SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: March 19-26, 2010


  • A hefty documentary package—citing research into airline pilot fatigue by kinesiology prof Hal Weinberg 10 years ago—has been running on CBC Radio, Radio Canada, CBC-TV and CBC Newsworld. This following a Transportation Safety Board report raising pilot fatigue as a factor in 12 accidents that killed 28 people over the last decade.
    CBC reported Weinberg had found in the late 1990s that pilots fly in a sort of automated mode when all is well, but “when they were very tired, they had a hard time coming out of this automated mode in to the active mode. If there is an emergency of some kind, you have to pop out of this automated mode and know what you're doing and be able to process complex information that you didn't anticipate. That's where the danger is.”
    In 2001, Weinberg was commissioned by Ottawa to report on pilot fatigue, and submitted six recommendations.
    CBC found Ottawa shelved four of his six recommendations pending further study—but the further study was never done.
    The deleted sections called for duty schedules that take into account the pilot’s natural circadian rhythms (which some world airlines now do.)
    “Somebody taking off at, let's say, two o'clock in the morning is not the same as they are taking off at nine o'clock in the morning after eight hours of sleep,’ Weinberg told the CBC.

  • US News & World Report put out its worldwide university rankings, with SFU placing #196 among the "Top 400" universities and #11 among the top 20 Canadian universities. In the Top 400 list, Harvard was #1, followed by Cambridge, with Yale in the #3 spot. McGill was the leading Canadian school in the Top 400, at #18, followed by Toronto at #29 and UBC at #40. (More on this under ‘University Rankings’ below.)

  • Avalanche scientist Pascal Haegeli of SFU Resource and Environmental Management was on GlobalTV, and on the Canada AM show on CTV, talking about deadly avalanches in BC—and the mindsets of people who risk them. He argued that education is a better tool than regulation.
    “Think about this Big Iron Shootout, this big snowmobile event that happened a week ago (and where two people were killed in an avalanche).  Last year at the same event, we had 2,500 people out there. This year we only had 200. . . . So people are generally listening to the message. We just have to do a better job at reaching people who so far don't hear the message.”

  • Canwest News Service sent out a newsfeature on summer job prospects for students, and quoted SFU’s Tony Botelho: "I expect a lot of short-term contracts, not a big wave of full-time, permanent hires." The story said in part:
    "A recent small summer job fair at British Columbia's Simon Fraser University was nearly cancelled in January due to a lack of interest from employers. But career-services manager Tony Botelho says things took a sudden turn last month. ‘We suddenly got all these requests, and we went from five to 16 (participants) in just a couple of weeks,’ he says. The university has also seen a 56% increase in job-board postings since January, compared to last year.”
    Meanwhile, SFU sent media a news release quoting Adam Brayford of SFU Career Services. “Adam Brayford has two words of advice: proactive planning. ‘Students who begin making contact with potential employers months in advance of summer have the best chance of finding the jobs they want. June is too late to start looking.’”
    And that led to Brayford being interviewed on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio, and pursued by, among others, 24Hours.

  • On top of that, SFU told media how the university’s Co-op program is celebrating Co-op Education Week—and the national recognition of one of its students. “Mona Jalili, a biomedical physiology and kinesiology student, is one of two recipients of the 2009 Canadian Association For Co-operative Education Co-op Student of the Year award.”
    Brayford discussed co-op week on the Early Edition as well—and set up a Chinese-speaking co-op student to do an interview with Fairchild TV.

  • The Canadian Press quoted political scientist Stuart Farson in a national story on suggestions that a special committee of senior parliamentarians examine sensitive federal documents about Afghan detainees, rather than using former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci.
    "’I think, if anything, the Colvin affair makes the need for a parliamentary committee even more necessary than before,’ said Stuart Farson, an adjunct professor of political science at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.”
    (Colvin is the diplomat-whistleblower who alleged last year that most prisoners Canada transferred to Afghan custody were subsequently tortured.)

