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 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 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 email@example.com 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.
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.