Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Shifting towards carbon neutral

Shift Neutral Town Hall on November 10 banner image.

A message from the Sustainability Office.

All members of the campus community are warmly invited to join an upcoming virtual town hall to launch Waterloo’s climate action plan, Shift: Neutral.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated tremendous change and effort over the past months, climate change continues to accelerate around the world. Urgent action is needed to reverse course.

Shift: Neutral was developed over two years by the Climate and Energy Working Group of the President’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability, and is Waterloo’s first climate action plan. It provides a roadmap for Waterloo to minimize the greenhouse gas footprint of activities across the campus, with an aim to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The town hall will help formally initiate the plan among the broader campus community, and will feature:

  • Introductory comments from President and Vice-Chancellor Feridun Hamdullahpur;
  • Overview of Shift: Neutral from Sustainability Director Mat Thijssen; and
  • Q&A session moderated by Dean of Environment Jean Andrey.

The event will take place on Microsoft Teams on Tuesday, November 10 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00pm. Please visit the town hall webpage to RSVP and learn more.

Leaders in aging research renewed as Schlegel Research Chairs

A message from the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences.

Kinesiology Professor Heather Keller and George Heckman, a professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems, are being renewed as Schlegel Research Chairs with the Research Institute for Aging (RIA).

Professor Heather Keller.Keller is chair of Nutrition and Aging, and Heckman is chair of Geriatric Medicine. The renewal of these appointments recognizes not only their academic achievements, but also their commitment to enhancing the quality of life and care of older adults.

Keller is both a researcher and registered dietitian, and her work focuses on improving older adults’ nutrition for optimal health. She also explores and advocates for the importance of food and mealtimes for overall well-being. She began her appointment in 2012 and is now renewed until 2026.

Professor George Heckman.Heckman focuses on developing and evaluating new care approaches that put individuals and their families first while promoting integrated, proactive care and optimal use of health care resources, and he is a practicing geriatrician in the Waterloo region. He began his appointment is 2010; it is now extended to 2024.

Read more on the Applied Health Sciences website.

Innovative SARS CoV2 Screening Pilot Project at Conrad Grebel

By Abby Rudy-Froese.

A masked man holds a sealed tube containing a COVID swab.Conrad Grebel University College has implemented many health and safety measures to ensure the wellness of everyone in the building during the current COVID-19 pandemic. One innovative measure is participation in a SARS CoV2 screening pilot project by EpiTOme Genetics – a lab that provides organizations with access to molecular techniques. EpiTOme, running an advanced Seegene Inc. PCR platform, is providing Grebel with regular SARS CoV2 screening for students and front-line staff.  The goal of the pilot project is to prove that organizations benefit from access to reliable molecular information in guiding their operations.

“We have been thrilled with a more than 90 percent participation rate of our students,” said Mary Brubaker-Zehr, Director of Students Services. After an initial screening in early September, participants were divided into 4 groups of 30 and each group is screened every two weeks. The sample collection is carried out by the participants and then delivered to a laboratory where the samples are tested. The results come back within hours, a fraction of the wait time provided by other facilities.

“Grebel has added a layer of security to my work week,” said Leanne MacKay Bain, the receptionist at Grebel, “I believe we are all more comfortable with the people we interact with daily because screening is happening regularly.”

Isobella McCloskey, a first-year resident said that Grebel’s participation in this project “reminds everyone, including myself, that we are each responsible for ourselves and share responsibility for others.” Participants are getting regular feedback on their status whether or not they have symptoms. Participants know they are not spreading SARS CoV2 around Grebel, campus, or elsewhere, and they are keeping others safe. In the same way, they will quickly know if they are positive, even if asymptomatic. The frequent screening and the fast result time decreases risk of participants spreading the virus elsewhere.

This pilot project also benefits the larger Waterloo community because Grebel participants are not backing up testing at other facilities. While University of Waterloo Health services is offering testing on campus, it is restricted to those with symptoms. 

“The safety of each person in the building is our top priority,” said President Marcus Shantz, “and knowing that everybody is being tested, regardless of symptoms, gives me peace of mind.”

Paul Penner, director of operations at Grebel, added, "the pilot project provides Grebel with an extra layer of security, in addition to the other measures we are taking, like masking and social distancing.”

New phishing scam teases COVID cash-in

A screenshot of the fraudulent email

An email purporting to provide COVID benefits to University students and employees is a phishing attempt, say Information Systems & Technology and UW Police Services.

The email was sent to University of Waterloo community members yesterday afternoon. If you have received this email, do not click any links and do not reply.

The fraudulent form.The email cites a COVID-19 giveaway and links to a form that asks for personal information, including names, phone numbers, and credit card numbers.

There are several methods you can use to detect whether or not an email is legitimate or a phishing attempt:

  • Hover over links - the real link address will appear at the bottom of your web browser window.
  • Look for typos - phishing emails often contain typos and bad grammar.  
  • Verify with the real source - if you receive a suspicious email supposedly sent by your manager or another department, find their actual contact information and reach out to them directly.

Suspected fraud attempts should be reported to IST's Security Operations Centre at soc@uwaterloo.ca. Reports of successful fraud should be directed to UW Police Services at uwpolice@uwaterloo.ca.

For more information on how to protect yourself from this and other phishing attempts, visit IST's cyber awareness website.

