Dear Faculty of Mathematics colleagues, 

As August comes to a close and we roll into September, we open the book on a new academic year and welcome a new cohort of students joining our community. I hope you have been able to take some time away from work to enjoy the weather with your loved ones while relaxing and recharging.  

Although we have had students spending time on campus for classes and in-person events for the past several months, this will be the first time since the start of the pandemic that we will have a “normal” start to the Fall semester and all the on-campus excitement that comes with it. I would like to send a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the immense planning and preparation needed to support these students. Your efforts to help welcome this group into our community and ensure they feel safe, comfortable and well informed as they take the next step on their educational journeys are most appreciated.                 

It is my honour as always to share great news of some of the contributions and recognitions achieved by members of the Faculty of Mathematics, and let you know about upcoming events and initiatives.  


The start of a new academic year is an exciting time but can also be stressful and bring unforeseen challenges. With that in mind, it is important to make time to focus on taking care of yourself and maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. We have a number of different events and initiatives this month that aim to help you focus on your well-being: 

  • I am excited to share a brand-new Faculty-wide team-based competition, Key Clues. Key Clues is a three-day puzzle scavenger hunt September 20 to September 22, in which teams of 4-10 players work together to solve several puzzles to determine the location of a hidden key that will unlock a prize box. The first team to solve all the puzzles and find the location of the prize box will be deemed this year’s winner. We are looking for interested faculty members to volunteer as team captains. If you are interested contact our Community Well-being and Engagement Officer to learn more. 

  • The second year of our Living Wellness Campaign will be launching this month. Keep an eye open for the monthly email or visit the Living Wellness website to stay up to date on upcoming programming. 

  • Lawn Game Days will be back on September 13 and 14 from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm in the DC Quad. Our student, staff, and faculty volunteers from the Faculty of Mathematics will be organizing and running a wide selection of activities and games that are sure to offer you and your colleagues a fun afternoon out in the fresh air. 

  • To help inspire a sense of community and belonging within the Faculty of Mathematics, we will be installing a wellness-themed community art piece in MC. Students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to come out to the Wellness Booth on September 13 and 14 from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm in the DC Quad to write your own personal wellness message on a tile that will be installed onto our community art piece . 

Equity, diversity and inclusion 

It has been great to see an increasing number of individuals and units considering equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism (EDI-R) + Indigenization in their work and engaging with the Faculty Equity Officer for support. In addition to the work of the EDI-R and Indigenization Strategy/Lens Development Committee, the Faculty Equity Office is supporting colleagues engaging in a growing number of activities, including the development of inclusive events resources, coordinating efforts surrounding accessibility, and a review of the undergraduate admissions process (just to name a few). Please reach out to Jeremy Steffler if you are engaged (or planning to engage) in EDI-R + Indigenization work. The Faculty Equity Office may be able to support your efforts and/or help facilitate connections with others that may be engaged in similar activities. It is important that we do our best to keep one another informed and engaged in this work, to allow for collective action and sustainable change. 

One way to stay informed and connected is through the monthly Capacity Building Circles. The topic for September will be “Exploring decolonization and Indigenization in Mathematics”. For more information, contact the equity office or sign up to participate here (Note, the event password is EDISept2022). 

Research Community 

In late June, Stephanie Whitney joined the Math Innovation Office as Director of Research and Innovation Partnerships. As she settles into her role and gets to know our Faculty, I'd like to offer you the opportunity to get to know her better. Stephanie sat down with Joe Petrik, the Cheriton School of Computer Science’s Communications Officer, and shared a bit about her experience and what she aims to accomplish in her new role. You can read the article about Stephanie here.  

Nathalia Nascimento, a postdoctoral researcher in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, Glaucia Melo, a Cheriton PhD candidate, and a team of researchers and health professionals, are developing a diabetes monitor that detects blood glucose levels using a person’s breath through a start-up company called OrientaMED. They are creating a next-generation diabetes monitor that analyzes breath could soon mean no more needle pricks to check blood sugar levels. See their progress and what the next steps in developing this research are here.  

The Office of Research is launching a new speaker series this Fall for our research community called Research Horizons. The series will host dialogues with leaders from various agencies and organizations and will take place on campus in the Enterprise Theatre, EC5, over lunch hour. This series will be especially beneficial to faculty members, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. This Fall, Kate Geddie (Senior Director, Research, CIFAR), Raed Kadri (Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives, Business Development for the Ontario Centre of Innovation & Head of the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN)) and Ted Hewitt (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)) will give talks and meet with our community on October 5, November 2 and December 8, respectively. For more information and to register for any of these sessions, visit the Research Horizons event page here

Alumni achievements 

August was a big month for former students of Richard Cook, Math Faculty Research Chair and Professor of Statistics and Actuarial Science.  Two outstanding PhD students he supervised are being recognized this month for their achievements. 

Recent alumni Fangya Mao (PhD ‘22) was recognized with a Student Conference Award at the 43rd Meeting of the International Society of Clinical Biostatistics Meeting for her presentation on Spatial Dependence Modeling of Latent Susceptibility and Time to Joint Damage in Psoriatic Arthritis. Read more about the conference and her presentation here.  

