SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - December 13, 2007

December 13, 2007

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A look at how SFU and its people fared in the news media: Dec. 7-13, 2007         


  • The Globe and Mail featured MITACS, the SFU-based network that brings together nearly 500 mathematical scientists, 800 students, dozens of businesses and government departments across the country in a collaborative effort to solve big problems. (MITACS stands for Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems.)

    Featured in the story was Todd Keeler, an SFU doctoral student who has been manipulating complex equations at a Vancouver computer gaming company, trying to make special effects appear even more realistic.

    Meanwhile, The New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal became the latest paper to carry last week’s Vancouver Sun feature on the MITACS internship program that connects businesses across Canada with university expertise to conduct important research. Arvind Gupta, scientific director of SFU-based MITACS, was quoted.
  • CanWest News Service carried a travel feature saying that when pollsters ask about green travel habits, people often bend the truth. “"I think we're all predisposed to say the right things,” said SFU tourism prof Peter Williams. We saw the feature in National Post, the Victoria Times Colonist, The Vancouver Sun, The Province, Nanaimo Daily News, Alberni Valley Times, Edmonton Journal, and the Montreal Gazette.

  • A Margaret Kopala column in the Ottawa Citizen cited a paper by SFU criminologist Garth Davies on safe injection sites around the world. The paper, she wrote, concludes that "none of the (positive) impacts attributed ... can be can be unambiguously verified."

  • The Peterborough (ON) Examiner and three sister papers reported on a murder-suicide case in which one of the dead had told locals he had worked for a Saudi Arabian prince as a bodyguard and had been spirited away to Toronto under the witness protection program. To Stephen Hart, a forensic psychologist at SFU, “this has all the hallmarks of telling tall stories to make a good impression.” Sounds like narcissistic personality disorder, Hart told the paper.

  • Agence France Presse looked at the latest census figures on the number of immigrants in Vancouver. Among other things, it cited a report from communication prof Catherine Murray on ethnic media outlets in 22 languages. We spotted the AFP story in media in France, India, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines. Vancouver-based South Asian Post also did a story.

  • John O'Neil, dean of Health Sciences, was quoted in India’s The Hindu, in a story announcing the launch of an e-communications link enabling male, female and transgender sex workers to communicate with fellow workers in other parts of India about HIV prevention and intervention programs. More than 200 sex workers participated in the launch. O’Neil accompanied SFU president Michael Stevenson and premier Gordon Campbell on a trade-and-education mission to India.

    See our earlier news release on SFU’s India foray at:
  • Energy prof Mark Jaccard, in a letter in the Financial Post section of National Post, challenged editor Terence Corcoran: “I must unfortunately say that he is guilty of wishful thinking when he claims I have lost enthusiasm for carbon taxes. . . .”

    Meanwhile, the Ottawa Citizen ran the Montreal Gazette’s list of books to give as Christmas gifts. It included Hot Air: Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge, co-authored by Jaccard and Nic Rivers of SFU, and Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson.
  • The Saskatoon StarPhoenix ran a Province story from three weeks ago on theVancouver Transition Program in which gifted children can zip through five years of high school in two, and get into university at 14. It's run by the Vancouver School Board and UBC—but the story noted that alumni include Florence Woo, a linguistics prof at SFU (who was in university by 14) and Paulman Chan, the youngest person to graduate from SFU's undergraduate engineering program (at age 18) in 2005.

  • A Canadian Press feature on the "community", whose members offer up their homes to travellers from all around the world as part of social networking, got yet another run this week, in the Grande Prairie (AB) Herald Tribune. The story quoted Andrew Feenberg, SFU communication prof and editor of the book Community in the Digital Age.


  • SFU experts remained in steady demand as news media across the country covered the verdict and later the sentence in the Robert Pickton serial-murder trial. Quoted were:

    • Gordon Rose, psychology lecturer (and former federal prosecutor) on the subject of juries. He was on CBC-TV, GlobalTV, CBC Radio and CKNW, and in the Toronto Star, The Vancouver Sun, and a string of print and broadcast media across Canada.

    • Criminology director Rob Gordon was in The Province, on the question of why Pickton was convicted of second-degree murder rather than first-degree. "In this particular case, [the jury would have found] absence of premeditation. . . The discussions [to come] will be around whether or not a serial killer like Pickton automatically is a person who engages in premeditation, planning and forethought.”

    • Forensic entomologist Gail Anderson was also in The Province, talking about the huge forensic investigation on the Pickton farm.

    • Criminologist John Lowman was quoted on, arguing that our prostitution laws make the sex trade more lethal by pushing it onto the street.

    • As well, criminologists David MacAlister and Eric Beauregard offered to be available to media. Beauregard researches the profiles of sexual murderers. MacAlister was on GlobalTV.


  • The Vancouver Sun told readers that, faced with growing competition for students, BC universities are quietly changing the rules for 2008 so students will only be required to write a bare minimum of provincial exams to qualify for admission.

    “The University of Victoria was the first to make the change last week and the University of B.C. is expected to do the same later this week. Simon Fraser University is poised to make a similar move in January and other post-secondary institutions in B.C. likely will follow suit.

    “The only exams that students will still be required to write for admission are the same five they must pass to graduate: Grade 10 math, Grade 10 science, Grade 11 social studies and Grade 11 and 12 language arts. All others will be optional.”

    Kate Ross, SFU registrar, was quoted as saying the BC Education Ministry is responsible for monitoring K-12 schools to ensure there is no grade inflation.

