SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - April 2, 2010

April 2, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: March 26–April 2, 2010

The 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser. Tips for students on how to get a summer job. A wrist-slapping for Hillary Clinton. Threats to food fish. And “what women want from an MBA”.
All put SFU in the news during the week, including two front-page stories in The Vancouver Sun.
And SFU criminologists were in stories on the apologies to the mother of Robert Dziekanski, an infanticide, two unsolved BC murders, the deaths of two teens, and a story on how global warming could make the world a more violent place.
More on all these below.


  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, did a flurry of media interviews after the RCMP publicly apologized to the mother of Robert Dziekanski, who died after being Tasered by RCMP at Vancouver International Airport 2 ½ years ago. There were also apologies from the Canada Border Services Agency and BC Solicitor General Kash Heed.
    Among other things, Gordon said on CBC-TV that while the RCMP has apologized and made a cash settlement, “I really seriously doubt that the majority of the people in the population are convinced that in any way this compensates for what happened.
    “If they had done this within weeks of the event—and I think there was ample opportunity for them to do that—it would have carried much more weight.”
    On CBC Radio, he said the apology won’t do much for the RCMP’s tarnished image. “The RCMP chose to drag this out over 2 ½ years. I think it’s going to be a long time before people forget that.”

  • Gordon also spoke with CTV News following the disappearance of a Vancouver baby, and the police belief that the infant has been murdered. Gordon explained Canada’s infanticide law: "The penalties usually aim towards supporting and assisting the mother as opposed to punishing her.”

  • In a Vancouver Courier story on opposition to the new downtown casino, Gordon said that if the casino does lead to an increase in crime, it would likely be invisible to most citizens. "It doesn't show up in traditional predatory street crimes. . .  No people are bludgeoned outside for their winnings.” The Province and AM1150 in Kelowna also interviewed him on the casino issue.

  • Fellow-criminologist Ehor Boyanowsky was in a story on a U.S. study that proposes global warming could make the world a more violent place, because higher temperatures increase human aggression and create volatile situations.  Said Boyanowsky:
    “My own research has shown that elevated ambient temperatures lead to increased brain temperatures that result in cognitive dysfunction, emotional stress and aggression, and to higher levels of violent crime.”

  • Criminologist Eric Beauregard was quoted in a CBC-TV story on the use by Vancouver police of a YouTube video in the hopes of finding witnesses to the slaying a year ago of Wendy Ladner Beaudry in Pacific Spirit Park. According to CBC: “(Beauregard) says when traditional methods are fruitless, it's an idea to go to these more extreme methods. He says the YouTube video . . . may just jog some memories.”  The story also ran on Radio Canada TV.

  • Colleague Neil Boyd was in a Province story on the case, saying: "It's exceptionally odd, just the idea of a random attack at that location. Most homicides occur between people who know each other. Less than 10 per cent [are random]. But you can say this could be one of those less-than-10 per-cents."

  • And SFU’s Stephen Hart, a forensic psychologist, told The Province that while police have identified 270 "persons of interest" within a 10-km radius of the murder scene, that’s a wide net to cast for suspects. "A relatively common distance from a crime for somebody who is sort of more disorganized or doesn't have a lot of resources may be more like a mile.”

  • Boyd was also in a story on CHEK-TV, Victoria, and on GlobalTV, on the investigation of the murder two weeks ago of 18-year-old Kimberly Proctor near Victoria. “Neil Boyd says unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, murder victims usually know their killers, and police will look at those close to Proctor first before considering strangers as suspected.”

  • Beauregard was also in a CTV story about a sexual predator whose name has surfaced in the deaths of two teenagers. The predator was reported a year ago in the company of two other young girls, but police said there was nothing they could do unless he reoffended. "Until he acts out, there's nothing you can do," Beauregard told CTV.

