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Thursday, December 7, 2017

PhysiX: Girls Matter inspires young girls to study science

Two girls wearing 3D glasses.

by Natalie Quinlan.

More than 100 girls took part in the second annual PhysiX: Girls Matter event, a day where Grade 7 and 8 girls had the chance to connect with current Waterloo students and explore what the world of science has to offer.

Hosted by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, attendees chose from a variety of hands-on workshops like creating air-cannons, designing planetary mini-putt, and peering through the observatory’s telescope—a highlight for Grade 7 student Kira.

“I’ve been really interested in space and astronomy for a really long time,” Kira said. “So this just kind of added to my interest level.”

Associate Outreach for the event and fourth-year student Samantha Fowler said that while the sciences remain heavily dominated by males, PhysiX provides girls with a tangible opportunity to truly consider physics and astronomy as a career path.

“We chose to target Grades 7's and 8’s because it’s right before they go to high school and that’s where we find we lose a of girls in science,” Fowler said.  “If we can get them really excited about science now, hopefully they’ll continue to take science throughout high school and then hopefully university after that.”

While the day offers the chance for like-minded students to meet role models, hear from mentors and make friends, it also allows them to think about the next big step—their future careers.

“Most of my friends don’t really know what they want to be yet, so maybe they can find what they want to be, here,” Grade 7 student Bi said.

And while some are still figuring it out, others like seventh-grader Tinah, said the day’s made her seriously consider swapping career-paths, pending her dream to become a veterinarian of course.

“People think it’s more of a guy’s job for physics and astronomy, but there’s also girls who can do just as well.”

Multimedia collaboration illuminates Handel's "Messiah"

The Nativity scene from the Saint John's Bible.

Imagine a performance of Handel's “Messiah” that is a feast not only for the ears, but also the eyes. The Grand Philharmonic Choir is preparing this seasonal classic for performance on Saturday, December 9 at Kitchener's Centre in the Square.

This performance will be unique aurally and visually, as the audience will experience not only the timelessness of Handel's music, but also projected hand-crafted images from the Saint John's Bible, a copy of which is now in residence at St. Jerome's University.

Commissioned in 1998 by the Benedictine monks of Saint John's Abbey and by Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, this Bible is one of a very few since the 16th century that has been hand-written and hand-illuminated, using natural handmade inks, hand-ground pigments and gold leaf. The images are created with ancient techniques but offer bold, modern interpretations of the familiar stories, including images from the Hubble Space Telescope and strands of DNA woven into illuminations.

The depiction of the Nativity in the illuminated Saint John's Bible.The depiction of the Nativity shows a solid bar of gold (a symbolic representation of the Divine) descending to the stable where the newborn Jesus lay, with the silhouettes of the cattle in sharp relief.

"This is Handel's “Messiah” as you've never seen it before," said the choir's artistic director, Mark Vuorinen. "These images are just stunning, and will bring a whole new dimension to the music."

Vuorinen, who is also professor of music at Conrad Grebel University College, has worked for months with the University's Critical Media Lab to get the images transformed to digital from ink and paper.

“For us, this project is about translating a complex literary text into a moving picture. It's a dance between old and new media, big books and big data projectors,” said Marcel O’Gorman, English professor and director of the Critical Media Lab. “This giant set of handmade books is a very conspicuous and important intrusion in a digital culture ruled by fleeting, disposable digital images. We wanted to capture that idea with our ambient animations."

Christie Digital, Dejero, the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund, St. Jerome's University, Conrad Grebel University College and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton are also important partners in this project, which blends 21st-century ideas and technology with traditional music and art.

Soloists for Messiah are Jacqueline Woodley, soprano; Marjorie Maltais, mezzo-soprano; Andrew Haji, tenor; and Russell Braun, baritone. The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will accompany the choir, with Vuorinen conducting.

The performance, complete with images, will also be live-streamed to Kitchener City Hall's Cark Zehr Square for enjoyment by the public, free of charge.

For those attending the concert, there is a pre-concert talk by Fr. Eric Hollas, who was instrumental in the commissioning of the Saint John's Bible. Copies of the Bible will also be on display in the Centre's lobby for audience members to view and explore. This year is also the choir's 95th anniversary, having operated continuously since 1922.

The performance takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Centre in the Square. Tickets can be purchased online.

Notes as examinations begin

A preschooler hands a Waterloo student a holiday card in the Student Life Centre.

To give students studying for exams a much-needed boost, preschoolers from the Bright Starts Co-operative Early Learning Centre made their way to the Student Life Centre (with supervision, of course) to hand out their handmade holiday cards.

It's beginning to look a lot like exam time, everywhere you go. For students, where they go to write their exams is a bit of an issue during the construction of the SLC/PAC Expansion. Students writing finals in the PAC will be able to enter from the South and West entrances on the Ring Road side. Entrance to the gym will begin 15 minutes prior to the start of each exam. Best of luck navigating the construction site, and of course, navigating your final exams!

The President's Holiday Luncheon takes place tomorrow at Federation Hall beginning at noon. This event, which officially brings the 60th Anniversary celebration to a close, is free and open to all. Remarks will begin at 12:15 p.m.

The Warrior Van will be parked outside of Federation Hall during the luncheon. In the spirit of giving, we encourage our campus community to bring along an unwrapped toy, which will be donated to the Knights of Columbus toy drive.

It was a day to reflect, honour and raise awareness. Wednesday, December 6 marked the 28th anniversary of the École Polytechnique de Montréal tragedy, where 14 women were killed for pursuing their dream of becoming engineers. To commemorate those lives lost, 14 female Waterloo engineering students lined the front of Sedra Student Design Centre, each one holding a candle to represent each life lost. Key participants included President and Vice-Chancellor Feridun Hamdullahpur, Dean of Engineering Pearl Sullivan, Professor and Associate Vice-President Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion Diana Parry, and Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo Catherine Fife.

