SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - June 11, 2010

June 11, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: June 4-11, 2010

The proposed tolls on the Port Mann Bridge—and the time limit in which to pay up—put SFU profs Gordon Price and Warren Gill in the BC news during the week.
Health Sciences prof Benedikt Fischer was in national news, recommending an end to Canada’s one-size-fits-all approach to managing the health impacts of cannabis use.
And there was an SFU connection in news that shot around the world: the discovery by archaeologists in Armenia of a well preserved, 5,500-year-old, leather shoe.
More on these stories, and others, below.


  • With a $50-million prize in tonight’s Lotto Max pot, CTV News asked a number of people if they’ve got a ticket—and wrung a confession from Richard Lockhart, chair of SFU Statistics and Actuarial science.
    “I have got a ticket, yes. It’s almost professionally suicidal to say so, but I did. If you thought about it in odds and terms of money, you'd never ever buy a ticket.”  
    (The odds on a $5 ticket winning or sharing in the big Lotto Max pot: 1 in 28,633,528.)

  • Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program, and Warren Gill, transportation geographer and SFU’s vice-president of university relations, were on CBC Radio talking about the proposed tolls on the Port Mann Bridge. ($3 each way if prepaid, paid within 48 hours, and for registered drivers with transponders; and $5.30 each way for others.)
    Price said on the On the Coast show on CBC: “It sounds pretty classic. It’s almost identical to what I recently experienced in Brisbane. It looks like a pretty standard operation in Australia and rather similar to the EasyPass system in the eastern States.”
    And if people don’t want to pay? “There’s always the Patullo, the good old Patullo Bridge.”
    He added: “One thing that’s changing the way people drive is GPS units. So when we were there (in Australia), you can push a little button when you come up toward a toll bridge, and it asks would you like a free alternative, and it’ll guide you all the way around.”
    Gill also told The Vancouver Sun: "A $3 toll is not a bad toll but if you are me—someone who doesn't use the bridge very often—and I drive across and then have 48 hours to pay? This is absolutely crazy.”
    The Sun continued: “Gill said people who don't know how to use a computer, or choose not to own one, or even those who don't have easy access to the Internet would be discriminated against, should the government stick to the 48-hour time limit to pay. The Transportation Ministry says people will also have the option of paying by phone, but Gill suggested the grace period should be at least a month to allow some people to mail in their payment."

  • Price was also in a Vancouver Sun story about Statistics Canada figures showing people aged 25-44 flocking from urban centres to the suburbs. (At least, according to the census of 2006.) Said Price: “You come to the city to find DNA and go to the suburbs to procreate. It's a pattern that is still intact."
    Price added that we should think of suburbs these days as metropolitan areas outside the city core. "The suburbs in Vancouver are very different than other cities, and we're an international model. Most of the housing built since the 1980s (is) multi-family and mixed use.”

  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was on CKNW, discussing at length the public-relations fallout and the political impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster:
    • “The longer you go without solving the problem, the more difficult it gets to make your point stick that you are indeed a worthwhile corporate organization and the more difficult it gets to keep the regulatory authorities and the federal U.S. government off your back. Let me tell you, the politicians worldwide are on high alert about this one. It was a big wakeup call for everybody and the entire oil industry is going to pay for this. They're going to pay for it in spades.”
    • “Are we junkies for oil? You betcha. (But) as soon as you go offshore, as soon as you drill in the Arctic, you're getting into very, very, highly vulnerable environmental areas. Any kind of screw-up in those areas is going to be a massive screw-up.  . . . The sensitive areas of British Columbia's Queen Charlottes, for example. That mess on the Gulf Coast literally threw a major wrench into the works for Gordon Campbell and the guys who are trying to get some oil drilling activity here. If we restrict oil drilling in some of these more sensitive areas, it's not going to make the demand go away. The only issue is we're going to have to start scrambling harder for supply. What does that do for our friends in Alberta and the oil sands? Things look better and better."

  • Meredith was also in the Epoch Times, in a story suggesting the new Harmonized Sales Tax may generate a cash black market to avoid the tax.
    “Dr. Lindsay Meredith, a professor of marketing at Simon Fraser University, says the 12 percent HST in B.C. and 13 percent in Ontario are large numbers and if consumers can get around paying the new tax, they will.
    “‘As long as people are feeling a little bit poor, because of the amount of debt they’re carrying and feeling put upon by the tax level that’s hitting them—you’re going to see some of this underground behaviour going on,’ he says.”

