Dean's Letter

Celebrating the past, present and future of the Faculty of Mathematics

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending “From Red Room to Green Room: A Celebration of Computer Science throughout the Decades” as part of Reunion 2024. 

It was a wonderful event honouring the past, present and future of the Faculty. We talked about the impact of Waterloo computing legend Wes Graham while celebrating the achievements of this year’s recipients of the J.W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation, Beryl Tomay (BMath ’05) and Brice Nkengsa (BSE ’12); we kindled our nostalgia by playing Space Invaders on old Commodore computers (part of the vast collection at the Waterloo Computer Museum) while handing out pins featuring the recently discovered einstein tile, the work of computer science professor Craig Kaplan; and we took selfies in front of a large computer-generated image of the famous Red Room while sharing plans about the new Math 4 building, which features an energy-efficient computing facility that we are calling the Green Room. 

It was an inspiring reminder that the legacy of those who built this Faculty is alive and well, carried forward by the students, faculty and alumni of today. Now, with a bold, new strategic framework in place, I am certain that the Faculty’s future is brighter than ever. 

This issue of E-Ties is likewise a celebration of the past, present and future of the Faculty with stories about intrepid Math alumni, faculty and students who are exploring new realms, expanding the frontiers of knowledge and solving pressing social problems. It features:

  • A profile of Marian Forster (BSc '64), one of the first female employees of the Computer Centre. While she was a Waterloo computing pioneer, her impact has been unfairly overlooked. 

  • A profile of Floyd Marinescu (BMath ’02), an alum who launched UBI Works to reframe the debate around Basic Income. He sees Basic Income as a way to unlock human potential, fuel our economy and foster greater happiness across society.  

  • An interview with Benoit Charbonneau, an associate professor of Pure Mathematics, who researches “gauge theory,” a field at the intersection of differential geometry, algebraic geometry, and mathematical physics. He talks about the importance of pure mathematics and compares those working in the field to cartographers. 

  • A story about new research in computer science that has successfully identified 191 previously unidentified astroviruses using a new machine learning-enabled classification process. This work could prove crucial in preventing the next deadly disease outbreak. 

  • A profile of StarterHacks founders William Nippard (BCS ’18) and Marium Kirmani (BCS ’17), who are bringing equity and accessibility to the world of hackathons.  

I hope you enjoy this issue of E-Ties! 

As a reminder, nominations for our alumni awards are encouraged throughout the year. Waterloo Math alumni are making significant contributions to their industries and communities all across the world and we are eager to recognize them and celebrate their impact.

Finally, as today is convocation, I want to say a big congratulations to this spring’s Faculty of Mathematics graduates! We are so proud of you and hope to keep in touch as you embark upon exciting careers. 

Warmest regards, 

Mark Giesbrecht