Not even a snowstorm could stop 1,100 people from converging on campus for the fourth annual equity-based hackathon StarterHacks on January 18-19. Almost 1,000 high school and university students came to hack and for many it was their first time. In just 24 hours, the hackers came up with business ideas and prototypes that have the potential to make the world a better place. This year, the Faculty of Mathematics was the platinum sponsor. It gave us the opportunity to speak with students interested in undergraduate and graduate studies in the Faculty, and for our graduate students to help as mentors when it came to coding. Sergey Gorbunov (Computer Science) held a workshop on blockchain Saturday evening, and we had a line up on Sunday morning of students looking for one-on-one help with their resumes. The co-founders, one of who is alumnus Will Nippard (BCS '18), gave the Faculty of Mathematics a shoutout in the closing ceremonies and on LinkedIn.

We look forward to celebrating the successes of our current students at the Student Awards dinner on February 4. This month, all of our award mentions involve our students. Congratulations to:

  • Computer science students Peter Ralbovsky (3B). Andrew Rock (4A), Ahmed Sabie (4B), Anzo Teh (4A) and Jason Yuen (3A) completed all the problems at Communitech's Code to Win Challenge
  • Steven Feng and Shannon Veitch, both Computer Science students, received honourable mentions in the Computing Research Association (CRA) 2020 Outstanding Researcher Awards
  • Haesol Im, a graduate student in Combinatorics and Optimization won the Outstanding TA Award for the Spring 2019 term
  • Amine Mhedhbi, a graduate student in Computer Science, received a fellowship from Microsoft Research

Within the Faculty of Mathematics, our researchers often receive awards for their teaching and their research.Media also takes note of our research to share with the general public. Work by Edward Lank, PhD candidate Anastasia Kuzminykh, Jenny Sun (now a software engineer at Instagram), Niv Govindaraju (now an associate product manager at Google) and Jeff Avery was covered by CBC, CTV and the Record. The research focuses on the personalities of virtual assistants and how it can result in people trusting them too much. Specialized media sources in health care and technical publications also take note of our research. Verdict Medical Devices wrote a recent article about the computer model of a kidney developed by Anita Layton (Applied Mathematics) regarding the impacts of medicine taken by patients prone to dehydration.

With the excitement of a new year, new stories and new honours, it also brings deadlines for annual tasks. A reminder to all that staff evaluations are due to Christina McDougall by March 6 and the Office of Research is reminding faculty to complete the Electronic IP Disclosure form to disclose intellectual property and commercialization activity per the requirements of Policy 73 by March 31, 2020.

We do have new people to introduce that just started working with the Faculty. We welcome to Ashleigh Rosary and Pavak Vyas, Undergraduate Recruitment Officers, Development Officer Katie McMullen, and Brenton Button, a research and reporting specialist with CEMC. As well, we would like to share the news that János Aczel passed away on January 1, 2020 following a brief illness only six days following his 95th birthday. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. His daughters Catherine and Julie invite friends to share their memories of János at the University of Waterloo on Friday, April 17 at 2:00 pm (please RSVP by email to

In closing, I want to say that I am honoured and privileged to lead the Faculty through this transition period.

Kevin Hare
Interim Dean, Faculty of Mathematics – University of Waterloo

Kevin Hare