  • Criminologist Neil Boyd wrote a guest column for The Vancouver Sun: “In 1910, Winston Churchill stated that one of the ‘unfailing tests’ of a civilization lies in how it treats crime and criminals. . . . Pronouncements from our current politicians are rather different in tone.  . . . More simply put, the federal government wants to put more people in jail.”
    Boyd continued: “The approach that they advocate has no empirical support—no examples from other jurisdictions to establish that crime rates will be affected in any beneficial manner.  . . . The unfortunate reality is that many in opposition, like the Conservatives, are allowing fear to drive their agenda. Worse than that, they appear to believe that Canadians can't be convinced of the unproductive and costly heart of the Conservative agenda. Worst of all, our culture and our country are being shortchanged by a barrage of name-calling and finger-pointing.”

  • Boyd was also in The Vancouver Sun in another context—as a Bowen Island resident commenting on plans to turn the southwestern tip of Bowen Island into a multi-million-dollar subdivision. “Neil Boyd, prominent Simon Fraser University criminologist and longtime Bowen resident, said there are probably people who like the subdivision because its low-density character helps restrict access to the island.  . . . (But) he also doubts that over time the Cape Roger Curtis project will remain a 59-lot development, because buyers will have rights to subdivide their lots.”

  • Historian André Gerolymatos also wrote a guest column for The Vancouver Sun, saying that as a result of the commando raid on the Turkish aid ship headed for Gaza, “Israel is on the verge of becoming a pariah state to be shunned by the international community.”
    He added: “Undoubtedly Hamas has scored a major public relations victory and with it has achieved a greater degree of legitimacy within the international community.”
    Earlier, Gerolymatos did interviews on GlobalTV, CTV, and CBC.

  • A Douglas Todd column in The Vancouver Sun looked at the challenges of “dual loyalties” of immigrants, loyalty to this country but also to a “home” state, society or religion. Quoting SFU ethicist Mark Wexler, Todd wrote:
    “Our sense of personal integrity and purity can feel as if it's becoming undone, Wexler says, when we start asking questions such as: ‘How can I be loyal to two countries, particularly when one is at war with the other? How can I be loyal to my principles when I am drawn to many different and viable options?’ . . . (But) when we experience multiple loyalties, Wexler says, ‘The joys of a new sense of self come into being. There is the romance of what may be possible in an alternate world or an alternate identity.  This is far more than a delusion. It is the hope of becoming.’"

  • The Castlegar (BC) Source told readers thatA group of eight British Columbia medical and health organizations are calling on the provincial government to enact province-wide legislation banning the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides.”  The story included this: “There is evidence that pesticide exposure may elevate the risk for behaviour problems in children, such as ADHD,” says Dr. Bruce Lanphear, MD, MPH, Senior Scientist, Child & Family Research Institute Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.”

  • Burnaby Now reported that winners of environmental awards from the City of Burnaby included, in the business stewardship category, “Simon Fraser University's sustainability coordinator, Candace Le Roy, for her work with SFU's sustainability ambassadors program.” (That program began at the Burnaby campus in 2008, and has expanded to the Surrey and Vancouver campuses. It includes more than 50 sustainability ambassadors who raise awareness of environmental issues.)  “We are delighted to get this award," said Le Roy. "It really acknowledges the commitment to environmental excellence by SFU and its community members."

  • Business prof Andrey Pavlov was in the Epoch Times, saying the recent Bank of Canada boost in its benchmark interest rate is further evidence of Canada's leading position in the global economic recovery.

  • And Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was in a CTV story on the arrest of a 13-year-old boy in the arson of two landmark buildings in Gibsons BC.Gordon figures a tiny fire got out of hand. ‘Where there's been some sort of foolish activity, some sort of mistake, and the fire has taken hold of the building, which it will do very, very quickly, and before you know what happens it's burned to the ground,’ he said.”