  • The Edmonton Journal quoted yet another SFU criminologist, David MacAlister, in a story about how, after a 2007 police shooting, the police chief declared that “all officers acted appropriately”—but a judge ruled the officer had been guilty of "an unconscionable use of excessive and aggressive force" in "a clear example of cruel and unusual punishment."
    MacAlister said: “The police chief has to try to maintain the support of the officers who work for him and because of that he's going to go to bat for his officers as often as possible. It's a problem. They are the disciplinary authority ensuring that their officers are acting properly. But at the same time if they're too critical of their officers, they lose support and it becomes very difficult for them to manage their organizations."

  • The Cranbrook Daily Townsman ran a column on restorative justice, in which some offenders are allowed to make amends directly to the victim in place of the sanction of the courts.  The Townsman quoted Susan Sharpe of the SFU Centre for Restorative Justice in SFU Criminology:
    "Restorative justice is fundamentally different from retributive justice. It is justice that puts energy into the future, not into what is past. It focuses on what needs to be healed, what needs to be repaid, what needs to be learned in the wake of crime. It looks at what needs to be strengthened if such things are not to happen again."


  • Canwest News Service turned into a national item a Province story on at tips from SFU on how students can best find summer jobs: “As legions of 2010 Winter Games workers enter the job market this month, Simon Fraser University is warning its students that competition will be fierce for summer employment.
    Adam Brayford of SFU's Career Services department is urging students to plan ahead. ‘Students who begin making contact with potential employers months in advance of summer have the best chance of finding the jobs they want,’ he says. ‘June is too late to start looking.’"
    The story then went as far afield as the Montreal Gazette. It stemmed from a news release from SFU quoting Brayford. It also led to Brayford doing several radio interviews last week.

  • SFU also told media about SFU’s participation in Earth Hour on March 27—a role mentioned by several media outlets. The Province, for example, wrote: “On the West Coast, some TVs were expected to be tuned to the Canucks' game in San Jose, but darkness was expected to fall at the Telus World of Science, Vancouver City Hall, the legislature buildings in Victoria, the Planetarium, Lions Gate Bridge, and Simon Fraser University.”
    By way of Canwest News Service, the story turned up in the Ottawa Citizen and National Post. CBC News also gave it a mention.

  • CBC News Network carried a feature on archaeological clues as to how, when and where the first humans arrived in North America. Among the scientists on the show was SFU forensic botanist Rolf Mathewes.
    His team foundon the west coastpollen from plants typical of wet swampy environments—dating back to 17,000 years ago, the last ice age. Thus, the program concluded: “It seems that even whilst the mainland was buried under ice, there were places along the coast where it had begun to melt enough for plants to grow. . .  So the idea of people moving into America along the coast is starting to sound more likely.”

  • Political scientist Alex Moens wrote a blog item for National Post—an open letter to Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state. “This is getting a bit rich. In one visit you take three hits at Canadian positions as if you were visiting Alaska. . . . (Ottawa) does not deserve your over-bearing approach.”

  • The Canadian Press distributed a national story on how Engineers Without Borders is concerned the federal government has shifted its international development policy to favour potential trading partners instead of those most that are the poorest. This thesis was questioned, though, by Shaheen Nanji, director of international development with SFU International:
    “Nanji suggested it may not be a bad idea for Canada to strengthen ties with Central and South America through aid and development. ‘If Canada decides that one of its closest partner regions is going to be Latin America, is it wrong to have trade interests and to want to do development work?’ Nanji asked.”

  • reported on the threat of extinction of the European skate—and the discovery that the highly overfished food fish is not one species but two separate species. The story quoted fisheries biologist Nick Dulvy of SFU on the work done by European researcher Samuel Iglésias.
    “Samuel and his colleagues did an extremely rigorous analysis of these species. It turns out that these species aren’t even sister species. They’re more like cousins.”

  • Speaking of fish: John Reynolds, fisheries biologist and Tom Buell BC Leadership Chair in Salmon Conservation, was in CBC Radio reports on the collapse of Fraser River sockeye stocks last year, and his role on the science advisory committee of the Cohen judicial inquiry into what has been happening to these fish.

