Friday, March 13, 2020

University issues COVID-19 update on travel and event suspension

President Feridun Hamdullahpur sent out two messages to the campus community yesterday that provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 situation and how the University is responding.

First, the University is suspending all travel outside Canada that is not vital to its academic mission.

Second, the University is suspending all events that are not vital to its academic mission. Classes, labs, courses and final exams are vital to the academic mission of the University and will continue.

These memos were circulated to employees, undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. A technical issue with the University's mailing list software prevented the memos from reaching all employees at the University and efforts are underway to correct the issue. The full memos can be read on the University's COVID-19 website.

Further email guidance will be sent out this afternoon.

Mary Wells named Dean of Engineering

Mary Wells stands in front of lab equipment.

"It is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Professor Mary Wells as dean of the Faculty of Engineering for a five-year term commencing 1 July 2020," wrote Jim Rush, vice-president, academic & provost in a memo circulated to the engineering faculty. "The appointment was unanimously recommended for consideration by the nominating committee established under Policy 45 and has been approved by Senate and the Board of Governors. Wells will also be appointed professor, with tenure, in the department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering."

Wells completed a B.Eng (Metallurgical Engineering) in 1987 at McGill University, and, following four years in industry, a PhD (Metals and Materials Engineering) in 1996 at the University of British Columbia. In 1996, Professor Wells joined the department of Metals and Materials Engineering at the University of British Columbia, where she progressed through the ranks from assistant to associate professor and held the Alcan Chair in Materials Process Engineering. Professor Wells joined the University of Waterloo as an associate professor in the department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering in 2007, and was promoted to full professor in 2011. Wells became dean of the University of Guelph’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences in November 2017, where she was responsible for five academic units: the School of Engineering, School of Computer Science, and the Departments of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and Statistics.

"While at Waterloo, Wells served as associate dean of outreach, chaired the Women in Engineering committee, and was involved in numerous programs for girls and women, teachers and parents, and also served as chair of the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE)," says the provost's memo. "She was the President of the Metallurgy and Materials Society of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum from 2015 to 2016, the chair for the public policy committee for the National Council of Deans of Engineering and Applied Science (NCDEAS), and the vice-chair of the Council of Ontario Deans of Engineering (CODE)."

Professor Wells is the author of over 100 archival publications and books and is best known for her contributions to the science and processing of advanced metallic materials and understanding the intersection between materials microstructure, properties and how they are made. This includes applications to the lightweight design of automotive applications using aluminum, high strength steel and magnesium alloys. In 2017, Wells received the Faculty of Engineering and University of Waterloo award of excellence in graduate supervision.

Professor Wells is a Fellow of Engineers Canada and was inducted into the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2018.

"Professor Wells’ experience as an administrator is combined with a track record of distinguished scholarship and service," the provost writes. "Her interest in interdisciplinary research and furthering equity, diversity and inclusion in Engineering education and practice is aligned with the vision, values and strategic direction of the university and will enable her to provide inspirational leadership to the Faculty of Engineering. Please join me in welcoming Professor Wells back to Waterloo."

French embassy honours President Hamdullahpur

President Hamdullahpur smiles after receiving the medal.

A message from the Office of the President.

University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur was honoured by the French government with the Knight (Chevalier) order of the l’Order des Palmes Académiques ("Order of Academic Palms") on the evening of February 25 at the French Embassy in Ottawa. President Hamdullahpur was recognized for his accomplishments by the French Ambassador to Canada Kareen Rispal. The l’Order des Palmes Académiques is a national order bestowed by the French Republic to distinguished Academics and figures in the world of culture and education.

The Order of Academic Palms citation.Collaboration has been an integral part of the University of Waterloo’s development as a global institution. President Hamdullahpur has been an avid proponent of Waterloo’s partnerships including with several French universities, institutions and research colleagues for decades, leveraging our unique expertise and working on joint projects. This work includes the wide-ranging partnership with the Université de Bordeaux that on artificial intelligence and bio-based chemistry that recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and the President’s role as an active member of the Sorbonne Université Strategic Orientation Committee since 2014.

#RethinkPharmacists: Supporting patients across the health care system

Matt and Sheri DioGivanni beside a pickup truck.

Sheri and Matt DiGiovanni with their RemedyRx truck.

Each March Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM) celebrates the contributions that pharmacists make to our health care system. This month, the School of Pharmacy is showcasing how our alumni go beyond dispensing pills and play a pivotal role in the health of Canadians as part of the #RethinkPharmacists campaign.

Alumni Sheri and Matt DiGiovanni met in pharmacy school as members of the School of Pharmacy’s first cohort. Today, they’re married with two kids and are making a difference for patients in the Listowel, Wingham, North Huron and North Perth area.

