July 2, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: June 18-July 2, 2010

“T. Rex Plodded Like an Elephant, Nerve Study Says”.
With that headline became the first international news outlet to feature a new SFU study on the speed of transmission of signals in the nervous systems of animals. And research leader Max Donelan was then interviewed by the New York Times, the As it Happens show on CBC Radio, and others.
Also on the international scene: Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, on CNBC News, talking about how the trucking industry needs to reduce its dependence on oil.
More below on these and other SFU stories in the news media.

  • was quick to do a story on new SFU research that finds there’s a speed limit on the information super-highways that route important messages through the nervous systems of animals. And while it may make larger mammals slower than their more petite animal kingdom cousins, it may also make them smarter.
    Biomedical physiology and kinesiology prof Max Donelan and graduate student Heather More led the study, published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
    You can see the National Geographic story at Donelan then did interviews with the New York Times, the As it Happens show on CBC Radio (which relayed the program to a number of National Public Radio stations in the U.S.), and the Globe and Mail. The Vancouver Sun was first to do a BC story. Canwest News Service sent that to clients across the country, and it quickly ran in the Calgary Herald.
    The Switzerland-based science website Insciences.Org picked SFU’s news release.

  • Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies and a fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, was on CNBC News, saying the trucking industry needs to do more to reduce its dependence on oil, and could start by using electric vehicles for local deliveries.
    “Start following the Port of Los Angeles experiment on local trucks that are electric powered.  . . .They are running up to 60 miles on a charge. And local distribution should be more electric. That’s the place to start. .  .
    “We need to start with the space around major distribution centres in metropolitan areas. The first 25% could be done within a 100-mile radius of the 20 biggest cities, and you would have enough trucks to be dedicated to that kind of service. We have to start thinking outside the box. The next 10 years will have more change in our transportation than the last 40 have, and the modes that cannot handle that will not be playing as big a role in the future.”
    (The CNBC video is at

  • Historian and security expert André Gerolymatos was in the Toronto Star in a story that preceded demonstrations and the torching of police cars around the G20 summit in Ontario. “The G20 is a stage for (anarchists), and they want to perform and get the attention of the media. . . . Violence works if there are enough bodies on the ground to make people take notice and make people think, whether right or wrong." He added: "These kinds of protests are costing $1 billion in security. That could go towards poverty instead."

  • Then Gerolymatos was in a national post-summit story from Canwest News Service, saying those who taunted and provoked the police in Toronto will likely inspire others to do the same at future gatherings of world leaders.
    “Within the population, there are small groups that are attracted to the violence. They want to tell their friends, ‘I duked it out with cops.'''
    We first spotted this one in the Ottawa Citizen and the Sherbrooke (PQ) Record.

  • The Canadian Press quoted marketing prof Lindsay Meredith in a national story on the impact of the new HST on homebuyers and landlords. It noted he was one of many who poured funds into renovating his home before the tax took effect.
    “‘I suspect you're going to see lethargy in the market for probably a good chunk of the summer,’ he said, explaining people will hold off making purchases while feeling poorer because of higher costs.”

  • Canwest News Service reported that sex-addiction counsellors are slamming tentative approval of the creation of a “” domain for adult-oriented websites. The story included this:
    G. Elijah Dann, a philosophy instructor at Simon Fraser University, said Friday those criticizing the creation of the .xxx domain might be better off spending their time looking at the broader issue of why so many are drawn to pornography in the first place, and the mistreatment of people—particularly women—who work in the industry.”  (Dann teaches a biomedical ethics course in the SFU Seniors Program.)


  • The news website quickly picked up an SFU news release and photo on how two SFU students who are the first recipients of the new $500 Changemakers award are using it to draw attention to the high incidence of cervical cancer in the Lower Mainland’s South Asian community.
    “Chantelle Chand and Nidhi Nayyar want more Indo-Canadian women to get pap tests,” said the website, under the headline “Only 28 per cent of Indo-Canadian women get pap smears.”
    RED-FM radio, serving the Indo-Canadian market, interviewed Chand and Nayyar. The Canadian Press also pursued them.

