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Tuesday, June 12, 2018


6,528 degrees of Convocation

The stage setup for Spring 2018 Convocation prominently displaying the University seal.

A total of 6,528 students are eligible to receive their degrees this week at Waterloo's 116th convocation, which is taking place from June 12 through to June 16. Over the next five days, graduating classes across all six faculties will cross the stage.

Among the many awards and honours handed out include honorary doctorates, distinguished teaching awards, awards for excellence in graduate supervision, University Professor and Distinguished Professor Emeritus designations, and alumni medals. This year's ceremonies also include a special guest speaker.

All of the convocation ceremonies take place in the Physical Activities Complex (PAC) on the Waterloo campus. The Convocation website has been updated to include the 2018 Honorary and Award Recipients and the 2018 Valedictorians for this week's convocation ceremonies.

Processional music will be provided by The Convocation Winds under the direction of Harry Currie, who has had the Convocation conducting gig since 1980.

After each ceremony, graduates and their guests are invited to an informal reception in the Great Hall of the Student Life Centre.

The Convocation ceremonies will be livestreamed.

Convocation begins with Applied Health Sciences

The Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Convocation ceremony takes place at 10:00 a.m. today. 367 undergraduates, 46 Master's, and 16 PhD candidates will cross the stage.

Bearing the mace will be Chris Perlman, assistant professor, School of Public Health and Health Systems. Julie-Anne Desrochers will sing the national anthem. Follow along online.

Sandra Black.The University will grant Sandra E. Black an honorary Doctor of Science degree and Black will address Convocation. Sandra Black is a distinguished clinician scientist who is world-renowned for her work in the area of brain health. Her specific work in the area of dementia and stroke has been at the forefront of advances into diagnosis, clinical assessment and treatment. She has published more than 400 peer reviewed articles. Her work continues to transform fundamental understanding as well as clinical care among those with dementia and stroke. Her work in the area of brain health influences the activities of many researchers and clinicians linked to the University of Waterloo impacting approaches for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of brain disease. Her impact is also felt through the people that have had the honour of working with her over the last 30 years, including many from the University of Waterloo.

She serves on numerous international and national advisory committees for Alzheimer's disease, dementia care, vascular aging and stroke. As a measure of the impact of her contributions she has received many awards and honours including being named as Officer of the Order of Canada (2015), to the Order of Ontario (2011) and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2012).

Jennifer Emma MacKinnon will deliver the valedictory address.

Rachel Thompson will receive the Applied Health Sciences Young Alumni Award.

Krista McKerracher will receive the Applied Health Sciences Alumni Achievement Award.

Brianna Hanson will receive the Alumni Gold Medal.

Jasmine Lynn Bacola will receive the Governor General’s Silver Medal, which is granted in recognition of outstanding scholastic achievements.

University Finalist for the Governor General's Gold Medal Caitlin May McArthur will also be recognized. The University Finalist for the Governor General's Gold Medal was formerly known as the Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies award.

Departmental Awards for Distinguished Academic Achievement will also be presented to:

  • Kinesiology – Brianna Hanson
  • Recreation and Leisure Studies – Jessica Spence (Fall 2017)
  • School of Public Health and Health Systems – Jasmine Lynn Bacola

Faculty of Environment ceremony this afternoon

At 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, 320 undergraduates, 45 Master's, and 11 PhD candidates will receive their degrees during the Faculty of Environment's Convocation ceremony.

Bearing the mace will be Peter Deadman, associate professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Management. Michael Klein will sing the national anthem. Follow along online.

Former Toronto Mayor David Miller.David R. Miller will receive an honorary Doctor of Environmental Studies and address Convocation. Miller is a civic and environmental leader who has made lasting contributions to the interface between cities and environmental management in his roles as North America Regional Director and C40 Ambassador at C40 Cities Network, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund - Canada, Mayor of the City of Toronto, Metro Toronto regional councillor, Toronto city councillor, and as a lawyer and public figure.

As Mayor of Toronto from 2003 to 2010, Mr. Miller championed numerous environmental initiatives, including investments in public transit, a deep lake water cooling system for Toronto’s financial district, and city‐led greenhouse gas emission programs that have been emulated globally. From 2008-2010, Miller also chaired the influential C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a collaboration of the world’s largest cities committed to combatting climate change. 

From 2013 to 2017, Mr. Miller was president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund - Canada. Under Miller’s leadership, WWF - Canada led conservation efforts in Canada’s Arctic, protecting major freshwater and marine ecosystems in Canada and working to foster deeper connections between Canadians and nature. In October 2017, Mr. Miller returned to the C40 Cities Network as North America Regional Director and C40 Ambassador. In this role, Mr. Miller will advance a renewed drive for climate action in the U.S. and Canada led by cities, states/provinces, businesses and citizens.

Matthew Rodrigues will deliver the valedictory address.

Professor Julie Kate Seirlis.Julie Kate Seirlis will receive a Distinguished Teacher Award. Seirlis is a Continuing Lecturer in International Development at St. Paul's University College whose “transformative and memorable” teachings have inspired students, alumni, and colleagues. Nominees praise her “graceful guidance” in the development of students’ “tools for ‘critical thinking.’” Her undergraduate students value that she “constantly challenges her students to go further and deeper. She has a desire to produce critical thinkers, people who ask questions.” Graduate students are “motivated by her genuine interest and engagement with issues of environmental justice, and [are] powered by her creativity and experience in development work, research, and professorship.” An alumnus wrote: “I was able to look back and see that she had led us on a brilliant learning journey.” Several colleagues of Seirlis’s nominated her because “she has been a consistent voice of support, has connected us to many valuable contacts, and has encouraged us to bring our work into the academic sphere.”

Derek Armitage, professor and Associate Director, Graduate Studies, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, will receive the Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision. The award is given to an exemplary faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in graduate student supervision at the University.

University finalists for the Governor General's Gold Medals will be recognized: Alexander Cimprich at the Master's level and Kathryn Jastremski at the doctoral level.

The University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal, granted in recognition of academic achievement, will go to Aaron Matthew Buckley.

The winners of departmental awards for distinguished academic achievement have also been named:

  • Environment and Business – Michael Anthony Allen
  • Environment, Resources and Sustainability – Emma Tao Hawley-Ya
  • Geography and Aviation – Heckle Immanuel Fernandes
  • Geography and Environmenta Management – Aaron Matthew Buckley
  • Geomatics – Sujing Wang
  • International Development – Fiona Marlene Murray
  • Knowledge Integration – Anne Marlene Filion
  • Planning – April Best-Sararas

From "the sage on the stage" to "the guide from the side," Eric Mazur talked learning that sticks

Professor Eric Mazur speaks at Federation Hall.

Professor Eric Mazur speaks at Federation Hall Friday.

On Friday, June 8 the University of Waterloo welcomed Harvard physics professor and thought leader Eric Mazur for a Presidential Lecture.

Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics and Dean of Applied Physics at Harvard University. Aside from his work as a prominent physicist, he is widely known for his work on Peer Instruction, an interactive teaching method aimed at engaging students in the classroom and beyond.

Mazur's Presidential Lecture, entitled "Innovative Education to Educate Innovators," was an interactive dialogue on innovation in teaching and learning based on his experiences as a new physics professor at Harvard.

"Thinking back, I realized I never asked myself the question 'how am I going to teach?' Which is kind of strange because that's the first question you should ask yourself," Mazur said of his early teaching days. He highlighted the long history of the university lecture, a style of education nearly as old as the academy itself, going back to the Middle Ages, with robed educators standing before rows of students.

"Notice that we still wear these funny clothes at graduation just to remind ourselves we are steeped in medieval traditions," he said.

The unquestioned assumption about education, Mazur argued, is that it is a transfer of information. But is that all it is? As he considered the inability of his students to apply the concepts learned in his introductory physics classes to real-world problems rather than ersatz theoretical examples, Mazur said he came to understand that it was the assimilation of that information, and not just its transfer, that truly mattered.

Lectures given in auditoriums, long the standard model of knowledge transfer, were like theatrical performances that did not allow students the space to reflect on what they had just learned because they were essentially passive spectators and not participants in the learning experience.

"You need to connect that education to things you already know," Mazur explained. "Extract the mental models that permit you to apply what you have learned in a new context. That’s the key."

Mazur found that by creating spaces for dialogue and discussion among students, learning outcomes could be greatly improved. This was the thinking behind Peer Instruction. He would introduce his students to a concept, provide an example problem and then poll his class, inviting them to discuss their answers with one another and through dialogue eventually arrive at the correct answer.

“It is active learning, not passive learning,” Mazur said. “It’s impossible to sleep in my class because a neighbour will talk to you.”

Mazur illustrated this by inviting the audience at Fed Hall to engage in just such a dialogue after a quick physics lesson about thermal expansion. Soon he had faculty members, students, and staff members turning around in their chairs and comparing answers with one another until everybody in the room ‘got it.’ Mazur said, “it’s like the old saying, ‘you can forget facts, but you can’t forget understanding.’”

Watch the recording of the Presidential Lecture.

Room relocations continue

As the cleanup from last week's fires continue, classes are being relocated.

Please consult the list on the Registrar's Office website for the latest updates.

Instructors and departments are being asked to notify their students, and signs will be added to the STC classrooms directing students to the temporary location.

Link of the day

World Day Against Child Labour

When and where 

Bike Month, Friday, June 1 to Saturday, June 30, across campus.

Spring 2018 Convocation, Tuesday, June 12 to Saturday, June 16, Physical Activities Complex.

University Club Spring Convocation Luncheon, Tuesday, June 12 to Saturday, June 16, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

Grammar studio series: Workshop 3, Tuesday, June 12, 10:00 a.m.

Challenge Yourself: International Co-op, Tuesday, June 12, 12:30 p.m., TC 1208.

Exploring Your Personality Type, Tuesday, June 12, 1:30 p.m., TC 1112.

Deep homogeneous mixture models: Representation, separation, and approximation, featuring Priyank Jaini, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Tuesday, June 12, 3:00 p.m., DC 2306C.

Discover Your Career Values (for employees only), Wednesday, June 13, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., TC2218. 

