May 15, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: May 8-15, 2008            

The Vancouver Sun and The Province carried on May 14 the second of a series of four SFU reports to the community from President Michael Stevenson.
The next full-colour pages appear May 21 and 28—with the latter including an invitation to Open House at the Burnaby campus May 31. (See
The president’s reports also go online at


  • The Globe and Mail and CanWest News Service said Liberal leader Stéphane Dion is poised to unveil a carbon-tax scheme and corresponding personal income tax cuts. Both said Dion is going for the revenue-neutral model created by profs Nancy Olewiler of SFU (economist and director of SFU’s Public Policy Program) and Jack Mintz, U of Calgary. The Province picked up the CanWest story.  So did National Post, the Victoria Times Colonist and the Regina Leader-Post.
  • The federal government will decide next month if Vancouver's supervised drug-injection site will live on after June 30. That brought SFU criminologist Neil Boyd and his research into the media spotlight—again.
  • On the Mike Duffy Live show on CTV, Boyd said of the injection site: “We didn't find any negative impacts. We didn't find any acceleration in crime. In fact we would have to say that in terms of public order there's a modest benefit from the fact that a small percentage of the total number of injections takes place inside the clinic.”
  • The Canadian Press noted: "Neil Boyd, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University, released a six-year study earlier this month that suggests the site actually produced a 'modest decline' in public drug use between 2000 and 2006. It found no significant crime-rate changes in the area that could be linked to the site. . . . Boyd also conducted a cost-benefit analysis that he says showed the site returned between one and four times the cost of running it in health-care and police savings."
  • Meanwhile, the Windsor Star ran an editorial citing Boyd’s research, and concluding: “It would be wrong for the Harper government to shut down the Vancouver centre on June 30 simply based on its own ideological discomfort with the program.”
  • Canadian Chemical News carried a story (and a photo) on geographer Lance Lesack re: a study he co-authored, indicating that rising water levels induced by global-warming in the Mackenzie Delta are three times more severe than predicted.
  • Alison Beale, prof in SFU’s Centre for Policy Studies on Culture and Communities (School of Communication) tipped us on how the Ottawa Citizen carried a hefty feature on Creative Construct. That was an international symposium held in Ottawa and organized by the centre and the city of Ottawa. It looked at ideas for developing cultural and creative spaces. The conference (and SFU) also got a mention in Wisconsin’s New Richmond News.
  • Running all month on the Weather Network, a video-story on SFU Alerts, the new  emergency alert system that can send urgent messages to cellphones, e-mail and other channels. The story features SFU student Mercedes Fawns and Steve Ray, web manager (and SFU Alerts project manager) in Public Affairs and Media Relations.


  • The Edmonton Journal uncovered a report to the Alberta government on carbon capture and storage.  The report was prepared by a consulting company headed by energy guru Mark Jaccard, of SFU’s school of resource and environmental management. It emphasizes the importance of early action.
  • 24Heures in Montreal carried a story on MITACS, the SFU-based network that brings together nearly 500 mathematical scientists, 800 students, dozens of businesses and government departments across the country in a collaborative effort to solve big problems. (MITACS stands for Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems.) Arvind Gupta, scientific director of MITACS, was quoted.


  • Environmentalists' blogs around the Internet hummed with debate over The Heartland Institute, an American think-tank dedicated to "debunking" global warming. It is being "debunked" itself, with a number of profs protesting a  Heartland list of 500 scientists whose work Heartland claims contradicts the scientific consensus that human-induced climate change is a serious threat. Among the protesting profs was SFU's John Clague. The earth sciences prof declared: "I'm outraged that they've included me as an 'author' of this report. I do not share the views expressed in the summary."  A story appeared in the Baltimore Sun.
  • Max Donelan of SFU Kinesiology was on the BBC Radio4 program Frontiers, on the story of the electricity-generating “knee brace” device developed by Donelan and team. Promoting the program, the Frontiers website used a photo by Greg Ehlers of LIDC.
    Frontiers host Gareth Mitchell then ran his BBC material on the UK website First Post ( And the gadget was also featured in a Toronto Star piece on “Clean-tech innovations to watch”.
  • Kanbawza Win, former secretary of foreign affairs for Burma, and an adjunct prof in SFU's School of International Studies, wrote a guest article on Thailand’s Asian Tribune website. “It seems the civilized international community will have to choose between the brute (the Burmese Junta) that is committing a crime against humanity or to launch a humanitarian intervention.”  The piece also ran on India’s AssamNet.