  • The Province looked at an SFU conference on the ethics of medical tourism. “Medical tourism is a rapidly expanding health industry, says health geographer Valorie Crooks, who has examined some of the ethical issues involved in crossing borders to access health-care services.” Also in the story: Jeremy Snyder, bioethicist in SFU Health Sciences.
    CBC-TV also did a story on the conference, and that ran on CHEK-TV in Victoria as well.

  • The North Shore News and North Shore Outlook featured SFU Communication student Richard Loat who is on a cross-Canada hockey tour, with community members in nine communities coming out to play road hockey to support local food banks.
    The initiative, Five Hole For Food: A Cross-Canada Road Hockey Trip, ends in Vancouver July 9 in the 800-block of Granville Street at 5:30 p.m. Interested players of all ages are encouraged to bring their sticks. Donations of food for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank will be collected. (Info:
    The Montreal Gazette also ran a story on Loat’s campaign. “The whole thing started because I wanted to drive across the country. But I wanted the trip back to be something more."

  • The Vancouver Sun covered a community day event at Sliammon on the Sunshine Coast. “The community day is a collaboration between Sliammon, Simon Fraser University's archeology field school and helpful agencies in Powell River. SFU archeologist Dana Lepofsky is back in Sliammon with her colleague John Welch and a dozen or so students for the third consecutive summer. The excavations and story-gathering taking place here are part of a five-year agreement between the Tla'amin and SFU.”
    Neil Boyd, associate director of SFU Criminology, was on Joytv on cable, talking about the book he co-authored: A Thousand Dreams: Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the Fight for its Future. His co-authors were Larry Campbell, a former Vancouver mayor and now a senator, and Lori Culbert, a Vancouver Sun reporter.

  • The Province and the Vancouver edition of Metro wrote about a report by the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users that called for traffic changes to protect pedestrians on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, including a 30-kmh speed limit on Hastings Street. “The report, paid for by the City of Vancouver to the tune of $65,000, found that 32 per cent of residents on the Downtown Eastside had been hit by a car. It stemmed from a study done last year by Simon Fraser University that suggested most pedestrian injuries in Vancouver occur in and around Hastings Street.”

  • Metro alsoreported on a federal private member’s bill that NDP MP Fin Donnelly says could save BC’s wild salmon without devastating the aquaculture industry. “Dr. Larry Dill, a marine biologist and professor at Simon Fraser University, says B.C.’s salmon species are resilient, and would return to healthy numbers within 10 to 20 years if the legislation passes.” The New Westminster NewsLeader also did a story.


  • Columnist Malcolm Parry in The Vancouver Sun told readers: ”Survivors of Simon Fraser University's rough-clad and rambunctious 1960s days might have had their gases flabbered by the gowned and black-tied folk who crowded the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's B.C. Ballroom Thursday. Close to 800—including incoming president Andrew Petter—bid a warm adieu to Michael Stevenson, who ended a decade as the mountaintop varsity's eighth prexy and will begin his first sabbatical since 1983.
    “Stevenson's wife, Jan Whitford, said they'll renovate a Kitsilano house bought in 2003, and visit her native South Africa late next year. As for returning to the fiction writing at which Stevenson showed promise, Whitford said: ‘If I have anything to do with it, he will.’ Methinks she'll have plenty to do with it.”
    Columnist Fred Lee in the Vancouver Courier also noted: ”In honour of his many accomplishments, including the SFU Contemporary Arts move to the Woodward's site, a Presidential Legacy Endowment Fund was announced in Stevenson's name to fund graduate scholarships.” The fund has already raised $636,000.


  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was in a Black Press newspapers story on how a special prosecutor will consider laying charges in the death of Robert Dziekanski, who was Tasered by RCMP.  “That opens up potential charges of perjury or obstructing justice, according to SFU criminologist Rob Gordon, adding that may be easier to prove than criminal intent to cause Dziekanski's death.”

  • Gordon was also in a CBC story on how a Vancouver care-home patient with Alzheimer's disease might be forced into a psychiatric unit because her family refuses to allow care-home staff to sedate her.  Gordon said the care home could indeed use B.C.'s Mental Health Act to send Elliott to a psychiatric ward, but "That's not what [the act] is there for. It's a misuse, and I think it's a charter violation."

