SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - July 23, 2010

July 23, 2010

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

So why does the macaroni penguin lay two eggs, boot the first, and hatch the second?

The New York Times reported this week that researcher Glenn T. Crossin of SFU Biological Sciences may just have an answer to the longtime mystery.

And that was just one of the media stories this week involving SFU people and birds, dogs and insects.

As well, there were media stories quoting SFU people on the scrapping of Canada’s census long-form, on astronomy, SFU totem poles, crime rates, the war on drugs, gay-bashing, dengue fever, and more.


  • The New York Times wrote about an SFU-led study that may answer the mystery of why the female macaroni penguin lays two eggs. “Peculiarly, the first is smaller than the second. Stranger still is that she kicks the first egg out of the nest before it hatches. The second is incubated until birth.

    “The puzzle of the abandoned egg has occupied biologists for six decades. Now, a new study, which will appear in the American Naturalist, offers a partial solution. The first egg's smaller size may be because of a drop in protein levels as the penguin returns to land (South Georgia, in the case of the penguins in the study) from the sea.  . . .

    “The penguins that lay earlier may produce their eggs as they are migrating across the ocean and are not yet ready for reproduction. During this time they have lower amounts of vitellogenin, the primary protein in egg development, said Glenn T. Crossin, a sea bird biologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Britain and the study's lead author.”

    Crossin is a postdoctoral fellow in SFU Biological Sciences.
  • The Vancouver Sun gave half-page treatment, with a photo, to research by SFU paleontologist Bruce Archibald 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.

    The Sun featured one of the keys to the new theory: research on fossil insects in BC’s McAbee fossil site.

    A story also appeared in the Harvard Gazette and on the website. (Harvard researchers worked with Archibald.) The science website picked up the Harvard release (which named Archibald and SFU) and so did India’s The Hindu newspaper. The Brandon (MB) Sun also did a story, as one of the researchers was from Brandon UnIversity.

    Archibald’s research is featured in the journal Paleobiology, at
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader told readers how a photo of a heron by SFU computer technician Martin Cooper has become a Canada Post stamp:

    “Burnaby wildlife photographer Martin Cooper says he had spotted a muskrat on the other side of Gray Creek in South Burnaby and was creeping down the banks trying to get a low-level shot when he slipped.

    “As he splashed into the creek, ending up knee-deep in water, the focus of his efforts disappeared into the woods. ‘I took my boots off to empty them, I took my socks off to wring them out a bit. And this heron just flew in and it sat on this rock in the middle of the creek. I grabbed my camera and took one shot.

    "’This heron, one click, it heard [the shutter], and it flew off again. . . . It's just amazing, really .. . I actually got a letter the other day with my stamp on it. I thought, 'Oh, does this person know I took that photograph?'"
  • Back to insects: Radio Canada International interviewed prof Carl (Dr. Mosquito) Lowenberger of SFU Biological Scienceson his research on dengue fever and how mosquitoes carry it.

  • And now for the dogs:  The Vancouver edition of Metro gave it front-page coverage. The Vancouver Sun and The Province carried stories. And the Sun, The Province and National Post carried an online photo slide-show from it.

    “It” was a fundraiser organized by SFU Business students for HugABull, a non-profit society that resettles abused and abandoned pit bulls in Metro Vancouver. Students Whitney Law, Michael Liang, Lynzee Bewcyk, Reza Andalib and Kelly Pang undertook Project4Pets as part of their project management class. They raised$600 for HugABull, and Shaw-TV also pursued them for a story.


  • Physicist Howard Trottier and chemist Sophie Lavieri were in a long and strong feature on CBC-TV’s evening news, on SFU’s Starry Nights astronomy outreach program for kids.

    Reporter Bob Nixon: “Howard Trottier is a man on a mission—getting British Columbians, especially young ones, excited about space. . . . For the past year this Simon Fraser University physicist has hosted star parties that have attracted hundreds of kids. Kids who attend four star parties are given a telescope for free.”

    Trottier: “So we’ve given away about 120 scopes.”

    Nixon: “It is all part of SFU’s Science in Action program, run by Sophie Lavieri, which attracted 5,000 elementary and high school kids to the university this year for hands-on experience in chemistry, physics and astronomy labs.”

