Friday, March 10, 2023

Eagle Staff Welcome Ceremony to take place on March 27

Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Myeengun Henry

Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Myeengun Henry will introduce an Eagle Staff to the University of Waterloo in a ceremony on March 27.

"An Eagle Staff is an important element of the Indigenous relationship to mother earth and those that have protected it," says the text of the invitation sent to the University community on Monday this week. "The Staff reflects the wisdom, strength, and honour of those that carry it in representation of Nations across Turtle Island."

This Eagle Staff will be present at ceremonies and celebrations, such as convocation, representing University of Waterloo First Nations, Métis and Inuit community members, their traditions, cultures, and strengths.

"Through the introduction of the Eagle Staff, the University of Waterloo honours the responsibility to take on Indigenous perspectives, ensuring that they are reflected in the governance, structure, and intent of the University," says the statement from the University. "A symbol of Indigenous acknowledgement, the Eagle Staff will serve as a beacon of reconciliation throughout our shared future."

The entire university community is invited to participate in this ceremony on Monday, March 27 at 10:00 a.m. as Waterloo welcomes the Eagle Staff.

Register for the ceremony.

Co-op Students of the Year make a difference in changing workforce

The co-op students of the year with their certificates, standing with President Vivek Goel.

By Asia Dale and Namish Modi.

Welcoming Ukrainian refugees, supporting out-of-this-world discoveries and creating more equitable research practices are just a few of the many achievements of the 2022 Co-op Students of the Year.

The University of Waterloo’s Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) announced the award winners recently in a hybrid in-person and virtual ceremony.

“Our students continue to have a positive impact on our employers across various industries,” says Norah McRae, associate provost of Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) at the University. “These exceptional individuals have demonstrated their readiness to enter an evolving workforce. I look forward to seeing how they represent the University post-graduation.” 

Waterloo partners with industry to create co-operative education that prepares students to become change-makers and leaders. The co-operative and experiential education program at Waterloo is the largest of its kind in Canada, with more students than the next five biggest Canadian post-secondary co-op programs combined.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Co-op Students of the Year Award:

  • Jeremy Ernest, Faculty of Arts, Master of Public Service
  • Jennifer Tsai, Faculty of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering
  • Breanna DeFreitas, Faculty of Environment, Geography and Environmental Management
  • Rachel Almaw, Faculty of Health, Health Studies
  • Alex Zhu, Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Financial Management
  • Isaac Cheng, Faculty of Science, Physics and Astronomy

In recognition of the 65th anniversary of Co-operative Education at Waterloo, CEE recognized one student for their exemplary performance during an international co-op term.

  • Andrew Ding, Faculty of Environment, Geomatics

“Our students demonstrate the value of work-integrated learning experiences in their personal achievements and the amazing successes they have with the organizations they work with. Their work makes an impact on the local, national and global stage,” says Ross Johnston, executive director of Co-operative Education. “I’d like to formally congratulate these outstanding students for their incredible achievements in 2022!”

Read the profiles of the award winners

Computer scientists paint a picture of six decades of movies

A film director's slate with a colour bar on the clapper.

From the sepia tones of a Coen brothers film set in the Dust Bowl to a child’s red coat in Schindler’s List, filmmakers have long known the power of colour in movies. Now, computer scientists have analyzed 60 years of films to paint a picture of the past six decades in film.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo used a technique called k-means clustering to analyze the trailers for more than 29,000 North American movies released between 1960 and 2019.

“We chose to analyze trailers because they typically include many key moments from a film while also being short and accessible to the public,” said Andreea Pocol, a PhD candidate in computer science at Waterloo and co-author of the study. “Trailers give us a reliable snapshot of a film, so we can extract a lot of data efficiently.”

Their technique produced both more general eight-colour palettes and more detailed 15-colour palettes, demonstrating the dominant colours for different data sets, which included specific films, genres and decades. They used the method to generate palettes for individual films—The Shining or The Matrix, for example—as well as groups of films, such as science fiction films or those released between certain dates.

Eight- and 15-colour palettes from various films of different genres and eras.

Eight- and 15-colour palettes from various films of different genres and eras.

Notably, their algorithm improved on earlier analytical methods by eliminating skin tones and the grey of asphalt in order to more accurately represent the memorable colours used in films. 

The researchers found specific colours are prevalent in certain genres. As one might expect, the palette for westerns demonstrates that directors use the same muted earth tones regardless of era, while science fiction uses a lot of neon green.

“While movies in the 1960s and 1970s tended to use more saturated primary colours, the team’s analysis demonstrates modern technology has actually allowed directors to use a wider variety of colours in creative ways,” Pocol said.

