Monday, January 18, 2016

Drop and give me 20,000 words: Dissertation Boot Camp helps PhD students

PhD Boot Camp participants sit at a table with their laptops.

by Professor Nadine Fladd

Writing a thesis or dissertation can often be an isolating experience. This isolation can cause students to panic, procrastinate, and lose motivation. For other students, not knowing where to begin or how to ask for help with such a large writing project can stall their progress.

The Writing Centre held its first-ever Dissertation Boot Camp in December 2015 to help students overcome these barriers. Fifteen students spent four full days away from their labs and classrooms writing together and participating in skill-building workshops that focused on setting goals, peer review, and developing a sustainable writing schedule. At the end of the four days, the students said they had made significant progress and felt more confident and empowered to continue their projects.

These fifteen Dissertation Boot Camp participants were chosen from among over 50 applicants and had the opportunity to work with graduate writing consultants, learn from their peers’ experiences, and engage in writing productivity strategies. Best of all, the participants found a community of writers and they continue to support each other and to write together in the new term.

The Writing Centre will offer this program again in the winter term to help even more PhD students get a jump start on meeting their writing goals. Graduate students are also welcome to write together at the Writing Centre’s weekly write ins on Friday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in SCH 228F.

The next Dissertation Boot Camp will run from Monday, April 18th to Thursday, April 21st. Registration will open on March 2nd through WCONLINE and applications are due by March 15th. Applicants for this intensive program should already be in the writing stage or ready to begin writing.

For more information, contact Clare Bermingham, Writing Centre Manager at

Enrolment in Aboriginal studies jumps 400 per cent

The University of Waterloo’s course in Aboriginal studies (“Issues in Contemporary Native Communities”) saw a whopping 400 percent increase in student enrolment this term – something that may reflect a broader societal interest in Aboriginal culture and communities, says Graham Brown, Principal of St. Paul’s University College, where the course is taught.

“A number of factors – such as the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a growing presence of Aboriginal peoples in popular culture – are bringing to the forefront the idea that the general public lacks a deep understanding of Aboriginal culture and communities,” Brown says. “We think students are keen to develop a greater knowledge of the issues in different communities, and recognize that without this understanding, it will be hard for Canada to move forward in reconciliation.”

The course is being taught by Michael Doxstater from Six Nations Polytechnic this term; he holds a PhD in Education from Cornell University. St. Paul’s sponsors the course and partners with Six Nations to appoint an Indigenous Visiting Professor to teach it. Enrolment in the course went from a typical 15 students, to 80. St. Paul’s also offered an Aboriginal Business Development class last term and plans to run it again next year.

St. Paul’s, in consultation with Indigenous community partners, and with the support of the President, Provost, and Deans of the University of Waterloo, leads the way in establishing an Aboriginal presence and strategy at the University through the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC), established in 2006.

Reminder: stop signs aren't just polite suggestions

North, south, east, and west: no matter what side of the Ring Road you find yourself on, you'll also find stop signs both old and new.

In particular:

On the west side of Ring Road, two stop signs and pedestrian crossovers were installed in 2013 outside Needles Hall and the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre. These are straightforward signs of the red octagonal variety, meaning that cars on the Ring Road should come to a complete stop.

On the east side of the Ring Road, new "stop for pedestrians" signs were installed at six designated pedestrian crossovers, located as follows:

  • Carl Pollock Hall at University Avenue;
  • Carl Pollock Hall across from the University Shops Plaza;
  • Engineering 3 across from Engineering 5;
  • the Engineering road across from the front steps of Engineering 5;
  • the Mathematics road across from Parking Lot B service road and the East Campus buildings; and
  • north of the Police and Parking Services building, leading over to the East Campus buildings and Columbia Street. 

At these crossovers, if there are pedestrians present, drivers must stop and allow the pedestrians to cross the Ring Road.

As for enforcement of these rules, while the Highway Traffic Act with few exceptions does not apply to roads on private lands like the Ring Road, the University of Waterloo Act and the Trespass to Property Act give UW Police all the tools they need to ensure that drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are obeying traffic rules on campus.

Senate meets today and other notes

The University's Senate meets for the first time in 2016 today. Among the agenda items:

  • A motion to approve changes to the course drop/add dates for graduate courses from the sixth week of the term to the fourth week of the term.

