Monday, July 31, 2023

Waterloo signs MOU with Central European Institute of Technology

Dr. Sushanta Mitra With Professor Radimír Vrba, Director of CEITEC-BUT, sign the MOU.

Dr. Sushanta Mitra, Executive Director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology and Dr. Radimír Vrba, Director of Central European Institute of Technology, Brno University of Technology (CEITEC-BUT), sign the MOU.

Representatives of the University of Waterloo and Central European Institute of Technology, Brno University of Technology (CEITEC BUT) recently signed a memorandum supporting cooperation in nanotechnology research, mobility and other areas of common interest. The signing was attended by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Jiri Kozak, as the cooperation in science and advanced technologies remain priorities of bilateral relations between the Czech Republic and Canada.

The Executive Director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN), Dr. Sushanta Mitra, personally signed the memorandum at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic as part of his visit to Europe. His counterpart, Dr. Radimir Vrba, serves as the Director of CEITEC BUT, a modern research centre created just over 10 years ago as a consortium with laboratories focused primarily on Life Sciences, Advanced Materials and Nanotechnologies. CEITEC is the largest nanotechnology centre in the Czech Republic with extensive clean space capacities.

"Collaboration with the University of Waterloo represents an opportunity for the Czech Republic to work closely with leading researchers and support the creation of joint international results in areas of excellent Czech research,” says Deputy Kozák. “Undoubtedly, these also include nanotechnology, in which CEITEC BUT excels. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to support these strategic partnerships with prestigious universities in Canada and other countries. Our embassies and consulates help in establishing these connections, we can also assist with organizing scientific and technological missions, support networking at leading events, as well as tailored assistance.”

CEITEC's interest to cooperate with WIN stems both from overlapping expertise of the research groups on both sides, as well as from mutual visits that have occurred since 2022, which have been supported by the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Toronto and the CzechInvest agency. The research group of Dr. Jozef Kaiser at CEITEC, focused on the field of advanced instrumentation and methods for materials characterization, was established in cooperation with the University of Waterloo in the field of laser spectroscopy last year. Since then, there have also been contacts with other researchers and a number of selected Czech universities.

"The importance of Waterloo as an entrepreneurship hub can be interesting for the Czech Republic from the point of view of supporting startups and their internationalization,” says Richard Schneider, manager of the agency's TECH4LIFE Hub CzechInvest. “At the same time we hope to deepen the sharing of good practice in the field of spinoffs and the development of the innovation ecosystem, where Waterloo has a very good reputation.”

The memorandum will further strengthen this cooperation, thanks to possible joint research projects, mobility of students and researchers, professional development of students and the possibility of financial instruments for joint projects. Currently, researchers can draw support mainly from national sources, where a number of Mitacs programs are available on the Canadian side, for example, Globalink Research Internship, and Canada's full entry into the Horizon Europe program as an associated country is also being prepared.

"During the visit of Professor Sushanta Mitra at the CEITEC BUT in Brno, we presented in detail the professional focus of both university workplaces,” says Radimir Vrba, director of CEITEC BUT. “He also toured our large CEITEC Nano research infrastructure and other laboratories. We mutually noted that we have a surprising agreement in many areas of common interest in research and science. This fact was further confirmed during a visit to the University of Waterloo by Professor Kaiser....Cooperation in nanotechnology and research and development of special measuring and analytical instruments will also be strengthened by the mutual exchange of students and postdoctoral fellows. Our broad portfolio of international research cooperation will thus be strengthened by the top workplace of the University of Waterloo in Canada."

Lindsey Tulloch, Ian Goldberg win best student paper award at privacy symposium

Lindsey Tulloch and Ian Goldberg

This is an excerpt of an article originally published on Waterloo News.

Master’s graduate Lindsey Tulloch and her advisor Professor Ian Goldberg have won one of three Andreas Pfitzmann Best Student Paper Awards for “Lox: Protecting the Social Graph in Bridge Distribution.” Their award-winning paper was presented at PETS 2023, the 23rd Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, held this year from July 10–15 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Named after Andreas Pfitzmann (1958–2010), a pioneer of technical privacy protection, the award is conferred for papers written solely or primarily by a student who is presenting the research at PETS. Selection is based on the scientific quality of the paper, the expected impact it will have on the field, and the quality of the presentation.

“Congratulations to Lindsey and Ian on their best student paper award at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium,” said Raouf Boutaba, Professor and Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “This research is of great importance as it provides a mechanism for people to use the Internet privately, thereby evading Internet censorship and surveillance.”

More about this award-winning research

In many regions across the globe, repressive governments censor the Internet to limit access to information, to prevent self-expression, to monitor the activity of Internet users, and to suppress dissent. Anti-censorship proxies — known as bridges — can provide journalists, activists, and individuals from marginalized groups a connection to the open Internet beyond the area of influence a censor controls. 

However, bridge distribution systems, which are created to publicly distribute large pools of bridges to users in censored regions, may also inadvertently provide bridges to malicious users. If not designed with privacy in mind, bridge distribution systems can be overwhelmed by attacks from censors, undermining the integrity of the system and exposing its users. 

For example, BridgeDB, the bridge distribution system currently used by the Tor Project, provides adequate privacy protection for some Tor users. But the passive and active detection techniques used by censors — such as traffic flow analysis, deep packet inspection, website fingerprinting, and active probing — can reveal Tor bridges, rendering Tor inaccessible for most users in some regions.

