SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - August 8, 2008

August 8, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: August 1-8, 2008            

The opening of the Beijing Olympics this week put media focus on Canadian Olympians, including some from SFU.

Eight current or former Clan student-athletes are competing, among them softball star Melanie Matthews, and Ruky Abdulai, who has hopes for a seven-metre long jump.

Calgary wrestler Carol Huynh, a former SFU standout, was in the Sports Illustrated list of Olympians who could well win a medal. And SFU’s Daniel Igali, Olympic gold-medallist,  is at the Olympics as mentor to two wrestlers from Nigeria.


  • New forensic evidence uncovered by SFU criminologist Lynne Bell made news around the world.

This because she suggests the crew aboard King Henry the Eighth's favourite warship sank in 1545 because the mostly Spanish crew didn't understand the captain's orders.
Bell examined teeth from a sample of human remains at a museum in England to determine the dietary habits of those who died aboard the “Mary Rose.''

Her analysis revealed most of the crew weren't Britons, as always believed, but from a more southern part of Europe. The finding was confirmed by recently found letters written by the king in which he said he'd hired 600 Spanish mariners.

We quickly spotted the story in well over 30 Canadian media outlets, and as far afield as Texas and England’s Yorkshire Post. The Yorkshire Post reported forensic examinations by a University of Bradford prof backed Bell's research.

  • Scientific American looked at the ”green-ness” of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It quoted business prof Boyd Cohen from SFU’s Centre for Sustainable Community Development: “The biggest accomplishment, which is really impressive, is there's going to be a net-zero building on the site." (The community centre in the Vancouver Olympic Village will be built to a LEED platinum rating and be energy neutral.)

In a companion article, though, Scientific American looked at ecological damage caused by running a new section of the Sea to Sky Highway through the Eagle Ridge area near Horseshoe Bay. Two SFU profs were quoted.

Arne Mooers, biodiversity biologist, said: "The whole place has been ecologically damaged beyond repair." And Boyd Cohen said the highway shortcut flew in the face of Vancouver's green and sustainable bid for the 2010. "That's one of the reasons Vancouver won, because we pitched that we'd be the greenest Olympics ever.”


  • The Canadian Press reported that the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy says the federal government might be overestimating how much its climate-change plan will lower greenhouse gases. SFU resource economist Mark Jaccard, a round table member, said: “We thought it was on the optimistic side in terms of how much reductions would actually happen." The story appeared in more than 30 media outlets across the country.
  • The Vancouver Sun and GlobalTV reported the discovery of a shoe containing a human foot on a remote beach near Port Angeles WA.  This following five such finds on the BC coast. The story quoted SFU forensic scientist Gail Anderson. She said feet are found more often than other submerged body parts because the flesh is often contained tightly within a sock and the shoe, and is less likely to be accessible to scavenging animals. CanWest News Service sent the story across Canada.

Anderson was also in a story in the Maple Creek (SK) News-Times, talking about how examination of the development of maggots could have helped the investigation of  cattle killed by lightning.

  • The Canadian Press said Canadians may play a key part in the genocide trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. CP quoted SFU’s Mark Skinner, a forensic anthropologist who worked in Bosnia. "The Canadian involvement in the analysis of the remains is huge. My role largely throughout much of that time was monitoring the mass-grave exhumations, some related to Srebrenica, of course, and other mass graves.”

We saw this story in more than 35 media outlets.  

  • A Canadian Press story on Boyd Cohen’s contest to find “The Greenest Person on the Planet” hit more media from coast to coast. The business prof is running the contest on his website ( and has got down to the top five candidates. The winner will be announced Sept. 16.

At the same time, a guest column in the Calgary Herald looked at the contest and asked: “Since when did being ‘green’ get elevated to the status of a moral virtue?”

  • A Province story on the friendly YouTube rivalry of business profs Drew Parker and Andrew Gemino got more national coverage. Each of the Surrey profs used jibes and costumes to extol the virtues of his own Business course over that of his rival. Parker dressed as Marvin the Martian for some YouTube segments, and Gemino as Zorro. (See and “related videos” there.)
  • Maclean’s magazine said that while most crime was on the wane between 1998 and 2007, assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm has climbed steadily year after year. It quoted  “well-regarded” criminology prof Neil Boyd as saying violence is getting worse among the most vulnerable in society, even as most Canadians are demonstrably growing less likely to find themselves the victims of crime.
  • Maclean’s also looked at how Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside—“Canada's most notorious slum”—is being slowly gentrified. “In the past 24 months, hundreds of lots have changed hands as developers and speculators snap up deeds to the city's so-called final frontier.” The story mentioned the move to the Woodward’s development of SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, and among those quoted was Gordon Price, director of SFU’s City Program.
  • The Edmonton Journal reported that Edmonton's Chinese community is in urgent need of more culturally specific support for mental-health patients. The story cited SFU research by Alice Chen, who found Chinese immigrants were 10 times less likely to visit a psychiatrist than someone from the general population.
  • In a guest column in the Globe and Mail, Andrew Mack of SFU's Human Security Report project challenged John McCain’s theory that the U.S. "surge" of 30,000 more troops to Iraq has produced a steep decline in political violence. “The surge has undoubtedly played a modestly positive security role in Iraq, but contrary to Mr. McCain, it has not been the major factor driving the country's welcome decline in violence.”

