SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - April 9, 2010

April 9, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: April 2-9, 2010.

SFU students grabbed some big headlines and broadcast coverage during the week.
Six MBA students who designed an iPhone application got national coverage for their free app called QuakeAware, which helps people be prepared for an earthquake.
And a creative crowd of 289 students drew media to the Burnaby campus, where the students laid claim to the world record for the most people doing “The Robot” dance.
More on these stories below—and on SFU profs who were in the news.


  • Six MBA students who designed an iPhone application got hefty media coverage of their success: an app called QuakeAware, whichconsolidates the key information people need to be prepared for an earthquake.
    The national Canada AM show on CTV featured student Ryan Cole, who explained on Canada AM that the app is available free from the Apple iTunes store: “We intend to keep it free, as the idea is we are trying to promote awareness and trying to increase preparedness amongst residents, so if we can keep it free and keep it accessible we are hoping that we will have as many people as possible download it.”
    Cole and fellow-student Dylan Marks then were on CBC-TV. (Video here.)
    Then Cole followed up with an interview on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio. And GlobalTV also pursued him for a story.
    Earlier, The Province carried an item: ”Some enterprising Simon Fraser University students think one of the first things you should do when an earthquake strikes is to consult your iPhone or iPod Touch.”
    The news website also did a story, and had a photo of Cole.

  • The Globe and Mail looked at a new Yale University policy to ban any and all teacher-student sex. It said in part: “The faculty code of ethics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver only states that a professor should not put himself or herself in a position in which a conflict of interest could arise.Brenda Taylor, director of human rights and equity at SFU, says that can include sexual relationships, but it's ‘highly unlikely’ the school would adopt an all-out ban on relationships between students and faculty à la Yale. ‘I think the issue is when you're in a supervisory position and when you're evaluating someone's work.’"

  • An article in the Health and Science section of Time magazine online looked at the question: “Can Eating Junk Food Really Be an Addiction?” Among others, it cited the famed “Rat Park” study by SFU’s Bruce Alexander, in which his team measured the impact of social and physical environment on the risk of morphine addiction in rats.
    "’We showed that an enriched environment made drug use less likely. I think from human research we can say clearly that enriched environments reduce all kinds of addictions, not just to drugs or alcohol,’ says Alexander, author of The Globalization of Addiction and designer of Rat Park.”

  • The Lab with Leo Laporte program on CityTV in Calgary and Edmonton ran an interview with doctoral student Todd Keeler of SFU Mathematics.  The subject: computerized simulations of fluids and smoke, by way of “funky computer algorithms”, to include in “radical entertainment” games.
    Keeler: “I did a physics degree in my bachelors . . . but I did like computers, so I did some computer stuff too. And then I saw this program at SFU and I'm like, ‘Whoa, math and computers together-—way cool.’”

  • Michael Geller, architect, planner, developer and adjunct prof in the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development, was on the Fanny Kiefer show on Shaw-TV. He spoke about proposals to turn the Robson Street shopping area into a pedestrian mall. “One of the things I noticed when I travelled around the world is virtually every city had a pedestrian zone in the centre of the city. I came back and looked at the failing Granville Street mall and thought we ought to bring more pedestrian life back to the city.”

  • The Fraser Institute told media about a study from Alex Moens, SFU political scientist and senior fellow of the institute. It says Canada must formulate a unified security strategy with the U.S. to establish deeper trading ties and secure Canada's long-term economic interests.
    "Gaining unimpeded access to the U.S. market for Canadian exports and imports remains Canada's top economic interest," Moens said in a news release. "A security deal between the two countries would make Americans more receptive to increased trade, investment, and tourism in Canada."


  • A number of media outlets, including the CBC, CityTV, The Vancouver Sun, The Province, Shaw-TV and Burnaby NewsLeader, came up Burnaby Mountain to see 289 students claim the world record for the most people doing “The Robot” dance. That surpassed the old mark of 276, set by the University of Kent in 2007.
    Student organizer Graham Hiscocks dealt with media. A photo from SFU quickly racked up well over 400 views on Flickr and ran on the website. The photo also ran on the news website.
    The Robot event was held to celebrate the new Mechatronics (robotics) student union, in SFU Engineering Science. The Guinness World Book of Records must officially recognize SFU’s mark, which could take several weeks.

  • The Province looked at plans for a Las Vegas-style casino for downtown Vancouver, and quoted two SFU experts:
    One was Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology. “Simon Fraser University criminologist Rob Gordon says public gaming reduces illegal gambling, and stops the drain of gambling dollars to the U.S.”
    As for the fear of casinos attracting crime: “‘In many respects, the argument that casinos act as a magnet for predatory street crime is a bogus argument,’ says Gordon. ‘Casinos are not more criminogenic than any other places that cater to large crowds.’"
    The other prof quoted was political scientist Paddy Smith: “Governments have become addicted to gambling revenue. . . . It's the new crack cocaine, free money for government."
    The Province added: “Smith says gambling revenue sounds like easy money—it's even known in government circles as the ‘idiot tax’—but there are social costs as well as economic ones. The money comes out of the hide of those who have gambled and lost, and the entertainment dollars that get pumped into a mega-casino will cut into discretionary spending on sports events, the arts and entertainment.”

