SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Feb. 19-26, 2010

Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. . . .
As a change of pace from all the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage, SFU scientists were very much alive in the news media during the week.
Among the stories was research into the impact of dust in the atmosphere, and into the continuing impact of ash from a volcanic eruption 10,000 years ago.
There was also a national story about research into falls by older adults, plus stories about a portable device that can help determine if athletes (and others) will thrive or struggle in extreme environments, and about a tiny gadget that can enable you to adjust your home furnace, check whether your arteries are plugging up, and pinpoint the location of your child.


  • Science Daily carried a story on research by SFU’s Karen Kohfeld, who says dust—the tiny particles that float around in the earth’s atmosphere—may have contributed 10,000 years ago to the end of the Ice Age.
    Kohfeld, Canada Research Chair on Climate Resources and Global Change at SFU, published a paper in Advances in Science, a publication of the Royal Society of London.
    Meanwhile, wrote about Kohlfeld’s presentation to the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference:
    “Kohfeld . . . focused on the interaction of dust with the ocean carbon cycle in her presentation in San Diego. Dust contains iron and other nutrients essential for many organisms. When it fertilizes oceans and freshwater bodies, it can promote growth of vegetation, which in turn consumes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  . . . ‘Dust is a really good example of how land, atmosphere and climate are connected,’ she said.”
    SFU had sent out a news release on the research. The CBC Radio science program, Quirks & Quarks, promptly pursued Kohfeld as well.

  • Canwest News Service ran a story on SFU research showing a massive volcanic eruption in Alaska, that blanketed much of northwest Canada with ash 1,000 years ago, was the likely cause of major changes in Yukon caribou populations that are still seen today.
    "In North America, the outlook for caribou is grim, in particular for the forest-dwelling woodland caribou, almost exclusively found in Canada," said the team led by SFU biologist Tyler Kuhn, in the journal Molecular Ecology. "Understanding the relationships among herds is important, but understanding how herds react to environmental changes through time is equally necessary for us to manage caribou properly."
    We first saw the story in The Vancouver Sun, Nanaimo Daily News and Montreal Gazette. Then it turned up as far away as India’s Hindustan Times. And it ran on the website.
    CBC News also did a story, noting grad-student Kuhn recovered short strands of DNA from caribou bones found in ice patches in the Yukon. “Kuhn and his colleagues  . . .  compared the ancient DNA to that of caribou living in the area today and found it didn't match. The local population isn't related to herds currently living to the north, east or west, either, the researchers said. They concluded that the herd is a recent arrival to the area, possibly from farther south.”

  • The Canadian Press wrote a national story on a new SFU study that visually captures how older adults fall, and helps researchers determine ways to prevent and minimize the effects of falls. The story was generated by another SFU news release.

  • The CTV Olympics website ( ran a story on SFU’s portable breath-monitoring-and-manipulation device that can help determine if athletes (and others) will thrive or struggle in extreme environments.
    "'It's like having a portable Mount Everest, ocean floor, or smog-filled city,’ says Simon Fraser environmental physiologist Matthew White.”
  • The Georgia Straight and T-Net British Columbia, a newsletter of the BC technology industry, were quick to do stories on how wireless sensor technology invented at SFU can enable you to adjust your home furnace, check whether your arteries are plugging up, and pinpoint the location of your child, all with a tap of the same quarter-sized brooch.


  • Public policy prof Kennedy Stewart was in a New York Times story that looked at the costs of the Winter Olympics, under the headline “A $1 Billion Hangover From an Olympic Party”.
    The Times (circulation 1.2 million) wrote:Kennedy Stewart, a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University in suburban Vancouver who has written extensively about the city’s politics, remains unconvinced that showing potential investors a good time during the Olympics will resolve Vancouver’s long-term economic issues. The forestry industry, once the mainstay of its economy, has been devastated by a beetle infestation, the collapse of the housing market in the United States and competition from South America. While motion picture production companies and software developers have set up shop here in recent years, they lack the same economic impact.
    “‘What’s the substantive thing Vancouver has to offer other than its nice mountains and vastly overpriced real estate?’ Professor Stewart asked. ‘The forestry industries have collapsed, so where is the money going to come from other than marijuana grow-ops?’”
    Stewart’s quote was reproduced in a green blog written for the Christian Science Monitor.