"This change allows students a reasonable amount of time to adjust their courses while facilitating course planning and resource allocation in departments," says the motion. "Students seeking to add/drop after the fourth week will be able to petition for their request."

  • A motion to approve changes to the standard language utilized in course syllabi relating to the Turnitin software. Currently referred to as 'plagiarism detection' software in the syllabi, Turnitin will henceforth be referred to as 'text matching' software.

"This aims to increase awareness of Turnitin’s capabilities and to appropriately reframe it as an educational tool rather than a punitive one," says the motion's rationale. "The initiative to clarify the purpose and interpretation of originality reports has grown to revising the guidelines on the use of this software."

  • A motion to approve undergraduate admission requirements for 2016;
  • A number of motions dealing with the approval of academic program reviews;
  • A motion to amend Senate Bylaw #3 with regard to the election of ex-officio Senate representatives from among the Board of Governors community-at-large members by adding the following section:

“4. BOARD OF GOVERNORS REPRESENTATION 4.01 Each year the USGC shall request the Board of Governors to elect from among its community-at-large members as many as four individuals to serve as members of Senate pursuant to paragraph 18(b)(1) of The University of Waterloo Act, 1972. The USGC shall be informed of the results of such election promptly following its completion, and shall so inform Senate.”

This motion is the first of two required readings before it goes into effect.

  • A number of motions relating to changes in academic plans for the School of Public Health and Health Systems, English Language and Literature, and Sociology,
  • A motion to approve changes in regulations to the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE); and
  • A motion to approve changes to the graduate enrolment regulations and time limits.

Christine Moresoli, Associate Dean Co-op Education & Professional Affairs will deliver a teaching presentation.

Senate will also hear reports on the Course Evaluation Project and the overview of quality assurance for academic programs and will be briefed on the latest in the brand refinement initiative.

An artist's rendering of the SLC and PAC expansion.

A Town Hall meeting for the SLC/PAC Expansion initiative will be held today from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre's Great Hall.

Associate Provost, Students Chris Read will be joined by Federation of Students President Chris Lolas, Graduate Students Association President Maya D'Alessio, and Director of Athletics and Recreation Roly Webster to talk about the project and answer questions.

Questions can be submitted in advance by email or online, or they can be tweeted using the hashtag #UWSLCPAC. The town hall will also be livestreamed.

Floor plans and architectural renderings will be available for viewing.

The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) is hosting a Biomaterials and Biomanufacturing Academic-Industry Forum today from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for industry and faculty members. The event will showcase the "amazing science and engineering underlying innovations in biomaterials and biomanufacturing" and provide participants with the opportunity to network and explore collaboration opportunities.

“$500 to travel anywhere you want with Air Canada, that’s what one lucky student will win by attending the Feds Open House," writes Jacqueline Martinz. "The special event is happening on Tuesday, January 19, and is a fantastic opportunity for undergraduates, faculty, and staff to learn more about the student union. Feds full-time staff will be present to show students how they impact campus life, and answer questions. Free soup from The Bombshelter Pub will be served, and there will be a plethora of exciting games to play. More information is available online.”

Link of the day

25 years ago: War in the Gulf

When and where

SLC/PAC Referendum Town Hall, Monday, January 18, 1:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Upper Year Information Session for CS students, Monday, January 18, 3:30 p.m., DC 1304.

University Senate Meeting, Monday, January 18, 3:30 p.m., NH 3407.

CTE727: Using LEARN’s Rubric Feature, Tuesday, January 19, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., EV1 241.

Biomaterial & Biomanufacturing Academic-Industry Forum, Tuesday, January 19, 2:30 p.m., QNC 1501.

Retirement celebration for Barb Rae-Schneider, Tuesday, January 19, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., School of Pharmacy, 7th Floor (downtown Kitchener). Please RSVP by January 15.

Velocity Start: Science Talks, Tuesday, January 19, 7:30 p.m., South Campus Hall.

Presentation: EU Research and Innovation: Tackling Societal Challenges featuring Luigi Scarpa de Masellis, Advisor, Economic and Commercial Affairs, Delegation of the European Union to Canada, Wednesday, January 20, 10:30 a.m., CIGI Auditorium, Balsillie School of International Affairs.

