Monday, January 23, 2023

Mathematics remembers Ken Seng Tan

Professor Ken Seng Tam delivers a presentation.

A message from the Faculty of Mathematics.

We are very greatly saddened to announce that our beloved friend and colleague, Professor Ken Seng Tan, passed away on January 1, 2023. 

Ken Seng Tan completed his BMath, MMath, and PhD in Actuarial Science at the University of Waterloo. His 1995 doctoral thesis won an award for Oustanding Achievement in Graduate Studies. It also marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship and collaboration with his supervisor, Phelim Boyle. 

Ken Seng joined the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science as faculty in 1998. He held a Canada Research Chair in Quantitative Risk Management from 2005 to 2010, and a University Research Chair from 2010 to 2015. From 2006 to 2015 he was Associate Director of the Institute for Quantitative Finance and Insurance and its successor, WatRISQ. Ken Seng also held a longterm visiting position at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, where he was active in supporting Chinese actuarial education and research.

Ken Seng Tan speaks at a podium. 

Between 2015 and 2020, Ken Seng was the Chief Actuarial Advisor of the Risk Management, Economic Sustainability, and Actuarial Science Development in Indonesia (READI) project. This was a major venture, based in Waterloo and largely funded through Global Affairs Canada. The project worked with universities, regulators, and insurers to develop actuarial science education, research, and practice throughout Indonesia. The success of the READI project was a direct result of Ken Seng's tireless leadership. In 2017, Ken Seng was awarded the Sun Life Fellowship of International Actuarial Science, in recognition of his work in Indonesia and China. 

In 2019, Professor Tan joined the Nanyang Business School in Singapore as Professor and Director of the Insurance Risk and Finance Research Centre. In 2021, he was awarded the President's Chair in Actuarial Risk Management at NTU. In his short tenure at NTU, Ken Seng built a thriving centre of excellence in actuarial science and risk management. 

Professor Ken Seng Tan speaks in front of a blue screen.

Ken Seng was a brilliant scholar. He published over 140 research papers and book chapters. He was active on the editorial boards of several major journals. He was awarded both the Hachemeister and the Redington Prize by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), who also named him as one of twenty-four inaugural Chartered Enterprise Risk Analysts for his thought leadership and pioneering achievements in the field. 

Above all, Ken Seng was a compassionate human being, with a unique capacity to form lasting friendships with people from all walks of life throughout the world. He was an inspiring mentor and role model to hundreds of students and colleagues. 

Ken Seng loved Waterloo and continued his connection after moving to Singapore, as an adjunct professor and frequent visitor. His wife Jennifer, and his sister Yuki, are both UW alumni. A memorial event to celebrate his life will be announced later. 

Consent Culture banner image.

A message from the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Office (SVPRO).

Consent Week is upon us, running from January 23 – 27. It is an opportunity for the UWaterloo community to engage in conversations, activities, and events focused on consent and building consent culture.

Talking about consent and building consent culture is work that is conducted throughout the year but consent week enables us to intentionally normalize dialogue about consent, enhance nuanced understandings of consent, explore how to engage in healthy, supportive, respectful relationships with one another, embed consent in our daily practices and highlight the support services available for students, staff and faculty.

Consent culture is a culture built upon mutual respect, understanding and support. Consent culture ensures no one is forced into anything, respects bodily autonomy, and is based on the belief that a person is always the best judge of their own needs and wants. When we create consent culture, we respect the emotional, the personal, and the physical needs of others we interact with professionally, casually, intimately, and sexually.

The Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Office – SVPRO, is planning consent week workshops and events to continue the building of consent culture on campus, including a consent slogan contest. SVPRO is reaching out to students to decide on a new consent slogan to be used for the remainder of 2023. The slogan may be used for resources, promotion, social media, websites and t-shirts.

For a full list of consent week events and to enter the consent slogan contest follow this link.

SVPRO supports all students, staff and faculty on the UWaterloo campus who have experienced or been impacted by sexual violence.

You can contact SVPRO by email at

For more information visit their website.

Waterloo athlete represents Canada on national sitting volleyball team

Athletes sitting on a floor with a volleyball net between them as part of a sitting volleyball game.

By Jon Parsons. This article was originally published on Waterloo News.

Nasif ChowdhuryA second-year undergraduate student in the Recreation and Sport Business program is a rising star in the sport of international sitting volleyball.

Nasif Chowdhury represents Canada and helped bring the men’s national team near the pinnacle of the sport in recent competition.

“I was at the Paralympic qualifiers for Tokyo in 2019, and unfortunately we just missed the qualification,” Chowdhury says. “In November 2022, we were in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Sitting Volleyball World Championships.”

At the recent World Championships, Chowdhury and the Canadian team ended up finishing eleventh, after a hard-fought win over Poland.

A disability-specific sport

As a paralympic sport, international sitting volleyball is for disabled people and has restrictions around which disability categories are eligible to play.

“My specific disability is a limb differential,” Chowdhury says. “I do have both my legs, but one is about eight inches shorter than the other. Because of that, I wear a prosthetic device that a lot of amputees wear.”

The sport has many similarities to volleyball in terms of the rules and gameplay. Some of the key differences are the size of the court, the height of the net and of course that the athletes are sitting on the ground.

But the word “sitting” should not convey the impression that the players are stationary. The athletes are never still, but instead constantly and swiftly shifting along the floor to dig up the ball, set hits and look to block.

Nasif Chowdhury putting in a serve at an exhibition event at the Waterloo Physical Activities Complex.

Nasif Chowdhury putting in a serve at an exhibition event at the Waterloo Physical Activities Complex. Dr. Christopher Taylor (AVP of EDI-R office) interviewed Nasif Chowdhury and Joyce Barlow on a recent edition of The Curve podcast.

