May 23, 2008

A look at how SFU and its people made news: May 16-23, 2008            

Two stories from SFU got huge worldwide news coverage during the week:

  • The annual brief from the Human Security Report Project in SFU’s School for International Studies always generates media coverage around the world, and did so again.
  • The other big international hit was a new study that concludes more than half of the world's ocean-going sharks are at risk of extinction.
    They drew media and website coverage from Africa to Australia, Manila to the Middle East,  Europe to Uruguay and from Russia to Rush Limbaugh.


  • On May 21, the Human Security Report Project launched at the UN its latest report: The Human Security Brief 2007.
    “Challenging the expert consensus that the threat of global terrorism is increasing, a new report from the Canadian research team that produced the much-cited Human Security Report in 2005, reveals a sharp net decline in the incidence of terrorist violence around the world.”
    First stories spotted were by BBC News and the Reuters international news agency. Then the story spread to other news agencies including The Associated Press, Agence France Presse, United Press International, Bloomberg News, Yahoo News and InterPress.
    The story was covered by media that included the ABC News, New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, BBC World, the Irish Times, Scottish TV, the Manila Times in the Philippines and the Middle East Times in Egypt. It was in The Australian, on Radio Australia, and on a worldwide bevy of blogs and websites including
    The Canadian Press and CanWest News servicesent the story across Canada; it quickly appeared in a welter of papers (including the Globe and Mail) and was aired by numerous broadcast outlets (including CTV and GlobalTV).
    Project leader Andrew Mack appeared on ABC Radio, and on CBC Radio’s show, The Current. Other media were also trying to line him up.


  • The lead author of the study that concludes more than half of the world's ocean-going sharks are at risk of extinction is SFU’s Nicholas Dulvy, Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.
    BBC News was the first to report the story. "Fishery managers and regional, national and international officials have a real obligation to improve this situation,” said Dulvy. “With sufficient public support and resulting political will, we can turn the tide."
    The story spread quickly, with media hits in Russia, India, Germany, Africa, Bulgaria, Uruguay, Ireland, England, Australia and across Canada (including the Globe and Mail), plus Science Daily. The academic publication was in the latest edition of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.


  • The Globe and Mail reported that a scientific panel reviewing management of the Skeena River fishery has concluded that the ocean catch of some salmon stocks should be reduced by as much as 50 per cent and late-season commercial netting near the estuary should be restricted. The panel included fisheries scientists John Reynolds and Randall Peterman of SFU. 

    The report can be downloaded (PDF format) from here
    Houston Today in Houston BC also did a story.
  • National Post carried a feature on the new Indiana Jones movie. It quoted SFU archaeologist Jonathan Driver as saying that he was teaching at the University of Calgary when the first Indiana Jones movie came out in 1981—and enrolment jumped about 25%.
    "There was definitely a spike after the first movie. . . . Indiana Jones was much more in our self-image of what we thought  archaeologists should be like. Adventurous. Tough. Getting the girls. I mean, it was wonderful!"
    (More seriously, Driver protested that the first film presented archaeologists as glorified treasure hunters, stealing invaluable artifacts from native peoples. "We all want to be like Indiana Jones, but we'd like to have an ethical Indiana Jones.")
  • National Post also carried a story saying the next major job boom belongs to the health sector and it will be brought on by Baby Boomers. Among those quoted: Andrew Sixsmith, director of the Gerontology Research Centre at SFU.
  • CanWest News Service sent across the country a feature on U.S. research on parenting styles and relationships with university-aged children. Among those quoted was Lisa Buckley, director of the Student Development and Programming Centre at SFU: “A healthy attachment to parents can be really good for a student's development.'' And, she added, it’s good for parents to know they're needed, too.
    (CanWest’s headline: “University students still need their mommies and daddies”. We saw the story in a string of papers and on GlobalTV.) 
  • Australia’s website ran a story on the development at SFU of a chip that can trap individual cancer cells and investigate the ability of various drugs to overcome drug resistance. Credited were chemistry prof Paul Li and colleagues, and the BC Cancer Research Centre in Vancouver. SFU News covered this last November at:
  • The San Jose Mercury News did an advance story on a peace conference being held there by the Silicon Valley’s Islamic Educational and Cultural Research Center. The paper noted speakers include Derryl Maclean, director of SFU’s Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures.  The Santa Cruz Sentinel also ran the story.