CDPI seminar, “Multi-sectoral Partnerships in Chronic Disease Prevention: Implementing a Collaborative Policy Research Approach,” Wednesday, January 20, 12:00 p.m., DC 1302.

Presentation: EU Research and Innovation: Tackling Societal Challenges featuring Luigi Scarpa de Masellis, Advisor, Economic and Commercial Affairs, Delegation of the European Union to Canada, Wednesday, January 20, 2:00 p.m., QNC 2101. Please inform Meaghan Winfield if you plan on attending this presentation.

Velocity Start Program Kick-off, Wednesday, January 20, 5:00 p.m., South Campus Hall.

Author Event with John Ralston Saul, “The Comeback: Expanding the Circle,” Wednesday, January 20, 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Velocity Start: How To Find Your Kick-A** Idea, Wednesday, January 20, 7:30 p.m., South Campus Hall.

C. Henry Smith Scholar Lecture featuring Dr. Rebecca Janzen, “Minorities in Mexico: Mennonites and the 21st Century State,” Wednesday, January 20, 7:30 p.m., Schlegel Community Education Room, Conrad Grebel University College.

University of Waterloo Staff Association Information Session, Thursday, January 21, 10:00 a.m., LIB 428.

Retirement reception for Tom Galloway, Thursday, January 21, 3:30 p.m., Federation Hall. RSVP to Jennifer Letson ext. 32934 or

Drop, No Penalty Period ends, Thursday, January 22.

Knowledge Integration seminar: “The soldier, the diplomat and the humanitarian. Navigating the security-development nexus”, featuring Jenny Baechler, Dalhousie University, Friday, January 22, 2:30 p.m., AL-113.

University of Waterloo Staff Association Information Session, Monday, January 25, 1:00 p.m., DC 1302.

Gender and Equity Scholarship Series presents Dr. Mark Hancock, Management Sciences and Cayley MacArthur, Games Institute, “Gendered or neutral? Considering the language of HCI,” Tuesday, January 26, 11:30 a.m., MC 5501.

GRADventure Launch Event, Wednesday, January 27, 1:00 p.m., Needles Hall 3318.

Velocity Start presents What’s Your Problem?, Wednesday, January 27, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor. 

"I've Got the Music in Me" - The Power of Music for People Living with Memory Loss and Dementia, Thursday, January 28, 11:30 a.m., Federation Hall.

Water Institute WaterTalk Lecture by Sharachchandra Lele, Thursday, January 28, 2:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: KI alumni panel "Life after KI", Friday, January 29, 2:30 p.m., AL 113.

Retirement reception for David Taylor, Friday, January 29, 3:30 p.m., University Club.

Bechtel Lecture Dinner with Dr. Janneken Smucker, “Abstract Art or Country Craft: The Quilts of the Amish,” Thursday, February 4, 6:30 p.m., Schlegel Community Education Room, Conrad Grebel University College. Contact Alison Enns (519) 885-0220 x 24217 or for ticket information.

Board of Governors Meeting, Tuesday, February 2.

Job Fair, Wednesday, February 3, 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Manulife Sportsplex, RIM Park.

Velocity Start presents Ain’t No Model Like A Business Model, Wednesday, February 3, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor. 

FASS 2016, Thursday, February 4, 8:00 p.m., Friday, February 5, 7:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m., Saturday, February 6, 6:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Bechtel Lecture featuring Dr. Janneken Smucker, “Unexpected Intersections: Amish, Mennonite, and Hmong Textiles and the Question of Authenticity,” Friday, February 5, 7:00 p.m., Great Hall, Conrad Grebel University College.

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, Saturday, February 6, 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., ML Theatre.

Velocity Start presents Science Brainstorming, Tuesday, February 9, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor. 

Velocity Start presents Setup Your Business Like A Boss, Wednesday, February 10, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor. 

Communication for the Workplace, Thursday, February 11, 2:30 p.m.

Family Day holiday, Monday, February 15, most university operations closed.

Hagey Bonspiel, Saturday, February 20, 9:00 a.m., Ayr Curling Club.

Velocity Start presents Do People Want Your Sh*t?, Wednesday, February 24, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor. 

UWSA Special General Meeting, Thursday, February 25, 9:00 a.m., DC 1302. Coffee and treats available at 8:45 a.m.

Master of Taxation Open House, Saturday, February 27, 10:00 a.m., Downtown Toronto.