Friday, January 13, 2023

    Brandon Sweet
    University Communications

    The AI Tsunami - Where will it take us?

    The Research Talks logo.

    A message from the Office of Research.

    Join the next Research Talks, a public event and panel discussion on Tuesday, January 24, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. featuring members of Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute (Waterloo.AI) and local industry leaders who will speak about the current and future uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

    Panelists include:

    • Kesha Bodawala, Model Development Lead, P & P Optica (What’s in your food? Assessing the quality of food products using AI)
    • Evan Jones, Founder, Stitch Media (Incorporating AI into storytelling and virtual reality)
    • Sirisha Rambhatla, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering, University of Waterloo (AI and the future of healthcare)
    • Will Zhao, Assistant Professor, Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, University of Waterloo (Challenge of the Bots: Exploring the social impact of contextual conversational AI)

    This public event and panel discussion will take place at Jobsite Brewing Co., 45 Cambria Street, Stratford, ON. Please register to attend as seating is limited.

    Keeping tech talent in the region

    The Google sign at its Kitchener location.

    By Namish Modi. This article originally appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of Waterloo Magazine.

    Through its reputation and ability to provide impactful work, Google remains a local staple employer for University of Waterloo co-op students and an essential part of a booming downtown tech core. 

    Kaitlyn Barnett“Waterloo anchors Canada’s tech corridor,” says Kaitlyn Barnett (BSc’ 14), a Google campus outreach program manager. “Being in Kitchener-Waterloo is super valuable. We need to be here to attract and retain talent in Canada. It’s key to Google Waterloo’s success.” 

    Google’s Waterloo offices are its biggest centre in Canada. Google Waterloo engineers have helped develop notable products like Chrome and Gmail. Since opening in downtown Kitchener, there have been 211 work terms for Waterloo co-op students. Worldwide since 2004, there have been more than 1,000 Waterloo work terms at Google. 

    Construction is underway for a fourth Google building in Waterloo Region, with an 11-storey building on the corner of Breithaupt Street and Moore Avenue in downtown Kitchener. 

    The first Google office in the region was located at David Johnston Research & Technology Park at the University of Waterloo’s north campus. In 2011, Google moved to the Tannery in Kitchener and eventually moved to its primary location on Breithaupt Street. 

    Barnett believes that the University of Waterloo, which houses one of the bigger engineering and computer science programs and with one of the world’s largest co-op programs, makes it a good source of talent. “Waterloo Region, through its booming startup industry and hubs like Communitech and the Accelerator Centre, makes the area appealing for Google,” says Barnett. She was a Waterloo co-op student herself. 

    “(Google Waterloo) is a key engineering site for Canada, so it attracts a lot of talent,” says Barnett. “I think having proximity to the University of Waterloo and sourcing talent from the school helps us to build a pipeline of talent.” 

    Google hosts developmental workshops, alumni panels and interview workshops with Waterloo students that help retain and attract future-ready talent. 

    “You hear amazing things about Google from literally anybody you talk to anywhere,” says Hima Sheth, a second-year Computer Science student working as a software developer intern in spring 2022 at Google Waterloo. “I think Google’s reputation as such a huge engineering organization is a huge factor when picking a co-op role.” 

    An illustration of circuit boards under a glass dome.Barnett, speaking from personal experience, says, “the co-op program is hugely beneficial and gives students an edge when searching for jobs in the workforce post-graduation.”   

    “There are so many professional development skills that come out of being a co-op student that I attribute immensely to my career trajectory,” Barnett says. 

    What do Waterloo students bring to Google?

    As Google Waterloo offices continue to grow, so do the opportunities for co-op students.

    This spring, more than 20 students were working for Google locally. Currently, students are working in a hybrid model, with some days spent in the office and other days remote. 

    “I think students are happy to be back on site,” says Kerri Kudsia, intern staffing partner at Google Waterloo. 

    Kudsia found Waterloo students to be adaptive and willing to shift to remote work when it was necessary in 2020 because of the pandemic. 

    “I think hybrid offers flexibility. We have seen the success of hybrid as a key factor to how the future of the workforce is going,” Barnett says. “Of course, still having that in-person component allows for collaboration and community building.” 