  • And Gordon was in a Victoria Times Colonist story on the BC government’s lack of speed in determining which model will be used for civilian oversight of police. “What surprises me is that they haven't thought this through already. If they've all been sitting on their hands for six months doing nothing, then shame on them."
    He noted that government staff attended an SFU conference last November that focused on independent police oversight, and the province could have started working out the details then.


  • Common Ground magazine carried an interview with Paul Budra (English prof and associate dean of arts and social sciences) on "Shakespeare at War"—a discussion Budra leads at Vancouver's Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.  Among other things, Budra said: "Clearly, he (Shakespeare) understood the human price of war and we see that price being paid in his plays. He was partisan for the English side in war (see Henry VI, I) and he knew war could be a tool of political control—“Busy giddy minds / With foreign quarrels.” But he also knew war makes for amazing theatre and he was a man of the theatre, not politics."

  • The Georgia Straight explored stereotypes about aboriginal people in The Twilight Saga movies as No. 3, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, opened during the week. The Straight spoke to two people at SFU: Deanna Reder, a Cree-Métis assistant prof of First Nations Studies and English, and Eldon Yellowhorn of the Piikani Nation, director of aboriginal studies and associate prof of archaeology. Both said the stereotypes are there, but are not of great concern.

  • Iran’s Tehran Times noted SFU “paid tribute to the Iranian star of stage and screen with a program named ‘An Evening in Honor of Ezzatollah Entezami’ on June 25. . . . Derryl MacLean, Director of the Center for Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures at SFU . . .  spoke briefly about the actor and his 70 years of activities in cinema and theater.”


  • The BC Innovation Council announced to media a partnership with SFU Venture Connection, providing entrepreneurial-minded students with resources and opportunities to help them launch new businesses in the province.
    “At the core of this initiative are Venture Connection's Mentors-in-Residence and Venture Labs, an early-stage business incubator. To date, Venture Connection has engaged over 1,000 students in entrepreneurial pursuit, with 18 student or recent alumni teams receiving significant support through Venture Labs. Launched in fall 2008, the initiative has since introduced program activity onto all three SFU campuses as well as the Great Northern Way Campus.”


  • SFU’s June 29 “Gathering of the Clan” fundraising breakfast raised more than $226,000 for student-athlete scholarships, with 1,016 individuals purchasing tickets to the event.
    Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano, former head coach of the Clan men’s basketball team, was keynote speaker. There was a barrage of sports-media coverage of the breakfast. TEAM 1040 sports radio broadcast its morning show live from the event, and interviewed Triano on air, as well as SFU head football coach Dave Johnson, the new SFU men’s basketball coach, James Blake, and SFU’s senior director of athletics, David Murphy.

  • Johnson told TEAM 1040 listeners that one of the challenges of SFU’s move to the NCAA is losing some players due to new eligibility rules. On the other hand, he said he’s overwhelmed by the inquiries he's received from student-athletes across Canada because SFU now is in the NCAA.

  • The Vancouver Sun reported that Johnson has hired two full-time co-ordinators for the Clan’s first season of NCAA football: “A pair of gung-ho Americans—Brent Barnes and Jordan Malone—with no previous connection with Canada or Canadian football. . . .Both of Johnson’s choices have impressive coaching backgrounds, mostly at the NCAA Div-2 and Div-3 level.“ Canwest News Service distributed the story across Canada, and we saw it in the Montreal Gazette.

  • Meanwhile, the Waterloo Region Record said that “clean” football player Jon Roney is set to head for the SFU football program. Roney was the backup quarterback on the University of Waterloo Warriors. The university suspended the entire team for a year after nine Warriors flunked drug tests; two have been charged with possession and trafficking. Canadian Interuniversity Sport relaxed its rules to allow immediate transfers to other schools of “clean” players such as Roney.
    But the London (ON) Free Press reported that the University of Western Ontario’s head coach, Greg Marshall, used the relaxed rule to land Nick Shuster, veteran SFU defensive back/receiver for the UWO Mustangs. "We did well recruiting in B.C. this year."