  • Earlier, the Globe and Mail looked at the City of Vancouver’s chances of making a profit by selling condo units at the Olympic Athletes Village. Among those quoted was Michael Geller, developer and adjunct prof in the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development. He said the project will likely sell at prices high enough to recover the $800 million in construction costs. "But I am worried about the city recovering the $193 million it was supposed to get for its land."

  • Still, the Globe and Mail wrote about the “exuberant embrace” Vancouverites have given to the games. “Urban expert Gordon Price of Simon Fraser University said he expected the city to respond positively to the Olympics, but the scale of the celebration caught him off guard. ‘I went down to the area in front of the [Olympic] cauldron, and my mouth dropped to see the crowds of people there, engaged in this great community event.’"

  • Oprah Winfrey sported a pair of those red Olympic mittens on her TV show—and The Canadian Press news agency wrote a national story that included this:
    “It’s another touchstone moment in the sudden rise of Canadian patriotism, said marketing professor Lindsay Meredith at Simon Fraser University. ‘Finally, it looks like Canadian nationalism has come out of the closet,’ he said.”

  • The Georgia Straight, though, carried a story on the potential downside of such expressed nationalism. It quoted assistant prof Michael Schmitt of SFU Psychology:
    “The same kinds of national pride that we might see around the Olympics can be used to help to create justification and support for military endeavours in other states. That, in some ways, is the potentially more dangerous side of what otherwise seems pretty harmless: that these identities do get used to fulfill particular political ends.”

  • The St. Catharine’s (ON) Standard carried an Osprey Media newsfeature on how police and authorities should handle protesters after a trying first week at the Olympics.  “Robert Gordon, the head of criminology at Simon Fraser University, said it's time for the city to come up with a process to holding protesters accountable for their actions through a permit system.
    "It works beautifully in other cities. These groups have been able to march with minimal escort or organization. Sooner or later we're going to have two warring groups meet and the police will be right in the middle of it."

  • Meanwhile, News1130 Radio in Vancouver quoted Bruce Alexander, psychology prof emeritus and addictions researcher, on the rowdy drinking in the streets that led to early closures of liquor stores last weekend. "Of course people act insanely--it's not too surprising.  All the things which make it possible for us to drink reasonably, almost all the time, are not there."

  • The Globe and Mail and CTV carried stories on a police search of the Athletes Village in Vancouver, following discovery of “suspicious notations on a map of the village” that was found at Whistler. “André Gerolymatos, a security Olympics expert at Simon Fraser University, said he felt the Mounties should not have publicized the possible threat. ‘It does more harm than good. It brings to the forefront that there could be something. The less talk about terrorism, about threats, so much the better,’ Prof. Gerolymatos said.”

  • The Vancouver Sun looked at the sales of Olympic merchandise, with huge lineups and frenzied buying at the Hudson’s Bay and Roots stores.
    “Roots and The Bay both deny any suggestion of a special Olympic rivalry between them. But Simon Fraser University marketing Prof. Lindsay Meredith said each company is going flat out to grab as many customers as they can before they reach the other guy's doors.
    “’It's like salmon fishing. If you can hit that magic 20 minutes when they're biting, they'll jump into the boat. If they're not biting, you're screwed."

  • Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, was in a Vancouver Sun story on the early success of transit and transportation plans during the Olympics—thanks to the "goodness and cooperation of the people using it." Said Perl: “The transportation is doing as well or better than planned. The long waits are relative. The one thing we know for sure is if these people were in cars the line-ups would be never-ending. They're still moving."
    The Globe and Mail wondered if the success of transit use during the games means Vancouver could get better funding for transit after the Olympics. “Gordon Price, a former city councillor now director of the city program at Simon Fraser University, said among the key issues are whether it is possible to galvanize support for a new TransLink funding model, and how to pay for an ongoing streetcar system.”
    Price also hailed the transit success in the Surrey-North Delta Leader: “You now have a public that sees the possibility. We just conducted the greatest controlled traffic experiment in North America."
    But, he continued: “Here's the embarrassment—now they (TransLink) cut it all back. They drop the third SeaBus. They can't proceed with the frequent transit network. They can't do what they say they want to do that we could do and that we know works."

  • One of CTV’s daily Olympic segments on the Canada AM show during the week was filmed live from the Royal Canadian Mint exhibition at SFU’s Segal Graduate School of Business. It features the casting of the 2010 Olympic medals, and has on display a $1-million gold coin. And CTV News did some filming at German House—otherwise known as SFU at Harbour Centre.