    Lavieri: “If we give them the opportunity to get involved in science at a very young age then you are going to see that they might get excited.”

    Nixon: “Trottier and Lavieri also fund-raise, and are halfway to their goal of creating a $4-million science outreach centre on campus. . . . They still have a long way to go, but they’re not worried. They’ve got (pause) stars in their eyes.”

    (Trottier was also in a feature on the Starry Nights program on GlobalTV a month ago.)
  • CTV News sent a camera to the Burnaby campus for the celebration by the SFU Office for Aboriginal Peoples (OAP) to mark the recent installation of two historic totem poles outside the OAP office entrance. The poles, carved by the late Tsimshian artist Ray Wesley, were originally erected more than three decades ago in Naheeno Park on Burnaby Mountain. They slowly became weathered, worn and forgotten until 2007 when they were removed for restoration and relocation on the Burnaby campus.

    Radio stations CKNW and CKWX did items on the event, and CBC Radio in Prince Rupert (in Tsimshian territory) interviewed OAP director William Lindsay.
  • Public policy prof John Richards wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun on the federal government’s decision to scrap the compulsory “long form” census questionnaire.

    “First, does the long form pose a threat to confidentiality of census results? It does not. Whatever criticisms might be made of Statistics Canada, it has over the decades scrupulously protected individuals' confidentiality.

    “Second, the government has proposed a voluntary national household survey in lieu of the mandatory long form. Is this a reasonable substitute? No. If it intends to scrap the long form, it might as well save money and scrap this proposed voluntary survey as well.

    “Undoubtedly, there were long form questions that in 2006 were poorly posed; others perhaps were unduly intrusive. By all means, revise the long form—but do not scrap it.”

    Richard Lockhart, chair of SFU Statistics and Actuarial Science, weighed in on the same subject in The Vancouver Sun: “It's going to cause a significant deterioration in all the other survey results they (Statistics Canada) put together. It's awful."
  • André Gerolymatos, international security expert and chair of SFU Hellenic Studies, wrote a guest blog for The Vancouver Sun on Canada’s plan to spend $9 billion to buy 65 F-35 fighter jets. “Beyond the obvious advantages in advanced technology that the sub-contracting of the construction of the F-35 will yield for Canadian companies, Canada's warplanes must be able to keep up with their American counterparts.”

    As for the spending: “The Canadian defence bill is a very modest 1.1 per cent of the GDP. Remarkably, Canada ranks 126th in the world (out of 176) in defence spending, just below countries such as Latvia, Lithuania, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Belgium and Bolivia. Not so remarkably, the reason we can get away with spending so little is that a major part of our defence is carried by the United States. . . Indeed, we are fortunate that our neighbour is willing to bear a disproportionate share for protecting North America.”
  • “Canada’s greenest building?” That was the headline as the Burnaby NewsLeader covered the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday (July 21) for the UniverCity childcare facility.

    “It aims to be the first building in Canada to meet the Living Building Challenge—a new sustainable building standard launched by the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, that has become the most advanced green building rating system in the world.”
  • Gloria Gutman, prof emerita, SFU Gerontology, was interviewed by CKWX 1130 on the increasing number of seniors in the labour market. She said the Statistics Canada numbers don't take into account seniors in the middle-income bracket who lost their jobs due to the recession in 2008 and will likely seek work again as the economy improves.

    Gutman was also on CBC Radio discussing the 17 senior wellness parks built around the province at a cost of $1.8 million. Only a handful of the parks, which are designed with equipment specifically for seniors, are being used.
  • The Province looked at gay-bashings in the Lower Mainland, and raised the question of whether a disproportionate number of attacks have been by South Asian males. The paper noted: “Gerald Walton, a Simon Fraser University grad and an expert in homophobic bullying, says homophobia has less to with race or religion than concepts of masculinity. ‘Almost always the gay bashings are done by relatively young men in groups. So we need to look at this as a type of bullying. Perhaps the men feel they need to prove something.’"

  • The news website was quick to pick up an SFU news release on how international scholars are at SFU to view how varied and controversial social and religious issues and concepts shape Muslim women’s lives. SFU’s Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures (CCSMC) is offering the program, Expressions of Diversity: An Introduction to Muslim Cultures, at the Vancouver campus through July 30.

