$21M Grant for Math and Science

Feb 17 2012 in Science&Tech by Krystin Li, Assistant Science Editor

The $21 million will be used for science research, the expansion of the science building and math scholarship. Graphic: Sonia Lee

The $21 million will be used for science research, the expansion of the science building and math scholarship. Graphic: Sonia Lee

Mike Lazaridis, the founder and former co-CEO of Research In Motion (RIM), and his wife Ophelia Lazaridis, have donated $21 million to the University of Waterloo’s faculties of science and mathematics. The Science facility will receive $20 million, and there is $1 million for the Math faculty.

“History has shown us that a relatively small investment in fundamental research in physics and in science today can lead to huge innovation tomorrow. Given the current challenges in the world, the need for such innovation is greater now than ever,” said Mike Lazaridis in the UW news release. “I believe that the University of Waterloo, this province and this country can play a leadership role in this regard, and we are pleased to support it.”

University of Waterloo president, Feridun Hamdullahpur, believes the gift will continue to improve the university’s ability to recruit top talent to the science and mathematics faculties.

“With their unparalleled generosity, the Lazaridis family enriches our capacity to attract exceptional individuals to join Waterloo as researchers and students,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur in the UW news release. “The problems of the world will keep getting more complex and interconnected, and we want to be the first port of call for people looking to solve intractable problems.”

The Quantum Nano Centre (QNC), which is also funded by the Lazaridis couple, is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2012. The QNC is valued at over $160 million and is 285,000 square-feet, right beside IQC. It will be the home base for 500 undergraduate nanotechnology engineering students.

UW is going to conduct a global search for well-known researchers in condensed matter, and astrophysics; these programs will recieve $10 million funding from the Faculty of Science. The other $10 million will help construction of expansion of the new Nanotechnology building.

“This marvelous donation meshes perfectly with the Faculty of Science’s vision of becoming an international magnet for talent. The infusion of $10 million for the construction of our new Science Learning Centre will allow us to create a facility that will aid in attracting the best and brightest students to the faculty,” said Prof. Terrance McMahon, Dean of Science, in the release. “In addition, the funds toward the new research chairs will permit us to bring international superstars to the faculty, enhancing our already considerable research reputation.”

The $1 million grant received by the Math Faculty will fund new scholarships, which cover four years of full university costs for applicants who obtain medals in either the International Olympic in Informatics (IOI) or the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) before their final year of high school.

“Medallists in the IOI and IMO are among the best and brightest students, and are highly sought after by top universities all over the world. Scholarships covering full expenses will be vitally important to drawing IOI and IMO stars to the Faculty of Mathematics,” said Prof. Ian Goulden, Dean of Mathematics, in the release.

In 2000, Lazaridis donated $100 million personal funds to found the Perimeter Institute (PI) for Theoretical Physics.

In 2004, Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis donated $33.3 million to the University of Waterloo for Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC).

In 2005, Lazaridis donated additional $17.2 million to the IQC and the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology.

In 2008, he donated another $50 million to PI. In 2009, Lazaridis donated another $25 million to IQC.

Up to today, donations from philanthropists Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis to the University of Waterloo have exceeded $123 million.

— with files from the University of Waterloo