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SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - March 19, 2010

March 19, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: March 12-19, 2010

Canada’s version of March Madness brought huge media coverage of the march of the SFU Clan women’s basketball team to another national CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) title—the Clan’s second in a row and fifth in nine years.
Now it’s off to the NCAA next season for the team and head coach Bruce Langford—but some key Clan players will be missing. There were, as the Globe and Mail noted, some tears as the final CIS buzzer sounded in Hamilton ON.
More on this below.

MERCER REPORT

  • The Mercer Report on CBC-TV carried a six-minute segment on star Rick Mercer’s visit to the Burnaby campus last week, and his announcement that SFU won his nationwide ‘Spread the Net’ student challenge—a campaign to provide insecticide-treated bed nets for children in Africa. The segment will run again tonight (Friday March 19) at 8pm.

  • Featured on the segment was SFU’s malaria expert, Carl (Dr. Mosquito) Lowenberger: “We don't have a vaccine against malaria. We don't have cheap, efficacious drugs that can cure people that well. There's drug resistance. The sector of the population that suffers the most are children under the age of five. So the Spread the Net campaign, with its nets, can protect those children from being bitten by infected mosquitoes from the first five years of life, after which their immune system can tolerate the parasite a lot more.”
    Also on the show, a notable SFU alumnus: Premier Gordon Campbell.

  • 24Hours covered Mercer’s visit to the Burnaby campus. (Mercer) returned to the school Monday to announce that SFU raised $16,000 during the six-month campaign—more than any other school in Canada. ‘Congratulations to SFU, you won the gold medal!’”

  • The Burnaby NewsLeader and Surrey-North Delta Leader also reported: “Simon Fraser University has emerged victorious in a national competition to see which campus could raise the most money for the third annual Spread the Net-UNICEF Canada university challenge.”

BC NEWS

  • The Vancouver Sun reported that BC’s Local Government Elections Task Force, set up to overhaul the rules that govern local elections, is doing its work in secret. “Simon Fraser public policy professors Patrick Smith and Kennedy Stewart wonder how a panel with a mandate to make municipal elections fair, open and accessible can carry out its work away from any public scrutiny.”
    The story added: “Smith and Stewart have made their own presentation to the panel, co-chaired by Community and Rural Development Minister Bill Bennett and UBCM president Harry Nyce. It is posted on Stewart's website, kennedystewart.ca.”
    Meanwhile, Smith wrote a guest column in the Burnaby NewsLeader urging people to send ideas to the task force at LocalElectionsTaskForce@gov.bc.ca.
    “The task force  . . . is B.C.’s best chance to fix the province’s local election system. We can assist them by offering our ideas on getting rid of the increasingly large amounts of unregulated money involved in our local elections across the province. To do less than fix that will be to not fix anything at all.”

  • The Vancouver Sun also continued a series looking at genetically modified foods. It listed as consultants for the series four scientists—two from SFU.
    • Pat Howard is professor emerita of Simon Fraser University's school of communication, where she taught courses on science and public policy with a focus on controversies and regulation of applications of genetic engineering in agriculture and medicine.
    • Zamir K. Punja is a plant biotechnologist at Simon Fraser University who has developed GM carrots, ginseng and other crops to fight off disease-causing microbes.”

      The latest round of the series included this: “Organic growers whose crops are infiltrated by pollen released by GM plants could be unable to sell their crops as organic, concedes Zamir Punja, a biotechnologist working at Simon Fraser University. Some flax farmers were wiped out when their fields were contaminated by an unapproved GM strain, points out bioethicist Pat Howard."

  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was in the Surrey-North Delta Leader, in a story that reported a first big success for Metro Vancouver Commerce, an agency set up to try to convert Olympic corporate visits into new investment here.  Its first win, a $1-million Korean investment in a Surrey firm developing carbon-cleaning technology.
    Said Meredith: “For an extra million dollars, this is a hell of a good deal. This is the time you spend the extra money and don't keep your hands in your pocket."
    The Mission City Record also ran the story.