  • SFU Business prof Judy Zaichkowsky was in a CTV News story on so-called "penny auctions". They are, she said, "quite an attraction". But, typically, while online bids for goods may go up by a cent at a time, you have to buy "credits" to be able to make a bid, and a credit may cost you as much as a dollar. And if you're not the winning bidder for the item, the money you spent on bidding is gone, or may be gone, depending on the website. “It’s a lot like gambling.” The item also ran on Toronto’s 24 Nightside show.

  • Better late than never: The Saskatoon StarPhoenix ran a Canwest News Service feature on the work of Diane Gromala, SFU Interactive Arts + Technology prof, on coping with chronic pain. “Gromala claims research shows a 3-D stroll in the forest has the power to help people manage chronic pain, sometimes with better results than traditional means such as morphine.” The feature first ran in other newspapers last October.


  • A front-page story in The Vancouver Sun noted this year is the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser—and with an SFU connection.
    “The world's first laser—which emitted a coherent energy beam for the first time on May 16, 1960—is right here in Vancouver, locked away in a safe-deposit box downtown. In May, it will be brought out of storage to be the star attraction at a conference at Simon Fraser University marking its anniversary.”
    The story didn’t mention that the inventor, the late Ted Maiman, was an adjunct prof at SFU. But it did quote Andrew Rawicz, SFU Engineering Science prof and an organizer of the conference: “It (the laser) has an incredible number of applications in a variety of fields. It's used for cutting, for welding. You have it in medicine, in dentistry, in diamondology."

  • The Sun story was the second front-page hit for SFU in the Sun in five days; the first being a story on how surrounding fish farms with waste-eating shellfish farms and kelp could keep them in the ocean—and help restore damaged marine environments. Among the scientists on that research project: Duncan Knowler, associate dean in SFU’s Faculty of Environment.

  • Warren Gill, geographer (and V-P of university relations) did an interview for CBC-TV on a report by the Toronto Board of Trade on Toronto's competitiveness, which raised some transportation issues and allowed a comparison with Vancouver.  Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, was interviewed on JACK-FM. And, earlier, Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program, was on CKNW, arguing that the Lower Mainland needs to encourage travel by bicycle and transit, not cars.

  • Michelle Murvai, a student in SFU's undergraduate semester in dialogue program, wrote a guest column in the Tri-City News on Earth Hour:
    “As Earth Hour wraps up at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, we should think for a moment before turning the lights back on. . . . Vancouver needs to follow the lead of cities such as Calgary and Tucson in adopting more comprehensive light pollution bylaws. Right now, Vancouver and its neighbours lack an official light pollution plan and there are currently no city-wide legislation or bylaws in place.”

  • Another student, Sabrina Dominguez, wrote a guest column in the Burnaby NewsLeader—proposing that golf courses be turned into urban farms:
    “Imagine: acres of food-producing plots where the back nine used to be, scattered among mixed vegetation, rehabilitated habitats and recreational space that doesn't cost the public an arm and a leg to enjoy. Greener than any putting green—‘and tastier too—the golf course could become an urban agriculture oasis that puts food in people's bellies, reduces our dependency on food and oil from far flung corners of the Earth, pays homage to Burnaby's heritage and promotes community building in a more populist manner, free of argyle socks and country club memberships.”

  • The Vancouver edition of Metro reported on opposition to a planned casino-and-hotel development next to BC Place in downtown Vancouver. Among those quoted was public policy prof Doug McArthur: “It just feels like a mad rush for the big bucks. The (provincial) government’s in a financial crisis, they’re looking for dollars and they’re looking for ways of getting more construction going.”


  • Burnaby Now noted that Canadians may be spending more time online than watching TV—“but SFU communication professor Peter Chow-White says more TV content is being reproduced online.”
    "‘Pollsters are going to have to re-think what is meant by television. TV is not only on the flat screens in our living rooms. Media companies have been grappling with a changing media ecology for the last 10 years,’ Chow-White says, adding that youth are increasingly multi-tasking. ‘Maybe overlapping is a better word. Many students I talk to have the TV on and are also on the Internet. Our kids are growing up in a completely different media ecology than we did.’"

