Waterloo's distinguished teachers named for 2021
The Distinguished Teacher Awards for 2021 will be presented to four faculty members, according to a report submitted by the DTA Selection Committee at yesterday’s meeting of the University's Senate. Associate Vice-President, Academic David DeVidi made the announcement, which includes a posthumous award.
Professor Dan Wolczuk from the Faculty of Mathematics is well known at the University of Waterloo for the boundless energy that he brings to his teaching. His dedication to teaching shines through both inside and outside of the classroom. A former student writes, “he has an unsurpassed commitment to teaching not just the material of his courses but study habits and life-skills that promote life-long learning in his students.” Other students note that Wolczuk’s enthusiasm is unparalleled, and that the palpable excitement he exudes when teaching is infectious. Colleagues say that Wolczuk delves deep into learning how to teach effectively, as he is always analyzing the effectiveness of teaching methods and student performance to ensure the best learning experience for students. Notably, one of his main focuses in his lecture series is the merit of a growth mindset. Dan continuously reminds his students that the main limitations they have with respect to their own learning are those that they set for themselves. Professor Dan Wolczuk was awarded Instructor of the Year from the UWaterloo Mathematics Student Society and the Distinction in Teaching award from the Mathematics Faculty in 2013. Many believe that Wolzuck’s success has been based around his enormous capacity for compassion and empathy, which he extends to everyone with whom he works.
Robin Duncan, an Associate Professor from the Faculty of Health, puts her students at the centre of her teaching, and has a sustained record of teaching excellence in the Kinesiology courses that she teaches. Professor Duncan not only has a commitment to personal involvement and outstanding effort on behalf of her students, but she also has a commitment to innovation and deep learning, which is evident in her efforts to employ experiential exercises that encourage students to reflect on current issues. Using a student-centered approach and a variety of teaching techniques, Duncan also ensures that she addresses a true diversity of learners. One past student notes that, “by allowing students to work through tasks such as creating mini-review papers, and peer evaluations, Dr. Duncan not only taught students to write effectively, but also critique and proof read effectively as well.” Colleagues say that Professor Duncan’s direct efforts to ensure her students have the best possible academic training, including effective communication, is a key element of ensuring that Kinesiology graduates can make the most of their future opportunities. Students praise Duncan’s successful transition to remote teaching, and her dedication to responding to student questions. It is clear that Professor Duncan has a strong commitment to those she teaches and supports her students through their many endeavours both inside and outside the classroom.
Suzanne Kearns, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, is commonly described as a catalyst of success for University of Waterloo’s aviation students. She consistently finds ways to bring students engaging and interactive learning material, and develops her courses in a way that challenges students to grasp concepts on a deep level, ensuring useful knowledge is carried forward with them into their careers. One student notes, “Dr. Kearns always strived to provide us with the best knowledge and learning environment, challenging us academically, while empathetically supporting us in our passions and pursuits.” Professor Kearns encourages leadership in her students, and over the past two year has led efforts to create the Waterloo Aviation Research Cluster. She has also fostered a community of aviation students by helping to create the UW Aviation Society. Kearns’ colleagues praise her dedication to student supervision, noting that she not only provides academic guidance to students but also strongly supports their career goals. Industry colleagues also praise her work, which “has not only had an impact beyond the classroom, it has had an impact around the world,” including extensive work with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations and the source of international aviation safety standards and policy. Professor Kearns has shown a deep passion for the aviation industry, and ensures that this passion translates into education for her students.
Igor Ivkovic was a Lecturer and the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Systems Design Engineering. He was greatly admired by students and colleagues for his consistent enthusiasm and genuine passion for teaching. Igor’s lasting impact on his students has been profound; he tirelessly created the best learning environment and experience for all his learners. In nominating Igor for this award, students highlight his “Igor CARES™ approach,” which outlined his goals and commitment as a course instructor and mentor: Clear and interactive lectures, Approachable and helpful, Resources and materials for studying and practice, Engaging application of theory in practical scenarios, and Student success inside and outside the classroom. Ivkovic had a strong history of excellent teaching at the University of Waterloo. As one student notes, “Dr. Ivkovic’s kindness and passion for teaching remains unmatched. This was very evident during the sudden transition from in-person to online teaching.” Students agree that Igor’s boundless positivity and passion for teaching was always evident, whether it was greeting every student by name, always making himself available for his students, or emailing first year students to help with their transition to university. Igor’s empathy was at the forefront of his teaching.
