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Friday, November 17, 2017

Pursuing a childhood dream in Canada

Amina Aziz at Niagara Falls.

by Michelle Pressé. Waterloo is celebrating International Education Week with a variety of on-campus activities, as well as a series of stories showcasing some of the international experiences of our students, faculty, and staff. This is the final entry in our week-long series.

Despite the 15-hour time difference and nearly 24-hour flight between Sydney, Australia and Waterloo, second-year arts student Amina Aziz didn’t experience much culture shock when she left Macquarie University to pursue an exchange at Waterloo.

“Some things will always be weird to me, like driving on the right side of the road and the different bills and coins,” says Amina. “But overall, I find that the two countries have more similarities than differences.”

Amina says going on exchange to Canada was always a dream for her. Her interest in Canada was sparked by some of her Canadian childhood friends who were living abroad with their parents. After researching different exchange programs in the country, she found herself drawn to Waterloo for its renowned psychology department and its proximity to other cities she wanted to visit.

So far, she has seen Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Milton, and Toronto, with plans to travel to Montréal before returning to Australia in December.

“Learning about political, cultural, and social differences by engaging with international exchange students allows our students, faculty, and staff to contribute to a global dialogue,” says Ian Rowlands, Associate Vice-President, International. “Any time an international exchange student chooses to weave Waterloo into their post-secondary career, they become ambassadors for the University and are able to share ideas and perspectives with their colleagues around the world.”

Since coming to Waterloo, Amina has taken advantage of being involved in campus life. She joined the Women’s Centre, as well as the Culture and Language Exchange Club at the University, where she is learning Turkish.

“One of my favourite things about the University is how involved you can be,” says Amina. “I was a bit nervous coming here all the way from Australia because I was alone, but I’ve embraced the experience knowing how lucky I am to have this opportunity. I love it here.”

One of Amina’s favourite things about Canada is Tim Hortons (although she doesn’t like Tim Hortons coffee, and says the coffee is better in Australia). She also loves the variety of seasons and different climate compared to Australia.

“I know I could regret saying this later, but I’m so excited to experience winter here,” says Amina. “Recently, we had a smallest bit of snow, which I know everyone here is used to, but it was so exciting for me. I was screaming.”

Amina says that anyone considering going on exchange should seize the opportunity.

“If anyone from Australia or outside of Canada is thinking about making an exchange part of their university experience, I hope they consider Waterloo,” she says. “Just beware of the geese.”

Showcase your research and win

The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has long supported researchers with the tools they need to make their research reality, and has recently launched a contest for student researchers and post-doctoral fellows to showcase their CFI funded research. Winners will have a chance to take over the CFI’s Twitter feed for a day and be their guest at an expenses-paid, special event in Ottawa.

How can you get involved?


Enter the CFI’s #IAmInnovation Twitter contest to win. The CFI wants to hear how working in state-of-the-art facilities and with cutting-edge equipment has helped you and your research. Show how CFI-funded infrastructure has opened opportunities for you, by tweeting an image or video of how you work with CFI-funded equipment or in a CFI-funded research space. Be sure to include the hashtags #IAmInnovation and #Contest to be eligible. For further details, see the contest rules.

Staff and Faculty

Help promote the CFI’s #IAmInnovation Twitter contest. Spread the word to student researchers working in CFI-funded labs to tweet their entry. Share the contest details, submission guidelines, and prizes and retweet the contest promotions from @InnovationCA.

Contestants can submit entries until FridayDecember 1 at 11:59 p.m. If you have any questions, please contact Malorie Bertrand at

Four units recognized at Excellence Canada Summit

Representatives from Human Resources receive an Excellence Canada award.

Human Resources (HR), the Library, Organizational and Human Development (OHD), and the Provost’s Office were recognized at the Excellence Canada Summit last week for achieving Silver certification in Excellence Canada's Excellence, Innovation and Wellness (EIW) program. To successfully integrate the EIW Standard and achieve certification, employees in each area assessed their department against the EIW Standard, identified strengths and areas of opportunity, closed critical gaps, prepared a written application to document their achievements against the Standard, and participated in onsite verifications by Excellence Canada. These departments’ achievements under the Silver program are described on the Excellence Canada website.

