SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - October 10, 2008

October 10, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Oct. 3-10, 2008               

CTV's Canada A.M. show visited the Burnaby campus Oct. 9, doing a live show with the federal election candidates running in the Burnaby-Douglas riding.
With Maclean’s university rankings issue due out early next month, the magazine sent a photographer to the campus Oct. 9 and 10, looking for a potential cover-shot and other photos.
As well, we staged our first worldwide interactive version of an SFU Philosophers' Café Oct. 8.
And to top off the week in the media, SFU beat UBC 20-19 in a Shrum Bowl football thriller Oct. 9.


  • The Ottawa Citizen was the first newspaper to report that more than 230 academic economists signed an open letter to the leaders of the federal political parties, urging them to acknowledge that putting a price on carbon is "the best approach" to combatting climate change.
    One of the originators of the letter was SFU economist Nancy Olewiler, who said: “We just wanted to clear the air about these issues. It's supply and demand. We have been teaching this since Adam Smith."
    Also signing from SFU was the famed Richard Lipsey, prof emeritus, and, in alphabetical order, profs Gregory Dow, Jane Friesen, Dominique Gross, Mark Jaccard, David Jacks, Peter Kennedy (emeritus), Jon Kesselman, Duncan Knowler, Brian Krauth, Steve Mongrain, Krishna Pendakur, John Richards, Nicolas Schmitt and Simon Woodcock.
    The story was carried across Canada. The letter is at:
  • Public policy prof John Richards wrote a guest column in the Georgia Straight that underlined the argument: “There is near unanimity among economists: paying for emissions is the only foundation for successful climate-change policy.”
  • Meanwhile, more than 120 scientists issued an open letter and news release urging Canadians to vote strategically for the environment in the election.
    Those who signed from SFU: Gwenn Flowers (Earth Sciences), Karen Kohfeld (School of Resource and Environmental Management), Torsten Moeller (Computer Science) and Tim Takaro (Health Sciences).
    “We are at a critical juncture in Canadian history,” they said. “Economists around the world agree. There is only one way to deal with global warming. And that is to put a price on emissions. This can be done through either a carbon tax, a cap and trade system, or both.”
    That story ran across Canada, too. The letter is at:
    Their news release also quoted ethicist Mark Wexler as praising their courage for risking future federal research money. “It's always risky to be pro-climate change when the government in power is pro-fossil fuel."


  • Business columnist Don Cayo in The Vancouver Sun examined the Conservative government’s tax policies and practices, with the help of public-policy prof Jon Kesselman—“the most even-handed tax analyst I know.” Cayo’s conclusion: “On balance, the Harper government's tax changes and cuts have been, in the language of economics, ‘highly progressive’. In other words, kinder to the poor than the rich.”
  • The Bloomberg business news service in the U.S. reported Prime Minister Stephen Harper had ramped up attacks on Liberal leader Stéphane Dion “in a bid to shift voter attention away from financial turmoil and stop his party's slide in polls.” The story quoted SFU marketing prof Lindsay Meredith:
    “His (Harper’s) timing is turning out to be immaculately bad.  The American meltdown has caused some real concern for the economy and he's kind of a do-nothing prime minister when Rome is burning.''
  • The Calgary Herald explored how the environment had taken second place as an election issue to the economy and market issues. But SFU resource economist Mark Jaccard warned:
    “The global economy is in a short-term problem, between now and the next five years. The planetary system is in a big problem that we need to be addressing seriously today so we have good outcomes 50 to 100 years from now."
    Jaccard was also in a Montreal Gazette story on green issues in the election: "It is obvious that you have to have a price on emissions or they won't go down. . . . I'm an economist and if you corner me and ask me to say which system is the most economically efficient, it's the carbon tax.”
    Jaccard’s work on emissions-taxes was also cited in the Stratford (ON) Beacon-Herald.