    Waterloo’s standout students take on several roles at Google Waterloo, including software developers, engineers, UX engineers and technical research interns. 

    Luna Xiaowan LuLuna Xiaowan Lu (BCS’ 16) worked as a co-op student at multiple Google offices and is now a full-time software developer at the Waterloo Google office. 

    Lu says: “There are many benefits of working at Google as a co-op student, including learning a standard way to do things which helped prepare me for a career at the organization.”

    Through her work at Google, Lu became a better coder overall while working with more complex servers. The company culture, which is welcoming and helpful, persuaded her to pursue a full-time role at the organization. 

    “Once I had Google on my resume, it made it a lot easier for me to find future co-op jobs,” says Lu, who also had co-op work terms at research labs and startup organizations. “The environment at Google was supportive and helped me become a much more positive student in general.” 

    Lu believes having a variety of work projects makes Google appealing. She worked on Cloud infrastructure in one co-op term and on Google ads in another co-op term. 

    Sheth agrees that working on projects that have a real impact makes co-op terms that much better. In her role, Sheth writes design documents and works on the web side of her product. 

    “The sheer responsibility they trust you with is pretty amazing,” Sheth says. “I’ve learned to appreciate aspects of development like coding quality and readability, and it has opened my eyes a little bit more about what problems exist in the world and what problems people are trying to solve.” 

    Study refutes industry claims that ban on menthol cigarettes leads to increased use of illegal smokes

    A person holds up a hand to stop another from offering a cigarette from a pack.

    A new research study has found that banning menthol cigarettes does not lead more smokers to purchase menthols from illicit sources, contradicting claims made by the tobacco industry that the proposed ban of menthol cigarettes in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will lead to a significant increase in illicit cigarettes.

    Researchers at the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Waterloo evaluated the impact of federal and provincial menthol cigarette bans in Canada by surveying smokers of menthol and non-menthol cigarettes before and after Canada’s menthol ban. 

    Smokers were asked whether their usual cigarette brand was menthol-flavoured and to report their last brand purchased. Those who were still smoking after the menthol ban were also asked where they last purchased their cigarettes. 

    Results showed that after the ban, there was no significant change in the purchase of cigarettes from First Nations reserves, the main source of illicit cigarettes in Canada. 

    “The tobacco industry has a long history of claiming that policies to reduce smoking will lead to substantial increases in illicit trade,” said Dr. Janet Chung-Hall, a research scientist for ITC and lead author of the new study. “We can add the Canadian menthol ban to the long list of effective policies, such as graphic warnings and plain packaging, whose evaluation disproved the scare tactics by industry—showing that illicit trade did not, in fact, increase.”

    A 2022 study that combined the ITC Project data with data from a comparable Ontario evaluation study showed that the Canadian menthol ban led to an increase of 7.3 per cent in quitting among menthol smokers above that of non-menthol smokers. Projecting this effect to the U.S., whose Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed its own menthol ban, the ITC researchers estimate that a U.S. menthol ban would lead 1.33 million smokers to quit.

    “Our previous research from Canada and the Netherlands showed that a menthol cigarette ban leads to significant reductions in smoking,” said Dr. Geoffrey Fong, principal investigator of the ITC Project and professor of psychology and public health sciences at Waterloo. “These findings combine to provide powerful evidence in support of FDA’s proposed menthol ban.”

    Smoking is still the number-one preventable cause of disease and death around the world. Health authorities, including the World Health Organization, have long called for banning menthol in cigarettes because they promote smoking. Canada was one of the first countries to ban menthol cigarettes, with more than 30 countries implementing similar bans to date.  

    The study appears in the journal Tobacco Control.  

    Remembering Dr. Michael Smyth

    Dr. Michael Smyth in 1981.

    A message from Renison University College.