  • A National Post story on corporate social responsibility quoted John Peloza of SFU Business: "’The bottom line for why companies should do it is because it makes financial sense,’" Prof. Peloza says, noting there is a small positive correlation between corporate responsibility and profits. For this to work, he says the company needs to strike a balance between corporate responsibility and the drive for profits.”

  • The reported that an explosion of lionfish population in Bahamian waters threatens coral reefs, and this threatens tourism, fishing and related industries. The story noted: “Scientist Dr. Isabelle Cote, a professor at Simon Fraser University, reported finding nearly 400 per 2.5 acres (hectare) here.”


  • The Vancouver Sun gave front-page treatment to a story on how surrounding fish farms with waste-eating shellfish farms and kelp could keep them in the ocean—and help restore damaged marine environments. Among the scientists on the research project: Duncan Knowler, associate dean in SFU’s Faculty of Environment.
    “The story included this: “By extracting more value from the feed used in aquaculture and creating markets for the extra shellfish and seaweeds they grow, producers can keep the price of farmed salmon lower and mitigate the industry's impact on the environment, making it an attractive choice for consumers, said the project's economist, Duncan Knowler of Simon Fraser University.”
    SFU issued a news release in which Knowler said: “In B.C., a likely configuration would mean situating shellfish-growing units next to and downstream from fish pens, and then locating a further set of kelp ‘rafts’ after the shellfish to capture additional wastes.”

  • Özlem Sensoy, assistant prof in SFU Education, wrote a guest column for The Vancouver Sun on the controversial speaking tour of Canada by Ann Coulter, the contentious conservative U.S. commentator.
    “Coulter's speech is  . . . another series of burps in the historical and currently existing framework that has normalized a particular way of thinking about Muslims, gays and lesbians, and other marginalized groups,” wrote Sensoy.
    “Whether it's humorous ‘jokes’ about Muslims taking flying carpets instead of airplanes, or real remarks calling for the deaths of abortion doctors and condemning gays and lesbians, all speech is not free, neutral, and deserving of utterance. You can't just say whatever the hell you want.”

  • Earlier, public policy prof Kennedy Stewart wrote a guest column for The Vancouver Sun, proposing a new elected regional council to oversee economic development in the Metro region. “The Olympics helped us show the world Vancouver's beauty, now let's have a new regional mayor convince them it is also a great place to invest.”

  • The Vancouver Sun wrapped up a series on municipal election reform, a series that several times featured public policy profs Stewart and Patrick Smith. In the final story, Smith said BC needs limits on campaign donations and spending.
    "At the moment there are no limits on anything. There are huge amounts of money being spent, some of the mayoral candidates in Metro Vancouver are spending four or five times their salary to get elected. The amounts are getting absurd. It would make sense to bring the municipal rules more in line with the federal and provincial rules.”
    The Globe and Mail later ran a story on the issue, too. In it, Smith was quoted: “If you can fix the money problem, that's the issue. There is so much money now and no regulation and no capacity to police third-party spending. It's kind of a mess."

  • The North Shore News featured the Leadership Exchange Program, which paired up Aboriginal chiefs with non-Aboriginal CEOs with the aim of building mutual respect and understanding. “The idea was brought forth by the West Vancouver-based Industry Council for Aboriginal Business and the Learning Strategies Group at Simon Fraser University Business.
    Rick Colbourne, executive director of the Learning Strategies Group, explained: “They don't switch places. What they do is spend time with their partner in the community or corporation and experience the different kinds of decision-making that has to happen while they're doing business." He did an interview on the Early Edition show on CBC.

