May 14, 2010

Document Tools

Print This Article

E-mail This Page

Font Size
S      M      L      XL

Related Links

A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: May 6-14, 2010
We’re used to seeing SFU scientists, criminologists and public policy profs hitting the news, and giving SFU positive public exposure.
It’s rare for statisticians to be in the news spotlight—but two from SFU were this week. One was Tim Swartz, with a paper that examined, of all things, the statistical success rate of pulling the goaltender in NHL games.
The busiest media-man for SFU this week was André Gerolymatos of SFU Hellenic Studies, in demand for stories on the economic and social struggles in Greece, and more.


  • André Gerolymatos, chair of SFU Hellenic Studies, wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun on the current plight of Greece, and also did interviews with the Toronto Star, GlobalTV, the BC Almanac show on CBC Radio, and CHEK-TV Victoria.
    He wrote in the Sun: “There is no doubt that the Greek political establishment has failed miserably and has brought Greece to the brink of an economic abyss. Greek politicians are notorious for being corrupt, greedy, and incompetent. Regardless of party or ideology, most have gorged themselves at the expense of the country's economic well-being. However, they were not alone; their German counterparts guided them down the path to perdition.”
    And it all means Greeks “are forced to accept the bitter pill of severe cutbacks and the end of their way of life.”
    Gerolymatos told the Toronto Star: “Polls show that about 56 per cent of people (in Greece) are resigned to the austerity measures (but) things will get worse as the weather gets colder. People will have to start paying for expensive oil and gas. That will be impossible for someone with no job and a hungry family."

  • Then Gerolymatos, who is often called on by media as an expert on terrorism, was in a Vancouver Sun story on an anti-terrorist training program for BC police, firefighters, paramedics, sheriffs, and others.  Suggesting the training could be a plus, Gerolymatos said: “It's a sad comment on the times that we live in. We have to walk around with our eyes open. We can't take peace and tranquility for granted.”

  • Economist Jon Kesselman was in a Canadian Press story reporting that the Conference Board of Canada predicts Ontario and BC will lead a countrywide recovery from last year's downturn, despite the impact of the Harmonized Sales Tax in both.
    “Jon Kesselman, a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University and the Canada research chair in public finance, said the HST will raise the cost of living in Ontario and B.C. by only seven-tenths of a percentage point. ‘That, in itself, is not enough to disrupt economic growth that is coming from a variety of sources, including recovery from a recession, provincial spending, the U.S. economy at least showing some recovery, and world markets generally.’"

  • SFU earth scientist Brent Ward was on GlobalTV’s national news, and on CKNW, talking about a massive sinkhole that swallowed up a home and its residents in Quebec.
    Ward explained the causes (gradual dilution by water of weak clays that were held together by salt particles) and added: “We have similar sediments here along the West Coast. There have been numerous failures in the Terrace-Kitimat area.”
    CFAX Radio in Victoria also lined up Ward for an interview.

  • The UK’s Daily Telegraph (circulation 686,000) carried a newsfeature on the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser. “That first laser—which emitted a beam for the first time on May 16, 1960—will be brought out of a safe-deposit box to be the star attraction at a conference at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver at the end of this week.” The Telegraph item was turned into a story in the International News in Pakistan.

  • The Globe and Mail looked at how, as Canadians continue to live longer, they can expect to spend more years with their life partners. “Even with current trends of marrying later, more couples can expect to make it to the golden anniversary and beyond, says Barbara Mitchell, an associate professor of sociology at Simon Fraser University. ‘It brings a whole new meaning to the vows, 'til death do you part.'"

  • The UK-based science website of ran an SFU news release on how molecular biologist Christopher Beh is using a $338,000 grant from the B.C. Cancer Agency to further studies of how the “internal compass” of a cancer cell can go wrong, allowing that cell to disperse and invade other tissues.
    Beh is one of a dozen B.C. researchers to share $5 million in new research funding from the agency. Among others, SFU colleague Steven Jones will receive $408,000 towards his research. Using genetic sequencing techniques, his team hopes to generate the first-ever comprehensive description of the molecular changes found in thyroid cancers.

