SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - October 31, 2008

October 31, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Oct. 24-31, 2008              

Two SFU kinesiologists were big hits in the news this week.

  • Time picked as one of the 50 best inventions in the world in 2008 the electricity-generating “knee-brace” device invented by Max Donelan and team. Time carried a story and picture. Its circulation is more than four million people in the U.S. and a total of 19.5 million internationally.
  • Scott Lear’s team unveiled key research that found the longer immigrants remain in Canada, the worse their cardiovascular health becomes.

Both stories hit media and blogs around the world.


  • Time hailed Max Donelan’s invention this way:
    “Wasting energy is so 20th century. Power is all around us, if we just know how to use it. That's what motivated Max Donelan, a kinesiologist at Simon Fraser University, to invent a device that harnesses the energy of walking. The 3.5-lb. device wraps around the wearer's knee and generates power using the same principle that allows hybrid cars to recycle energy created by braking. A walker wearing harvesters on both knees could generate about five watts of power—enough to charge 10 cell phones—without hampering his or her stride. Donelan's device is perhaps the most promising in a class of products that harvest energy — all the more important at a time when portable tech, from Blackberries to iPods, is becoming ubiquitous. There's not a watt to waste.”
    SFU issued a news release on the hit. CTV moved on the story at high speed, and then Donelan was all over CBC Radio.
  • Scott Lear reported to the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress on his team’s research for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, that found the longer immigrants remain in Canada, the worse their cardiovascular health becomes.
    "The health of immigrants coming to Canada from China, South Asia, or Europe worsens with each decade they stay in the country,” said Lear. “Now that we know this, we need to put in place health education programs focused on immigrants. They are a high risk group and would benefit from targeted  . . . prevention strategies."
    The Canadian Press, Canwest News Service, United Press International and the Indo-Asian News Service sent the story across the country and around the world. We soon saw the story in more than 50 news outlets, including ones in the U.S., India and Zimbabwe. It also got good play in blogs around the world.
    The Toronto Star did its own story on Lear’s report, adding that the health of immigrants “actually gets worse than the health of people born here”, and that “stress, language barriers and changes to diet and physical activity are likely to blame.” The Ottawa Citizen and Globe and Mail also did their own stories. So did CTV and CBC.
    As well, Lear appeared on GlobalTV: “The longer that the immigrant population was in Canada, the thicker their carotid artery, their artery wall was thicker . . . New immigrants are at a high risk of arteriosclerosis, more so than Canadians, people born in Canada, and they should be targeted.” He also was interviewed on the BC Almanac show on CBC Radio.
  • The Quirks and Quarks show on CBC Radio explored the discovery by SFU researchers Oliver Love and Tony Williams and a team from Trent University that hormones released by stressed mother starlings can actually improve the physical development of their offspring. “Dr. Love says that the levels of a mother's stress hormone may serve as a signal to her unborn babes to come prepared for a tough life.” (CBC’s mp3 is online here.)
  • Quirks and Quarks also featured how western conifer seed bugs find their food—seeds within the cones of evergreen trees—through infrared radiation emitted by the “hot” cones. While the program interviewed a BC forests ministry entomologist, he gave credit to SFU biologist Stephen Takács, the first scientist globally to discover that a plant-eating animal uses IR radiation to find its food. (CBC has an mp3 recording online.)
    The New York Times ran a story based on its interview with Takács last week. also carried a story.  And the North Shore News set up an interview with Takács, a North Shore resident.


  • A website collaboration between SFU and the Fraser Valley's Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre has been honoured by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
    The interactive website—Journey into Time Immemorial—has been awarded UNESCO's Grand Prix award, its highest. The website is a project of the SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and the Xa:ytem Centre in Mission. It has generated well over a million hits since it was launched last spring, at: It provides a picture of life in the Fraser Valley as it was hundreds of years ago.
    The Canadian Press sent the story across the country. We saw it in more than 25 news outlets, including The Province.
    As well, the site earned a link on several blogs, including Mark Forsythe’s CBC Radio blog ( CTV posted the PAMR news release on its website. The story even turned up in the Mining Association of BC’s daily newsletter.