The team’s ultimate goal is to use data science to help film industry executives understand trends in movie-making, including perhaps one day helping to predict a blockbuster or a flop.

“Computer science can improve the process of film production by offering tools that can help us know whether a film will succeed,” said Lesley Istead, adjunct assistant professor of computer science at Waterloo and the lead author of the study. “Part of that process is just getting a better understanding of film itself.”  

The study, The Colour of Horror,  appears in the Proceedings of the 19th ACM SIGGRAPH European Conference on Visual Media Production.

An Open Educational Resource for the Canadian Economy

Open Education Week 2023 banner image.

By RJ McArthur, Centre for Extended Learning. This article is one of a series celebrating Open Education Week. It is brought to you by the Open Scholarship Committee.   

Dr. Barb BloemhofFor Dr. Barb Bloemhof, there were three main motivations for creating her open educational resource (OER), “Anything but a tariff: Visualizing alternative policies for the small open economy”: first, the OER allowed her to present a concept not often included in commercial textbooks; second, it allowed her to preserve material that “is at risk of becoming extinct” because of this lack of representation; and third, the online, interactive nature of the OER allowed her to present the material to students in a responsive, flexible manner not always possible in a conventional classroom. Dr. Bloemhof is a Continuing Lecturer in the Department of Economics.

Preserving an under-represented concept

Commercially available Economics textbooks are largely created for the American market. Needless to say, the economy of the United States is quite different from Canada’s, and as a result, conventional textbooks do not always reflect Canadian concerns. Bloemhof’s OER specifically presents a “particular chunk of trade theory” that is “valuable in [the] context of tariffs for small open economies,” such as Canada’s. By representing this concept, the OER will also help to “preserv[e] it for posterity.” Indeed, the project received an added degree of urgency when Bloemhof attempted to contact the professor who had first taught her the concept when she was an undergraduate — Dr. Bram Cadsby, Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph — only to learn he had passed away in February 2022. “I am dedicating the resource to the person who taught me this material,” Bloemhof notes.

Accessibility, nuance, and flexibility

Beyond preservation, the interactive, online nature of OER provides the opportunity to present the material in a more nuanced way than in a conventional classroom. As Blomehof explains, “in the resource, the policy choices available to the government of a small open economy are illustrated through a handful of diagrams, each having four captioned stages representing the economic theory. Staging the diagram in this way highlights the intuition behind the ‘layers of nuance added in each phase of the diagram’ that students can scroll through to see the subtle accretions of meaning at their own pace.” These fine points are often difficult to communicate or capture in a lecture setting, whereas the flexibility of an OER offers “a way to communicate this complexity.” Bloemhof notes that OER also allow for greater accessibility of content, as the “individual learner can go back to it again and again, with whatever technology aids they need.”

Support from Waterloo

The project was developed with the financial support of the inaugural round of OER Fellows Grants sponsored by the University of Waterloo Library. (It is now the Staebler Insurance OER Fellows Grant.) This grant allowed Bloemhof to hire a Research Assistant, Liuyuan Yue, and she also plans to engage students in providing feedback in the future. Bloemhof credits the Agile Development Team (ADT) at the Centre for Extended Learning for helping to “find language to bring things to be” in terms of currently available learning technologies. She states that the University of Waterloo felt like a particularly appropriate “home” for the project, given that there is “something about Waterloo that just seems oriented to anticipating where innovation could happen.” While the project is still in development with ADT, Bloemhof plans to share it with her discipline at the Canadian Economics Association meetings in the spring.

Distance between water molecules key for future quantum devices

Water molecules

This article originally appeared on the Faculty of Science news site.

Water has many unique properties. An interdisciplinary team of Waterloo scientists has discovered a one-dimensional chain of water molecules could produce a quantum phase transition. This breakthrough is a key development for future water-based quantum devices.

Water has a simple molecular structure - two hydrogen atoms on either side of an oxygen atom - but it also has many unique properties and can exhibit complex behaviours. Many of these behaviours are due to the hydrogen bonds and Van der Waals interaction between the molecules. The angle of the molecule also contributes to its permanent dipole where the hydrogen ends of the molecule are more positive and the oxygen end is more negative.

The molecules dipole strength can be manipulated. Recent studies have shown that water molecules can create interesting quantum phenomenon in lattices when the molecules are far enough apart that the hydrogen bond has no effect but close enough to experience the attraction of an intermolecular dipole interaction.

