SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: July 12-16, 2010

The mayor of Vancouver’s f-word; and California’s coming vote on the m-word.
Both stories had SFU profs in the news during the week: Lindsay Meredith and Patrick Smith did interviews on the mayor’s f-bomb, and criminologist Rob Gordon spoke on the California vote on legalizing marijuana production.
And SFU told media how SFU computer technician Martin Cooper has left his stamp on the world of nature photography—and on mail sent via Canada Post.
More on these stories, and others, below.


  • CFAX Radio in Victoria talked to paleontologist Bruce Archibald about research into why the tropics have such a diversity of bird, plant and insect life.
    Not just a warmer climate, it seems, but lower seasonal variation in temperature—where the average temperature of the hottest and coolest month may vary by only a few degrees. One of the keys to the new theory: research on fossil insects in BC’s McAbee fossil site. (Archibald’s research is featured in the journal Paleobiology, at
    SFU sent out a news release, and the UK-based science website of posted the release on its site.

  • SFU also told media about vacancies in SFU’s Punjabi Language and Cultural Camp at the Surrey campus—and the Surrey-North Delta Leader and Surrey Now promptly picked up the story.
    “The camp is designed to help the children of Punjabi-speaking immigrant families familiarize themselves with their family’s first language and culture.” And Joanne Curry, executive director at SFU Surrey, said: "Based on last year's experience and feedback, many parents saw a difference in not only their children's language usage and comprehension, but also their attitude toward their heritage and culture. . . .The children became very enthusiastic."
    The camp runs July 19-30.

  • Lindsay Meredith, marketing prof in SFU Business, was on CBC-TV talking about BC Ferries treatment of a customer whose assured boarding card expired with $731 credit still on it. BC Ferries refused to extend her card, and told her she should have read the fine print on the card and on the BC Ferries website.
    “Not a particularly bright move on their part,” said Meredith. “Not how you treat your best customers.”

  • Province columnist Jon Ferry looked at moves to legalize—and tax—the production of marijuana in California. He quoted Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, as saying that if California Proposition 19 passes, big business might get involved.
    “(Gordon) noted that, when pot legalization was debated in England in the 1960s, at least one major tobacco firm geared up its London plant for production. 
    “Gordon, a former police officer, calls Proposition 19 a ‘revolutionary development.’ He himself favours the yes side, pointing to ‘the absurdity of trying to prohibit something that just simply manages to produce more crime . . . and more organized crime.’”

  • Vancouver Sun columnist Peter McKnight looked at restorative justice in theory and practice, and said in part: “Restorative justice  . . . benefits not only victims, but also helps to prevent more people from becoming victims. And it does so in a cost-effective or, indeed, a cost-saving, way. For these reasons, it has been suggested that RJ be extended to forums outside the conventional justice system: Brenda Morrison, co-director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University, advocates the use of RJ in schools. . . .”

  • Historian André Gerolymatos was in a story in the New Westminster NewsLeader on that city’s plans to offer an official apology to the Chinese community for the way its people were treated in the early days of the Royal City.
    Said Gerolymatos: “This is a good example for the rest of the country. It’s an uncommon thing, most places prefer to leave history in the past. Look at England’s relationship with the Irish. Or the Russians and the Georgians. Imagine the impact if they looked this way at their past.”

  • Susan M. Russell, First Nations languages coordinator and lecturer in SFU Linguistics, had a letter to the editor in The Vancouver Sun on proposals to give the park an aboriginal second name, Xwayxway:
    “Your editorial claims, oddly, that a ‘narrative’ of 10,000 years is no more valid than one of 500 years. Disregarding your dubious numbers (current scholarship suggests the local aboriginal presence goes back 30,000 years, and 500 years is stretching it in the case of Europeans in Vancouver), surely you must notice that one narrative is longer than the other. Also perplexing is your claim that Xwayxway is unpronounceable. Can you say ‘why’? Now, say it twice.”

