Monday, February 27, 2023

What Were You Wearing exhibit confronts myths about sexual violence

What Were You Wearing Banner

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

The Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Office (SVPRO), in collaboration with the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC), is bringing the What Were You Wearing? art exhibit to UWaterloo. The exhibit is based on student-survivor descriptions of the clothes they were wearing when they were sexually assaulted. Sexual assault survivors are often asked, “what were you wearing?”, implying that what someone wears can cause a sexual assault.

This myth about sexual violence is used to blame survivors and justify the actions of those who cause harm. Survivors are never to blame for their sexual assault; everyone has the right to wear what they want. The intent of this exhibit is to bring awareness and attention to the pervasiveness of victim blaming and the harm and trauma it causes.

The “What Were You Wearing?” Art Exhibit was inspired by Dr. Mary Simmerling’s poem, What I was wearing and was created at the University of Arkansas in 2013 by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert. Oregon State University interpreted and created a virtual exhibit.

UWaterloo’s exhibit can be found in the SLC multi-purpose room on Tuesday, February 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Wednesday, March 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. As part of the UWaterloo exhibit, SASC will be conducting a Responding to Disclosures of Harm training on Tuesday, February 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Everyone is welcome.

For more information visit the SVPRO website or contact Stacey Jacobs via email at

Sepehr Assadi awarded 2023 Sloan Research Fellowship

This article was originally published on the Cheriton School of Computer Science website.

Sepehr Assadi, who is joining the Cheriton School of Computer Science as an Associate Professor in July 2023, is one of 125 recipients of a 2023 Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Rutgers University and a member of its Theory of Computing group.

Established in 1955 and awarded annually, Sloan Research Fellowships recognize researchers whose creativity, innovation and research accomplishments set them apart as the next generation of scientific leaders. In recognition of their distinguished performance, awardees receive a two-year $75,000 fellowship to further their research.

“Sloan Research Fellowships are an exceptionally prestigious award for early-career researchers,” said Raouf Boutaba, Professor and Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “We are pleased that Sepehr is among this year’s recipients and even more pleased that he is joining the Cheriton School of Computer Science, bringing his expertise in sublinear algorithms to our Algorithms and Complexity research group.”

Sepehr Assadi“It is a great privilege and honour to be a Sloan Research Fellow, and I am very much looking forward to using this opportunity to continue my research on developing strong theoretical foundations that underpin real-world computer science problems,” Professor Assadi said. “I am also humbled by the amazing support I have received from the growing number of wonderful mentors that I have had throughout my career, including my nominators for this award, and I am grateful for their continued support.”

Professor Assadi studies the theoretical foundations of big data analysis. His research focuses on sublinear algorithms and lower bounds in various models of computation for processing massive datasets such as streaming, distributed communication, massively parallel computation, and sublinear time algorithms. More broadly, he explores algorithmic graph theory, communication complexity, online algorithms, and algorithmic game theory.

Professor Assadi’s research has resulted in 74 publications with a cumulative h-index of 23 to date. Of these papers, 55 were presented at top computer science conferences, including 21 at the top conferences in algorithms and complexity theory, namely the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, the IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, and the ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms. 

His publications have received multiple best paper awards at both theoretical and applied computer science conferences, among them the Conference on Web and Internet Economics in 2015, the ACM Symposium on Parallelism and Architectures in 2017, the ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms in 2019, and the International Symposium on Distributed Computing in 2020. 

More about Professor Assadi’s research

The field of sublinear algorithms encompasses the study of sublinear-space algorithms that have a limited amount of memory available during computation as well as sublinear-time algorithms whose runtime must be significantly smaller than the size of their input. These two broad categories of algorithms include streaming algorithms, sketching algorithms, property testers, local algorithms, as well as many others. Sublinear algorithms have been applied in all areas of computer science, and understanding their capabilities and limitations is among the most important practical problems in algorithms research today. The study of sublinear algorithms also yields fundamental insights into the nature of computation, and the mathematical techniques developed in this research also enable new breakthroughs in many other areas of theoretical computer science and mathematics.

Professor Assadi’s contributions include ground-breaking results on diverse topics covering sublinear-time and sublinear-space algorithms that are both theoretically important and practically relevant. 