  • The Vancouver Sun had a reporter in Seoul who covered the signing on Tuesday of agreements between SFU and Yonsei University. The schools will collaborate in research in material science and medicinal chemistry. "This indicates that SFU is cooperating with, working with, and collaborating with the top institutions in Asia," said president Michael Stevenson. Mario Pinto, vice-president of research, was featured in the story.
  • Working from an SFU news release, The Vancouver Sun reported: “When about 150 delegates to a global health conference converge at Simon Fraser University this week, they'll have the spectre of disease and destitution in Myanmar after the cyclone to remind them about the relevance of their work.”
    And it added: “Graduate students in the faculty of health sciences, global health program, are serving as the hosts for the sixth annual conference, which will be the first such meeting held in SFU's new health sciences building, Blusson Hall.”
    Organizer Jocelyn Tomkinson was quoted. She also appeared on the Bill Good show on CKNW , and the Weather Network’s newsroom sent a camera to film her outside Blusson Hall. 24Hours also interviewed Tomkinson.
    Then the New Westminster Record did a special feature on her, with a photo: “Jocelyn Tomkinson has never let adversity stand in her way. The 29-year-old Simon Fraser University graduate student was born with a spinal cord tumour that has now left her a paraplegic, but she refuses to let her life be defined by that fact.”
  • The Vancouver Sun carried a guest column by SFU’s Yuezhi Zhao, Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Global Communication. “In light of the recent Chinese backlash against the West, particularly its media, it is clear that everything foreigners say reverberates inside China.”
  • And the Sun ran a guest column from political scientist Marjorie Griffin Cohen on changes in BC labour laws. “B.C. should be a good place to work. It has a poor record for workers' wages and working conditions mainly because the government has deliberately lowered the working standards.”
  • CBC News reported the Woodward’s redevelopment project for SFU Contemporary Arts on Vancouver’s downtown eastside almost fell through before construction began last year. CBC quoted SFU vice-president Warren Gill as saying the university could not find the money to complete the project. Bob Rennie, over-all project marketer, told CBC that he sought help from the B.C. government and eventually the province announced a $49.3-million contribution for the arts school. Gill noted the university still has to raise $12 million.
  • Gerontologist Gloria Gutman was on CBC Radio warning of the health and social risks in a plan by a Chilliwack care home to “double-bunk” seniors—putting two seniors in a room designed for one—while the home undergoes renovation. “Right away the risk of infection goes up,” said Gutman.
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was on GlobalTV in a story on the quality and safety (or lack thereof) in some products imported from Asian nations. And he was quoted in a Province story on how Canadians are feeling the pinch from high-priced food and fuel.
  • Burnaby Now caught up to the news of SFU’s new doctoral program in gerontology. Andrew Wister, SFU gerontology chair, was quoted.
  • Georgia Straight carried a feature on the ATLAS project at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. SFU is part of the multi-university particle-research project. The Straight suggested on its cover that  “there’s a small chance that this project could kill us all”—a prospect countered in the story by SFU physicist Dugan O’Neil.
  • The Richmond Review promoted a fund-raising concert that included SFU’s newly formed Chinese Culture Club and SFU’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association. Tony Liu, third-year business student, said SFU students were actively looking for ways to help earthquake victims in China.
  • Meanwhile, earth scientist John Clague was on CBC Radio, speaking about the potential for more aftershocks and further quakes in Sichuan province.
  • Surrey Now told readers that Surrey's Kamila Romanowski, a third-year SFU student, will join 26 others May 31 on a 3,000-kilometre bike ride from Vancouver to Tijuana, Mexico to raise money for micro-loans to poverty-stricken people in other lands. The riders are scheduled to arrive in Tijuana on July 18.
  • The Journal of Commerce (“Western Canada’s construction newspaper”) reported SFU won a “Connie Award” from the B.C. Ready-Mixed Concrete Association for “best use” of architectural concrete, in the ASSC1 (Arts and Social Science Complex) building.


