Dear Faculty of Mathematics colleagues,  

With the reading week over, we are now past the mid-point of this academic term. It has been a pleasure to meet with colleagues and friends in person and on campus over the past two weeks, and I am looking forward to getting back to face-to-face interactions in the days ahead. The COVID situation remains stable, with things looking optimistic on that front, and the reopening of the campus has gone as well as we could have hoped. 

With so much focus on the return to in-person experiences, it can be easy to miss all the wonderful things happening here in the Faculty of Mathematics. This newsletter is a touchstone for some of those wonderful things, which I am so happy to share with you again this month. As you will see below, it was a busy month for our students, faculty and staff. My appreciation and gratitude to you all for your amazing work. 


We are now welcoming applications from faculty and staff to join the Employee Health and Well-being Committee for the 2022-23 term, which will begin on May 1. All interested employees are encouraged to apply on or before March 18. You can learn more about the Committee by visiting the webpage or by contacting the Community Well-being & Engagement Officer directly. 

Our Living Wellness programming saw its best month yet, with over 150 students, staff and faculty registering to take part in our various wellness-related activities, workshops and events. We were pleased to see so many staff and faculty registering to take part, and we are hopeful you will continue to register and attend those activities, workshops or events that speak to you. If you have not yet found something of interest in the Living Wellness programming, then please take a minute and suggest something you would like to see using Have your say. Your submission will enter you into a termly draw to win 1-of-3 $50.00 W Store gift cards.


The month of February saw the most recent of our Town Hall events. I want to say a special thank you to everyone who attended. There are several upcoming events I would also like to draw your attention to: 

  • Waterloo Women’s Impact Network (WWIN) is hosting a Speed Mentoring Event on March 2. Students will have the opportunity to network and be mentored by brilliant female math alums through this unique virtual event. 
  • Prospective students will virtually be attending the invitation-only Grad Visit Day hosted by the Faculty of Mathematics on March 3 and 4. Grad Visit Day will provide prospective students opportunities to meet faculty and staff, as well as current and future graduate students through a series of events over the course of two days. 
  • Women in Math (WiM) is hosting a walk to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. The event will provide the chance to socialize over refreshments followed by a scenic group walk. The celebration begins at 1 pm at the UW Egg Fountain. All are welcome to join. Check for more event details here
  • Master of Quantitative Finance (MQF) will be hosting a virtual Alumni Career Panel on March 11 at 12 pm featuring four esteemed Master of Quantitative Finance alumni. Panelists will explore the different career paths people can take after graduation. 
  • The Faculty of Mathematics celebrates the Annual Dean’s Lecture & Pi Day Celebration on March 14. The Dean’s Lecture will feature an exclusive update for, and conversation with, our Hong Kong alumni community. A public lecture by Anita Layton will follow, focusing on her research and how mathematics plays an integral role in health innovation. 
  • Announcing the Combinatorial and Algebraic Enumeration conference at the University of Waterloo, to be held in person May 24-27. This conference celebrates Ian Goulden and David Jackson’s insight and inspiration that shaped the fields of algebraic and combinatorial enumeration. Abstract submissions for the poster session are currently being accepted. The deadline to submit a poster abstract is March 31. To learn more, please visit the conference website
  • The Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science is pleased to announce it will be hosting an exciting two-day virtual conference on Biostatistics: Foundations and the Era of Data Science, April 28-29. The program features talks by leading researchers which are arranged in four half-day sessions on the themes of measurement error, data integration and synthesis, electronic medical records and causal inference. Learn more here

Research news 

Disclosure of intellectual property (IP) and commercialization activity is an annual requirement for researchers and it is important to complete the Electronic IP and Commercialization Activity Disclosure form by March 31. More information is available on the Policy 73 web page

Pivot-RP training sessions are planned for March 8 (administrative staff) and April 7 (faculty and grad students). Register for training, access resources and read about this new searchable database of research funding opportunities for Waterloo researchers (including how to set up an account/claim your profile) on the Pivot-RP web page

Undergraduate admissions and recruitment 

The recruitment team will be welcoming students to learn more about the Faculty of Mathematics through a hybrid March Break Open House. There will be a comprehensive virtual event on Saturday, March 19 from 9 am – 1:30 pm that will enable prospective students and their families to learn more about Waterloo from anywhere in the world. Check out more details here

Know a prospective high school student who wants to tour the Faculty of Mathematics? In-person tours for prospective students start again on February 28. Math tours run Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1 pm. Sign up 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. 

  • Dan Wolczuk, Lecturer in the Faculty of Mathematics, has been awarded the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) prestigious Excellence in Teaching Award for 2022, which for the past 18 years has recognized one faculty member in Canada for sustained and distinguished contributions in teaching mathematics at the post-secondary undergraduate level. Read more here
  • The Waterloo Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute, directed by Professor of Computer Science and Cheriton Chair N. Asokan, is among the select few organizations that are part of Canada’s new Cyber Security Innovation Network (CSIN). Read more here
  • Sergey Gorbunov, an Assistant Professor in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, recently saw his company Axelar raise $35 million USD in Series B funding, which has propelled Axelar’s market valuation to unicorn status. Read more here
  • Richard Cook, Professor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences, is the recipient of a major Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding award. 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. 

