SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - November 7, 2008

November 7, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Nov. 1-7, 2008
SFU Athletics gave SFU and its Cinderella football team a torrent of media hits during week.
Head football coach Dave Johnson was named Canada West Coach of the Year. Cornerback Anthony DesLauriers was selected as a Canada West all-star. And quarterback Bernd Dittrich and receiver-kicker Jeff Biles were named players of the week.
And The Canadian Press and Global TV, among others, did long stories on their team as it prepared for the western varsity final Nov. 8.
More on all this below.


  • MIT Technology Review featured Abigaille-I, a spider-like robot that can hang upside down and walk on a ceiling—and will be used to explore Mars.  “Carlo Menon, a professor of engineering science at Simon Fraser, demonstrated the work at the 2008 BioRob Conference, showing that the robot can easily hang upside down.”
    Abigaille-I uses a “dry adhesive” on its feet, a substance developed by PhD grad Dan Sameoto, featured in SFU News on Oct. 2. Menon and his team plan to test the robot on a simulated Mars environment in 2010.
    The MIT Technology Review story quickly made its way into science blogs.
  • The national edition of Epoch Times gave big play to a story about SFU’s India connections:
    “The buzz in B.C. these days is India, and Simon Fraser University's grand Diwali Gala at the Bollywood Banquet Hall last Monday brought together hundreds of business and community leaders interested in furthering their connections with the populous South Asian country. . . .
    “The gala was just one of the many aspects of SFU's ongoing role in forging academic and research-based collaborations and exchanges with India. Diwali, which symbolizes ‘light over dark, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance’, could well describe SFU's India Country Strategy, a wide-ranging initiative established in 2006 that focuses on building community and partnerships between B.C. and India.”
  • ScienceNow reported that recent excavations at Hilazon Tachtit, a cave west of the Sea of Galilee in Israel, may provide new support for prehistoric shamanism. ScienceNow quoted SFU archaeologist Brian Hayden: “This is an extremely important report on a rare find at a critical time of cultural evolution."
  • Maclean’s featured the charity Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which has more than 5,000 photographers in more than 25 countries who take photos of deceased infants for bereaved parents. The story quoted Guenther Krueger, an SFU PhD candidate who is studying bereavement. He said such images help families cope.
  • Political scientist Stuart Farson was quoted in Embassy magazine, in a story about Canada’s new public safety minister, Peter Van Loan.


  • Political scientist Alex Moens said in a new study that Barack Obama constitutes a challenge to Canada’s interests. “On all the key economic and bilateral issues between our two countries, including trade, energy, border management, and defence, an Obama administration poses a major challenge to Canada's immediate interests."
    The study was released to media by the Fraser Institute, where Moens is a senior fellow. The Globe and Mail cited it in a story about Canada’s relations with Obama as president. It quoted Moens as saying Canada must work with the U.S. towards a coordinated climate-change pact, as a means to protect Canadian industry from punitive U.S. measures.
    Stories on the report also appeared in New York-based International Business Times and in England’s Earth Times. Moens’ study is online at
  • Andrew von Nordenflycht, assistant prof in SFU Business, was on radio station Talk 1410. “If, as rumoured, Obama makes a relatively moderate and experienced choice for treasury secretary and chooses a high profile Republican nominee for defence secretary, that may calm markets. It will signal a moderate, let’s-work-together strategy.” (Nordenflycht is a former volunteer for Barack Obama’s campaign and was one of a pack of SFU experts who volunteered to talk to media about the U.S. presidential election.)
  • Meanwhile, as the US picked its first black president, the New York Times looked at some studies on racism. They included one by SFU psychologist Stephen Wright, which found students who were “overwhelmed and in a rut” were “more interested than the others in having a friendship with someone with a name that is clearly from a minority group.” The story ran in a dozen U.S. papers by way of the NY Times Syndicate, and hit some blogs.
  • Closer to home, the Surrey-North Delta Leader featured Ben Lee, an SFU health sciences student, who went to Virginia last week to spend five days as part of a campaign team called Canadians For Obama. The Leader also spoke with business student Zach McCaskill. "I'm just glad there's change down there. I'm more excited that George W. Bush is finally out of there."