  • The Province quoted SFU criminologist David MacAlister in a story about the public release of a police video showing a conversation between an undercover officer and alleged drunk driver Carol Berner. (Berner is charged in the 2008 death of Alexa Middelaer, 4, of Delta).
    “MacAlister said it is unusual to see undercover operations involving drunk-driving charges, noting that such high-cost investigations are generally reserved for major drug and homicide cases. . . . ‘If the public sees something out of context, then it might be taken the wrong way,’ he said. ‘But I think it is good that the public gets to see what is going on.’"

  • Burnaby Now ran a story on how new research led by SFU Health Sciences prof Benedikt Fischer recommends an end to Canada’s one-size-fits-all approach to managing the health impacts of cannabis use. The story was from a June 10 news release from SFU.

  • The carried a feature on Ubuntu, the most popular desktop variant of the Linux operating system. It quoted SFU computer scientist Toby Donaldson:  “I think the passion comes from the fact that many of the users are early adopters with a pioneering spirit. Plus, since Linux is a community project and not the product of a particular company, the evangelists for it tend to be the users.”

  • news-and-commentary website did a story on a report on the proposed Prosperity Mine on Fish Lake in the Chilcotin region. The report, by Marvin Shaffer, consulting economist and adjunct prof in SFU’s graduate public policy department, said the mine would cost British Columbians at least $20 million a year, with hydro subsidies and other costs dwarfing any benefits the mine might create.

  • Honorary degree recipient Alexandra Morton, a marine biologist, was in a Province story, saying wild salmon will be better protected when the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans assumes responsibility for BC fish farms this year.
    "The good thing about the federal government regulating this industry is that they are actually responsible for the wild fish. . . . It sounds like there might be more inspections, and they're saying it's going to be more transparent so that the public will be able to actually look at the licences. But there's [still] a big concern about disease reporting, and the reign of secrecy with this [fish-farming] industry around disease that has been going on since at least 1992."


  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was on CBC Radio’s national news, talking about Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s pungent and accidentally public language.
    Meredith’s message: The mayor’s use of the f-word was bad enough “but much worse was calling a group of voters asking to speak their mind at council a bunch of (censored) NPA hacks.”
    Still, Meredith said, the mayor did win better recovery marks (B+) than former U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown.  Meredith gave Brown an F for his non-apology after calling a woman voter bigoted.   “Gregor knows how to apologize.”
    In a later story, The Vancouver Sun quoted political science prof Patrick Smith on the issue:
    “(Smith) thinks the on-mike conversation of Robertson calling presenters ‘hacks’ will convince some the mayor is not interested in public dialogue. ‘He and the other council members have got their work cut out for them. People are going to be a lot more skeptical. What the mayor faces is a substantial portion of the local electorate who will now be from Missouri, the “show me” state,’ Smith said. ‘They're going to want the mayor to show them council is truly listening to them.’"

  • The Monday Morning Manager column in the Globe and Mail cited a couple of SFU Business profs on decision-making:
    “If you were asked which should come first—the decision or the evidence for the decision—you undoubtedly would pick the evidence . . . But we don't always act that way. Sometimes we decide first, and then seek the evidence to back our decision.
    “In an article in MIT Sloan Management Review, Peter Tingling and Michael Brydon of Simon Fraser University call this approach ‘decision-based evidence-making,’ and say it's more common than we acknowledge.  . . . The writers suggest it may have contributed to Enron's downfall, as risk analysis became a charade when the company was determined to enter a blizzard of new fields.”
    (The MITSloan article is at

  • PlanetEarth online carried a story based on a paper co-authored by John D. Reynolds of SFU Biological Sciences. The subject: “Between two and 12 million wild snakes are taken from Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia every year in the largest snake hunt in the world.” But what to do about it? The original paper ran in Biological Conservation. (The Planet Earth story is at


  • Scotland’s Glasgow Evening Times reported a record number of entries—239 bands and more than 8,000 pipers and drummers—has been received for the World Pipe Band Championships to be held there next month. “Visitors from across the globe come to the city to watch the very best bands in the world compete for the coveted world title, currently held by Simon Fraser University Pipe Band from Canada.”
    Meanwhile, CFJC-TV in Kamloops carried video of the SFU Pipe Band performing at the Kamloops Highland Games last weekend.
    And KPTV in Portland OR told viewers the band will play tomorrow (Saturday July 17) at the Portland Highland Games in Gresham OR.