“One of the main rules is that you have to keep your butt on the ground, but there’s some leniency,” Chowdhury explains. “There can be situations where your butt might be off the ground, but your whole lower back is on the ground. That’s totally fine. And you can move on the court by getting up slightly off the ground.”

Sports culture and camaraderie

As with many sports, sitting volleyball has a specific culture and sense of community among athletes. As Chowdhury describes it, the Canadian men’s national team is a group that welcomed him as family.

“We all have disabilities, and we all have amputations or prosthetics,” he says. “And we can all kind of laugh about it and have some fun with it. It’s something you don't necessarily get with regular sports, but we all know each other, we accept it, and we’ll make jokes.”

Nasif Chowdhury (in red shirt) and other participants at an exhibition of sitting volleyball at the University of Waterloo.

Nasif Chowdhury (in red shirt) and other participants at an exhibition of sitting volleyball at the University of Waterloo.

Asked to elaborate, Chowdhury recounts something that he’d never heard before getting involved with the sport but that now he’s heard countless times.

“Pass me my leg,” he says with a smile. “Say your teammate is coming off the court and hopping over to the bench, and he’s just like, ‘pass my leg.’ And you grab his prosthetic for him and hand it over.”

Chowdhury and other members of the Canadian men’s sitting volleyball team hosted an exhibition of the sport at the University of Waterloo as part of International Day for Persons with Disability in early December 2022.

Students can let their voices be heard with Voices 2023 zine

Voices 2023 banner image.

A message from the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA).

Do you know of Waterloo undergraduates who are passionate about photography, poetry writing, drawing, or painting? The Women’s Centre is launching their Voices 2023 zine this March. It’s their annual publication that showcases student creations and allows readers to view the world through an intersectional lens. Students can submit art pieces, like poetry, photography, paintings, drawings, etc., to capture their artistic expressions and student experiences.   

 Please share this opportunity with them. Submissions can be emailed to from now until Friday, February 10.  

Learn more about Voices at

Here's the first of this week's Consent Week Tips of the Day, supplied by the Sexual Violence and Prevention Response Office (SVPRO).

When thinking about consent it is important to reflect on the power and privilege you hold in various spaces. When someone has more power and privilege than someone else, it makes it difficult for the person with less power and privilege to say no.

Tip: Think about the power and privilege you hold in the various spaces you inhabit (e.g. on campus, in your home, socially with your friends). If you hold power think through how you can make those with less power feel more comfortable and confident making the decisions that are right for them (e.g. tell them you won’t be upset if they say no, set clear boundaries for yourself and ask them what their boundaries are, respect their boundaries).

This is just a reminder that the University’s emergency communication system will be tested today around 1:15 p.m. Emergency communication channels being tested include:

  • Tweets to @UWaterloo and @WatSAFEapp;
  • WatSAFE mobile app;
  • The ‘WatSAFE Desktop Notification’ on-screen pop-up for desktops and laptops; and
  • Portal alerts and push notifications.

More info about the test is available on the Watsafe website.

Curlers holding trophies pose with President Gerald Hagey in this undated photo.

Speaking of reminders: registration is now open for the 49th Annual UW Hagey BonspielThis event takes place on Saturday, February 25 at the Ayr Curling Club.

"No experience necessary! Fun is mandatory!" says a note from organizers. "Lessons and pairings with experienced curlers are available."

You can register online as of now. The registration fee is $45.00, which gets you two games of curling, morning and afternoon snacks, a sit-down luncheon and prizes.

Payment is by e-transfer or cheque, made out to Hagey Funspiel, and can be posted dated to February 17, 2023.

You can ask questions, drop off or send payment to Jim Howard, Human Resources, East Campus 1, X36451,

Link of the day

Back in the day, when you got the munchies, nothing else would do

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.

Canadian Graduate Quantum Conference, Tuesday, January 24, Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre.

NEW - Faculty info session: Definite-term contracts, Tuesday, January 24, 1:00 p.m., online.

Research Talks, “The AI Tsunami – Where will it take us?” Tuesday, January 24, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Jobsite Brewing Co., 45 Cambria Street, Stratford, Ontario. Registration is required as seating is limited.

NEW - Waterloo Womxn + Nonbinary Wednesdays: Goal-setting & Planning Tools workshop, Wednesday, January 25, 12:00 p.m., online.

Noon Hour Concert: The Virtuosic Violin, Bach, Waxman & More, Wednesday, January 25, 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel Chapel.

NEW - Faculty workshop: Navigating your first probationary term, Thursday, January 26, 1:00 p.m., online.

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

2SLGBTQ+ Fundamentals, Tuesday, January 31, 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon, online.

PhD oral defences

Computer Science. Anurag Murty Naredla, "Algorithms for Geometric Facility Location: Centers in a Polygon and Dispersion on a Line." Supervisor, Anna Lubiw. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Thursday, January 26, 9:30 a.m., online.

Global Governance. Jennifer Kandjii, "Xenophobic citizenship, unsettling space, and constraining borders: Assembling refugee exclusion in South Africa’s everyday." Supervisor, Suzan Ilcan. Available upon request from the Faculty of Arts, Graduate Studies and Research Officer. Oral defence Thursday, January 26, 1:00 p.m., remote participation.

Environment, Resources and Sustainability. Ignacio Aguilar, “Transforming electrical energy systems towards sustainability in a complex world: the cases of Ontario and Costa Rica”. Supervisor, Robert Gibson. Available upon request from the Faculty of Environment, Administrator, Graduate Studies. Oral defence Friday, January 27, 1:00 p.m.

Computer Science. Khaled Ammar, "Systems and Algorithms for Dynamic Graph Processing." Supervisors, M. Tamer Ozsu, Semih Salihoglu. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Friday, February 3, 2:00 p.m., online.