SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - June 13, 2008

June 13, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: June 6-13, 2008              

The biggest SFU story in the media during the week focused on a grain of salt.
Or, rather, too many grains of salt; in Canadians’ diets.
National and SFU news releases covered a report saying reducing Canadians’ salt intake could mean as many as 17,000 fewer strokes, heart attacks or cases of heart failure annually.
Co-author of the report: SFU Health Sciences prof Michel Joffres, who was interviewed by a number of media.
More on this story below.


  • Mary-Ellen Kelm, SFU historian and Canada Research Chair in aboriginal history, was on CBC-TV in a story about the Parliamentary apology to Canada’s aboriginal peoples.
    “I was surprisingly moved by today's apology . .  and I was reminded too that while government set up the residential schools, it was people like me who ran them. And so it's up to all Canadians to take the next step and to confront racism against First Nations.”
  • CTV News featured energy prof Mark Jaccard knocking the Conservative government for “attack ads” aimed at a proposed carbon tax, and painting it as Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's "tax on everything."
    Said Jaccard: "The Conservatives—and I say this with great sadness because I don't care which political party is in power—but if we're going to do anything about climate change, we're going to have to be honest with people. This is just totally dishonest. . . . Every one of those ads should say, 'Oh and by the way, your income taxes are going down if (the Liberals) do put in that tax,' but it's not there."
  • The Globe and Mail carried a big newsfeature on the fourth discovery in 10 months of a human foot in a relatively small section of BC's coastline. "With no matches yet on the DNA samples obtained from the first three feet, experts at the Centre for Forensic Research at Simon Fraser University are seeking a breakthrough." It spoke to forensic anthropologist Mark Skinner and forensic entomologist Gail Anderson.
  • CTV News carried yet another story on the impact of gasoline prices on car owners. Among those quoted was Gordon Price, director of SFU's City Program: "Frankly there's so much waste in the way we live our lives. It's possible to make fairly modest change, to buy a smaller car, not drive as much, maybe have one car rather than two."
  • Vice-president Warren Gill, in his role as an urban geographer, was interviewed by Radio Canada on the issue of housing affordability.
  • The Toronto Sun chain of newspapers reported that the high cost of fuel and recruitment difficulties kept Canada's navy vessels docked for much of last year. Stephen Priestley, a researcher from the SFU-based Canadian American Strategic Review, noted  the navy has been having difficulty recruiting and keeping seamen, which creates a shortage of qualified personnel.
  • The Yukon News covered a public forum on educational reform in the Yukon. Among those quoted was Gervase Bushe, associate professor of management and organizational studies.


  • Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan’s loss of the mayoralty nomination from the civic Non-Partisan Association brought reporters calling. Kennedy Stewart, assistant prof in the Graduate Public Policy Program, took calls from CBC Radio, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and GlobalTV.
    And he did all that while in London, England, where he’s working for the summer as a research associate at the London School of Economics public policy group.
  • The Vancouver Sun carried a hefty guest article from Tim Takaro, physician and  researcher in environmental and occupational health in SFU Health Sciences. He reported on health risks in substandard housing that can trigger asthma, and on his "Breathe Easy Homes" projects in Seattle:
    “Four projects that were collaborations with Public Health Seattle and King County have shown that low-income households with asthmatic children benefit significantly from receiving various intensities of community-based education and resources to reduce exposure to asthma triggers."
  • The Vancouver Sun also carried two guest columns from graduates of SFU’s masters program in public policy. 
    • Carey Doberstein argued for universal water-metering combined with progressive pricing. "Otherwise, not only will we continue to watch water wasted in our neighbours' leaky faucets and in underground distribution pipes, but we will also continue to wash taxpayers' money down the drain."
    • William Kendall wrote that many BC pensioners may be surprised to find some or all of their pension is locked in and not freely available to spend as they wish. “Reforming B.C.'s provisions for locked-in pension funds will reward the hard lifetime work of retirees who managed to save for their retirement years.”
  • As well, The Vancouver Sun carried a newsfeature on "a unique archeological dig on the Sunshine Coast (that) will give members of the public a chance to become real-life Indiana Jones clones." SFU researchers and the Tla'Amin (Sliammon) First Nation began excavating an ancient fortification and village site at Scuttle Bay last week.
    "The area is extraordinarily rich in archeological sites, including fish traps, residential settlements, clam gardens and underground refuge sites," said SFU archeologist Dana Lepofsky.  The Victoria Times Colonist also carried the story.
  • Marina Morrow, assistant prof in SFU Health Sciences, was on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio, talking about government plans to redevelop Riverview, and programs to accommodate the mentally ill.
  • The North Shore Outlook quoted criminologist Rob Gordon in a story on West Vancouver's program to boot gangsters out of local watering holes. Calling it a "whack-a-mole" approach, Gordon said it'll merely move gangsters on to yet another municipality. "What is needed is a co-ordinated strategy for dealing with organized crime that is Metro Vancouver wide."
  • Criminologist Neil Boyd was in a Victoria Times Colonist story on politicians accused of crime.  Said Boyd: "You'd probably be a little more surprised to see a politician charged with homicide simply because most homicides take place among people who have backgrounds of abuse and neglect, few resources, and few social skills. And we tend to think, at least most of the time, that politicians don't fall into that category."  CHEK-TV News picked up the story.
  • A National Post column on the release of a police tape of an interview with killer Paul Bernardo noted "enduring interest in the incongruity of the murderers' wholesome images." Columnist Craig Offman quoted Boyd: "It's the incongruity that still draws people in. Cliff Olson was a paid informer and a petty criminal. Pickton was a low-life character, whereas Bernardo, who didn't appear to be one, was one."
  • The North Shore Outlook featured Elizabeth Elle, an SFU plant evolutionary ecologist. She said North Vancouver is a perfect place to study bears, trees, plants, fungi, and bugs. The interview stemmed from an SFU news release on Elle's role in a "bio-blitz" on Burnaby Mountain last weekend. (In it, 501 species, ranging from microscopic algae to black bears were identified.)
  • The North Shore News quoted public policy prof Jon Kesselman, a tax specialist, as criticizing a study by the Canadian Federation of Small Businesses. It purported to identify the "Fiscal Responsibility Gap" of spendthrift municipal governments in BC.  The CFSB's tactic of benchmarking population growth and inflation against municipal spending is "not very reasonable for answering the kind of question they are posing," said Kesselman.
  • Vancouver's Westender newspaper hailed 20 community stars under age 29, and one was Lanny Jimenez, who designs and implements strategies involving young people in civic matters. Besides working full-time for the City of Vancouver, the paper noted, she is also completing a joint major in criminology and sociology at SFU.
  • The Westender also reported that four Vancouver neighbourhoods will host a joint car-free festival this weekend, closing thoroughfares and transforming them into pedestrian-friendly urban oases. Among the organizers is Matt Hern, an instructor in urban studies at SFU. The Vancouver Sun also did a story.
  • The Vancouver Sun covered the presentation of the findings of Canadian specialists on Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity, at the giant Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at UBC. It quoted Derryl MacLean (of SFU’s Centre for Comparative Studies of Muslim Societies and Cultures) as saying virtually no mosques in B.C. are defined by ethnicity and, rather, embrace people from scores of countries.
    MacLean also said B.C.'s roughly 120,000 Muslims largely reject Muslim ghettoization, and are open to contributing to the wider Canadian culture.
  • The Georgia Straight had a story on a paper by SFU economists Krishna Pendakur and Simon Woodcock, who say a "glass door" prevents visible-minority immigrants from earning as much as Canadian-born workers. "In 1980, recent immigrant men who had some employment income earned 85 cents for each dollar received by Canadian-born men. By 2005, the ratio had dropped to 63 cents. The corresponding numbers for recent immigrant women were 85 cents and 65 cents, respectively."
  • The Province featured SFU student David Doucette—who was "sitting under a cafe awning away from the glaring African sun to share stories about some of the gritty volunteer community work (he) has done: feeding hogs, planting trees, working at AIDS clinics." He's part of a Canada World Youth exchange to Mozambique.
  • Closing out Convocation June 6: Rick Hansen, Man in Motion and an honorary degree recipient, was on GlobalTV. FairchildTV came up to the Burnaby campus to cover Hansen’s tour of the SFU disability centre/lab. CBC-TV and CTV came for the presentation to Hansen; and so did The Vancouver Sun and Epoch Times.


