SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - April 23, 2010

April 23, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: April 16-23, 2010

SFU volcano expert Glyn Williams-Jones added to a lengthy media scorecard with more interviews about the erupting Icelandic volcano of Eyjafjallajökull.
Another expert from SFU Earth Sciences, Nick Roberts, was prominent in a story about the largest landslide in North American history, a colossal BC avalanche about 10,000 years ago
And public policy prof Jon Kesselman scored with several media as he defended the coming Harmonized Sales Tax as “superior in almost every respect” to BC’s current retail sales tax.
More on these, and others, below.


  • Jon Kesselman, SFU economist and public policy prof, wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun in praise of the coming Harmonized Sales Tax.
    “B.C.'s PST is seriously flawed and economically damaging, and whatever its potential shortcomings, the HST will be superior in almost every respect.
    “Nearly 40 per cent of the $5 billion in annual PST revenues falls directly on business rather than consumers. . . . The existing PST imposes a heavier burden on the poor and near-poor than the impending HST with its companion refundable tax credits. . . .
    “Before casting their stones against the impending HST, critics should take a closer look at the decrepit and crumbling structure called the retail sales tax—the tax that they are implicitly supporting.”
    Meanwhile, the BC Business Council (BCBC) released a paper by Kesselman giving the HST good marks.
    “Some losers will arise in sectors that have enjoyed a tax-preferred status for many years, such as restaurants and home construction. But overall British Columbians will gain through a more competitive business sector yielding, over time, more investment, increased employment, and better-paying jobs.”
    And, he said, harmonization will save the B.C. government and ultimately taxpayers $80 million annually in public costs and partial compensation to businesses for collecting the provincial retail sales tax. “Business cost savings of $100 million per year will flow through as lower prices for consumers.”
    The Vancouver Sun carried a story based on the BCBC paper: "Sales tax harmonization fulfils all of the standard economic criteria for good tax policy with flying colours," wrote Kesselman, who holds the Canada research chair in public finance at Simon Fraser University. "However, harmonization has been woefully deficient in B.C. with respect to another, non-economic, criterion: public acceptability."
    Kesselman also made a long appearance on the Christy Clark show on CKNW, where he took calls from listeners, and said: “I’m with the 99 or 100 per cent of tax specialists, knowledge people in economics and accounting and in the legal profession, who specialize in taxation and tax policy, who support this kind of change because . . . there are major benefits of this, and the current tax we have (PST) has many, many deficiencies that are being overlooked.”
    He also did an interview on CBC’s All Points West show out of Victoria, and on CFAX Radio in Victoria.

  • Volcanologist Glyn Williams-Jones did more interviews about the erupting Icelandic volcano: Two interviews with the Early Edition on CBC Radio, one with CBC Radio in Victoria, another with the Wildrose show on CBC Radio, Calgary; one with CKWX News1130, Vancouver; one on CKNW, two with GlobalTVBC, plus The Vancouver Sun, the Globe and Mail and (twice) with the UK's Daily Mail.
    The Globe and Mail’s continuing coverage of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull—“the most famous volcano no one can pronounce”—included Williams-Jones saying of Iceland:
    “It's sitting on a hot spot, so you've got a big pulse of magma coming up from the core of the Earth. But it also sits on the mid-Atlantic ridge, which is where new ocean floor is created all the time."
    The Globe continued: “And while Eyjafjallajökull is a threat, it's nothing compared to Katla, a larger and more dangerous volcano. In the past 1,100 years, every time Eyjafjallajökull has erupted, Katla has soon followed suit. ‘The volcanoes appear to be linked in some way, but it's not quite clear how,’ Dr. Williams-Jones said. ‘We don't really know what's down there.’"
  • Canwest News Service reported that two Canadian geologists—one from SFU—have pieced together a portrait of the largest landslide in North American history, a colossal BC avalanche about 10,000 years ago that permanently shifted the Continental Divide.
    Grad student Nick Roberts of SFU Earth Sciences said: "Despite its size, this landslide has gone virtually unrecognized (in the scientific literature).”
    The Canwest story said in part: “The researchers have produced the first calculation of the volume of material set loose in the prehistoric Canadian avalanche: 1,300 million cubic metres of rock, with the main slab of demolished mountain more than 160 metres in depth.”
    Did the earth move? It did indeed, wrote Canwest. “Some piles of rock at the foot of the slide are nearly 300 metres high, and the event shifted the Continental Divide—the boundary between Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic freshwater drainage systems—by about 80 metres.”
    And the story described the slide: “30 times larger than the famous Hope Slide that struck southern B.C. in 1965. . . . vast stretches of trees flattened by displaced air even before the rock reached them. . . . (The sound) would have been deafening within a few kilometres of the landslide, and would have been audible for at least many tens of kilometres."
    The story ran in a string of papers across Canada, from The Vancouver Sun to the Truro (NS) Daily News.