  • The Globe and Mail wrote about Vancouver’s laneway housing plan, and noted: “For Simon Fraser University instructor Darren Jukes, the addition of a 750-square-foot laneway house to his 33-by-122-foot property at 23rd Avenue and Heather Street is a ‘no brainer.’” (Jukes is a lecturer in SFU Business.)
    The Globe also reported West Vancouver council will vote soon on such secondary housing. “’It really is a test of political will,’ said Rick Gruneau, who is involved in one of the pilot projects.  ‘Now they'll have to decide if this is just rhetoric.’ That’s Rick Gruneau, SFU Communication prof, whose property is proposed for a pilot project.

  • Canwest News Service reported on Statistics Canada numbers showing the recession took its most severe toll on aboriginal employment. Canwest quoted Krishna Pendakur, SFU economist and co-director of the Metropolis British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Diversity: “The fact is that aboriginal people are much less educated than non- aboriginal people on average, they're much younger. And we already know that whether you're aboriginal or not, if you're young or less educated, you're more precarious in your employment.”


  • The news website of was first to pick up a news release from SFU on how astronauts Bob Thirsk (Canadian Space Agency) and Frank De Winne (European Space Agency) would visit the Burnaby campus today (Friday 14 May). They’ll give a free lecture and will discuss a project they’re collaborating on with SFU Physics chair Barbara Frisken as principal investigator. The three are studying how mixtures called colloids perform in space.
    The Early Edition show on CBC Radio had Thirsk and De Winne on air as guests. They talked about their six months aboard the International Space Station and their work with Frisken. Frisken herself did interviews with CKNW and Burnaby Now.

  • GlobalTV featured on several newscasts two SFU students and a grad who have posted on YouTube videos in which the three offer themselves up as examples of what living with mental illness can be like if it is diagnosed early, treated effectively and accepted socially.
    The story was sparked by a news release from SFU and one of the students, Brent Seal, who has schizophrenia and who founded Students for Mental Wellness in 2008.
    Another of the students, Joe Roback, a psychology student who has bipolar disorder, said on Global:
    “I just hope that people with mental illnesses are not seen as lazy, crazy, violent or weird. I hope that they are seen as strong and courageous and valuable members of society and loving people, because that is what they truly are. That is the face of mental illness that I see.”
    The story also appeared on CJFC-TV, Kamloops.  And Seal was interviewed on CFAX Radio, Victoria.

  • Economist (and public policy prof) Jon Kesselman was in a Don Cayo column in The Vancouver Sun on economic recovery in BC. “Jonathan Kesselman, an SFU professor who studies the issue, said that even before the recession, a decades-long trend toward earlier retirement was starting to turn around. This was predictable, he said, because the education level of boomers is much higher than previous generations, and their jobs tend to be interesting and less physically demanding.”

  • The Vancouver Sun carried a feature on "momnesia"—the tendency of women to forget things during pregnancy. The story included this:
    “A few years ago, Neil Watson, a psychology professor at Simon Fraser University, conducted a study that looked at how 39 pregnant women—26 carrying boys, 13 carrying girls—performed on tests of their memory from early pregnancy to several months after delivery. The study found a surprisingly significant gap in memory performance based on the sex of the mother's fetus: those carrying boys scored about 25 per cent better on memory tests than those carrying girls. Watson said he's curious what's behind the gender gap and is conducting follow-up research to try to figure out what's going on.”

  • Burnaby Now interviewed physics prof Mike Vetterli about his work on ATLAS, a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider Switzerland. “We collide very high-energy protons together, and we look at what comes out. By colliding these two subatomic particles at very high energies, you make very high-energy densities, and you can create new particles. One of the things we want to create is a particle called the Higgs particle, which is the thing that people think is what gives subatomic particles mass.”
    The newspaper noted: “Vetterli and fellow faculty members Dugan O'Neil and Bernd Stelzer are working on ATLAS.”