Among his most famous results is the result presented in “Sublinear Algorithms for (Δ + 1) Vertex Coloring,” a publication that won the Best Paper Award at the 2019 ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms. In short, given a graph of degree Δ, it is always possible to colour the graph with Δ + 1 colours and this can be done with a simple greedy algorithm that has linear time and space complexity. But colouring graphs with algorithms that have access only to a sublinear amount of time or space is much more challenging. Determining the most efficient algorithms for the problem in various sublinear algorithm models is one of the central questions in algorithms research. 

Professor Assadi and his coauthors Yu Chen and Sanjeev Khanna introduced a novel technique called palette sparsification, which they used to obtain efficient algorithms for the colouring problem in various models of sublinear algorithms. Many of these algorithms provided the first non-trivial bounds of the complexity for vertex colouring in the corresponding sublinear algorithm models, and in many cases these algorithms were also shown to be optimal. This result has opened a new line of work on graph colouring problems with sublinear algorithms, and the palette sparsification technique has been influential in subsequent work in several research areas including sublinear algorithms, distributed computation, and graph theory. 

The maximum matching problem is another central problem in the study of sublinear and distributed algorithms, which has been advanced significantly in recent years through Professor Assadi’s research. Notably, in “Randomized Composable Coresets for Matching and Vertex Cover” — a publication that received the Best Paper Award at the 2017 ACM Symposium on Parallelism in Algorithms and Architectures — he and Sanjeev Khanna, his PhD advisor at the time, introduced a two-round Map-Reduce algorithm that achieves constant factor approximation. This paper provides not only optimal algorithmic results and optimal complexity results, but also obtains results with practical importance.

Professor Assadi’s research also extends beyond the scope of sublinear algorithms. He has, for example, also solved a long-standing open problem in algorithmic game theory, proving the first gap between the communication complexity of truthful and non-truthful auctions.

He is also a mentor to the next generation of researchers. A recent example is “Deterministic Graph Colouring in the Streaming Model,” research he conducted with students Andrew Chen and Glenn Sun that was presented at STOC 2022, the 54th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing in June 2022. His undergraduate students consistently rank him as among the best professors in their programs, citing his passion for computer science, excellence in teaching, and readiness to help students master course material.

Global connections, forged in honey

A colourful illustration of a bee, honey, and harvesters

This article was originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of Waterloo Magazine.

Current student Amy Suresh (BSc in progress) chats with serial entrepreneur Nohemie Mawaka (BA ’13) about her most recent business venture, Lubembo, which brings Congolese forest honey to North American markets.  

Suresh: Lubembo sources forest honey directly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, making it distinctive not only in taste, but in origin. How has your commitment to your community helped support local agricultural farmers in Congo?  

Mawaka: That’s an easy one to answer! Most farmers working in agriculture in developing countries are women, and I definitely have a soft spot for that. We do have men working with us, but the majority of them are women.  

The hives that the honey is harvested from are at the very top of the palm trees. So, you can imagine these women climbing up there and bringing that down. It’s a bit dangerous, but that’s why it’s such a premium product.  

When we went back to Kinshasa where my dad grew up, we saw them do that. We reached out to them and said, “Hey, if we pay you fair market value, would you be willing to give us this honey?” They could keep selling it locally, of course — we just wanted a certain quantity. And they said, ‘yes.’” 

Nohemie Mawaka (BA ’13)

Essentially, we remove that fairtrade middle person, because we’re taking on the transportation, and that direct trade, and bringing all of that to the North American market. We started doing that every two months. We were able to create a consistent revenue stream in a country where, truth be told, a lot of populations deal with severe poverty. We’re even looking into a new model where we create the environment where the farmers can harvest their honey. So, we’re giving them the space, the equipment, the tools — everything they need to keep producing, in exchange for providing our business with a certain quantity. 

Suresh: Lubembo, have you been able to revisit or strengthen your relationship with your Congolese roots? 

Mawaka: Kinshasa is where we harvest and buy honey, and it’s where my dad was raised. The village has basically no infrastructure. So, when we bought that 200-acre farm, it’s the first one the people there have seen. We created incomes for 50 people in less than a year!  

