About Students of the Water Institute Graduate Section

The Students of the Water Institute – Graduate Section, better known as SWIGS is a graduate student group at the University of Waterloo.


SWIGS is focused on encouraging inter-disciplinary collaboration between its members and with the Water Institute faculty and partners.

Membership is open to all University of Waterloo Graduate students with an interest in water-related issues.

SWIGS’ goal is to foster education and teamwork between departments and faculties in all water-related studies. This all-encompassing goal includes creating an environment where SWIGS members can freely share ideas and experiences in order to further the understanding of all.

An excerpt from the Executive Summary in 2014 by former SWIGS Chair, Nathanael Couperus, describes the values held by SWIGS.

Building on a strong foundation, the SWIGS Executive Committee for 2013 — 2014 discerned the fundamental values of SWIGS and used this knowledge to extend services to a greater audience over the year. Mirroring the introspection undertaken by the Water Institute at the same time, the Executives depicted three values that propel the function of SWIGS. These three values are Teaching, Learning, and Building Relationships centered around water. The work of each committee is saturated with one or more of these values.

What do the executives do?

The executives in SWIGS are graduate students at the University of Waterloo, and are all executives elected by the student membership. The executive positions are all on a volunteer basis. There are typically six executives that keep SWIGS running, with a range of duties including: organizing events, promoting events and opportunities for members, engaging with the community, managing the budget, etc. The description of duties for each executive position are outlined below.

Chair (Amy Dietrich):

  • organizes the general operations of SWIGS, supports the duties of all executives
  • acts as a liason between SWIGS and the Water Institute, attends Strategic Planning Committee meetings, and acts as the official SWIGS spokesperson to contacts outside of the University of Waterloo
  • prepares the annual report to the Water Institute and the incoming executive team

Vice Chair Operations (Frederick Cheng):

  • maintains all communications with membership, including emails, the SWIGS website, membership lists, social media, blog posts, etc.
  • supports the advertisement and logistic of events organized by other executives
  • maintains the annual budget for SWIGS
  • contributes to the quarterly article SplashPad by the Water Institute

Vice Chair Academic (Wynona Klemt):

  • organizes academic events, such as lunchtime sessions, academic workshops, panel discussions, etc.

Vice Chair Conference (Stephanie Slowinski):

  • organize and hold the annual research conference related to water, i.e. World Water Day, with support from the Water Institute
  • above bullet is a massive task

Vice Chair Social (Erin Mills):

  • organize social events for SWIGS membership, including Blue Drinks speakers
  • other events include: brewery tours, rock climbing excursions, hikes, etc.

Vice Chair Outreach (Amy Yang):

  • organize and promote opportunities outside of UWaterloo campus, including at other Universities and within the local community
  • Coordinate social and political efforts related to water that are supported by SWIGS
  • past examples: water bar event with the Region of Waterloo, Healthy Kids Community Challenge, reaching out to Elmira over the Nestle concerns, etc.

Note that executives tend to work collaboratively, and the roles tend to blend as all members work together as a team.