Friday, November 27, 2020

Awards honour two Canadian Nobel laureates

By Pamela Smyth.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) announced it is naming an award for outstanding researchers after Donna Strickland.

Professor Donna Strickland.Strickland, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018. The new award, called the NSERC Donna Strickland Prize for Societal Impact of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research is worth $250,000 and will go to a researcher or team of researchers whose work benefitted Canadian society, the environment, or the economy in an exceptional way. The award is open to any NSERC-funded researcher who conducted the research in Canada.

“Sometimes you don’t realize when you are working on a project just how much of an impact it will have down the road,” said Strickland. “I’m so grateful for the honour of having an award named after me that will go to colleagues who have made really positive contributions with their work.”

Professor Arthur McDonald.NSERC also announced an award named after Arthur McDonald, from Queen’s University and who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2015. The Arthur B. McDonald Fellowships replace the EWR Steacie Memorial Fellowships. The awards recognize academic researchers in the natural sciences and engineering who are early in their careers, and support them so that they may become global leaders in their field. The fellowships are worth $250,000 over two years.

“Canadians can be justly proud of our Nobel laureates and I wish to thank both Dr. Strickland and Dr. McDonald for lending their names and their prestige to these prizes,” said Alejandro Adem, NSERC President. “They are beacons to all of us and an inspiration to both experienced scientists and engineers as well as the students and young researchers they mentor.”

Congratulations to Professor Strickland and Professor McDonald.

Supports to welcome international students travelling to Canada

A man wearing a mask works on a laptop covered in stickers.

A message from the Student Success Office (SSO).

Last week, Waterloo was added to the Government of Canada’s list of designated learning institutions with approved COVID-19 readiness plans. To the University, this means that the government has approved our plan to support and be responsible for our international students who travel to Canada. To our international student population, this means that they may be able to travel to Canada to work or study (if they meet travel and immigration requirements). Approximately 1300 of our international students are planning to travel to Canada in the coming months.

Waterloo is offering an optional subsidized quarantine package to assist these students with their mandatory quarantine period in a local hotel. To date, around 40 students have signed up for the package and the first participants arrived earlier this week.

Campus partners including the Student Success Office, Campus Wellness, UW Food Services, and others have been working together to help support these students and meet government requirements with a variety of initiatives planned. These include:

These initiatives are designed to help our students feel confident and supported in their journey and aligns with government requirements. Thank you to all involved.

To support this work, please encourage international students, whether or not they plan to travel, to complete the mandatory International student travel plans and quarantine form.

Green Growth

A panoramic photo of a swampy wetland.

By Rose Simone. This article was originally published on Waterloo Stories.

A scrappy swamp dotted with reeds, mosses, insects and frogs might not look like anything of value, but to Professor Rebecca Rooney, these ecosystems are priceless.

Professor Rebecca Rooney.Rooney, an expert in wetland ecology with the Department of Biology at the University of Waterloo, says wetlands are workhorses, providing numerous “environmental services” to us for free.

While developers might see their main value as being drained and turned into residential areas – especially in hot real-estate markets, Rooney’s research points to wetlands as environmentally important ecosystems.

Wetlands replenish our aquifers and store water, helping prevent flooding. They break down pesticides and other pollutants, to ensure that we have clear water and better human health. They are a natural carbon store, helping to sequester greenhouse gases, and they reduce nutrient pollution that can cause toxic algal blooms in our drinking water sources.

In the absence of their natural and free services, society would need to pay for these benefits in other ways whether in the form of stormwater ponds, sewage treatment facilities, as well as dams or levees to redirect flood flows — money that governments facing huge deficits could better-spend elsewhere.

 “People have been saying that ‘we have to build back better.’ The pandemic recession gives us an opportunity to refocus how we want to grow and take advantage of the advances in technology and innovations to grow in a more sustainable manner,” Rooney says.

Resources are drying up

Besides their sheer beauty and biodiversity benefits, including being the home to many medicinal plants used by Indigenous communities, wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Southern Ontario has lost an estimated 70 per cent of original wetlands that were drained for agriculture and urban development.

Rooney and other researchers recently spoke out against a decision in Pickering to bypass Ontario’s natural heritage policies and develop a provincially significant wetland complex in Duffins Creek. Another similar order was recently issued for the provincially significant East Humber River Wetland Complex in Vaughn.