  • The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on the sentencing of young offenders as adults brought reporters' calls to criminologist David MacAlister, director of the Institute for Studies in Criminal Justice Policy at SFU. (The court ruled 5-4 that forcing violent young offenders to prove they should not face adult prison terms violates their constitutional rights.)
    MacAlister noted in a Canadian Press story that the government can't simply change the Youth Criminal Justice Act to mimic adult punishment. "It will be a matter of ironing out how far the government can go in terms of bringing in policy changes." Stories quoting him ran in newspapers and on broadcast media across the country.
  • Closer to home, MacAlister was also quoted in a Victoria Times Colonist story on a court ruling that two Victoria police officers used excessive force in their treatment of a 15-year-old girl.  Said MacAlister: "People could probably envision their own child in those kinds of circumstances and would hope the police would treat them as nicely as possible, which may not have happened in this case."
  • The Victoria Times Colonist quoted SFU criminologist Neil Boyd in a story saying youth crime rates have increased in all provinces across Canada except Quebec. Boyd said the increase is largely driven by "a small group of individuals involved in the nexus of guns, drugs and retaliatory violence."
  • Meanwhile, the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy held a news conference in Ottawa to urge the federal government to keep alive Vancouver's supervised injection site. (Its mandate runs out June 30.)  The foundation cited research by Boyd: It suggests the site 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. And Boyd also conducted a cost-benefit analysis that he says showed the site returned, in health-care and police savings, between one and four times the cost of running it.
    The Hill Times (“Canada's Politics and Government Newsweekly”) also reported on Boyd’s research.
  • The Victoria Times Colonist and other media had a heyday with the discovery of fourth severed foot washed ashore in BC, on Kirkland Island in the Fraser River off Richmond. It’s all a mystery, but forensic entomologist Gail Anderson told media it is common for hands, feet and the head to detach as a body decomposes in water.
  • The Province reported 28 murder investigations under way in the Lower Mainland by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, compared to 14 at the same time in 2007. The newspaper quoted SFU criminologist Ray Corrado as saying the high number of young people being murdered is a worrisome trend. They get caught up in gang life without realizing the dangers: "They often lack the ability to see the future. They have impulsive and aggressive traits. The lifestyle looks easy. You get the sense they feel invincible. (But) once they get into the crime it's hard to get out."
  • The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times featured "Maple Ridge scientist" Rolf Mathewes of SFU, whose forensic botany work has been a part of a number of murder investigations in Canada and the U.S. 
    Mathewes was also featured last week in a GlobalTV series on forensic botany. And, the MRPM Times noted: "Mathewes isn't just getting media attention for his forensic botanist work. Media outlets are also interested in his paleobotany research. When the Times called, Mathewes had just gotten a call from the BBC wanting information about research he'd done on vegetation climate history on the Queen Charlotte Islands."


  • The Vancouver Courier featured the SFU Gallery’s exhibition of the Storyville Portraits, snapped in the red light district in turn-of-the-century New Orleans by photographer John Ernest Joseph Bellocq. (The exhibition runs on the Burnaby campus through June 14.)


  • SFU Athletics told media how the Clan women’s track and field team has been named the Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character by the NAIA. The award is for demonstrating values of respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship. There’s a video of the Clan receiving their award at:
  • The Clan got off to a good start May 22 at the 2008 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Ruky Abdulai earned the first individual title for the Clan in the long jump with a mark of 6.31m. SFU Athletics posted a video recap of Day One at:
  • Earlier, Athletics filled in sports media as the Clan softball team headed into the 2008 NAIA National Championships in Alabama. Sadly, the Clan’s season came to an end at the hands of Dickinson State University, 6-1.
  • And sports media reported the season of the SFU men's field lacrosse team also came to a sudden close at the Men's Conference Lacrosse championships in Dallas, when Brigham Young University handed them a 10-9 loss in the quarterfinals.
  • The Kelowna Capital News reported local student Alexa Kennedy has accepted a scholarship offer from SFU and will join the Clan women's soccer team this fall.
  • The North Shore News featured former SFU quarterback Jason Marshall, headed for the Edmonton Eskimos rookie camp next week and lining up as a fullback.
  • The Province featured ex-Clan basketball player Craig Preece, a co-founder of Big Kahuna Sports of Surrey, a leading team outfitter in BC.  "Preece was SFU's eighth all-time leading scorer, with 1,470 points, when he graduated in 1993."
  • The Province also featured Michelle Hendry,  former Clan women's basketball star.  She is in Spain, where she and her husband, Nick Maglisceau, formerly of the U of Alberta Golden Bears, have continued their basketball careers. Hendry (now six months pregnant) still holds the SFU record for points: 3,152.