  • In a series on Cascadia, The Vancouver Sun looked at the influence of BC, Washington and Oregon on the environmental movement  world-wide.  Writer Doug Todd (a former Shadbolt Fellow at SFU) quoted geographer Warren Gill, SFU vice-president of university relations: "B.C. is in some ways the birthplace of the environmental movement. Together with Oregon and Washington, Cascadia is a hotbed of environmentalism."
  • Warren Gill was also quoted at length in a Province feature on the housing market in Vancouver: "The fear, which has been going on for many, many years, is that this is going to be executive city and there's going to be no room for anyone else. Will it be like San Francisco, where all the firefighters and police officers can't afford to live in the city, so they live outside? I mean, I think these are useful questions to ask."
    The Province also used as an example Gill's own experience: "Warren Gill, 58, says when both his grandparents immigrated to Vancouver from the U.K., it was the first time either side of his family could own a home. One grandfather, a gardener, bought in Mount Pleasant; the other, a worker in a manufacturing company, bought in Dunbar. Gill's parents followed in the same tradition, but by the time he was ready to purchase his first home in 1986 at the age of 35, the single-family dwelling in Vancouver was already out of reach. Gill, vice-president of university relations at Simon Fraser University, eventually settled in a townhouse in False Creek." The paper carried a photo of Gill there.
    And the next day The Province ran an editorial cartoon (a bird house with a For Sale sign) accompanied by Gill’s “executive city” quote. 
  • The Province also carried an item on the scrapping three years ago of Vancouver plans to introduce an affordable-housing project aimed at middle-income workers. SFU geographer John Irwin was quoted: “It would only have helped a fraction of people, but with Vancouver considered a leader sometimes, it could have potentially been replicated over time in the Lower Mainland."
  • The Vancouver Sun quoted marketing prof Lindsay Meredith in a story on the accuracy (or, rather, inaccuracy) of gas-station pumps. Meredith noted how inaccurate pumps seem much more often to favour the retailer rather than the consumer. "Add it up. How many million litres does a big station pump in a year? Half a penny? I'd take that any day of the week. Half a litre over a 20-litre pump? That's big money, man." CanWest News Service sent the story across the country.
  • Meanwhile, the Georgia Straight talked to Anthony Perl, director of SFU’s urban studies program, about his new co-authored book, Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil. And about the state and fate of the oil market and its impact on transportation, the economy, and lifestyles. Gordon Price, director of SFU’s City Program, was also in the story.
  • A Mother's Day feature in The Vancouver Sun quoted sociologist Barbara Mitchell as saying that as little girls grow, they tend to look to their mothers for clues about how to act and how to gain their place in the world. "I think mothers are probably the most powerful influences in the socialization of children. Girls especially tend to identify with their mothers. They want to act like their mommies when they're little. They want to be just like her."
  • Psychologist Joti Samra of SFU’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction, was interviewed on CBC Radio’s Almanac open-line on the subject of work-life balance and what makes a good employer
  • Public policy prof Jon Kesselman wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun noting that: “Soon, British Columbia will stand alone—the only Canadian province to charge head-tax-like premiums for health care coverage.” And he concluded: “Given that 90 per cent of public health care costs already come from general revenues, B.C. has ample precedent for replacing its head tax with broader sources, and not becoming a Canadian outlier.”
    Meanwhile, Toronto Star business writer James Daw began a column with: Two economists say a new type of tax-free savings account could benefit low-wage earners.” One of the two is Kesselman. Daw noted Kesselman and Finn Poschmann of the C.D. Howe Institute have pointed out that RRSPs and pension plans can deprive seniors of benefits targeted at those with low incomes.
  • Burnaby Now did a story international conference that grapples with resolving global health threats. It’s the Western Regional International Health Conference, at the Burnaby campus May 23-25.
  • Fairchild Radio interviewed Vivian Chu about the 18 SFU students who were in China when the earthquake tragedy struck. She is SFU program coordinator with our  dual-degree program with Zhejiang University. The students were OK. Calls also came from Channel M-TV and A1 Chinese radio in Toronto.