  • BC Business magazine carried a story on a leadership exchange put together by the Learning Strategy Group (LSG) in SFU Business and the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business. Four BC CEOs and four First Nations chiefs were paired up, and each leader spent a few days at his or her partner’s workplace.

  • The Tri-City News featured Faisal Beg, assistant prof in SFU Engineering Science, who plans to climb Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in September as a fund-raiser for the Alzheimer Society of BC. “It's quite dramatic, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, but the idea is to make it dramatic," said Beg. "Alzheimer's is a mountain of effort for a lot of people, a lot of families in B.C. The hike symbolizes that." (You can donate at

  • The Burnaby NewsLeader told readers: “Two Simon Fraser University chemists have developed a new technique that could speed up creation of anti-viral drugs, and health officials' responses to flu pandemics. In a new paper published in Nature Chemical Biology, Burnaby residents Andy Bennet and doctoral student Jeff Chan describe how they've figured out a way to quickly design drugs to fight flu viruses.” The Kelowna Capital News also ran a story.

  • Another SFU news release let media know that SFU Biology is hosting an international symposium on fish behaviour, ecology and evolution. It will be at the Burnaby campus May 16-20. The Burnaby NewsLeader and CFAX Radio in Victoria quickly pursued SFU Biology chair Felix Breden for stories.

  • Also stemming from an SFU news release was a story in Burnaby Now on how SFU has launched a new award program that helps pay travel expenses for students doing humanitarian work overseas. “The global travel award is a partnership between SFU and C.A.R.E. Society, a Vancouver group that uses donated Asia Miles for its disaster relief and family reunification programs.”

  • The Burnaby NewsLeader and the Business Examiner carried an advance story on the major power outage that will affect the Burnaby campus and its services on Sunday.  The stories linked to the details of the power cut at:

  • The Tri-City News reported that candidates in Coquitlam’s city council byelection include SFU student Andy Shen. “Shen first got involved in politics in 2008, when he sought a seat on Coquitlam council in the general election. The 20-year-old Archbishop Carney regional secondary grad is currently attending SFU, where he hopes to major in computer and political science.”

  • The Tri-City News ran as a story an SFU news release on a new study that visually captures how older adults fall. “Steve Robinovitch, a Simon Fraser University biomedical engineer, is leading a research team in the study of ‘real life’ falls (as they happen) at two long- term care facilities, one in Delta, the other in New Westminster.”


  • When should you pull the goalie in a hockey game? The Globe and Mail looked at the question, and cited a study co-authored by prof Tim Swartz of SFU Statistics and Actuarial Science.  Research partner David Beaudoin of Laval told the Globe:
    “The current strategy used by NHL coaches . . .  is to pull the goalie with one- minute left when trailing by one goal and 1:30 left when trailing by two goals. We simulated millions of games, using different strategies, to see which one led to the highest-winning percentage.
    “We discovered the current strategy used by coaches is pretty much always the worst. You have to be much more aggressive, especially if you get powerplays late in the third and you're trailing. Often, you have to pull the goalie much sooner."
    24Hours did a story, which then ran on the network. In it, Swartz said: “The point is you’re going to lose anyway if you don’t score so you might as well push the envelope a little bit and increase your scoring rate.” He added that the chances of the opposing team scoring on an empty net do increase—but don’t outweigh having your own sixth attacker on the ice.
    News1130 Radio also did a story, from SFU’s release.
    The study is on Swartz’s website at The research will be published this summer in the journal American Statistician.

  • The Edmonton Journal examined an Alberta government online survey asking citizens to evaluate the process for handling police complaints and discipline.  The story included a caution from Ian Bercovitz, director of statistical consulting in SFU Statistics and Actuarial Science:
    “Whenever you have these types of surveys, you have self-selection ­biases. If someone is angry, they might respond one, two, three or four times. You've got to take the results with a grain of salt."
    Canwest News Service sent the story across the country.