  • SFU Communication prof Richard Smith, who is away in France, appeared on GlobalTV in BC—thanks to some of his nifty geekwork—in a story about an RCMP officer from Vancouver Island who posted "inappropriate" commentary on his Facebook page.
    Smith recorded some comments using a low-tech iSight webcam on a Mac laptop, angling his computer so there was light on his face and the background was neutral. He used the microphone from his iPhone and sent the Mac Photo Booth package off to Global as a file attachment.  Global used a clip, credited to “Richard Smith via webcam from Nancy, FR".
    Smith was also in a Georgia Straight story on software for cataloguing. “(Smith) was an early adopter of Delicious Library and is now using the latest version of the software to catalogue hundreds of books. ‘I did a few and then a few more. I did a bunch at my office, and over Christmas holidays I did a bunch at home. I still don’t have all my books catalogued.’”

  • The carried a story on the explosion of e-mail. It quoted author John Freeman (The Tyranny of E-Mail) as noting that in 1986, 1,500 students and faculty at SFU were using e-mail, sending between 10,000 and 20,000 messages each month. Twenty years later, there were more than 40,000 e-mail accounts at SFU, and users were sending 10 million e-mails per month, a 14,000 percent increase.
    And the story quoted SFU Communication prof Andrew Feenberg: “The number of people you can be in touch with has multiplied far faster than the gains in efficiency that email makes possible.”


  • The Burnaby NewsLeader reported: “Burnaby school district's newest school, adjacent to Simon Fraser University, has been named University Highlands Elementary. Opening in September, the school is in the new Highlands neighbourhood, also known as the UniverCity community. More than 70 names were suggested by the community.”  Burnaby Now also carried a story.

  • The Vancouver Sun quoted the chair of the Maple Ridge school board as saying an SFU news release about the creation of a new environmental school was premature. This because the board has not yet given it final approval.  (The release reported a $1-million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to SFU’s Faculty of Education, the District of Maple Ridge, School District 42 and community partners “to create and study the impact of” a unique environmental school.)
    The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times picked up that story, and also carried an editorial questioning the idea of such a school: “Meanwhile, plans are in the works for a local "environmental" school. There's a million-dollar grant and SFU backing to plan the project. Except, how many people really want this school? Or even understand it? An environmental school was not the first choice of parents who were surveyed recently by the school district. (The proposal) smacks of bureaucrats trying to be ‘visionary’ when the general public, the ones who pay the taxes, want school choices that are far more grounded.”

  • The Georgia Straight reported: “In the past few months, Simon Fraser University has taken steps to support open-access publishing of scholarly articles. SFU's senate library committee endorsed in January an open-access strategy for the university library. In February, SFU created an open-access fund to support researchers at the university who publish articles in open-access journals.
    “While reading many academic journals often requires a paid subscription, open-access journals are freely available on the Internet.  But authors typically have to pay article-processing charges to publish in open-access journals. Now, SFU faculty, staff, and graduate students can each claim up to $10,000 per fiscal year from the fund to pay for these article processing charges.”

  • The Financial Post pages of National Post looked at “What women want from an MBA”. Among those quoted: Rhonda Wideman, who in August will graduate with an MBA specializing in biotechnology management from SFU to go along with her PhD in physiology from UBC. “Because industry remains unfriendly to women who are also the primary caregiver at home, she said women make different career choices knowing and accepting that those choices mean lower pay.”

  • The Prince George Citizen reported that prof Mark Wexler of SFU Business will receive the Paz Buttedahl career achievement award for 30 years of applying his scholarly work on ethics to business, government health care, and other fields, and for engaging the broader community in a dialogue about ethics.

  • The Vancouver Westender promoted SFU’s writing and publishing program, “one of the most exciting aspects of the school's Continuing Studies department.” The item concluded: “Summer registration open now. Info:


  • The Vancouver Sun told readers: “Getting published is tough for emerging writers. The Writer's Studio, a non-credit certificate program in creative writing at Simon Fraser University, aims to ease that problem while marking its 10th anniversary. Director Betsy Warland says it has launched what's called the 1st Book Competition. Original book-length manuscripts in three categories—fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry—are being sought. Deadline, May 31; see The winning writers bypass the publishing-house slush pile: Their books will be published by Anvil Press.