In their paper, Lindsey and Professor Goldberg describe Lox, a new bridge distribution system that prioritizes protecting privacy of users and their social graphs — the interconnections among people, groups and organizations in a social network. Lox also incorporates enumeration resistance mechanisms to improve access to bridges and limit the malicious behaviour of censors. The research employs an updated unlinkable multi-show anonymous credential scheme, suitable for a single credential issuer and verifier, to protect Lox bridge users and their social networks from being identified by censors. They formalize a trust level scheme that is compatible with anonymous credentials and effectively limits malicious behaviour while maintaining user anonymity. 

Their work includes an open-sourced, Rust implementation of their Lox protocols as well as an evaluation of their performance. With reasonable performance and latency for the expected user base, they demonstrate Lox as a practical, social graph protective bridge distribution system. Measured performance shows that Lox can provide reasonable protection of the social graph for millions of users with even a single core.

Read the rest of the article on Waterloo News.

Writing and Communication Centre offices closed this week

"Due to ongoing HVAC issues affecting temperatures in the Writing and Communication Centre's offices, the WCC offices and The Write Spot in South Campus Hall will be closed again this week (July 31 - August 4)," says a note from the WCC. "All appointments will be moved online, drop-ins will be held virtually, and other programs will be moved or rescheduled. Please visit our website for more information."

Link of the day

SARSfest? SARSstock? Whatever it was, it was 20 years ago

When and Where 

Waterloo Warriors Youth Camps. Spring and Summer camps available for Boys and Girls ages 5-18. Baseball, Basketball, Football, Volleyball, Hockey and Multi-Sport and Games. Register today.

Half Price Climbing and Fitness Membership for the remainder of the term. Purchase now.

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.

Land Skills for Wellness and Sustainability Project, Connecting to the Land, Part 2, Monday, July 31.

Make-up day for May 23, Tuesday, August 1.

Classes and lectures end, Tuesday, August 1.

Integrated Renewable-based Power, Electrified Transport, and Hydrogen Systems, Tuesday, August 1, 12 noon to 1:00 p.m., E7 4043.

Bobbie Chew Bigby - Indigenous Internationalism: journeys of meaningful connections between countries, communities, and cultures, Tuesday, August 1, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., EXP 1689.

Pre-examination study days, Wednesday, August 2 and Thursday, August 3.

NEW - Gustav Bakos Observatory Tour, Wednesday, August 2, 9:00 p.m., PHY 150, telescope viewing at 9:30 p.m., third floor.

NEW - Graduate Seminar, "Materials innovation by learning from nature: bio-based, bio-derived, bio-mimetic strategies", by Professor Qingye Lu, Thursday, August 3, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., E6 4022.

Final examination period, Friday, August 4 to Saturday, August 19.

August Civic Holiday, Monday, August 7, most University operations and buildings closed.

Land Skills for Wellness and Sustainability Project, Herbals for Managing Stress, Tuesday, August 8, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Physiological Measures for Games and VR: Novel Tools and Approaches, Wednesday, August 9, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., EC1 1323 and online.

Machine Talk: Speech in Human-Agent Interaction, Thursday, August 10, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., EC1 1323 and online.

Graduate Student Seminar, "A unified strategy for chemical and biological process scale-up", by Syed Soheil, Thursday, August 10, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., E6 4022.

NEW - Ontario Mennonite Music Camp, Sunday, August 13 to Friday, August 25, Conrad Grebel University College.

NEW - Technology Governance Summer School, Monday, August 14 to Friday, August 18, Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Centre for Teaching Excellence New Faculty Teaching Days, Tuesday, August 15 to Friday, August 18. Registration is required

NEW - Land Skills for Wellness and Sustainability Project: Weaving Together with the Land Nature Walk, Saturday, August 19, 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon.

Music Ensemble Auditions start on Wednesday, September 6. 

When and Where to get support 

Check out the support listings for faculty, staff and students.

PhD oral defences

Physics and Astronomy. Pei Jiang Low, “Control and Readout of High-Dimensional Trapped Ion Qudits.” Supervisor, Dr. Crystal Senko. Please visit the Faculty of Science Thesis Submission Notices website for details on requesting a copy. Oral defence Friday, August 4, 9:30 a.m., Quantum Nano Centre (QNC) Room 1201 and remote.

Applied Mathematics. Zhanlue Liang, "Formation Control of Multi-agent Systems via Impulsive Strategy." Supervisor, Dr. Xinzhi Liu. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Friday, August 4, 10:00 a.m. online.

Biology. Geburah Straker, “Investigating the involvement of FHA domain lateral surfaces in DNA damage and cell cycle checkpoint responses in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Supervisor, Dr. Bernard Duncker. Please visit the Faculty of Science Thesis Submission Notices website for details on requesting a copy. Oral defence Friday, August 4, 12:30 p.m., STC 2002.

Chemistry. Christian Ieritano, “Towards Understanding Differential Ion Mobility and its Applications in Analytical and Medicinal Chemistry.” Supervisor, Dr. Scott Hopkins. Please visit the Faculty of Science Thesis Submission Notices website for details on requesting a copy. Oral defence Tuesday, August 8, 2:00 p.m., Chemistry 2 Building (C2) Room 361.

School of Public Health Sciences. Diya Chowdhury, "Healthcare Experiences of South Asian Older Adults in Canada: Aging well, Engagement and Access." Supervisors, Dr. Paul Stolee, Dr. Catherine Tong. Email Health Graduate Administration for a copy. Oral defence Friday, August 25, 11:00 a.m., online.