  • The Vancouver Sun spoke to two SFU profs in a story about at an RCMP video that warns young people about the dangers of homemade drugs.
    “Professor Benedikt Fischer, of Simon Fraser University's health sciences faculty, said he supports efforts to raise awareness about the perils of synthetic drugs but believes such work should be done by health professionals not police, who don't have medical expertise and often rely on stereotypes to deliver their messages. . . .
    “But SFU criminologist Ray Corrado, who specializes in youth crime, said a DVD with a catchy style and a powerful message can have an impact on all but the hard-core teenagers. ‘If you can get a popular, appealing spin, kids will watch it,’ he said.”

  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was in a Hamilton Spectator story about a 58-year-old man who was mistakenly arrested, was handcuffed, had his face smacked on the floor, and was kicked and punched before police realized they had the wrong man.
    “Quite clearly that's inappropriate use of force," said Gordon. “What is of increasing concern is the tendency for police services to resort to violence very quickly in their encounters with individuals for reasons that are, or at the time appear to be, quite sketchy.”

  • Gordon was also in a Victoria Times Colonist story saying the B.C. government is considering following Alberta's lead and using sheriffs to enforce traffic laws.
    Gordon said he believes Alberta set up its Sheriff Highway Patrol to ease the transition to a provincial police service, but then decided to stick with the RCMP. "I think what they've ended up with is, quite frankly, a bit of a mess, because they've obviously changed their mind, but they've made some kind of commitment to the sheriff service in Alberta. So they're stuck with this bizarre hybrid model."
    The Province picked up the story.

  • The Toronto Star wrote about RCMP efforts to brush up the force’s reputation in BC. “Simon Fraser University criminologist Rick Parent, a retired police officer, and an expert in police shootings, said for the past few years, the RCMP's biggest issue has been public opinion. Senior officials have had no choice but to address the public perception that officers were too quick to respond with force. ‘When the police are involved in deaths, the public takes note of that,’ said Parent.”


  • Cally and Callo—the cellphone robots who can walk, dance and express human-like emotions—first put SFU and inventors Ji-Dong Yim and Chris Shaw, scientists in SFU Interactive Arts and Technology, in the news last week.
    Then they turned up in more media this week, as far apart as GlobalTV in Vancouver and the Mumbai Mirror in India.
    GlobalTV carried the story, in different forms, several times, and noted: “After hitting YouTube, Callo is attracting a lot of attention.”, a leading technology news-and-reviews website, also carried an item on Callo: “a highly physical cell phone bot that can dance, walk, and mimic human gestures, which is amazing considering my handset spends most of its time on standby doing nothing.”
    A Vancouver Sun story on the robots last week was sent to clients across the country by Canwest News Service, and ran this week in the Calgary Herald and Nanaimo Daily News. The popular science website picked up the story, as well. And a story ran on
    The story and a photo of Yim ran on the world website of Epoch Times, and in its western Canada newspaper edition.
    The story also appeared in a number of blogs around the world, and the New Westminster NewsLeader did a piece, beginning with “New West science guy Chris Shaw and colleague Ji-Dong Yim . . .”


  • The Vancouver Sun and The Province covered a visit to the Burnaby campus by Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano—“a basketball legend at SFU”. He spoke about SFU’s move to the NCAA—and about his appearance at the June 29 'Gathering of the Clan' fundraiser for SFU athletic scholarships.
    Re: the move to the NCAA: “It gives us a chance to show how competitive we are and it's going to raise eyes—being the first Canadian university in NCAA. There are going to be growing pains but if you don't start ventures like this, then you never find out how good you could be."
    Re: the fundraiser: "It's time to start fundraising and take this to another level because we're going to have to fund those full-rides and the scholarships and hopefully keep athletes in Canada. . . . That is what this breakfast is going to be all about, trying to bring back the alumni, to see if we can get everyone on the same page and believing in this university."
    The Province concluded its story with: “For more information on purchasing tickets to the breakfast, contact SFU advancement officer Steve Lewarne at (778) 782-3613 or e-mail him at”

