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.
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.”
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 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:
- COVID-19 resources on the International Student Guide (checklist, quarantine resources)
- Pre-departure virtual drop-in sessions
- Portal arrival tool
- Regular check-ins from Campus Wellness during quarantine
- Virtual hangouts for students in quarantine
- Resources for student arriving in Canada about the local community
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.
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.
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
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.