Thursday, March 4, 2021

Reconciliation will be the focus for 10 Calls to Action for Natural Scientists event

The sun rises over a lake.

A message from the Office of Research.

A virtual discussion of 10 Calls to Action for Natural Scientists to enable reconciliation with Indigenous communities will take place on March 15 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The discussion will be driven by an article published in FACETS and three of the five authors will take part in this special event:

  • Gùdia – Mary Jane Johnson, Elder from Kluane First Nation 
  • Lawrence Ignace, a policy analyst who is Anishinaabe
  • Heidi Swanson, a professor in Biology, University of Waterloo

Attendees will learn about the 10 Calls to Action developed by the authors, and challenge the scientific and academic communities to recognize that reconciliation requires a new way of conducting natural science, one that includes and respects Indigenous communities, rights, and knowledge, which will lead to better scientific and community outcomes. Several of the 10 Calls to Action will be discussed in detail.

This event is organized and hosted by the Faculty of Science, Office of Research, and the Indigenous Initiatives Office and is open to all Waterloo faculty, staff and students, and the general public. Registration is required to receive a link to the event.

Waterloo shines in new global subject rankings

The Davis Centre in winter.

By Ryon Jones.

The University of Waterloo has been named one of the world’s top universities for the study of several subjects, according to the latest edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) worldwide university subject rankings, released on Wednesday, March 3.

Waterloo is ranked in the top 100 for the broad faculty areas of Engineering & Technology (38th) and Natural Sciences (79th).

Computer Science (CS) remains Waterloo’s top-rated subject internationally, coming in at 23 among the world’s top 1,100 universities. Mathematics, Electrical and Electronic Engineering and 12 other programs join CS in the top 100 this year, an increase of three subjects from the 2020 QS rankings. Waterloo’s new entrants to the top 100 are Anatomy & Physiology and Architecture & Built Environment.

“I am delighted to see so many of our programs have been top-rated in these subject rankings,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor. “These rankings are a testament to the excellence of our teaching and academic experiences—and our ability to connect those experiences with the world’s most significant challenges.”

Domestically, Waterloo is ranked in the top five universities for 15 subjects, with Computer Science being Waterloo’s top-ranked program in Canada at second. 

Other subjects where Waterloo placed among the top five Canadian institutions are:

  • Architecture & Built Environment (4th)
  • Chemical Engineering (4th)
  • Civil Engineering (4th)
  • Development Studies (4th)
  • Electrical & Electronic Engineering (3rd)
  • Environmental Sciences (4th)
  • Geography (5th)
  • Hospitality & Leisure Management (3rd)
  • Materials Science (4th)
  • Mathematics (3rd)
  • Mechanical Engineering (4th)
  • Physics & Astronomy (4th)
  • Psychology (4th)
  • Statistics & Operational Research (5th)

QS, the world’s largest international higher education network, ranks the world’s top universities on 51 subjects based on factors such as academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, student-to-faculty ratio, the proportion of international faculty and proportion of international students. The rankings provide a comparative analysis on the performance of 14,435 individual university programs, taken by students at 1,453 universities, found in 86 locations across the world, in 51 academic disciplines and five broad faculty Areas. 

Overall university rankings from QS are expected in the fall.

Pharmacy professor supports training of up to 5,000 new vaccinators in Ontario

Professor Sherilyn Houle stands next to a computer screen.

March is Pharmacy Appreciation Month. This month, in our #PAM2021 series, the School of Pharmacy is highlighting the unique ways that the pharmacy community has supported Canadians through the pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccinations may be in short supply, but when shipments arrive, Canada will need all the help it can get to administer millions of vaccines across the country.

In Ontario, there are currently seventeen hospital sites giving COVID-19 vaccines. As the province moves into Phase Two of the vaccine rollout plan, more locations will become available and the list of health-care professionals who can give the vaccine will also increase.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are on this list of Phase Two vaccinators. Ontario pharmacists have been able to administer vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine, for years, and pharmacy students receive training on administering injections in school. But injection training has not typically been a component of Ontario pharmacy technician training.