  • Canwest News Service sent across the country a Vancouver Sun 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.
    In a study in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, the Fischer team argues that “universal use prohibition” is ineffective and should be replaced with a public health framework that aims “effective interventions” at a minority of early- and high-frequency users who face the greatest health risks.
    In The Province, Fischer was quoted as saying most casual users of cannabis suffer few ill effects but those who start young and smoke a lot of pot over a long period of time can suffer significant harm. “The way we go about cannabis policy is with a very big and heavy hammer and we see only one nail, which is the enforcement and punishment approach, so we hammer away at that. We have primarily a law that says all cannabis use is bad and we should punish all people who engage in that behaviour.” He proposed a “tightly controlled regulatory approach as we do with alcohol."
    Fischer told The Vancouver Sun: “For some reason, in this country we believe that the best professionals to educate people about drug use are the police, which makes absolutely no sense . . . because they are not public-health officials and they're not very knowledgeable in matters of public health or substance use—just the way we wouldn't use nurses or orderlies to prosecute criminals. That's just not the professional activity these people are equipped and trained for.''
    We saw the story in papers from the Victoria Times Colonist to the Sherbrooke (PQ) Record. Fischer was also interviewed by 24Hours.

  • Media around the world reported that the world's oldest leather shoe (5,500 years old) has been found perfectly preserved in a cave in Armenia—and there’s an SFU connection.
    Reuters news agency and Agence France Presse were among those who quoted archaeology team leader Ron Pinhasi of Ireland’s University College, Cork. And they noted “Mr. Pinhasi . . . started his archeology studies at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.” The Vancouver Suns coverage didn’t mention that—but National Post did.

  • An outdoors column in the Winnipeg Free Press offered 10 reasons why the long-gun registry should be scrapped. The 10 came from a presentation to a House of Commons committee last week by Gary Mauser, prof emeritus (SFU Business) and a student of national and international gun control. Mauser concluded:
    “In sum, the test of any governmental program should be whether it meets its goals. In this case, the long-gun registry has failed.  It has failed to save lives. It has failed to reduce murder, suicide or aggravated assault rates. The long-gun registry continues to cost Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars each year. This money could be better spent on other more useful law enforcement measures, or be directed towards a number of other key priorities for Canadians such as health care.”

  • The UK-based science website of carried a story on U.S. research into how a protein chain folds into the same 3-D shape each time and not into something dysfunctional or dangerous.“‘This is beautiful work,’ says Nancy Forde, an assistant professor of physics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, who was not involved in the research. ‘The (research) groups have made seminal contributions . . . .’”

  • Tony Wilson, adjunct prof in SFU Criminology, franchise lawyer and trademark consultant, writes a regular column in the Globe and Mail’s business pages. This week: the ins and outs of registering a patent.

  • Another adjunct prof, Steven Lewis, adjunct prof of health policy at SFU and the University of Calgary, wrote a guest column in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on a proposed private CT scanning facility in Regina. “The only thing we know for certain is that to add capacity means increased volume. CT scanning is not trivially cheap, and if substantial numbers are already of dubious value, doing more only will waste more money.”


  • Following up on a story about admission grade-requirements at BC universities, The Vancouver Sun found a new angle at SFU Business:
    “To combat sky-high admission requirements, Simon Fraser University's school of business is changing its application process to take into account extracurricular activities. A 92-per-cent high school average is needed to get into the popular program, but that's about to change.  As of next year, all students will be selected based on ‘broad-based’ admission requirements.
    "‘When our admission average exceeded [those needed for] engineering, I said,  “There's something wrong," Colleen Collins, SFU's associate dean, faculty of business, said. ‘We do have some kids who, it blows my mind that they can pull of the grades and do all of that. But once we've admitted Superman and Superwoman, let's see who else is doing great things out there.’
    “The school decided to shake up its admission process, which sees 1,400 applications for 450 spots, by starting a pilot project to look at the extracurricular lives of students.  Musicians, artists, athletes, social activists and community leaders are now sought after for the school of business. “
    The story also quoted Nancy Johnston, executive director of student affairs at SFU, as saying that although demographers are not predicting more applications to universities from Grade 12, they are up across the sector. “She thinks the rise is the result of many factors, including the fact that most jobs now require at least some post-secondary education. ‘It almost seems like the bachelor's degree level of the new millennium is like the high school diploma of the '70s,’ Johnston said.”