  • Political scientist Cara Camcastle was on Radio Canada TV, speaking on the role in the election of the Green Party.
  • And economist Richard Harris was in both western and eastern editions of the Epoch Times, looking at the impact of the economic meltdown that began in the U.S.
  • Public policy prof Doug McArthur, as a member of the Globe and Mail election roundtable, ventured: “I think that a coalition government may be the new framework we have to start looking for if we want to have good government in the face of these minorities.” (Podcast at:
  • McArthur also did interviews on CBC Radio and others, on the cost of Canada’s Afghan mission.  He said it’s alarming to see that development aid has fallen to about 10% of Canada's spending there, with the remainder going on a military mission that is pursuing a “unwinnable” strategy.
  • Political scientist Patrick Smith was in a CanWest News Service story on NDP leader Jack Layton’s run on the campaign trail.  Three BC candidates were sacked because of embarrassing histories, but, said Smith: “He quickly responded to it. Whether it was a wholesome response or not, we could argue, but the issue did go away. There's nobody talking about it.''
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader looked at the races in Burnaby-New Westminster and Burnaby-Douglas. Again, Smith was the quoted expert in both stories.
    Smith was also in a Province story looking at how the national party leaders have devoted unprecedented amounts of time fighting for the BC vote. So was Gary Mauser, retired marketing prof and active election watcher: “B.C. is much more important than it's ever been.”
  • In addition to the televised Canada A.M. forum for Burnaby-Douglas candidates, the SFU Student Society and the SFU Graduate Student Society held an all-candidates meeting Thursday. Burnaby Now promoted the event, and quoted student organizer Natalie Bocking as saying she invited three area Conservative candidates but all declined.


  • “You've got fossils in your ears” was the opening paragraph in a Vancouver Sun story. It was about the discovery by criminologist Lynne Bell that as individual cells in our bones begin to die, they somehow become mineralized, turning into microscopic fossils. Bell, who works in SFU's Centre for Forensic Research, said the finding is important because it could help in the identification of very old remains.
  • Speaking of more archaeological fossils, The Vancouver Sun reported in a front-page story that post-doctoral fellow Bruce Archibald is among those protesting lack of government protection for “a fossil bed of global importance” between Kamloops and Cache Creek. It is being ravaged by commercial fossil hunters. "In fact, the richest beds containing the most finely preserved and most diverse fossils are now completely destroyed, or very nearly so.”
  • The Vancouver Sun ran a story on the findings of a team that discovered hormones released by stressed mother starlings actually improve the physical development of their offspring. The SFU team members: post-doctoral biologist Oliver Love and biology prof Tony Williams.  The story first appeared in Proceedings of the Royal Society.
  • Media calls came topsychology prof emeritus Bruce Alexander, whose new book, The Globalization of Addiction: a study in poverty of the spirit, proposes a radical rethink of addiction. “Drug and alcohol addictions account for only 20 percent of serious addiction problems.”
    Alexander was called by The Vancouver Sun, CFAX radio in Victoria and news site, and Toronto Star was looking into doing a story.
  • Physicist Dugan O'Neil was on the On the Coast show on CBC Radio, talking about the delay in the ATLAS atom-smashing experiment in the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. There’s a Real Audio recording at:

  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader talked to Andrey Pavlov of SFU Business about the world stock market. “Andrey Pavlov loves it when people say the markets will never get any better. That's usually when they turn around, according to the SFU Associate Professor of Finance.”
  • 24Hours quoted marketing prof Lindsay Meredith on VANOC’s $40-million plan to buy all available out-of-home advertising space in the region during 10 weeks of Olympic run-up in 2010. Meredith said a lawsuit challenging the buy will fail: “VANOC did not buy all the TV, radio, magazines or newspapers (advertising), therefore adequate forms of advertising still exist for other advertisers out there."
  • The Vancouver Sun reported that a BC man arrested in a prostitution sting is challenging Canada's solicitation laws. Construction foreman Leslie Blais of Maple Ridge asked SFU criminologist John Lowman to testify; but Lowman said he couldn't spare the time and that appearing would distract him from his work on two other cases. CanWest News Service sent the story across the country; and more than a dozen papers used it.
  • The Canadian Press reported on a Vancouver conference staged by B.C. Citizens for Public Power. Speakers included SFU prof John Calvert and adjunct prof Marvin Shaffer, who have long expressed opposition to private power generation and sales in BC. Oilweek magazine also did a story.
  • Burnaby Now reported that SFU Facilities Management is nominated for a Burnaby Board of Trade award for environmental sustainability. Facilities has four competitors; the winner will be announced Nov. 6.
  • Houston (BC) Today reported that SFU researchers will check out the air quality in the region of Houston, Smithers and Telkwa. “Most air quality studies are done in larger city centres, but not a lot has been done on the impact of wood burning stoves,” said assistant prof Ryan Allen of SFU Health Sciences.
  • The Province reported that Brian Irving, accused of ramming his truck into a sushi restaurant in Maple Ridge in August and killing two people, has been found fit to stand trial. One of his victims was SFU student Maija-Liisa Corbett. The other was Hyeshim Oh, mother of SFU student Jessica Han.