  • The Province carried a big feature on SFU track star Jane Channell, and the impact of the death last Nov. 11 of her boyfriend, 21-year-old Simon Fraser Clan quarterback Bernd Dittrich.  “I just look at life differently now. I just don't sweat the small stuff anymore."
    The Province continued: “So shy as a freshman, but now her team's captain as a senior, she will race in the 100m sprint at the NAIA national track and field championships in Indiana at month's end. And a heavy heart be damned, she knows for whom she will be running.
    “‘I know what his work ethic was like,’ says Channell of Dittrich, who was found unconscious in the SFU pool where he had been rehabilitating an injured shoulder, and was later determined to have suffered from an undetected heart condition. ‘I like to think I have a pretty good work ethic, too. I want to do well. I know he's with me and I know he wants me to do good. So why not make him prouder when he's looking at me?’"

  • The Montreal Gazette looked at the draft picks of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Among the notes: “Simon Fraser linebacker Brian Ridgeway, the Als' fifth-round pick (39th overall), missed the entire 2009 season with a concussion, putting his football future in jeopardy, but the Als spoke to him prior to the draft and Ridgeway has received medical clearance to continue playing.”
    The Daily Herald-Tribune in Grande Prairie AB also featured Ridgeway, a Grande Prairie-ite. “Ridgeway says he could have played (at SFU) had he chosen to. ‘I had to make that decision and I did based on the advice and the demands of my courses.” 

Meanwhile, SFU Athletics told media how:

  • A home run by Kelsey Haberl gave the Clan softball team a berth in the 2010 NAIA National Championships, with a 5-4 win over the University of Houston-Victoria in Victoria TX.  The Clan earlier lost to Houston-Victoria 3-1. In other games, the Clan defeated UBC 6-1 and LSU-Alexandria 9-1, and split two games with Cal State San Marcos Cougars, winning 5-4 and losing 9-0.
    SFU will begin its run at the national title next week in Decatur AL.

  • At the Ken Shannon Invitational in Seattle, Clan track and field athletes posted some top performances. Jane Channell was first in the 100m, Emily Palibroda in the 3000m steeplechase, and Rachelle Barnett in the high jump. The Clan also won the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays, and the men’s 4x400m relay.

  • In their final tune-up before the NAIA outdoor national championships, the Clan track and field team this weekend hosts the inaugural Emilie Mondor Invitational meet. It honours a former Olympian and Clan athlete, Emilie Mondor, who was killed in a car accident in 2006.  The full schedule for the meet is at:

  • The Clan golf program announced its first two female recruits for the 2010-11 season: Nicole Jordan of Sidney BC and Michelle McCann of Courtenay BC.  (After a three-season hiatus, the men’s golf team returned to competition during the 2009-10 campaign, while the women’s golf team is scheduled to return to the links next fall.)

  • And the Clan women’s volleyball program announced four recruits for the 2010-11 season. Kelsey Robinson (Surrey), Madeline Hait (Burnaby), Jennifer Neilson (Port Coquitlam) and Angela Richards (Shawnigan Lake BC) all played together for Focus Volleyball and won the Under-16 and Under-17 BC championships.

  • This month's edition of Clan Confidential (a series of top SFU athletes in tongue-in-cheek “Clan Commercials”) features David Hibberd, SFU swimming star and NAIA record holder. You can watch the video and become a fan of the Clan at:

Also in sports:

  • The Province featured football player Stephen Spagnuolo, senior tailback from East Vancouver's Notre Dame Regional Secondary. He’ll now be joining the Clan football program. SFU head coach Dave Johnson said:” I can always find talent, but talent and character together is a combination I can work with."

  • The Langley Times featured John-Mark Welsh, also heading (at 6’-4” and 300 pounds) for the Clan football program. “He is strong and fast,” said Ken Helps, the coach of the North Langley Bears midget football team. “He is the best offensive lineman I have coached in many, many years.”