  • Maclean’s’ magazine’s “on campus” website looked at how the transition from high school to university can be difficult. “Rey Buenaventura, an academic advisor at Simon Fraser University, says, ‘No one is checking that they’ve done their homework. Nobody is checking on their attendance that closely. Sometimes students feel like there is no one who really cares about what they do, whether they even show up. That can be a problem. (And) in a class of 500 students, the professor isn’t going to come to you; you have to go to the professor.”

  • The Globe and Mail reported that the University of Toronto is looking at a new 30- to 40-storey student residence, built next to its downtown campus and funded by a private equity firm. The story included this: “Canadian universities are turning to the private sector to solve their campus housing problems.  . . .  Simon Fraser University in British Columbia is among the schools seeking private investors for public residences.”

  • The federal government told media that SFU student Joel Cardinal has won the national Aboriginal Essay Competition 2010, with Advancing Canadian Foreign Policy by Addressing First Nations Issues. Cardinal was then invited to join a Canadian delegation to this week’s session of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • A guest column in the Arizona Daily Star reported: “The Arizona Department of Education plans to bar teachers with ‘heavily accented or ungrammatical’ speech from classrooms with English-learning children.” The column, from three educators, said in part:
    “Scientific research tells us that ‘heavily accented speech’ is not necessarily hard to understand. Tracey Derwing of the University of Alberta and Murray Munro of Simon Fraser University report that ‘one of the most robust findings that has emerged from every study we have done on intelligibility … [is] it is possible to be completely intelligible and yet be perceived as having a heavy accent.’"

  • The Bonnyville (AB) Nouvelle reported local student Alexandra Wagner was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Citizenship Medal for community service—and a $5,000 cheque.  “Wagner spent the past school year in the International Studies program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and plans to go back in the fall. However, she is also on her way to Swaziland in Africa to help build houses and community centres under the ‘Developing World Connections; program for the next month.”

  • The Stanford Daily at Stanford University did a story on Stanford doctoral student Adrian Myers leading an archaeological study of a World War II prison camp for German PoWs, located in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park. The story noted:
    “Simon Fraser University undergraduate Jerram Ritchie helped Myers with the initial fieldwork in 2009 and returns as a field technician with the expanded research team this summer. ‘You read about World War II, you don’t really think about German PoWs being in national parks doing lumber work in Canada, so it seemed like a pretty unique thing,’ Ritchie said.”


  • The Vancouver Sun told readers: “Lorne Davies, the man who coached over 2,000 football players during a career that spanned 30 years, celebrates his 80th birthday on Aug. 6 with a bash at the Diamond Club on the SFU campus. Tickets are $80 and available by calling 604-462-0081. Proceeds go toward athletic scholarships at SFU.”  Davies was SFU’s first football coach and founding director of SFU Athletics, serving from 1965 to 1995.

  • SFU Athletics told sports media about the coming NCAA season of the Clan volleyball team. SFU begins in Los Angeles at the Poly Pomona/Cal State LA Tournament Sept. 2-4. The Clan’s home opener is against Central Washington Sept. 8.

  • Athletics also advised media that SFU Recreation & Athletics has been given a defibrillator from Medtronic Canada Ltd. as part of the legacy of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.  “The defibrillator will be located in a public area so anyone suffering sudden cardiac arrest can be given immediate assistance. The use of a defibrillator—which delivers a shock to the victim's chest to help reset the heart's normal rhythm—can literally mean the difference between life and death, while emergency services are called.”

  • The Richmond News ran a story on how some SFU Business students are keeping the World Cup soccer fever alive.
    “The students are offering low-income children an opportunity to experience the game with a one-day camp. ‘A few friends and I are organizing a community event called Beyond the Game,’ said Tony Jing. ‘We are part of a project management course at SFU that requires us to host a community project.’ . . . .  Jing, along with his Richmond fellow SFU students—Alfred De Vera, Rafael Gi, Ivan Ma and Grace Hui—are hosting a one-day soccer camp this Saturday, July 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Steveston Community Centre.”