  • Biomedical physiologist Andy Hoffer was on the On the Coast show on CBC Radio, talking about his Neurostep, an implanted medical device that stimulates paralyzed feet, to enable walking. This after SFU sent out a news release saying Hoffer is one of four SFU scientists who will be honoured with 2010 LifeSciences B.C. awards on April 14.

  • The Vancouver Sun wrote about a study for the Fraser Institute by Alex Moens, SFU political scientist and a senior fellow of the Institute. “The all-important Canada-U.S. economic partnership is in serious jeopardy, according to a new economic analysis by the Fraser Institute. A malaise has developed following an avalanche of post-9/11 border restrictions, writes Simon Fraser University professor Alexander Moens, one that ‘will eventually frustrate the entrepreneurial spirit, and investment and trade will decline.’"

  • Communication prof Richard Smith was in a story on the VancouverObserver.com, on the nomination of the internet for a Nobel Peace Prize.  Said Smith: “The internet is a device, with no free will or intentionality and the idea that an object or device deserves a peace prize is kind of lame. . . I suppose it was nominated by people who see how the internet could be used to further peace. But we could also nominate the wheel. Or concrete.”

  • Peter Chow-White, assistant prof in SFU Communication, was in a discussion on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio, looking at how media coverage of—and online buzz and blogs about—the Paralympic Games was notably lighter than for the Olympics.

  • Computer scientist Herbert Tsang of the Surrey campus talked to multicultural Omni-TV about a new Apple iPhone game, developed by alumnus Sunny Tam following a Tsang class project on it. The application is a game called Aerikuma in which you "harness the wind as you travel through a surreal forest teaming with hostile wildlife."

  • The Prince George Citizen questioned the number of jobs that would be “created” in the region by Enbridge's proposed oil and condensate pipeline. Enbridge is talking of 200 jobs in BC and Alberta. But The Citizen spoke with Tim van Hinte, who looked at the project in a 2005 master’s thesis at SFU.
    “What I've learned is that, most of the time, the actual number of jobs you are creating is grossly overestimated.” The paper added: “Using the data from van Hinte's report, a tabulation by The Citizen showed that at the 15-per-cent level for local hires cited in Enbridge's preliminary filing, and filtering out the jobs in Alberta, the employment flowing to local workers in northern B.C. would average about 100 in the first year, under 200 in the second year and about 50 in the third year.”

  • PhD candidate Natasha Patterson of SFU Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, wrote a guest column in the Georgia Straight that began: “Despite arguments to the contrary, the women’s rights movement is as relevant now as ever—even vital. The recent weeklong celebrations honouring International Women’s Day certainly attest to this, proving that worldwide, the women’s movement has made great gains in some areas. Yet there is much work that clearly stills needs to be done.”

NATIONAL NEWS

  • National Post’s coverage of the avalanche that killed two snowmobilers in BC included comment from SFU avalanche scientist Pascal Haegeli. The newspaper noted the Canadian Avalanche Centre had spoken of a project that would investigate snowmobilers' attitudes and how they approach decision-making in avalanche terrain.
    “‘The idea is to understand the psychology and the mentality of the snowmobilers,’ said Pascal Haegeli, a professor at Simon Fraser University and mastermind of the project, adding the centre is awaiting approval from the federal National Search and Rescue Secretariat.”
    Haegeli was also in the Globe and Mail: “Pascal Haegeli, an avalanche safety researcher from Simon Fraser University's faculty of environment, said there needs to be a cultural shift among snowmobilers before the community will really embrace the education that will keep them safer.”

  • The Globe and Mail reported that “for-profit residential care homes have become the most recent group in a growing list of those who will not be paying the new 12-per-cent HST in B.C.”  The story quoted public finance expert Jon Kesselman of SFU as saying relief for a care home may have more appeal than for restaurants, which have carried out a vocal campaign against the HST.
    “(But) each time the government does something, it keeps hope alive for other groups that would like special treatment."