  • The BC technology industry website, T-Net BC (, carried a story on 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.

  • The Williams Lake Tribune ran a story in which BC Hydro challenged 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. Hydro said the mine would not be getting subsidized power.

    Then Walt Cobb, a former mayor of Williams Lake and former Liberal MLA, also challenged Shaffer’s numbers in a column in the Tribune.
  • The National Campus and Community Radio Association singled out SFU’s student station, CJSF, for three awards, reported Burnaby Now. Ryan Fletcher received the Local Talent Development award; station manager Magnus Thyvold a lifetime achievement award, and CJSF won an award for Outstanding Achievement in Special Programming for a segment on homelessness.

  • Burnaby Now also promoted Summerdelish: Taste the Earth, a culinary event with partial proceeds going towards sustainability initiatives at SFU. Club Ilia Eatery and Lounge is teaming up with West Coast Wine Education to host it. More than two dozen companies with organic products or sustainable business practices will be offering samples of drinks and food.  The event runs Saturday (July 24) from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $29 per person, available at Club Ilia, 8902 University High St. on Burnaby Mountain or online at

  • Two SFU profs were quoted as looked at two contentious high-rise developments in Vancouver’s West end. “The West End’s quiet period may be over. SFU City Program Director Gordon Price, a West End resident, points out that ‘dozens of wooden low-rise apartment blocks are nearing the end of their physical lives. Change, it seems, is inevitable.’”

    But public policy prof Kennedy Stewart said of the projects: “The city really dropped the ball on this issue by attempting to ram through these changes in the most politically sophisticated neighbourhood in the city. People in the West End know how to organize and have considerable political experience, clout and media access. . . . . It all seems very amateurish on the city's part.”
  • also wrote about Carbon Chaos, a new iPhone game created by students in the Masters of Digital Media program at Vancouver’s Great Northern Way Campus (GNWC). The game was developed jointly by GNWC and TransLink to raise awareness of the environmental impact of transportation choices. The story (by Terry Lavender, formerly of PAMR) noted that GNWC is a collaborative effort of SFU, UBC, BCIT and Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design.


  • National Post quoted Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, on a Statistics Canada report showing the crime rate in the country in 2009 was 17% lower than a decade earlier. "Overall, this is a good news report," said Gordon.

    He added: "This has been a trend over the past 10 years.”  So when a poll in 10 cities last fall found crime was far and away the most important local issue “there is a gap between perception and reality. That gap is politicized.”

    In the Victoria Times Colonist, Gordon said the dip in crime is largely due to effective crime-prevention programs, including citizens who are more diligent in protecting their belonging. “People are much more careful, especially in urban areas.”
  • Gordon was also in a Globe and Mail story on a $2-million out-of-court settlement won by a senior officer who was sacked by the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. “Simon Fraser University criminologist Rob Gordon said the ‘colossal infighting’ within police agencies is part of the reason that organized crime has grown in B.C. The B.C. government should disengage from the RCMP and create a provincial police service, similar to Ontario and Quebec, Mr. Gordon said.”

  • Closer to home, the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John BC quoted Gordon as protesting that talks about renewing the RCMP’s contract to police BC are taking place behind closed doors. “It is an outrageous situation and the responsibility for which lies in the hands primarily of the provincial government. There should be an open and public discussion on whether or not we want the RCMP to continue to provide policing services in this province beyond 2012 and if we do, for how long."

  • The Canadian Press quoted criminologist Neil Boyd in a national story about concerns that the war on drugs waged by many governments, including Canada, has failed to curb illegal drug use and is actually fuelling the spread of the disease.

    “(Boyd) accuses the Harper government of simply ignoring scientific research.

    “For example, Boyd was asked by the federal government to review Insite (Vancouver’s supervised drug-injection site) and he concluded the facility had no impact on crime and produced a ‘modest decline’ in public drug use while at the same time saving the government money in health-care and law enforcement costs. But despite the findings, Ottawa asked the courts to shut the facility down.

    “‘I think they operate within a fairly narrow ideological framework; they seem to resent science,’ says Boyd. ‘They deny it, but all the science would say they're pushing for more violence and more corruption in the drug trade. You're not going to blast your way out of this one, and there's absolutely no evidence globally that you can do so.’”