  • CTV News was first to report that two SFU researchers will sit on a six-member scientific panel that will independently advise the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.
    Biologist John Reynolds, the Tom Buell BC Leadership Chair in salmon conservation, and Patricia Gallaugher, an adjunct prof and director of the Centre for Coastal Studies, are the SFU appointees. The panel will advise the Cohen Commission’s research team on scientific issues and findings.
    Following up on an SFU news release, host Rick Cluff interviewed Reynolds on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio. Reynolds also was on CBC’s All Points West show out of Victoria. The Globe and Mail also did a story naming the two, from the Cohen commission’s own news release.

  • SFU also spread word on how a newly published study blows out of the water current theories about how 10 species of hamlets—colourful coral reef fish found throughout the Caribbean—have evolved. SFU biologist Isabelle Côté co-authored a paper published in the latest online issue of Global Ecology and Biogeography.
    The original theory was that since most hamlet species are only found at specific locations, they must have developed because of geographical separation. But Côté’s paper found thousands of underwater surveys do not support the theory, and that ecological factors, such as competition for food or habitat, may influence how different hamlet species co-exist.

  • Coming up on CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks show on Saturday (April 24): Post-doctoral fellow Laura Weir will talk about her study of courtship among medaka fish. She’s studying them in the Bernie Crespi lab in SFU Biological Sciences. (Speaking of the medaka’s courtship: The little medaka, a popular aquarium fish, has been sent into space for experiments—­and became the first vertebrate to mate in orbit. The result was a brood of healthy fry, hatched on the space shuttle Columbia in 1994.)
    You can listen to Quirks and Quarks on CBC Radio from 12:06pm–1pm on Saturday. The show will be rebroadcast Monday April 26 at 11:06pm. You can also hear it at: or as a podcast via


  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio, speaking on the firing of a Vancouver policeman and the laying of drug (and other) charges against him. Gordon’s message:  Kudos to the Vancouver Police Department for acting swiftly and decisively, to maintain public confidence in the police. Gordon added, though that we shouldn’t be too surprised: "It is a highly lucrative industry and the probability of corruption is extremely high."

  • The Vancouver Sun told readers: “The proposal by the City of Vancouver to set aside 125 rental units in the Olympic Village for health and safety public workers may be novel but it isn't new.” The paper quoted Michael Geller, architect, planner, developer, adjunct prof in the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development and former CEO of the UniverCity development at SFU:
    "The idea of encouraging essential workers and other city employees to live in the city is a good one. Unfortunately, many people who work in Vancouver have been priced out of the market."
    But in a later story in the Sun, Geller criticized the city for giving rental preference to emergency service workers and teachers. “They (councillors) are giving short shrift to the option of selling the units. They are draining all of the social housing funds plus having to go into the capital budget just to save 126 units. It's simply not value for money."

  • Two SFU profs were quoted in a story on the news-and-commentary website of It wondered why BC Hydro had paid for a Vancouver hotel room for Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom during the 2010 Winter Olympics—then billed his ministry after TheTyee asked about it.
    "The general rule would be that if the minister was performing business on behalf of the Crown corporation, then it would be legitimate for the Crown corporation to pay for the expenses,'" said public policy prof Doug McArthur. "It's pretty obviously a case where they've decided he was not performing legitimate business for the Crown corporation. Otherwise they would have left it as it was."
    Mark Wexler, ethics prof in SFU Business, was also quoted: "If this is the minister not on official business using a Crown corporation to cover his bills, this is clearly a problem."

  • SFU English prof Clint Burnham wrote a guest column for the news website, on his one-week hunger strike to publicize the problem of homelessness in Vancouver and the need for a national housing strategy:
    “It’s wrong that people live in substandard housing (ranging from the SROs or small hotel rooms in the DES to leaky co-ops and overpriced rental housing) and that every night of the year hundreds of our fellow and sister Vancouver citizens must scramble for access to emergency shelters, church pews, doorways, under bridges, abandoned buildings, tents, or the open air.”

  • SFU Health Sciences prof Benedikt Fischer was in the Vancouver edition of Metro, talking about the Vancouver park board decision to ban smoking on parks and on beaches, and about the following marijuana “420” smoke-up rally in Vancouver. He said the popularity of the rally (several thousand took part) doesn’t prove we’re more tolerant of marijuana.
    “Even though (cigarettes are) quite a bit more dangerous . . . to public health, we’d never go so far as to make tobacco smokers criminals, but we do with marijuana users and that’s what people disagree with. That’s why you have a lot of support for these rallies.”