Professor Ivkovic passed away in November 2020.
Since its inception in 1975, over 150 Distinguished Teacher Awards (DTAs) have been awarded to exemplary instructors at the University of Waterloo. The DTA is awarded to four instructors annually at the March meeting of Senate.
Check back in tomorrow's Daily Bulletin for the photos and citations of the winners of this year's Amit and Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student (AETS).
Geological engineering appoints its first woman director
This article originally appeared on the Geological Engineering website.
Jen Parks, a University of Waterloo alumnus, has become the first woman to lead Waterloo’s geological engineering since the program was launched almost 40 years ago.
Parks (BSc ’00 and PhD ‘10, geological and earth sciences) holds a limited engineering license as of 2016.
She worked as an undergraduate instructor and academic advisor for the earth and environmental sciences department in Waterloo’s Faculty of Science for the past two years. She teaches courses in the areas of mineralogy, petrology and field mapping, all subjects that are part of the core geological engineering curriculum.
In her new role, Parks plans to solidify geological engineering as a unique program within Engineering.
“My goal is to increase awareness of what geological engineering is, particularly with high school students,” she says. “I also want to increase our ability to attract top-tier students to the program.”
She will also focus on increasing community connections within geological engineering between the Faculties of Engineering and Science, students and professors, and students and alumni.
Parks began her term as director of geological engineering, part of Waterloo's civil and environmental engineering department, on March 1.
The show must go on: adapting live theatre to the pandemic
By Eloise Fan. This article originally appeared in the Winter/Spring 2021 issue of Arts & Letters.
The transition to online learning in the last few terms has unearthed many new challenges for the Theatre and Performance program at UWaterloo. However, with challenges come opportunities to continue pushing the dynamic boundaries of theatre creation.
Before the pandemic, all courses and productions were held in person. Students in technical production classes learned hands-on skills with lighting, sound, and carpentry equipment. Audiences filled the seats of the Theatre of the Arts.
The rehearsal process is one area that has been fundamentally changed by the pandemic. Each scene from this term’s production, scenes from carried away on the crest of a wave, is staged with social distancing in mind. When maintaining a six-foot distance is not possible, performers wear face shields in addition to their face masks.
Though it might seem restrictive to have actors maintain social distancing on stage, director Andy Houston notes that in some ways this adds to the resonance of the performance. “These stories represent glimpses of the human spirit, facing enormous adversity yet driven by a will to come together for reflection and sharing — a desire that our own pandemic-impacted world knows all too well.”
carried away on the crest of a wave by David Yee is a series of stories that follow the impacts of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as they resonate globally and move us with the power of water and the beauty of human resilience. The deadliest tsunami in recorded history, the waves killed over 250,000 people from forty-six countries as they struck the coasts of fourteen nations spanning two continents.
Seven senior Theatre and Performance majors comprise the core of the creative team, representing a culmination of their undergraduate degree. “The staging of scenes from carried away on the crest of a wave will reveal the effects of a global natural disaster through a surreal lens,” Houston explains. “In the ebb and flow of trauma, the unconscious and perceptual space of dreams will exist alongside and within our experience and understanding of reality.”
As the program’s first ever live-streamed production, scenes from carried away on the crest of a wave aims to connect our communities in times of uncertainty through the medium of live theatrical performance. Though performing and directing for film and for the stage are two very different arts, the cast will not be modifying their performances for the cameras in the room. Instead, varied camera placement around the stage allows for more creative freedom to capture the actors’ movements, and convey the staging of the play through a weave of perspectives from each camera.
