President's Forum takes place today
The first President's Forum takes place today at 1:00 p.m.
This virtual event is the latest iteration of ongoing series of president's town hall meetings and will use the Hopin platform as the forum is conducted partly virtually, and partly in-person.
Attendees will hear from President Vivek Goel and a panel of Waterloo experts as they provide an overview of the key public health factors that will support in-person experiences for students and employees. The expert panelists include:
- Zahid Butt, assistant professor, School of Public Health Sciences;
- Kelly Grindrod, associate professor, School of Pharmacy;
- John Hirdes, professor, School of Public Health Sciences.
Vice-President, Academic & Provost James Rush will give an operational update on the University’s plans for the fall and beyond, and Vice-President, Research and International Charmaine Dean will provide an overview of the impacts that the staged, safe return to campus will have for researchers at the University.
Marilyn Thompson, associate provost, human resources will moderate a Q&A session following the leaders' presentations. Attendees will be able to pose questions live on the Hopin platform.
The event takes place today from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Hopin.
Shayan Majidy wins prestigious Vanier Scholarship
This article was originally featured on the Faculty of Science news website.
Shayan Majidy, a PhD candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has earned the prestigious Vanier Scholarship award for his research achievements and his work in quantum computing education.
Maijdy, currently studying under Professor Raymond Laflamme, and also a member of the Institute of Quantum Computing (IQC), has been interested in two questions during his PhD: what are the limitations to our current tests of quantum behaviour; and can we gain a thermodynamic advantage from quantum mechanics?
To investigate the limits of one of the most well-studied tests of quantum behaviour, the Leggett-Garg inequalities, Majidy partnered with Jonathan Halliwell at Imperial College in London. They identified experimental systems that demonstrate quantum effects that go undetected by these inequalities. Thus highlighting the possibility of false-negative tests of quantum behaviour.
In his second project, Majidy was interested in recent theoretical results claiming the existence of thermodynamic advantages from quantum mechanics. Majidy, alongside Nicole Yunger Halpern at the University of Maryland, helped bridge the gap between these results and their experimental tests by developing an algorithm that will allow scientists to test these claims with different physical systems such as superconducting qudits, ultracold atoms, and trapped ions.
Majidy has also been building bridges between students entering graduate school and the field of quantum computing. Along with Professors Raymond Laflamme and Chris Wilson from the Faculty of Engineering, Majidy has been writing a textbook on the physics of the different types of quantum computers that are being developed at IQC.
“A text on experimental quantum computing is something I wished was available when I first came to IQC,” says Majidy. “Our hope is that this text will help other students who are newly entering the field of quantum computing.”
In addition to his PhD and textbook, Majidy also founded a non-profit organization, Unentangled, which has allowed him to introduce students to innovative research happening at the University of Waterloo and help them explore what science is. He hopes to bring these ideas to a wider cross-section of society — particularly to youth who may not have equal opportunities to experience higher-level science.
The Vanier Scholarships were developed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to attract and retain world-class doctoral students worldwide and establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. Vanier scholars are chosen based on their academic excellence, research potential, and leadership qualities. Each successful candidate will receive $50,000 annually for three years, with an additional $5,000 to $10,000 annually from the University of Waterloo’s President’s Graduate Scholarship.
Campus community discusses racial inequities at inaugural anti-racism book club
More than 65 University of Waterloo community members engaged in conversations about equity, diversity, inclusion (EDI) and anti-racism, as they participated in the first-ever Anti-racism book club on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
During the virtual lunch-time session, facilitated by Christopher Taylor (PhD), Black equity strategist, anti-racism advisor, and lecturer in the Department of History and the Arts First program, participants reviewed and discussed the book How to be an Anti-racist, by Ibram X. Kendi.
Following a spirited discussion about Kendi’s suggestions to become an anti-racist, participants proposed actions that may be taken to confront racial inequities in University policies that could grant power, privilege, opportunities, and resources, to one group over another. One of the key takeaways was the need for UWaterloo to be more proactive in assessing and addressing inequities in its policies and guidelines, with specific suggestions made for the institution to consider conducting a racial equity assessment of all its policies.
“Being an anti-racist involves more than saying I’m not racist,” Taylor explained. “It involves working to change policies, practices, and procedures that create or perpetuate disparities among racialized groups. I’m therefore so pleased that we had this opportunity to have these candid conversations about racism and inequities.”
A new initiative, organized by the President’s Anti-racism Task Force (PART), the book club provides a safe space for the University community to encourage conversations about EDI, racism, and anti-racism. The book club is one of several ongoing initiatives geared towards promoting education, awareness and a deeper understanding of race, culture, and ethnicity across campus.
Organizers have reported that feedback obtained from an anonymous satisfaction survey revealed that 100 per cent of the participants who responded thought that the event was helpful, relevant, and timely, with several respondents noting that they appreciated that practical recommendations specific to UWaterloo were discussed.
Led by various members of the campus community, each month, a book from PART’s carefully curated list will be reviewed and discussed. These books highlight the complexities of issues such as white fragility, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in Canada, the Indian Act, and the equity myth. Sessions will run from July 2021 to June 2022.
The second session, slated for Tuesday, August 17, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. will discuss the book 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality by Bob Joseph. This book club session will be facilitated by Jean Becker, senior director, indigenous initiatives (operating as interim AVP, Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion). Members of the University community can register for the second Anti-racism book club on the anti-racism website. If you would like to receive notifications for future sessions, please sign up here.
COVID-19 and a cross-country challenge
By Beth Bohnert. This article was originally posted in the Spring 2021 issue of Waterloo Magazine.
In early 2020, Bryce Giesbrecht (OD ’21) was looking forward to working with patients in eye clinics in Manitoba and Newfoundland as part of the externships for his optometry studies.
“Externships are so important because they get you out into the real world,” says Giesbrecht, who graduates this year. “They help you learn how to explain conditions and medications to patients and understand how they feel. Without that practical experience, I don’t think you’d do very well in your first few years of practice.”
Giesbrecht had bought a car back home in Regina and planned to ship it to Waterloo so he could drive to his externships. Then the pandemic hit and he found himself stranded, with no way to get to his first externship in Dauphin, Man. – 2,400 kilometers away.
The only solution was to fly back to Regina, get the car and then drive to Manitoba. But the cost of flying home was money he didn’t have.
Fortunately, the story doesn’t end with Giesbrecht hitchhiking to Regina. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Waterloo donors, he was able to pay for his trip home and soon he was on the road to Dauphin. This spring, he completed his final externship in St. John’s, NL.
Donors provide more than $700K for emergency support
Giesbrecht is one of many Waterloo students who received financial assistance through the Student Emergency Support Fund. Donations to the fund created bursaries that allowed these students to meet unexpected pandemic-related expenses that could have jeopardized their studies.
After the initial program ended, the fund continued to help students with expenses related to virtual learning. In total, 1,661 students received an incredible $776,513 in support.
Waterloo student helps save a woman's sight
Giesbrecht’s externships gave him invaluable experience, including helping to save the sight of a woman with a retinal detachment. He earned the clinical hours needed to complete his degree and prepare for his licensing exams. Best of all, he was offered a job at an optometry clinic in Regina.
Looking back, Giesbrecht has nothing but gratitude for the donors who helped make what could have been a stressful externship experience so much easier.
“Because of this funding, I was able to reduce my financial burden. I am truly grateful that there were generous people able to help students out.”