Waterloo chemists Dr. Pierre-Nicholas Roy and Dr. Tobias Serwatka, a Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) postdoctoral fellow, collaborated with Dr. Roger Melko and Dr. Anton Burkov from the Department of Physics and Astronomy. They computed the phase diagram of a linear chain of water molecules after determining the ground and excited orientational states as a function of distance.

Using simulations, the team discovered that a short chain, of only 20 to 50, gaseous water molecules switches from having a random orientation to a highly correlated one.

Read the rest of the story on the Faculty of Science website.

Sustainability education panel discussion and other notes

 Sustainability Education at the Post-Secondary Level

As part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action and Awareness Week, and in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada and SDSN Canada, the Sustainability Literacy Initiative is presenting a virtual 2-part panel on the importance of post-secondary sustainability education in creating a resilient workforce.

The "Sustianability Education at the Post-Secondary Level: Creating a Workforce for Tomorrow's Challenges" panel will highlight the role of education in creating a workforce to tackle tomorrow’s challenges effectively.

Beginning at 11:15 a.m., a panel of industry leaders will speak to the need for a generation of environmentally literate and sustainably minded graduates in the workforce. The second part of the panel, beginning at 12:15 p.m., will feature students, staff, and faculty speaking to existing initiatives at post-secondary institutions across the country that are working on advancing sustainability education.

Earthquake vigil banner image.On Monday, RAISE will be hosting a Vigil of Remembrance to commemorate those impacted by the recent earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. The event will include programming from Waterloo students, faculty and staff and the surrounding K-W community.

The vigil will take place Monday, March 13 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Student Life Centre's Black & Gold Room.

Link of the day

Tibetan Uprising 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.

You Don't Know What You Don't Know Part 1, a two-part workshop that journeys through First Nations, Inuit, and Metis relations with settlers, Friday, March 10, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., online.

Panel: Sustainability Education at the Post-Secondary Level, Friday, March 10, 11:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., online.

GreenHouse presents “Storytelling for Social Good, Part 2: Connecting with your audience: build and test your pitch,” Friday, March 10, 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., UTD 164 or on Zoom.

No Visible Trauma: Film Discussion and Q&A, Friday, March 10, 12:10 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., online.

Information session on NSERC programs (for faculty), Friday, March 10, 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., East Campus 5, Enterprise Theatre.

GreenHouse presents “Building Inclusive Startups, Part 2: Formation and Growth,” Friday, March 10, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

NEW - KIX 2023: Knowledge Integration eXhibitionMonday, March 13 to Saturday, March 18, St. Jerome's University, Siegfried Hall Residence Wellness Centre Gym.

Disrupting and Decentering Whiteness, Monday, March 13, 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., online.

Türkiye and Syria Earthquake Vigil, Monday, March 13, 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., SLC Black and Gold Room.

Master of Taxation Virtual Information Session, Tuesday, March 14, 5:00 p.m. To register visit

NEW - Quantum Matters seminar featuring Dr. Roger Melko (University of Waterloo, Perimeter Institute), “Language models for quantum simulation,” Wednesday, March 15, 11:00 a.m., QNC 1201.

NEW - Velocity $5K semi-finals, Wednesday, March 15, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Quantum Shorts Film Festival Public Screening, Wednesday, March 15, 7:00 p.m., Apollo Cinema.

NEW - WIN Industry Speaker: Aaron Guan, Friday, March 17, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

PhD oral defences

Statistics and Actuarial Science. Shahab Pirnia, "Enhanced Backward Multiple Change-Point Detection." Supervisor, Shoja Chenouri. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Monday, March 27, 12:30 p.m., online.

Economics. Yixuan Li, "Essays on Portfolio Selection, Continuous-time Analysis, and Market Incompleteness." Supervisor, Tao Chen. Thesis available upon request from the Faculty of Arts, Graduate Studies and Research Officer. Oral defence Tuesday, April 4, 8:30 a.m., PAS 2464, hybrid.

Psychology. McLennon Wilson, "Temperament, attention, and the social world: New empirical approaches to the study of shyness and attention in middle childhood." Supervisor, Heather Henderson. Thesis available upon request from the Faculty of Arts, Graduate Studies and Research Officer. Oral defence Thursday, April 6, 9:30 a.m., remote participation.

English Language and Literature. Elizabeth Brey, "Digital Dialogism: Space, Time, and Queerness in Video Games." Supervisors, Gerald Voorhees, Neil Randall. Thesis available upon request from the Faculty of Arts, Graduate Studies and Research Officer. Oral defence Friday, April 14, 9:00 a.m., remote participation.