Joy Jiang (PhD ‘18) was named as one of the inaugural 40 Under 40 Public Health Catalyst Award recipients by The Boston Congress of Public Health. These individuals were identified as representatives of the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, activists, intellectual provocateurs, authors, and directors who inspire and catalyze a more just and equitable world. Read more about what the award means to her and what she has accomplished in her career here.  


August was a relatively quiet in terms of events and activities but featured the first iteration of the Living Wellness Lawn Games Days that saw students, faculty, and staff enjoy a variety of outdoor games and activities. While we can still enjoy the weather, be sure to check out the next edition taking place on September 13 and 14, 2022 and take a break from your day to get active, mingle with the community, or challenge a colleague.  

In addition to more outdoor fun, there are several exciting upcoming events this coming month:  

  • The Faculty of Math will be hosting a Faculty Reception & Dinner on September 8, 2022, to celebrate and recognize the awards and achievements of our faculty, welcome new faculty and, recognize retiring faculty members and their contributions. There will be a sit-down dinner and cocktail bar. 

  • Women in Mathematics (WiM) will be hosting its annual Fall Welcome Event on September 14, 2022, featuring talks from upper-year students and first-year instructors, complimentary snacks, games, and much more. Register to attend here

  • The Faculty of Math In partnership with WiM and the Faculty of Engineering is proud to present an evening of entertainment with the play, Truth Values: One Girl's Romp Through M.I.T.'s Male Math Maze on September 24, 2022. Following this incredible one-woman show will be a panel discussion to rethink the role inclusion and diversity play in the STEM workspace. This event is free for UWaterloo staff, faculty, and students to attend. For more information and to register, visit the Truth Values event website here

  • As part of the lead up to Alumni Black and Gold Day, Associate Professor in the Cheriton School of Computer Science Craig Kaplan will be moderating Data + The Arts event on September 29, 2022. This event will see panelists discuss how artists are using data to create innovative works that influence change and introduce artists using data to express beauty. For more information and event registration go to the event website here

Faculty awards and accolades 

This past month we announced the annual Awards for Distinction in Teaching from the Faculty of Mathematics which recognizes faculty members who have consistently demonstrated outstanding pedagogical skills and a deep commitment to students. Their exemplary performance and dedication to our students' educational experience is part of what makes our Faculty great. I would like to express my gratitude and congratulations to this year’s winners, Nathaniels Stevens, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, and Mohammad Kohandel, an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics. You can read more about what their students had to say and why they were selected here

Outreach and media coverage 

The Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) was thrilled to represent Canada and participate in the 2022 International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), an annual competition for high school students in algorithmic problem-solving and computer programming. This year’s event took place in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and had 357 competitors representing 88 countries. For Team Canada, Zixiang Zhou placed 6th overall, earning him a gold medal, Allen Pei and Ryan Bai earned silver medals by placing 34th and 51st, respectively, and Edward Xiao placed 91st to earn a bronze medal. This was Zixiang's fifth IOI and he now holds a combined four gold medals and one silver medal, putting him in a tie for second place among all IOI competitors since the competition began in 1989.  

Cheriton School of Computer Science Research Professor Maura Grossman will be participating in a webinar titled "Mystery of the Mar-A-Lago Docs & the Special Master" on September 7, 2022. Inspired by Former President Donald Trump’s motion to appoint a Special Master to review the material seized by the FBI from Mar-A-Lago, this fireside chat will discuss what a Special Master is and how one is appointed, who a Special Master reports to, explain the rules for interacting with a Special Master, what Special Master reports look like and if they are appealable. Read more or attend the webinar on the Electronic Discovery Reference Model site here

Faculty hires and retirement 

September will see a new faculty member joining us. A very warm welcome to Chelsea Uggenti, who will be starting as a Lecturer in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science on September 1, 2022.  

Staff hires and departures 

Congratulations to the new and continuing staff members, and best wishes to those departing for other opportunities. 

  • Congratulations to Nadine Zinger who has moved from a contract to an ongoing role in Computer Science as the Graduate Coordinator. 

  • Welcome to Ryan McGrath who joined CEMC as an Information Systems Developer on August 22. 

  • Congratulations to Nickolas Rollick who will be continuing with CEMC in a new role as a Senior Resource Design Specialist effective September 1. 

  • Welcome to Melodie Roschman who will be joining the Math Communications Team as Communications Officer, Media on September 6.  

  • Welcome to Hayleigh MacDonald who will be joining Applied Math as the Administrative Coordinator, Undergraduate Studies on September 6. 

  • Best wishes to Yibei Zhao from the Math Innovation Office will be leaving on a two-year secondment with the Office of Research on September 19. 

  • Welcome back to Ashley Congi (CEMC) who has returned from maternity leave on August 29. 

Looking forward 

Soon our campus will once again be full of students, many for the first time, running to classes and coffee shops while enjoying everything that makes our community great. Our newest cohort will be learning what life in the Faculty of Math is all about as they familiarize themselves with our history, traditions, and quirks. I know you will all wish them a warm welcome and help make everyone comfortable as they continue their educational journeys and adjust to a new lifestyle.  

Thank you, once again, for all you do in the service of our students and each other. We all need the support of each other to succeed, and as always, I am incredibly proud of how our community comes together to achieve incredible things. I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend and come back reinvigorated and ready for another great academic year.  

Yours truly, 

Mark Giesbrecht

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo

Mark Giesbrecht