  • Also in the Globe and Mail, columnist Roy MacGregor regretted that in journalism these days “what has come to matter more than anything else is the number of (online) hits a certain story receives.” He quoted SFU Communication prof Richard Gruneau:
    “When journalism becomes nothing more than digital hits, the more provocative you are—often, the more obnoxious you are—the higher the hit count. In that sense, the system pressures you to become a dick.
    “Who cares if what you say is good, let alone whether there is any truth in it or not? When everything becomes opinion, the most opinionated, most strident and least compromising ‘journalists' are the ones who rattle enough cages, or inspire enough like-minded devotees, to build the hit count.  And if you can somehow get the people you piss off arguing with your devotees, then your hit count will really soar.”

  • Gerontologist Gloria Gutman was on CBC-TV’s national news, in a story on a call by the Canadian Medical Association for more screening of seniors who drive. Gutman suggested more provinces should develop software like Alberta's "Drive Able" program, which measures reflexes and eye-hand coordination. Doctors, she said, “should not be placed in the position of having to be the bad guy and make the decision when they can't actually see how the person is doing.”

  • The Edmonton Journal picked up a story from the Los Angeles Times on efforts to help developing countries clean up their environmental acts. Among other things, the story said:
    “It's no sure thing that  . . . carbon offset programs—where First World industries and nations pay for plans to reduce carbon emissions in poorer nations—will even work, says Mark Jaccard, a Simon Fraser University environmental economist and an expert in climate change policy.  . . .
    “‘The research of myself and others tends to suggest that perhaps 50 per cent of projects will fail tests of additivity, permanence and leakage—but we cannot say which individual projects are the ones that are not additive, will not be permanent or will lead to leakage.’"

  • Bruce Lanphear, physician and environmental health researcher in SFU Health Sciences, was in a CTV story about the recall by Bauer of 100,000 youth hockey sticks because of potentially dangerous levels of lead. He told CTV:
    "Even at exceedingly low levels -- levels that a few years ago we thought were safe or innocuous -- we're finding that children's intellectual abilities are being affected. And there's also increased risks for behavioural problems like ADHD.”
    Earlier, the Peterborough (ON) Examiner quoted Lanphear in a story that reported lead levels in the blood of children in Hamilton are higher, on average, than those found in children in the U.S. "This should serve as a wake-up call that there are children who continue to be exposed to unacceptable levels of lead,” said Lanphear.

TAX WHACKS

  • Public policy prof Doug McArthur was on CBC-TV, on the impact of increases in assorted increases in taxes and charges for public services.
    "The recently announced rate increases for hydro, natural gas, ferries, transit, water and sewer and property taxes are placing a lot of pressure on the pocket books of non-management workers, who continue to undergo declines in their actual wages that have been under way for some time".

  • Later, CBC Radio played a clip from McArthur on the impact of a 13-per-cent increase on the commodity price of gas for customers on Terasen's variable rate plan in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior, North and Kootenay regions. The BC Utilities Commission has approved the increase.

  • Then McArthur was on GlobalTV, pursuing further the issue of real wages waning while taxes are waxing.
    "Examination of economic trends and structural change in the BC economy shows a long-term downward trend in workers' earnings, while costs of services provided by various levels of government and utilities continue to increase through taxes and charges.
    "No one is looking at the over-all affect of taxes and utilities on the majority of people in BC who are experiencing a decline in their average wages and job insecurity as the recession continues to bite."

  • McArthur also spent an hour on Vaughn Palmer's Voice of BC show on Shaw-TV, talking with Palmer and Jock Finlayson, executive V-P at the Business Council of BC, about the latest BC budget.
    McArthur's capsule comment: "The 2010 BC Budget tells us nothing about how we got into this economic situation and it contains no plan for how we will get out of it. There is nothing to address the structural strains in the provincial economy, and no measures to offset the shift into low value, low wage sectors".

