Dear Faculty of Mathematics colleagues,
With June and the beginning of the summer months, more of our students are away from campus or off on co-op terms. I hope that the warm weather affords you some time away from work for outdoor activities and some much-deserved time off. It is also a time when many of us can dive deep into our research activities, conferences and workshops. I recognize it has been two long years since I could enthuse about in-person collaboration, and I write from the Schloss Dagstuhl research institute in Germany. It feels great to be reengaged.
In the faculty leadership we have been thinking a lot about how to rekindle in-person research activities, and generally re-establish the vibrancy around the faculty that leads to great collaboration and higher spirits in all aspects of our academic mission. I look forward to working with all of you on how to best encourage this, to restart a post-pandemic and even better Faculty of Math. Right now, I’d want to encourage all of you to re-establish your campus routine, come to your office and meet your students and colleagues in person, and engage in the human academic community that happens beyond Teams meetings!
I also want to start with a big reminder that convocation is back in person, and on June 16 our amazing students will once again be crossing the stage. It is really important to them that our faculty members are on stage in force, and I implore you to sign up for your ceremony. Please visit the website for the Faculty Procession to register and indicate you will be attending, and see here for more general convocation information. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!
A reminder that next week I will be hosting the latest Dean’s Townhall. Visit the event page to register and attend in person or online. It will be a great opportunity to learn more about what’s happening in the faculty and our strategic direction.
It is my privilege as always to share great news with you of some of the contributions, breakthroughs and recognitions achieved by members of the Faculty of Mathematics. Grab a glass of your favourite beverage and read below about what’s happening, what will be happening soon and join me in congratulating our colleagues and students who achieved great things this past month.
The Employee Health and Wellbeing Committee is getting set to kick off its latest set of initiatives. Our committee has some new and some returning members, and we are seeking expressions of interest from our staff members to fill a casual vacancy on the committee. If you are looking to get more involved in our community or have ideas for the direction of wellness programming for the Faculty of Mathematics, this may be the opportunity for you. Interested staff members can reach out to Robert Bruce, the faculty's Community Well-being & Engagement Officer, by email.
Equity, diversity and inclusion
The Faculty of Mathematics Equity Office is ramping up activity with several projects in the works, including efforts to draft an anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI-R) and Indigenization strategy for the faculty. Keep an eye on your inbox over the coming weeks for more information on this committee and how you can get involved.
In the meantime, the monthly Capacity Building Circles are continuing and in response to feedback from participants, will invite guests with a specific interest and/or expertise in the scheduled topic to join some of the circles. In my role as Dean, I will be joining the circle scheduled for June 20 to engage in a discussion on Inclusive Leadership.
If you have any questions on these items or want to discuss EDI-R related matters in general, feel free to email the Math Equity Office’s new General Inquiries e-mail account: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research and EDI
One-on-one interviews with Canadian Equality Consulting (CEC) have been extended to June 3. The Office of Research has contracted the services of CEC to develop an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) focused strategy for researcher engagement in the University’s commercialization of research and industry-sponsored contract research activities. CEC is currently conducting 30-minute confidential consultations in the form of one-on-one interviews with researchers (faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research associates) who identify as a member of an equity-deserving group (women, people beyond the gender binary, 2SLGBTQ+, Indigenous Peoples, people from racialized communities and persons with disabilities) and have participated in, are currently engaged in or are interested in industry-sponsored contract research and commercialization activities. If you would like to participate in a consultation, please sign up for an interview timeslot.
This past month, we celebrated Women in Mathematics Day, which went splendidly. Thanks to everyone who was involved with organizing and to everyone who attended. A special shout-out to the recruitment team for hosting the first in-person recruitment event since the fall of 2019. On Saturday, May 28, the team welcomed some 1800 people (600 unique groups) to the Faculty of Math booths. For international students and those who could not join in person, the team welcomed admitted students with virtual events in the middle of May, which included students from over 37 countries. Thanks to all the faculty and staff who volunteered to make these events a success!
Check out some of the upcoming events for June and beyond:
- The next Dean’s Townhall will be hosted on June 8 at 3:00 PM. Please register ahead of time and indicate if you will be attending in person or online.