  • Among other missives to the media during the week, SFU continued to send invitations and releases focusing on SFU’s coming Open House and on Spring Convocation. (Open House is Saturday, May 31 from 12 noon to 4:30, rain or shine, at the Burnaby campus. See:
  • SFU’S Surrey campus sent out a release on how a $1.35-million grant from The Boeing Company will put SFU and UBC in the forefront of the emerging field of visual analytics,  leading to better ways for governments, industry and academia to cope with an increasing flood of information. The five-year grant will fund investigations by a team of researchers including SFU’s John Dill and Brian Fisher.

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


  • A two-part made-for-TV mini-series, The Andromeda Strain, airs May 26 and 27 on A&E. It was filmed on the Burnaby campus.



  • Robert Gordon, director of SFU’s school of criminology, was presented during the week with the 2008 President's Award for Service to the University through media and public relations.
    President Michael Stevenson lauded Gordon for “exemplary” dedication to working with the news media.
    Among those present at the award presentation were three other SFU criminologists who have themselves won the award in the past: Gail Anderson, Neil Boyd and Ray Corrado.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Coquitlam Now reported that UniverCity has installed a windmill-powered aerator to combat the breeding of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile virus. It quoted Gordon Harris, president and CEO of the SFU Community Trust:
    "Providing a healthy environment, now and in the future, for UniverCity residents and the broader community is one of our key commitments. Even though the West Nile Virus isn't currently in B.C., our community features detention ponds and open watercourses which would naturally attract mosquitoes. We are proactively and permanently reducing mosquito numbers using innovative and sustainable solutions to prevent a future problem."
  • Speaking of mosquitoes, the Tri-City News wrote about the Tri-Cities mosquito-control program for 2008. In it, six students (most from SFU) will check and if necessary treat about 200 catch basins and ditches each day until Aug. 1.
  • The Retail Council of Canada announced $1,000 scholarships to 26 students to assist in their pursuit of retail as a career. Winners included SFU student Nikolina Babic of North Vancouver.
  • The Fraser Institute told media about a new book saying Canada's immigration and refugee policies are beset with major problems. Immigration Policy and the Terrorist Threat in Canada and the United States is co-edited by SFU political scientist Alexander Moens and Martin Collacott, a former Canadian diplomat.
  • The federal government announced a $120,000 grant for an employment training initiative managed by the United Chinese Community Enrichment Services Society (S.U.C.C.E.S.S.). It works closely with Surrey-based employers—and experts at the SFU Surrey campus—to identify recruitment and training opportunities for immigrants and visible minorities.
  • The Province featured Matthew Stevenson, who works in a BC Construction Association program that helps immigrants access employment in construction and the trades. The paper noted he earned a masters in adult education from SFU in 2001.
  • The Comox Valley Record carried a business-page feature on a new business, Solutions for Seniors Eldercare Planning. The principal is Wendy Johnstone of Comox, who has a masters in gerontology from SFU.
  • The Vancouver Courier featured jazz singer Dalannah Gail Bowen, who turned life on the rocks into taking the lead in establishing a Downtown Eastside centre for the arts. She also wrote a  largely autobiographical play, The Returning Journey. The Courier noted she studied non-profit management at SFU.
  • Ontario’s Sault Star reported that Brianna Couglin, who holds a master's degree in public policy from SFU, will begin on June 13 as chief administrative officer for Prince Township, Sault Ste. Marie.
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