Dean's Message - January 2020

As we reached the end of the fall term, exams, as well as contests were being marked. Thank you to the 150 faculty, staff, students, and math teachers converge on campus to process and grade approximately 25,000 math contests for the Canadian Senior Mathematics Contest (CSMC) and Canadian Intermediate Mathematics Contest (CIMC). Thank you also to those who helped run the Programming Challenge for Girls on December 13.

We also need to thank the many researchers who travelled to Toronto for the 2019 Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) Winter meeting. The representation of our researchers was extensive this year, and that reflects the active research in our Faculty. Many of our colleagues organized sessions throughout the meeting. In total, 43 researchers from the Faculty of Mathematics delivered presentations and Kirsten Morris (Applied Mathematics) gave a Plenary lecture called "Optimal controller and actuator design for partial differential equations" on Sunday, December 8.

The year ended with honours for five current researchers and a former postdoctoral fellow. Congratulations to:

  • Kirsten Morris (Applied Mathematics) who was elevated to the grade of Fellow for IEEE
  • Shai Ben-David and Yaoliang Yu (Computer Science), and former postdoctoral fellow Courtney Paquette (Combinatorics and Optimization), now at McGill, who were all named CIFAR AI Chairs 
  • Bill Cook (Combinatorics and Optimization), who received the Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany. This "award is granted in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date to academics whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future."
  • Maura Grossman (Computer Science), who was named both a National and Global eDiscovery Leader by Who's Who Legal 2020

The above are just some of the honours recognized in 2019 - some of the others include:

We have seen a substantial increase in our media coverage over the last year, and two research projects were represented in the media in December. The first, Tip Tap, a battery-free, wearable technology using radio frequency identification (RFID) developed by Dan Vogel, Omid Abari, along with a postdoctoral fellow and two undergraduate students (Computer Science) along with the National Research Council of Canada. Media coverage included CTV News, CBC, and Research2Reality.

The second project focused on using math to create personalized cancer therapies. The research of Mohammad Kohandel and Michelle Przedborski (Applied Mathematics) appeared in Technology.org, Biospace, and the Australian Medical News.

The new year will welcome new people to roles that existed, as well as new ones. We welcome Jesse Hoey as the Associate Dean, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In keeping with the university's strategic plan of continuing education, Lori Case's portfolio has expanded to Associate Dean, Co-operative Education and Lifelong Learning. Two new Assistant Professors join the Cheriton School of Computer Science - Rafael Oliveira and Yousra Aafer, and Chris Border will be working for the next year as an Administrative Coordinator with the CS admin team.  You may have noticed two new staff in the Dean of Mathematics Office - Ting Ou, Faculty Financial Analyst and Jennifer Arsenault, Senior Advancement Officer.

There is one more change to share. My term as Dean runs to June 30, but for personal reasons I must turn to other things a bit sooner.  I have asked the Provost to accept an early end to my term as of January 21. It has been an honour to contribute to Waterloo Math, with so many great people and amazing things happening!

In 2020 I expect to see Waterloo Math continue on its exceptional path. I truly wish you all the best in your endeavours.

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

Stephen M. Watt