  • GlobalTV, nationally and locally, ran a three-part news series, Forensic Botany. It featured, among others, SFU botanist Rolf Mathewes. He helped secure the conviction of the killer of 10-year-old Heather Thomas in 2000—by using plant matter to identify where she was murdered and where her body was had been kept.
  • Two SFU profs were quoted in a Maclean’s magazine cover-story headlined “How B.C. became a world crime superpower.”
    • Rob Gordon, director of criminology, was quoted on the issue of corruption: "There has to be people on the take across the spectrum. From time to time you see little signals."
    • And economist Stephen Easton added: “There's been no indication Canadian police have been compromised or that politicians or judges have been bought, but it's hard to imagine these kinds of flows of money without that happening.”
  • Gordon was also quoted as the Winnipeg Sun and other Sun Media papersreported that NHL player Riley Cote (Philadelphia Flyers) has on his web-space a banner supporting the Hells Angels in Winnipeg. Said Gordon:
    "Anybody who associates with people who are known to be actively involved in organized crime are clearly not providing good, positive role models for kids. . . . If I were his team manager, I certainly would be chastising him for this one. This is not the kind of image the NHL needs to be portraying."
  • The Province quoted criminologist David MacAlister in a story on “citizen websites” that expose and publicize criminals. He said problems can arise if people take justice into their own hands, and privacy is also a concern.
  • Criminologist Ray Corrado was in Maclean’s magazine in a story on BC’s bait-car program. He noted that the most problematic car-thieves are in their teens and early 20s and tend to suffer from personality disorders and drug addictions.
  • The Province interviewed SFU forensic psychologist Steve Hart about the savage killing of Jocko, the Greater Vancouver Zoo's male spider monkey. Hart said Jocko's killer is probably a male in his late teens "who has a general pattern of conduct disorder and was treating animals as property, and damaging animals the same way he might vandalize other forms of property."
    Earlier, Hart was praised on CBC Radio’s The Current, in a discussion about emotional assessment. Hart was cited by an American academic from the University of Connecticut for leadership in the study of psychopathic behaviour.


  • The Province covered the opening of the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art on Vancouver's Hornby Street—a space that Reid himself had his eyes on before his death in 1998. "This venue would come up in conversation," said George MacDonald, director emeritus of the Bill Reid Foundation and director of the Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Art Studies at SFU.
  • The Georgia Straight featured the Dance Centre’s latest Pulse series program, and noted the diverse works “all spring from artists who trained at Simon Fraser University’s cutting-edge, interdisciplinary School for the Contemporary Arts.” The Straight added: “The fact that they’re so diverse speaks to the unique, freewheeling approach of an institution that encourages its students to cross genre boundaries.”
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican featured leading creative and liberal arts schools.  David Stout, an associate prof at the College of Santa Fe, recommended that students consider SFU "where innovative programs have lower tuition than U.S. schools."
  • The West Ender in Vancouver featured author Steven Galloway, who has just released The Cellist of Sarajevo, the story of three people trying to survive during the longest siege in the history of modern warfare, and of the cellist who plays in their midst. The paper noted Galloway also teaches creative writing at SFU.
  • The Hamilton Spectator reported poet David McFadden is on the Canadian short list for the Griffin Poetry Prize for 2008 for his most recent book, Why Are You So Sad? The Spectator mentioned that he has taught at SFU.



  • The Fraser Institute issued its annual Report Card on B.C. Secondary Schools, again ranking University Hill as the #1 public high school in B.C. The Vancouver Sun reported the Fraser Institute is improving its methodology. Co-author of the report cards is economics prof Stephen Easton of SFU.
    In a sidebar story, the Sun noted: "The critics—and there are many—insist the (Fraser Institute) measure is invalid, but that hasn't killed its popularity."  Said the Sun: "Paul Shaker, Simon Fraser University's education dean and a report-card critic, says the rankings are neither scientifically credible nor socially valuable."
  • The Province picked up a news release on how SFU will offer a new PhD program in gerontology beginning in September. Andrew Wister, chair of SFU Gerontology, said the new PhD program is timely because Canada's aging population has raised the visibility and importance of this field of study.
  • The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun featured Kayode Fatoba, "an unmotivated student (who) says his life was going nowhere" as of two years ago. Then he started a soccer program for children under 12. Last weekend, he was one of 20 people to receive a TD Canada Trust Community Leadership scholarship. The papers noted he's heading for SFU  in the fall, to study health sciences.
  • The Mission City Record covered a forum on education for school districts throughout the Fraser Valley.  Among the speakers: Robin Brayne, professor of education leadership studies and policy development  at SFU. "I think all of you may be suffering from initiative overload. . . . Learn what will make the most difference in your school and invest in that. Identify what is important. Make what counts, count."  The Abbotsford News and Hope Standard also carried the story.
  • The Tri-City News promoted a forum of the Coquitlam Parents for Gifted Education. The keynote speaker was Lannie Kanevsky, associate prof in SFU Education. She says skipping a grade is not the only way to challenge gifted learners.
  • The Richmond News reported that Bruce Beairsto, Richmond's superintendent of schools, received a Distinguished Service Award from the BC School Superintendents Association. He took the professional development program at SFU Education, the News noted.


