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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A community committed to action on mental health

by Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor. This message was originally posted on the Office of the President's blog.

Following the recent tragic loss of one of our students to suicide, I have been moved by our community’s overwhelming offers of support for people suffering from mental health issues.

These offers of assistance continue to come into the University by phone, email, in person and most recently, through a petition outlining ideas on how we can better support those who may be suffering in silence.

As recent events elsewhere in Canada confirm, we are not alone in confronting the issues of mental health and suicide. The struggles, specifically among youth, are present across our country and will continue to require a coordinated effort to address.

To that end, we will endeavour to come together as a community to see what more we can do.

Building on the recent outpouring of support as well as the work of the University of Waterloo’s Student Mental Health Review in 2012, we will be continuing the conversation on how best we can improve access to mental health assistance for people who need it.

Beginning immediately, I will be convening a president’s advisory committee on mental health that will be responsible for guiding a listening process that will seek to gain further input from our local community, other institutions and external experts.

In the coming weeks and months, we can expect to see a series of engagement opportunities designed to collect ideas, comments and concerns from students, faculty, staff and alumni. Starting now, we will increase our public education efforts around youth mental health as we also expand awareness of where, when and how the current services and supports are available.

Engagement opportunities will include a series of open houses staffed by mental health professionals and will provide information about the outreach and services currently available as well as the opportunity to provide feedback in a safe and supportive environment. There will also be the ability to gain information and provide input in an online environment. The task force will report on what they heard, learned and recommend in two stages, with a full report in the fall of 2017.

It is clear from recent events as well as from the experiences of our friends and colleagues across the country that there is a significant interest in continuing to remove the remaining stigma around mental health issues and to ensure that people who need help know where it’s available and feel comfortable asking for it.

For those that may struggle with mental health issues, know that there are many of us who want to reach out to you, to tell you that we support you, and that we are committed to working together to ensure that help is available where and when you need it.

Winners of distinguished teaching awards named

The Distinguished Teacher Awards for 2017 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.

Monica Barra, associate professor, Chemistry

Professor Monica Barra.As current Chair of the department of Chemistry’s curriculum committee, Monica Barra has had a lasting influence on students and faculty alike. Barra is highly recognized by her students (past and present) for her enthusiasm, patience, and passion for the course material. One alumnus noted that her lectures were “interactive and stimulating,” and that her lecture notes were “written in such a way that it was easy (and even fun) to follow along.” This, coupled with her expansive knowledge of the course content, is said to have made students “enamoured with her.” Colleagues wrote that “Monica is a highly dedicated and caring teacher who goes way beyond the call of duty to help students learn and succeed.” This is evident in her work as Chair, as one lecturer highlighted that her leadership has reduced “the excessive workload that students faced in the third year of the program,” which will “benefit students for generations to come.” Barra has been a recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the ChemClub Periodic Table of Teaching Excellence Award (an award presented annually by undergraduate students), and the Excellence in Science Teaching Award.

Sanjeev Bedi, professor, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering

Professor Sanjeev Bedi.Sanjeev Bedi, founder of the Engineering Ideas Clinic, is well known for his energy, mentorship, and connectivity with students. From undergraduates to fellow colleagues, members of the University of Waterloo community have acknowledged Bedi for his “showmanship” and “his ability to empower students to innovate.” One undergraduate student described him as “ever engaging, full of humour, good cheer and patience, and effective at conveying complex topics to a bunch of ambitious (and challenging!) young men and women.” Students at all academic levels view his teaching as exceptional. One alumnus noted that “he was a model mechatronics engineer for [them].” Faculty members also take note of “his long track record of exceptional teaching,” as one lecturer commented that he inspires his students “to go forth and make an impact on the world.” Other colleagues added that he “loves his students” and his “impact on the Faculty of Engineering is far-reaching, positively impacting the development of students, teaching assistants, and instructors, alike.” Bedi’s past accolades for his teaching include the Outstanding Waterloo Faculty of Engineering Teaching Performance Award.

Dan Davison, associate professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Professor Dan Davison.Dan Davison, former Associate Chair for undergraduate studies in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is highly recognized as humble, approachable, and influential. Many speak fondly of Davison as “a strong lecturer, mentor, and teacher” who “always keeps the students attentive and encourages [them] to ask more questions.” One alumnus explained that “he was one of the reasons that [he] decided to pursue graduate studies in the field of control systems.” Another colleague commented that he achieves this exceptional record for teaching excellence “by setting the bar high and helping students reach it.” This is made evident in his support from his students, as one wrote that “he encourages [the students] to think through the material as it is taught in lectures, helping [them] build an intuitive and practical understanding of the concepts as opposed to just textbook formulae.” Another student added that “he is an asset to the Department, the Faculty, and the University. I cannot think of a professor who has inspired me more in my academic and professional life.” Davison’s past accolades for his teaching include the Sandford Fleming Foundation Teaching Excellence Award.