  • The Vancouver Courier featured Claudia Li, a recent SFU grad and founder of the group Shark Truth, which seeks to end the slaughter of millions of sharks, mostly for their fins to go into soup. Said the Courier:
    "Dr. Nick Dulvy, an SFU biological sciences professor who acts as scientific adviser for Shark Truth, said the removal of predators often has a severe effect on the ecosystem. He cited an instance where a lack of large sharks resulted in an abundance of medium-sized sharks. With fewer predators to deal with, the medium-sized sharks ate excessive amounts of bay scallops, and the net effect was the ruin of the fisheries formerly provided by the scallops."
    The Province then did its own story, noting Li and colleague Vivian Kwong “have enlisted Nick Dulvy of Simon Fraser University's department of biological sciences, who said Wednesday that an estimated 33 million sharks are harvested each year ‘to provide the world with shark fin soup.’ He said 11 of 21 shark species face an elevated risk of extinction at current fishing levels.”
    CBC News also did a story with Dulvy in it.

  • Peter Ladner, former Vancouver councillor and now a fellow at the SFU Centre for Dialogue, wrote a guest piece for The Vancouver Sun on urban farming. He cited a number of initiatives: “Here in Vancouver, urban farming is moving beyond the high-profile community and allotment gardens at places such as Burrard and Davie.”

  • The Terrace Standard carried a guest column from Ginger Gosnell-Myers, who is finishing her masters in public policy at SFU. With the 10-year anniversary of the Nisga’a treaty approaching, she wrote: "Without a burst of economic growth soon, the Nisga’a government may fail and face bankruptcy. Nobody said this would be easy. But Nisga’a have never been known to give up on the dream."

  • The Province, the Victoria Times-Colonist and reported that Alexandra Morton, opponent of salmon farms in areas used by migrating wild fish, is hoping to mobilize support by walking from Sointula to Victoria. The stories noted that she will get an honorary degree from SFU for her work linking sea-lice infestation in wild salmon to fish farming.

  • The Vancouver looked at whether Vancouver is making progress on its plan to become “the greenest city on the planet by 2020”.  The news-and-commentary website quoted Mike Volker, director of SFU’s Industry Liaison Office: “Those are hard questions to answer mainly because it is not defined what ‘greenest city’ means. How would one know or measure that?”


  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was in a Victoria Times Colonist story about a YouTube video that shows a Victoria policeman kicking two young men who were on the ground, as police moved in after a nightclub brawl.
    “Gordon said the damaging video diminishes public confidence at a time when there's increasing displays of police violence.  . . . ‘It's a loss of temper and it's excessive and doesn't achieve the objective to get the person under control and under arrest,’ Mr. Gordon said.”
    The Province picked up the story.

  • Gordon was also in a Canwest News Service report on purchases by police in Canada of armoured vehicles for heavy tactical operations: "What kind of urban warfare do police services think they're going to be encountering? I think there is an element of this equipment being purchased because it's new toys for boys. . . . We're talking about the streets you and I occupy. We're not talking about Kandahar. What will they do next? Drive them into the fronts of people's houses?"

  • And Gordon was in Globe and Mail and CTV stories on how police are digging into computer evidence and online postings in the murder of Victoria teenager Kimberly Proctor. Gordon said cyber-evidence has become a vital tool for police investigators.
    "On the upside it can be of great assistance, because it provides an opportunity for a large number of people to provide information very easily. The downside is that there's going to be a huge amount of information, and police will be faced with the daunting task of trying to analyze all this material and sort the wheat from the chaff. And there's going to be a lot of chaff."
    He agreed in a Victoria Times Colonist story that while online information from the public can be helpful in tracking a victim's recent movements and relationships, it can also be “a source of gossip, some of which borders on defamation, and rumour that can actually be a hindrance to the investigation."

  • Criminologist Neil Boyd wrote a guest piece for The Vancouver Sun in which he provided some spoof “answers” for Prime Minister Harper to give next time he’s asked on YouTube about keeping marijuana out of the hands of children. Boyd’s script included this:
    “Our polling has told us that getting tough on people who cultivate marijuana is winning us votes. And I don't think that policies that win governments votes are ineffectual. Our policies play well with an increasingly large population of poorly informed and somewhat fearful Canadians.”
    The Bill Good Show on CKNW promptly set up an interview with Boyd.