  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader said in a news story that “More money may be on the way for Simon Fraser University as the provincial finance minister considers a proposal by the school's administration.”
    The story reported no details, but said Finance Minister Colin Hansen had met officials of SFU Surrey to discuss its needs, including capital funding for more space.
    "(SFU officials) are coming forward with a proposal, and that's something we will be looking at. If there's something new for SFU, then we would build it into the capital budget (for 2009)."
  • SFU’s Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program, was in a CBC story on Vancouver’s plan to permit “laneway” housing. He said the plan can work because Vancouver is rare among North American cities in that planners laid it out with back lanes more than 100 years ago.
  • The North Shore Outlook featured SFU biologist Stephen Takács, the first scientist globally to discover that a plant-eating animal uses infrared radiation to find its food—in this case the western conifer seed bug that can devastate pinecone seeds in BC. Takács is a North Shore resident.
  • Warren Gill, transportation geographer (and v-p of university relations) did an interview on CKWX News1130 on future impacts of SkyTrain’s Canada Line.
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader listed winners of Surrey Business Excellence Awards. Two awards went to Dale Regehr, president and owner of Weststone Properties Ltd., who, the paper noted, “donated $1 million to SFU Surrey’s Close to Home fundraising campaign last year.”
    Another winner: SFU student Glen Chua, who got the Student Entrepreneur Honourary Award. He operates MLiTE Productions, a film production company he started while still in high school.
  • The Georgia Straight carried a piece on local bloggers. Kate Milberry, doctoral student and instructor in SFU Communication, was quoted: “Bloggers become the cyberspatial version of newspaper columnists, where they have a personality, they have a certain topic or theme or ideological slant which they pursue, and people are drawn to that and follow them in the same way.”
  • The Vancouver Sun reported Metro Vancouver directors approved a motion to protect the last working farm in Vancouver, the 24-hectare farm at UBC. Among those quoted was Andrew Rushmore, an SFU education student who is secretary of the group Friends of the UBC Farm.
  • The Abbotsford News covered a Chamber of Commerce speech by Ashley Bennington, adjunct prof of Business Administration. He said local businesses may find it harder and harder to replace employees. "It's a Silver Tsunami. All the retirements are coming.  . . . Turnover is lethal. If you lose someone, and they get picked up by your competition, then it's like a four-point game in hockey.”
  • The Kelowna Daily Courier ran a guest column saying “Gordon Campbell's recent 10-point economic plan will have no impact on BC's most serious problem—persistent and extreme poverty.” The authors were political scientist Marjorie Griffin Cohen and Seth Klein of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. They are co-directors of the Economic Security Project, from the CCPS and SFU.


