SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - March 27, 2008

March 27, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people were covered in the news media: March 20-27, 2008             

Two mega-hits in the media this week for that long-running story of the electricity-generating “knee brace” developed by kinesiologist Max Donelan and team.
Time magazine led off a story with the gadget (and photos by SFU’s Greg Ehlers). And Scientific American also had a brief item and photo.
Another U.S. media hit this week: sociologist Barbara Mitchell, quoted in USA Today.


  • Time ran in its Science section a feature on “energy-scavenging” that led off with the power-generating knee brace from Max Donelan and crew.
    Said Time: “Using the same principles that allow hybrid cars to recycle energy created in braking, braces worn on both knees can generate 5 watts of electricity by harvesting the energy inherent in walker’s stride. That may not sound like much, but it’s enough to charge 10 cellphones, and its absolutely free.”
    And Donelan was quoted: “People like the idea of generating their own power. If you do things in a clever way, you can get energy cheaply.”
    The main illustration for the two-page feature: photos of the knee-brace in action, taken by SFU photographer Greg Ehlers.
    Time’s U.S. circulation alone is 3.4 million copies.
  • Scientific American’s April issue also has a brief item (“Knee-Jerk Power”) and a photo by Ehlers.  It’s a nice follow-up to—and refers readers to—the Science magazine story on the gadget that ran in February, again with photos by Ehlers.
    The paid circulation of Scientific American is more than 680,000 worldwide.
  • USA Today carried a feature on how baby boomer parents are freaking out inside. “Their offspring—post-college degreed and in their mid- to late 20s—still haven't a clue about what to do with their lives.”
    Among those quoted: SFU sociologist Barbara Mitchell: "There are a lot of things they (the parents) didn't anticipate, given the level of investment they put into them when they were younger. They're having to delay their own plans for the empty nest or for retirement to keep working to help kids who are going to school longer. They don't want the kids to amass these large student loans.”
    USA Today is the biggest daily in America, with reported circulation of about 2.6 million copies a day.


  • The Vancouver Sun carried a front-page story on a study that looked at a new question about homeless people in BC—what each one costs taxpayers each year. “The answer is $55,000 per person, or an annual total of $644.3 million in health, corrections and social services spending for all the homeless in B.C.”
    One of the authors of the report: Julian Somers, director of SFU's Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA). “We wound up generating an estimated cost in B.C. that is roughly the same as the cost of implementing the full-meal deal of housing and supports for every one of those people.”
    The story was picked up by the Victoria Times Colonist and the Nanaimo Daily News. And The Canadian Press sent a version of it to newspapers and broadcast media across the country. We saw it in, among others, the Toronto Sun, the Calgary Sun and the Winnipeg Free Press.
    The Globe and Mail did its own story, leading off with BC housing minister Rich Coleman saying the  federal government could easily bring some relief to BC’s homeless by restoring incentives to the construction industry to build rental housing.
    For The Vancouver Sun, it was the second kick at the can. It had earlier focused on the angle that the report showed the number of homeless people in BC is far greater than previous government figures suggest. Michelle Patterson of CARMHA was quoted in that story. Patterson also appeared on two CBC Radio shows, Early Edition and On The Coast.
    Later this week the Sun took a third kick, with a follow-up story quoting Coleman as questioning some of the numbers in the report.  And then it ran an editorial: “ . . . As the report details, housing the homeless mentally ill is not only good for them—it's good for the economy.”
  • In a special section on MBA programs in Canada, the Globe and Mail gave more than one mention to SFU. The biggest hit: a story and photo on Clio Straram, a music grad who now is doing an MBA here.
    “Ms. Straram is part of a unique program at Simon Fraser University that takes students with little to no business experience and puts them through the rigours of an MBA,” said the Globe. “Launched last September, the full-time MBA for students with non-business undergrad degrees fills a gaping hole for companies that liked the different perspectives liberal arts students bring to the table but also found these graduates lacking in the business wherewithal.”
    Classmate Jasdeep Chahal (BSc, Calgary) was also featured. And Ed Bukszar, associate dean of graduate studies at SFU's Segal Graduate School of Business, says some profs have remarked that this group of students is outperforming those in SFU's executive MBA program.
    Also mentioned was SFU’s Kenneth To, who earned his PhD in neuroscience last year.  “Dr. To is no stranger to entrepreneurship: as a graduate student he started Wax-It Histology Services Inc., which enjoyed 250-per-cent annual growth while he was completing his doctorate.”
  • The Province, The Vancouver Sun, National Post and GlobalTV ran a CanWest News Service feature on reported increases on Canadian campuses in mental illness, stress, depression and anxiety. CanWest quoted Pam Whiting, SFU’s director of health and counselling services.
  • CTV News ran a how-about-that-item when the 6/49 winning numbers March 22 included a run: 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, and the bonus number was 43. "People tend to disbelieve that six numbers in a row would ever come up," says Carl Schwarz, a statistician at Simon Fraser University. "(But) every set of six numbers has exactly the same chance of coming up. So, there's nothing statistically odd about picking six numbers. It's the psychology."
  • Shauna Sylvester and her Canada's World dialogue project (which asks Canadians to define Canada's values, interests, assets and role in the world) got some more coverage. The Winnipeg Free Press promoted a Canada's World event there. Earlier, for an event in Halifax, Sylvester did a 12-minute interview on CJCH Radio, and stories ran on CBC and CTV there.
  •  The Sarnia Observer picked up last week’s Canadian Press story on the Muslims of Tomorrow conference at the Surrey campus. Conference organizer Sana Siddiqui, president of the SFU Muslim Students Association was quoted: “When you're looking to use a religion of peace and mercy to justify terrorism, it's unacceptable. Some Muslims unfortunately are misguided and they do commit criminal acts but that can't reflect the whole community.''  Here at home the Peace Arch News also did a story.