  • The Voice of America, which last week featured the Mint exhibition, featured this week the Proctor & Gamble “Family Home”, where U.S. Olympians, their families and friends can (and do) gather. “It is in a convenient downtown location in the multi-story Wosk Center, which is part of Simon Fraser University.”

  • Criminologist Neil Boyd wrote a guest column/blog for The Vancouver Sun: “There is no shortage of potential issues of protest in Vancouver and beyond (but) it's time to join the party. None of our issues of concern are going to disappear from the political agenda, and raising them now as part of an anti-Olympic agenda—confronting the dedication, effort and joy of athletic excellence—seems to be little more than a display of misplaced anger or sulky self-indulgence.”

  • SFU’s West House, open in Yaletown as an Olympic-period demonstration on sustainability, stars in an SFU video of on YouTube at This week, the City of Vancouver posted its own video that features West House, starring profs Lyn Bartram and Rob Woodbury of the SFU Interactive Arts and Technology. It’s at:
    West House was also featured on the civic issues website of

  • Rochester Software Associates Inc. told media how SFU Document Solutions is using Rochester’s WebCRD software as SFU prints the daily German newsletter for the Olympics.  The news release noted the 12-page colour newsletter is printed overnight, and is distributed to Olympic locations by 9 a.m. Raj Nadrajan, director of auxiliary services for SFU, said: “Germany knows quality printing, but with traditional presses there was not enough time to create and print these newsletters in the tight daily timeline.” Graphic Arts Online picked up the Rochester release.


  • In a blog for National Post, Jon Kesselman, public policy prof and public finance expert, proposed that if Ottawa has to raises taxes to balance the budget by 2015 (as it has promised) then it should use a progressive-tax approach and not just increase GST. “Consumption-type taxes can be increased in a progressive manner via personal tax reforms rather than through the regressive GST.”

  • Kesselman was also in the Globe and Mail in a story on possible reforms of the Canada Pension Plan. “To Prof. Kesselman, the road to an enriched CPP is a rocky one.  . . . An enriched CPP would upset the financial-services industry and voters would question whether they want another 2 to 3 per cent out of their paycheques. ‘Over all, I would not be surprised to see very little happen,’ he said.”

  • Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, was in a story in Montreal’s La Presse newspaper that reported Ottawa is renewing its multi-million-dollar support for the hydrogen industry—a move criticized by transport experts such as Perl.
    "‘The industry strategy has been completely discredited, Mr. Perl said in an interview. ‘Hydrogen has no future as an alternative fuel. It is time to end government subsidies to the industry.’"

  • The Globe and Mail featured Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, “bringing her ideas to reality” with big redevelopment plans for the city. The Globe quoted Warren Gill, geographer and SFU’s V-P of university relations. “Remaking a downtown is no one-term job, says Warren Gill, an urban- issues expert at Simon Fraser University. ‘Previous administrations would always change their minds. There was no focus.’"
    Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail’s architecture critic wrote about the new face of Surrey: “Surrey is aiming to position itself a city with a distinct aesthetic. This inspiration comes from Surrey Central City. . . . There, (architect Bing) Thom converted an existing regional shopping mall into an elegant retail complex and office tower, topped with a satellite campus of Simon Fraser University. For the galleria, he invented a roof structure—fashioned from ‘peeler cores’, the formerly wasted inner rings of logs that have been stripped for plywood—that is as exhilarating as it is intricate.”

  • Speaking of Surrey: The Province and the Surrey-North Delta Leader told readers that designs entered in Surrey’s "TownShift" urban design competition will be on display at SFU’s Surrey campus until Feb. 28.

  • Kennedy Stewart, associate prof in SFU Public Policy, had a letter to the editor in the Penticton Herald (along with political scientist Patrick Smith) calling for “an Election Act that will help make the whole thing more palatable to every voter in every municipality in B.C.”  The two had issued last week a report calling for strict spending and contribution limits for BC municipal elections, including a total ban on corporate and union donations. (The report is in a PDF at

  • Fox News reported that a 20-year ban on loaded guns in U.S. national parks has ended.  Among those cited was Gary Mauser, SFU prof emeritus and gun-control guru.  “Wild animals also sometimes do attack humans, and guns can come in handy. According to a study by Professor Gary Mauser at Simon Fraser University, guns were used about 36,000 times a year to stop animal attacks in Canada.”

  • Canwest News Service carried a national feature on how parents can protect children’s health during winter vacations in the tropics. One doctor quoted was Dianne Vosloo of SFU Health and Counselling and the Travel Medicine and Vaccination Centre in Vancouver. We saw the story in the Ottawa Citizen and the Montreal Gazette.

