Monday, February 6, 2023

Global Futures: Canada needs a health-care transformation

A 3D image of a human brain against an 80s vaporwave-aesthetic background.

This article is part of the Global Futures series.

Dr. Catherine Burns is the Chair in Human Factors in Health Care Systems and leads the University of Waterloo’s health initiatives. She is an expert in human-centred approaches to the design and implementation of advanced health-care technologies.

Burns also heads Waterloo's Transformative Health Technologies initiative, a collaboration spanning all faculties and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. We asked her how we can redesign our health systems to create better patient outcomes and more equitable access to care.

Read Burns’ perspective on how technology can help solve the challenges of our health-care crisis and transform the future of care

Advancement celebrates Black History Month

Office of Advancement Black History Month alumni banner featuring Waterloo alumni.

A message from the Office of Advancement.

The Office of Advancement is proud to celebrate the contributions and achievements of Black community members during Black History Month and throughout the year.

We invite you to learn about the important work of Black alumni, donors and partners. From building supportive networks for students and alumni, to launching ventures that improve lives, Black community members are driving meaningful change at our University and around the world.

Discover more on our Black History Month page.

Staff association to hold tribute event for Michael Herz

Michael Herz stands next to a yellow classic convertible sports car.

A message from the University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA).

To celebrate the life and achievements of Michael Herz, a long-standing member of the UWSA executive, please join the UWSA Presidents, Staff and the Board in a special tribute event to remember and celebrate Mike’s dedicated service to the UWSA.

The event will open with remarks from Agata Antkiewicz, UWSA Chair, but—in keeping with Mike’s preference to always focus on the individual—we would like to keep the tribute fairly informal. If you have a story about Mike that you would like to share, you are most welcome to present it yourself during the event or to draft something ahead of time and have it read out to the attendees. In either case, please contact Agata Antkiewicz ( to note your willingness to participate in the storytelling.

The special tribute will take place on February 16 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (hybrid format). In order to best accommodate those who would like to participate in the event, we ask that you please register no later than 4:00 p.m. on February 8. The on-campus location for the tribute as well as an online meeting link for those attending remotely will be announced after the registration deadline.

CEE launches Insights for Impact newsletter

Insights for Impact Newsletter banner image.

A message from Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE).

Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) has launched the new Insights for Impact newsletter. An evolution of the Work-Learn Institute’s Insights newsletter, the bi-monthly newsletter offers valuable research-based best practices and tips to help employers engage with emerging talent.

Read the first edition of the newsletter which is focused on sustainability through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Be sure to subscribe to receive future emails.

New mathematical model shows how the body regulates potassium

A high-tech body scan showing human organs

Having levels of potassium that are too high or too low can be fatal. A new mathematical model sheds light on the often mysterious ways the body regulates this important electrolyte.

Potassium, a common mineral abundant in food like bananas and leafy greens, is essential to normal cellular function. It helps the cardiac muscle work correctly and aids in the transmission of electrical signals within cells.

Using existing biological data, researchers at the University of Waterloo built a mathematical model that simulates how an average person’s body regulates potassium, both in times of potassium depletion and during potassium intake. Because so many foods contain abundant potassium, our bodies constantly store, deploy, and dispose of potassium to maintain healthy levels – a process known as maintaining potassium homeostasis. Understanding potassium homeostasis is essential in helping diagnose the source of the problem when something goes wrong – for example, when kidney disease or medication leads to dysregulation.

“Too much potassium in the body, or hyperkalemia, can be just as dangerous as hypokalemia, or too little,” said Melissa M. Stadt, a PhD student in applied mathematics and the lead author of the study. “Dysregulation of potassium can lead to dangerous and potentially fatal consequences.”

The model could be used for a virtual patient trial, allowing researchers to generate dozens of patients and then predict which ones would have hyper- or hypokalemia based on different controls.

“A lot of our models are pieces of a bigger picture,” said Anita Layton, professor of applied mathematics and Canada 150 Research Chair in mathematical biology and medicine. “This model is one new and exciting piece in helping us understand how our incredibly complex internal systems work.”

