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Please note: The University of Waterloo is closed for all events until further notice.

Dean's Message - August 2020

The first fully online term is soon complete and I want to thank everyone for their efforts to make that happen. As you’ve seen in Memos from the President, we’ll soon be entering Phase 3 as we prepare for the Fall term with about a third of our incoming class coming to campus. If you are headed back to campus as part of that phase for teaching or research, make sure to complete the Mandatory training.

This week, consider attending the next Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (HREI) Ask Us Anything, Equity in Practice: Teaching and STEM on August 7.

We want to remind everyone that in these challenging times, there are resources available. Check out the Math Wellness Wednesday tips and you can also catch them on the WaterlooMath Instagram account. The University is also launching a Campus Wellness campaign to make sure that our students know about all the resources are available.

Even through the pandemic, we have much to celebrate in the Faculty of Math. For all the parents struggling to find educational resources for their school-aged children, the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) became a trusted resource for many and warranted a link on the Province of Ontario website. The explosion of CEMC Courseware use during the pandemic – a record-breaking 225,000 users in April and May – has led to discussions with the Province about broader usage of the Courseware. CEMC at Home launched at the beginning of the pandemic and it has had 6,500 subscribers and more than 165,000 downloads.

We can also celebrate the successes of our colleagues within the Faculty. Congratulations to all our recipients of awards and funding:

  • Jimmy Lin (Computer Science), a co-recipient of a $1 million Andrew W. Mellon grant to fund the next stage of the Archives Unleashed project.
  • Shalev Ben-David and Eric Blais (Computer Science) were awarded a FOCS 2020 Best Paper Award for their paper “A New Minimax Theorem for Randomized Algorithms”.
  • The company co-founded by Bin Ma (Computer Science), Rapid Novor, secured $5-million USD to decode antibodies for potential treatments for COVID-19 and other illnesses.
  • Sergey Gorbunov, Gautam Kamath and Jian Zhao (Computer Science), and Marius Hofert (Statistics & Actuarial Science) were all awarded NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplements.
  • Jochen Koenemann, Kanstantsin Pashkovich and Natig Tofigzade (Combinatorics and Optimization) were recipients of the SAGT 2020 Best Paper Award for their paper "Approximating Stable Matchings with Ties of Bounded Size".
  • Jo Atlee (Computer Science) won two awards at the International Conference on Software Engineering: the Reliable Rapid Response Reviewer Award and the IEEE TCSE Distinguished Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Award.
  • Mei Nagappan, Jesse Hoey, Master’s student S. Alex Yun and recent graduate Rahul Iyer (Computer Science) received the ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Artifact Award for “Effects of Personality Traits on Pull Request Acceptance,” at the International Conference on Software Engineering.
  • Pengfei Li (Statistics and Actuarial Science) and William Slofstra (Pure Mathematics) were each awarded the 2020 Faculty of Mathematics Golden Jubilee Excellence Award.
  • Vikram Subramanian won the ACM Student Research Competition, Undergraduate Division at the International Conference on Software Engineering.

Congratulations also go to very deserving retirees and new parents this month. John Galbraith retires from CEMC after 10 years, Ronaldo Garcia and Wendy Rush from the Cheriton School of Computer Science, and Debbie Brown and Chris Roth from MFCF. Ryon Jones (Dean of Math Office Communications team) and his wife Cristina (Creative Services) welcomed their son Zavion Azair Jones to the world on Saturday, July 18.

Faculty of Mathematics had many news mentions throughout July. Most notably, one of our students in the Mathematical Finance program, Kyne Santos, was featured on CBC, CTV, The Lede and Buzzfeed as a contestant on the first Canada’s Drag Race. Although Kyne wasn’t on the show long, his TikTok math videos continue to gain views. In cybersecurity news, Florian Kerschbaum, Ian Goldberg (Computer Science) and Michele Mosca (Combinatorics & Optimization) were all interviewed this month by the Globe and Mail, Scientia, Inside Cryptocurrency, CryptoNews and The Epoch Times.

A couple of notes from the Office of Research:

  • New information about Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigenous Initiatives (EDII) across the research enterprise is now available. The section includes resources and guides along with information about Canada Research Chair public accountability, the Research, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Council, and Indigenous Research Resources.
  • Using a survey in your research? A new program led by the Office of Research and Survey Research Centre assists researchers with strengthening the quality and success of grant applications involving surveys. Space in the program is limited.

Please join me in welcoming Camelia Nunez and Bernice Ma to the Math team. Camelia will be working with Jesse Hoey as the Director of Innovation and Research Partnerships and Bernice is covering for Caroline’s maternity leave as the Recruitment and Engagement Officer.

Finally, we fondly remember two former faculty members, John Beatty and Peter Ponzo.

Mark Giesbrecht

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo

Mark Giesbrecht