  • Also in the Ottawa Citizen: a Canwest story from last week on Ottawa ruling that a Canadian line of genetically engineered pigs is safe for the environment. It could be a long time before they could be approved for consumption. "But Patricia Howard, a biotechnology and public policy expert at Simon Fraser University, doesn't think Health Canada is up to the job—nor does she think the Canadian public is ready to embrace transgenic pork on their dinner plates anytime soon." Howard is a retired SFU Communication prof. Meat Trade News Daily also ran a story.

  • Calgary-based Fast Forward Weekly quoted criminologist John Lowman, who has studied prostitution for almost four decades. "If off-street prostitution was as violent as on-street prostitution, we should be reading about hundreds of murders of escort and massage parlour workers, but we're not. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but the prohibitionists say 'As long as there's a single murder of an off-street prostitute, it shows that prostitution is inherently violent.' It does nothing of the sort."


  • “Enjoy weird science at SFU Surrey's open house.” That was the headline in the Surrey-North Delta Leader, referring to the Surrey campus open house set for March 4 from 4:30-8:30 p.m.  The Leader quoted Matthew Grant, enrollment manager at the campus:
    “You can tour the campus, watch the entertainment on the mezzanine floor, hear presentations on academic programs, view student projects and faculty demonstrations, see interactive displays, ask questions of our many university participants, and win prizes.”

  • Kamloops This Week looked at the potential closure of the SFU program on the Kamloops First Nation land.  The paper quoted SFU’s vice-president academic, Jon Driver, as saying that, despite several talks with the band, nothing has come to fruition to save the school.
    “It’s just not sustainable. The cost of running the campus is twice as much as a regular campus and the physical building is deteriorating. . . .
    “It really is unique . . . quite possibly the only one like it in Canada, where the campus is located on aboriginal land and in partnership with the band. This makes it even more upsetting to think about closing it because, even though it’s quite small, it’s been quite successful.”

  • Driver also did a long interview with CBC Radio in Halifax. This for a CBC story on Dalhousie’s plans to partner with Australian company Navitas in a private college to give university-preparation courses to international students.  Driver noted that Fraser International College at SFU had brought SFU high-quality international students, the ability to recruit from countries that we don't usually recruit from, and extra revenue for the University.


  • The Otago Daily Times in New Zealand featured Lisa Adie, 14, a pipe-band drummer who has won a scholarship to the Piping Hot Summer Drummer School, run by the world-champion SFU Pipe Band at the Silver Star resort, near Vernon. One day Adie hopes to play for the band: “I look up to their standard of playing. They're world champions. They're my role models."


SFU Athletics, fed media facts and figures as:

  • The No. 1-ranked Clan women’s basketball team defeated the University of Winnipeg Wesmen 87-54 in the opening game of the Pacific Division finals at SFU Burnaby Feb. 25. Laurelle Weigl led the Clan with 18 points. Game 2 is tonight (Friday Feb. 26) at 6:15 pm in SFU’s West Gym, with a third game scheduled for Saturday at 1 pm if necessary.

  • The same night, the Clan men lost 77-71 to the University of Regina Cougars in their first playoff game. Chas Kok and Kevin Shaw each had 16 points for the Clan. Game 2 will be tonight (Friday Feb. 26) at 8:15 pm in SFU’s West Gym. If necessary, Game 3 will be on Saturday at 3 pm.
    Several sports media noted the men’s series pits SFU’s Jordan Nostedt against his brother Sterling, who plays for the Cougars. Sterling Nostedt got the Cougars off to a quick start Thursday and scored nine points. Jordan carded four for the Clan.

  • SFU wrestler Victoria Anthony was named Canada West female wrestler and Rookie of the Year. And wrestler Raj Virdi was named male Outstanding Wrestler and Canada West Athlete of the Week. This after the Clan men's team won six of 10 weight classes, and its seventh consecutive Canada West wrestling title, in Calgary.

  • Meanwhile, the Association of Independent Institutions named Clan wrestler Arjan Bhullar male Athlete of the Week. He won the 285-lb title for second year at the 2010 NAIA West Regionals in Havre MT.

  • The Clan softball team wrapped up a Hawaii tour at 4-2 after defeating Chaminade University Swords 10-0 and 7-0. In earlier games, the women  beat BYU-Hawaii Seasiders 13-1 and 9-0, but lost to Hawaii Pacific 6-0 and 2-1.


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