  • The North Shore News looked at the impact of climate change in BC, and reported that planners for various agencies have begun to recognize the changes. But the paper quoted SFU energy economist Mark Jaccard: “I actually think that people talking about adaptation diverts us from the real task at hand. It is kind of like a defeatist strategy in my view. . . . We're sitting here right now facing some huge uncertainties about possible impacts . . . so the probability of spending that money correctly is actually very low."
    (Jaccard was also quoted in a Maclean’s column. Writer Colin Campbell declared that “The fight against global warming is being lost in a humiliating fashion, and the tactics being used have badly misjudged the nature and scope of the problem.” He quoted Jaccard as saying: "The environmentalists were applauding political parties during an election based on how tough their targets were in 2050. How absurd.")
  • The Goldstream (BC) News Gazette reported that SFU business students nailed first place in the sixth annual business-case competition held at Royal Roads University. Queen's placed second and Concordia third.
  • Business columnist Don Cayo of The Vancouver Sun took a second look at Ottawa’s introduction of (limited) income splitting for pensioners. He cited new points learned from public policy prof Jonathan Kesselman. “Kesselman, Simon Fraser's tax guru, has come out with a painstaking analysis of what is fair—or as fair as is possible—in a highly complex taxation system.”
  • The Smithers Interior News reported that an independent scientific review panel is speeding up its examination of the state of the Skeena watershed, and its salmon and steelhead stocks. One of the panel members is John Reynolds, SFU’s Tom Buell leadership chair in salmon conservation.
  • Surrey Now ran an item on the second annual Pysch in the City series at the SFU campus (every Wednesday evening through April.) A dozen faculty from Psychology will explore topics. Details:
  • The New Westminster Record picked up a story on Matthew Laird’s move to mark Earth Hour (8-9 p.m. on Saturday) by turning off computers in the SFU bioinformatics lab run by prof Fiona Brinkman. He challenged others to do the same.
  • The Surrey North Delta Leader reported on winners of the Burns Bog Conservation Society’s awards for women. Bernadette Currie, SFU Surrey instructor, won the science and technology award as a role model and mentor for young women in engineering.