These departments are the last units to achieve departmental-level certification, as the University has broadened its focus to integrate the EIW Standard at the Gold level for the University as a whole, as opposed to certifying each Faculty, Office and Service Unit individually.

The university-wide initiative is directed by the Excellence Canada Advisory Committee. From May to June, the Committee conducted an employee survey and held 18 focus groups with employees to gain a greater understanding of the University’s current state against Excellence Canada’s Excellence, Innovation and Wellness (EIW) Standard. Findings from these preliminary assessment activities will inform an initial scoring of the University against the EIW Standard and will be used by the Excellence Canada Advisory Committee to understand the University’s strengths and areas of opportunity to enable them to advise on priorities during action planning and implementation.

The Advisory Committee is holding two open sessions next week to share findings from the survey and focus groups. All employees are invited to attend and can register online.

For more information, contact any member of the University’s Excellence Canada Advisory Committee.

Photograph by Gary Roork.

Conferences, lectures, parades - oh my!

The third annual Waterloo Nanotechnology Conference is taking place this Saturday, November 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Quantum-Nano Centre. This conference is organized and executed by Waterloo nanotechnology engineering students. 

This year Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger will be providing opening remarks and the event features distinguished speakers including Joanna Aizenberg from Harvard, Dan Sinai from IBM and Duncan Stewart from NRC, to name just a few.

Mike Salvaris speaks at the Hallman Lecture.The Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) recently hosted Mike Salvaris, a human rights lawyer and wellbeing expert based at the University of Melbourne, for the latest Hallman Lecture, “Measuring the future we want.”

Salvaris is the director of the Australian National Development Index (ANDI), the conceptual design of which is based on the Canadian Index of Wellbeing.

The event was an opportunity to hear how international and homegrown researchers are tackling society’s growing inequality by going beyond economic measures to track progress in areas people say make life worthwhile, such as time with their kids, leisure, volunteering, and engaging with arts and culture.

“Developing new progress measures is a collaborative task that must engage citizens, scientists and policymakers," said Salvaris. "The process can be an important new tool to strengthen democracy and reverse citizen alienation and to create new shared visions of national progress.”

'Tis the Season: Santa Claus Parades are taking place this weekend in Waterloo Region, and the University has a presence in both of them. The annual K-W Santa Claus parade gets rolling at 10:30 a.m. at Frederick Street heading north on Weber Street, ending at Erb Street East. Later that day, the Cambridge Santa Claus parade starts at 6:00 p.m. The parade route for this night-time parade is along Hespeler Road.

Joining the parades Saturday will be the Waterloo Warriors, Waterloo Band and EngSoc, and the University participants will be handing out 5,000 60th Anniversary candy canes along the two parade routes. Isn't that sweet?

Link of the day

International Students' Day

When and where

Fall Wrap-Up Week, Monday, November 13 to Friday, November 17.

Theatre and Performance presents Concord Floral, Wednesday, November 15 to Saturday, November 18, 8:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts. Matinees November 15 and 16, 12:00 p.m.

Spirituality and Aging Seminar - The Need for a Spiritual Revolution in Residential Care, Friday, November 17, 8:30 a.m., Conrad Grebel University College.

Knowledge Integration seminar: “Really Banking Cool – How students are influencing the way we work”, speaker: Valérie Gélinas, Director, Technology and Operations Early Talent, RBC, Friday, November 17, 2:30 p.m., EV3-1408.

Lectures in Catholic Experience featuring Lisa Fagin Davis, "Writing the Bible: From 7th Century Northumberland to 21st Century Minnesota" Friday, November 17, 7:30 p.m., Vanstone Lecture Hall, St. Jerome's University Academic Centre.

Research Talks Series, "Transformative Governance on an Urban Planet" featuring Environment Professor Sarah Burch, Friday, November 17, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., DC 1302. Please register. Seating is limited. 

Seminar, “BoscoChain: Keeping Byzantine consensus for blockchains simple and flexible,” Robbert van Renesse, Department of Computer Science, Cornell University, Friday, November 17, 1:30 p.m., DC 1304.

Warriors Basketball Think Pink, Residence Day vs. Queen's, Friday November 17, 6:00 p.m., PAC Main Gym.

Waterloo Nanotechnology Conference, Saturday, November 18, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Quantum-Nano Centre. 

