2004 Outstanding Alumni Awards

Congratulations to the distinguished winners of the 2004 Outstanding Alumni Awards: Steven Jones, Leora Kuttner, Bruce Robertson, Shauna Sylvester and Jan Verspoor. They were honoured at a special event on February 16, 2005 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver.


Steven Jones, MSc ’94 Outstanding Alumni Award for Academic Achievement

Dr. Steven Jones has made a tremendous impact on the Canadian scientific scene since 1999 when he joined the BC Cancer Agency's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre. The GSC is the largest DNA sequencing and DNA mapping facility in Canada. As Head of Bioinformatics, Steve leads a team of approximately 60 people, the largest bioinformatics group in this country and one of the largest such groups in the world. The GSC has been awarded more than $105 million in research grants and contracts. Steve has contributed in many ways to this success and has helped initiate a culture of achievement at the GSC. Seminal research and training initiatives led by Steve have greatly enriched both the capacity and the scientific environment of the GSC, and he is in great demand as a student mentor. Steve is central to many important GSC achievements, such as the sequencing of the SARS coronavirus genome in 2003. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Medical Genetics at UBC and an adjunct professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at SFU. In July 2002 he founded the CIHR/Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Bioinformatics Training Program that mentors 14 graduate students. Steven is also the Recipient of a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Award. In addition to all of this, Steve made time to serve SFU on the Alumni Association Board of Directors for two consecutive terms ending in 2004.


Leora Kuttner, PhD ’84 Outstanding Alumni Award for Professional Achievement 

Dr. Leora Kuttner is internationally renowned for her work in pediatric pain management, and is currently a Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from SFU in 1984. Her dissertation encompassed ground-breaking work on the treatment of psychological distress and fear in young children with cancer, an area traditionally unrecognized and poorly managed. In her work, Leora has provided a bridge between professionals, parents and children in acknowledging and effectively responding to the reality of pain and suffering associated with pediatric illness. She drew on her early training in documentary film-making to produce outstanding productions that have changed the face of practice in managing children’s pain. Her documentaries No Fears, No Tears: Children with Cancer Coping with Pain and No Fears, No Tears: 13 Years Later, received awards from the Association for the Care of Children’s Health, the Health Sciences Communications Association, and the National Council on Family Relations. Her media productions have been accompanied by a constant stream of scientific and professional publications, which translate science into a format this is accessible to the broader community. Despite her professional stature and heavy workload, she is never away from her individual work with children and families. She maintains her clinical practise in Vancouver and also continues to teach, offering medical practitioners a unique opportunity to learn innovative techniques for pediatric pain management.


Bruce Robertson, BGS ’77 Outstanding Alumni Award for Athletic Achievement 

Bruce Robertson won 16 medals for Canada in international competition as a member of Canada’s national swim team between 1972 and 1976. At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, swimming the second fastest time ever, he won a silver medal in the 100m butterfly, second only to Mark Spitz. Combined with his bronze medal in the 4x100 medley relay, Bruce brought home two of the five medals Canada won at the 1972 Games. At the World Aquatic Championships in Belgrade in 1973, he won the gold medal in the 100m butterfly and a relay bronze medal. At the 1974 Commonwealth Games, he won a record-breaking six medals. In recognition of his athletic accomplishments, Bruce was awarded the Order of Canada and was Canada’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1973. In 1977, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Canadian Aquatic Hall of Fame, the British Columbia Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. After retiring from swimming, Bruce qualified as a Chartered Accountant and is now an independent consultant providing strategic advice to public and private sector organizations. Bruce is an active volunteer in the Commonwealth Games Federation, sharing his expertise in marketing, branding, business strategy, technology, financial management, and Games organization and management. He has served in a number of executive capacities since 1990 and is currently Vice-President of the Federation.


Shauna Sylvester, BA ’90 Outstanding Alumni Award for Service to the Community 

Shauna Sylvester is the founder and Executive Director of IMPACS – the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society, a charitable organization with offices in Vancouver and Toronto. The goal of IMPACS is to build strong communities by providing communications training and education to Canadian non-profit organizations and by supporting free, open and accountable media internationally. As Executive Director, Shauna is responsible for delivering international media and peace-building programming, which includes projects in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Middle East and Guyana. She is also responsible for two other IMPACS programs: the Communications Centre, Canada’s first non-profit public relations and training centre, and the Civil Society project, a national policy project aimed at changing the law governing charities in Canada. Having worked for charities since she was 17, Sylvester founded IMPACS in 1997 and has since expanded it into an international operation with an annual budget of $4 million. In addition to her work with IMPACS, Shauna has volunteered on dozens of boards and committees at the local, national and international level. In 2001, Shauna co-Chaired the Civicus World Assembly in Vancouver, a quadrennial meeting of over 1,500 foundations and non-profit organizations from around the globe. Currently she represents BC on the Voluntary Sector Forum. In 2003, Shauna was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in the Globe and Mail and received a similar award in 2000 from Business in Vancouver magazine.


Jan Verspoor Alumni Association Outstanding Student Leadership Award 

Jan Verspoor is a gifted scholar who maintains an impressive grade point average while working toward a degree in biology at SFU. He has been very active on behalf of the Faculty of Science helping in the recruitment of outstanding high school students. He also reaches out to others by giving his time at Scientific I events which introduce promising Grade 12 students to the various departments in SFU’s Faculty of Science. He has volunteered in a research lab to further his interest and knowledge in behavioural ecology. He has enhanced the quality of student life on campus by being a Community Advisor for students living in residence, organizing ski trips and making himself available to provide advice or listen to problems. In addition to his busy life as a student at Simon Fraser University, Jan has been an active member of the SFU Squash Club, achieving success in competitions and helping the team advance from division 8 to division 7 in 2003 and up another division in 2004. His other sporting activities include soccer and roller hockey. Jan has found a wonderful way to combine his desire to help people with his love of sports – by leading international sport camps for underprivileged children in countries such as Bosnia, Romania, Croatia and Iran.