May Nemat Allah, a student in her fifth and final year of Arts and Business, Theatre and Performance at UWaterloo, is juggling responsibilities as an actor, Assistant Production Manager, and Dramaturg. “What I am most excited about for this show is learning more about online theatre and the world of livestreaming events. For artists, audiences, and communities, the silence of theatres all over the world has been deafening and unsettling”, she says. “Livestreaming provides us an opportunity to re-engage with our work within the restrictions of a challenging and interesting alternate theatrical experience.”
The next installment of the CrySP Speaker Series on Privacy will feature David Evans of the University of Virginia on Monday, March 29 at 1:30 p.m. When Models Learn Too Much deals with problems inherent in statistical machine learning, which uses training data to produce models that capture patterns in that data. "When models are trained on private data, such as medical records or personal emails, there is a risk that those models not only learn the hoped-for patterns, but will also learn and expose sensitive information about their training data," says the lecture abstract. "Several different types of inference attacks on machine learning models have been found, and methods have been proposed to mitigate the risks of exposing sensitive aspects of training data. "In this talk, I will give an overview of a variety of different inference risks for machine learning models, talk about strategies for evaluating model inference risks, and report on some experiments by our research group to better understand the power of inference attacks in more realistic settings, and explore some broader the connections between privacy, fairness, and adversarial robustness."
Evans is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia where he leads a research group focusing on security and privacy (https://uvasrg.github.io).
Here's the latest Nutrition Month "Myth vs. Fact" supplied by Health Services Dietitian Sandra Ace:
Myth: The ketogenic diet is a safe and effective plan for weight loss.
Fact: While those who follow the diet strictly may experience greater weight loss in the first few months, a review of studies found that after 12 to 24 months weight loss was less than 1 kg. The long term impact on health needs further research.
Ketogenic diets have been used for more than 100 years, since they were discovered to be effective for treating epilepsy in children. Today the “keto” diet is the probably the most popular fad diet for losing weight, promising quick results and targeting body fat. The ketogenic diet severely restricts carbohydrate intake to force the body to turn to fat for fuel, a metabolic process called ketosis. Although there are some variations, the diet limits carbohydrate to 20 g or less per day to ensure the body moves into and remains in ketosis. Unlike other low carb diets, protein is also limited to some extent. Eating too much protein will allow for glucose production (through gluconeogenesis) and will keep the body from achieving ketosis. Consequently, fat makes up the bulk of the calories in this diet – about 70 per cent. There is little regard given to the type of fat eaten. Higher fat cuts of meat, butter, cheese, coconut oil and other saturated sources of fats are encouraged. Grains and legumes are not allowed because of their carb content and even fruit and many vegetables are off limits. A small serving of berries is allowed daily and veggies are limited to leafy greens and other very low carbohydrate choices.
There is a limited amount of research on the ketogenic diet. Dietitians of Canada Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN®) reviewed existing research and concluded while there is good evidence that following a very low carbohydrate diet initially results in faster wight loss than a low-fat diet, the difference disappears when measured after a year. The ketogenic diet improved HDL-C (“good cholesterol”) and triglyceride levels, however LDL-C (“bad cholesterol”) levels also increased. Adverse effects have been reported, including fatigue, lightheadedness, constipation, diarrhea, headache, bad breath, muscle cramps, general weakness and rash. Without a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables, the intake of many nutrients could be low, including calcium, vitamin D, selenium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.
Like many fad diets, the keto diet may result in weight loss because it cuts out groups of foods, leading to a lower caloric intake. In the long term, as with other restrictive diets, most people will not find it sustainable and will regain the weight lost. Extreme diets not only interfere with family meals and social events, they can also impact your health and may harm your relationship with food, leading to disordered eating. If you are considering trying the ketogenic diet, speak with your healthcare provider. The following resources provide more “food for thought”: What’s the deal with the Keto diet? (Government of Canada), Keto Diet 101: What to Know Before you Commit (International Food Information Council) and Should you try the keto diet? (Harvard Health Letter). A registered dietitian can help you look beyond fads and provide you with reliable, sustainable and life-changing advice to help you achieve your wellness goals.