Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Researchers building tech to evade web censors

People living in countries where the Internet is censored will be able to use a new tool to access websites their governments restrict. Researchers at Waterloo are developing technology called Slitheen — after aliens on Doctor Who that disguise themselves as humans to evade detection.

“Some countries block certain websites based on their web address or their content,” said Ian Goldberg, a professor in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “Similar to the aliens on Doctor Who, our Slitheen censorship-resistance system works by disguising your connection to a restricted website — for example, a connection to Wikipedia or the New York Times — as that of an allowed website, maybe a site about cute cats.” Goldberg is also a founding member of the Cryptography, Security, and Privacy (CrySP) research group at Waterloo.

“The technology not only provides users with content blocked in their region, but it also protects them by hiding the fact that they are evading their country’s censorship policies,” said Cecylia Bocovich, a PhD student in Goldberg’s lab, and leader of the research project.

Goldberg acknowledges that no matter how sophisticated a censorship-resistance system is, the work is never complete.

“Unlike other fields of computer science, we have active adversaries. People see our research and how to protect a system and they use that to try to defeat it. We have to play both sides of the game — thinking like an attacker to try to defeat our own systems, in order to build better defences,” he said. “There’s always an arms race where the defender makes a better system, then the attacker makes a better system. This is what makes the research fun and interesting but also very challenging.”

The work is still in development, but the researchers hope to have a version available for public use within a year.

Professors recognized for excellence in science teaching

Excellence in teaching is both a tradition and a core mission of the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Science. Each year the Faculty of Science celebrates this dedication and superior teaching calibre by selecting up to two instructors to receive its highest teaching honour: the Excellence in Science Teaching Award (ESTA).

“The ESTA is not just a teaching award – it recognizes the unique contributions our instructors make to science education, both inside and outside the traditional lecture hall, as well as the positive and lasting impact they have had on their students, programs, and colleagues,” says Carey Bissonnette, Senior Teaching Fellow for the Faculty of Science and continuing lecturer for the Department of Chemistry.

This year’s ESTAs were awarded to Michael Beazely an associate professor in the School of Pharmacy and Richard Epp, a continuing lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Michael Beazely.Michael Beazely has been responsible for the pharmacology content in the pharmacy curriculum since the School of Pharmacy first opened in 2008. Beazely lectures in up to 10 different courses within a calendar year. His lecture style is engaging, especially given the complex content of topics like cardiology and infectious disease.

He is also an exceptional mentor and instructor at the graduate level, and was the recipient of the School’s first ever Outstanding Faculty Mentor award. He’s extended his educational efforts to the Kitchener-Waterloo community as well, presenting in several public lectures and acting as a media source on fentanyl overdoses and opioid addiction and misuse.

Richard Epp.Richard Epp has developed several new introductory courses aimed at making physics not only understandable, but relevant to Waterloo undergraduates across the university. He’s probably best known for his demonstration of Einstein’s theory of general relativity using just tape and a yoga ball.

Beyond regular teaching duties, Epp has spearheaded new outreach initiatives, dramatically increasing the department’s profile among local high schools. He has also developed several online courses, and short courses for high school teachers.

Epp serves as the Undergraduate Officer for the department well as the Undergraduate Officer for the Math Physics program. In 2016, he was named winner of the Physics and Astronomy Departmental Teaching Award.

The winners of the ESTA receive a certificate and a monetary award, which is used to support teaching activities.

Fire drills tomorrow and other notes

The Safety Office and Plant Operations will be conducting fire drills for most of the academic and academic support buildings on Wednesday, April 26. The drills will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude around 3:15 p.m. In the event of bad weather the drills will be postponed until Thursday, April 27.

The author event featuring Governor General David Johnston and Chancellor Tom Jenkins is being livestreamed now from its location in the Sedra Student Design Centre in Engineering 5.

As part of the upcoming SLC/PAC expansion, the Department of Athletics and Recreation has moved its administrative and coach offices out of the PAC and into the first floor of MC.

General customer service is still available in the PAC office area as well as at the CIF and PAC service desks.

Anyone with questions can contact warriorsinfo@uwaterloo.ca for more information.

All Retail Services locations will be closed on Friday, April 28 for their annual inventory activity.

Members of the University community are invited to a special event to celebrate 2017's Mental Health Week in Guelph.

Banner image for "hold mommy's cigarette" performance.

The Homewood Health Centre, which has many links with the University of Waterloo including several Applied Health Science researchers who collaborate with the organization, will be raising funds to support Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with a one-night showing of Hold Mommy's Cigarette, a one-woman play by acclaimed actor and comedienne Shelley Marshall on Monday, May 1.

"Shelley takes audiences on a raucous adventure through her real-life experience growing up in a dysfunctional environment fraught with depression, trauma and suicide, and her remarkable journey toward a life of purpose and fulfillment," says the event's promotional material. "An unrelenting mental health advocate, Shelley gives hope to audiences and inspires positive change everywhere she goes."