David McKinnon, professor, Pure Mathematics

Professor David McKinnon.As the Associate Chair for undergraduate affairs in the department of Pure Mathematics, David McKinnon has a strong rapport with his students and colleagues through his dedication, enthusiasm, and consistency. When it comes to his work in the classroom, students say that McKinnon goes “above and beyond,” and makes them “genuinely excited to come to class every day.” Students find his lectures thoughtfully prepared and well organized, and remark that “he readily accepts questions, and pauses during lectures to make sure that everyone understands what is being taught.” One former student commented that they define an excellent teacher as one who is “armed with a sense of humour,” and says that McKinnon exemplifies this characteristic. One colleague added that McKinnon “has a sense of humour which the students enjoy and works hard to actively engage students in his classes.” McKinnon has been a recipient of a number of teaching awards, including the Faculty of Mathematics Award for Distinction in Teaching and the Mathematics Student Society’s Instructor of the Year Award. 

Pharmacists Support research that improves healthcare

Anthony Amadio smiling. March is Pharmacist Awareness Month. Pharmacists Support.

The Pharmacists Support series is issued by the School of Pharmacy for #PAM2017. It runs every Tuesday and Thursday in March.

Anthony Amadio is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at Kelowna General Hospital in British Columbia where he specializes in critical care, conducts research, and teaches.

Balancing his work as a researcher and a hospital pharmacist is no easy feat, but the results of his efforts examining clinical trials and critically appraising studies are instructive.

“Research projects can be extremely time-consuming and there is always the potential for challenges – that can lead you to pull some hair out during the process,” Anthony explains. “That being said, I find it very rewarding even if your project doesn’t produce the results you were initially hoping for.”

Working in critical care in a hospital also requires Anthony to be flexible.

“Things tend to change minute to minute in these patients. They require constant evaluation of therapy and reassessment. The broad scope of the patients makes it quite challenging – we see trauma, surgical and all types of medical patients.”

Grad Studies Office launches GRADtalks series

A GradTalk banner that shows a stylized iceberg.

The Graduate Studies Office is launching GRADtalks, a series of talks highlighting research by doctoral students at the University of Waterloo. GRADtalks is an opportunity for two Waterloo doctoral students to explore one research theme from interdisciplinary perspectives. This new initiative continues to celebrate graduate student research at the University of Waterloo.

The research topic for the March 30 GRADtalks is “Measuring Climate Change: Science or Politics?” featuring Casey Remmer, a PhD Candidate in Biology (Water) from the Faculty of Science and Marissa Beck, a PhD Candidate in Global Governance from the Faculty of Environment, who will show that within the context of climate change, collecting data and building models of climate change is never free from politics and values.

The event will take place on Thursday, March 30, with a wine and cheese at 4:30 p.m. and the talk from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in QNC 2502. Register today.

REEP lunch and learn and other notes

REEP banner showing a person holding a small house in their hands.

Come join REEP Green Solutions and the Sustainability Office in this Lunch-and-Learn opportunity for some tips and strategies on home energy efficiency. Learn how to save on your hydro bill, conserve energy and make your home more comfortable. Please register on the event page to secure your spot.

Renison University College's Ministry Centre will be hosting a prayer vigil on Wednesday, March 29 in St. Bede’s Chapel at Renison from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. to remember the most recent student death and for students who are living with mental illness and end-of-term pressures. The event is open to the public to sit, pray, or light a candle. Renison’s chaplain, Rev. Megan Collings-Moore, will be there. Formal prayers will take place at 12:30 p.m.

The University of Waterloo Recreation Committee is selling tickets to a performance of the Million Dollar Quartet, a musical inspired by the legendary 1956 recording session involving Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley at Sun Records in Memphis.

The performance takes place on Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge. Ticket information is available from Shirley Chatten at

"At the conclusion of the Winter 2017 term, all undergraduate students who have not yet activated their Office 365 accounts will be migrated from mailservices to Office 365 automatically," says a notice from IST. "There may be a small window when you will be unable to log into your email accounts while your Office 365 account is being activated and your mailservices account is being moved. You will not lose any email sent to you" 

Important dates include:

  • April 3 - The opt-in student-activation of Office 365 will end, anyone remaining will be bulk moved at the end of the term. If you would like to opt-in before the bulk move and would like help to activate your account and migrate your mail, please call or visit an IST Service Desk, ( or visit a faculty helpdesk
  • April 26 - all undergraduate students will have their email forwarding changed to, and will no longer be able to change this in WatIAM. Students may set up forwarding rules from within Office 365 to forward to an off-campus account.