  • The South Delta Leader and the Delta Optimist noted the induction of softball star Kathy Iggulden into the Delta Sports Hall of Fame. “While pitching for Simon Fraser University, she was selected as an NAIA first team all-American. Eventually, she would go on to conclude her career with SFU by owning nearly all of the team's records for pitchers.”


  • Business Review Canada magazine looked at executive MBA programs, and noted SFU’s program keeps students in cohorts—“The students who enter the program together during the first semester remain together in their courses for the duration of the program. This helps foster the bonds between the students in the program, paving the way for business partnerships in the future.”

  • The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times noted there will be a public information meeting May 19 on a proposal for an environmental school. “Clayton Maitland, vice-principal at Yennadon Elementary . . . is hoping to see (the school) open in 2011 with the help of researchers at Simon Fraser University and a million-dollar grant the university received for the project.”


  • The Georgia Straight ran a blog item on a new book-publishing contest that is giving emerging writers from across Canada the chance to get into print.  “Sponsored by the Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University, the 1st Book Competition is open to those working in fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry. Betsy Warland, director of the Writer’s Studio, said: ‘Quite simply, it’s really important to get your first book under your belt. It’s hard to move forward as a writer if you’re just continually trying to get that first book accepted and continually working on it beyond what you should be doing with it.’”

  • The Banff (AB) Crag & Canyon reported that SFU’s Adam Greenberg will be spending his summer bringing Banff National Park to Canadians through film. He is one of 32 students selected for Canada's Greatest Summer Job, a contest held by Parks Canada to recruit young filmmakers to document the stories and experience in national parks. He’s a student in SFU Interactive Arts + Technology.


  • The Regina Leader-Post picked up a Canwest News Service story on how two Canadian geologists—one from SFU—have pieced together a portrait of the largest landslide in North American history, a colossal BC avalanche about 10,000 years ago that permanently shifted the Continental Divide. Grad student Nick Roberts of SFU Earth Sciences said: "Despite its size, this landslide has gone virtually unrecognized (in the scientific literature).”

  • And the Whitehorse Daily Star picked up a Canadian Press story suggesting British Columbians not worry too much about the possibility of major earthquakes such as those that that have rattled China, Mexico and Chile in recent weeks. “Simon Fraser University earth sciences professor John Clague says the long-predicted ‘Big One’ could still be decades, if not centuries, away.  Clague says magnitude 8 and 9 mega-thrust earthquakes hit B.C. every 500 to 600 years and the last one was a mere 310 years ago.”

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Media across BC confirmed an open secret—the appointment of SFU grad Dave Cobb as president and CEO of BC Hydro. The Victoria Times Colonist, for one, noted: “Cobb was most recently the deputy CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics, where he was in charge of revenue, marketing and communications. A Simon Fraser University graduate and member of the B.C. Institute of Chartered Accountants, Cobb previously spent 12 years as an executive with the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.”
    The Vancouver Sun added: “As a youth he was a talented soccer player who spent time training and playing in England before returning to take a soccer scholarship at SFU, where he graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Business Administration.”

  • The New York Times looked at how song-lyric websites do (or don’t) pay royalties to the songwriters. It featured the site co-founded by Milun Tesovic, which does pay royalties. But nowhere did the story mention Tesovic is an SFU Business student.

  • The Abbotsford News covered the funeral of John Alexander (Spud) Murphy who died April 21, at age 88. “He entered politics in 1959 as a District of Matsqui councillor, was its reeve from 1960 to 1967, and then a councillor again for a few more years. Spud was one of the first directors of the Fraser Valley Regional District planning board, and a convocation founder at Simon Fraser University.”

  • Pacific Rim magazine, inserted in the Globe and Mail, had two SFU-related stories. Vancouver Architecture the Bing Thom Way had images of SFU Surrey. And Todd Wong: a Cultural Revolutionary in a Kilt talked about his SFU experience and his creation of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebrations.


Twitter? Facebook? YouTube?
Follow us via:


Commenting is closed
Comment Guidelines
Search SFU News Online