Thursday, July 29, 2021

Fall term music ensembles available for all students

The University's orchestra performs.

By Jace Jaeden Ellis.

No matter your program, no matter your year, anyone can participate in music ensembles at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo. Joining an ensemble is an ideal way for any student to keep music in their lives, especially those who are studying another subject and are craving musical opportunities. Music provides opportunities to develop skills and grow, to form lasting bonds through community, and to heal the mind and improve mental wellness by relieving the stresses of intense study.

A profile shot of singers in the Chamber Choir singing.“For me, music has been a way to connect and form friendships with many different people,” said Tessa, a second-year student involved in the Chamber and Chapel choirs. “It is also a way for me to express myself, and playing instruments or singing helps me to de-stress.”

At Grebel, there is an ensemble for everyone, depending on the musical interests and abilities. In fall 2021, most of the department’s ensembles are planning to return to in-person rehearsals with safety in mind and health protocols in place. For those who like to sing, the department will offer three ensembles, the Chamber Choir, Chapel Choir and a Vocal Techniques Ensemble.  The University Choir will return as an offering in Winter term of 2022.  Chapel Choir focuses on hymns, worship songs, and other styles of sacred music. Chamber Choir is a 24-person voice ensemble that offers ways to engage with and learn a wide range of repertoire. Vocal Techniques is presented in a lab format and will be offered online over Zoom in Fall 2021. It teaches the foundations of singing, vocal theory and techniques, and allows students to sing using their learned skills.

“The music department is excited to be coming back to in-person music making after about 18 months of rehearsing and performing virtually,” said Professor Mark Vuorinen, director of the Chamber Choir and chair of the Music Department.  “Our rehearsal process may look a little different than it did before the pandemic, so that students and faculty can remain safe, but being able to create music together again after so long will be wonderful.”

Instrumental ensembles include the Jazz Ensemble, Balinese Gamelan, Instrumental Chamber Ensembles (ICE), and orchestra@uwaterloo. The Jazz Ensemble features instruction if a variety of Jazz styles, for a rhythm section, brass and winds. The Balinese Gamelan provides participants the opportunity to perform with guest musicians and dancers during concerts, while learning how to play Balinese percussion instruments. ICE Ensembles perform a wide variety of classical music from all time periods in small groups of 3 to 8 musicians, based on ability. And orchestra@uwaterloo is a large, 60-70 person group of faculty, staff, graduate students, and alumni in addition to undergraduate students, and includes members across academic faculties, especially Math and Engineering.

Both students and ensemble directors are looking forward to in-person music.

“I think that all of us have learned enormously from the process of playing chamber music online: instructors as much as students," said Ben Bolt-Martin, ICE director. "I’m really glad for the opportunity to stretch my knowledge, but I’m very much ready to get back to working in-person. The art of chamber music is a social one and, while no two groups function identically, fundamentally, the act of playing chamber music together really is about sharing a little bit of yourself with your fellow players and with an audience. Without being together in one space, there is something missing from this process and I for one can’t wait until we can return to being fully immersed in the chamber music process.”  

Each ensemble consists of regular group practices and performances, and as long as participants regularly attend, the ensemble may be taken for credit without an assigned grade. Depending on the ensemble they choose to join, interested individuals must sign up for an audition or interviews. With so many options to choose from, all students can enjoy a fun way to fill their lives with the joy and benefits of music.

Playing music is a great way to take a break from courses and other stressful commitments,” said Lila Huang, a fourth-year student involved in the Orchestra and Instrumental Chamber Ensembles. “Taking some time each week to shift our focus to a different field that’s also meaningful to us helps us meet new people who share this common interest in music, de-stress, and become more well-rounded.”

The Music Department looks forward to seeing many students join in person Ensembles in the 2021 fall term. See our website for the list and audition information.

2021 Golden Jubilee Research Excellence Award winners named

This article was originally published on the Faculty of Mathematics website.

Eduardo Martin-Martinez, an associate professor in applied mathematics, and Sophie Spirkl, an assistant professor in combinatorics and optimizationThe Faculty of Mathematics Research Office recently announced its 2021 recipients of the Golden Jubilee Research Excellence Award. Eduardo Martin-Martinez, an associate professor in applied mathematics, and Sophie Spirkl, an assistant professor in combinatorics and optimization, were this year’s winners.

The Golden Jubilee Research Excellence Award recognizes outstanding research contributions from early and mid-career faculty members. It may be awarded based on a faculty member’s overall research program or based on a single, highly influential paper.

Eduardo Martin-Martinez’s research focuses on relativistic quantum information. He previously won the John Charles Polanyi Prize for Physics and the Ontario Early Researcher Award. He is cross-appointed with the Department of Physics, an associate faculty member at the Institute for Quantum Computing, an affiliate faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and a faculty member with the Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics.

Sophie Spirkl’s research focuses on geometric and structural graph theory. She previously won the Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Fellowship from Princeton University. Spirkl and a team of co-investigators have recently made a significant breakthrough on the Erdős-Hajnal conjecture, with promising indications of further progress coming.

COVID-19 antibody research project seeks participants

A woman in PPE performs a lab test.Do you want to contribute to research that will help the scientific community understand how our bodies build immunity to COVID-19?

This project led by Professors Brian Dixon of Biology and Marc Aucoin of Chemical Engineering seeks to understand the nature of immune responses to COVID19 in all members of the campus community, regardless of vaccination status. The project is funded by the COVID19 Immunity Task Force of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The research team is recruiting participants for a study tracking COVID-19 antibodies in individuals associated with the University of Waterloo campus. You do not have to be working on campus, just a student, faculty or staff member. This can be anyone, but we are especially looking for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 (whether they were symptomatic or asymptomatic at the time of infection).

