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Dean’s Message – April 2018

March is always a month of celebration in the Faculty of Mathematics as we observe Pi Day. This year students lined up at least an hour before serving time and MathSoc and volunteers served 1,384 pieces of pie. Just the week before, on March 8th, we indulged in cupcakes for International Women’s Day, as well as participated in a fun photobooth.

Last month we mentioned the Math Faculty Heat for the Three Minute Thesis (3MT). Congratulations to the students who placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in that heat – Kevin Church, Laura Chandler, and Petar Simidzija and Taylor Hornby who tied for 3rd. Three of four of the finalists are graduate students in Applied Mathematics, and Taylor is a student from the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science.

We had the opportunity to talk about our graduate programs with 60 potential graduate students at the Math Grad Visit Days from March 4-6. Any chance we have to bring people on campus to learn about math, we make sure we have a great story to tell. This included a partnership with StarterHacks, to encourage students from any background to explore a hackathon. Co-founded by one of our students, Will Nippard, StarterHacks brought more than 600 people to campus on March 3-4, 49% of whom were female and 20% of whom were high school students. The next weekend even more high school students visited campus for the March Break Open House. Thanks to all our volunteers for spending a Saturday on campus as we welcomed potential students and their families.

We have also spent time this month off campus talking about the research happening in the Faculty of Mathematics. I spent several days in Asia talking about fintech, cybersecurity, blockchain, and quantum computing with banks and government officials, as well as meeting with our alumni in Hong Kong and Singapore together with President Feridun Hamdullahpur and Vice-President Joanne Shoveller.

On Friday, March 23, two of our faculty members, Kate Larson and Joseph Emerson, represented the Faculty of Mathematics on panels at the new Waterloo Innovation Summit Series in Toronto. At the stunning Globe & Mail event space, the discussions focused on quantum technologies and artificial intelligence. Everyone will hear more about the university’s work in artificial intelligence on April 6th at the launch of the Waterloo.ai Institute.

Several people associated with the Faculty of Mathematics received special recognition this month. Congratulations to the following award winners:

Our students and faculty continue to perform outstanding work, and we are proud that they are being recognized. Professor Mohammad Kohandel’s work was featured this month in the National Post, based on the article he wrote for Conversation Canada. Other mathies that made the news included Kate Larson who was interviewed by the Globe and Mail, and CTV Kitchener did a segment for their 6:00 and 11:00 news shows about Pi Day.

We have some news of our own. First, congratulations to M. Tamer Özsu who has been appointed a university professor, and to Candace Harrington who has been named the Director of Advancement for the Faculty of Mathematics. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank J.P. Pretti for his work as the Acting Director of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing as we welcome Ian VanderBurgh back to his post. Another change on the sixth floor of Math and Computing will happen as of July 1. After more than 8 years, Serge D’Alessio completes his appointment as the Associate Dean, Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach. Thank you for your service Serge – we will all miss your jokes at the annual awards banquet. We welcome Troy Vasiga to this role.

Strategic planning for our collective future continues. The excellent input collected during consultation last fall and at the December strategic planning workshop has been consolidated and organized into potential goals, objectives, and strategic actions. The Mathematics Strategic Planning Committee is currently reviewing, refining, and prioritizing these for inclusion in a preliminary draft plan. We will share this draft with a representative group of faculty, staff, and students for review and comment in June. To volunteer as a potential reviewer, please contact Martha Foulds.

Stephen M. Watt

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics - University of Waterloo

Stephen Watt