  • Media across BC reported the expansion of BC’s U-Pass transit program to include everyone enrolled in a post-secondary institution. The Province, for one, said: “The B.C. government said Tuesday it will offer a $30 U-Pass to all university and college students in Metro Vancouver and make sure no student in B.C. pays more than that through agreements with other districts.”
    24Hours and others noted that SFU students will stay at their current rate ($26.09 a month) until September 2011. The Georgia Straight reported: “Kyle Acierno, an SFU student association executive, said if the price is going up, students deserve more service. “I think students are willing to pay a little more money to keep this pass, as long as we get this increased service.”

  • The BC Technology Industry Association told media about its latest scholarship awards. Two went to SFU students: Scott Hirsch, pursuing a dual major in business and computer science and Jonathan Kehler, taking engineering science with a minor in computer science. “To help put himself through school, Scott has founded his own tutoring service and instructs students on a variety of academic subjects.  . . . A mature student, Jonathan continues to achieve academic excellence while also supporting a young family.”

  • In the continuing political battle between the Vancouver school board and the BC education ministry, education prof emeritus Paul Shaker was in the Vancouver Courier: “The voters of Vancouver have elected this board. This is democracy. At the next election if the voters believe that these board members are behaving out of line they'll elect other people, but I think the voters knew what they were getting when they elected the board. If not the school trustees, who should advocate for our children?”


  • The Brandon (MB) Sun was the first to report that SFU Athletics has offered Jamie Blake, formerly of Brandon, the head-coaching job with the Clan men’s basketball team:
    “The former (Brandon University) Bobcats player . . . has been offered the Simon Fraser Clan head coaching position, multiple sources told the Brandon Sun. SFU's opening came after longtime coach Scott Clark took the job at Thompson Rivers University last month.
    “A native of Victoria, Blake spent last season as an associate head coach at Columbia College in Sonora, Calif. He played three seasons with the Bobcats and won a national title with the team in 1996. Blake beat out three shortlisted candidates, among them former national team player Peter Gaurasci and former Laurentian head coach Virgil Hill. Simon Fraser will compete in the NCAA's Division II next season.”
    The Province noted: “The Simon Fraser Clan men's basketball team will begin life as an NCAA Div. 2 program next season with a Canadian coach who has been immersed in U.S. intercollegiate hoop.”

  • SFU Athletics announced to media that the Clan track and field team has commitments of from Del Ingvaldson (Surrey) and Jade Richardson (Nanaimo) to join the program in fall.
    “The pair mark the first two field recruits announced by head coach Brit Townsend as the Clan make their transition into NCAA Division II and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference next season.”
    The Nanaimo News Bulletin carried a feature on Richardson, a discus thrower. “The Grade 12 student lettered in volleyball, basketball, soccer and track and field this year at Nanaimo District Secondary School. She was an all-star on the basketball court and this past weekend, she won gold in the discus at the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships.  . . . ‘I like discus and I've decided this year it's what I'm going to do,’ Richardson said. ‘So we'll see how it works out.’"

  • The Globe and Mail looked at loopholes in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport drug-testing policy. The story quoted Clan head football coach Dave Johnson (whose team now is headed for the NCAA):
    “Dave Johnson, the football coach at Simon Fraser University, has a ‘zero substance’ policy which covers everything from performance-enhancing drugs to alcohol to cold medications not approved by the team's training staff.
    “Johnson said a former SFU Clan player who turned in a positive test several years ago, has subsequently come back and spoken with the team about his mistakes. Johnson has also spoken with his athletic director, David Murphy, and has full authority to test whomever he may suspect. The coach said he has asked two players to leave the team in the last two years because they refused to provide urine samples.
    "‘I actually think they should test every kid and that the time of year that they're tested should be the random component,’ Johnson said.”

  • Speaking of football: The Province wrote about the football plans of Vancouver's Eric Hamber Secondary, which is to be the first Vancouver public school to field a high-school football team since John Oliver Secondary's program folded five seasons ago.  Among those quoted was former John Oliver coach Ron Turner, now the defensive line coach for the Clan team. "I think this is a great thing for the city. And I am going to be watching it all with great interest."

  • The Saskatoon StarPhoenix wrote about the move to the University of Saskatchewan women’s basketball program of SFU Clan star Katie Miyazaki.  “She is just a good, all-around player who's going to keep us from dipping too much in terms of talent,” said Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis. “Although she was the CIS defensive player of the year, she still brings in a certain amount of offensive talent. She'll do well for us. We're real excited." Last season with SFU, Miyazaki averaged 9.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

  • The Innisfail (AB) Province featured swimmer Nicole Cossey of the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club, and noted: “In September, Cossey will be attending Simon Fraser University on a swimming scholarship. She said she is unsure of what she wants to do after school, but will be majoring in math at Simon Fraser.”