  • Political scientist Alex Moens, also a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, had a guest column in the Financial Post section of National Post, saying Canadians would fare better with John McCain as U.S. president rather than Barack Obama. “Throughout this American campaign, Canadians have favoured Barack Obama by large margins. However, if they considered Canada's real economic interests, they would think again."
    (And SFU’s Michael Fellman was in a Georgia Straight story looking what the U.S. outcome could mean for Canada.)
  • Jon Kesselman, economist and public policy prof, was in Maclean's, in a story about the so-called "living wage" program being adopted by Calgary and studied by some other cities. He said the system could trap workers in low-skill jobs. "As an economist, I like to see the market setting prices, rather than government."
  • National Post featured a guest piece from SFU Business profs Leyland Pitt and Michael Parent on why so many luxury brand extensions fail. (Think Pierre Cardin and Diane von Furstenberg.) The article was a short version of a study to appear later in Business Horizons.
  • Canwest News Service reported those $34,500 exclusive ticket packages to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games have already sold out. The paper quoted marketing prof Judy Zaichkowsky: "This is a rich person's event. There are people from all over the world who make the Olympics their No. 1 holiday. It doesn't matter what the stock market does. They have money in the bank." We saw the story in, among others, National Post, The Vancouver Sun and the Victoria Times Colonist.

  • Public policy prof Doug McArthur is a member of the Globe and Mail Round Table on politics. In a debate on the formation of the federal cabinet this week, McArthur said: “The cabinet that (Stephen Harper) has had was not particularly stellar and I agree that also they weren't given much room to do their jobs or be seen as doing their jobs because of the tight control from the centre.”
  • Don DeVoretz, economist and immigration guru, was on CBC Radio as it examined the impact on immigration of the economic slowdown forecast for Canada. Of the new immigration minister, Jason Kenney, DeVoretz said: “This is a portfolio that many people commit suicide in. He has to be very careful. This is a tricky ministry because the constituency is not immigrants, it's all Canadians.”
  • The Canadian Press carried a feature on the disappearance of a Barrie ON teen whose parents had barred him from his Xbox. CP said gamers can form “strong attachments” to the virtual world. Among those quoted was Stephen Kline, director of the Media Analysis Laboratory at SFU. "These are very intense emotional experiences for the heavy gamer. . . . There's going to be deep separation anxiety." This story we saw in a bevy of news outlets and blogs.
  • Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail ran a story on a Japanese woman who confessed to killing the avatar of her online "husband" after he ditched her abruptly on the popular interactive game MapleStory. SFU communication prof Richard Smith said: “It seems weird, but in a sense this sort of thing happens all the time. Jealous spouses key the person's car, they poison their dog. Destroying his virtual toy is not that surprising."
  • The Financial Post section of National Post launched its fourth annual MBA Portfolio Management.  It reported the team from the U of Manitoba took the early lead among the 16 squads. SFU Business stood at No. 13.
  • And, farther from home, The Australian, a Sydney-based national newspaper, covered a Melbourne conference on terrorism. Among speakers was Andrew Mack of SFU’s Human Security Report Project: “Mack . . . questioned the many billions of dollars spent by countries such as Australia on counter-terrorism, saying statistics showed the threat of terrorism was receding.”