Here's today's Nutrition Month "myth vs. fact" supplied by Health Services Dietician Sandra Ace:

Myth: Hot food should be left to cool on the counter before being refrigerated.

Fact: To keep your food safe, it's important to cool it as quickly as possible so it reaches the recommended refrigerator storage temperature of 4°C/40° F or below, where bacteria are less likely to grow. Hot food can be placed directly in the refrigerator. Divide large amounts, like a big pot of soup, pasta sauce or stew, into smaller, shallow containers that cool more quickly and cut whole roasts of meat or a turkey into smaller pieces. If you choose to cool a food slightly before refrigerating it, limit it to 30 minutes and set a timer to remind yourself that it’s out so you don’t forget about it – something that I have done on more than one occasion! Food left at room temperature longer than two hours is more likely to make you ill and should be thrown out.

Link of the day

40 years ago: The Tenerife Disaster

When and where

IGNITE, the 43rd Annual Senior Undergraduate Exhibition, Thursday, March 16 to Saturday, April 8, University of Waterloo Art Gallery.

Sustainable Campus Photo Contest, Monday, March 20 – Friday, April 21, across campus.

Waterloo Store End-of-Term Clearance

, Monday, March 27 to Wednesday, March 29, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., SCH Concourse.

Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: Identifying Critical Steps for Canadian Impact, featuring Dr. Jeffrey Sachs and his wife Dr. Sonia Elrich Sachs, Tuesday, March 28, 11:00 a.m., Federation Hall.

Global Business and Digital Arts and Digital Experience Innovation project showcase and receptiion, Tuesday, March 28, 1:30 p.m., University of Waterloo Stratford Campus.

CANTEACH Information Session – Teachers College in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales, Tuesday, March 28, 3:00 p.m., TC - William M. Tatham Centre room 1208.

TD Walter Bean Lecture in Environment featuring Jeffrey Sachs, "Rising Nationalism versus Global Cooperation for Sustainable Development," Tuesday, March 28, 5:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Public talk featuring Carmen Krogh, "Industrial wind turbines can harm humans," Wednesday, March 29, 10:00 a.m., DC 1302.

CBB Workshop: UWaterloo Intellectual Property Part 4 - Trademarks, Trade Secrets, Industrial Designs, Wednesday, March 29, 10:30 a.m., QNC 1501.

Interviews: Proving Your Skills, Wednesday, March 29, 10:30 a.m., TC - William M. Tatham Centre room 1208.

Documenting Your Teaching for Tenure and Promotion (CTE908), Wednesday, March 29, 11:45 a.m., NH 3407. Please register.

Professional School Interviews – Standard & MMI Q&A, March 29, 12:30 p.m., TC - William M. Tatham Centre room 1113.

Indigenous Speaker Series presents Sylvia McAdam, “Nationhood Interrupted: Revitalizing nêhiyaw Legal Systems,” Wednesday, March 29, 4:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages.

AquaHacking information night and kick-off mixer, Wednesday, March 29, 4:30 p.m., CEIT atrium.

Beyond 60 Lecture: From Connected to Autonomous, Wednesday, March 29, 6:00 p.m., University of Waterloo Stratford Campus.

University of Waterloo Balinese Gamelan Ensemble, Wednesday, March 29,  7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Green Office Energy Challenge, Thursday, March 30 to Friday, April 21, across campus.

Velocity Fund Finals, Thursday, March 30, 11:00 a.m., SLC Great Hall.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Professor Joe Gilroy, Department of Chemistry, Western University, “Phosphorus chemistry as a tool for the production of metal-containing polymers”, Thursday, March 30, 10:30 a.m., C2-361.

WaterTalks Lecture Series, "Monitoring Pathogen Concentrations in Sewage to Inform Treatment Goals and Public Health Risks," Thursday, March 30, 2:30 p.m. STC 1012.

GRADTalks event, "Measuring Climate Change: Science or Politics?", Thursday, March 30, 5:00 p.m., QNC 2502. Wine and cheese at 4:30 p.m. Register today.

