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Dean's message - April 2021

March is a special month in the Faculty of Mathematics as it’s when we celebrate Pi Day. This was the second year that we were unable to mark the event with our typical on-campus festivities due to COVID-19. We did, however, observe the occasion virtually with our Annual Dean’s Lecture and Pi Day Celebration in Hong Kong. We were pleased that over 100 people took part in the event, which featured talks by me, President Designate, Vivek Goel, and Chair of Combinatorics and Optimization, Jochen Koenemann.

Despite COVID-19, there were plenty of other reasons to celebrate in March in addition to Pi Day. We received news that the Faculty of Mathematics fared extremely well in this year’s Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) worldwide university subject rankings. Computer Science remains Waterloo’s top-rated subject internationally, ranking 23, while Mathematics ranked 35 globally, an improvement from 41 last year. Moreover, a number of people in our community received awards over the last month. Please join me in congratulating:

On March 24th, the Waterloo Women’s Impact Network hosted a fireside chat featuring Joanne McKinley (BMath ’00, MMath ’02), Waterloo’s 2020 J.W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation recipient and Director of Software Development at Google and Sandra Banks, Vice-President, University Relations. Nearly 100 people watched and participated in the chat, which tackled subjects like how COVID-19 is impacting women in the workforce.

The CEMC’s Euclid, Fryer, Galois and Hypatia Contests will be written by thousands of students around the world in the first half of April and marked online in the second half by a team of more than 200, including active and retired teachers from around the world, as well as Waterloo faculty, staff and students.  If you are interested in assisting with the online marking, please get in touch with Ian VanderBurgh (Ian.vanderburgh@uwaterloo.ca).

The CEMC will also be running an online version of its annual Toronto Math Camp, which is open to students from schools that the Toronto District School Board measures as having many external challenges affecting student success.

An exciting multi-day Health Data Science virtual workshop, co-sponsored by the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI) and the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS, based in the U.S.), will be held on Friday, May 7th and Saturday, May 8th, 2021, with pre-workshop short courses held on May 6th.  There are many great presenters lined up, which you can see, along with the agenda, on the workshop website. Registration is now open, and you can find the registration information near the top-right corner of the website.

The Faculty of Mathematics Office of Advancement is celebrating the impact of volunteers from April 18 to 24, 2021, with a series of profiles introducing you to some of the incredible people who help to advance the work of the Faculty on campus and across the globe. The profiles will be posted on the Volunteers Ties website.

I am pleased to announce that a recent gift from Waterloo alumnus Rico Mariani is creating a new scholarship for Black and Indigenous students in the Cheriton School of Computer Science. You can learn more about Rico’s commitment to dismantling the barriers and inequities facing Black, Indigenous, women and LGBTQIA+ students in this E-Ties article.

In the media this month, Ming Li and Hieu Tran's research on using machine learning to develop personalized cancer vaccines was noted in last Friday's ACM TechNews (second item). You can read more about their research here.

Please join me in wishing the following people the very best as they take on new roles:

  • Nadia Linares has moved from Undergraduate Coordinator to the Administrative Assistant to the Chair within Applied Mathematics.
  • Nora Morrison has joined Applied Mathematics on a contract basis as the Undergraduate Coordinator.
  • Erin Kelly has joined Applied Mathematics on a contract basis as Graduate Program Coordinator.
  • Tina Cochrane has joined Math Business & Accounting on a contract basis as Assistant Coordinator.
  • Jennifer Crane has joined Computer Science as a Graduate Coordinator, Computational Mathematics.
  • Patrick Roh has joined Computer Science on a permanent basis as an Instructional Support Coordinator.
  • Brittany Reiche has moved from the position of Technical Writer to Manager, Research, within the Mathematics Research Office.
  • Caity Dyck has taken a secondment opportunity as Community Relations & Events Specialist in Community Relations & Events.
  • Angie Hildebrand from CEMC has taken a secondment opportunity as Graduate Program Administrator (SEED) in the Faculty of Environment.
  • Jessica Rosa-Vecchiarelli joined the Computer Science ISC group as Undergraduate Studies Administrative Coordinator.
  • Diana McGaughey will be joining the Math Advancement Team on April 5, 2021, on secondment as Donor Relations Officer.
  • Dale Kentner will be joining MFCF on April 5, 2021, as Information Technology Specialist.
  • Lisa Liu is returning from secondment to her role as Financial Coordinator in Computer Science.
  • Gustavo Fortes Tondello will be leaving Computer Science and moving to a new external opportunity.
  • Adriann Kennedy has left the university and has moved to Newfoundland.

And congratulations to Bernice Ma and Ryan McGuiness on the birth of their second child, Oakley Atlas McGuiness, on February 10, 2021.

Finally, I remind you that the Region of Waterloo is currently in code red of the COVID-19 framework and there may be a further tightening of restrictions very soon. Please monitor UW’s COVID-19 information website to see UW campus specific rules, dates and procedures related to teaching schedules and building access. Please continue to be vigilant and stay safe and well.

Mark Giesbrecht

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo

Mark Giesbrecht