  • Kamloops This Week quoted Boyd in a feature on the life and death of Gary Cavanagh, a man with a criminal record who was gunned down there in 2006. (Two men have just been jailed for the killing.)
    Neil Boyd, a criminologist professor at Simon Fraser University, says it is common for a society to react less sympathetically to the death of an individual with a checkered past, as opposed to a person who has died of no fault of their own. ‘Anytime you get a stranger-homicide, where the victim is entirely innocent, you are going to have a lot more of an outpouring of concern than you are when people who are living by the sword and dying by the sword,’ he says.”

  • Boyd was also cited in a news release from the Canadian Bar Association Responding to calls for cameras to be placed in courtrooms, the association said: “Education—not just cameras—is what we need in our courtrooms."
    The media release added: “Research completed by Simon Fraser University Professor Neil Boyd, commissioned by the CBABC and funded by the Law Foundation, reviewed literature from Canada and other jurisdictions and concluded that education about the justice system positively affects public confidence in the system.”

  • Canwest News Service quoted SFU’s Stephen Easton in a story on a report that suggests that throwing more police resources at the war on drugs will only make the bloodshed worse, not bring peace to the streets.
    “Stephen Easton, an economics professor at B.C.'s Simon Fraser University who has called for legalization of marijuana, said the report's findings should be heeded closely. ‘I think this would certainly contribute to the debate in no uncertain terms. I think it needs to be talked about . . . It's not a question of whether you will have illegal drugs, it's a question of who will make money off it.’"


  • Scott McLean, director of media, broadcast and sports information in SFU Athletics, kept media up to speed on a Texas tour by the Clan softball team and head coach Mike Renney. The Clan went 5-0 on the trip (with three other games rained out) and brought their record to 13-4 for the season.
    The Clan first defeated the host Houston Jaguars 4-3 and 3-2 in the University of Houston-Victoria Invitational tournament. SFU then went on to San Antonio to beat the Trinity University Tigers 11-0 and 11-4, and the University of the Incarnate Word 4-1.
    Rain permitting, the Clan hosts the Seattle University RedHawks for a doubleheader at Delta’s Brandrith Park Sunday afternoon (March 28). The first game is scheduled for 1 pm.

  • The Province featured recruit Kia Van Laare, who will join the Clan women’s basketball team in the NCAA next fall. Initially turned down, she made a last-hope call to head coach Bruce Langford—and got yes for an answer.  “I think she has been the fastest-improving point guard in the province this year," said Langford. “And she has a huge desire to get even better."

  • The Bellingham Herald reported Jake Christianson, defensive tackle and running back for the high-school Lynden (WA) Lions has committed to attend SFU and join the Clan football team.  “Christianson was Lynden's third-leading rusher during last year's run to the state title, totaling 255 yards and three touchdowns on 57 carries. But he said the Clan most likely will use him most on defense in a hybrid position between inside linebacker and safety.”

  • The Province’s sporting Kurtenblog looked at whether Division II of the NCAA, and its Great Northwest Atlantic Conference, are the right fit for SFU.
    The writers noted: "Division II suits SFU's size and approach and philosophy," senior director of athletics, David Murphy, said in July. "Division II is right for us."
    But they went on to argue: “SFU will save on travel expenses by joining the GNAC.  It might also have a recruiting advantage over CIS schools by being able to offer scholarships that cover room and board in addition to just tuition. But it won't be attracting the cream of the Canadian-athlete crop in Div. II.  Serious high-school basketball players from this country will still be tempted to choose Div. I hoops in Middle of Nowhere, America, over playing at home in the GNAC.”

  • Also in the news: The SFU hockey club won the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League title for the second time in three years. Chris Chan and Jas Rai scored for SFU in a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Thompson Rivers University. SFU goaltender Justin Mulholland made 29 saves.


