Dean's Message - November 2019

Dean's Message - November 2019

We are pleased to share that the University’s new strategic plan, Connecting Imagination with Impact, was approved by the Board of Governors on Tuesday, October 29. The plan lays out a shared vision for the University, aligned on several fronts with the Faculty of Mathematics Strategic Plan, completed last year. We look forward to building on the common points and pursuing opportunities for the benefit of the Faculty and the University.

One of the objectives in the Faculty’s Strategic Plan is to foster student, staff, and faculty wellbeing. In addition to events held across campus for Thrive Week (November 4-8), you can find events specifically for the Faculty of Mathematics. We are offering resilience workshops for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as study break stations throughout the math buildings. We also invite you to register to take part in the Thrive Walk.

Also upcoming, St. Jerome’s is hosting the next Bridges lecture on November 8. It focuses on zombies, digging into what makes us so scared of the living dead – quite fitting for the Hallowe’en season! The following week, the Faculty is holding its next Postdoc Lunch Series event on November 13 to help postdoctoral fellows develop better elevator pitches. Finally, high school students will be writing both the Canadian Seniors Mathematics Contest (CSMC) and the Canadian Intermediate Mathematics Contest (CIMC). On November 20, the contests occur in North and South America, and all other countries will participate on November 21.

Last month we held several events, a few of them very proud moments for the Faculty. We welcomed our newest 483 alumni on October 25 at the Fall Convocation Ceremony (bringing our total to 41,233). Both the Alumni Gold Medals were awarded to students in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization (C&O): André Linhares Rodrigues was awarded Recognition of Academic Achievement Doctoral, and Samuel Erik Jaques received the Recognition of Academic Achievement Master’s.

Chris Godsil of C&O was designated Distinguished Professor Emeritus at convocation, while Vic DicCiccio (Cheriton School of Computer Science) was designated an Honorary Member of the University. We were also pleased to see Joanna Ting Yuan (Math/CPA) receive the KD Fryer Gold Medal.

The day after Convocation, 12 current students competed in the East Central North America International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPIC) regional competition. We are incredibly proud to announce that all four teams from Waterloo placed in the top five.

  • Waterloo Gold (Timothy Li, Wesley Leung, Arash Bigoldi) was the only team to solve all 11 problems and placed first.
  • Waterloo Red (Thang Pham, Reyno Tilikaynen, Sean Purcell) finished 10 problems and finished in second place.
  • Waterloo Black (Robert Cummings, Joakim Blikstand, Jason Yuen) also completed 10 problems and finished in third place.
  • Waterloo White (Andy Rock, Joey (Yinhan) Yu, Josh (Yesung) Jung) finished eight problems and placed fifth.

Purdue was the only non-Waterloo team in the top five. On top of this, eight of the 11 problems were solved first by one of our Waterloo teams! The top schools now qualify for the North American Championship in Atlanta, February 19-23, 2020, and some of the teams will then qualify for the World Finals in Moscow June 21-26, 2020.

We had 468 first- and second-year students compete in this year’s Small c competition on September 27. The top-performing students each earned a score of at least 142 out of 150, and they are:

  • First-year students: Ian Cheung, Noah Cameron-Howe, Scott Xu, Rene Yu, Talfryn Yu 
  • Second-year students: Zerui Jia, Sam Liew

Honourable mentions go to Han Xiang Sun, Sundonglong Zhang, Albert Ding, Michael Huang, Yuhao Chen, Katherine Ma, Alexander Monteith-Pistor, Jiayue Wang, Dev Parikh, Pingchuan Xie, Gary Sun, Yen-Kang Fu, and Xinyue Xie.

We have several others to congratulate this month:

In the past month, Waterloo Math was mentioned in news around the world, particularly in India. More than 10 Indian news sources published a story about the computer kidney model developed by Anita Layton (Applied Mathematics) that shed light on the impacts of medicines taken by people who do not drink enough water. The news outlets included Medindia, APHerald, and Onmanorama. Research that included Chris Bauch (Applied Mathematics) about using mathematical modelling to predict and control disease outbreaks was also picked up by Medindia, in addition to Ghana Nation and the Homeland Preparedness News.

An outlet closer to home covered the impactful efforts of the Risk Management, Economic Sustainability and Actuarial Science in Indonesia (READI) project in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science. Maclean’s magazine detailed the work READI does just five months after a mention in Wired.

We are saddened by the news of the deaths of two researchers. Janusz (John) Brzozowski passed away on October 24. John joined Waterloo in 1967, was Chair of the Department of Computer Science on two occasions (from 1978-1983 and 1987-1989), and was recognized by CS-Can/Info-Can with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. Henry Crapo passed on September 3. During his time in the Faculty of Mathematics (1965-1977), Henry was involved in CKWR, the community radio station, and made significant contributions to the study of matroid theory.

In closing, we would like to make you aware of two “not-so-new” staff members. Crystal Cooper formerly worked with the Advancement team on a contract and has now returned as the Advancement Coordinator. Dana Hociung, whom you may know from the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, has been seconded as the Administrative Assistant to the Dean.

Stephen M. Watt
Dean, Faculty of Mathematics - University of Waterloo

Stephen M. Watt