Dean's Message - December 2022

Dear Faculty of Mathematics colleagues,

It is hard to believe it is December already.  November has come and gone in a blur, filled with our efforts in teaching and research, and punctuated as always with events and achievements. I know the last few weeks of this semester will fly by as we finish our classes, grade our exams, set those last brilliant research ideas of the year to paper, and get ready to spend time with family and friends over the holidays (and do our annual reports, of course).  

As we look forward to the new year, I want to highlight one very exciting project coming to campus: the long-anticipated Mathematics 4 building (boringly named M4 so far) has received final approval! It is currently scheduled to break ground in November 2023. M4 will provide almost 13,000 square metres of purposefully designed new space for research, teaching, collaboration and community, and offers exciting opportunities for expansion of all our faculty’s activities.  The 5-storey building will be situated at the nexus of our Math activities on campus, connecting directly to Mathematics and Computing (MC), Mathematics 3 (M3), and (partly on top of) the Davis Computer Research Centre (DC). Read all about the plans for M4 on its new dedicated page.

As always, it is my privilege and honour to highlight some of the many achievements of our talented students, faculty, and staff throughout November, as well as sharing upcoming initiatives and events taking place in our Faculty.

Health and Wellness:

As the Living Wellness programming wraps up for the fall semester, we are very excited to have seen 500 students, postdocs, staff, and faculty fill our programming nearly to capacity. For those who registered, we hope that the time you invested in participating in wellness programming has truly made a difference. For those who have not yet registered for one of our activities, you will have another opportunity to join in with our January programming. We are currently looking into offering a variety of different programming for the winter term, including a family skating day at the Columbia Ice Fields, in-person cooking classes, workshops, fitness classes, and exciting excursions.

It is never too early to begin thinking about New Year’s resolutions! Perhaps this year your list might include looking for professional development opportunities that will contribute to your skill development, personal growth, or career advancement. If you do, make sure you review our Staff Professional Development program to find out if you are eligible to receive funding from the Faculty to take part in an exciting professional development opportunity. Please visit our website to learn more about this program.

During the upcoming winter term we will be adding a board game cabinet to the MC Lounge (MC 5511) to help promote relational wellness in our community. As we begin compiling a list of games that will be added to the game cabinet, we also wanted to ask members of our community to donate any old unused board games they have at home in order to champion our environmental wellness! If you have a game that you want to donate, please connect with our community Well-being and Engagement Officer, Robert.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion:

Each year, we recognize the 16 Days of Action Against Gender-Based Violence, which began November 25th (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) and runs until December 10th (Human Rights Day). We can all take action to stop gender-based violence; the sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office has curated a list of events and initiatives to help us get involved.

Our last Capacity Building Circles for fall term will be on Digital Accessibility. Joyce Barlow (Workplace Accessibility Specialist) will be a special guest joining us for one of our circles this month (December 12). To sign up for the circle, register with the password “EDIDec2022”. The schedule for 2023 will develop over the coming weeks – feel free to contact Jeremy Steffler if you have suggested topics for discussion.


  • For those of you who missed the September performance of Truth Values, a recording of the post-performance panel discussion about women and STEM is now available. You can watch that recording at this link.
  • We had the pleasure of hosting Professor Edward Doolittle of First Nations University of Canada, an expert on the Indigenization of Mathematics, on November 9. Read more about his visit and talk at this link.

  • On November 24, the Faculty of Mathematics hosted a graduate information session for current undergraduate students. Students had the opportunity to speak with faculty members, graduate coordinators, and current graduate students to learn more about graduate studies in various Math units.

  • You’re invited to a special lecture Research Funding in the Social Sciences and Humanities: Past, Present, and Future, featuring Ted Hewitt, President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) on December 8, 2022, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. in the Theatre of the Arts (Modern Languages building). This presentation will be livestreamed for anyone who would prefer to take part virtually, but all attendees (in-person and virtual) must register in advance. 

Research, Advancement, and Media Outreach:

  • The November 5th Fall Open House, along with the virtual events surrounding it, was a smashing success! We had 3430 registrations with a total group size of 8980 people checking out the Faculty of Mathematics! Thank you so much to the 85 staff, faculty, and students who helped make the open house a success.
  • Computer Science Adjunct Professor Ali Abedi discovered a security loophole allowing attackers to use Wi-Fi to see through walls. His research was covered by news sites around the world, including The Toronto Star and The Record. You can read Waterloo’s story here.

  • On November 29, the University of Waterloo and the Faculty of Mathematics celebrated Giving Tuesday. Thanks to all of you who joined me in making gifts to the CEMC Elementary Innovation Fund and the Pure Math Fund. Your support is making math more pervasive, inclusive, and accessible.

  • December is a busy travel month for the Math Advancement team.  I will be travelling with them to Vancouver, Victoria, and New York to meet with math alumni and industrial partners to highlight and engage them in all the exciting things going on in the Waterloo Math.  The team is also preparing a New Year’s card and video that will be sent out to all alumni in late December. 

Student Awards:  

  • Congratulations to Andrej Vukovic, Pure Math for being recognized for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student, and to Max Chemtov, Pure Math, who received an Undergraduate Research Award.

  • Congratulations as well to Simon Adamus, Sourabhashis Das, and Christopher Lang, all of Pure Math, for receiving Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards.

  • A trio of three Waterloo students — Wesley Leung (BSE 2022), Jason Yuen (BMath CS 2022) and Ildar Gainullin (third-year BMATH student, with a double major in Pure Math and Combinatorics and Optimization) — placed 17th internationally, were third in North America and the top team in Canada at the 45th International Collegiate Programming Contest. Read more here.

  • Computer Science grads and undergrads were among the winners at the AI Data Challenge on November 12. Read more here.

  • Students from the Faculty of Mathematics were part of two of the four winning teams at the Velocity 5K Finals on November 23. Read more here.  

Faculty News:  

  • Statistics and Actuarial Science Professor Aukosh Jagannath, along with his colleagues Gerard Ben Arous and Reza Gheissari, won an outstanding paper award at NeurIPS 2022 for “High-dimensional limit theorems for SGD: Effective dynamics and critical scaling.” Read more here

  • CS Professor Jo Atlee, her ECE colleague Professor Krzysztof Czarnecki, and their former students, were awarded a ten-year most influential paper award for their work on variability modeling in industrial practice. Read more here.

  • Our condolences to the family and friends of Ed Moskal, retired Professor of Pure Math, who passed away on November 17 at the age of 84. You can read about his life here.  

Staff Hires and Departures:  

New hires: 

  • Alexandra Rideout (CEMC) has accepted a new role within the CEMC, as the Contest Administration Specialist, beginning on December 1.  

  • Welcome to Nina Mohsin who will be joining Computer Science as a Financial Coordinator, on contract, beginning December 5.  

  • Welcome to Joseph Giuffre, who will be joining the Math Undergraduate Office as an Undergraduate Coordinator on contract beginning December 12.  

  • Welcome back to Angie Mercer (CS) who will be returning from secondment to her role as Financial Coordinator, beginning December 5.  


  • All the best to Jacquelene Bailey (CEMC) who took a permanent role in GSPA beginning on November 1.  

Looking forward:  

When I write to you again, it will be in the early days of the New Year. Whatever celebrations December holds for you, I hope that the month ahead brings you joyful times with family and friends, plenty of good food, fun, and bright light on winter days.  

Have a wonderful, warm, and much deserved holiday, everyone! 

Mark Giesbrecht

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo

Mark Giesbrecht