    We first saw the story in the Winnipeg Free Press.
  • Peter Chow-White, assistant prof in SFU Communication, was on GlobalTV’s national news, in a story about Facebook getting its 500-millionth user, and about the customer info that Facebook sells to marketers. Chow-White said:

    “So, if you go on to Facebook and you notice all the ads along the sides there? Try something new. Try and just, like, change one of your interests to something totally random and all of a sudden you'll see completely different advertisements come up.”
  • An energy blog based in Germany featured (with photo) the revolutionary Biomechanical Energy Harvester, invented by SFU kinesiologist Max Donelan and team.  The invention was a huge hit in media in 2008, and has drawn continued attention since then.

    The German blog wrote: “Not only cyclists, but also runners could soon be generating electricity with a dynamo.  . .  The mini power plant—developed at the Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada—fits around the knee. With each step, forces act on a gear mechanism, so each leg movement turns a generator. With the 1.6-kilogram prototype, fast runners generated up to 54 watts of power. Strolling pedestrians were able to generate at least five watts.”


  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader told readers: “Simon Fraser University is rewarding hard-working high school grads with entrance scholarships totaling more than $3.6 million in 2010-11.

    “Among this year's top winners are: Enver Creek Secondary's Afraj Gill ($34, 000); Semiahmoo Sr. Secondary's Kyaelim Kwon ($29,000); Fraser Heights Secondary's Judy Kim ($24,000); Queen Elizabeth Secondary's Natalie Anthonisz ($24,000); Frank Hurt Secondary's Daniel Dang ($24,000); and Clayton Heights Secondary's Kelsey Robinson ($24,000). 

    "‘We had such an outstanding pool of scholarship candidates this year," says SFU registrar Kate Ross.’”
  • A Mindy Jacobs column in the Edmonton Sun (and other Toronto Sun-group papers) quoted public policy prof John Richards as saying aboriginal education is in crisis:

    “‘There is no way that my home province of Saskatchewan will be a good, healthy community unless there are dramatic improvements in aboriginal education outcomes in the next generation.’ he warned.  . . . As Richards pointed out, hundreds of reserve schools operating independently with small student populations ‘can never achieve the results we want.’ Band councils need to yield some of their power over schools to a wider First Nations school authority, he said.”
  • NDTV channels in India and elsewhere, and the Toronto-based website, serving South Asians and Indo-Caribbeans, picked up a news release from MITACS on how the MITACs-run Globalink program has brought 49 students to BC from India to work with BC researchers. Among them: “Deepak Krishnamurthy has come from India to work at Simon Fraser University on a project to produce a fuel cell that will fit in the palm of your hand.”

    (The MITACS network, Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems) was formerly based at SFU. It brings together scientists, students, businesses and governments departments in a collaborative effort to solve big problems.)


  • Burnaby Now ran a story on how SFU’s first-ever First Book Competition has drawn 200 entries from as far away as Italy and New Zealand. “The Writer's Studio, a certificate in creative writing program within SFU Continuing Studies, created the competition to celebrate the studio's 10th anniversary. . . The judges received 119 fiction, 24 non-fiction and 57 poetry manuscripts.”

  • Ontario-based featured and reviewed the exhibition BESA, Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II, at the Vancouver campus’ Teck Gallery through Oct. 29.  The photo exhibit is co-sponsored by the SFU Gallery and SFU’s Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures.

  • The Mississauga (ON) News featured actor Daniel Hayes, who fell into theatre classes in SFU Contemporary Arts while playing for the Clan football team. “What I really like is that it has the same kind of pressure sports does. Theatre's like that. It has that pressure and it's live and you can't make a mistake. I was bitten by the acting bug."

    Hayes has filmed commercials for And1 and Nike, played a marine in the short film Boot Camp, and a criminal suspect in the short The Police Story. “He's excited about his role in the feature film, Going Down in La La Land, which is slated for a 2011 release.”


  • The Nelson Daily News went out of business July 16, after 109 years. One its last stories was on how local golfer Jordan Melanson captured the title at the Rainbow Men's Open at the Kaslo Golf Course. “Melanson, who is off to Simon Fraser University to attend school and play on the Clan golf team in the fall, fired a 2-under-par 68 to edge Adam Pangburn of Kaslo by six shots.”