While I grew up in the capital city, my dad was from this really rural area. I got to go back and really understand the people living there. It’s a bit emotional because I’m very Canadian. By going back, I’ve been able to unlearn a lot and just be a lot more empathetic. These are people who haven’t seen employment since we were free from colonization in the 1960s.  

When we visit, we know that the business isn’t going to happen overnight. So, in the meantime, we spend time with them. We cook for them, we host little barbeques for the community, and so it helps me connect with my roots, especially when it comes to understanding my dad’s side of the family. 

Suresh: Lubembo honey brings a unique customer experience from Congo to North America with its complex flavours and characteristics. What do you hope to achieve by building this bridge between the two communities? 

Mawaka: Ultimately, I want to be a bridge between the two regions. Congo is one of the most resource-rich countries in the world. So, we were really known for natural resources and it’s all untapped. When you look at North America, everything is so processed. Lubembo honey is kept raw, so there’s a bit more probiotic. In terms of taste, forest honey has a very smoky flavour.  

Overall, I want to offer organic goods that are overflowing in Congo. They have these products in abundance. And in the West, there’s purchasing power. We’ve had success in California, for example, so it really shows the value for Congolese products in North America. I hope to expand and introduce even more products from Congo long term. 

Monday's notes

This past fall, the Library hired a new associate director, Jermal Jones, who will oversee the EDIA portfolio within the Library and work to embed EDIA principles into all our services and processes. Learn more about Jones’ focus areas for the next two years on the Library’s website.

Open Education Week runs March 6 – 10, 2023. The Open Scholarship Committee is planning several events throughout the week to profile OE projects at Waterloo, promote the open community, and highlight support that is available for the creation, adoption, and adaptation of open educational resources. Learn more on the Open Education Week 2023 website.

The University's Senate meets today at 3:30 p.m. in NH3407. Among the agenda items:

From the Senate Executive Committee:

  • A motion to appoint the Senate Executive Committee as the nominating committee to seek the next Chancellor of the University;
  • A motion to elect members to Senate committees/councils.

From the Consent Agenda:

  • A motion to approve the committee appointments for the Distinguished Teacher Awards and for the Amit & Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student, as presented.

Senators will also hear the President's report, the report of the Vice-President, Academic & Provost that will include an update to the 2022/2023 Operating Budget as well as operational updates, and the Library's annual report. The Vice-President, Research and International's report will include an update from Waterloo International. 

Link of the day

World NGO Day

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 

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.

Introduction to Disability Justice – Debrief Session, Monday, February 27,  11:00 a.m. to 12 noon, online. 

Master of Taxation, Virtual Information Session, full-time program, Tuesday, February 28, 4:00 p.m. To register visit

Master of Taxation, Virtual Information Session, part-time program, Tuesday, February 28, 5:00 p.m. To register visit

Noon Hour Concert: Poland Parables, Wednesday, March 1, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College Chapel, free admission.

Introduction to Equity – Debrief Session, Wednesday, March 1, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., online.

The Long Arm of Theoretical Computer Science: A Case Study in Blockchains/Web3, Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Tim Roughgarden, Computer Science Department, Columbia University, Wednesday, March 1 at 3:00 p.m. in DC 1302.

Barriers to Equity: Women, Political Representation and Family, Wednesday, March 1, 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Federation Hall

Core Research Facilities Town Hall, Thursday, March 2, 11:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., Enterprise Theatre, East Campus 5.

WaterTalk: Recognizing the spiritedness and agency of water: Personhood and other legal approaches, presented by Aimée Craft, Thursday, March 2, 11:30 a.m., DC 1302, lunch reception to follow in DC 1301.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, conducted by Leonard Enns, Professor Emeritus at Conrad Grebel University College, presents Winding Toward Peace, Saturday, March 4, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 5, 3:00 p.m, Trillium Lutheran, Waterloo. With guest classical guitarist Mariette Stephenson. Limited tickets available. Pay-what-you-can pricing.

NEW - Pivot-RP virtual training workshop for Faculty and graduate students, Thursday, March 9 from from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., via MS Teams.