Meanwhile, the Waterloo Region Record mentioned the Human Security Report. Neither paper, by the way, mentioned the SFU connection.


  • The Vancouver Sun reported that the cliff that toppled onto the Sea to Sky Highway last week was such a "classic setup for a landslide" that professors frequently took classes to the area to learn about unstable geological conditions. One such prof: SFU earth scientist John Clague. The story also ran in the Victoria Times Colonist, Edmonton Journal and Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

The North Shore Outlook quoted Clague—“one of Canada's pre-eminent earth scientists”— as saying the BC government needs to drill tunnels to avoid unstable slopes on the highway. He called the road a "pretty dodgy setup".

  • Public policy prof Jon Kesselman co-authored a guest column in The Vancouver Sun, with West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, defending West Van’s municipal spending against criticism from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
  • The Province carried a warning from the American College of Emergency Physicians that multi-taskers who think they can text message while walking, driving or biking are a public safety hazard, and are accident-prone. The story quoted Communication prof Richard Smith as saying he suspects injury numbers are much lower here than in the U.S. “There are fewer people in Canada and so fewer people walking in front of buses."
  • The New Westminster Record picked up our news release on how a joint program between SFU and China's Zhejiang University will take a new turn this fall. That’s when a contingent of 36 students from China—nine of whom are here already—begin a two-year stint of classes with their counterparts at SFU.
  • Criminologist David MacAlister was in a CTV story on legislation that allows people to sue the parents of children who have committed an act of vandalism or some other act of wrongdoing.
  • Vancouver’s Jewish Independent featured gerontologist Gloria Gutman. “Dr. Gloria Gutman is one of the most celebrated academics British Columbia has ever produced and one of the first women to pioneer an entirely new field of study. Her resume is 23 pages long, but her office is still only 75 square feet, on Simon Fraser University’s downtown campus.”
  • The New Westminster Record promoted the summer menu from the Interfaith Summer Institute for Justice Peace and Social Movements. “The SFU-based, non-profit organization is hosting a series of non-credit courses and public forums until Aug. 15.”


  • SFU Athletics filled in media on how eight current or former Clan student-athletes are competing at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. They include current students Melanie Matthews (softball) and Ruky Abdulai (track and field.) (Details at
  • Meanwhile, the New Westminster Record featured Abdulai, and her hopes for a seven-metre long jump in Beijing. "I'm happy with the place God has for me and that I'll come home victorious.  . . . I know I'm capable of jumping seven metres. When you make the top eight anything can happen."
  • The Province gave Ghana-born Abdulai a paragraph story about Canadian Olympians who were born in another country (46 of the Canadian contingent of 331).
  • The Calgary Sun reported that wrestler Carol Huynh, a former SFU standout, was in the Sports Illustrated list of Olympians who could well win a medal in Beijing.
  • The Edmonton Sun featured Olympic triathlete Carolyn Murray. “Murray was a member of the track team at Simon Fraser University where she won six individual conference championships and four women's titles.”
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader picked up an SFU news release on how Daniel Igali, SFU’s Olympic gold-medal wrestler,  had headed once more to the Olympics—not as a competitor, but as a technical director and mentor to a pair of young wrestlers from his native Nigeria.
  • And in a tribute to past Olympians, The Province noted: “Igali came to Victoria to compete in the 1994 Commonwealth Games and successfully sought refugee status due to political unrest in his homeland. He acquired citizenship in 1998 while winning 116 consecutive matches wrestling at Simon Fraser University between 1997 and 1999.”
  • CBC News, in a story on the disproportionate number of BC athletes in Beijing (132; almost 40% of the Canadian contingent) noted that wrestler Matt Gentry of Port Alberni trained at SFU as a result of Igali’s SFU connection.
  • The Brantford (ON) Expositor featured Olympic swimmer Tanya Hunks, and noted that she recently graduated from SFU with a major in criminology and minor in psychology.
  • The Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post featured Olympic softball catcher Erin Cumpstone, another past standout from SFU. “I'd like to play a leadership role, on and off the field. . . .  Yes, it's the Olympics, but each game is just another game. The base paths are still 60 feet. Keep it simple and not blow it out of proportion.

Also in sports:

  • Burnaby Now reported Burnaby native Mark Coletta will become head coach of the SFU men's ice hockey team. Coletta leaves the Burnaby Winter Club to join the reigning B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League champions

The Now also picked up news releases from SFU Athletics on the opening of the Clan men's soccer training; on the signing of eight new recruits to the Clan women’s soccer team; and on the opening this week of the Clan football team’s training camp.

  • The Maple Ridge News featured Maple Ridge's Sarah Boulton, one of the eight new players joining the Clan women's soccer team.
  • The Trail-Rossland News featured diving coach Joanna Linardis of the Trail Aquatic Centre. She was five times a national champion when diving for SFU (2002-2006).

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader reported that Kwantlen Polytechnic University has appointed its first chancellor: Arvinder Bubber, an accountant who has been Kwantlen’s board chair and has served on SFU’s Presidential Advisory Council on India.


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