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Dean’s Message – January 2019

We closed out 2018 with a bang at the Canadian Mathematics Society (CMS) Winter Meeting in Vancouver. There, the Centre for Education of Mathematics and Computing was the recipient of the Adrien Pouliot award and Ian VanderBurgh gave the award lecture. Our Canada 150 Research Chair Anita Layton (Applied Mathematics) delivered a Plenary Lecture. Ten other faculty members led sessions including: Brian Forrest, Nico Spronk, David McKinnon, Ruxandra Moraru, Brett Nasserden, Matt Satriano, and Xu Robert Yang of Pure Mathematics; Henry Wolkowicz of Combinatorics and Optimization; Giang Tran of Applied Mathematics; and Carmen Bruni of the Cheriton School of Computer Science.

We are also proud to note that Kenneth Davidson (Pure Mathematics) was named in the Inaugural Class of CMS Fellows, as were three of our alumni: Donald Dawson (BMath '85); Gerda DeVries (BMath '89); and Shawn Godin (BMath '87). Congratulations to all four fellows.

We also congratulate the following students and faculty for honours this past month:

  • The six Math students who competed as part of the Waterloo student design team at the 2018 International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition who won silver:
    • John Dewhurst (4B, Applied Mathematics)
    • Cody Receno (4A, Computer Science)
    • Atmn Patel (2A, Computer Science)
    • Shreya Prasad (2B, Computational Mathematics/Statistics)
    • Issac Ellmen (4A, Combinatorics and Optimization)
    • Michael Astwood (2B, Mathematical Physics, Pure Math minor)
  • Shai Ben-David (Cheriton School of Computer Science), former PhD student Hassan Ashtiani along with Christopher Liaw, Abbas Mehrabian and Yaniv Plan for their best paper award at NeurIPS 2018, the 32nd Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems
  • The three groups of 1st year students who successfully competed in the first student-led hackathon for 1st year Computing and Financial Management students:
    • Excellence in Visual Presentation - Group 1 Lucy, Navya, Oliver and Sherman
    • Excellence in Coding Styles - Group 2 Aaron, Anthony, Evelyn, and Lilian
    • Excellence in Portfolio Return - Group 8 Andy, Allen, Ayman, and Chenkai

We look forward to hearing the results of the Putnam Competition. Steve New and Jerry Wang (Pure Mathematics) coached this year’s team to prepare them for the contest that occurred on December 1.

We continue to increase our presence in the media, and beyond. Jochen Koenemann and Ricardo Fukasawa (Combinatorics and Optimization) just finished filming a video as part of the university’s Beyond Campaign regarding their work with Sick Kids Hospital. BetaKit shared the news about the Vector Institute’s newest members, which included Shai Ben-David (Cheriton School of Computer Science), while Michele Mosca (Combinatorics and Optimization) was quoted in several articles about the immediate need for cryptography, including in the American National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, F3News, CBC National, and HPCwire.

As we prepare for the New Year, and the new term, we have reflected on the many successes of this past year. I would like to share some of the highlights:

  • We announced the opening of a cybersecurity lab with RBC that included funding for research by Raouf Boutaba and Ian Goldberg (Cheriton School of Computer Science) and David Jao (Combinatorics and Optimization), as well as the CryptoWorks21 program led by Michele Mosca (Combinatorics and Optimization).
  • As RBC Institute for Research Borealis AI expanded, it announced the addition of Pascal Poupart (Cheriton School of Computer Science) to its team.
  • The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, announced Canada 150 Research Chair Anita Layton (Applied Mathematics).
  • Tamer Özsu was named University Professor – a distinction conferred to academics of exceptional scholarly achievement and international pre-eminence.
  • Along with the Faculty of Engineering, we launched the Artificial Intelligenece Institute
  • Women in Computer Science received the 2018 Equity and Inclusivity Award for their demonstration of exemplary commitment to improving equity, inclusivity, and diversity.
  • Robin Cohen (Cheriton School of Computer Science) was the first woman to receive the Canadian Artificial Intelligence Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Alumnus Sam Pasupalak donated $500,000 for scholarships, research, a graduate student start-up award, and Velocity awards for Computer Science Capstone projects.
  • Along with then MathSoc president Jason P’Ng, we unveiled North America's first elliptical pool table.
  • The Financial Analysis and Risk Management program became the first accredited Bachelor's degree program by Professional Risk Managers' International Association.
  • Joey Yu, a first-year student in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, earned a gold medal at the 2018 International Olympiad in Informatics in Japan. Joey’s teammate, Ava Pun, currently in grade 12 at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, was the top-ranking female in the global competition.
  • Katherine Gotovsky, a computer science and business student, was named a 2018 Loran Scholar - Canada’s largest and most comprehensive undergraduate merit award.
  • We brought together security leaders from the private and public sectors to launch the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute.
  • Our students swept the top four spots at the Association for Computing Machinery regional International Collegiate Programming Competition against 129 teams from schools including Carnegie Mellon University, University of Michigan, and the University of Toronto.
  • Not only that, our numbers for the fall term show that we have:
    • 7,568 undergraduate students
    • 1,056 graduate students
    • 39,476 alumni around the world in 106 countries
    • The Co-op employment rate was 99%
    • Our total research funding was $17,265,961.

This was also the year we completed our Strategic Plan for the faculty. This plan will guide our choices in the New Year, as we bring in new students, new faculty members, and new staff.

I’d like to welcome the following people to the Dean of Mathematics Office: Lauren Hartman, Senior Advancement Officer; Caroline Bhaskar, Research & Engagement Officer; Kate Schellenberg, Undergraduate Recruitment Officer; and Ryon Jones, Communications Officer, Media. The Dean’s Office says goodbye to Chérisse Mike, but not farewell, as she joins the team in Applied Mathematics. And finally, we welcome Hans de Sterck and Jane (Pu) Gao back to the Faculty after their sojourn at Monash University.

We are saddened by the passing of W. Morven Gentleman in December. From 1969 to 1984 he held various roles in what were to become the Cheriton School of Computer Science and the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, and notably he founded the Math Faculty Computing Facility. He later took on positions at the National Research Council and Dalhousie University. Personally, I remember Morven’s early influence on the direction of Maple and his participation in research retreats. We will miss him.

Best wishes for an exciting and successful 2019.

Stephen M. Watt
Dean, Faculty of Mathematics - University of Waterloo

Stephen Watt