  • SFU student Diego Reyeros wrote a guest commentary in the Georgia Straight, on Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. “Imagine a place where the general labourer is exploited, and human rights aren’t fulfilled. You will probably think of somewhere in South America or Asia. But as foreign as it sounds, this happens legally in B.C., the Best Place on Earth.”


  • The Hamilton Spectator reported on the case of a disoriented 87-year-old driver who went missing for 16 hours. The paper quoted an SFU gerontology researcher on the issue of restrictions on elderly drivers:
    "Glenyth Caragata, a researcher on senior driving issues at B.C.'s Simon Fraser University, says a driver's age is the last criteria that should be considered. Ability, including physical and cognitive, is more important. But people with mental issues should be monitored by transportation officials, she said." SFU Business profs Leyland Pitt and Michael Parent wrote a guest column for the Financial Post section of National Post on how ambush marketing “leaves Olympic sponsors and those of other major sporting events particularly vulnerable—costing them not only their financial investment, but also ultimately their customers.” A study they co-wrote on the subject appeared in the March issue of Business Horizons.

  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was in the Globe and Mail, in a story on Canadians’ propensity to use loyalty cards to collect such benefits as Air Miles. “There is a certain Canadian mania. I think it's the same genes that drive our British Columbian response to search out a litre of gas for exactly .2 of a cent less than the guy down the street."
    He also noted the benefits to retailers as they gather information about you, your preferences, and your buying triggers. "That information becomes very powerful weaponry.”

  • Meredith was also in a story in Conducive Chronicle (an online offshoot of Conducive Magazine) that looked at “Girl Power and the Consumer”. Conducive wrote: “With the introduction of name brand clothing into young girls’ lives, the meaning of girl power saw a dramatic shift. The repercussions Dr. Lindsay Meredith, a marketing professor at Simon Fraser University pointed out were dramatic, ‘kids have their icons and if they identify with their icons, you’re bound to get some emulation.’ Emulation was exactly what marketers wanted.”

  • Ottawa Citizen columnist Dan Gardner, in a blog, knocked SFU for the setup of a lecture by John Ralston Saul at SFU, which alternated between French and English, with no simultaneous translation.  “I can understand why the lecture might be given in French. Or in English. Or in either with translation. But both with no translation? Do that and you will ensure that more than nine out of ten people in the city in which you are giving the lecture will be unable to understand what you are saying.”

  • The website published a projection that (as of today, April 23) the Conservatives would fall short of an overall majority by 48 seats in the UK general election on May 6.  One of the pollsters involved: Mark Pickup of SFU Political Science. “Much can change before Election Day, however. We are political scientists, not clairvoyants, after all.”

  • The website of reported:Contrary to popular belief, skiing in Africa is not impossible. Vancouver resident Justin Long (an SFU Business student) will be skiing Africa’s third largest peak (Mt. Stanley) in an expedition named Snow4Innocents to raise awareness of Uganda’s serious child mortality rate and raise funds for the only children’s hospital in the region.”


  • The North Shore News interviewed Ehor Boyanowsky, SFU criminologist and fly-fishing buff, about his book Savage Gods, Silver Ghosts: In the Wild with Ted Hughes. It’s a finalist for a 2010 BC Book Prize from the West Coast Book Prize Society. Among other things, Boyanowsky said of the famed poet:
    “He was one of these quiet guys -- and I found this often with quiet people and shy people -- once you break past that initial reserve they just give everything of themselves once they feel comfortable. He was like that and so he became Uncle Ted to my son who had just been born the same summer that I met him, 1986. He just became part of the family.”
    (Also in the running for a BC Book Prize: A Thousand Dreams: Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the Fight for Its Future by Larry Campbell, Neil Boyd and Lori Culbert Boyd is a criminology prof and associate director of SFU Criminology.  A third finalist: The Golden Mean by alumna Annabel Lyon, winner of the 2009 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Lyon studied philosophy at SFU.)

  • Vancouver Sun columnist Malcolm Parry was struck by a news release from SFU. Parry wrote: “THE BEET GOES ON: A Simon Fraser University release says film's animal-derived coating made vegetarian-student James O'Callaghan switch from moviemaking to electroacoustic music composition. Let's hope his works aren't transposed for traditional instruments with their horsehair bows, catgut (usually pork intestine) strings and calfskin drumheads.”
    The release told how O’Callaghan’s switch from film to music in SFU Contemporary Arts has led to success: “In March 2010, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra played the Langley resident’s first-ever orchestral creation, Work/Werk, a 3½-minute instrumental piece with a percussive section that sounds like machinery. At the end of April, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra will perform O’Callaghan’s second creation, Agoraphobia, an 8½- minute instrumental piece inspired by and created during Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics.”
    The Langley Times did a story. The Langley Advance and Radio Canada also pursued O’Callaghan. So did a BCIT broadcast journalism student, for a video.