    Dr. Michael Smyth in a recent photo.It is with deep sadness that Renison University College announces the passing of long-time faculty member and former Associate Dean, Dr. Michael Smyth. Michael joined Renison in 1975 as a professor of Psychology in the College’s young Social Development Studies program. He quickly became a very popular lecturer, loved by students and colleagues alike. Michael was appointed Associate Dean in 1993, a position he would hold until his retirement in 2009. Michael was intensely proud of Renison and the Social Development Studies program. He was an excellent advocate for students, helping countless undergrads navigate the rules and regulations of higher education. Michael served on a variety of committees and working groups, including the Undergraduate Affairs Committee, forging a strong and lasting relationship with his colleagues at the University of Waterloo. 

    Visitation and funeral services will take place at Erb & Good Funeral Home, 171 King Street South, Waterloo, ON.

    Visitations: Saturday, January 14, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, January 15, 12:30. to 1:30 p.m.

    Funeral Service: Sunday, January 15, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

    Reception: Immediately following Service in Fireside Room

    Committal Service: In Spring

    The Service will be live streamed and then will be available on the Erb & Good web page for 60 days; the URL will be published on the Erb & Good website when available.

    Optometry and Vision Science recruiting for new ocular measurement study

    A young boy takes an eye exam with a special headset.

    We are recruiting children (aged 6-18) for a study at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science. This study seeks to compare the reliability and accuracy of new devices that measure prescription and eye length with existing validated instruments.

    This single visit study takes around 1 hour, and will involve repeated measurements of your child’s prescription and eye length with 4 different instruments, similar to those encountered at an optometrist’s office. All devices in this study are safe for use and conform with health and safety standards. We will be using anaesthetic and dilating eye drops. Children will receive $20 for their time and parking vouchers will be provided as needed.

    If you are interested in participating, or would like to book your first appointment, please contact Dr. Amy Chow ( Please provide the study ID “CALM when you email. This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through the University of Waterloo Research Ethics Board.

    Pedestrian pathway from UC to PAC set to open Saturday

    Plant Operations has announced that the pedestrian pathway from the University Club to the Lyle Hallman Institute and the Physical Activities Complex will be accessible for use on Saturday, January 14.

    Link of the day

    Lisa Marie Presley dead at 54

    When and Where to get support

    Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, immigration consulting, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

    Instructors looking for targeted support for developing online components for blended learning courses, transitioning remote to fully online courses, revising current online courses, and more please visit Agile Development | Centre for Extended Learning | University of Waterloo (

    Faculty, staff, post-doc and graduate student instructors can find upcoming teaching and learning workshops, self-directed modules and recordings of previous events on Centre for Teaching Excellence Workshops and Events page.

    Instructors can access the EdTech Hub to find support on Waterloo’s centrally supported EdTech tools. The Hub is supported by members of IST’s Instructional Technologies and Media ServicesCentre for Teaching ExcellenceCentre for Extended Learning and subject matter experts from other campus areas.

    Supports are available for employees returning to campus. Visit IST’s Hybrid Work and Technology guidelines and workplace protocols to assist with the transition.

    Students with permanent, temporary and suspected disabilities and disabling conditions (medical conditions, injuries, or trauma from discrimination, violence, or oppression) can register with AccessAbility Services for academic accommodations (classroom accommodations, testing accommodations, milestone accommodations).

    Instructors can visit AccessAbility Services' Faculty and Staff web page for information about the Instructor/Faculty role in the accommodation process. Instructors/Faculty members are legally required to accommodate students with disabilities. AccessAbility Services (AAS) is here to help you understand your obligations, and to offer services and resources to help you facilitate accommodations.

    The Writing and Communication Centre has in-person and virtual services to support grad and undergrad students, postdocs and faculty with any writing or communication project. Services include one-to-one appointmentsdrop-ins at Dana Porter Libraryonline workshopswriting groupsEnglish conversation practice, and custom in-class workshops.  

    Research Ethics: Find yourself with an ethical question, unsure if your work requires an ethics review, or need advice about putting together a research ethics application? Reach out to one of our friendly staff by booking a consultation or email us with your questions.