  • An editorial in the Victoria Times Colonist hailed an SFU report saying aboriginal teens have “disastrous'' high-school completion rates. The report was done for the C.D. Howe Institute by public policy prof John Richards. The editorial reviewed Richards’ recommendations, and concluded: “What are education leaders waiting for?” The Alaska Highway News picked up the editorial.
    Meanwhile, National Post columnist Lorne Gunter also praised the report, and urged Canada to accept Richards’ recommendations: to turn over on-reserve schooling to boards independent of band politics, and to increase the involvement of aboriginal leaders and parents in off-reserve public schools, where most aboriginal children are taught.
    Richards himself wrote a guest column that appeared in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the Brandon (MB) Sun: “The majority of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians appreciate that good schools are crucial to aboriginal success. Unfortunately, too many in Ottawa don't get it. Leaders of the Assembly of First Nations and federal cabinet ministers have not placed education high on their list of priorities.  . . . Ottawa is not tackling the most important of today's wrongs, namely aboriginal children dropping off the education ladder while still on rungs near the bottom.”
    The St. Albert (AB) Gazette also did a story on the report.
  • National Post’s Financial Post Business Magazine featured SFU’s MBA program. Business dean Daniel Shapiro was photographed, and quoted: "We have a tremendous faculty, and we complement their excellent teaching with industry people—with specialized areas of knowledge--from across Canada and around the world."
    Also quoted: Ed Bukszar, associate dean: "It's quite different from the offerings of other business schools. Many schools offer a homogeneous MBA program, but we have five individual programs in our portfolio, each tailored to meet the needs of a particular population, and which also allow us to have smaller class sizes."
  • The Globe and Mail looked at a Statistics Canada survey from 1999-2005 of university and college dropouts. But, it noted: “Some university officials questioned StatsCan's definition of a dropout. At British Columbia's Simon Fraser University, 30 per cent of incoming students arrive from college with transferred courses, said Rummana Khan Hemani, acting senior director of learning and retention at SFU student services.” Those who did not complete their college diploma beforehand would be considered dropouts under the survey's criteria.
  • CFAX Radio in Victoria covered a meeting of educators who discuss standardized and foundation skills testing in schools. One quoted was SFU prof Paul Shaker: “The first thing you have to do is get the rankings out the window and the blame-and-shame game.”
  • The non-profit Heritage Educational Foundation announced to media its annual graduate awards. Among winners of $5,000 was Vanessa Dixon, who is working on a Masters of Public Health in the Global Health program.


  • The Regina Leader-Post reported that Saskatchewan has witnessed its worst year for fatal and non-fatal shootings by police officers in nearly three decades.  Among those quoted was SFU criminologist Rick Parent, a former Delta police officer.
    Among other things, he said: “You're always going to have irrational people; you're going to have people on substances; you're going to have people that are angry. And they're not going to comply. You're also going to have police officers that are not going to have the best skills in dealing with somebody. You get the two together and you're going to get a fight and you're going to get somebody who is going to get shot. That's what happens unfortunately."
  • Canwest News Service looked at the use of sentencing circles by aboriginals, a form of restorative justice. SFU criminologist Liz Elliott was quoted, saying the process is "much more difficult" than the traditional court system, primarily because of the focus on making amends to a victim. The story ran in half a dozen Canwest papers and on

  • Rob Gordon, director of criminology, was in a National Post story on the use by Abbotsford police of TV cameras to watch a house notorious for episodes of violence and mayhem. “If people are accepting of it, then civil liberties concerns evaporate. If it becomes a standard policing method, used on a permanent basis, then concerns will become widespread."


  • The Province quoted political scientist Kennedy Stewart in a story about Vancouver mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson, and the ruckus over his $173 fine for under-paying a SkyTrain fare. “He's made an issue of it himself,” said Stewart. “He should have paid the fine. . . . He's answering questions about this instead of homelessness and the economy.” (Robertson eventually announced he would pay the ticket.)
    Stewart was also in a Vancouver Sun story that reported how four Metro Vancouver mayors have either no challengers or ones with little chance of upsetting them in November elections. Kennedy speculated: “There might have been lots of people running for the federal election that could not file to be a municipal candidate."
  • Retired business prof Gary Mauser, a veteran election-watcher, was in Metro, talking about fringe candidates. “ . . . while the Nude Garden Party will no doubt amuse voters, minor parties tend to divert votes from the bigger parties who do have a chance at winning an election.”
  • Coquitlam Now gave some ink to council candidates in the village of Anmore. Among them is Andrew Robertson, 22, a political science student at SFU and a municipal government employee. (Anmore’s mayor, running for re-election, is Hal Weinberg, SFU's director of research ethics.)
  • And the North Shore Outlook gave space to the platforms of candidates for the City of North Vancouver council, including Richard Vickery, another political science student at SFU.
  • The New Westminster Record reported that city council candidate Matthew Laird, bioinformatics software developer at SFU, is placing targeted ads on Facebook to reach younger voters who might not otherwise be politically motivated.