  • Colleague Jon Kesselman was in a Globe and Mail report that “for-profit residential care homes have become the most recent group in a growing list of those who will not be paying the new 12-per-cent HST in B.C.”  The story quoted Kesselman as saying relief for a care home may have more appeal than for restaurants, which have carried out a vocal campaign against the HST “(But) each time the government does something, it keeps hope alive for other groups that would like special treatment."

POLICE BEAT

  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was on CBC News, saying the seizure of more than a tonne of cocaine on Vancouver Island will drive up the street price of the illicit substance.
    "Anybody who's holding cocaine at the moment is going to find themselves with a bit of a bonus. [The seizure] obviously does not stop the flow of drugs into Canada from a variety of sources from the south, but it's going to have an impact on the value of the existing cocaine that's on the marketplace at the moment."
    In Vancouver, Gordon was also in the 24Hours newspaper, saying most of the hard drugs that work their way up to Canada from South America are transported in trucks. But “some of the [trucking routes] have been disrupted so it has them resorting to old techniques, which included the sea.”
    And Gordon told CTV News: “The first group you think about when you see something on this scale is the Hells Angels or Hells Angels in a consortium with other groups.”

  • Gordon was also called by CBC Radio when Vancouver police announced crime in general had dropped during the Olympics, though violent crime and assaults (mostly minor and alcohol-fuelled) had increased by 30%. Gordon noted: “There were far more targets in the city during the games, but on the other hand (there was) far more security.”
    But he wondered aloud if the statistics were valid—many visiting foreigners might not have reported minor crimes.

  • Criminologist Liz Elliot was in a YouTube video on “the three big lies gangs tell”. (“The first big lie is that gangs offer you protection.”) The video was featured on the website of Dating.9downsoft.com.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

  • The Vancouver Sun gave critical thumbs down to SPINE, playing at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodward's, and closing tomorrow, Saturday March 20.
    “Remember the elephant designed by a committee of blind people? It has nothing on SPINE, a multimedia production so scattered that it borders on incoherence. Let loose long before it was ready, this co-production by Realwheels Theatre and the University of Alberta's drama department is a warning of what happens when something that's not much more than a student exercise is handed buckets of money, in this case by the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.”
    The Vancouver Courier was also unimpressed:  “Act 2 begins (in) the land of avatars with a frolicking panda bear, a horny goldilocks and a clumsy knight in shining armour. This is where (playwright Kevin) Kerr and his cast of 14 lost me. . . . Give me characters I can relate to and a story I can follow in a world that looks something like the one I'm living in.”

  • So who is “Dr. Jerry Chen, an enigmatic and emotionally frail computer genius and research professor at Simon Fraser University”? The answer: a character in Tomorrow's Paper, a sci-fi novel that “raises concerns about advances in science, medicine and computer technology.” It’s written by Richard Allen Wunderlich, Salmon Arm teacher and author, and was featured this week in the Salmon Arm Observer.

EDUCATION

  • Maclean’s on Campus did a story on SFU’s application for accreditation by the U.S. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. “Being the first large research university in Canada to look south of the border for accreditation, the university’s move highlights the fact that Canada lacks any national mechanism for assuring quality of post-secondary institutions.”
    Quoted was Glynn Nicholls, academic planning and budgeting director, who is also accreditation project manager: “We feel that this is going to be an enormous benefit to us. . . . International students are seeking assurance that SFU has accreditation. This will put us on the standing with American universities that they may be considering.”
    Also quoted was Jon Driver, VP-academic and accreditation sponsor.
    InsideHigherEd.com also carried a story.