Enter Professor Sherilyn Houle. Houle is a pharmacist and researcher who worked with the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) to develop vaccine education resources. When the Ontario government announced that technicians would soon be able to give the COVID-19 vaccine, the OPA recognized a need to create technician injection and immunization training. They asked Professor Houle to help them do just that.

“Since I currently coordinate the injections training program at Waterloo Pharmacy and am a strong supporter of an expanded role for pharmacy technicians, I jumped at the opportunity to contribute to this expansion in technicians’ scope of practice,” Houle says.

Houle worked with the OPA to modify existing injection and immunization training for pharmacists to suit pharmacy technicians. The new certification for technicians includes an online component and an in-person practical assessment of injection technique. It’s now available to the over 5,000 pharmacy technicians registered to work in Ontario.

Robin Andrade, an instructor at Waterloo Pharmacy, is also a pharmacy technician. She is working her way through the course.

“I was thrilled with the news that technicians would be able to inject the COVID-19 vaccination. By increasing the number of trained professionals who can inject, we’ll come closer to herd immunity and keep the number of cases low and manageable,” says Andrade. “The course was well executed, and I am looking forward to the in-person workshop to practice my injection technique.”

Read the full story on the School of Pharmacy site.

Thursday's notes

Waterloo.AI Industry Day Banner.The Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute and AMC are co-hosting an Industry Day webinar event on March 25. "An interactive and informative on-line event, enabling industry to get more acquainted with various AI success stories across multi-sectors of the economy," say the event organizers. "Catering to diverse interests, attendees will have the option to choose from a menu of topics, with one stream focusing on the use of AI within Advanced Manufacturing. Applicable to all sectors, the keynote speaker will deliver first-hand experience of “The Journey to Implement AI”, and the importance of “Data” in the future of AI. Morning and afternoon presentations are planned around a mid-day networking event amongst attendees, partners, researchers and the Waterloo AI ecosystem.

"Waterloo Womxn + Nonbinary Wednesdays (W3+) is calling for proposals for workshops and teach-ins for a day-long, online event on June 9," says a note from the faculty association. "We invite proposals for sessions that democratize knowledge and engage our membership to learn new ways of doing, thinking, and being. We hope for workshops that support our members' personal and professional development and sustain people with practical knowledge and skills, and for teach-ins that help people understand a contemporary topic in an accessible way. Proposals are due March 15 using this online form. W3+ is a community of womxn and nonbinary grad students, post-docs, staff, and faculty that currently operates mostly on Teams."

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

Myth:  Drinking kombucha tea has many health benefits.

Fact:  People use kombucha to prevent or treat many medical conditions but there is currently no strong scientific evidence to support these uses.

The popularity of this trendy, effervescent drink made by fermenting a mixture of tea, sugar, yeast and bacteria shows no sign of fizzling out any time soon. Kombucha enthusiasts maintain the tea has a wide range of health benefits including aiding digestion, boosting energy, alleviating arthritis, lowering blood pressure, strengthening immunity, preventing cancer and improving liver function.

A 2014 review concluded that kombucha tea contains a wide range of bioactive components with potential beneficial health properties but noted that most of the benefits had only been studied in animals and cell cultures. A 2019 review of 310 articles on kombucha found only one that studied health effects in human subjects and concluded that clinical trials are needed to establish health benefits in humans. Despite the lack of empirical evidence of superfood status, kombucha tea can be part of a healthy diet for most people. Given the possible beneficial properties and the current interest in the effects of fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, kimchi, etc.) on health, consumption of kombucha and research on its benefits will likely continue to grow.

Kombucha is produced commercially or can be brewed at home using a culture which is added to tea then allowed to ferment. Commercially bottled kombucha has been found to be safe, however home brews may pose safety risks related to potential fungal and bacterial contamination unless strict brewing and sanitation protocols are followed. Random samples of commercially bottled kombucha were found to contain trace amounts of alcohol, formed during the fermentation process. While it is sold as a non-alcoholic drink, a recent British Columbia study found that some kombucha samples contained from 1 per cent to more than 3 per cent alcohol by volume. Kombucha tea should not be consumed by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or by children or those with medical conditions which make it unsafe to consume alcohol.

