Public Administration Secretary and PSC clash on dress code circular

October 8, 2019

The Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, J.J. Ratnasiri and the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) on the Easter Sunday attacks, today clashed on the dress code circular issued by him.The PSC questioned the Secretary as to who gave him the authority to issue the circular and if he has withdrawn it. The circular states that male officials during their work hours, when entering respective offices, should be clad in trousers and shirt or the national attire, while female officials are required to be clad in either a saree or a Kandyan saree. It also states that officers who currently receive uniforms or vouchers for uniforms must be dressed appropriately as well. Ratnasiri said that the circular was issued following the Easter Sunday attacks after discussions held with several officials as well as the Minister in charge.However the PSC noted that the Minister in charge had said he was not aware of the circular being issued. Ratnasiri however said that the circular has not been suspended but will only be amended. (Colombo Gazette) The PSC also asked him if the circular has been suspended as instructions to that effect had been issued by the Prime Minister’s Office. Ratnasiri however insisted that the circular had the approval of the Minister.The PSC also informed the Secretary that some state employees, especially Muslim women, had filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka over the circular.Ratnasiri however said that the concerns should first have been raised with the department heads or the Ministry and not the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. The PSC however objected to the stand taken by the Secretary. read more

Faculty of Mathematics and Science recognizes achievements

October 2, 2019

The Faculty of Mathematics and Science held its third annual Celebration of Excellence recently, handing out awards for accomplishments in research, teaching and student experience.“As a group we have a lot to be proud of: excellent undergraduate and graduate programs and innovative and exciting research programs,” Interim Dean Alan Castle told the group that gathered for the awards ceremony Jan. 19.“You really should be proud of yourselves because I know that research is a very high priority for all of you in this faculty,” added Interim Vice-President Research Joffre Mercier.Department of Physics professor Bozidar Mitrovic received this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award for a Faculty Member for his success with the Astronomy 1P01 and 1P02 course, which, with the addition of popular online courses, has seen enrollment grow 100 per cent to more than 1,000 students in the past two years.“Over his career Dr. Mitrovic has demonstrated excellence in all aspects of teaching at every level from high school to graduate school,” said Hichem Ben-El-Mechaiekh, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs and Master of Ceremonies for the event.“He provides clear, logical, inspiring lectures that spring from his deep erudition, his love of science, his sense of social justice and his love of learning and teaching.”The Distinguished Teaching Award for Staff was captured by adjunct professor Hernan Ugalde from the Department of Earth Sciences for his success with the popular geophysics course that he has taught for two years.Ben-El-Mechaiekh noted Ugalde’s many efforts to make the course a success. “As a result of these extra efforts our students were afforded the opportunity to use the same equipment and software that is used in industry to analyze geophysical data that they collected themselves.”Professor of Psychology Stefan Brudzynski received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Faculty for his many accomplishments, including being a key founder of the Neuroscience Program at Brock, obtaining more than $1 million in research funding and being awarded many prestigious international honours.  He has produced more than 75 publications in peer-reviewed journals, scores of book chapters and is the editor of the Handbook of Mammalian Vocalization and the Handbook of Ultrasonic Vocalization. A Window into Brain Mechanisms of Emotion and Motivation, to appear in 2018.“His expertise in animal communication is recognized internationally and he has received invitations to lecture all over the world including Germany, Portugal, China and Hungary,” Ben-El-Mechaiekh said.Mike Lozon, a cartographer in the Department of Earth Sciences, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for a Staff Member for the quality and consistency of his illustrations over the 28 years he has been at Brock.“He has trained dozens of our undergraduate and graduate students in how to draft scientific figures,” said Ben-El-Mechaiekh. “He is also responsible for most of the graphic material that we have developed for teaching, making a solid contribution to our course delivery over the years.”The Faculty of Mathematics and Science held its third annual Celebration of Excellence recently, handing out awards for accomplishments in research, teaching and student experience. Pictured in front from left are Alan Castle, Stefan Brudzynski, Joffre Mercier,  Christene Carpenter-Clelan, Heather Gordon, Thad Harroun, Hernan Ugalde, Mike Lozon, Nigel Blamey and Harris Sheikh. Pictured in back, from left, Hichem Ben-El-Mechaiekh, Scott Henderson, Gary Comerford, Mark Lukewich, Christine Keith, Bozidar Mitrovic, Brian Hutchings and John Suk.Capturing the Distinguished Research Award were Nigel Blamey and Uwe Brand, both from the Department of Earth Sciences.Among their accomplishments include a place on the U.S.-based Geochemical Society’s list of the Top 10 most-read articles in geochemistry for 2016 for their discovery that oxygen levels on Earth almost a billion years ago were more than five times greater than previously thought.During the past year, they co-produced three papers in high caliber science journals, Ben-El-Mechaiekh said. He noted that Brand had five peer-reviewed journal publications in the past year and Blamey had a total of 11 peer-reviewed journal publications in 2016, of which three are first-authored.Thad Harroun, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics, received the Dean’s Distinguished Scholar Award.“Thad has been instrumental in all aspects of the pedagogical transformation of the Year 1 Physics program,” said Ben-El-Mechaiekh, adding that Harroun is the “backbone” of the undergraduate biophysics program and had created two new courses in Medical Physics and Cellular Biophysics.Since July 2015, Harroun published eight papers in prestigious journals such as Applied Physics Letters, with his papers receiving approximately 175 citations.Harroun is known widely for his research on Vitamin E, which was recently highlighted on the website of the Canadian Institute for Neuron Scattering. Especially noteworthy is his 2013 study, which provided strong evidence for an anti-oxidant mechanism in Vitamin E.Other awards distributed at the January 19th celebration event were:   Distinguished Staff Award, won by Christine Keith for her successes in helping new students in the Game Program.   Associate professor in the Department of Chemistry Heather Gordon received the Student Experience, Recruitment and Outreach Award for Faculty for her involvement in the Ontario University Fair, Fall Preview Day, Spring Open House and as a mentor in the Science Mentorship Program.   Christene Carpenter-Cleland, a senior lab demonstrator in the Department of Biological Sciences, received the Student Experience, Recruitment and Outreach Award for Staff Member for her involvement in running Scientifically Yours, organizing a Brock chapter of the organization ‘Let’s Talk Science Outreach,’ organizing the 50th anniversary event for Biological Sciences, and other accomplishments.·   The Math and Science Council’s Excellence in Teaching and Student Engagement Award was given to Mark Lukewich, Senior Lab Demonstrator in the Department of Biological Sciences for revamping laboratories, setting up new labs in the Cairns building, introducing a laboratory component into the human physiology course and judging the regional science fair. read more