  • SFU Athletics announced to media the Clan football team's schedule for 2010—its American-rules debut in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, NCAA Division II. The Clan will play 10 games:  eight GNAC conference games, and two non-conference contests including the annual Shrum Bowl against UBC.
    The season opens Sept. 4 vs. Western Oregon (4pm on Terry Fox Field at the Burnaby campus.) The Shrum Bowl, played under Canadian rules, will be at UBC; date TBA.

  • The Winnipeg Sun told readers that SFU-bound quarterback Ben Allen has been named the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association AAAA male athlete of the year. Earlier, he was named both the Winnipeg High School Football League's offensive player of the year and to its league honour roll. “Allen will attend Simon Fraser University next year where he will continue his pursuits of both football and track and field.”

  • The North Shore News listed high-school athletes headed for SFU Athletics programs: Dylan Roper, Hayden Nicol, Jeff Lavis and Arman Amini, football; Taj Mohammad and Hiroko Araki, wrestling; Lindsey Butterworth, track and field, and James McQuade, swimming.

  • The Comox Valley Echo noted that local golfer Michelle McCann will join the Clan golf program. "I chose SFU because (the revived varsity golf program) is starting from the ground up and as the first class we can set the standard for years to come. I'm also excited to be a part of the first school in Canada that will join the NCAA and Division II."

  • The New Westminster Record reported that Burnaby Canadians of the Metro Women's Soccer League signed ex-SFU netminder Cassie Newbrook. Newbrook was the Clan's starting goalie for four seasons and was named to NAIA Association of Independent Institutions all-conference first team last season.  Also joining from SFU: midfielder Lauren Lachlan and defender Jessica Fleming. “The acquisition of Newbrook, Lachlan and Fleming brings the total number of former SFU varsity players to nine.”

  • The Vancouver Sun and The Province featured former Clan track-and-field star Ruky Abdulai, who won a women's record 17 NAIA track titles while at SFU. Athletics Canada has put Abdulai in a special group of podium potential athletes for the London 2012 Olympics, in the long jump. SFU coach Brit Townsend still oversees Abdulai's training.


This report took a vacation break in the week of June 18-25. Top stories involving SFU during that week included these:

  • André Gerolymatos was in the Surrey-North Delta Leader and Black Press papers in BC—and so was public policy prof Kennedy Stewart—after CSIS director Richard Fadden told CBC News that several unidentified municipal politicians in BC and cabinet ministers in two provinces are suspected of being agents of influence for foreign governments.
    Gerolymatos protested: "It's unfair for people in government in British Columbia—both at the provincial and municipal level—who are now under a cloud. He didn't say who, so we can now suspect everyone from the premier on down. . . . Why do it publicly? If these people are truly working for other governments or supporting other governments, then they should be brought to justice."
    Stewart said other countries could influence civic governments in BC because of loose laws governing campaign donations. "‘We do know that sizable amounts of money have come into the electoral process,’ he said, adding one Vancouver councillor got a donation of $80,000 from a Taiwanese businessman.”
    Gerolymatos was also quoted in the Toronto Star: "Every country uses agents of influence. If you're the Volkswagen representative in Canada and you're pushing your product, that makes you an agent of influence. It's a safe and legal term that can mean anything or nothing."

  • Adjunct prof Stuart Farson, political scientist and security expert, was in a Canwest News Service story, noting the timing of the CSIS chief’s statements. “One, you've got the G8 and G20 summits. On one hand, it's to indicate that CSIS is on the ball, and also at the same time to say, 'We're watching you.' But the other side of it is that CSIS has come under considerable criticism in the last couple weeks with Air India. This is a way of indicating that perhaps CSIS really is on the ball."

  • Gerolymatos was also in a national Canadian Press story on the opening of memorials to the 329 people killed in the bombing 25 years ago of Air India Flight 182. He said the Vancouver memorial event could be more muted because people are afraid to attend a public event in the city where the bombing plot was hatched.

  • Warren Gill, transportation geographer and SFU’s v-p of university relations, was also in the Surrey-North Delta Leader and Black Press papers, quoted as scoffing at BC government claims that tolls will eventually be removed from the new Port Mann bridge once it is paid off in 2053.  “‘What we'll have in the long run is tolls everywhere,’ Gill predicts."
    The story continued: “He argues tolls should never come off the Port Mann—even after the new bridge is paid off—but should instead be used to finance transit or other transportation upgrades. ‘It's not just about paying off the bridge,’ Gill said. ‘It's about making the best use of the investment.’
    “The Sea-to-Sky Highway should also have been tolled, he said, and added the current trend of tolling some but not all crossings of the Fraser River will create inefficient traffic patterns as drivers divert far out of their way to avoid paying. Gill also said the plan to tear down the existing Port Mann Bridge is a ‘dumb strategy.’’’

