We just finished an end of a term like we’ve never seen. Now we start a Spring term completely online with our students spread around the world. Our instructors have been working tirelessly to consult with experts across campus, learn new tools and develop their courses in novel ways. Our researchers, staff and students continue to amaze me while they work to ensure quality learning opportunities, to build community and understand a world with COVID-19.

Many of our students have become involved in COVID-19 related projects and researchers have pivoted their work to in light of COVID-19. Here are just a few examples:

  • Surya Krishnan, Ivan Nesterovic, Miraal Kabir, William Wen and Eric Zai (Computer Science) joined their peers from the Faculty of Engineering, McMaster University, University of New Brunswick and the University of Toronto to develop an interactive website used by the City of Montreal called flatten.ca  
  • PhD candidate James Petrie (Applied Mathematics) volunteered his time with students from Stanford University to create a contact tracing app called Covid Watch  
  • Incoming MDSAI student Max Niebergall offered his data science skills in the fight against COVID-19
  • Jimmy Lin (Computer Science) spearheaded the creation of a dedicated search engine for those who are engaged in the fight against COVID-19
  • Lila Kari (Computer Science) and colleagues from the University of Western developed a method that can identify future COVID-19-like viruses within minutes, which could allow for quicker development and deployment of vaccines and treatments  
  • Mohammad Kohandel, Michelle Przedborski, Brydon Eastman and Cameron Meaney (Applied Mathematics) have created a new machine learning-enabled model that indicated that continuing social distancing at current levels for six months could save close to 100,000 lives

We’ve also contributed to Q&As for journalists about the pandemic including one on modelling COVID-19, one on privacy vs tracking COVID-19 and one on collecting race-based and social-economic data during COVID-19. (To check out the media releases and coverage we’ve received, see the Press Room).

If you’re looking for ways to help, the Coronoavirus information website has a Community Outreach section. It lists the various ways that the University of Waterloo community is helping and ways that you can lend a hand.

Although we can’t hold events the way we would like to, we’re encouraging everyone to continue their seminars, albeit online, to continue to share research. The Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science is holding a department seminar on May 7 and the Department of Applied Mathematics is holding the Frontiers in Applied Math Colloquium on May 14.

The Advancement team is holding a Women in Math Virtual Celebration on the second International Women in Mathematics Day on May 12. It includes a virtual coffee, discussions and panels with alumni, friends and researchers.

Although we couldn’t host high school students for March Break Open House this year and we can’t invite them to You @ Waterloo Day, we continue to work to share why Waterloo is the best choice for our incoming students. The Admissions and Recruitment team is hosting webinars, answering calls, holding one-on-one online meetings and responding to emails through mathinfo@uwaterloo.ca. Additionally, they worked with the Communications team to create a web page that brings Waterloo to the students, including an Instagram math tour by two of the Winter term’s co-op students.

We also have many things to celebrate as our faculty and students are recognized for their research. Congratulations to:

To close, we have a couple of things to share about the Dean of Math Office. First, welcome back, Jack. Jack Rehder is back from his secondment to the position of Executive Officer. Mona Skuterud (current seconded Executive Officer) will continue within the faculty until September to help accelerate plans for the next Math building. Secondly, we are sad to share that Janette Auxillou passed away on Tuesday, April 28. As the Administrative Assistant to the Dean, she always had a big smile for you, an offer of a coffee and a great story to share.

Stay healthy,

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

Kevin Hare