  • James Davies, a PhD student from the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, is one of two winners of the 2022 Faculty of Mathematics Graduate Research Excellence Awards. Read more here
  • Gregory Philbrick, a PhD student in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, is one of two winners of the 2022 Faculty of Mathematics Graduate Research Excellence Awards. Read more here
  • Cheryl Lao, a master’s student in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, received a 2022 Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship, one of 16 recipients across North America, and one of only four from Canada. Read more here
  • A team of Faculty of Mathematics students participating in the PRMIA 2022 competition have advanced to the regional round. Tiana Zhao (4A, ACTSC), Gladys Teh (4B, ACTSC) and Julia Tu (3B, FARM) will be presenting their case to the panel of judges on March 21. This is the first time in recent memory a team of Waterloo students has reached the regional round of this highly prestigious competition. If successful, the team will be going to the final and international round later in the spring. Congratulations to Tiana, Gladys and Julia on this milestone accomplishment and best of luck in the regional round. 
  • Three Waterloo teams placed in the top 10 of the prestigious International Collegiate Programming Challenge in the East Central North America division. The teams were comprised of undergraduate and graduate students from the Cheriton School of Computer Science. Team Waterloo Gold (third overall) included Chris Trevisan (CS 1B), Pang Wen Yuen (CS 2B) and Marian Dietz (CS Masters). Team Waterloo Black (fourth overall) included Kevin Wan (CS 2B), Moses Xu (CS 1B) and Andrew Dong (CS 1B). Team Waterloo White (tenth overall) included Arash Mahmoudian Bidgoli (CS 3B), Jamie Sebastian (CS 4A) and Andrew Qi Tang (CS 2B). The teams were coached by Troy Vasiga, Lecturer in the Cheriton School of Computer Science and Chair of the Canadian Computing Competition, and Ondřej Lhoták, Associate Professor in the Cheriton School of Computer Science. 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. 

  • CEMC has partnered with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) to support their innovative Girls in Mathematical Sciences program. Read more here
  • Anita Layton, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine, and Mehrshad Sadria, a PhD candidate in Applied Mathematics, were featured in a widely syndicated press release for their work on a COVID-19 model assessing the impact of variants of concern. Read more here
  • Fabrice Matulic, Senior Researcher at Preferred Networks, Inc and Assistant Professor in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, and Daniel Vogel, Associate Professor in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, were featured in an article about their academic-industry collaboration in machine learning and human computer interaction. Read more here
  • Maura Grossman, Research Professor in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, was part of a panel that discussed assessing the admissibility of AI evidence at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering. Read more here
  • Don Phillips, a Faculty of Mathematics alumni, was featured in a wonderful story about how he took a co-op placement some 40 years ago and has remained with the same employer ever since. Read more here

Faculty appointments 

Anita Layton will continue for another year as Associate Dean, Research and International, starting July 1. Thank you, Anita, for your dedication to advancing the research portfolio of the Faculty of Mathematics. 

Staff hires and departures 

Please join me in welcoming and congratulating new and continuing staff members in the Faculty of Mathematics and wishing all the best to departing colleagues. 

  • Emma Hernout joined the CEMC as the Outreach Activities Administrator (Bi-lingual) on February 23. 
  • Nadine Zinger joined the Cheriton School of Computer Science, on a contract basis, as Graduate Coordinator on February 23. 
  • Tom Cauduro joined CSCF as an Information Technology Specialist on March 1. 
  • Alicia Hanbidge joined Applied Math, on a contract basis, as Administrative Coordinator on February 14. 
  • Nancy (Corbett) Brittenden joined the Math Research Office/Math Innovation Office as Administrative Coordinator, Research & Innovation on February 22. 
  • Cristen Brown joined the Math Advancement team, on a permanent basis, as a Senior Development Officer. 
  • Heather Zunic is departing from the Dean of Math Office communications team to pursue other opportunities. Thanks for everything, Heather! 
  • Lauren Fitzgerald’s (Math Advancement) last day of her contract is March 4, before beginning maternity leave. Congratulations to Lauren and her family on their upcoming arrival! 
  • Katie Kent (MUO) is no longer with the University. 
  • Lilia Mae Mercado (Survey Research Centre) is no longer with the University. 
  • Bethany Davidson-Eng (MRO) is no longer working in her role as Proposal Development Officer. 

Looking forward 

With March here, we can hold out hope that warmer days will be just around the corner and that we may mercifully look forward to less shovelling and maybe a few early buds of spring! It is a busy time in the academic year, as we gear up for the end of the term and for exams. Even so, I encourage everyone to do their best to make time for the simple pleasures of life. 

Thanks all around once again for everything you do in the service of our students and of each other. We are making a huge difference in the lives of so many, and it is my great privilege to work with such dedicated and thoughtful colleagues.

Yours truly, 

Mark Giesbrecht

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo

Mark Giesbrecht