  • The Vancouver Sun reviewed the new book The Intimate Ape: Orangutans and the Secret Life of a Vanishing Species, by Shawn Thompson. “How did the assistant professor of journalism at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops find his way to the rainforests of Southeast Asia? The answer is that he became fascinated by  . . . Birute Galdikas, an orangutan researcher and professor at Simon Fraser University.”


  • The Province reported: “A simple letter of thanks from a former Simon Fraser University softball player has been answered with a million-dollar diamond.
    “When former Clan star and Canadian Olympian Melanie Matthews wrote a note of thanks to local construction magnate Keith Beedie for the modest donation he has annually made to a member of the SFU softball program, the noted philanthropist was so moved that he set up a lunch meeting with SFU head softball coach Mike Renney.”
    Renney said he needed $1 million to give the Clan softball team a new field. ‘He (Beedie) said 'I'll give you half and I'll match another $250,000 if you can come up with it using different initiatives, and that will give you your million dollars.’”
    And so, The Province said: “When the team makes its NCAA home debut  . . . against Central Washington, it will not only be playing on its new Beedie Field, but also playing the first on-campus game in the program's 21-year history.”

  • The Province also reported that the annual Shrum Bowl football game between SFU and UBC will be played this fall, despite SFU's move from Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) to the NCAA.
    "'It's on,'" SFU head coach Dave Johnson said on Wednesday with the news that the 33rd edition of the gridiron classic will be played on Oct. 8 at UBC. 'I just hope it continues.'"
    October's game will be played under Canadian rules.

  • SFU Athletics told media how the Clan track and field team scored strongly at the Bryan Clay Invitational in California. Among the successes: Jessica Smith and Helen Crofts finished 1-2 in the 800m.
    Meanwhile, Clan alumna Ruky Abdulai posted a score of 6086 in the Mt. SAC relays heptathlon, also in California. She is currently the world leader in that event.
    A track-and-field blog at California’s Azusa Pacific University noted: “Abdulai, who was an NAIA sprint and jump champion at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, not only won the first-ever heptathlon in which she has competed—the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays—but she also posted the best heptathlon score in the world this season.”
    Also in the Mt. SAC Relays, Smith and Crofts posted the two fastest times in the NAIA this season in the Invitational section of the Women’s 800m. This against a field featuring NCAA champions and Olympians. Brianna Kane posted a personal best time in the 800m in Olympic Development section, and now is ranked third in the NAIA behind Crofts and Smith.

  • The Sunshine Coast Reporter featured Kane and another member of the Clan track and field team—her sister Michaela. “Brianna, in her third year at SFU, was joined by her sister Michaela in September at the Burnaby campus, and both have put in stellar campaigns . . . all the way to the NAIA championships in Johnson City, Tennessee in March. The girls each received two All-American awards.”

  • Radio Canada News featured two Québecoises on the SFU softball team, pitcher Myriam Poirier of St.-Eustache PQ and outfielder Trisha Bouchard of Montreal.
    “Poirier pitches with strength and accuracy, two essential qualities when aspiring to become a police officer. ‘I also wanted to study criminology. Here they have the best program in criminology in Canada, so that influenced me to come here.’”
    Bouchard will be sitting out a year as SFU joins the NCAA in the fall. “I'm taking a year off so my four years of eligibility will continue until 2013.”

  • Coquitlam Now featured Clan track star Heather Mancell: “Earlier this month, the 22-year-old was awarded SFU's Senior Director's Award, recognizing Mancell's efforts to spearhead clothing drives for residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside as well as organizing ‘Track Attack’ day for students at Coquitlam's Mountain View elementary.
    “It's the second time Mancell has won the award in her four and a half years on Burnaby Mountain. ‘Overall, she's just a wonderful person—she's going, going, going all the time,’ said SFU track coach Brit Townsend.”

  • Head basketball coach Bruce Langford announced to media that Kia Van Laare has committed to the Clan for the 2010-11 season. Van Laare averaged 22 points a game with the New Westminster Hyacks. “I think she has been the fastest-improving point guard in the province this year," said Langford. The Burnaby NewsLeader ran a story.