    Fairchild Radio and GlobalTV also pursued Ross.
  • 24Hours reported that SFU’s Burnaby campus and B.C. Children's Hospital are in the running to host the 2010 Winter Olympics' anti-doping laboratory. "We're exploring a number of different options for that lab right now," said Cathy Priestner Allinger, VANOC's executive vice-president of sport and venue management. "We'll probably make a decision on that in January, early in the first quarter."

  • Rob Gordon, director of criminology, offered to be available for reporters pursuing angles after police smashed a Vancouver-based international drug-crime ring. More than 100 people were arrested and charged in Vancouver, Australia, the United States, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, India and China.

  • Vice-president Warren Gill, wearing his transportation-geographer’s hat, was on CKWX News 1130 talking about the new TransLink board. He said he hoped the change to an appointed board would eliminate political bickering over transit planning for the region.

  • Burnaby Now reported that Bob Bandringa, SFU instructor in ethnobotany, is fighting to save the city's oldest library from demolition. He says the Kingsway branch, built in 1962, is a prime example of West Coast Modern architecture and needs to be preserved.

  • Business in Surrey, the publication of the Surrey Board of Trade, ran a story this week about Dale Regehr's $1-million kick-off donation to the Close to Home Scholarship campaign at the Surrey campus.

  • The Castlegar News covered a presentation that featured SFU prof John Calvert, author of Liquid Gold: Energy Privatization in British Columbia. "Rates (for electricity) are going to go up very dramatically in the future. We're buying a lot of private energy that we don't need and we're paying enormous prices for it and we're locking BC Hydro into huge payments down the road."


  • SFU Athletics, told reporters the Clan women’s volleyball team has commitments from four prime recruits for the 2008-09 season: Kayla Bruce, Tessa Felix, Brooke Halvorson and Malena Rapaport. Head coach Lisa Sulatycki was quoted.

  • Athletics also told media that the Clan softball team has added three new recruits, including two local standouts. It has commitments from Quebecer Trisha Bouchard and BC players Kylie Ellis and Brittany Ribeiro. Head coach Mike Renney was quoted.

  • A legion of sports pages and programs reported that the Vancouver Whitecaps will field a soccer team in the Premier development league in 2008. It will play most of its home games at SFU’s Burnaby campus.


  • The Vancouver Sun featured Max Reimer, new artistic director of Vancouver’s Playhouse Theatre Company. He’ll be the Playhouse’s first artistic director who also handles the books. "I was always very interested in the business side of things. I studied at SFU and thought I was going to be a corporate lawyer.”

  • The Vancouver Sun noted that Personal Effects, starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Ashton Kutcher and Kathy Bates, had wrapped up filming at the Burnaby campus. “There was a lot of excitement up there and a lot of local talent brought in the Insight production. Spencer Hudson, a 17-year-old deaf Burnaby South secondary student, got to play Pfeiffer's son and SFU wrestlers got to play, well, themselves.”


  • PAMR let media know about a study showing many highly educated immigrants to BC are stuck in low-paying jobs with little protection of their rights. The study is from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Philippine Women Centre. Co-author is Habiba Zaman, an associate prof of women’s studies at SFU.

  • PAMR also told media how a team of SFU biologists studying malaria hopes to help reduce the disease by promoting the purchase of bednets. Biologist Carl Lowenberger and his students are spearheading SFU’s involvement in the national Spread the Net campus challenge, initiated by broadcaster Rick Mercer and UNICEF Canada. The project’s aim is to reduce the impact of malaria in poor regions of Africa.

  • And we promoted to media the Downtown Memory Project, which seeks to collect memories of downtown Vancouver. In the release was Katherine McManus, director of SFU's Writing and Publishing Program, sponsor of the project.

    SFU’s news releases can be found online at:


  • Mehfil Magazine, planning a story in the New Year on young South Asians turning to match-making websites to find love and marriage, came looking for an expert to quote. Sociologist Barbara Mitchell instantly volunteered. (No coincidence that she won SFU's 2004 President's award for service to the university through media and public relations.) Mehfil also interviewed psychologist Joti Samra.


  • Epoch Times covered a human rights forum at SFU last weekend. Among those quoted was forum host Clement Apaak, founder of Canadian Students for Darfur and a member of SFU’s board of governors.

  • Canadian Business listed its “100 most affluent Canadians”. At #94 is Stewart Blusson, co-discoverer of the Ekati diamond mine, and president and CEO of Archon Minerals. Canadian Business noted he gave a $12-million gift to SFU this year to support work in its faculty of health sciences. “In return for the school’s largest private donation, SFU will name its new health sciences building Blusson Hall.”

  • The Financial Post section of National Post featured Bank of Canada governor David Dodge—“a breath of refreshing eccentricity in Ottawa”—who retires Jan. 31. The story mentioned that he once studied at SFU.

  • The Vancouver Sun featured artist Ken Lum who is “celebrated in Dubai, Vienna and L.A. but remains a relatively obscure figure in his native Vancouver.” Lum was on his way to a masters in pest management at SFU in the 1970s when he took his first university art class, He quickly dropped biology for art.

  • and Investors Business Daily featured Memsic, a small company in the MEMS-sensor microchip business. The Massachusetts-based company licenses some of its key technologies from SFU.

  • The Province’s career pages looked at the state of business for notaries public in BC. It mentioned the new Master of Arts in Applied Legal Studies program, scheduled to begin at SFU in September 2008 and involving a unique partnership with BC’s Society of Notaries Public.


  • The last SFU People in the News of December will be posted Friday Dec. 21.

  • Then, after a seasonal break, People in the News returns on Friday January 11.
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