  • President Michael Stevenson was on the Bill Good show on CKNW, as part of a panel discussion about great people who have been part of BC’s 150-year history. Among several names aired with SFU connections were such luminaries as philanthropist Joe Segal and hero Terry Fox.
  • A business feature in The Vancouver Sun on BC’s trade relations with India began: “Two Simon Fraser University researchers, Akash Murgai and Caleb Buxton, have been rattling around the futuristic Chennai offices of Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest software services company. They are working with engineers there, and their landing comes as B.C. tries, as ever, to diversify its trade with India.”
    The two were also in a big photo in the paper. And the story quoted Arun K. Garg of SFU’s India Advisory Council, who also chairs the India market advisory group for the province's Asia Pacific Trade Council, and Niranjan Rajah, who teaches at SFU's Surrey-based School of Interactive Arts and Technology.
  • The Vancouver Sun ran a guest column co-authored by Jon Kesselman, saying Premier Gordon Campbell’s economic package announced last week is “a confused jumble of components that work at cross-purposes and fail to recognize key principles for guiding policy.” The column added: “Budgeting acrobatics undertaken by the provincial government to avoid a measured deficit do not serve the economy.”
    Meanwhile, the Richmond News did a roundup of reaction to Campbell’s economic statement. Among those quoted was SFU economist Richard Harris: “The economics people in the department of finance must have had a pretty good say in this thing, as opposed to the politicians, because it looks pretty well-crafted."
  • The Vancouver Sun and the Kamloops Daily News reported the BC government is moving to protect important fossil beds near Cache Creek. But SFU paleontology researcher Bruce Archibald told the newspapers: "As the situation stands, deeply problematic issues remain unresolved that continue to threaten the scientific, heritage, and educational aspects of the site." He called for an "immediate stop-work order" on mineral claims at the McAbee site.
  • The Vancouver Sun wrote about efforts to prop upright the old and moribund hollow tree in Stanley Park. But SFU wildlife biologist Alton Harestad said it's no way to treat a beloved piece of nature:
    "Think about a dear departed grandfather of yours and whether you'd like him propped up in a church. Let that tree fall and lie on the ground and people might walk over it and see a pile of rubble. I see habitat for shrews and salamanders; there's a whole community of living organisms that makes a living on downed wood."
  • Burnaby Now featured Metrolyrics, an online database of song lyrics launched by business administration student Milun Tesovic. He and his company were also in The Peak and in SFU News this week. Metrolyrics has more than 27 million unique users a month and is the ninth largest music site in North America.
  • Houston Today, the Smithers Interior News and the Vanderhoof Omineca Express ran a story onenergy economist Mark Jaccard’s “standing-room-only presentation” to the UNBC Economics Students Society. “Non-compulsory policies that don’t make you do anything are not a replacement for putting a price on emissions. . . . Our emissions have just kept rising.”
  • Amir Rubin, assistant business prof, was in the Georgia Straight in a story about the impact on pensions of the stock-market turbulence: “It wouldn't be surprising if the value of the pensions went down, depending on their mix. Going down between 10 to 20 percent in the last few months isn't going to be surprising.” Rubin’s photo was in there, too.
  • The Epoch Times did a special feature on SFU’s Diwali gala dinner in Surrey Oct. 27, complete with a photo of President Michael Stevenson and wife Jan Whitford.

  • The BC Catholic gave half its front page to a photo (by SFU’s Marianne Meadahl) of the Oct. 16 visit to the Burnaby campus of Archbishop Raymond Roussin; it carried a detailed story, too.


  • After the NDP scooped two provincial byelection wins this week, The Province quoted political scientist Kennedy Stewart: “I was expecting both of [the NDP candidates] to lose. But now this is quite a result for the NDP. It maintains their momentum."
    Stewart was also quoted on news website and, earlier, in a Vancouver Westender lookahead story in advance of the byelections.
  • Surrey Now looked at low voter turnout in civic elections. (In 2005, only 35 per cent in Surrey and Delta cast a ballot). The paper cited a 1995 study by Patrick Smith and Kennedy Stewart that found turnout drops dramatically in larger municipalities using the at-large system. They recommended shifting to a ward system in municipalities with populations over 25,000. The Kamloops Daily News also cited that report this week.
    And Stewart addressed the issue again in The Vancouver Sun, saying voter turnout in smaller communities can hit 80 to 90 per cent in some towns. But in larger cities, it can be as low as 15 per cent. He said a ward system to elect councillors from different neighbourhoods might help.
  • The Vancouver Westender looked at the way municipal election candidates are reaching out to young voters by way of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs and text-messaging. Political science instructor Terri Evans of SFU said: "On election day, [new media] can be a very timely and cost-effective way to mobilize that segment of the population to get out and vote."