  • SFU Athletics also spread the word that Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano will be keynote speaker at the Clan Athletics fundraising breakfast June 29.  Proceeds go to athletic scholarships. Also coming: Lui Passaglia, a former Clan standout and then a BC Lions star. The Tri-City News carried a story, noting Passaglia is a Coquitlam resident.

  • The Delta Optimist told readers that last month's postponed softball doubleheader between the Clan and Seattle University Redhawks in Tsawwassen now will now take place May 3. SFU head coach Mike Renney noted: “It will . . . give our senior, Nicola Collicutt, the unique opportunity of playing a true home game as she concludes her college career.” Collicutt is a South Delta Secondary grad.

  • The Abbotsford News reported that Chad Hanson, standout tight end for the W.J. Mouat high school Hawks, has committed to the Clan football team for the fall. He said of the Clan's move to the NCAA: "That was a big motivator in the deal. It'll be tough competition, especially the first couple years. But we'll get the hang of it."

  • The Nelson Daily News featured local golfer Jordan Melanson, now in university in Alabama but heading for the SFU golf program. "The reason for me going back to Canada is Simon Fraser has a coach (John Buchanan) with a proven record of success. . . . And now that the school is joining NCAA there even a greater chance to develop as a golfer."
    Said Buchanan: "To get an experienced player like Jordan that has got a bit of game and is a very good student, I couldn't ask for any more at this time".

  • Burnaby Now ran a feature on the SFU Tennis Club: “In its five-year history, the school's tennis club has risen to be a major player on the USTA national campus circuit, while a power in the Pacific Northwest conference. It's also a force on the Canadian national stage, too. . . . ‘We're up against some pretty tough competition,’ team captain and coach Arman Kaveh said. ‘Varsity programs offer scholarships and have paid staff. We don't have any of that, but we are working towards that.’”


  • The Province covered a march and rally of “close to 1,000 people urging Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid Tuesday to properly fund public schools in Vancouver.” The story quoted SFU Education prof emeritus Paul Shaker:
    “I think that the government does respond to public pressure. And the fact the media is covering it is significant. I think the way that the government is going to change policy is through these stakeholder groups convincing the public that their public schools' quality is endangered."

  • cited a Canadian Federation of Students report that says "visible minority" students face higher-than-average student-debt levels, and the student-loan system is “racially discriminatory”. But UniversityWorldNews quoted SFU student Sarah Alshukhaiti as saying the report does not accurately represent her experience:
    “The second-year science student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia moved to Canada from the Middle East with her family 16 years ago. ‘When you apply for a student loan they don't ask you where you're from,’ Alshukhaiti says, ‘It has nothing to do with what race you are.’"


  • The Richmond Review featured six MBA students who designed a free iPhone application called QuakeAware, which consolidates key information people need to be prepared for an earthquake.” The story quoted student Kelvin Chiu of Richmond: "We just want to get it into as many hands as possible because we think the content in itself is valuable for people to know in terms of the awareness. How to prepare, how to react. That's our primary focus.”

  • Several more papers picked up a Canadian Press story from last week in which public policy prof Jon Kesselman warned against a push to hold off on pension reforms for 10 or more years. "Coming back in 10 years is delaying . . . by 10 years any movement toward 40-odd years of concluding this big reform."

  • And more papers, from the Yukon to New Brunswick, carried a Canadian Press story from last week that oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill is still being ingested by Alaskan wildlife more than 20 years after the disaster—as found by a research team led by Daniel Esler, adjunct prof and university research associate in SFU Biological Sciences. The United Press International online news agency also picked up the story. So did

  • Meanwhile, the Regina Leader-Post picked up a Canwest News Service story (originally from The Province three weeks ago) on tips from SFU on how students can best find summer jobs. The initial story stemmed from an SFU news release.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Globe and Mail carried a feature on eco-activist Alexandra Morton and her plans to walk more than 400km from Sointula BC to Victoria, in an attempt to get the provincial government to pay more attention to fish-farm problems. The feature noted: “She has been vilified by her critics, who dismiss her as an environmental zealot who has a thing about bashing fish farms. But last month, Simon Fraser University awarded her an honorary doctorate of science, stating that her ‘work linking sea lice infestation in wild salmon to fish farming in the Broughton Archipelago has drawn international attention and challenged both the salmon farm industry and the government officials who regulate it.’”
    The North Shore News also featured Morton.

  • The Globe and Mail also carried a feature on Yosef Wosk, philanthropist, scholar, educator, rabbi, successor to the Wosk furniture and real-estate dynasty, adjunct prof at SFU, and founding father of the SFU Philosopher’s Café program. The story was about him and his home, one of Vancouver's most important heritage mansions in the heart of Shaughnessy.


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