Dear Faculty of Mathematics colleagues,

We are now preparing for the reopening of campus and resumption of in-person experiences for students on February 7. I recognize that this is a difficult transition on many fronts, and follows upon many discussions at the university level, well-informed by our Faculty of Mathematics COVID leadership group. Ultimately the mode of delivery is a decision of our chosen university officers, but I truly believe the one we are making is prudent, mindful of the health of our faculty, staff and students, and respects our deep responsibility and obligation to our students.

On Monday, January 31, the President’s Office provided an extensive update on plans to return to in-person experiences, which is available here. I encourage you all to attend the President’s Forum on this issue, taking place on February 2, which you can register for here.

As a university community, we have a leadership role to play in our region and province, as well as in our country, demonstrating both calm determination and the appropriate way to re-open. I know that together we can rise to yet another pandemic challenge and overcome. Hopefully this is the finale. Thank you, everyone, for all you do in the service of our students, our colleagues and our fine institution.


We are excited to offer a suite of wellness workshops and events once again as we return to campus. Our February programming will connect several different dimensions of wellness together with the hope of supporting you through the next transition back to campus. Please take a minute to learn more about our upcoming Living Wellness programming.

As we begin the Winter 2022 term, we are wanting to hear from you about how we can further support your wellness journey. Take a minute to Have Your Say in how the Faculty of Mathematics can support and enhance the health and well-being of our community. Don’t forget that all eligible submissions made by students, staff and faculty will be entered into a draw for a chance to win a $50.00 gift card for the W Store.

We are offering the Burnout to Breakthrough workshop series to our staff members through the Staff Professional Development Program. The series is designed to help you overcome feelings of burnout and bring more energy and ease back into your work. Through a series of workshops and coaching, participants will learn how to consistently take steps toward achieving their goals without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. Find out more on the workshop series website.


I was pleased to introduce one of the keynote speakers at the recent AI for Science and Engineering Workshop, hosted by Waterloo.AI and Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology. Along with researchers from Waterloo, many of the participants were from the University of Bordeaux, continuing a more than decade-long research collaboration between the two institutions. Read more here.

Please make a special note of the upcoming Dean’s Town Hall, which will take place on MS Teams on February 16, 2022, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Find the event invitation in your inbox. If you'd like to send a question in advance, please email by February 9, 2022.

Also note that at the very beginning of March we will be hosting the annual Grad Visit Day. This year the event will be hosted virtually with plenty of opportunities to meet faculty and staff, as well as future and current graduate students, through a series of events over the course of two days. Invite any students you think will be interested and learn more about Grad Visit Day here.

Ujima Black History Month

February is Black History Month and there are several events and activities taking place at the University of Waterloo. This year Black History Month is going by the name Ujima Black History Month. What is Ujima? Ujima (oo-JEE-mah) is a Swahili word that represents a principle of Kwanzaa: To build and maintain our community together and make our ‘brothers and sisters’ problems our problems to solve together. Check out the upcoming events for Ujima Black History Month here.

The Office of Research is hosting an upcoming Research Talks presentation featuring Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada and current Chancellor of St. Paul’s University College, “Black History is World History: From Moment to Global Movement.” This is a virtual event taking place on Thursday, February 17 from 3-4:30 pm via WebEx.


We are pleased to announce that Waterloo computer science alumnus Joseph W.H. Liu (PhD ’75) has made a lead gift of $340,000 to launch the Graduate Research Excellence Award. To learn more about this exciting new award click here.

The Barji and Gulab Scholarship for Women in Computer Science is launching this year. Valued at $15,000, it will be awarded to a full-time female undergraduate student who is currently living in India and entering her first year of a Computer Science program in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. Read more here.

Research news 

Pivot-RP is a new searchable database of research funding opportunities for Waterloo researchers. All researchers in the Faculty of Mathematics are strongly encouraged to set up their Pivot-RP account. Read more here.

Faculty awards and accolades

Please join me in celebrating the successes of some of our superb faculty members who recently received awards or special recognitions.

  • Hans De Sterck, Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Director of the Centre for Computational Mathematics, has been appointed the new Editor-in-Chief of the SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing (SISC), starting January 2022.
  • Bill Cook, University Professor in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, has the current cover article in the January issue of Communications of the ACM, for his work on the traveling salesman problem. Read more here.
  • Lila Kari, Professor and University Research Chair at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, and M. Tamer Özsu, University Professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, were part of a research team awarded $24 million for the BIOSCAN global biodiversity project. Read more here.

Student awards and accolades

It is always a pleasure to recognize the achievements of some of our wonderful students. Join me in offering congratulations to the following and reach out with your own words of support if you have worked with any of these talented students.

  • Four undergraduates of the Cheriton School of Computer Science were recipients of the Computing Research Association’s 2022 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Awards. Congratulations to Nicholas Vadivelu (one of four runners-up), Kelvin Jiang (among the finalists), and Sourav Biswas and Vikram Subramanian (honourable mentions). Read more here.
  • Computer Science PhD graduand Jeremy Hartmann recently launched a new entrepreneurial venture that offers virtual reality streaming services and a virtual clubhouse. His work was the focus of a feature article in Waterloo News. Read more here.

Outreach and media

Connecting with the community and communicating the impact of our research is a key means through which the Faculty of Mathematics builds its portfolio and creates the next generation of researchers. Check out a few of the faculty’s outreach and media efforts this past month.

  • Anita Layton, Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine, and Melissa Stada, master’s researcher in the Department of Applied Mathematics, were featured in a widely syndicated media release for their work on computational models of the effects of pregnancy on kidneys. Read more here.
  • Daniel Vogel, Professor and Cheriton Faculty Fellow in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, Nalin Chhibber, a recent computer science master’s graduate, Hemant Surale, a recent computer science PhD graduate, and Fabrice Matulic, a recent computer science postdoctoral researcher, were featured in a widely syndicated media release for their work on Typealike, a system to recognize near-keyboard hand gestures. Read more here.
  • Chris Bauch, Professor and University Research Chair in the Department of Applied Mathematics was featured in a media release for his work on using AI to analyze tweets debating vaccination and climate change. Read more here.

I would also like to draw your attention to the Women in Computer Science committee’s ongoing outreach initiative with Technovation Girls Waterloo, which is running again this year. I encourage faculty and staff to spread the word that youth who identify as girls, non-binary and trans, ages 10 to 18, can participate in this free program that teaches app coding and entrepreneurial skills to solve real-world problems. Read more here.

Staff hires

Please join me in welcoming and congratulating new and continuing staff members in the Faculty of Mathematics.

  • Shoshannah Holdom will be joining Statistics & Actuarial Science as the Undergraduate Program Manager beginning on Feb 7.
  • Ashley Congi will be continuing with the CEMC on an ongoing basis as an Outreach Activities Administrator.
  • Ashley Sorensen will be continuing with the CEMC on an ongoing basis as a Senior Resource Design Specialist.
  • Christine Vender will be continuing with the CEMC on an ongoing basis as a Senior Resource Design Specialist.
  • Sarah Chan will be continuing with the CEMC on an ongoing basis as a Senior Resource Design Specialist.

Looking forward

Thank you all so much once again for the extraordinary work you do for the Faculty of Mathematics. Every month I serve as Dean is another month that I am amazed at the achievements and dedication of our people. As we move forward through this Winter 2022 academic term, I look forward to seeing you at my upcoming town hall event, and better still, I look forward to reconnecting with you all on campus.

Yours truly,

Mark Giesbrecht

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo

Mark Giesbrecht