  • The Times (of London) ranked SFU #164 in its rankings of the top 500 universities in the world. Technically, we slipped just a touch, down from #139 a year ago—but going up or down 50 or even 100 spots is not unusual.
    McGill was the top Canadian university at #20, followed by UBC at #34, Toronto #41, Alberta #74, Montréal #91, McMaster and Queen's tied at #117, Waterloo #129, Western Ontario #159, Calgary #170 and Dalhousie #197.
    In social sciences SFU ranked #64. Our over-all academic ranking was #109. Other SFU scores: engineering and IT, 116; academic peer ranking, 132; life sciences and biomedicine, 155; natural sciences, 165.
  • BC and national media reported on the Pivot Legal Society's discovery that the RCMP funded studies critical of Vancouver’s supervised injection site (Insite). Pivot said the RCMP initially funded SFU criminologist Ray Corrado, among others, but that his report was “largely favorable” of Insite.
    Pivot concluded that his findings "were not satisfactory to the members of the RCMP", so, Pivot said, the force then funded new researchers whose findings were less favourable toward Insite. The Canadian Press and The Province said RCMP confirmed that one of those new researchers was SFU criminologist Garth Davies, and that he was paid $5,000.
  • The Edmonton Sun did a story on last week’s report on marijuana from the Global Cannabis Commission. It argued that regimes that criminalize users are intrusive on privacy, socially divisive and expensive. The Sun quoted co-author Benedikt Fischer of SFU Health Sciences:
    "I will say to Mr. Harper that even from a conservative policy point of view, there are many, many good reasons to not be content with the status quo of cannabis use control in this country. It costs a lot of money, it's very ineffective (and) it's counterproductive."
    Earlier, the report got good coverage in the U.K., where it was presented to the House of Lords.  The Portage La Prairie Daily Graphic picked up the Edmonton Sun story.
  • Anthony Gurr, master’s of education student, was interviewed on Get Connected Radio, a national online web radio broadcast for the Corus radio network. He spoke about the video game Kindergarten Killer and the issue of video-game violence. (The ‘game’ invites players: “Get inside the kindergarten and shoot down those pesky little kids with your shotgun; avoid getting killed by them.” It was pulled from Finnish websites after a school shooting there.)
  • The Breakfast Show on New Zealand’s OneTV News had a crew in Vancouver this week. Among those interviewed: SFU political scientist Alex Moens on how Canada could be affected by the outcome of the US elections.
  • The Arab-American News of Dearborn MI wrote about efforts by Canadian universities to accommodate Muslim students. “Simon Fraser University in British Columbia is similarly inclusive. It finds it challenging to schedule space for Muslim prayer, due to the changing times of prayer resulting from the face that prayer time is related to the annual trajectory of the earth around the sun. Yet Simon Fraser sees the matter as a challenge, not a barrier.”


  • SFU Athletics kept media fully posted as the Clan football team beat the UBC Thunderbirds 20-19 in the 31st annual Shrum Bowl Thursday night. This on a last-second field goal by Jeff Biles, who also caught a touchdown pass earlier. Athletics has some video online at:
  • Earlier in the week, the Clan beat the U of Manitoba Bisons—the defending Vanier Cup champs—10-8 in overtime at Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford. There, too, the win was on a field goal by Biles. Brian Ridgeway of the Clan was named Canada West Defensive Player of the Week. There is some video on the Clan Athletics Network at:
  • Lucas Barrett’s hat trick led the Clan men’s soccer team to a 4-1 win over the Trinity Western University Spartans. The Clan thus improved to 8-4 on the year. They’re back in action on Oct. 20 when they host Evergreen State on Terry Fox Field, 7 pm.
  • The Province featured, as a business, the DRIVE Basketball Academy, Richmond. Its proprietors: Pasha Bains and Chad Clifford, who played together at SFU. “This is our way to give back and to work with kids in something we love to do.  . . . Now we work with 2,000 kids a year in the different programs.”


  • Prof. Laura Marks of SFU Contemporary Arts was interviewed by CKNW for a weekend feature on her two-week trip to Iran, with Natalie Sorenson, a graduate student in the Master's in Fine Arts program, for research in Islamic art.


