Dean's Message - January 2023

Happy New Year, everyone!  

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and that you stayed cozy and warm during the blizzard that swept across North America on our last day of work. It’s hard to believe it’s 2023 already – it will take a little while to adjust to the new date! It was a rather short break, but I hope you all managed to get some time to reset and focus on enjoyable activities. 

As we anticipate a new year, it is valuable to reflect on the highlights of the past year as well. December saw us recognizing some of our bright students and faculty for their accomplishments, as well as looking back at some of the exciting research done in 2022. We also used December as a time of preparation: for a new semester, for new events like Research and Discovery Days, and for the exciting next phase in building Math 4!  

In this new year as in the last, it is my pleasure to share news and accomplishments with you from the next month and for the month to come. 

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The Faculty of Mathematics Equity Office has a great deal planned for the Winter term. Here are just a few highlights:

  • The EDI-R + Indigenization Lens Development Committee is looking forward to connecting with the Faculty more broadly to seek feedback on the principles, goals, and actions the committee has been developing as we help guide the Faculty’s equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and Indigenization work.
  • Circle conversations will be expanding! In addition to circles that focus on developing capacity, there will also be a series of circles for individuals who feel they have the knowledge, skill, and capacity to drive change in our Faculty – and wish to connect to discuss specific actions. Both circle series will be centred around a common monthly theme.
  • Our Equity Officer Jeremy Steffler has always been available for one-on-one consultations with faculty, staff, and students, and we are looking to make this process easier! You can now schedule consultations with Jeremy through Microsoft Bookings.


  • Statistics and Actuarial Science is proud to partner with Scotiabank for Data Science Discovery Days, a Hackathon running from January 20 to 22, with pre-events on January 18 and 19. Learn more and register here.
  • The Math Innovation office is kicking off its Entrepreneurship and Impact Series with a lecture from Ian MacKinnon on January 23 from. 4:30 to 6:00. MacKinnon is the founder and CTO of Learn more and register to attend here.
  • You’re invited to a public event and panel discussion, “The AI Tsunami – Where will it take us?” featuring: P & P Optica, Evan Jones - Stitch Media, and Sirisha Rambhatla and Will Zhao - University of Waterloo, who will discuss the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The event takes place onTuesday, January 24, 2023, from 6-8 p.m. at Jobsite Brewing Co., 45 Cambria Street, Stratford. Please register to attend.

Research, Advancement, and Media

I know a lot of you joined me in supporting this year’s Giving Tuesday campaign so I wanted to let you know the final numbers for the Faculty of Mathematics. In total, $67,403 was raised from 141 donors. This includes:

  • $10,175 from 48 donors for the CEMC Elementary School Innovation Fund
  • $11,391 from 40 donors to the Entrepreneurship Fund
  • $11,237 from 30 donors to the Pure Mathematics Fund and
  • $34,600 from 23 donors for non-challenge funds.

Thank you for joining me in making the campaign a big success!   

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, I am pleased to announce that our Alumni Achievement Awards will be celebrated this year. Last year (2022) was the 20th anniversary of the Alumni Achievement Medal and the 10th anniversary of the Young Alumni Achievement Medal. Five winners were chosen for each award this year: one for each year from 2019 to 2021 and two for 2022, in recognition of this being a special anniversary year. The medalists will be featured in the January alumni e-newsletter, the Winter eTies, the Spring issue of the Waterloo Magazine and will be presented their medals at an event on Alumni Weekend, June 3rd. The recipients are:

Alumni Achievement Medal

  • Rudy Karsan (BMath ’79)
  • Mohammed Taghi Hajiagha (MMath ’01)
  • Judy Dinn (BMath ’94)
  • Bonnie Foley Wong (BMath ’97, MACC ’97)
  • Kevin Kimsa (BMath ’88)

Young Alumni Achievement Medal

  • Vy (Ngoc) Le (BMath ’11)
  • Ashwin Vadivelu (BMath ’16)
  • Henry Shi (BCS ’14)
  • Joy Jiang (PhD ’18)
  • Karima Ladhani (BMath ’10)

Starting in 2023, to better align our Awards program with our diversity, equity and inclusion commitments, the Young Alumni Achievement Medal will be renamed the G.O.L.D. (graduate of the last decade) Achievement Medal and the criteria will change from being age-based to a candidate having graduated in the last ten years.

Student Awards

  • Applied Math PhD student James Petrie won a competitive “Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity” fellowship from Johns Hopkins University

Faculty Awards

  • Khuzaima Daudjee, Research Professor of Computer Science, was named an ACM Distinguished Member for his outstanding scientific contributions to computing. Read more here.
  • The Faculty of Mathematics has chosen Dr. Sanjeev Khanna from the University of Pennsylvania as the next Dean’s Distinguished Visiting Professor. Learn more about Khanna’s work here.

Faculty Updates 


  • John Watrous, Professor of Computer Science, has left, effective January 1.
  • Anna Lubiw, Professor of Computer Science, retired, effective January 1.
  • Ian McKillop, Professor of Computer Science, retired, effective January 1.
  • Edward Vrscay, Professor of Applied Mathematics, retired, effective January 1.

We wish them all the best in their future activities and thank them for their many contributions to the Faculty of Mathematics. 


  • Yang Lu, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, effective January 1.
  • Hong Zhang, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, effective January 1.

We welcome both of them to the School of Computer Science and the Faculty of Mathematics!

Staff Updates

Congratulations to the following new employees:

  • Graham Barnes joined Undergraduate Admissions & Outreach as a Recruitment Officer on December 19.
  • Mohamad (Al) Balmouni, joined Computer Science as the Manager, Facilities & Projects on January 3.
  • Vanja Malinovic, joined the CEMC as the Administrative Coordinator on January 3.
  • Lata Punetha, joined the CEMC, on contract, as the Integrated Communications Specialist on January 3.
  • Darryl Blake will be joining the Math Research Office as the Proposal Development Officer on January 9.
  • Jackie Jones will be joining the Math Undergraduate Office as the Undergraduate Student Relations Officer on January 23.

Welcome back to:

  • Greg Campbell (MUO), who returned from paternity leave on January 3.
  • Caity Dyck (DOM) is returning from secondment to the Events Manager position beginning on January 9.
  • Jen Arseneault (Math Advancement) will be returning from maternity leave to the Senior Development Officer role on January 9.

All the best to:

  • Alexandra Lippert (Math Advancement) as she takes a new role in Central Advancement on January 9.
  • Hemant Desai (SRC) will be leaving the university on January 13.

Birth Announcement:

  • Congratulations to Nick Di Benedetto (Math Communications) on the birth of his son, Benjamin Bernard Di Benedetto, on December 12.

Looking forward

We are already hitting the ground running! As you teach your next classes, train a fresh batch of co-ops, and welcome new students and staff, I hope your new year sees you energized and excited for what we will accomplish together next.  

Yours truly, and all the best for an exciting and prosperous 2023!

Mark Giesbrecht

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo

Mark Giesbrecht