  • The Province featured plans of SFU Athletics and SFU for the SFU Sports Academy. Beginning in the fall, it will offer a curriculum in softball and swimming on the Burnaby campus, while meeting all of the BC government's requirements for physical education.
    The program will be open to students in Grades 8-12 who are registered at four Burnaby high schools, and will run over the first two blocks of the school day on alternating days. Clan swimming coach Liam Donnelly and softball coach Mike Renney were quoted.
  • Sports media across North America reported the Clan women's softball team will be in this weekend’s NAIA national championships after receiving the last at-large qualifying berth. Despite losing the Region I championships in Klamath Falls OR last week, the Clan advance thanks to their over-all NAIA ranking. The championships start May 16 in Decatur AL.
  • The Tri-City News featured SFU's Ruky Abdulai, who won four events for the Clan track and field team in the Achilles Cup meet. UBC downed the Clan 129-115 "despite Abdulai's powerful performance, which included a new meet record in the women's long jump with a leap of 5.82 metres."
  • The Regina Leader-Post and other sports media covered the annual meeting of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association, and reported that SFU (and UBC) will not apply for membership in the American NCAA for at least one more year.
  • The Province featured the role of Angus Reid, BC Lions centre and ex-Clan footballer, at SFU's Offensive Line Team Camp for ages 8-18, May 24-25 on the Burnaby campus. The item also promoted SFU’s summer camps.
  • The  New Westminster Record reported the SFU field lacrosse team won a berth in this week’s Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association national championship tournament in Dallas, Texas. It won the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League Division One title, and finished the regular season 8-0 in division play and 13-1 over-all.
  • The Edmonton Journal, The Province and other media reported that the Edmonton Eskimos have signed SFU quarterback Jason Marshall. He completed 78 of 149 passes for four touchdowns with seven interceptions in his senior year with the Clan.
  • The University of Guelph named Randy Ragan as head coach of the women's soccer program. The Guelph Mercury told readers how Ragan played varsity soccer at SFU, and went on to make 40 appearances for the Canadian Olympic and World Cup soccer teams.
  • The Daily Gleaner in Fredericton NB reported that UNB grad Tyler Slipp has been named head coach of the Waterloo Warriors women's basketball team of the Ontario Universities Association. Slipp spent last season as an assistant coach to Bruce Langford at SFU.
  • Coquitlam Now and the Tri-City News featured Port Moody's Lauren Lachlan, a freshman All-American at SFU, who will anchor the midfield of the Tri-Cities Xtreme women's soccer team.
  • The St. Albert (AB) Gazette featured Carolyn Murray, winner of gold in the Richards Bay BG Triathlon World Cup in South Africa. The paper noted: “In February, the graduate of Simon Fraser University with a bachelor of science in kinesiology also won the Australian national triathlon championship . . .”
  • The Langley Times featured Alexandra Smith's appearance in the 112th Boston Marathon. She’s a French immersion teacher at Noel Booth Elementary and, the Times noted, did her teacher training at SFU.


  • SFU news releases during the week told media how a new research facility promises significantly to expand SFU’s medicinal chemistry capacity. The facility, to be called MedChem, will receive more than $1.9 million in funds from Western Economic Diversification Canada.

Other SFU releases included:

  • SFU will introduce a new PhD program in gerontology in September 2008 that builds on the gerontology department’s successful master’s program, the first and largest of its kind in Canada.
  • Bruce Brandhorst, chair of SFU’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is among eight researchers proposing that governments worldwide should approve the use of fresh human embryos in stem cell research and should follow Canada’s guidelines for permitting the practice.
  • Interactive website design and video work at SFU has won two awards from the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education. One for the SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology’s website A Journey into Time Immemorial ( for which LIDC’s Media Design unit provided the technical artistry, and one for LIDC itself, for its 2008 promotional video for SFU Contemporary Arts.
  • Paul Carriere and Tristen Gilchrist have been named SFU’s 2008 co-op students of the year. The B.C. chapter of the Association for Co-operative Education also recognized Carriere as this year’s top co-op student for his outstanding work at Burnaby’s D-Wave Systems.

SFU’s news releases can be found online at:
Its newsletter, SFU News, is also online, at


  • Bryan Gallagher, a business and geography student at SFU, wrote a guest column in the North Shore News. It began: “With the unveiling of the City of North Vancouver transportation plan and TransLink's new North Shore Area Transit Plan just around the corner, I've been dreaming of a plethora of improvements that should be included.”
  • Burnaby Now reported that UniverCity has won another award for green planning—the 2008 National Planning Excellence Award from the American Planning Association. This is the first time a project outside the U.S. has won.
  • The federal government named Air Canada pilot Sandra Lloyd to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada. She has a BBA from SFU, the government release noted.
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