- On Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12, The University of Waterloo and the Faculty of Mathematics welcome back the class of 2020 and 2021 to celebrate their monumental moment in person during a traditional convocation ceremony. Learn more details about the Convocation Celebration for the class of 2020 and 2021.
- The Faculty of Mathematics is celebrating Alumni Weekend on June 4. The festivities start at 10 AM with an exclusive update about the Faculty of Mathematics and a conversation about building technology that is responsible, fair and inclusive. Then, at 3:30 PM, the double degree program is celebrating 20 years with a cocktail reception and a special address from alumnus keynote speaker, Steven Balaban, Chief Investment Officer of Mink Capital. There will also be self-guided tours of the Mathematics building from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. You can register for the event here.
- Oliver Pechenik of the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization is co-organizing the 3rd annual Algebraic Combinatorics Virtual Expedition (AlCoVE), June 6-7, along with Laura Colmenarejo (NCSU), Maria Gillespie (CSU) and Liam Solus (KTH). There is no registration fee, but those interested should register on the conference website.
- The Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science will be hosting the International Conference on Robust Statistics, July 5-8. Get all the information and register here.
- The Waterloo Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute has another CPI Talk coming up on June 8, on the topic of Digital Disinformation and Democracy. The event features Bessma Momani and Shelly Ghai Bajaj from the Department of Political Science. Register at this link.
Faculty awards and accolades
Many of our colleagues received awards and commendations in the past month, once again showing the level of talent and research excellence in the Faculty of Mathematics. Congratulations to the following:
- Kathryn Hare, a Professor in the Department of Pure Mathematics, has been named Distinguished Professor Emerita, to be conferred at our June 16 convocation. Read more here.
- Ian Goulden, a Professor in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, has been named Distinguished Professor Emeritus, to be conferred at our June 16 convocation, where he will also address the convocation audience. Read more here.
- Matthias Schonlau, a Professor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, has been named a winner of the Humboldt Research Award, better known as the Humboldt Prize. Read more here.
- Ruodu Wang, University Research Chair and Sunlife Research Fellow in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, was named a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. Read more here.
- Sophie Spirkl, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, received an Early Researcher Award. Read more here.
- Walaa Moursi, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, received an Early Researcher Award. Read more here.
- Shane McIntosh, an Associate Professor in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, received an Early Researcher Award. Read more here.
- Wayne Oldford, a Professor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, was elected a fellow of the American Statistical Association. Read more here.
- William Slofstra, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pure Mathematics, was awarded a University Research Chair. Read more here.
- Chaitanya Swamy, a Professor in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, has been awarded a University Research Chair. Read more here.
- Pengfei Li, a Professor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, has been named a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. Read more here.
- Amanda Garcia and Burcu Karabina, teaching faculty with the Math Undergraduate Office, won the Online Course Design Award for their redesigned course MATH 237: Calculus 3 for Honours Mathematics. Read more here.
Student awards and accolades
It is a privilege as always to recognize the successes of some of our amazing students. Pass on your congratulations if you had these wonderful students in your class or worked with them.
- Patrick Naylor, a recent PhD graduate from the Department of Pure Mathematics, was this year’s winner of the Governor General’s Gold Medal at the PhD level. Read more here.
- Simone Hu, a recent master’s graduate from the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, was this year’s winner of the Governor General's Gold Medal at the master’s level. Read more here.
- Farzaan Nathoo-Khedri, a recent graduate from the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, has been named the valedictorian for the Faculty of Mathematics for the 2021-22 undergraduate class. Read more here.
- Daekun Kim, an undergraduate student at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, received the 2022 Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award. Read more here.
- Mackenzie Cameron, a master’s student in the Department of Applied Mathematics, and Sierra Legare, an incoming master’s student in the Department of Applied Mathematics, have been named this year’s winners of the Mehta-Jenner Climate Mitigation Graduate Scholarship. Read more here.
- Several graduate students and recent graduates from the Cheriton School of Computer Science won awards at the recent IFIP/IEEE Network Operations and Management Symposium (NOMS 2022) held in Budapest. Shihab Chowdhury, a recent PhD graduate, received the NOMS 2022 Best Dissertation Award. Soheil Johari, a PhD student, received the NOMS 2022 Best Student Paper Award. Muhammad Sulaiman, Arash Moayyedi, along with their supervisors and collaborators Mohammad A. Salahuddin and Raouf Boutaba, received the NOMS 2022 Best Paper Award. Read more here.