The model is especially exciting because it allows scientists to test something called the muscle-kidney cross-talk signal hypothesis. Scientists have hypothesized that skeletal muscles, which are responsible for most of the potassium storage in the body, can directly signal to the kidneys that it’s time to excrete excess when too much potassium is stored, and vice versa. When the math researchers tested the hypothesis in their model, it more accurately reflected existing biological data regarding potassium homeostasis, suggesting that muscle-kidney cross talk might be an essential piece in the puzzle of potassium regulation.

The study was published in PLOS Computational Biology.

Mirrorless Monday campaign on campus today; other notes

A washroom mirror partially covered with inspirational messages about body positivity.The on-campus "Mirrorless Monday" body positivity campaign resumes this year in washrooms across the University campus. The campaign is a partnership between Campus Wellness and Plant Operations. 

"Mirrorless Monday is a movement to encourage body positivity through various messages on mirrors and a campaign that seeks to remind everyone that their self-worth is not tied to a reflection in a mirror," says a message from Campus Wellness.

For the one-day campaign today, a portion of washroom mirrors in various locations on campus will be covered with positive messages and supportive resources including Counselling Services, MATES, Good2Talk, and Nedic). The messages will be placed on the mirrors at the beginning of the day and removed by 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 7.

The campaign is the result of collaboration between Plant Operations, the Campus Wellness Health promotion team, and peer health education student volunteers.

For more information or to partner on this campaign, please contact Sandra Gibson at

Finding Funding for Your Social Impact Idea banner image.

GreenHouse at United College is hosting a two-part seminar series this month entitled "Finding Funding for your Social Impact Idea." 

"Hosted in two parts, this series will help you identify potential sources of funding, understand what has worked for others, and learn to write effective grant applications," says a note from United College. 

Part One takes place on February 9 and Part Two takes place on February 16.

"You may join either the lunch sessions (12 noon to 1:30 p.m.) or the dinner sessions (5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.), but you must attend both part 1 and part 2," organizers say.

The event happens at UTD 164 at United College or online via Zoom. Pizza will be provided (presumably for the in-person portion of the event).

Students write exams at tables in the Physical Activities Complex.

The Registrar's Office has announced that the final examination schedule for the winter 2023 term has been posted the Registrar's Office website.

Exam locations will be published by February 17, 2023.

Link of the day

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

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.

Did you know that the Writing and Communication Centre offers many in-person and virtual services to support you with any writing or communication project? This term we've added The Write Spot: a new student space in South Campus hall, complete with bookable workspaces, drop-ins with our peer tutors, and free coffee and tea. We also have one-to-one appointments with our writing and communication advisors and peer tutors, email tutoring for grads and undergrads, drop-ins at Dana Porter Libraryonline workshopswriting groupsEnglish conversation practice, and even custom in-class workshops. For any communication project, the Writing and Communication Centre is here to support you.

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 spaces, computers/printers, and the IST Help Desk. For in-depth support, meet one-to-one with Librarians, Special Collections & Archives and Geospatial Centre staff. Visit the Library’s home page to access our online resources for anywhere, anytime learning and research.

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.

Student Health Pharmacy in the basement of the Student Life Centre is now offering Covid booster shots (Pfizer and Moderna) and flu shots. Call 519-746-4500 or extension 33784 for an appointment. Walk-ins always welcome.

Takin’ It To The Streets: La Cartonera ExhibitThursday, February 2 to February 13, Dana Porter Library lobby.

NEW - Pathways for Addressing (with care) Disclosures of Racism, Tuesday, February 7, 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, online. 

NEW - Applying for Tenure workshop, Tuesday, February 7, 1:00 p.m., online.

NEW - Board of Governors meeting, Tuesday, February 7, 1:30 p.m., NH 3407.

NEW - Applying for Promotion to Full Professor workshop, Tuesday, February 7, 3:00 p.m., online.

NEW - Structures of Care and Accessibility, Thursday, February 9, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., online.