Sheri is a pharmacy coordinator who manages pharmacy teams at the hospitals in the Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance. In that role, she’s responsible for anything pharmacy related: verifying orders, managing staff, delivering projects and more.

Matt opened his own community pharmacy in Wingham in 2017, and his pharmacy offers services like diabetes assessment, injections and naloxone counselling. Despite the different focuses of their careers, Sheri and Matt often see the same patients at different stages in their health care journey.

“Matt’s pharmacy is right outside the Wingham hospital,” says Sheri. “So we’ve had the opportunity to work together with patients because of the close proximity of our practices. Our ability to communicate well about our mutual patients has helped smooth the transitions of care between the hospital and the community.”

Read more about how Sheri and Matt support the health of their community.

Math rounds down for Pi Day and other notes

The University's Pi Day celebrations have come early with events taking place in the Faculty of Mathematics today instead of tomorrow.

The festivities, organized by the Mathematics Society (MathSoc), are usually held on March 14 to acknowledge the mathematical constant Pi, which is (approximately) 3.14, but the event was moved to allow the entire University community to participate. 

The hosts have ordered 150 pies to serve 1,200 people. The afternoon’s event will include Mathematics professors and most of the MathSoc executives getting pied, and a new feature to this year’s activities – the Pi meme contest. The winners of the Pi Meme Contest, Pie eating contest and Pi recital will all receive prizes. 

The festivities take place in the Mathematics and Computer building on the third floor beginning at, you guessed it, 1:59.

Please note: on-campus Pi Day events today have been cancelled. "We appreciate the annual enthusiasm of our campus pi lovers, but in response to the University’s most recent COVID-19 update, Pi Day events will not be taking place as scheduled today," says a note from Mathematics.

“Thank you for your interest in the Waste Management Lunch and Learn," says a note from Plant Operations. "Due to an unforeseen circumstance the event on March 19 will be cancelled and rescheduled for a later date. Thank you again for your interest and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Here's today's Nutrition Month "myth vs. fact" supplied by Health Services Dietitian Sandra Ace:


Drinking coffee is an unhealthy habit.


Canadians love their coffee. In fact, according to the Coffee Association of Canada, 2/3 of Canadian adults enjoy at least one cup per day and average about 3.2 cups daily. While it’s often thought of as a “guilty pleasure,” the opposite may be true. Research shows that coffee might provide more than just a caffeine jolt. Plant chemicals in the coffee bean may actually be protective against some diseases. For example, coffee consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of certain cancers as well as a lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease and heart disease.

Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant which can help to temporarily boost energy. Consuming up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is not associated with adverse health effects in most adults. This is the equivalent of 3 or 4 cups (8 oz/250 mL) per day. Keep in mind that coffee shop portions are much larger than a standard cup. A large coffee (563mL) at Tim Hortons has about 270 mg of caffeine while a Starbucks grande (473mL) may have up to 380 mg of caffeine, depending on the type of coffee. Too much caffeine can increase anxiety, aggravate heartburn and irritable bowel disease and may cause heart palpitations and insomnia. In this case, consider changing to a decaffeinated brew.

The potential health benefits of coffee are negated when you add lots of sugar and cream so be aware of hidden calories in many specialty coffees and teas. If you enjoy these beverages frequently, you can check the company website for nutrition information. A large, double-double coffee has about 270 calories, so you might try substituting milk for the cream, changing to a “regular,” choosing a smaller size or opting for a walk outside instead of going to the closest coffee shop.

Beyond the Bulletin Podcast Episode 37

Beyond the Bulletin Podcast banner featuring two vintage microphones.

The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast is now live.

The University of Waterloo has been part of HeForShe, the United Nations’ gender equity initiative since 2015. Joel Dubin, the Math Faculty advocate for HeForShe, tells us about the Year of Male Allyship and what actions people at Waterloo can do and are doing to support gender equity. Ottawa hosted the Waterloo Innovation Summit’s look at the future of talent. The Velocity Health Tech Fund launched. And the Grimm Lecture examines Hannah Arendt’s work and its relevance in our current political landscape.

Link of the day

In Thailand, it's National Elephant Day

When and Where

IT Seminar: Passwords are dead. Long live strong authentication!, Friday March 13, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., East Campus 5 room 1111. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Mechatronics Engineering Capstone Design Symposia 2020 Friday, March 13, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., E7 1st and 2nd Floor. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Bridges Lecture Series presents François Bergeron, Mathematics, Université du Québec à Montréal and Members of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Symmetry: Bach and Math, Friday, March 13, 7:30 p.m., SJ2/Academic Centre, Vanstone Lecture Hall. Please register in advance. 