- Noah Weninger, a student in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology. Read more here.
- Ryan Goldade, a recent PhD graduate from the Cheriton School of Computer Science, has received the 2021 Alain Fournier Dissertation Award. Read more here.
- Sabrina Mokhtari, an incoming master’s student in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, has received a 2022–23 Vector Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence from the Vector Institute. Read more here.
- Students in the Cheriton School of Computer Science placed second in the east division and fourth overall in the North America Championship of the 2022 International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC). Congratulations to first-year CS student Chris Trevisan, second-year CS student Wen Yuen Pang, CS master’s student Marian Dietz and to CS professors and team coaches Troy Vasiga and Ondřej Lhoták. Read more here.
Outreach and media coverage
Communicating research impact and connecting with the public is a strategic priority of the Faculty of Mathematics. Check out some of the outreach efforts from the past month, and thanks to the following researchers for going the extra mile to help spread the word about the splendid work happening at Waterloo.
- The Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing was thrilled to virtually host the Lloyd Auckland Mathematics Workshop and the Canadian Computing Olympiad (CCO). The CCO had 25 secondary school students virtually come together to test their ability to design, understand and implement algorithms over two days of competition. Top contestants Ryan Bai, Zixiang Zhou, Allen Pei and Edward Xiao will represent Canada at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), to be hosted by Indonesia from August 7-15.
- The Faculty of Mathematics Advancement Team is on the road in June. They will be headed to New York, Boston, Vancouver and Seattle to meet with alumni and donors and hold several thought leadership events.
- Anita Layton, Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine, was featured in a media release that was picked up by media outlets worldwide, related to new research on drug interactions. Read more here.
- Achim Kempf, a Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics, was featured in a widely syndicated media release for his work on a research breakthrough related to the Unruh Effect. Read more here.
- Enamul Haque, a PhD student in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, was featured in a media release related to his work on data science and pandemic emergency remote teaching. Haque’s research was featured in numerous outlets, including in print in The Record. Read more here.
- Ghazal Geshnizjani, a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics, was a guest speaker for the Perimeter Institute’s new podcast. Read more here.
- Michael Dorr, an alumnus of the Faculty of Mathematics and Waterloo’s new Associate Vice-President, Marketing and Brand Strategy, penned a retrospective article on his experience. Read more here.
Staff hires and departures
Congratulations to the new and continuing staff members, and best wishes to those departing for other opportunities.
- Emma Watson is departing from C&O to pursue the role of Human Resources Coordinator with Waterloo’s Human Resources Department.
- Amanda Lutz will be joining C&O as Administrative Coordinator on June 6.
- Alicia Hanbidge is joining the Department of Applied Mathematics as Graduate Coordinator AM/CM, on a permanent full-time basis.
- Anura Namachchivaya recently joined the Math Equity Office as EDI-Project Coordinator.
- Lori Paniak moved into the Technical Manager role for CSCF on May 16.
- Lisa Baxter will be moving roles within Statistics & Actuarial Science as the new Undergraduate Administrative Coordinator/Scheduling Specialist beginning on June 1.
- Stephanie Whitney will be joining UW as the Director, Research & Innovation Partnerships in the Math Innovation Office on June 27.
- Ibelemari Kio is departing Computer Science to pursue a new role in Kinesiology on June 10.
- Diana Timmerman departed Computer Science to move to a new role in IST on May 27.
- Rubin Kataki’s (Math Advancement) secondment has ended, and he has left UW to pursue other opportunities.
- Christina Young has returned to the Donor Relations Officer role in the Office of Advancement following her maternity leave. Welcome back, Christina!
I am especially looking forward to the Spring 2022 Convocation, as this will be a wonderful opportunity to see students from the past few years who never got to cross the stage in person. I hope to see colleagues and friends at convocation, decked out in pomp and regalia!
I also hope that everyone is finding time for some holidays and a much-needed break. As the summer months begin, I encourage everyone to enjoy the simple pleasures of the season, whether you like to spend time in the garden, at the lake or with family and friends.
Thanks so much to everyone in the Faculty of Mathematics for all you do. I am proud to be at the helm of this amazing organization that month after month exceeds all expectations.
Dean, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo