Dean's Update - February 2021

Dear colleagues,
Lili Liu.
A year ago, I talked about the February blues and how our moods can be affected by environmental factors. The global effects of the pandemic are life-altering. Concurrently, we are struggling to address racial injustice and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

This month I have been unsettled by members in our Faculty who expressed anger and frustration at the slow pace of campus action against racism. I have observed staff and faculty members with young children struggle to fulfill their academic and parenting roles, and others who are worried about the mental well-being of their isolated senior relatives. I see signs of anxiety among our students, including the young adults I live with.
In a couple of weeks, we will mark the one-year anniversary of the campus’ migration to online learning. When I am overwhelmed and feel helpless to address the frustrations of others, I try to heed to the advice of an ancient philosopher:
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” -Lao Tzu

While serving in ways to help the university change the way we do things, on a personal level, I am working on my own thoughts, words and actions related to indigenization, anti-racism and mental health.
I hope that by watching our thoughts, words and actions, we can pave a destiny where our society is more just and where we are kinder to ourselves and each other. I know this destiny will not come soon enough for some people, but I do see change happening at several levels. However, I believe the most important change is at the personal level; only then can institutional and structural change be effective.

All the best,
Lili Liu

This monthEvents I Tips and reminders


Kinesiology researcher receives New Investigator Award

Kaylena Ehgoetz Martens.Kinesiology Professor Kaylena Ehgoetz Martens has received a New Investigator Award from Parkinson Canada, worth $90,000 over two years. Ehgoetz Martens will further study how anxiety contributes to freezing of gait in order to develop technological solutions to predict its occurrence in home settings. This research will be conducted in collaboration with Jen Boger, previously in Systems Design Engineering, Arash Arami in Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering and George Shaker in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Two retirements in the Faculty

Researcher Barbara Riley from the School of Public Health and Health Systems and Professor Rich Hughson from the Department of Kinesiology retired in January. Hughson receives a Professor Emeritus designation and will continue his research on aging with the Canada Space Agency and the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging.

CIHR grant for aging research

Richard Hughson.Speaking of Rich Hughson, he recently received funding by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to study the effects of inactivity in older adults as part of CIHR’s Transitions in Care Initiative. The study will examine the effects of inactivity and bed rest in adults aged 55-65 by comparing their actual age with their their biological age (age based on biomarkers in the blood and physical condition), as well as changes in cognitive function and spiritual well-being before and after long stretches of inactivity.

John Hirdes on Beyond the Bulletin

Beyond the Bulletin.Professor John Hirdes from the School of Public Health and Health Systems was featured on Beyond the Bulletin, the University's podcast, this month. In the interview, Hirdes discusses a study that checked in with Canadians several times during the early months of the pandemic and yielded some surprising results about our mental health, and whose was hardest hit.

New postdoctoral opportunity

A field of lupin flowers.If you are an early-career scholar with a research plan focused on the social determinants of health, particularly at the intersections of health, society and technology, you may be interested in a new postdoctoral opportunity: the Lupina Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellows program, out of the Faculty of Arts. Two fellows will begin in September under the supervision of a faculty member in Arts. The deadline to apply is March 28, 2021.


UWaterloo-Canadian Nutrition Society: March 18

Canadian Nutrition Society LogoThis year's University of Waterloo-Canadian Nutrition Society (CNS) event will focus on the social and environmental factors that shape eating patterns. Organized by CNS student representative Cindy Wei (Kinesiology) and CNS faculty advisor Sharon Kirkpatrick (School of Public Health and Health Systems), the event will feature Catherine Mah from Dalhousie University. Students, postdocs and faculty members are welcome.

March Virtual Open House: March 20

Student using laptop at desk.If you know any Grade 12 students, please let them know about the University’s March Virtual Open House on March 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be general and academic sessions throughout the day, and incoming students can expect to participate in presentations covering programs, co-op, student life, finances and housing.

Conference on aging, COVID and technology: March 24-25

Stylized globe with bubbles coming out of it on various topics.The virtual Conference on Aging, COVID and the Adoption of Technology will examine the promise and limits of technology to promote successful longevity by featuring a diverse group of leaders from all over the world. The conference will take place over two afternoons, with Hallman Lecture Panels on March 24, and the William Forbes Lecture on March 25. It is hosted by the School of Public Health and Health Systems, the Network for Aging Research (NAR) and the Centre of Bioengineering and Biotechnology (CBB), and supported by the Hallman Foundation and the Office of Research. Everyone is welcome.

Spring Catalyst Grant deadline: March 29

Network for Aging Research Logo.The Network for Aging Research has launched a call for the 2021 Spring Catalyst Grant and invites researchers from the University to submit applications for exploratory research or new aspects of current research across a variety of aging-related domains. Funds of up to $50,000 are available to fund multiple catalyst grants up to a maximum of $10,000 each. Please apply by Monday, March 29 at 4 p.m.


Dean's Office staffing changes

Welcome to Josh Edmondstone, a Recreation and Leisure Studies alumnus who steps in as the new Student Relations Officer, and Jenn Bentley, a Kinesiology alumnus who is now the Alumni Advancement Officer. Jenn will be starting March 8. Also, welcome back to Jasmin English, who returns from a secondment to be Graduate Studies Marketing and Recruitment Specialist. The Dean’s Office would like to wish all the best to Becca Cordick, Leanne Zonneveld and Karry Kwan, who have moved on to other opportunities.

Do you have a news item to share? Please email it to Eugenia Xenos Anderson.