BLND Design and Business ConferenceCreative People. Innovative Ideas. Fun Workshops.” Saturday, March 14, all day event, Stratford School, University of Waterloo. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

March Madness at the University Club, Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 20, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Coping Skills Seminar – Cultivating Resiliency, Monday, March 16, 3:30 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on  GoSignMeUp.

2020 Latin American Film Festival, Ruben Blades is not My Name, Monday, March 16, 6:30 p.m., Kitchener Public Library main branch. Admission is free.

Staff Work-Travel Information Session, Tuesday, March 17, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., DC 1302. Register today. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

More Feet on the Ground Mental Health Training for Students, Tuesday, March 17, 2:00 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on GoSignMeUp

Distinguished Lecture Series, “An Ethical Crisis in Computing?” featuring Moshe Y. Vardi, University Professor, Rice University, Tuesday, March 17, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

NEW - "UpStart 20", Wednesday, March 18 to Saturday, March 21, 7:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Portfolio & Project Management Community of Practice (PPM CoP) session, "Adopting agile techniques" Wednesday, March 18, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., East Campus 5 (EC5), 1111. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Capstone Design Symposia 2020, Wednesday, March 18, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., E7 1st and 2nd FloorPlease note: this event has been cancelled.

Research Ethics drop-in session for faculty and students, Wednesday, March 18, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Dana Porter Library (study booth on the main floor).

Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business MBET information session, Wednesday, March 18, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., E7 2324-2328. Register today. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Noon Hour Concert: Peter and the Wolf, Wednesday, March 18, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University Chapel. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Gustav Bakos Observatory March Break Tour, Wednesday, March 18, 2:00 p.m., RCH 307. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

What’s Happening in Wet'suwet'en? – A Teach-In about Indigenous Solidarity, March 18, 2:30 p.m., Dana Porter Library. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Coping Skills Seminar – Thriving With Emotions, Wednesday, March 18, 6:00 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Concept by Velocity - Intro Session: Billion Dollar Briefing, “Get introduced to different billion-dollar problems that are waiting to be solved,” Wednesday, March 18, 6:30 p.m., South Campus Hall, 2nd Floor.

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, March 19, 3:30 p.m., HS 1106 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls – Applied Math Undergraduate Lecture by Dr. David Hu, Thursday, March 19, 5:00 p.m., STC 0050. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

E Co-op Information Session, Thursday, March 19, 5:00 p.m., E7 2458.

Women in Computer Science Sexism Response Workshop, Thursday, March 19, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., MC 5501.

Waterloo Centre for German Studies Grimm Lecture 2020, “Thinking Itself is Dangerous: Reading Hannah Arendt Now,” Thursday, March 19, 7:00 p.m., CIGI Auditorium at Balsillie School of International Affairs.

First Year Residence Problem Pitch, Thursday, March 19, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., V1 Main Lobby.

Concept by Velocity - Graduate Student Startup Fund applications close, “Apply for the chance to win up to $20,000 and take your research to the next level,” Friday, March 20.

World Water Day 2020Friday, March 20. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Nanotechnology Engineering Capstone Design Symposia 2020Friday, March 20, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., E7 2nd Floor. Please note: this event is now internal-only. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Management Engineering Capstone Design Symposia 2020Friday, March 20, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., E7 2nd FloorPlease note: this event is now internal-only. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle, March 20, 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., HH 235. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Symposia 2020Friday, March 20, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sedra Student Design Centre, Engineering 5Please note: this event is now internal-only. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

Chemical Engineering Capstone Design Symposia 2020Monday, March 23, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, E7 2nd Floor. Please note: this event is now internal-only. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

NEW - Digital Grading Systems: An Overview for Faculty, Monday, March 23, 2:45 p.m., M3 3127.

NEW - Coping Skills Seminar - Empowering Habit Change, Monday, March 23, 3:30 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

NEW - Concept $5K Finals, “Previously known as the Velocity Fund Finals $5K. Find out which four student-teams will walk away with $5,000 grants.” Tuesday, March 24, 11:00 a.m., Student Life Centre, Great Hall.

NEW - Against Wellness: Faculty health as a structural issue, Tuesday, March 24, 12:00 p.m., AL 105. Please register by March 17. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

NEW - Civil, Environmental and Geological Engineering Capstone Design Symposia 2020 Tuesday, March 24, 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., E7 2nd Floor. Please note: this event has been cancelled.

NEW - Coping Skills Seminar – Cultivating Resiliency, Tuesday, March 24, 4:00 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

NEW - Research Ethics drop-in session for faculty and students, Wednesday, March 25, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Dana Porter Library (study booth on the main floor). 

NEW - Documenting Your Teaching for Tenure and Promotion, Wednesday, March 25, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., E7 7363.