  • The Vancouver Sun and other media reported SFU ranked fourth in research funding among comprehensive universities and 20th—up from 21st—among Canada’s top 50 research universities. This according to Re$earch Infosource Inc.’s annual list. SFU also recorded the largest growth among comprehensive universities (126.4%) from 2002-2007.
    SFU issued a news release.
  • Canwest News Service covered an SFU report saying aboriginal teens have “disastrous'' high-school completion rates, leading to a “yawning gap'' in education between aboriginals and non-aboriginals. The report was done for the C.D. Howe Institute by public policy prof John Richards.
    The Globe and Mail did its own story, quoting Richards as saying: “A marginalized community, such as aboriginals, living in a modern economy can only escape poverty through an educational transformation."
    Don Cayo’s column in The Vancouver Sun noted Richards argues for aboriginal schools that are run independently of band councils, and quoted him: “ . . . neither Ottawa nor Victoria has done much to advance this initiative. Nor have band councils, which in general are anxious to preserve discretion over management of their respective schools."
    National Post carried a John Ivison column on the report.
  • Richards also made it into a story in the Georgia Straight on public-policy programs: “They do something more useful to government than many of the traditional graduate degrees in social sciences. The basis of it is a marriage of convenience between applied economics and political science.”
  • The Province ran a Canwest News Service story reporting the economy dominated a meeting in Ottawa last week of university leaders across Canada. The paper carried a photo of the Burnaby campus with the words: “Universities like Simon Fraser could be affected by the economic slowdown.”
  • Canadian Business carried a guide to MBA/EMBA programs, noting SFU’s Segal Graduate School of Business“shook up its EMBA program this year by shortening it from two years to 19 months, compressing the schedule in order to get execs out the door and earning faster.”
    Among student stories it cited was that of Zahwil Dossa, an EMBA candidate who is also general manager at the family bakery, Stuyver’s Bakestudio in Burnaby. He did his undergraduate degree in business administration at SFU.
  • Burnaby Now featured the use by the Burnaby school district of computerized brain exercises—in a program called Fast ForWord—that give students struggling with reading a workout for their cognitive skills. The Now quoted Urs Ribary, B.C. leadership chair in cognitive neuroscience in early childhood development at SFU. He is helping the district implement Fast ForWord.
  • Bob Hackett, president of the SFU Faculty Association, protested in a letter in The Vancouver Sun that BC’s “surprise cuts to post-secondary budgets are having profound negative effects.” He continued: “SFU has a proud record in teaching, research and service to the community. However, our ability to maintain those achievements is being seriously undermined by the multimillion-dollar funding cut.”
    Then Murray Coell, advanced education minister, replied with a letter in the Sun saying “funding for public post-secondary institutions in B.C. has never been higher”. He added: “For Simon Fraser University, for example, it has meant an increase from $140.9 million in 2001 to $194.5 million in 2008-09.”
  • The Vancouver Westender noted that the first students in the Masters of Digital Media program at the Great Northern Way Campus will graduate next spring. It’s a partnership of SFU, UBC, BCIT, and Emily Carr University. “ . . . the program's advisory board comprises a who's-who of Vancouver's tech-arts scene, including acclaimed science-fiction writer William Gibson, Sims creator and gaming giant Will Wright, and Pulitzer Prize-winning comic artist Art Spiegelman.”
  • The Georgia Straight carried a story beginning: “Young Canadians are taking on record levels of personal debt just as the world is waking up to the credit crunch.” The prime example cited: Ellie Knight, who in SFU Geology racked up $30,000 in student loans and $20,000 in credit-card debt. “Knight is on a crash course to pay off her debt—so she can assume more of it. In 2009, Knight plans to amass more student loans so she can head back to school for her master’s and, eventually, a PhD . . .”


  • Psychologist Stephen Hart was in a 24Hours story that wondered if the stress of Robert Dziekanski's Taser death, and its ongoing legal issues, could be behind a fatal collision in Delta that involved one of the four Mounties who were in the Taser tragedy. Said Hart: "It's widely recognized police officers involved in critical incidents, especially incidents of sudden or unexpected death, may suffer post-traumatic stress symptoms.”
  • SFU criminology director Robert Gordon was quoted by the Toronto Star in a story on innocent bystanders hit by drug-gang gunfire on the streets.  “Typically, after these types of shootings there is a call for stronger laws, which politician's love because passing laws is very cheap. It feeds into that frenzy of law and order, which can lead to bad decisions on the part of politicians and policy makers. That is what concerns me more than being scared of being hit by a stray bullet."