  • Innovation, the magazine of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, ran a big feature story headlined “Lessons for Vancouver from the Haiti Earthquake.” Two of the three authors: PhD candidate Nick Roberts and prof John Clague of SFU Earth Sciences. They said Vancouver isn’t likely to be hit by a quake as big as the one that hit Haiti, but we could be hit by one that would trigger landslides, liquefaction, possibly a tsunami, and damage to buildings, roads, bridges, tunnels, the airport, port facilities and the Tsawassen ferry terminal.


  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was on GlobalTV talking about the growth of criminal gunfire in Surrey, Langley, Maple Ridge and Abbotsford as gangs move east. “Given what we have seen in the Metro Vancouver area over the last year or so, it doesn’t surprise me that there’s more shots fired in places like Langley and Surrey than in places like Richmond and Coquitlam.”
    On the issue of regional policing to combat gangs, he said: ”What regional policing really has to do with is better deployment. . .  It doesn’t specifically stop people from firing firearms.”

  • Earlier, Gordon was in a CBC News story on how residents of the Murrayville neighbourhood of Langley are posting warnings that a convicted pedophile is living there and are demanding that he move away.
    “’You can't simply force a person to leave an area," said Rob Gordon, a professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby. ‘Let's hope that doesn't escalate, because if it escalates, it will escalate into forms of vigilantism that are totally inappropriate.’ Gordon said the more someone is forced to move around, the more unstable their situation becomes and the more likely they are to reoffend.”

  • Gordon was also in a Province story on the city of Abbotsford’s plans to identify gangsters publicly “to make their lives uncomfortable in the city and (let) them know that they are not welcome here." Gordon was quoted as saying publishing names could be problematic. "They would have to have very solid evidence that they are doing what they are accused of."

  • CTV News quoted criminologist Ray Corrado in a story on a possible abduction attempt— the third attack on a girl in a West Side neighbourhood this year. "It can be an expression of anger, it can be an expression of a desire to dominate, it can be part of a deviant sexual fantasy.”

  • Corrado was also in a Province feature on the Good Fellaz Club at Vancouver’s Templeton High School, a mentoring program aimed at keeping at-risk kids away from gangs.
    "’This type of group can be very effective for kids if they are not too far along in the gang life. . . .The logic is to provide these kids with information. What teens lack is perspective, so if you have mentors it can be very effective for certain kids.”

  • Kamloops This Week told readers: “A Kamloops Mountie charged with drinking and driving likely won't lose his badge, according to one criminology expert. David MacAlister, a professor at Simon Fraser University, noted similar cases in the past have not resulted in police officers losing their jobs. Instead, he said, if the officer involved pleads guilty and admits to wrongdoing, he'll likely be reassigned to a desk job away from the public for a while.”


Big book news for two SFU profs:

  • The Donner Canadian Foundation announced to media the four finalists competing for the 2009/2010 Donner Prize, the award for best book on Canadian public policy.  One of the contenders is A Thousand Dreams: Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the Fight for Its Future by Larry Campbell, Neil Boyd and Lori Culbert (Greystone Books).  Boyd is a criminology prof and associate director of SFU Criminology. (Campbell is a former Vancouver mayor and now a senator. Culbert is a Vancouver Sun reporter.)

  • And the West Coast Book Prize Society announced the finalists for 2010 BC Book Prizes. The Boyd book is one contender. Another is Savage Gods, Silver Ghosts: In the Wild with Ted Hughes, by anSFU criminologist and sport-fishing buff, Ehor Boyanowsky. The book from publisher Douglas & McIntyre is billed as “an intimate portrait of a lifelong outdoorsman, conservationist and artist.”
    (A third finalist is The Golden Mean by alumna Annabel Lyon, winner of the 2009 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Lyon studied philosophy at SFU.)

  • When Bollywood choreographer and dance instructor Shiamak Davar came to SFU's Surrey campus for a guest lecture and dance demonstration this week, it attracted Indo-Canadian radio station RedFM, the Washington (DC) Times, and Surrey Now.

  • The Vancouver Sun did an advance feature on Sonic Boom, a new-music festival with dozens of composers writing in every conceivable idiom. “Composer-in-residence, presiding over the wild and sometimes willful event, is Simon Fraser University's Janet Danielson.”
    Said Danielson, an instructor in SFU Contemporary Arts: “The diversity of the festival is astonishing. The audience might get stylistic whiplash. Bring your neck brace." (It’s on at The Western Front in Vancouver, through Monday. Details:
    Burnaby Now also carried a story.


