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Dean's Message - October 2019

As quickly as we got back to class, events notices filled our inboxes. These have included entrepreneurial pitches, a programming contest, a recruitment fair, distinguished lectures, and conferences. Thank you to all of our student, staff, and faculty volunteers who attended the Ontario University Fair in Toronto over the weekend to present Waterloo Math to high school students and their families. We also like to thank those who helped run the first-ever Waterloo Mathematics Undergraduate Research Conference. This new conference gave third- and fourth-year undergraduate students from across Ontario the opportunity to join us at the University of Waterloo, meet leaders in mathematical, computer and statistical sciences, attend breakout sessions, and present their research.

Today, people gather at the University of Waterloo for the Waterloo Innovation Summit, the theme of which is “Reimagining health with technology.” Anita Layton (Applied Mathematics) is taking part in a mathematics for medicine panel, along with Dr. James Drake, the surgeon-in-chief at SickKids. Dr. Drake has been working with Jochen Koenemann and Ricardo Fukasawa (Combinatorics and Optimization) on mathematical algorithms to assist surgeons in the correction of craniosynostosis. Alumna Jodie Wallis (BMath ’93) of Accenture will be presenting with Alex Wong (Faculty of Engineering) with regards to harnessing the potential of AI for health.

There are several cyber events happening this week. It starts with the CyberCity Conference today, sponsored by the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute (CPI). CPI will hold its second annual conference tomorrow at Federation Hall. Sarah Tatsis, vice-president of advanced technology development at BlackBerry, is the keynote speaker, and there will be several panels and a talk on “tech for good”. To close the first week of October, CPI and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department are hosting a two-day workshop on blockchain and security on October 5-6.

In addition to an Applied Math Distinguished Lecture with Lai-Sang Young from New York University on October 16, the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science is hosting two distinguished lectures. The first is by Paul Glasserman from Columbia University on October 11, and the David Sprott Distinguished Lecture with Xiao-Li Meng from Harvard University on October 17. Following that, the department will host the first-ever Waterloo Student Conference in Statistics, Actuarial Science and Finance on October 18-19. It will provide graduate students in statistics, actuarial science, and finance with the opportunity to share their research results and experiences, discuss career opportunities, and network with prominent researchers and fellow graduate students.

September was also a busy month for events, and several faculty and students were honoured at the Cheriton Symposium, the Velocity Fund Finals, and the Citizen Hacks competition, including:

Congratulations to all. We have several others to congratulate as well:

  • Raouf Boutaba and Srinivasan Keshav (Computer Science) were named 2019 Royal Society of Canada Fellows
  • Srinivasan Keshav (Computer Science) was also awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
  • Bin Ma (Computer Science) received an Ontario Research Fund: Research Infrastructure (ORF-RI) award which provides matching funds for the Genome Canada project that he’s working on called: Software for peptide identification and quantification from large mass spectrometry data using data-independent acquisition
  • Melissa McCorriston (Master’s of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence) received a Vector Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence
  • Zachary Cramer (Pure Mathematics) was honoured with an Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student Award
  • Nicholas Manor (Pure Mathematics) received a Teaching Assistant Award
  • Josef Paldus and Jiri Cizek (both Distinguished Professors Emeritus of Applied Mathematics), and former faculty member Charlotte Froese-Fischer were named Members of the Honorary Board of Directors of the International Society for Theoretical Chemical Physics

Our research also continues to gain recognition in the media. On August 29, a press release on research by Omid Abari and Ali Abedi (Computer Science) focused on their development of a new standard of millimeter-wave network that is far more efficient than current 5G connectivity, and it was in several news sources from the International Business Times to News18 in India. PhD candidate Cameron Meaney (Applied Mathematics) and colleagues from Waterloo and MIT worked on mathematical models that improve radiation therapy of brain tumours by focusing on the densest areas of cancer cells. Medical trade journals like Medical Express and the Health Medicine Network were just a few of the publications that promoted these findings. Finally, Jesse Hoey (Computer Science) was featured in articles in TechXplore and TFIR for SMERTI, a new method that enables virtual assistants to use natural language and emotional cues to interact with people with mental illness and cognitive disabilities.

Two new Assistant Professors have joined us, and we look forward to seeing their research in the news soon. Welcome to Pengyu Wei (Statistics and Actuarial Science) and Jian Zhao (Computer Science). We also welcome the Faculty’s new Events Manager, Caity Dyck. Caity will be working on high-profile events and will be an excellent resource for those running events within the departments. We look forward to the development of these events in the coming months.

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

Stephen M. Watt