    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 (CCA) has services and programs to support undergrads, grad students, postdocs, alumni, and employees in figuring out what they value, what they’re good at, and how to access meaningful work, co-op, volunteer, or graduate/professional school opportunities. Questions about CCA's services? Live chat, call 519-888-4047, or stop by our front desk in the Tatham Centre 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

    Drop-in to in-person Warrior Study Halls on Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in DC and DP. Join a Peer Success Coach to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

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

    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 is here to help, both in person and online. Our spaces are open for access to book stacks, study space, computers and printers, and the IST Help Desk. For in-depth support, meet one-to-one with Librarians, Special Collections & Archives and Geospatial Centre staff. Access our resources online for anywhere, anytime learning and research. Full details on current services and hours are available on the Library’s COVID-19 Update webpage.

    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 Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Anti-Racism (EDI-R) works with students, faculty and staff across campus to advance equity and Anti-racism through evidence-based policies, practices and programs. If you have a concern related to Anti-racism and/or equity, please complete our intake form.

    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 Office of Indigenous Relations is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the University's Indigenization strategy.

    The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at United 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 - MATESGlow CentreRAISEWomen’s Centre - Click on one of the links to book an appointment either in person or online for the term.

    Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk 24/7 in the Student Life Centre. Drop-off locations are also open again in SLC, DC, DP, SCH, and all residences.

    Co-op Connection all available online. 

    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

    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.

    GSA-UW supports for graduate students: 

    The Graduate Student Association (GSA-UW) supports students’ academic and social experience and promotes their well-being.

    Advising and Support - The GSA advises graduate students experiencing challenges and can help with navigating university policies & filing a grievance, appeal, or petition.

    Mental Health covered by the Health Plan - The GSA Health Plan now has an 80 per cent coverage rate (up to $800/year) for Mental Health Practitioners. Your plan includes coverage for psychologists, registered social workers, psychotherapists, and clinical counselors.

    Dental Care - The GSA Dental Plan covers 60 to 70 per cent of your dental costs and by visiting dental professionals who are members of the Studentcare Networks, you can receive an additional 20 to 30 per cent coverage.

    Student Legal Protection Program - Your GSA fees give you access to unlimited legal advice, accessible via a toll-free helpline: +1-833-202-4571. This advice covers topics including housing disputes, employment disputes, and disputes with an academic institution.

    The Graduate House: Open Monday to Tuesday 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. We’re open to all students, faculty, staff, and community members. The Graduate House is a community space run by the GSA-UW. We’re adding new items to the menu. Graduate students who paid their fees can get discounts and free coffee.

    When and Where 

    Warriors Game Day Tickets and Season Passes, on sale now. Cheer on your Warriors W/M Basketball, Football W/M Hockey and W/M Volleyball teams at home during the 2022-23 season. Purchase today.

    Fitness and Personal Training - Registrations opened January 5 this winter with Personal Training and Small Group Training as well as a Free Warrior Workout Program.

    Knowledge Integration seminar: “Prioritizing Wellness”, featuring speaker Anvita Desai, BKI’21, Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Anti-Racism Specialist on Ontario Health’s Provincial Equity and Indigenous Health portfolio, Friday, January 13, 2:30 p.m., EV3-1408.

    Velocity presents Innovation Ecosystem Mixer, Friday, January 13, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., SCH 228.

    Master of Taxation Open House, Saturday, January 14, 9:30 a.m., 220 Yonge St, Unit 115, Toronto. To register visit

    Warriors Volleyball vs. RMC, Saturday, January 14, (W) 4:00 p.m., (M) 8:00 p.m., PAC. Warriors Night – first 10 teams to RSVP will receive free tickets. Buy your tickets today.

    Warrior Rec Instructional Programs registration deadline, Monday, January 16, 1:00 p.m. Find out more.

    Warrior Rec Intramurals registration deadline, Monday, January 16, 1:00 p.m. Sign up here.

    Senate meeting, Monday, January 16, 3:30 p.m., NH 3407.

    Introduction to Equity, Tuesday, January 17,  9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, online. 

    Master of Taxation, Virtual Information Session, full-time program, Tuesday, January 17, 4:00 p.m. To register visit

    NEW - WaterTalk | John Cherry: Groundwater is the key to a sustainable Earth, Wednesday, January 18, 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., ML Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages. Reception to follow. 

    Deadline to register for Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) "Getting Ready to Facilitate Online CoursesTA Training – Winter 2023" course, Monday, January 30.