University COVID-19 update

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

Dean's message - February 2021

It has now been almost eleven months since a provincewide state of emergency in response to the pandemic resulted in most of us working from home. Not a day goes by where I’m not mindful and appreciative of every one of you for giving so much to the Faculty during these challenging times. Many new challenges are still in front of us, but your enormous efforts are building a strong foundation for the future of the Faculty of Math and the University through the rest of the pandemic and beyond. I hope you share my cautious optimism about a coming end to the pandemic but recognize there are still difficult days ahead. All of us need help sometimes, and I encourage you to reach out – to your supervisors, Occupational HealthHuman Resources, the Employee Assistance ProgramFAUWUWSA, or your Dean – should you need assistance or guidance, personally or professionally. I hope you all continue to stay safe and healthy! 

We are still under the province’s stay-at-home order, which will currently expire on February 9th. Please monitor UW’s COVID-19 information web site to see UW campus specific rules, dates and procedures related to teaching schedules and building access. I remind you that the Spring term will continue to be primarily online and start one week later than planned to allow for transition between academic terms.

Though we’re not on campus, the Faculty remains committed to being a positive and inviting environment for all of our employees. This commitment has led to the establishment of a Math Employee Health and Well-being Committee and Working group. This group will focus on informing, directing, and monitoring our faculty-wide efforts to improve health and well-being for all employees (i.e., postdocs, staff, and faculty members).

The Faculty has partnered with our counterparts in the engineering faculties at Waterloo, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, Queen’s University and Western University to create the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowships. IBET aims to increase academic and industry diversity by creating new fellowships for Indigenous and Black students pursuing doctoral degrees in technology and engineering, including computer science and mathematics, to prepare for careers as professors and industry researchers.

I encourage Faculty researchers to consider nominating high calibre applicants, both doctoral students who will be graduating within the next year and recent postdocs from within or outside our institution, for the AMTD Waterloo Global Talent Postdoctoral Fellowships. Successful applicants will receive a prestigious one or two-year fellowship. Funding includes a $75,000 annual salary, an engagement fund of $7,500, and access to additional funds to create disruptive research dissemination opportunities. Find more information and the endorsement form online.

I’m happy to announce that Professor Ian VanderBurgh has agreed to be renewed as Director of Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) for another three years. I look forward to the amazing work Professor VanderBurgh, and his team will continue to do in CEMC.

I would also like to take this time to celebrate the achievements of people in our community over the last month. Congratulations to:

  • Professor Anita Layton, who has been named the 2021 Krieger-Nelson Prize recipient for her exceptional contributions to mathematical research with applications ranging from fluid dynamics to biology and medicine.
  • Professor Luke Postle, who has been named the recipient of the 2021 Coxeter-James Prize for his work in the area of graph theory having made ground-breaking progress on many famous conjectures in graph colouring.
  • Professor Ihab Ilyas who has been named a 2020 ACM Fellow for his contributions to data cleaning and data integration, which have had significant and lasting impacts, both in shaping the direction of data systems research and in the development of technologies adopted by industry
  • Nine of the Faculty’s professors who were also named 2020 Vector Institute Faculty Affiliates. The new faculty affiliates are Ilyas and Gautam Kamath of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. The professors returning for a second two-year term as Vector Institute Faculty Affiliates are Ali Ghodsi of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science and six other professors from the Cheriton School of Computer Science - Yuri Boykov, Maura Grossman, Jesse Hoey, Kate Larson, Jimmy Lin and Olga Veksler.
  • Professor Maura R. Grossman who received the Shira Scheindlin Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her roles as “a changemaker and an ediscovery scholar whose work on technology-assisted review has been cited around the world,” and “for her role as a special master, mediator, or expert in multiple high-profile federal and state court cases.”
  • Professor Mary Hardy, who was recognized for her dedication and contributions to the Society of Actuaries by being awarded their Distinguished Service Award.
  • Four fourth-year actuarial science students who won first place in the 2021 Actuarial Students’ National Association competition:
    • Nianchen (Steven) Liu
    • Yifan (Eva) Li
    • Cheng (Robin) Wang
    • Chen Han (Owen) Lin
  • Master’s student, Luke Hager, who made it to the final of this year’s GRADflix competition. Hager, the first student from the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science to feature in the competition, project was entitled “Beyond p-values: Sample size determination using Bayesian statistics”.

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

  • Leanne Zonneveld joins Undergraduate Admissions & Outreach as an undergraduate recruitment coordinator.
  • Emma Watson, who has been with Math Business and Accounting programs as the Assistant Coordinator since September 2020 while on secondment from Combinatorics and Optimization, has resigned from her position to start an ongoing regular position at her home department.
  • Shoshannah Holdom resigned from the role of Undergraduate Studies Administrative Coordinator in the Cheriton School of Computer Science to start a new position in the Faculty of Environment.
  • Onkar Singh Sehmi, the Graduate Coordinator for the Master’s Coursework Program, has also left the Cheriton School of Computer Science for Waterloo’s Finance Department.

Mark Giesbrecht

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo

Mark Giesbrecht