  • The Globe and Mail’s online Campus2 section had several mentions of SFU:
    • A story about MBAs with a biotechnology twist said in part: “Melissa McCrae, executive director of graduate programs at Simon Fraser University's faculty of business administration, notes that many students who enroll in the school's MBA in management of technology and biotechnology program have worked in research for some time and now want to move into the business side of their organization. SFU also sees students who are interested in becoming research program managers. . . .”
    • A feature on courses on “real-world financial and investment issues” noted: “At Simon Fraser University, the 55 students in the one-year Master of Financial Risk Management program were chosen from about 300 applicants, says Anton Theunissen, academic director of graduate finance programs and an adjunct professor of finance at the university's Segal Graduate School of Business.  . . . ‘Going forward, we want to be a step ahead of changes in market sentiment … there is now a clear market appetite for financial risk management.’"
    • And a feature on “EMBA courses shot through with green” included: “‘A lot of people used to think of sustainability as being a cost," says Dr. Ed Bukszar, associate dean at the Segal Graduate School of Business at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Bukszar believes that view of sustainability is changing. ‘If you can develop sustainable technological advances, it will give you a long-term competitive advantage,’ he says, explaining that leading sustainable companies are able to build stronger brands, attract better people and charge a premium for their product.”
    • Bukszar was also in a story about the various public rankings of MBA programs. “’It's true that students do ask about our rankings. . . . Is it credible information? Sure, but it's only one piece of information. The schools that are ranked well are all pretty good schools, but are they the only good schools? No.’ Prof. Bukszar says Simon Fraser puts on information sessions, attends MBA fairs and increasingly uses blogging. He acknowledges that ‘it's complicated for students to figure out all the differences between programs without some kind of simplifying method. Rankings provide some of that simplification.’"

  • Brenda Taylor, SFU’s director of human rights and equity, was in an article in University Affairs that looked at how complaints about sexual harassment at universities have dropped over the years, and how universities better handle them.

  • Coquitlam Now told readers that spaces are still available for K-5 students to participate in a four-day spring break camp offered in partnership between School District 43 and SFU. “The School of Wonderstanding connects kids to the wonder and understanding of the world around them through hands-on learning activities such as cooking, crafts, indoor and outdoor games, dance, sports, science experiments and drama.”

  • The New Westminster NewsLeader reported the appointment of Kathy Denton as vice president of education at Douglas College. She holds bachelors and masters degrees in criminology from SFU, and a PhD in psychology from Western Ontario.

  • American University in Washington DC told media about the opening of its new Center for Latin American and Latino Studies. Director Eric Hershberg, former director of Latin American studies at SFU, said: “AU will be at the forefront of efforts to forge a truly interdisciplinary intellectual community devoted to issues in Latin American and Latino Studies.”

ATHLETICS

  • The Clan women’s basketball team came from behind to beat the University of Windsor Lancers 77-56 in the CIS final. Windsor got off to a quick 8-2 lead, and then 15-6. But the Clan put on a 20-3 run in the second quarter, and by halftime it was SFU 39-27. At the end of the third quarter, SFU was up 57-41.
    Robyn Buna, CIS player of the year and tournament MVP, led the Clan with 17 points along with two steals and an assist. Laurelle Weigl added 16 points and was named game MVP.  Kate Hole scored 11 points and seven rebounds, and was selected a tournament all-star.
    Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe picked off 10 rebounds, while Matteke Hutzler and Katie Miyazaki grabbed seven apiece.
    Buna said this was the perfect way to end her CIS career, as one of seven Clan players on this roster to win a third championship ring. Weigl, Hutzler, Hole, Lisa Tindle, Brea McLaughlin, and Kelsey Horsting also became three-time champions.
    Now it’s off to the NCAA next season for the Clan and head coach Bruce Langford—but Buna, Hole, Hutzler, Weigl, McLaughlin and Tindle all leave the Clan.
    As the Globe and Mail reported: “As the buzzer rang in the final of the national university women's basketball championship yesterday, three fourth-year players of the No. 1 Simon Fraser University Clan, who had just dusted the University of Windsor Lancers 77-56, burst into tears. . . . Since U.S. college players are ineligible after four years of play, four stars on SFU's women's basketball team will be robbed of their fifth year wearing the Clan's red uniform.”
    The final game was shown live on TSN2. And there’s a Clan video recap online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeXufSNbLKg
    Meanwhile, Scott McLean, media, broadcast and sports information director in SFU Athletics, added a new twist to his coverage of the final (and two earlier playoff games) with play-by-play commentary on Twitter.