  • The Globe and Mail and CTV spoke with SFU Business prof Peter Tingling about his studies of the success of NHL draft choices from 1997-2003. The Globe noted his company found the Detroit Red Wings “ranked 29 out of 30 teams in successfulness with North American prospects and just 12th with European prospects.”
    Tingling told the Globe: “Most teams don’t track the efficacy of their scouting and they should. If you’re going to pay for this, wouldn’t you want to know their track record? I’d want to make evidence-based decisions.” And he noted on Canada AM on CTV: “The issue really is finding superstars where other people don't see them. That's where teams are going to get tremendous value. And that's where scouts can make a difference.”

  • Julian Somers of SFU Health Sciences was on CKNW and on during a conference on health among the homeless. He said 58 per cent of Vancouver’s homeless had been to emergency rooms within the last six months; but fully 73 per cent agreed with the statement, ‘I am hopeful about my future.’ Somers told the conference: “They believe in themselves. We have to do likewise."  A string of media outlets did stories on the conference.

  • Canwest News Service sent out a national story quoting earth scientist John Clague on a 5.0 earthquake that was felt in central Canada June 23. “The reason you get earthquakes in the region is that there are a number of very old crustal structures in southern Ontario and southern Quebec. These were very active faults many tens of millions of year ago, but they are kind of what we'd call fossil fault systems now.”

  • The Vancouver Sun reported on a C.D. Howe Institute study by public policy prof John Richards, saying the percentage of single-parent families who live in what's considered to be poverty is down to less than half of what it was in 1996.
    “‘There is a strong case that post-1995 welfare-to-work policies, together with favourable labour market conditions, were effective in lowering the lone-parent poverty rate,’ Richards writes. ‘(But) further progress in lowering poverty rates requires tackling seemingly intractable problems such as low education levels among certain groups and mental illness linked to drug/ alcohol abuse.’"
    The Toronto Star also did a story.


  • Burnaby Now caught up to several stories that other media did earlier:
    •  “Two Burnaby-based SFU scientists are part of an international research team that has chemically mapped the molecular structure of one of the body's enzymes that helps convert starch into glucose.”  Named were chemist Mario Pinto, SFU's vice-president of research, and PhD student Sankar Mohan. Added the Now:The discovery could mean people will be able to better control diet-linked health problems, like obesity and Type II diabetes, by sprinkling a powdered glucose inhibitor on their food.”

    • The Now also picked up an SFU news release from mid-May on how psychology prof Travis Proulx has discovered humour can go a long way in helping people who feel threatened by absurd experiences. Proulx said his findings "provide empirical support for the practical value of finding humour in unexpected and/or unusual experiences. That is, people who can laugh at chaos may benefit because they are able to make sense of an experience that otherwise would have been disturbing to them."

    • And the paper also reported: “An international team of archeologists led by a graduate of Simon Fraser University has made a big step in prehistoric research after discovering the world's oldest leather shoe in a remote cave in Armenia.” The team leader was SFU Archaeology grad Ron Pinhasi, now of University College Cork, Ireland.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Globe and Mail featured former SFU student Carolyn Costigan, the first female and probably youngest racehorse trainer to win the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, with father's horse, Roan Inish. “Costigan . . .  was three years into an economics degree at Simon Fraser University, when she realized the financial world that her father had inhabited wasn't for her. She changed course, quickly.”

  • The Prince Rupert Daily News kicked off a three-part series on the HST. In Part One, one of the economists interviewed was Iglika Ivanova of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “In June 2005, she graduated from SFU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics with first-class honours and was the recipient of the Gordon Shrum gold medal.” In the story, she said: "It is estimated that there will be considerable saving in administration when businesses fill out one form rather than two, and it will save the governments millions of dollars per year from not having to process these forms."


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