  • The Cowichan News Leader Pictorial reported that high-school star Angela Richards will be going to SFU. “Angela Richards plans to become a teacher. She was recruited by the SFU coach to play a power positions and is looking forward to that challenge.”

  • The Vancouver Sun did advance stories on games of Canada’s national women’s basketball team against Chile and Sweden in the Lower Mainland this weekend. It noted the roster includes former SFU stars Teresa Gabriele, point guard, and Allison McNeil, head coach.


  • Radio Canada International interviewed student Chantelle Chand who, with student Nidhi Nayyar, is using a $500 Changemakers award to draw attention to the high incidence of cervical cancer in the Lower Mainland’s South Asian community. They are urging more Indo-Canadian women to get pap tests.
    The Surrey-North Delta Leader also featured the two. Meanwhile, the multicultural newspaper Mosaic in Edmonton ran the June 28 SFU news release on Chand and Nayyar.

  • Mosaic also ran a news release on the current Vancouver photo exhibit co-sponsored by the SFU Gallery and SFU’s Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures. BESA, Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II, runs through Oct. 29 in the Teck Gallery, Harbour Centre campus.

  • The City Life column in National Post noted that “Eight hundred alumni and friends gathered at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver recently to bid farewell to Simon Fraser University's outgoing president, Dr. Michael Stevenson, and his wife, Jan Whitford.” The Fred Lee column continued:
    “Under Stevenson's bold and passionate leadership over the past decade, the university's Burnaby campus has grown tremendously, with new research and teaching facilities. Stevenson also oversaw the creation of the following: UniverCity, the award-winning residential complex on Burnaby Mountain; the expansion of the downtown campus, championing SFU Contemporary Arts at Woodward's in the downtown eastside; and a new campus in Surrey, the cornerstone of Surrey Central's redevelopment plan. . . . In Stevenson's honour, friends of the university raised $636,000 towards the Michael Stevenson Presidential Legacy Endowment Fund, which will provide scholarships for graduate students for generations to come.”

  • The Globe and Mail ran its second story in two weeks saying that SFU research finds there’s a speed limit on the information super-highways that route important messages through the nervous systems of animals.


  • SFU tipped media that Martin Cooper’s shot of a heron at rest in Burnaby’s Gray Creek took top prize at the recent Canadian Wildlife Photography Contest—and is now featured on a Canada Post stamp. Cooper, a computer technician in SFU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has been photographing urban wildlife for more than 20 years. “It's a great feeling having my photo on a stamp; even better when I get mail with the stamp on the front of the envelope.”

  • SFU also spread the word that SFU’s first-ever First Book competition has drawn 200 entries from as far away as Italy and New Zealand. Three winners will be announced at the October 2010 Vancouver International Writers Festival.

  • SFU Business let business media know that The Journal of International Business Studies, the world’s top-rated journal in the field of international business, has appointed SFU Business prof David Thomas as its area editor for cross-cultural management. Thomas is director of the Centre for Global Workforce Strategy at SFU Business and a professor of international business.

  • SFU Venture Connection told media how Joyent, Inc. of San Francisco has purchased Layerboom, a high-tech company started under the Venture Connection umbrella by executive MBA student Howie Wu. It’s the first protégé firm from SFU Venture Connection to score such a success.

  • And the university told media about Project4Pets, a class project undertaken by five SFU Business students. Fourth-year students Whitney Law, Michael Liang and Lynzee Bewcyk and third-year students Reza Andalib and Kelly Pang are mounting Talented Tails. It’s a pet talent show in East Vancouver to raise money for HugABull, a non-profit rescue and advocacy group which has resettled more than 400 abused and abandoned pit bulls. (The show is at Britannia High School’s tennis courts in Vancouver on Sunday [July 18] from noon to 5 pm.)


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