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Faculty of Mathematics honours top grads

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September 27, 2005

Source: University of Waterloo:

Faculty of Mathematics honours top grads

WATERLOO, Ont. -- The University of Waterloo's Faculty of Mathematics has honoured four top graduates with achievement medals.

Winners of the Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Achievement Medal received their awards at a special banquet held last week on campus. The medal recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of alumni in their professional, academic and community activities.

"We continue to be delighted by the extraordinary achievements of our graduates," said Thomas Coleman, Dean of Mathematics. "The 2005 recipients of the Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Achievement Medals again demonstrate the remarkable contributions that so many of our alumni are making to their professions and to the broader community."

The winners for 2003 are: Jane Gentleman, William Pulleyblank, Carsten Thomassen, and Frank Yam.


Jane Gentleman completed her PhD in Statistics at the University of Waterloo in 1973 and was a faculty member at Waterloo until 1982. She held a number of positions at Statistics Canada in divisions such as the Social and Economic Studies Division, the Health Statistics Division and the Social Survey Methods Division. In 1999, she moved to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, where she is now Director, Division of Health Interview Statistics.

Gentleman is well known for her distinguished and wide ranging research publications in applied statistics, and as an outstanding leader in the statistical sciences. She is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute, and the 2002 winner of the first annual Janet L. Norwood Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Statistical Sciences.

As well, she has served as the President of the Statistical Society of Canada, as President of the Caucus for Women in Statistics, and twice as Vice President of the American Statistical Association. After her move to the National Center for Health Statistics, she has been instrumental in organizing an annual meeting to bring together health statistics experts from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Health Statistics Division of Statistics Canada.

Her tremendous energy and drive show up in many ways from organizing conferences to giving more than 100 invited talks on topics from statistical graphics to women's health to the management of statistical systems. In 1998, she won a Community Volunteer Appreciation Award from the city of Ottawa "for outstanding voluntary contributions" to the Britannia-Richmond ward.

Her award citation reads: "The Faculty of Mathematics is pleased to recognize Jane Gentleman for her outstanding leadership and distinguished and wide-ranging research contributions in the statistical sciences, and for her advocacy for the status of women and health issues."


William (Bill) R. Pulleyblank received his PhD in Combinatorics and Optimization from Waterloo in 1973. He spent 16 years in academia before joining IBM Research in 1990 as manager of the Optimization Center. There he held several executive positions leading to his current role as Vice President of IBM's Center for Business Optimization within IBM's Business Consulting Services Organization.

>From 2001 to 2004, Pulleyblank led the BlueGene project, which had the goal of building the world's most powerful supercomputer. A BlueGene/L system was officially certified as No. 1 on the list of the world's 500 most powerful systems in November 2004 with sustained performance of 70.7 teraflops (70.7 trillion floating point operations per second) on the Linpack Benchmark. Since then BlueGene Systems have more than doubled this capacity. Although originally designed for bio-computing, climate forecasting and nuclear weapons simulation, they are now being used for an increasing variety of commercial applications.

Pulleyblank has clearly demonstrated a creative technical and managerial capability, contributing significantly to a number of areas of research over the years. He has held research chair positions, has been a speaker at notable international forums and has been an editor for a number of mathematical, programming and combinatorial theory journals. He has also been a board member for mathematical and computational councils such as the U.S. National Research Council, iCORE Alberta, DIMACS External Advisory Board, the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences of the U.S. National Science Foundation, Fellow of the Fields Institute, and many others.

His award citation says: "The Faculty of Mathematics is pleased to recognize William R. Pulleyblank for his exemplary leadership as a research manager, his outstanding research contributions to combinatorial optimization, and his dedicated service to the research community."


Carsten Thomassen is Professor of Mathematics at the Technical University of Denmark. He received his PhD in Combinatorics and Optimization from the University of Waterloo in 1976 and he is considered to be one of the top graph theorists in the world.

He has written 176 papers of tremendous scope and depth on central topics in graph theory and has published in the best journals in combinatorial and pure mathematics. He has developed basic results in practically every topic area on finite and infinite graphs and directed graphs.

He has been a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters since 1990, the Conseil Scientific Universite Claude Bernard since 1999, the Canada Research Chairs College of reviewers since 2001 and served on the Ostrowski Prize committee since 2001.

In 1993, Thomassen was awarded the Lester R. Ford Award from the American Mathematical Association. He has been editor-in-chief of the Journal of Graph Theory since 1989 and the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics since 2002, as well as being on editorial boards for four other outstanding combinatorial journals.

Thomassen has maintained consistent excellent quality research, always thoughtful and often stretching the limits of technique. The award citation recognizes him "for his fundamental research and extraordinary academic accomplishments as one of the foremost graph theorists in the world."


Frank Yam is considered to be a pioneer in the field of IT Audit, Control and Security. He received his BMath from the University of Waterloo in 1988, specializing in Chartered Accountancy and Information Systems. Over the last 10 years, he has been active in promoting IT governance around the world.

Yam lives in Hong Kong, China, and is credited for expanding the Hong Kong Chapter of IS Audit & Control Association to more than 1,400 members from 200 members. It is now one of the largest chapters in the world. He was elected as a Fellow of the Hong Kong Computer Society in 2004, and was awarded the prestigious John Kuyers International Best Speaker Award in 2002.

Besides his regular duties as Chief Executive for the Focus Strategic Group Inc, Yam is a frequent keynote speaker for various conferences and seminars. He is also an adviser to the Hong Kong Government in the IT sector, is a local adviser to the Political Consultative Committee and acts as an ambassador for the Hong Kong Tourism Board. He currently serves as the International Vice President for th IT Governance Institute, the chairperson of the Information Security Specialist Group for the Hong Kong Computer Society and the governor of the Institute of internal Auditors Hong Kong Chapter

Yam believes in education and has a long list of professional designations, including Certified Information Systems Auditor and Certified Fraud Examiner. He is proud of his degree from Waterloo and actively encourages young people from Hong Kong to seek a similar degree.

His award citation says: "The Faculty of Mathematics is pleased to recognize Frank Yam for his pioneering work and extraordinary leadership promoting IT governance and security around the world, and for his many contributions to the community of Hong Kong." (On Oct. 7, Yam's medal will be presented to him at the UW Hong Kong Math Alumni Dinner in Hong Kong.)

Patricia Cunningham, (519) 888-4567, ext. 3638;
John Morris, UW Media Relations, (519) 888-4435;
Release no. 214 -- September 27, 2005



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