  • SFU Athletics spread the word to media as fifth-year forward Greg Wallis of the Clan men’s basketball team was named CIS Canada West male Athlete of the Week. This after racking up 32 points and 11 rebounds in the Clan’s 79-71 opening-night win at Trinity Western.

    Athletics also kept media in the loop as:
    • The Clan men’s and women’s wrestling teams kicked off their 2008-09 season in style, both winning at the 2008 Dino Invitational Wrestling Tournament hosted by the University of Calgary.
    • The Clan men’s cross-country team claimed the BC Junior Cross Country Championship in Stanley Park. Ryan Brockerville was the Clan’s top runner, finishing second overall at the competition. On the women’s side, SFU finished second, with Emily Palibroda placing fourth overall.
    • The Clan men’s soccer team rallied from a goal down, scoring three straight goals to defeat the Saint Martin’s University Saints 3-1 in Lacey WA. 
    • Meanwhile, the Clan soccer women won 2-0 over the Evergreen State College Geoducks, but dropped their final regular-season contest 2-1 to the Central Washington University Wildcats. The Clan finished their regular season with a 10-6-0 record. SFU should be either the first or second seed at an NAIA tournament in San Antonio TX on Nov. 14-15. The winner receives an automatic berth in the 2008 NAIA National Championships.
    • The Clan volleyball team outlasted the Thompson Rivers WolfPack 3-2 to win their first match of the season. But then in a rematch the next night the Clan lost 3-0 in straight sets.
    • After a bye week, the Clan football team (5-3) headed for Saskatoon to face on Nov. 1 the University of Saskatchewan Huskies (6-2) in the first round of the Canada West playoffs (Shaw TV – 1:30 pm).
    • In women's basketball, SFU defeated TWU 68-44.
  • Earlier, The Province eyed the new season for varsity women’s basketball, and declared: “SFU's women the team to beat”.  It continued: “Just how deep are the Simon Fraser Clan this season? So deep that they did not add a single high-school recruit to their roster.” Head coach Bruce Langford (22-1 last season) was quoted, and Katie Miyazaki was pictured.
  • Burnaby Now featured the SFU hockey team, undefeated in its first five games—the last an 11-2 pounding of Trinity Western.


  • The Vancouver Courier reported: “The future looks dim for the restoration of the oldest theatre in western Canada.” This despite, the paper noted, expressions of commitment from groups including SFU Contemporary Arts. (The theatre is the 100-year-old Pantages Theatre at 144 East Hastings St. in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.)
  • The Vancouver Sun carried an advance feature on the Madonna concert at BC Place this week. Among those quoted was Natasha Patterson, PhD candidate and instructor in Women and Media studies at SFU. “When I was a pre-teen in the '80s,  . . .  she had a pretty big influence on me. She was the first sort of strong outspoken female figure that I was engaging with in popular culture."

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Three recent MBA grads from SFU Business are writing blogs for the FP Executive Blog channel operated by the Financial Post section of National Post. They are Amanda Blair, Chilwen Cheng and Suzanne Boyd.
  • The BC government announced funding of $150,000 for public education and dialogues related to multiculturalism in 10 BC communities. The model was developed with SFU Dialogue, and the government’s news release quoted Dialogue director Joanna Ashworth.
  • The BC health ministry announced the appointment to the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council of Kimberley van der Woerd. She has a PhD in psychology from SFU, has 12 years experience in aboriginal and youth health issues and is a board member of the Women's Health Research Institute.
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader featured Kathy Matak, private investigator, SFU criminology grad, and host of an SFU Philosophers Café in Vancouver.
  • The Globe and Mail featured choreographer Tony Chong's Bloodletting and Other Pleasant Things, created for Dancemakers in Toronto. “The choreographer trained at Simon Fraser University, a bastion of rugged individualism, yet much of his dance career was spent in Montreal, home of dance as theatre. He is currently artistic director of Ottawa's experimental Le Groupe Dance Lab. All these influences are at play in Bloodletting.”
  • Also in dance: The Victoria News featured Talking Hands, a five-dancer performance from choreographer and dancer Leah Wickes. The newspaper noted Wickes earned a bachelor's degree in contemporary dance from SFU.


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