Participants will be asked to fill out a survey on medical history and social factors then provide 3 blood samples over 9 months for analysis of antibodies and memory T cell responses. This will take approximately 60 minutes of your time the first time and less than 60 minutes the second and third time. Blood draws will take place at Health Services on the University of Waterloo campus. Blood group type will be tested, and a questionnaire of risk factors will be conducted (e.g. on/off-campus housing status, time spent on campus vs. doing remote work, etc.).

This study has been reviewed by, and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Board.

Participants will be given a 5$ gift card after their first test and will have a chance to win 1 of 10 50$ gift cards after completion of their second and third tests.

Participants of both sexes, ages (18+) and backgrounds are encouraged to participate but need to be faculty, staff or students of the University of Waterloo.

Please e-mail for more information or if you’re interested in participating in this study. You may also participate by registering on the study's webpage.

From backyard offices to backstabbing books, here are the notes of the day

Engineering student Charlie Frise was recently profiled by BlogTO for his efforts to take advantage of the COVID lockdown by building backyard offices for employees who need some innovative work-from-home space. Backyard offices, what a concept.

The cover of Family of Killers showing a knife.Stephen Briggs, associate director, utilities in Plant Operations has published a novel entitled "Family of Killers: Memoirs of an Assassin" via independent publisher Black Rose Writing. "David is pulled from his bed; he is seven. His father, freelancing for British intelligence, is identified while attempting to assassinate a terrorist. Now a wanted man, he must relocate his family from Northern Ireland to Canada," says the book's promotional blurb. "David is raised in the family's business. A business that, eliminates those that can't keep secrets, sells weapons around the world, and hides those that need protection. As a teen David struggles with his future in the family business and his mother's desire to have him live a customary life. Nigel, the man that identified David's father, entangles himself with David and his family again. Now, David is determined to meet Nigel, and utilize the skills he has developed."

Michelle Radman poses with an image of Tinkerbell the fairy in her hands.Michelle Radman of Co-operative and Experiential Education had a magical moment recently when she was included in a PR Daily article in which readers shared what Disney character best described their approach to work. For the record, Michelle likens herself to Tinkerbell: fearless, sassy and stubborn. Keep sprinkling that fairy dust, Michelle.

There are two upcoming innovation, coaching and networking opportunities for all Waterloo undergraduate and graduate students at the GreenHouse Social Impact Incubator. Apply to the Workplace Innovation Program if you’d like to make a meaningful impact within a team by tackling challenges with local organizations. Apply to the Social Innovators in Training Program if you have a problem or venture you’d like to work on. The deadline to apply is August 5.

Link of the day

Rowr: it's International Tiger Day

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.

Course templates are 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):

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 has virtual services and programs to help undergrads, grad students, postdocs and faculty members with academic writing.

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 continues to offer virtual access to learning and research materials as well as through their book pickup and delivery services. Davis Centre Library study space is open by appointment Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special Collections & Archives can also be accessed by appointment. Library staff are available for questions via Ask Us. Full details of current service offerings can be found on their Services Updates page. The Library has also 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 Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) supports all members of the University of Waterloo campus community who have experienced, or been impacted, by sexual violence. This includes all students, staff, faculty and visitors on the main campus, the satellite campuses, and at the affiliated and federated Waterloo Institutes and Colleges. For support, email: or visit the SVPRO website.

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  - MATES, Glow Centre, RAISE, Women’s Centre - Visit to book an appointment

Bike Centre – Open via Appointments and Rentals

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 caps@wusa.caMore 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 (Online Fitness)

Fitness Classes (CIF GYM 3). Power Yoga, HIIT and Zumba. Only $4/class. Advanced registration required.

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

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.

Renison English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

Spring 2021 Wellness Sessions are here. Register for sessions on Building Working Relationships, Self-Care Strategies During COVID-19, and more. To learn more about each workshop being offered this term and how to register, visit

PhD oral defences

Planning. Milton Friesen, “Social Imaging: Social Capital and Spatial Use Patterns with Potential Correlations”. Supervisor, Rob Feick. Available upon request from the Faculty of Environment, Administrator, Graduate Studies. Oral defence Tuesday, August 3, 9:00 a.m.

Physics & Astronomy. Yigit Yargic, “Born Reciprocal Representations of the Quantum Algebra.” Supervisor(s), Lee Smolin. Thesis available by request from SGO – Oral defence Tuesday, August 3, 11:00 a.m.

Psychology. Brandon Goulding, "Beyond causality: Heuristics for inferring possibility." Supervisor, Ori Friedman. Available upon request from the Faculty of Arts, Graduate Studies and Research Officer. Oral defence Wednesday, August 4, 1:00 p.m.

School of Public Health and Health Systems. Elle Wadsworth, "The effect of price and retail availability on the use of illegal and legal non-medical cannabis in Canada and the United States." Supervisor, David Hammond. Email Health Graduate Administration for a copy. Oral defence Thursday, August 5, 9:00 a.m.

Pure Mathematics. Aasaimani Thamizhazhagan, "On the structure of invertible elements in certain Fourier-Stieltjes algebras." Supervisors, Nico Spronk, Brian Forrest. Thesis available from Oral defence Thursday, August 5, 10:30 a.m.

Applied Mathematics. Hyung Jin Kim, "Universe Beyond Inflation and ΛCDM." Supervisors, Ghazal Geshnizjani, Florian Girelli. Thesis available from Oral defence Thursday, August 5, 1:00 p.m.

Environment, Resources and Sustainability. Barbara Davy, “Wyrd Ecology”. Supervisor, Stephen Quilley. Available upon request from the Faculty of Environment, Administrator, Graduate Studies. Oral defence Friday, August 6, 1:00 p.m.