Orchestra@uwaterloo concert: Russian Romantics, Thursday, March 30, 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Knowledge Integration Senior Research Project Symposium, Friday, March 31, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., EV3 Atrium.

Conflicts and agreements: Canada’s foundations and their consequences, Friday March 31, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., STC 0010. Refreshments and displays at 6:15 p.m.

Spring Pop-Up Art Exhibition featuring the photography of David Hunsberger, Saturday, April 1, 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Bridge Centre for Architecture + Design, Cambridge.

UW A Cappella Club Winter 2017 EOT Concert, Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1, 7:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

University Choir, “Shadows & Light, Saturday, April 1, 7:30 p.m., First United Church, 16 William Street West.

UW Jazz ensemble performance, Sunday, April 2, 2:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel Great Hall.

Instrumental Chamber Ensembles performance, Sunday, April 2, 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel Chapel.

Lectures end, Monday, April 3.

Pre-examination study days, Tuesday, April 4 to Thursday, April 6.

NEW - Tenure & Promotion Workshop: Faculty Applying for Promotion to Full Professor, Tuesday, April 4, 10:00 a.m., DC 1304.

Home Energy Efficiency Lunch and Learn, Tuesday, April 4, 12:00 p.m., EV3-3412.

MDEI Online Information Workshop, Tuesday, April 4, 12:00 p.m.

Tenure & Promotion Workshop: Faculty Recently Hired to their First Probationary Term, Tuesday, April 4, 12:00 p.m., DC 1304.

Board of Governors meeting, Tuesday, April 4, 1:30 p.m., NH 3407.

NEW - Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Webinar Info Session, Tuesday, April 4, 5:30 p.m.

NEW - Luther Year 2017: Did Luther Invent High German? Tuesday, April 4, 7:00 p.m., Kitchener Public Library.

Waterloo 2017 Staff Conference, Wednesday, April 5 and Thursday, April 6.

Applied Health Sciences HeForShe Committee presents "Transforming Health Research," Wednesday, April 5, all day, Federation Hall.

University Club Staff Conference Buffet Special, Wednesday, April 5 and Thursday, April 6, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

St. Paul's GreenHouse Social Impact Showcase, Wednesday, April 5, 4:00 p.m., Alumni Hall, St. Paul’s University College.

Paths to Success, Thursday, April 6, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Quantum Nano Centre (Room 2502). Please register.

Faculty Association Spring General Meeting, Thursday, April 6, 12:00 p.m., QNC 1502.

The Naked Truth: Advertising’s Image of Women: Public lecture by Dr. Jean Kilbourne, hosted by the SMF Department and St. Jerome’s HeForShe, Thursday, April 6, 1:30 p.m., Vanstone Lecture Hall SJ2 1004.

NEW - Professional School Interviews – MMI, Thursday, April 6, 1:30 p.m., TC - William M. Tatham Centre room 2218.

NEW - UWaterloo Pharmacy Administration Interviews, Thursday, April 6, 3:00 p.m., TC - William M. Tatham Centre room 2218

SMF Research Symposium Multidisciplinary presentations on sexuality, relationships, and family, hosted by the SMF Department, Thursday, April 6, 8:30 a.m., St. Jerome’s University, Academic Centre (SJ2), registration required.

Examinations begin, Friday, April 7.

NEW - Fundamentals for writing your thesis, Friday, April 7, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Online course examination days, Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8.

NEW - WaterTalks Lecture, Water: Abundance, Scarcity, and Security in the Age of Humanity, Wednesday, April 12, 2:00 p.m., QNC 0101.

Good Friday holiday, Friday, April 14, most university buildings closed.

PhD oral defences

Chemical Engineering. Peter Lin, "Improving Biocompatibility of Implantable Bioelectronics Using Zwitterionic Cysteine." Supervisor, Frank Gu. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Wednesday, April 12, 9:30 a.m., QNC 5402.

Electrical & Computer Engineering. Jonathan Feng-Shun Lin, "Temporal Segmentation of Human Motion for Rehabilitation." Supervisor, Dana Kulic. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Wednesday, April 12, 1:00 p.m., E5 5106-5128.

Electrical & Computer Engineering. Bright Iheanacho, "Optoelectronic Properties and Applications of 3-D Hybrid a-Si:H/ZnO Nanowire Structures." Supervisor, William Wong. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Thursday, April 13, 1:00 p.m., EIT 3142.

Statistics and Actuarial Science. Haiyan Liu, "Risk Sharing and Risk Aggregation via Risk Measures." Supervisors, Ruodo Wang, Jun Cai. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Thursday, April 13, 2:00 p.m., M3 3001.