Faculty of Science Convocation Awards luncheon, Wednesday, June 13, 12:00 p.m., University Club.

WaterTalk Lecture Series - "Decoding the Secrets of Carbon Preservation in Peatlands along a Boreal to Tropical Gradient from Minnesota to Peru", Wednesday, June 13, 2:00 p.m., QNC 0101.

Coping Skills Seminar - Strengthening Motivation, Wednesday, June 13, 4:00 p.m., HS 2302.

NEW - Part Time Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) Info Session, Thursday, June 13, 5:30 p.m., Online Webinar. 

Nukes and the Nobel: A Conversation with Setsuko ThurlowWednesday, June 13, 7:30 p.m., reception at 6:45 p.m. in Atrium, Conrad Grebel University College Great Hall.

Velocity Start: Do People Want Your Sh*t?, “Learn about topics related to market validation,” Wednesday, June 13, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor.

Grammar studio series: Workshop 4, Thursday, June 14, 10:00 a.m.

ROM Daytime: Transforming Space: Can Architecture Come Alive?, Speaker: Philip Beesley, School of Architecture, Thursday, June 14, 11:00 a.m., Royal Ontario Museum.

Design and deliver I: Presentation Essentials, Thursday, June 14, 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

How to be an Exceptional Employee, Thursday, June 14, 1:30 p.m., TC 1208. 

The Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Competition, Thursday, June 14, 7:00 p.m., AL 105.

NEW - Applied Mathematics Colloquium, “The deep learning revolution in Artificial Intelligence, what it means and how you can help,” Friday, June 15, 2:00 p.m., QNC0101.

Matthews Golf Classic, Monday, June 18, Grand Valley Golf Course, Cambridge.

Bridge to 2020: A Look Back, A Look Ahead, Monday, June 18, 10:00 a.m., Federation Hall. Register today!

WaterTalk Lecture Series - "Modelling River Basins as Coupled Human and Natural Systems”, June 18, 4:00 p.m., DC 1302.

University Senate meeting, Monday, June 18, 3:30 p.m., NH 3407.

NEW – Book launch, Andrew Levitt’s "Listening to Design," Monday, June 18, 6:30 p.m., Laurence Cummings Lecture Theatre, School of Architecture.

Hallman Lecture featuring CBC broadcaster Scott Russell, “Building a Stronger Canada through Values-based Sport,” Tuesday, June 19, 7:00 p.m., AHS 1689.

Velocity Fund $5K and $25K applications close, “Today’s Velocity Fund winners, tomorrow’s innovative companies,” Tuesday, June 19, 11:59 p.m.

NEW - Bike Lunch, Wednesday, June 20, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Peter Russell Rock Garden.

Velocity Start: How To Find Your Customers Online, “Conduct online market research,” Wednesday, June 20, 7:30 p.m., Velocity Start, SCH 2nd Floor.

LGBTQ+ Making Spaces workshop, Wednesday, June 20, 9:00 a.m., STC 2002

Inaugural Wes Graham Research Symposium & Computer Science Awards, A celebration of Wes Graham’s legacy through the establishment of fellowships, Thursday, June 21, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

NEW - Three graph analytics stories featuring Matei Ripeanu, University of British Columbia, Friday, June 22, 1:30 p.m., DC 1304.

Free three-day programming workshop for beginners, Friday, June 22, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 24 at 5:00 p.m. Applications close June 3, 2018.

Toronto Pride Parade, Sunday, June 24, 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Compensation information session, Monday, June 25, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., EC5 1111.

WISE Public Lecture: Health Impacts of Climate Change and Climate Policy, Tuesday, June 26, 10:30 a.m., DC 1304.

Compensation information session, Wednesday, June 27, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., EC5 1111.

PhD oral defences

Management Sciences. Taghi Khaniyev, "Data Analysis for Optimization: Structure Detection and Heuristic Search." Supervisors, Samir Ilhedhli, Fatih Safa Erenay. On display in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Monday, June 18, 2:30 p.m., CPH 4335.

Physics & Astronomy. Cedric Sinamuli Musema, "On the robustness of Holographic Dualities: AdS Black Holes and Quotient Spaces." Supervisor, Robert Mann. On deposit in the Science graduate office, PHY 2013. Oral defence Thursday, June 21, 10:00 a.m., PHY 352.

Physics & Astronomy. Natacha Altamirano, "The quantum and the gravity: Newtonian and Cosmological applications." Supervisors, Robert Mann, Niayesh Afshordi. On deposit in the Science graduate office, PHY 2013. Oral defence Thursday, June 21, 2:00 p.m., PHY 352.

Systems Design Engineering. Jan Gosmann, "An Integrated Model of Context, Short-Term, and Long-Term Memory." Supervisor, Chris Eliasmith. On display in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Friday, June 22, 1:00 p.m., EC4 2101A.

Recreation and Leisure Studies. Hugh Simmonds, "Curating the Cinematic Muse: The Role of Programming in the Film Festival Experience - The 40th Toronto International Film Festival." Supervisor, Stephen Smith. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Friday, June 22, 2:00 p.m., BMH 3119.