Board of Governors meets today and other notes

The University's Board of Governors has its final meeting of 2020 this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Among the agenda items:

  • the Board will approve a general approach to incidental fee assessment for the winter 2021 term;
  • the Board will engage in a discussion about divestment and carbon-neutral investment;
  • a motion to approve the following name change: “Faculty of Applied Health Sciences” to “Faculty of Health” effective 1 January 2021;
  • a motion from the Audit & Risk Committee to reappoint Ernst & Young as the University’s external auditors for the fiscal year ending 30 April 2021;
  • a motion from the Finance & Investment Committee to approve amendments to the Statement of Investment Guidelines for the University of Waterloo Endowment Fund;
  • a motion from the Pension & Benefits Committee to approve amendments to section 12.01 of the University of Waterloo Pension Plan; and
  • a motion from the Pension & Benefits Committee to approve amendments to section 2.05 of the Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures.

Among the many presentations and reports that will be delivered at Board are presentations from the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA), an update on student mental health from Professor John Hirdes, an update on the University's climate action plan by Mat Thijssen, and an update on the co-operative and experiential education strategic plan by Norah McRae.

Members of the Science Undergraduate Office wear red in a group voice chat.

"As the month of October and the fall United Way Campaign wraps up, the Science Undergrad Office took one more opportunity to mark the event at our Monday Morning Meeting (affectionately called M3) by going red," writes Rebecca Gibbons on behalf of the SUO team.

United Way Trivia Lunch Banner.Speaking of the United Way: "Are you feeling quizzical?" Asks the Library. "Do you know lots about general things? Join the Library on Wednesday October 28 at 12 noon for lunch hour trivia.

"The prize is the coveted golden goose trophy," says the note from the Library. "You can play in teams of up to five people. Email your team members’ names and team name to s3martin@uwaterloo.ca. We suggest each player make a $5 donation to the United Way."

Protecting your online presence: "With most of us working, shopping, banking, sharing, and using social media online, it is important to stop and consider what personal information we are disclosing," says a note from Information Systems & Technology (IST). Two new IST blog posts offer a quick checklist of things to consider before sharing information online and describes how to stop prying eyes with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

Link of the day

The 50 best New Wave albums of all time

When and Where to get support

Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment. The following workshops are current offerings from the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

Remote Course Design Essentials, beginning August 26.

Independent Remote Course Design Essentials. Self-directed, continuous self-enrollment course in LEARN.

Introduction to Bongo Virtual Classroom (Technical Session), Wednesday, October 28, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Integrative and Experiential Learning Session (CTE7700), Wednesday, October 28, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information. Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

The Writing and Communication Centre is rolling out virtual services and programs for fall term: 

  • Undergrad students -- work with us to brainstorm, draft, revise, and polish assignments by meeting with our writing advisors in virtual appointments. Chat with our friendly and knowledgeable peer tutors in our virtual drop-ins and PJ-friendly writing groups. Or experience an online workshop at your own pace. 
  • First-year Warriors! Check out Waterloo Ready to Write to build your skills for writing success.
  • Graduate Students -- meet with an advisor in a virtual appointments, take an online workshop,  join the grad writing community at our Virtual Writing Cafés and #WaterlooWrites groups, develop your academic voice at Speak Like a Scholar, or make progress on your thesis at Dissertation Boot Camp.
  • Instructors and faculty -- Request and access WCC workshops for use in your courses, join a virtual writing group, or speak with a writing advisor about a writing project.

We understand that these circumstances can be troubling, and you may need to speak with someone for emotional support. Good2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline based in Ontario, Canada that is available to all students. If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health Services or  Counselling Services. You can also contact the University's Centre for Mental Health Research and Treatment.

The Library has published a resource guide on how to avoid information overload.

The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the FAUW blog for more information.

The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the UWSA blog for more information.

WUSA supports for students:

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at foodsupport@wusa.ca.

The Bike Centre – Now open by appointment for your bicycle repair and rental needs in the Student Life Centre. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to: https://wusa.ca/bikecentre

Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at caps@wusa.ca. More information at http://wusa.ca/caps

WUSA Commissioners who can help in a variety of areas that students may be experiencing during this time:

WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-833-628-5589.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Healthy Warriors at Home. Free programming including Online Fitness, Health Webinars, Personalized Nutrition and more from Warriors Athletics and Rec. Open to students, staff, faculty and alumni. Register today.

Renison English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

De-escalating difficult student situations for Faculty and Staff, Tuesday, October 27, 1:30 p.m., Online – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Board of Governors meeting, Tuesday, October 27, 1:30 p.m., Microsoft Teams.

America Votes: What should we expect?, Tuesday, October 27, 7:00 p.m.

Noon Hour Concert: The Road to Peace, Wednesday, October 28, 12:30 p.m., online, free.

Taking Action Against Online Harassment Workshop for Students, with Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office & Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region, Wednesday, October 28, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology presents “Quality Management Systems Webinar Series – Basic Concepts of Quality, Wednesday, October 28, 1:00 p.m., online via Webex. Please register to receive the link.

Concept Intro Session: Pitch to Win, Wednesday October 28, 5:00 p.m., virtual event.

Design & Deliver II: Designing Visual Support Live Q&A, Thursday, October 29, 9:00 a.m.

President's Virtual Town Hall Meeting, Thursday, October 29, 1:30 p.m.

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, October 29, 3:30 p.m., Online – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Speak Like a Scholar, Friday, October 30, 5:00 p.m.

TEDxUW 2020, Saturday, October 31, 12 noon to 4:00 p.m.

Portage-Global Water Futures Research Data Management webinar series: “Using the Open Science Framework to Enhance Your Research Projects, Wednesday, November 3, 1:00 p.m. Registration details are available here.

NEW - WaterLeadership: Develop a Knowledge Mobilization Plan for Your Grant Proposals (Q&A with Nancy Goucher), Tuesday, November 3, 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.