  • SFU Athletics spread the word to sports journalists on the SFU Clan athletics awards and gala on Wednesday. Athlete of the Year honours went to soccer star Luca Bellisomo and Olympics candidate Ruky Abdulai. Other winners and details are at:
  • The Province reported that Tallon Milne of Vanderhoof and Kevin Pribilsky of Oak Bay will join the Clan men's basketball team next season. Both played for the B.C. under-17 team. SFU head coach Scott Clark was quoted.
  • The Kelowna Capital News reported that defensive coordinator Shane Sommerfeld of the Okanagan Sun junior football team is joining the Clan as defensive backfield coach. For seven years, the Sun has fielded one of the top defences in the Canadian junior football league.  And the paper featured a visit to Kelowna, for a soccer camp, by SFU’s head soccer coach, Alan Koch.
  • The Vancouver Sun named as an athlete of the week Carolyn Bell, who led the Clan softball team to winning scores of 21-2 and 19-1 at the Tucson Invitational Games in Arizona. "I do not recall the last time we scored 40 runs in two games in a day," SFU head coach Mike Renney said.
  • Burnaby Now and the New Westminster Record told readers how Clan women wrestlers christened the first-ever National Collegiate Wrestling Association women's championships by taking six national titles. And Burnaby Now reported the SFU club ice hockey team won its first B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League title.
  • Coquitlam Now featured Clan athlete (and Coquitlam resident) Ruky Abdulai. “The 22-year Ghana-born multi-disciplined athlete has accumulated 13 individual NAIA track and field championship titles in five separate events and she still has the entire outdoor season ahead of her.”
  • The Salmon Arm Observer featured local resident Lani Gibbons, the outstanding CIS women's basketball player of 2007-8, and a mainstay of the Clan women for five years. She’s joining a touring women's basketball team and will visit Europe. “Hopefully I can find a team to play on in Europe or somewhere. . . . I don't want to stop playing right now. I'm still learning a lot."
  • The Burnaby Newsleader featured Mike James, who played pro rugger for 11 years in France, including playing in the World Cup.  He now is “a couple of credits short of getting his SFU business administration degree” and is helping to coach Burnaby Lake Rugby Club's three senior men's teams.


  • Burnaby Now and the Surrey North Delta Leader ran stories on how SFU is offering three new $10,000 scholarships to Indian high school graduates. "’We are grateful for the generosity of the Indo-Canadian donors who have made this special entrance scholarship possible,’ said Mehran Kiai, the university's director of enrolment services.”
  • The Burnaby Newsleader carried a photo of Teresa Wilson and Bryce Bretlinger serving traditional stew at a feast to celebrate the launch of SFU’s new First Nations Strategic Plan last week.


  • The Vancouver Sun’s book pages reported that communications prof Rowland Lorimer,  founder of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing and of SFU's masters in publishing, received the Gray Campbell Award for Distinguished Service. It’s from the Association of Book Publishers of BC.
  • The Vancouver Courier featured artist and illustrator Bambi Edlund and her “Ode to Kingsway” sketch project. Now her blog gets 400-900 international visitors a day—and at the same time she “works full-time developing websites and brochures for SFU's business department.”



  • PBS is carrying a seven-part documentary series, Unnatural Causes, exploring racial and socioeconomic inequalities in health care. The April 10 episode includes a look at the reduction of symptoms among asthmatic children living in specially designed “Breathe Easy Homes” in Seattle. Physician Tim Takaro of SFU Health Sciences is the leader of the Breathe Easy project—and stars on the PBS show.





  • Maclean’s and other outlets reported that more than 4000 students at SFU voted in a referendum on membership in the Canadian Federation of Students, with about 66 per cent voting to leave the CFS. The CFS, though, said it may contest the validity of the vote. Also voting to leave: Cape Breton University, and graduate students at UVic. Maclean’s also reported the results of the SFU Student Society elections.
  • China Daily (China’s state-run English-language paper) reported on Canadian efforts to accommodate the disabled. It featured Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, and noted: “He obtained a business administration degree from Simon Fraser University and has also taught himself several languages including Cantonese.”
  • The Commercial Appeal in Memphis TN ran a feature on Memphis native Cary Fowler,  executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. That’s the organization dedicated to collecting seeds from every variety of crop plant in the world and preserving them inside a sandstone mountain, below the permafrost on Spitsbergen Island, 700 miles from the North Pole.  The paper noted Fowler went to SFU and later earned his a PhD from the University of Uppsala in Sweden.
  • YahooTech suddenly discovered this week the Ladybag “smart purse”, developed by a team of SFU students in 2006. “Students at Canada’s Simon Fraser University have come up with an idea to remind you if you forgot your cell phone, keys, or other important items before you leave your home or office. Utilizing RFID technology, they have created the Ladybag. The handbag reacts by showing what is missing on its LED display.” The story was picked up by blogs in England, Australia and the U.S.
  • SFU student Glyn Lewis wrote a guest column in Burnaby Now after a stint as a volunteer on  the  Barack Obama campaign in Iowa. “I can tell you that there truly is something monumental stirring down south—a cultural and political groundswelling. Thousands of volunteers flocked into the state to help Barack's vision of healing old wounds and forging a New Majority through a politics of addition and inclusion rather than subtraction and division.”
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