Keep in mind that a product labelled ‘natural’ is not an assurance that it is safe or effective and that kombucha tea should not be used in place of conventional medical care to treat illnesses.

Link of the day

35 years ago: Pretty in Pink

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. Support for Winter 2021 is available.

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.

Introduction to Assessments in PebblePad (ATLAS) (CTE7512), Monday, March 8, 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.

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

Whether you’re a student or faculty member, the Writing and Communication Centre has virtual services and programs to help you with all of your academic writing needs. This term we have added evening and weekend one-to-one appointments with our peer tutors, and our NEW one-to-one workshops, where you can learn the content directly from one of our writing advisors.

  • Undergraduates: Work with us to brainstorm, draft, revise, and polish your assignments in one-to-one appointments. Ask questions and learn writing tips at our Instagram Live Q&A sessions, and beat isolation while improving your writing skills at the weekly PJ-friendly writing groups.
  • Graduates: Meet with our advisors in one-to-one appointments. Join the online writing community at the Virtual Writing Cafés, learn how to present your work at Speak Like a Scholar, or get moving on your dissertation at Dissertation Boot Camp.
  • Faculty and Instructors: Request custom workshops for your courses, join the Waterloo writing community at the Virtual Writing Cafés, or make progress on your article, book, or chapter in one-to-one meetings with our faculty specialist.

Co-op students can get help finding a job and find supports to successfully work remotely, develop new skills, access wellness and career information, and contact a co-op or career advisor.

The Centre for Career Action assists undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, staff, faculty, and alumni through navigating career services that are right for them. You can attend a one-on-one appointment or same day drop-in session at the CCA for assistance with cover letter writing, career planning and much more. You can also book an appointment online or visit our Live Chat to connect with our Client Support Team. The CCA is here to help you.

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 TreatmentGood2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline available to all students.

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 Indigenous Initiatives Office is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the university Indigenization strategy.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at St. Paul’s University College, provides support and resources for Indigenous students, and educational outreach programs for the broader community, including lectures, and events.

WUSA supports for students:

Peer support (Visit to book an appointment):

  • MATES – Available Monday to Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (online only)
    • Support sessions available in the following languages: Cantonese, English, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, and Urdu.
  • Glow Centre – Available Monday to Friday,  4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (online only)
  • RAISE – Available Monday to Friday – Varied hours (online only)
  • Women’s Centre – Available Monday to Friday, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (online only)

Bike Centre – Will be reopening soon. Check for current operating times.

Campus Response Team, ICSN, Off Campus Community and Co-op Connection all available online. Check for more details.

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at

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 is available.

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.

Livestream Exercises for Waterloo staff: Join us for an energy boosting Bootcamp or a fast and effective Express Home Workout! Open to UW Staff and subsidized by the Staff Excellence Fund.

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. 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

Warrior Rec Free Programs for Students, January to February. Wide range of free opportunities available to keep students active and healthy including:Fitness Classes (On-Demand), Health and Mindfulness Webinars, Personalized Nutrition Guides, Personal Training Consultations, Small Group Training and Warrior Reset. Register today.

Drop-in to Warrior Virtual Study Halls on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Come together in this virtual space to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

Indigenous Speakers Series presents Dr. Evan Adams, Thursday, March 4, 12 noon.

Virtual Writing Café, Friday, March 5, 9:00 a.m.

IT Seminar: Move to O365 SharePoint Online Project, Friday, March 5, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Join online

Master of Taxation Virtual Information Session, Friday, March 5, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. To register visit

Global Spark Thought Leader Panel: Innovation in Global Health, Saturday, March 6, 11:00 a.m.

International Women's Day Virtual Breakfast, Monday, March 8, 8:30 a.m.

NEW - Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity 50th anniversary celebration, Monday, March 8, 5:00 p.m.

Additional position available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable on the UWaterloo Talent Acquisition System (iCIMS):

  • Job ID# 2020-6050 - Resident Attendant - After Hours - Campus Housing, USG 2