  • The Toronto Star featured a sun-blocking film that can be applied to windows to cut down unwanted heat in buildings and vehicles. This from Switch Materials Inc., “spun out of work done at Simon Fraser University.”
    The Star continued: “Switch (has) has engineered molecules that, while colourless in their original state, become darker as they're exposed to higher intensities of light. ‘It's really a sun-sensing material,’ says Neil Branda, co-founder and chief technology officer of Switch, which earlier this year raised $7.5 million in Series B financing that will go toward commercializing its product.”
    (Branda’s day-job is chemistry prof and Canada Research Chair at SFU, and executive director of 4D LABS, an SFU research centre for advanced materials and nano-scale devices. He founded Switch Materials to commercialize his molecular-switching technology.)

  • The Lab with Leo Laporte program on CityTV in Toronto interviewed Ivan Bajic, assistant prof in SFU Engineering Science, on shooting a video scene with multiple video cameras, and then synthesizing “interesting effects” from them. Among them: the effect of placing three or more people in the same room for a video-conference—although they are in different locations.


  • The Vancouver Sun turned an SFU news release into a story saying: “A million-dollar grant from a federal agency will help establish a first-of-its-kind environmental school and learning centre in Maple Ridge. . . . The money, from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, will help SFU work with municipal and school district officials, the Katzie and Kwantlen first nations and environmental groups to develop a publicly funded K-7 environmental school, the university said in a release.”

  • The Metro newspapers had a feature on online courses for the summer. The story included: “Finally, while they’re not distance-learning courses, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver has a continuing studies department that’s popular with seniors and recent immigrants. This spring they’re advertising So You Want to Be a Critic?—a course whose aim is self-explanatory—and an especially intriguing one-day offering in its Opera Studies department called What Would Opera Be Without Murder?”

  • The London (ON) Free Press reported that honorary degree recipients at University of Western Ontario this fall will include SFU gerontologist Gloria Gutman. “An international authority in the field of gerontology (she) developed the Simon Fraser University Gerontology Research Centre and its Gerontology Department from 1982 to 2005.”


  • US News & World Report listed McGill as the leading Canadian university in the World Top 400, at #18.  Followed by Toronto at #29, UBC #40, Alberta #59, Montreal #107, Waterloo #113, Queen's #118, McMaster #143, Calgary #149, Western Ontario #151, SFU #196, Dalhousie #214, Ottawa #226, UVic #241, Laval #258, York #273, Carleton #386, Manitoba #389, and Quebec #394.
    The rankings of the top 20 Canadian universities alone: McGill #1, Toronto #2, UBC #3, Alberta #4, Montreal #5, Waterloo #6, Queen's #7, McMaster #8, Calgary #9, Western Ontario #10, SFU #11, Dalhousie #12, Ottawa #13, UVic #14, Laval #15, York #16, Carleton #17, Manitoba #18, Quebec #19 and Concordia #20.
    All the details and methodologies are at: The rankings are done by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, the same people who do the statistical work for the Times of London rankings.


  • In addition to news releases mentioned above, SFU spread the word that it will honour journalist and politician Carole Taylor and her husband, Art Phillips, former Vancouver mayor and businessman, with its 2010 President's Distinguished Community Leadership Award.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Burnaby Now carried a story on the death of Hari Sharma, 75, “a well-known leftist scholar and former SFU sociology professor”, who died from cancer in his Burnaby home on March 16. “He worked against racism, imperialism and political imprisonment. He was also known as a writer and photographer and was considered one of the finest writers of short stories in Hindi.” A memorial service was held March 21. Asian Pacific Post also did a story.

  • The Richmond Review featured Richmond’s “Top 30 under 30”. The list included Charles Chou. He “barely scraped in” to SFU but thanks to “an inspirational teacher” (Derek Yee, adjunct prof of finance in SFU Business) became the youngest teaching assistant at SFU and then served as the class valedictorian. “He’s about to write his chartered accountant exam and now works as a co-op student at KPMG.” The South Delta Leader picked up the story.


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