  • Softball Canada announced that Clan softball alumnae Erin Cumpstone and Melanie Matthews have been named to Team Canada for the 2010 women's world championship roster. SFU physiotherapist Laurie Freebairn is also on board as the team's physiotherapist. Both Cumpstone and Matthews played for Team Canada at the 2008 Olympics. The 2010 worlds will take place in Caracas, Venezuela June 23-July 2.


  • The Toronto Star featured rapper Shadrach Kabango of SFU as he toured this week to launch his third album, TSOL. “Meanwhile, he's still on the academic path—one semester away from completing a Masters in Liberal Arts at Simon Fraser University. And TSOL, which features fellow indie faves Broken Social Scene's Lisa Lobsinger, Classified and Justin Nozuka, has been garnering quite the buzz.”
    The Edmonton Sun and Calgary Herald also ran stories. So did the Hamilton Spectator.

  • And The Vancouver Sun told readers: “An art show at Simon Fraser University's Harbour Centre this week is depicting the impact of the 30,000 kilotons of obsolete electronics collected so far by B.C.'s nearly three-year-old e-waste recycling program. The ‘30,000 Tonne Challenge’ exhibit features the winners of an art competition held among elementary and secondary students to show the importance of electronics recycling.”


  • John Reynolds, Tom Buell BC leadership chair in salmon conservation in SFU Biological Sciences, is slated to be on CBC -TV’'s national news at 6pm Sunday. He was interviewed by reporter Curt Petrovich on the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye salmon run. Reynolds is one of two SFU researchers on a six-member scientific panel that will independently advise the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the collapse. (The other is Patricia Gallaugher, an adjunct prof and director of the Centre for Coastal Studies.)

  • And one for your datebooks: CBC-TV plans to broadcast on Aug. 7 a documentary on the SFU Pipe Band, and its capture in Scotland last August of its sixth world championship.


  • The Tri-City News told readers: “A Coquitlam chemist has a role in research that could provide relief to those suffering from diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.” The chemist is Mario Pinto, SFU's vice-president of research. With PhD student Sankar Mohan and post-doctoral fellow Jayakanthan Kumarasamy, Pinto is mapping starch-digesting enzymes. (In earlier stories, Pinto said the far-reaching goal would be to develop a dietary supplement to add to a diabetic's diet. “One day, these inhibitors could be sprinkled on to food in a powder form to control starch digestion.”

  • There were more blog mentions of the research announced last week by associate prof Steve DiPaola of SFU Interactive Arts + Technology, on how Rembrandt, working in the 1600s, pioneered what are typically thought of as artistic techniques that developed later. And the Discovery Channel made a date with DiPaola to film and interview him next week.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Vancouver Sun featured SFU grad Claudia Li, who is “helping to save the world's sharks, one bowl of soup at a time.”  The Sun continued:  “The business graduate from Simon Fraser University has founded Shark Truth, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping reverse the severe global decline in sharks due to the Asian demand for shark-fin soup.  . . . Li launched Shark Truth not to use attack or boycott tactics, but rather to engage the community on the issue. She started by asking Chinese couples to commit to not serving shark-fin soup at their weddings.”

  • Grad Sonya Chopra, who works with the U.S. National Jury Project, was on CBC Radio, talking about the impact on jurors of the Basi-Virk trial, who were told the trial would run for more than 10 months—not the six weeks first forecast.
    “I was quite surprised to hear that 10 immediately said that they’d be willing to commit to that long of a trial. . . . I don’t think they really understand what 10 months is going to mean to them. . . .  What I’ve found in my research is that anything longer than a month, five weeks, six weeks, you tend to have more stress reactions as the length of the trial progresses.”

  • The Vancouver Sun carried a guest column on the high rate of cardiovascular disease among South Asians—“an incidence more than triple the rest of Canada's population.” The column also promoted a conference on the subject: “The conference, which kicks off June 19, is being hosted by Simon Fraser University and Fraser Health Authority.” It takes place at the Surrey campus.


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