“As ecologists, we realize we are facing an environmental crisis that is real and pressing,” she says. “By virtue of having the privilege to study it, we owe it to taxpayers to make people aware.”

Through both field work and modelling, Rooney and her students measure and analyze the impacts of disturbing wetlands and track the effects of various types of management interventions or restoration activity.

“We try to bring our expertise to bear on questions around how best to manage wetlands,” she says. “This is an area where we can, through changes in policies and practices, really have an impact.”

Today, as Canada looks to rebuild its economy following the pandemic, Rooney says saving the environment by conserving wetlands plays an important role, beyond ecosystem preservation.

“By improving water quality, doing flood mitigation and increasing the restoration and conservation efforts, Canada isn’t just creating a healthier, more sustainable planet, they’ll be a leader in creating green jobs, too.”

Waterloo Innovation Summit: Green Innovation

For more stories like this, join us at the next virtual on Waterloo Innovation Summit scheduled for November 30, where industry leaders will explore how green innovation and sustainable enterprises can drive economic growth while ensuring our planet’s future.

Have your say as WUSA plans its next five years

The WUSA logo on a green background with two Canada Geese flying.

A message from the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA).

After many months of deliberation and consultation, WUSA’s Long-Range Plan has finally come together and their president, Abbie Simpson, would love to share it with you.

Please confirm your attendance to one of their three Microsoft Teams sessions. 

  • Tuesday, December 1, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, December 2, 2:30 p.m to 4:00 p.m.
  • Friday, December 4, 1:00 p.m to 2:30 p.m. 

Their Long-Range Plan, or LRP as they like to call it, is constructed atop five base pillars that Abbie will expand on in the presentation. The LRP is WUSA's version of the University’s Strategic Plan. 

Our student leaders look forward to working together toward a more equitable and accessible campus. We hope you’ll join them to learn more about how they hope to do that.

Beyond the Bulletin Podcast Episode 68

Beyond the Bulletin podcast logo with two vintage microphones.

The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast is now liveHeather MacDougall from History tells about the outbreak of Spanish Flu in 1918, and how it compares to our current situation as we fight the spread of COVID-19. Waterloo region is now in the red zone of the Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework, and the University has made changes accordingly. For Giving Tuesday, the Office of Advancement has created a lineup of 21 challenges to inspire us to donate. And NSERC names an award after Waterloo’s first Nobel laureate.

Link of the day

The quest for the original McDonald's French Fries

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.

Updated Course templates are now available within your course in LEARN to help you build and edit your content and assignment pages quickly.

The following workshops, webinars, and events are offered by the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

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

Remote Course Design Essentials, beginning Wednesday, November 11. 

Introduction to Bongo Video Assignment (Technical Session), Friday, November 27, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 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.

Stay informed about COVID cases on campus by consulting the COVID case tracker.

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.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre facilitates the sharing of Indigenous knowledge and provides culturally relevant information and support services for all members of the University of Waterloo community, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, and faculty.

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

The Bike Centre – Now open by appointment for your bicycle repair and rental needs in the Student Life Centre. 

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 More information at

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.

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle, until December 2020. Join your fellow Warriors, donate blood and help us win the Blood Battle against Laurier for a second year in a row. Set up a profile or add the PFL code: UNIV960995 to your account if you have a account already. Questions? Contact

University Christmas Project is seeking sponsors for clothing and gifts for children in need. Contact Christian Girodat at for information on how to participate.

Take the UN75 survey. Waterloo International is asking the Waterloo community to fill out a survey to gather your perspectives about the state of global governance and where it should be headed. If you have questions, contact Aisha Shibli.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Wednesday, November 25 to Friday, December 10.

IT Seminar: WCMS 3.0 Project Update, Friday November 27, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Join online.

Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) presents “Recent Developments in Ethiopia: A Conversation with Ambassador Nasise Jira,” Friday, November 27, 10:30 a.m.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: Indigenous Clean Energy in Canada - Leadership, Self-Determination, and Next Steps, Friday, November 27, 1:00 p.m.

Waterloo Innovation Summit, Monday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Giving Tuesday, Tuesday, December 1.

Geographies of Threat, Cities of Violence: Shaw-Mannell Lecture with Rasul Mowatt (Indiana University Bloomington). Friday, December 4, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.