  • The Yukon News ran a feature on burlesque dancing, stemming from a talk on the subject by Mary Shearman, a PhD candidate in SFU Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. “Feminists who take issue with burlesque are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place," said Shearman. “Feminists believe women can be and do whatever they want but still find it difficult to accept and justify (burlesque) when it looks exactly what they're fighting against."


  • The Richmond Review featured Richmond’s Katie Miyazaki, a Clan basketball star and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) defensive player of the year. “It felt very rewarding because I had set it as a goal a few years back. It is always amazing when your hard work to achieve a goal pays off."
    Miyazaki and the Clan leave the CIS as repeat national champions, and now head for the NCAA. "I guess being the defending champions and only losing one player left us as being expected to win nationals again, but we, as a team, tried to take it one game at a time and enjoy each game because it was a season of lasts. We knew that it was our last time playing a lot of teams and competing in the CIS and we wanted to leave our mark. I think we definitely accomplished that."

  • The Score TV network looked at new approaches to sports statistics, and interviewed sports stats guru Tim Swartz of SFU Statistics and Actuarial Science: "The new ones are complex. not really for the mass of people. . . . Some of the stats have even changed how the teams go about the business of fielding a competitive team."

  • Criminologist Ehor Boyanowsky was in a Province story on a stick-smashing outburst by Abbotsford Heat hockey coach Jim Playfair—watched by more than half a million people on YouTube:
    “It will be added to the top 10 tantrums in sports. It's YouTube's latest vehicle for a jackass stunt. . . . It was everything that one shouldn't do at a hockey game. He has lost a lot of face. It's humiliating. The coach's name, ironically, is Playfair. It will be interesting to see if this is a one-time episode. If he does it again, I think he'll be gone.”
    Boyanowsky was also cited on

  • The Province and the Richmond Review reported that Clan wrestler Arjan Bhullar was among candidates for athlete of the year honours this week from Sport BC. In the end, reported the Abbotsford News, Bhullar lost to Jacob Doerksen, a basketball player from Trinity Western University. Clan wrestling coach Justin Abdou was also a contender for coach of the ear, but lost to National Swim Centre coach Jozef Nagy of Vancouver.


In addition to releases mentioned above:

  • SFU told media how nine SFU graduate students are among 250 university students nationally who have been awarded a 2009 research-related travel supplement by the federal government. The Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements, a Canadian Graduate Scholarship award, go only to the crème de la crème of graduate students nationally.  The newspaper Ming Pao pursued one of the students, Carol Wong, for a short story.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Burnaby Now reported concerns of some residents of UniverCity about plans to adjust density requirements so as to permit a 20-storey residential tower adjacent to the current SFU water tower.
    “The plan shifted density from Phase 4 of the project, which is a more family-oriented neighbourhood, to one of the towers in the Phase 3 area, according to Jonathan Tinney, the director of community development for the SFU Community Trust. Phase 3 covers the western portion of University Crescent, or the West Highlands, and includes taller buildings.”

  • Property developer Grosvenor announced to media the appointment of Brandt Louie, SFU’s chancellor, as chair of the board of Grosvenor Americas. Grosvenor is a privately owned property group with offices in 17 world cities. Louie is also, among other roles, chair and CEO of H.Y. Louie Co. Limited and chair of London Drugs Limited.

  • The Breakfast Television show on CityTV Vancouver promoted a fund-raising bicycle ride from Amsterdam to Istanbul (9 weeks, 4000 km) organized by Agents for Change, a BC-based non-profit organization helping to fight global poverty. The show noted SFU Business students, led by then-students Sean Peters and Shawn Smith, founded Agents for Change in 2007.

  • The Bowen Island Undercurrent reported that “A family that has been a part of Bowen for 22 years is moving to an apartment in Coal Harbour. . . .”  That’s the family of Brad and Julie Ovenell-Carter: The story noted that Brad is completing a master’s at SFU; children Kathryn, 21, and Adam, 18, are students at SFU; and “Julie, who is a published author, will continue in her position as assistant director of public affairs and media relations at SFU.”


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