This performance takes place at Guelph’s and will raise funds for the Shelley Marshall Scholarship, a fund named in Shelley’s honour that will support applied research aimed at improving the lives of people living with PTSD. Tickets are available now through the River Run Centre Box Office.

Link of the day

Parental Alienation Awareness Day

When and where

Examination period ends, Tuesday, April 25.

Governor General book launch event, Tuesday, April 25, 8:30 a.m., Sedra Student Design Centre, Engineering 5.

The Library presents "Why Open Educational Resources (OER) are essential for online learning," Tuesday, April 25, 10:00 a.m.

Retirement celebration for Carl Nagel, Tuesday, April 25, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Dana Porter Library staff lounge, LIB 130.

Pharmacy Research Day, showcasing graduate student research, Wednesday, April 26, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., School of Pharmacy.

QPR Training, Wednesday, April 26, 10:30 a.m., Counselling Services, Needles Hall.

Staff Appreciation Lunch, Wednesday, April 26 to Friday, April 28, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

W3 Knitting Circle, Wednesday, April 26, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Grad House (upstairs).

Annual Teaching and Learning Conference, "Cultivating Curiosity in Teaching and Learning," Thursday, April 27, Science Teaching Complex.

Biology Graduate Student Symposium, Thursday, April, 27, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm, QNC 1502 and QNC 2502

David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series, “Data, predictions and decisions in support of people and society,” Thursday, April 27, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

NEW - Information Systems and Science for Energy seminar,Is time-of-use pricing effective?,” Reid Miller, Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, Friday, April 28, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., DC 1331.

Annual Meeting of the Eastern International Region of the American Academy of Religion, Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29, Renison University College.

President's Community Breakfast, Friday, April 28, 7:30 a.m., THEMUSEUM.

David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series, “The one hundred year study on artificial intelligence: an enduring study on AI and its influence on people and society,” Friday, April 28, 10:30 a.m., DC 1302.

Co-op work term begins, Monday, May 1.

Lectures begin, Monday, May 1.

NEW - Database Systems seminar, MacroBase: Prioritizing attention in fast data,” Peter Bailis, Stanford University, Monday, May 1, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., DC 1302.

NEW - Systems and Networking seminar, Paradoxes in Internet architecture,” Srinivasan Keshav, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Monday, May 1, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., DC 1331.

NEW - Database Systems seminar,The CloudMdsQL Multistore System,” Patrick Valduriez, Inria and Biology Computational Institute (IBC), Tuesday, May 2, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., DC 1302.

Asana presents "Choosing Your First Startup," Wednesday, May 3, 5:00 p.m., TC 2218.

CrySP Speaker Series on Privacy lecture featuring Lisa Austin, University of Toronto, "Access to basic subscriber information and the Spencer Decision: Disentangling normative and technological questions," Friday, May 5, 2:00 p.m., QNC 1502.

Data-Driven Learning: Can and Should Language Learners Become Corpus Linguists? Friday, May 5, 4:00 p.m., ML 245.

Feds Welcome Week, Monday, May 8 to Friday, May 12.

Warrior Breakfast, Monday, May 8, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Ice Cream Social, Tuesday, May 9, 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Design and Deliver I - Presentation Essentials, Tuesday, May 9, 1:00 p.m.

Campus Life Fair, Wednesday, May 10, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

EQUALS conference, Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12.

Clubs and Societies Day, Thursday, May 11, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Design and deliver II: Creating assertion-evidence presentations, Thursday, May 11, 1:00 p.m.

David Sprott Distinguished Lecture featuring Professor Peter Diggle, "A Tale of Two Parasites: how can Gaussian processes contribute to improved public health in Africa," Thursday May 11, 4:00 p.m., STC 0050.

Clubs and Societies Day, Friday, May 12, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Sex Toy Bingo, Friday, May 12, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Bombshelter Pub.

Staff International Experience Fund application deadline, Monday, May 15.

More Feet on the Ground Training, Monday, May 15, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Counselling Services, Needles Hall. 

Living on the Precipice: Interdisciplinary Conference on Resilience in Complex Natural and Human Systems, Tuesday, May 16 and Wednesday, May 17, St. Jerome's University Conference Centre.

Discovering Digital Media Day - Internet of Things (IoT) 101, Tuesday, May 16, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Stratford Campus.

Ramadan and Health: a community approach, Tuesday, May 16, 7:00 p.m., School of Pharmacy.

CPA Ontario Networking for Success, Thursday, May 18, 6:00 p.m., Fed Hall.

Victoria Day, Monday, May 22, most University operations closed.

Understanding our brand, Thursday, May 25, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., EC5 1111.

Working with our brand guidelines, Tuesday, May 30, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.