Ekaterina Yasnopolskaya.

The award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies at the doctoral level will go to Fathy Mohamed Hassan.

Reminder: Columbia Street closed for ION construction

A section of Columbia Street West between Phillip Street and Hagey Boulevard is closed this week as ION construction work on the railway crossing is carried out.

Please visit the ION travel disruption website for advice on alternate routes and parking.

Link of the day

Yeats at 150

When and where

Bike Month Bike Challenge – Win cool prizes and conquer the leaderboard. Monday, June 1 to Tuesday,  June 30, all campuses.  

Spring 2015 Convocation, Tuesday, June 9 to Saturday, June 13.

Centre for Career Action presents Success on the Job, Friday, June 12, 10:30 a.m., TC 1208.

Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Margaret Martonosi, Princeton University, "Power-Aware computing, Heterogeneous parallelism, and the Post-ISA era," Friday, June 12, 4:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Senate meeting, Monday, June 15, 3:30 p.m., NH 3001.

Centre for Career Action presents The Who Am I? Self Assessment Game, Tuesday, June 16, 10:30 a.m., TC 2218.

Careers 601, Tuesday, June 16, 2:30 4:00 p.m., TC 2218.

University of Waterloo Staff Association information session, Tuesday, June 16, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in MC 5501.

25-Year, 35-Year, and 45-Year Club Reception, Tuesday, June 16, 6:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex.

UWRC Book Club, Lisa Moore, "Caught," Wednesday, June 17, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.

#22days talk: Lila Bruyere, residential school survivor, Wednesday, June 17, 12:30 p.m., Dunker Family Lounge.

Kick-start Your Career – Volunteer! Wednesday, June 17, 2:30 3:30 p.m., TC 1208.

Velocity Alpha: Do People Want Your Sh*t?, Wednesday, June 17, 7:30 p.m., Environment 3 room 4412. 

UW Farm Market, Thursday, June 18, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Student Life Centre.

Bike Breakfast – Stop by on your bike for snacks, a free tune-up, and more! Thursday June 18, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Dana Porter Quad.  

Ontario Addiction Treatment Centre talk on opioid addiction, methadone and how opioid agonist treatment programs work, Thursday, June 18, 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Dunker Family Lounge

The Pebble Story: From Velocity to Kickstarter Glory, Thursday, June 18, 2:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre. 

Retirement celebration for Jim Marshall, Thursday, June 18, 3:30 p.m., Federation Hall. RSVP to

Exploring Your Personality Type (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) Part II, Thursday June 18, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., TC 1214.

Recognition Reception for Terry McMahon’s service as Dean, Friday, June 19, 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., University Club. All are welcome to attend. RSVP to Lisa Weber by emailing

Résumés for Grad Students, Friday, June 19, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., TC 1208.

Drama and Speech Communications presents Henry the Sixth, Part One, Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20, 8:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages.

Bike Safety Session, Tuesday, June 23, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Parking Lot C.

Retirement celebration for Dr. Barbara Schumacher, Tuesday, June 23, 3:00 p.m., Health Services foyer. Please RSVP to Jeanette Gascho at by Tuesday, June 16.

Résumé Tips: Think Like an Employer, Tuesday, June 23, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., TC 1208.

Waterloo Residences groundbreaking ceremony, Tuesday, June 23, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., UW Place construction site.

Management Consulting as a Career Option, Tuesday, June 23, 2:30 4:00 p.m., TC 2218.

Working Effectively in Another Culture, Wednesday, June 24, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., TC 1208.

General Application, Wednesday, June 24, 1:30 pm to 3:00 p.m., TC 1208.

Velocity Alpha: Pitch Like A Pro, Wednesday, June 24, 7:30 p.m., Environment 3 room 1408. 

UW Farm Market, Thursday, June 25, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Student Life Centre.

So You Want to be an Academic? Thursday, June 25, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., TC 1208.

Human Resources Pension Lunch and Learn Session, Thursday, June 15, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., AL 113.

Interviews: Preparing for Questions, Thursday, June 25, 12:30 2:00 p.m., TC 1208.

Preparing to Have Difficult Conversations With Your Supervisor, Thursday, June 25, 1:30 3:30 p.m., TC 2218.

Interviews: Proving Your Skills, Thursday, June 25, 2:30 4:30 p.m., TC 1208.

Retirement celebration for Pat Lafranier, Thursday, June 25, 3:30 p.m., EC2 second floor open area. RSVP to if you wish to attend.

Ontario Academic Advising Professionals (OAAP) One-Day Conference, Friday, June 26, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Federation Hall.

Make Networking Count, Tuesday, June 30, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., TC 1208.

Work Search Strategies, Tuesday, June 30, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., TC 1208.

Canada Day Holiday, Wednesday, July 1, most campus services and buildings closed.

Canada Day Celebration, Wednesday, July 1, 4:00 p.m., Columbia Lake fields.

Velocity Fund $5K Qualifier – Night 1, Wednesday, July 8, 7:00 p.m., Lazaridis Centre room 0101. 

Velocity Fund $5K Qualifier – Night 2, Thursday, July 9, 7:00 p.m., Lazaridis Centre room 0101.

2nd Annual UWSA Golf Tournament, Thursday, July 16, Foxwood Country Club. Shot gun start 4:00 p.m.

Keystone Picnic a great success – photos are now online!

A last-minute change in venue didn’t stop faculty, staff and retirees from coming out last Friday to enjoy the annual Keystone Picnic. Moved to the Student Life Centre because of the risk of a thunderstorm, the event saw hundreds of guests attend from across the campus community.

The picnic is held on campus each June to “celebrate family” and thank supporters of the Keystone Campaign. In addition to a complimentary lunch of build-your-own burgers, cupcakes and other treats, the event included a special performance by Ian Taylor and the Waterboys.  

Photos from the picnic – as well as a list of our generous prize donors and event sponsors – are now available on the Keystone Picnic page.

This event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our many volunteers. Thank you to everyone who served food, set up equipment, took tickets and helped with cleanup. We really appreciate it.

See you all next year!

Upcoming telephone system maintenance – Friday, June 26 to Sunday, June 28

What is happening? The campus telephone equipment installed in January 1997 will be replaced.

When is this happening? Friday, June 26 starting at 5:00 p.m. through to the afternoon of Sunday June 28.

What is the impact? This is a significant upgrade and there will be times when no phone service is available. While it is expected that there will be partial/intermittent phone service for much of the weekend, once the work commences, there are no guarantees of phone service (dial tone) until the work is completed.

Why is it being done? The existing equipment is becoming difficult to maintain and support and all phones on campus rely on service from one physical location. The new equipment will ensure that we are on a supported path with the vendor (Avaya) and will reduce the dependency on the main campus telephone room by providing fully redundant services for IP-based phones (traditional/digital phones still rely on copper wiring that terminates in the main telephone room).

Project updates, including confirmation of completion of work, will be posted on the IST Notice Board,

Questions or concerns? Please contact the IST Service Desk, or ext. 44357.