  • The news service reported on a study finding that even a weak mix of pesticides in river water dampens a trout’s sense of smell. Keith Tierney, while at SFU, led the study with fellow toxicologist Christopher Kennedy.  (Tierney now is at U of Windsor.) Their paper was in the June issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
  • The Human Security Report from Andrew Mack, director of the Human Security Report Project at SFU’s School for International Studies, got more coverage around the world during the week.
    The Economist gave the report a second mention, in a story on shrinking support for al-Quaeda terrorism: "There is no denying that al-Qaeda has damaged its own cause by killing so many Muslims. That is why even Sunni Arabs in Iraq have for now joined the American side. A report from Simon Fraser University in Canada notes an extraordinary drop in support for terrorist groups in the Muslim world."
    Program assistant Ryan Cross, tracking media coverage, reported new media hits in the Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates), Web Algérie (Algeria), Nordbayerische Zeitung Furth and Nurnberger Zeitung (Germany); Avisa Nordland, Siste and Hegnar (Norway), Agencia EFE Servicio General (Spain), La Jornadad (Mexico), Vestmanlands Läns Tidning (Sweden), Jyllands-Posten (Denmark) and the Danish public broadcasting corporation, the BBC’s Arabic language service, two Russian language outlets and one in Czech.
  • India's Hindu magazine cited a paper from a team at Harvard Medical School suggesting it has found the region of the brain responsible for sleep-rhythm adjustment. But the conclusion is being challenged, on grounds the variety of lab-mice used may have skewed the results. “I think this paper’s going to have a very short half-life,” said Ralph Mistleberger,  SFU psychologist and expert on Circadian and sleep-wake rhythms.
  • reported in its Nature Chemistry pages on further research by chemistry prof Neil Branda and co-workers using light-sensitive molecular switches.


  • SFU prof Michel Joffres and University of Calgary researcher Norm Campbell, of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute, are co-authors of the salt study published in the June 11 issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
    They say "a government priority should be to develop policies and, if required, regulations on sodium additives to food by the food manufacturing and retail industry." Current consumption averages about 3,500 mg a day. The body requires only 200 mg of sodium daily.
    A CanWest News Service story was quickly picked up by 20 newspapers—plus radio and TV across Canada, and The Canadian Press reached many more media outlets.
    Joffres spoke with GlobalTV’s national news, did two interviews with CKNW, and filmed with Channel M-TV and Fairchild-TV. Christy Clark set up a phone interview with him for her CKNW talk show.
    Stories also ran on CTV, CBC; in Le Devoir, Montreal, and in the Globe and Mail.


  • The Epoch Times (in a two-part series) featured Karen Tse, this year’s Gordon Shrum Gold Medal winner for outstanding academic and extra-curricular achievement. The new grad begins law school in fall at the University of Victoria.
  • And the Salmon Arm Observer featured local native Ian Foulds, engineering science PhD graduate and one of two winners of the 2008 Governor General's Gold Medal.
  • The Richmond News wrote about Kanwal Singh Neel, president of the B.C. Association of Mathematics Teachers and program coordinator for the Faculty of Education's Professional Qualification Program, based out of the Surrey campus. He has developed new ways of teaching math to aboriginal students, including using button blankets as a teaching tool. He will present his research later this month at the World Education Forum in Adelaide, Australia.  As well, Neel talked to the BC Almanac show on CBC Radio.
  • The Vancouver Sun carried an item and photo on SFU's award of an honorary doctorate last week to famed Vancouver fiction writer William Gibson (Neuromancer and, most recently, Spook Country).
  • Coquitlam Now ran SFU's news release announcing the university's acceptance of a new English course for aboriginal high school students for entrance into SFU. The SFU senate voted unanimously to accept English 12 First Peoples as the academic equivalent of English 12.
  • BC's chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators announced to media that its Student Communicator of the Year award went to an SFU student, Arthur Yee, for his co-op education term working with AIDS Vancouver.



  • SFU Athletics spread the word to media that Clan basketball stars Greg Wallis and Lani Gibbons were named the Outstanding Players of the Year at the 2008 Basketball BC awards.
    Wallis returns to SFU in the fall for his fifth and final season. Gibbons helped the Clan win two CIS National Championships in her five years at SFU and was the 2008 CIS Women's Basketball Player of the Year. The Salmon Arm Observer in Gibbons’ hometown picked up the story.
  • SFU Athletics also told media that Dani Langford will be assistant coach of the Clan women’s basketball team for the 2008-09 season.  She’s the daughter of SFU head coach Bruce Langford, and won two CIS National Championships with the Clan as a player. The Vancouver Sun promptly featured “Team Langford”.
  • The Globe and Mail featured the sound (and social) effects of "grunters" and "vein-popping wailers” in gyms and fitness clubs.  SFU conditioning coach Derek Jensen was in the story: "I never specifically tell anybody to grunt. It's more a symptom of real effort and exertion."
  • The Province and the Tri-City News featured Clan track and field star Ruky Abdulai as she prepared for the 25th Harry Jerome International Track Classic on June 21. Said the News: “A standout athlete at Simon Fraser University, Abdulai is entered in the women's 100 metres at the prestigious meet at Burnaby's Swangard Stadium.”