Link of the day

45 years ago: the last moonshot

When and where

University Club Christmas Luncheon Buffet, Monday, November 27 to Friday, December 22, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

Examinations begin, Thursday, December 7.

NEW - Cryosphere Research Group Seminar featuring Markus Todt, PhD student at Northumbria University, “Simulation of Longwave Enhancement beneath Montane and Boreal Forests in CLM4.5,” Thursday, December 7, 12:00 p.m., EV2-2021.

NEW - Master's Seminar featuring Shuoyuan Chen, "Tuning the Plasmonic Properties of Nonstoichiometric Nanowires", Thursday, December 7, 1:00 p.m., EIT 2053.

NEW - Master's Seminar featuring Yuxing Wang, "A Membrane Biosensor for the Detection of Lactate in Body Fluids", Thursday, December 7, 2:30 p.m., C2-361.

NEW - Algebraic Graph Theory Seminar featuring Chris Godsil, Continuous Quantum Walks and Symmetric Powers," Thursday, December 7, 3:30 p.m., MC 6486.

NEW - Chemical Engineering Seminar, “Tips on How to Write and Submit a Successful Paper” by João B P Soares, Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Thursday, December 7, 3:30 p.m., E6-2024.

NEW - Statistics and Actuarial Science seminar, Molin Wang, Harvard University, "Statistical methods for pooled biomarker data," Thursday, December 7, 4:00 p.m., M3 3127.

Personal essays on Fiction and Memory: Double Book LaunchThursday, December 7, 7:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel Schlegel Community Education Room.

Canadian Optometry Schools Research Conference (COSRC 2017), Friday December 8 and Saturday, December 9, School of Optometry and Vision Science.

NEW - Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) Public Events and Lectures, Friday, December 8 to Saturday December 9.

Schrödinger's Class, Friday, December 8 to Sunday, December 10, QNC 0101.

How to Make Connections and Interview Effectively (PhDs and Postdocs), Friday, December 8, 9:00 a.m., TC room 2218.

NEW - Physics and Astronomy Quantum Matters Series featuring Adam Wei Tsen, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Institute for Quantum Computing
University of Waterloo, "New Phase Transitions in Atomically Thin Quantum Materials," Friday, December 8, 11:00 a.m..

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, Friday, December 8, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Dana Porter Library, Room 329. #16DaysUW

President's Holiday Luncheon 2017, Friday, December 8, 12:00 p.m., Federation Hall.

PhD seminar, "Surveying the use of MPTCP for video streaming," Sharon Choy, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Friday, December 8, 1:30 p.m., DC 1304.

NEW - RAC 2 Open House, Friday, December 8, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., RAC 2.

NEW - Department of Psychology 2017-2018 Colloquium Series, Daniel Ansari, Department of Psychology and Brain and Mind Institute, Western University, "Number symbols in brain and mind," Friday, December 8, 3:00 p.m., PAS 2083.

NEW - CMS Public Lecture by Edward B. Burger, "How Always to Win at Limbo," Friday, December 8, 5:00 p.m., Delta Waterloo Ballroom.

Lectures in Catholic Experience featuring Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB, "The Artist as Preacher: Sacred Art and the Eye of the Beholder," Friday, December 8, 7:30 p.m., St. Jerome’s University, Academic Centre Vanstone Lecture Hall. Register in advance at

Graduation Recital, Sonia Zettle, violin. Sunday, December 10, 2:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel Chapel.

Graduation Recital, Tyler Reidy, flute. Sunday, December 10, 6:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel Chapel.

Deadline to get "Fees Arranged" for Winter 2018 term, Tuesday, December 12.

Waterloo Women’s Wednesdays Holiday Party, December 12, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., DC 1301.

Seminar, “Exploring the role of conversational cues in guided task support with virtual assistants,” Alexandra Vtyurina, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Tuesday, December 12, 3:30 p.m., DC 2310.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Information Session, Wednesday, December 13, 10:30 a.m.

University Club Christmas Dinner Buffet, Wednesday, December 13, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., University Club.

Advent Jazz Vespers, Wednesday, December 13, 7:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel Chapel.

Canada 150 Lecture, "Canada's Hidden Histories," Wednesday, December 13, 7:00 p.m., Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Mitacs: Presentation Skills – Graduate students only,Thursday, December 14, 8:30 a.m., TC room 2218.

NEW - Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Series featuring Avery Broderick, "Songs in the Night: The Birth of Gravitational Wave Astronomy," Thursday, December 14, 4:00 p.m., PHY 150.

NEW - Physics and Astronomy Teaching Retreat, Friday, December 15, 8:30 a.m., DC 1302.

PhD seminar, “Reliability and consistency in counting tasks for citizen science,” Alex Williams, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Friday, December 15, 9:30 a.m., DC 3323.

PhD seminar, “Crowd deliberation as a tool for analyzing edge cases,” Mike Schaekermann, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Friday, December 15, 10:30 a.m., DC 3323.

Research Talks, "Societal impacts of 21st Century technology," A panel presentation with researchers from Arts, Math, and Engineering, Friday, December 15, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., DC 1302. Please register as seating is limited.

NEW - Physics and Astronomy Quantum Matters Series featuring Douglas Bonn, University of British Columbia, "Microwave and scanning tunneling spectroscopy in Fe-based superconductors," Friday, December 15, 2:00 p.m., PHY 308.

Farewell celebration for Tim Kenyon, Friday, December 15, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., HH 373.

PhD seminar, "Measuring the usage patterns of users with multiple devices," Erinn Atwater, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Tuesday, December 19, 2:00 p.m., DC 2314.