There was much media coverage as the reanimated Clan football team got ready during week to meet the University of Calgary Dinos in the 2008 Hardy Cup western varsity final. (The game is Saturday Nov. 8 in Calgary, noon Pacific, on Shaw-TV.)

  • Dave Johnson’s selection as Canada West football coach of the year recognized how he ended the Clan’s three-year winless drought this season, and put the Clan back into the national scene and the playoffs for the first time in four years.
    “David Johnson personifies a true coach, someone who is both a teacher and a motivator,” said SFU’s senior director of athletics, David Murphy. “He has made our student-athletes believe. He has done an exceptional job of coaching our athletes, but also of holding them to a high standard off the field, particularly in the classroom.”
  • The Canadian Press distributed to media across the country a newsfeature on the Clan, and Global TV did a long story featuring coach Johnson. As the video ended, morning news show host Lynn Colliar called out: “Go Clan!”  She is SFU alum.
  • Province sports columnist Kent Gilchrist also wrote at length about the Clan: “Things are not always as they seem. Take, for example, the SFU football program the last few years. To most, it looked like a sow's ear. To head coach Dave Johnson, it looked like a silk purse. For that bit of remarkable perception, he and his keeping-the-faith players are reaping their just desserts: having their cake and eating it, too.”
  • The Vancouver Sun began its story with: “Listen to head coach Dave Johnson exude enthusiasm for his SFU football program and you become convinced he could sell snow to the Inuit or sand to the Libyans.”
  • All this (and the honours to the SFU players listed at the top of Media Matters) after the Clan beat the U of Saskatchewan Huskies 40-30 last weekend to win the western final berth against the Dinos.


SFU Athletics kept media well fed with details as:

  • The Clan women’s basketball team, No. 2 in CIS National rankings, prepared to face the No. 1 University of Alberta Pandas (SFU Burnaby, Nov. 7, 6:15 pm) and No. 4 ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies (SFU Burnaby, Nov. 8, 7 pm).  Last weekend the Clan lost 57-56 to the upstart UVic Vikes, then walloped the Vikes 87-60.
    In an advance feature on the weekend games, The Province featured Courtney Gerwing, a senior who has helped the team win two national titles and is “proving that hard work and an analytical mind can produce a complete player.”
  • The UVic Vikes men's basketball team defeated the Clan 64-58 and 58-51, to keep SFU winless in Victoria since 2004-05. The Clan host the University of Alberta Golden Bears (Nov. 7, 8:15 pm) and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies (Nov. 8, 5 pm).
  • The Vancouver Sun carried a feature on both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
  • The Clan men’s and women’s wrestling teams got set to compete at the 2008 Guru Hargobind International meet this weekend in Surrey.
  • SFU swimmers finished second overall in the 2008 Clan Cup International at SFU Burnaby. The University of Alberta swimming program won the title. (Athletics posted video at
  • The Clan men’s and women’s soccer programs were named #1 seeds in the NAIA Association of Independent Institutions Championships, Nov. 14-15 in San Antonio, TX. The winner receives an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championships, which begin Nov. 22. The men’s team is currently ranked #6 overall in the NAIA, the women #14.
    The Seattle University Redhawks edged the Clan men’s soccer team 2-1 in the Clan’s final game of the season.
  • In women's volleyball, UBC defeated SFU 3-0.
    (Video at: This weekend the team is in Edmonton, for two matches against the University of Alberta.


There were SFU connections as BC journalists won Jack Webster awards for journalism Thursday:

  • Anna Gebauer of GlobalTV won a Webster for science and technology reporting. She paid public tribute to Rolf Mathewes, the forensic botanist whose science was the story. Mathewes helped secure the conviction of the killer of 10-year-old Heather Thomas in 2000—by using plant matter to identify where she was murdered and where her body was had been kept. Global made his work the foundation of a three-part series.
  • Vancouver Sun writer Doug Todd, a Shadbolt Fellow at SFU in 2006, won the Jack Webster City Mike award for commentary.
  • And Mark Winston, director of SFU’s undergraduate semester in dialogue—and an award-winning science writer himself—was one of the award judges for the Jack Webster Foundation.


SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations told reporters and editors how:

  • Beginning in 2009, SFU and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia are teaming up to offer a new double undergraduate degree program.  Monash has six campuses in Australia, one in Malaysia and one in South Africa, and a centre in Prato, Italy. Students in the new double-degree program may study at any of Monash’s campuses. FASS dean Lesley Cormack was quoted.
  • The Burnaby campus will host Nov. 29 the second in a series of four events called SFU’s World-Campus Visits. They give high school students and their parents an opportunity to discover how SFU’s educational approaches help produce highly marketable graduates.
  • SFU’s Praxis Centre for Screenwriters hosts American Psycho screenwriter Guinevere Turner in a free public event (Psychos, Vampires and Vamps) Nov. 12. (7:30 pm, Harbour Centre, Room 1800.


  • Maclean’s magazine, and more media, websites and blogs, both internationally and in Canada, picked up last week’s news that Time selected as one of the 50 best inventions in the world in 2008 the electricity-generating “knee-brace” device invented by Max Donelan and team.
    Maclean’s quoted Donelan: “Imagine after Hurricane Katrina, or another massive disaster, when communications and electrical systems are down and emergency workers need to find the people who need help the most. You’ll need two-way radios, GPS and all sorts of other technology, but how do you supply them with that portable power? That’s what we’re trying to do.”
    The Victoria Times Colonist did a story. So did Epoch Times, and
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader carried SFU’s news release of last week on how SFU ranks fourth among comprehensive universities and 20th—up from 21st—among Canada's top 50 research universities, according to Re$earch Infosource Inc.'s annual list. Mario Pinto, SFU's vice- president of research, was quoted.
  • The Whitehorse Star ran last week’s SFU release on how a website collaboration between SFU and the Fraser Valley's Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre has won the Grand Prix award of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The story noted that SFU’s Museum of Archeology and Ethnology and the SFU Learning and Instructional Development Centre's Media Design group collaborated with First Nations representatives to produce the site. (
    The news release was also cited in a blog about Vancouver museums, at:

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation told media that Verdant, a green, affordable and family-oriented townhouse community in UniverCity, is one of 16 winners of a CMHC award, that recognizes housing initiatives that have contributed to improving the affordability of housing in Canada.
  • Meanwhile, Metro Vancouver and The Vancouver Sun did stories on how Vancouver council candidate Michael Geller (former president and CEO of SFU Community Trust, and helmsman for UniverCity) is turning over a new leaf—or, more accurately, hundreds of old ones. “In a novel promotion, Geller’s campaign manager has scribbled ‘Vote Geller, Nov. 15’ on hundreds of leaves and scattered them in places where voters might find them.”
  • The Vancouver Sun carried a hefty feature on sociologist Russel Ogden of Kwantlen Polytechnic University and his research into assisted suicide (“assisted euthanasia”). The story cited his earlier “explosive master's thesis at SFU, which explored dozens of mostly botched suicides of people with AIDS.”
    As well, the Sun quoted SFU criminologist John Lowman: "Russel is unusual for many reasons. . .  (His) mental strength, determination to go the distance when ethical issues are at stake, and ability to think several moves ahead have served him well when defending academic freedom against the actions of three university administrations. He just hunkers down and deals with it. It's amazing he gets any research done."
    Canwest News Service sent the story to papers across the country.
  • The New York Times featured Alexandra Morton, and her battles to protect BC orcas—and to save BC salmon from sea lice she says are the product of fish farms. The Times noted that fish farmers and governments have dismissed her as an “amateur”—but that “scientists at the University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria are sending graduate students to the Salmon Coast Research Station she established . . . “


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