  • Numerous media across Canada, in reporting that the NBA Toronto Raptors will play an exhibition game against Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena on Oct. 6, quoted Raptors coach Jay Triano. And noted his years at SFU as player and head coach of the Clan men’s basketball team. The Raptors also plan a training camp in the Lower Mainland; details TBA.

  • The Abbotsford News, among others, covered an exhibition game in Abbotsford last weekend between the Canadian national women’s basketball team and Chile. Team Canada point guard Teresa Gabriele, a Clan alumna, led Canada’s 86-38 victory.

    “Gabriele, at 5' 6", was the smallest player on the court for Canada, but she supplied the spark that ignited the victory. The former Simon Fraser University star poured in a team-high 17 points, including 3-for-4 shooting from three-point range. She ran the Canadian offence with efficiency, racking up eight assists with just one turnover.”

    Also quoted: Canadian head coach Allison McNeill, a former Clan star and Clan coach.

    The Province then covered a second Canada-Chile game in Richmond, which Canada won 74-38. Gabriele . . . , the former Teresa Kleinendeist, who starred for McNeill at SFU, is the heart and soul of national team that is headed to world championships in the Czech Republic in October, hoping to improve on its 10th place showing in 2006.

    Says McNeill: "I've known her for so long, and I guess what I tell everybody is she's just so passionate about playing. She's still the same young kid I recruited to SFU. She plays with the same passion and commitment."


  • SFU Health Sciences told media about SFU-led research concluding that as crack use rises in Canada, so does the urgent need for targeted prevention and treatment programs—especially in smaller communities. In a paper to be published in Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy next month, Fischer’s team documents a recent investigation of the social, health and drug-use characteristics of 148 primary crack users in three mid-sized B.C. communities: Nanaimo, Campbell River and Prince George.

    Says Fischer: “In many B.C. communities, crack use is the number one street drug problem, yet we give it much lower attention than other forms of drug use. We need better and more targeted prevention and treatment for crack use in order to reduce its enormous negative public health impact.”
  • SFU also sent out a news release on a new documentary film that gets up close and personal with the six-time world champion SFU Pipe Band.

    It will be aired on CBC-TV (in BC) on Saturday Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. That’s a week before the band competes again on the world stage in Glasgow on Aug. 14.

    You can see a clip from attle of the Bagpipes: A Journey to the World Pipe Band at:

    Advance stories on the film and the broadcast also ran on a number of piping blogs, websites and social-media channels.


  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader featured Cally and Callo, two cellphone robots who “laugh, cry and dance as the situation warrants—usually the result of incoming text messages.”

    “The robots are the brainchildren of Ji-Dong “J.D.” Yim, a PhD student at Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) and his mentor, Associate Professor Chris Shaw.”
    Cally and Callo first became media stars in May.

    Meanwhile this week, on the national media scene, humourist Scott Feschuk of Maclean’s wrote: “Everywhere we look these days, robots are slyly working to destabilize our way of life. Undersea: the first batch of robots dispatched to cap the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico actually made it worse. On land: robots used for stock trading suddenly sent markets plunging. In Tipper Gore's house: a robot abruptly left its human female companion after 40 years of marriage.

    “Then there's the most unsettling development of all. At Simon Fraser University, two researchers have invented a cellphone robot that can walk, dance and cry as directed by text message. People of Earth, the dark moment we feared is finally upon us: technology has rendered Lindsay Lohan redundant.”
  • Burnaby Now carried this item that appeared earlier in other media outlets: “Nearly 800 people gathered June 24 at a gala celebration marking the end of Michael Stevenson's period as SFU president. During the past 10 years at SFU's helm, Stevenson oversaw the establishment of SFU's Surrey campus, the new home for SFU Contemporary Arts in Vancouver's Woodward's building and the UniverCity development on Burnaby Mountain. The university community and friends raised $636,000 for the new Michael Stevenson Presidential Legacy Fund at the gala. The fund will support graduate student scholarships.”

  • The Edmonton Journal picked up from The Vancouver Sun a column from last week about restorative justice in theory and practice. It quoted Brenda Morrison, co-director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at SFU.

  • The Indo-Canadian Voice became the latest media outlet to feature students Chantelle Chand and Nidhi Nayyar, who are 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.


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