  • The Clan got into the Bronze Baby final by putting on second-half heat to defeat the U of Regina Cougars 69-57. SFU’s national ace, Buna, was heavily guarded. But Tindle found enough room to nail 17 points—15 of them on three-pointers—and was named game MVP. Hole added 15 points, and eight apiece came from Miyazaki, Weigl and Hutzler.
    There’s a video recap at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXYiLWrOrko

  • The Clan won the semi-final berth against Regina by thumping the McMaster Marauders 94-76 in the opening quarter-final in McMaster University’s Burridge Gymnasium, Hamilton. Buna racked up 27 points, Hutzler 20, and Miyazaki, CIS defensive player of the year, 11 points and nine rebounds.
    There’s a video recap of that one at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyalnJgPMrk

In other sports:

  • Paralympic skier Matt Hallat, SFU Business student, was the cover-photo for Georgia Straight this week (as he was also for SFU News last week) but had less initial luck on the slopes at Whistler.
    He finished 17th in the first run of the men's (standing) slalom on Monday March 15 and 31st in the second run. He didn't start in his giant slalom event on Wednesday March 17, but he got an 11th-place finish in the men's standing downhill event the following day.
    His Super G slalom and his Super Combined Slalom events were both rescheduled to today (Friday March 19).

  • In Salem OR, the Clan softball team defeated the Corban College Warriors 5-2 and 7-5. Pitcher Myriam Poirier won the second game, and earned the save in the first while the victory went to Jennifer Van Egdom.
    The next day, though, in Portland OR, the Clan lost 5-2 and 6-4 to the Concordia University Cavaliers. Van Egdom took the loss in Game 1 and Poirier in Game 2 as the Clan’s season-record slipped to 8-4.

  • The Calgary Herald and the Canoe.ca sports network featured the selection of SFU student Curtis Manning, of the Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse team, to Team Canada for the world field championships this summer in England. Said The Herald:
    “On the weekends, Curtis Manning is bashing bodies for the Calgary Roughnecks. During the week at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., however, the rookie defenceman is focused on fixing them. Working as a teacher's assistant for an introductory kinesiology class and spending most of his time in research labs, Manning is waiting for his acceptance into medical school at the University of British Columbia.”

SFU RELEASES

  • SFU sent out a news release about the next six people who will get honorary degrees.
    • In June: Beverley Busson, retired RCMP commissioner; Alexandra Morton, BC  biologist who links sea lice infestation in wild salmon to fish farming; Gordon Gibson, Vancouver political columnist, author and former Liberal politician; and Julio Montaner, a physician who is one of the world’s leading AIDS specialists.
    • In October: Pat Carney, former journalist, and Canadian senator; and George Cohon, founding senior chair of both McDonald's of Canada and McDonald's of Russia, and founder of Ronald McDonald Children's Charities.
      Both the Victoria Times-Colonist and the Campbell River Courier-Islander mentioned Morton’s degree in separate items about her.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Burnaby NewsLeader reported that the city of Burnaby has named ex-SFUer Chris Hildred, 74, as its 2009 outstanding citizen of the year, in recognition of volunteerism in crime-fighting and community policing. His volunteer work included producing a community cable-TV series on the subject, “calling on his 30 years of work experience in media production at Simon Fraser University.”

  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader told readers: “Hundreds of people joined the South Asian Family Association for its second International Women's Day celebration on March 7 at Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus.”

  • The Province’s On the Move section reported:Connie Abram has assumed the role of executive director of the Canadian Diabetes Association BC & Yukon region. Abram attended Simon Fraser University, then in 1993, she moved to Hawaii and spent more than a decade heading the Hawaii division of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Since her return to Canada in 2007, she has been working in the not-for-profit sector.”

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