Book Store Clearance Sale, Monday, November 20 to Wednesday, November 22, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., SCH Concourse.

Management Consulting as a Career Option, Monday, November 20, 2:30 p.m., TC room 2218.

University Senate meeting, Monday, November 20, 3:30 p.m., NH 3407.

Silver Medal Award Guest Lecture: “Ancient Foods and Gastronomic Heritage by Dr. Shanti Morell-Hart, McMaster University, Monday, November 20, 4:30 p.m., EV3 4412.

Copyright and the Writing Process, Tuesday, November 21, 9:30 a.m.

University Academic Governance Panel Discussion, Tuesday, November 21, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Federation Hall.

Interviews: Preparing for Questions, Tuesday, November 21, 2:30 p.m., TC room 1208.

Résumé and Cover Letter Writing for Master‘s Students Master’s students only, Wednesday, November 22, 9:00 a.m., TC room 2218.

NEW - Excellence Canada Advisory Committee Open Session, Wednesday, November 22, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., EC5-1111.

Successfully Negotiating Job Offers, Wednesday, November 22, 10:30 a.m., TC room 1208.

University of Waterloo Department of Music Noon Hour Concerts: Passion for Guitar, Wednesday, November 22, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel Chapel.

Write-In Session for Résumés and Cover Letter Writing for Master’s studentsMaster’s students only, Wednesday, November 22, 12:30 p.m., TC room 2218.

Seminar, “Graph clustering using effective resistance,” Vedat Levi Alev, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Wednesday, November 22, 2:30 p.m., DC 1304.

Bridges Lecture Series featuring Saskia Wilson-Brown and Luca Turn, “Perfumery: the art and science of smell,” Wednesday, November 22, 7:30 p.m., St. Jerome’s University, Academic Centre Vanstone Lecture Hall.

Velocity Start: The Startup Rollercoaster, Wednesday, November 22, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor.

NEW - 24th Annual UWSA Craft Sale, Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24, DC 1301.

NEW - Seminar, “State estimation in power distribution systems and its application to electricity theft detection,” Côme Carquex, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Friday, November 24, 1:30 p.m., DC 1304.

NEW - Excellence Canada Advisory Committee Open Session, Thursday, November 23, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., EC5-1111.

NEW - “Big Data Analysis of Residential Water Demand Records,” Thursday, November 23, 2:30 p.m., EIT 3142.

NEW - Think Pink Yoga, Thursday, November 23, 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., PAC Main Gym.

NEW - Vision Science Research Seminar Series, Dr. Delia Cabrera DeBuc, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, “Mathematical modeling of retinal and corneal morphology,” Friday, November 24, 4:30 p.m., OPT 1129.

NEW - BioTEC 2017 Conference, Saturday, November 25, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Quantum Nano Centre.

NEW - Unit 4 research reporting drop-in training session, Wednesday, November 29, 10 – 11:30 a.m., EC5-1111 (Enterprise Theatre).

PhD oral defences

Physics & Astronomy. Corey McRae, "Indium Thin Films in Multilayer Superconducting Quantum Circuits." Supervisors, Matteo Mariantoni, Raymond Laflamme. On deposit in the Faculty of Science graduate office, PHY 2013. Oral defence Monday, December 4, 9:00 a.m., PHY 352.

Civil & Environmental Engineering. Shoeleh Shams, "Wildfire Effects on Natural Organic Matter: Implications to Drinking Water Treatability." Supervisor, Monica Emelko. On display in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Tuesday, December 5, 9:00 a.m., E2 3324.

Geography and Environmental Management. Saeid Pirasteh, "Landslide Geoanalytics Using LiDAR-derived Digital Elevation Models." Supervisor, Jonathan Li. On display in the Faculty of Environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Tuesday, December 5, 11:00 a.m., EV1 353.

Chemical Engineering. Yunseok Jun, "Development of Graphene-Based Electrically Conductive Polymer Nano-Composites." Supervisor, Aiping Yu. On display in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Wednesday, December 6, 9:00 a.m., E6-2022.

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Mohammad Farshidianfar, "Real-Time Closed-Loop Control of Microstructure and Geometry in Laser Materials Processing." Supervisors, Amir Khajepour, Adrian Gerlich. On display in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Thursday, December 7, 9:00 a.m., E5-3052.