  • Education prof emeritus Paul Shaker was in big media demand as reporters followed up on plans for budget cuts and layoffs at the Vancouver School Board.
    Shaker told The Province, for one: “The percentage of the provincial budget that goes to public schools is at about 15 per cent now, and 20 years ago it was at about 26 per cent. It shows that education has not been maintaining much of a share of the provincial budget."
    The former dean of education then went on to interviews on the BC Almanac show on CBC Radio, on CKNW, CFAX Radio in Victoria and GlobalTV.

  • A website that tracks “grade inflation” at U.S. colleges and universities gave a positive “Sweet Sixteen” mark to SFU for avoiding grade inflation. (That’s a systemic process in which, over time, good grades and marks become steadily easier to get.)
    The website,, said this of SFU: ”Just across the Washington state border in beautiful British Columbia, SFU has avoided grade inflation as successfully as Celine Dion has avoided Tim Hortons (you might have to be Canadian to get that one). They are stingy with their A's, giving them only about 25 percent of the time.”

  • A column in the Tri-City News slapped Premier Campbell for his handling of post-secondary education. “Post-secondary education has suffered at Campbell's hands and students are poorer as a result. Simon Fraser University, for example, has lost 80 faculty and staff positions due to budget shortfalls after Campbell's Liberals broke their funding promises and clawed back $38 million from post- secondary institutions.”

  • Burnaby Now turned into a story an SFU news release on how “nine SFU students are getting help with their research-related travel expenses through the Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements, a research-related travel grant from the federal government.”

  • Columnist Robert Fulford quoted education prof Robin Barrow in a National Post blog. In it, Fulford slammed a report on campus racism, written by the Ontario section of the Canadian Federation of Students. Fulford concluded:
    “A university should teach students an ardent aversion to ‘the higher nonsense,’ the reigning clichés of the moment. Robin Barrow, professor of the philosophy of education at Simon Fraser University, has written that Canadian universities are not only unable to nurture this ability, ‘they are themselves rapidly becoming repositories of the 'higher nonsense.'"


  • SFU Athletics told media how athletes Robyn Buna and Colin Streckmann were named the 2010 Lorne Davies Female and Male Athletes of the Year by SFU Athletics.
    Buna, a kinesiology major and guard on the Clan women’s basketball team, finished off her Clan career in style, winning her third CIS national championship in four seasons, earning the 2010 CIS Player of the Year title, and the championship MVP award. Buna was also named the Clan’s top scholar-athlete with a grade point average of 4.19.
    Streckmann, in his final season with the Clan, had a spectacular campaign in 2009, lifting the Clan to the NAIA Final Four for the second time in three seasons. Streckmann was named NAIA and the Association of Independent Institutions Player of the Year, and a first team NAIA All-American.  
    Other 2010 Clan award winners were track and field’s Jane Channell, receiving the newly renamed Bernd Dittrich Hero Amongst Us award; women’s soccer star Cassie Newbrook, the Rick Jones Memorial Award for Courage; Clan soccer’s Helge Neumann, the Bill DeVries award for outstanding academic and athletic achievement; track and field’s Heather Mancell, the Senior Director’s Award; and the women’s basketball team, the President’s award.

  • The Burnaby NewsLeader (among others) reported: “The SFU Clan track and field team posted some scorching results despite cold and wet weather at the 2010 SFU Track and Field Open. . . . Clan sophomore and NAIA Indoor 800m champion Helen Crofts qualified for the NAIA National Championships in Indiana by winning the 1500m in 4:32:99. It was the first time Crofts had run that distance since grade nine.  Brianna Kane and Angela Shaw also qualified for the Nationals by finishing one-two in the 800m.
    “The women's 4X100m relay team of Jane Channell, Michaela Kane, Liza Whitehead and Andrea Abrams achieved the ‘B’ standard for the nationals by posting a time of 49.58.  . . . On the men's side, SFU steeplechaser Ryan Brockerville won the 1500m in 3:55.42 and Kevin Friesen won the 5000m in 14:54:77.”

  • SFU told media how Daniel Igali, 2000 Olympic gold medallist and SFU master’s student, would be inducted into the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame tonight (Friday, April 9.)
    The ceremony was to take place at the Burnaby campus, which is hosting the national juvenile and cadet national championships in high-school wrestling. That generated advance stories in media across Canada.

  • And SFU told media how the Clan golf program is back after a three-year hiatus. There’s a video that visits the golf team at their home course, the Vancouver Golf Club.

  • The Waterloo Region Record reported pitcher Shelby Kurt of Waterloo Collegiate Institute will join the SFU softball program in fall. She had offers from the U.S. but said of SFU: “I liked the girls, the campus and the coach (Mike Renney). He coached our national team for 12 years so he knows what he's doing. And getting a Canadian education is very important to me."


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