  • The Province did a story on the visiting Cirque du Soleil, and its senior artistic director, Alison Crawford. The tabloid noted she took her BA Honours in dance at SFU in 1983.
  • Victoria's Monday Magazine promoted its annual Summer Fiction writing contest. The two top prizes include a pass to SFU's Summer Publishing Workshop, Symposium of the Book.

  • Heribert Adam, prof emeritus of sociology, reviewed in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian Online a book about South African journalists and journalism. (Believe in Miracles, by Gerald Shaw, Ampersand Press.)


  • SFU Library’s Special Collections unit let media know that the library now is home to a new collection of 300 photographs and a number of taped interviews. They provide a glimpse into the lives of the Indo-Canadian pioneers who came to B.C. from 1900 - 1950.
    Then Special Collections told reporters how it has secured an unprecedented $1.2 million in gifts-in-kind for the library. Among the many book and archival treasures donated last year are more than 2,000 panels by acclaimed editorial cartoonists.
  • SFU filled in media on a $12-million cross-Canada study of childhood asthma and allergies. Tim Takaro and Ryan Allen, an assistant prof in exposure science in SFU Health Sciences, are involved. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and AllerGen—the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network—are investing $6 million each.
  • SFU chemist David Vocadlo told reporters how researchers studying the human enzyme OGT are closer to understanding its potential effect on processes leading to diabetes and neurodegenerative disease. Vocadlo, together with students Matthew Macauley and David Shen, were among international researchers featured in the June 8 edition of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

  • SFU also sent a release to media on how three SFU researchers are the latest to receive funding from the federal government’s Canada Research Chairs program: Diane Gromala, an associate prof in SFU Surrey’s School for Interactive Arts and Technology;  sociology prof Cindy Patton and education prof Phil Winne. They were among 129 faculty members from 35 universities to receive new or renewed funding.
  • PAMR also told media outlets how SFU Semester in Dialogue students are hosting a design forum with architects, developers, politicians and residents to discuss Metro Vancouver sustainable housing in 2050. (It's at the Vancouver Public Library central branch Wednesday, June 18 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The event is free but pre-registration is required: Email; Phone 778.782.7917; Fax 778.782.7892; or register online at

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

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Columnist Vaughn Palmer in The Vancouver Sun panned the BC government’s "letters of expectation" for BC’s universities—revealed two months into the fiscal year and three months after the Liberals disclosed a 2.6-per-cent cut in university funding.
    “These are marching orders, and belated ones at that. . . . Then comes this friendly reminder of the positive, cooperative nature of the relationship with Victoria: ‘Persistent and substantial failure to achieve targets and complete deliverables may result in more formal action being taken, as deemed appropriate by the minister . . . .’ Blindfold? Cigarette? Any last requests?”
    In the same vein, Maclean’s online education pages pointed out:
    “On the first page of each agreement is the term: from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009. And yet (Advanced Education Minister Murray) Coell’s signature is dated May 30 and the letters were only posted online this week. So, basically, the government is instructing the universities how to implement the surprise cuts two months into the fiscal year.”
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader reported that Kwantlen Polytechnic University gave an honorary doctorate to Leslie (Skip) Triplett, outgoing president and CEO of Kwantlen. The Leader mentioned that he has an MBA from SFU.
  • The Ottawa Citizen reviewed the new book The Priesthood of Science, by William Leis. It  noted that Leiss once taught communications at SFU.  (He is currently a prof at the University of Ottawa's Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment.)
  • The Victoria Times Colonist began a series of feature interviews with local scientists. One was forest pathologist Rona Sturrock of the Canadian Forest Service labs in Victoria.  "Sturrock came to this work via the Master of Pest Management program at Simon Fraser University . . .  "
  • Burnaby Now reported that a municipal environmental award has gone to ecologist Danny Catt of BCIT. He gets the communications award for his use of multimedia presentations to educate Burnaby residents and people around the world about sustainability. The paper noted Catt attended SFU.
  • The Cornwall (ON) Standard-Freeholder covered celebrations at St. Andrew's West ON, marking the 200th anniversary of Simon Fraser's exploration of the Fraser River. Featured was a visit to Fraser's grave at St. Andrews. "Grants from the provincial government totalling $150,000, plus help from Simon Fraser University, allowed for a headstone replacement, a new stone fence and foundation work to the graves of Fraser's wife's parents.”
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