Our top 12 trending stories of 2023
Here are the people and events behind some of this year’s most compelling Waterloo stories
Here are the people and events behind some of this year’s most compelling Waterloo storiesBy University Relations
The year 2023 has unfolded with a dynamic blend of challenges and opportunities, offering us a fresh page to write the story of our University of Waterloo community.
As we embark towards 2024, we can reflect with pride on the continued dedication and achievements of our students, alumni, researchers and staff — all of whom have played an integral role in shaping on-campus initiatives, global events and cutting-edge education and research.
These trending stories highlight just some of the community’s profound impact on our collective future.
The year kicked off with the University of Waterloo being named Research University of the Year among Canadian comprehensive universities by Research Infosource Inc. And just this month, Waterloo was again named Research University of the Year in the comprehensive category for 2023— marking 16 consecutive years receiving this distinction. Waterloo's consistent recognition reflects its commitment to bold and creative teaching and research, addressing global challenges.
Waterloo biostatistics professor Michael Wallace gained attention for using his statistical knowledge to win 98 per cent of the time in Tim Hortons’ Roll Up To Win contest, which had moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. By analyzing the new online system and identifying flaws, Wallace strategically played the contest and even collaborated with friends to determine the statistically best time to participate, emphasizing the practical applications of statistics in everyday scenarios.
New research reveals that Long COVID is associated with reduced brain oxygen levels, cognitive test performance decline, and increased psychiatric symptoms like depression and anxiety. Combining results from a laboratory study and a national survey of Canadians, the study found that individuals with a history of symptomatic COVID-19 showed lower oxygen saturation in the brain during cognitive tasks. The study highlights the need for a comprehensive understanding of the long-term effects of COVID-19.
The University of Waterloo and Velocity are expanding their presence in downtown Kitchener with the groundbreaking event for the new Innovation Arena building. Supported by government funding and philanthropic gifts, the $10-million project will host Velocity, Waterloo's entrepreneurship program, in a purpose-built space to streamline commercialization, fast-track entrepreneurs and support the global economy, with a focus on health and technology innovation.
Waterloo is promoting reconciliation by offering a full tuition waiver to eligible students from the Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, whose traditional territories the University is on. This applies to current and new students, including Indigenous students from other parts of Canada and the United States, who will receive Ontario domestic tuition rates. Waterloo's goal is to lessen financial barriers, boost involvement in academic and co-op programs and address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.
Dr. Scott Leatherdale, a professor at the University of Waterloo diagnosed with terminal cancer, delivered an uplifting and motivational speech at the 126th Faculty of Health convocation. He shared five thoughts with the graduates, emphasizing the importance of being proud, taking risks, practicing tolerance and understanding, learning from failure and being resilient in the face of adversity.
This spring, the Waterloo community was shaken by a hate-motivated attack related to gender expression and gender identity. President Vivek Goel condemned the violent attack on three community members, affirming the University's commitment to inclusion and urging support for healing. He acknowledged the impact on specific community members, announced the prolonged display of Pride and Two-Spirit flags and emphasized responding to hate with solidarity, upholding values, showing love and advocating for change in a world grappling with acceptance of diverse identities.
The European Space Agency launched the Euclid satellite, initiating a 12-year mission to create a 3D map of the Universe by observing billions of galaxies across over a third of the sky. The goals include understanding the physical laws of the universe, explaining its origin and determining its composition. University of Waterloo researchers played key roles in the mission. Euclid will examine galaxy patterns and shapes to study the Universe's expansion and the growth of structures within it. The first images were released just a few months after launch.
The Trust in Research Undertaken in Science and Technology Scholarly Network (TRuST) was established to address the growing challenge of misinformation and skepticism, particularly in the context of scientific findings and explanations. Led by co-directors Dr. Donna Strickland and Dr. Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, the network is the first multidisciplinary research initiative of its kind in Canada. The scholarly network aims to improve communication with the public and build trust in science and technology by engaging in collaborative efforts across disciplines.
Dr. Jagdeep Singh Bachher, chief investment officer and vice-president of investments at the University of California, has been elected as the 12th chancellor of the University of Waterloo. He is a triple alum of the University of Waterloo, having earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical enginnering and later a master's degree and PhD in management sciences. Bachher will serve a three-year term starting on July 1, 2024, succeeding Dominic Barton.
Sean Campbell (MES ’16, PhD in progress) has initiated a social enterprise called Union Co-operative to address the affordable housing crisis. The co-operative, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, raises funds from community members, charitable foundations, and institutional partners to purchase residential and commercial properties in Waterloo region for permanent rental affordability through community ownership — offering a democratic and sustainable solution to the housing crunch.
Professor Craig S. Kaplan from the Cheriton School of Computer Science, along with his international colleagues, discovered a single shape called an "einstein" that tiles the plane in a pattern that cannot be made to repeat. TIME magazine recognized this shape as one of the best inventions of 2023, acknowledging its significance in mathematics and its potential impact on various fields, including art, science and engineering.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within the Office of Indigenous Relations.