  • The Masters of Digital Media program at the Great Northern Way Campus told media that Art Spiegelman, comics artist and Pulitzer Prize winner, and Will Wright, video games giant and creator of The Sims, have joined the program’s advisory board. Great Northern Way is a partnership of SFU, UBC, Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design and BCIT.
  • National Post did a story on the benefits and impact of satellite campuses. SFU’s Surrey and downtown campuses were mentioned. (Impact? Statistics Canada found the number of students who enrolled in university increased by 28.1% when a new school opened in their hometown.)
  • The Province reported that“when caffeine doesn't cut it, more university students are turning to prescription drugs to help them hit the books.” This based on a survey by the B.C. Centre for Social Responsibility of 1,000 University of the Fraser Valley and SFU students; 21 per cent admitted to misusing prescription drugs in the past. The story also ran in the Victoria Times Colonist and the Abbotsford Times.


  • Thursday morning’s live shoot of CTV's Canada A.M. show took place in the W.A.C. Bennett Library, running from 4:15 to 6 a.m. Vancouver time. SFU was named several times as the location, and there was an SFU banner in a perfect position in front of the cameras.
  • SFU staged on Wednesday a novel interactive version of the Philosophers' Café, in the IRMACS theatre at the Burnaby campus. The stars were honorary degree recipient Cary Fowler (an SFU alum known as "the world seed banker") and ecologist-photographer Danny Catt of BCIT (another SFU alum).
    The hour-long show had participants from as far afield as China (SFU grad Gong Jien, executive director of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and Argentina (a farmer facing tough crop rotation issues).  Ecoshock Radio, carried by more than 20 stations around the world, recorded the virtual café for rebroadcast.
  • Meanwhile, Time and the German science mag Welt der Wunder requested photos of kinesiologist Max Donelan's electricity-generating “knee-brace” device; the Surrey-North Delta Leader asked for a photo of economist Andrey Pavlov, to go with his interview on stock market woes; Burnaby Now asked a photo of the ATLAS project with physicists Michel Vetterli and Dugan O'Neil; and Elks Magazine also  asked for a shot of Donelan’s energy-harvester device.


  • The Segal Graduate School of Business ran a full-page ad in The Vancouver Sun to congratulate its 2008 graduates: “Having seen what they have achieved already, we can’t wait to see where they go from here.”
  • SFU spread the word to media that sociologist Heribert Adam has won the 2008 Nora and Ted Sterling prize in support of controversy. The $5,000 prize was awarded for his work on the South African apartheid regime, and later on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. (His Sterling prize lecture: Peacemaking in Divided Societies: South Africa, Israel/Palestine, Canada, begins at 7 pm Wednesday Oct. 15, at SFU's Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue in downtown Vancouver. Free. Reservations: 778.782.5100.)


Also seen on the web and in blogs:

  • Discussion of that report from the Global Cannabis Commission, written by five leading researchers including Benedikt Fischer of SFU Health Sciences. It said marijuana is not harmless, but risks are “modest” compared alcohol and tobacco. . . . Citation of a study earlier this year showing anti-HIV drugs have boosted the life expectancy of people with the AIDS virus by some 13 years. The study was from a team headed by Robert Hogg of SFU Heath Sciences. . . . Another and more recent study involving Hogg that examined “cultural and social meanings associated with semen” among young gay men. . . .

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Calgary Herald looked at the call by Preston Manning, Reform party founder, for an Alberta citizens' assembly on electoral reform, similar to one that wrapped up four years ago in BC. The BC’s assembly’s chair, former SFU president Jack Blaney, told the Herald: “Right from the days of the Greek democracies, it's very important that citizens be engaged and participate and have an opportunity to participate. My hunch is we will see more in the future in many places in the world."
  • Burnaby Now compared the federal parties’ daycare policies and promises. Among those quoted was Pat Frouws, executive director of the SFU Childcare Society. She said child-care is at a "crisis point," and the Conservative plan doesn't offer a much-needed national system.
  • The BC Innovation Council announced the appointment of R. Dean Rockwell as CEO. He’s an SFU grad. (BCIC is a provincially funded agency charged with advancing innovation and commercialization in BC.)
  • With Margaret Trudeau on a speaking tour for Mental Illness Awareness Week (she was at SFU Surrey for a sold-out event Oct. 9) a couple of Ontario papers just had to report: “Another pivotal event of her teen years was being introduced to marijuana at Simon Fraser University, which turned out to be far preferable to the Baby Duck wine so popular with so many students.”
  • Local and national media covered the visit to Vancouver during the week of the parents of a Chinese girl murdered in Canada six years ago. They are pleading with police to help bring the alleged killer of Amanda Zhao in Beijing. Inevitably, the media reported the suspect, Ang Li, was then an engineering student SFU.
  • Weyerhaeuser Company announced to media that Anne Giardini has been named president of the company's Canadian subsidiary, Weyerhaeuser Company Limited. Her credentials include a bachelor's degree in economics from SFU.


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