May 28, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: May 21-28, 2010

SFU got lots of sporting ink and broadcast time this week as the Clan softball team scooped the crown at the 2010 NAIA softball national championship finals in Alabama.
Meanwhile, SFU terrorism experts Stuart Farson and André Gerolymatos were in national news stories—and Gerolymatos was named to Canada’s advisory council on national security.
Also in national news: Peter Tingling of SFU Business on whether wealthy NHL clubs have the edge in the draft, and Benedikt Fischer of SFU Health Sciences on guidelines for doctors prescribing opioid painkillers.


  • The Canadian Press reported on a study from SFU Business prof Peter Tingling that found rich NHL clubs don't necessarily draft better.
    “The conclusions of Tingling and co-researcher Kamal Masri aren't going to make NHL scouts happy. They conclude being able to spend a lot of money on scouting doesn't make a team more successful at the draft.
    "‘We looked at how much money the teams are worth, the quality of their decisions and we could basically find basically no relationship whatsoever,’ Tingling said Thursday from Burnaby, B.C.  ‘Our research shows there's no relationship between having more money and making better decisions.’" |
    We saw the story in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun, and as far away as the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and the Cape Breton Post. It was on, as well.

  • The national Quirks and Quarks science show on CBC Radio interviewed ecologist Wendy Palen of SFU on her findings that Pacific Northwest amphibian species are far less vulnerable to UV radiation than first thought. No word yet on when the segment will run.
    Meanwhile, the Switzerland-based website of picked up SFU’s news release on the research, by Palen and Daniel Schindler at the University of Washington. The science website also carried a story. So did the news website in India.
    Said Palen: “These findings don't contest hundreds of studies demonstrating the harmful effects of UV radiation for many organisms, including humans. Rather, it points out the need to understand where and when it is harmful. . . . When simple tests of species physiology are interpreted outside of the animal's natural environment, we often come to the wrong conclusions.”
    The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has just published the findings.

  • The Canadian Press wrote a national newsfeature on the cost of dealing with and investigating bomb threats. The story included this: “Stuart Farson, a terrorism expert from Simon Fraser University, said a person who issues a bomb threat often feels a sense of power because police response is swift and media reports soon follow.  ‘You see the reaction (to the threat).’ But Farson said evading detection can be (simple).”
    We saw the story on CTV News.

  • Another SFU expert on terrorism, André Gerolymatos, was quoted in the Ottawa Sun in a story on the firebombing of an Ottawa bank, and anarchist threats to the coming G8 and G20 summits. In an online video taking credit for the bank attack, the firebombers called themselves FFFC-Ottawa.
    “The name of the group, complete with hyphen-Ottawa, implied there are factions in other cities. ‘That's just anarchist propaganda,’ said Simon Fraser University professor and security expert Andre Gerolymatos, adding the FFFC initials are probably ‘bogus’, but meant to imply some sort of organization.
    Gerolymatos said of trouble at the 2010 Winter Olympics: “The rock-throwing anarchists in Vancouver this year didn't succeed as far as inciting the police to cause a major riot. The police were able to weed them out very quietly. Even the people, ordinary tourists, were shouting at them to go away. That was a big blow for them so now they're trying for something bigger."
    The story also ran in the Toronto Sun.

  • Also in the news: Gerolymatos was appointed this week to Canada’s advisory council on national security. He specializes in military and diplomatic history and international relations, and says the greatest security challenge facing Canada is the ongoing expansion of international terrorism. “When you have rogue states like North Korea threatening other countries it feeds international economic destabilization, which in turn feeds political instability."

  • Canwest News Service examined new federal guidelines for doctors on prescribing opioids.  The story quoted Benedikt Fischer of SFU Health Sciences:
    "On the one hand, we're trying to provide the most effective and beneficial treatment to people who need it, people with pain. At the same time, we have the misuse and problems and harms from misuse of these drugs. . . .
    "What a lot of these policy approaches and guidelines are currently trying to do, is to try and sort of pretend a little bit that there's good people and there's bad people. There's legitimate patients, and it's all about keeping the bad apples out of the basket . . . and unfortunately that's not what reality looks like. As a matter of fact, if they were given to me, or you, for a certain length of time, both you and I would likely get addicted to them."
    We saw the story in The Vancouver Sun and the Calgary Herald.

  • Tony Wilson, adjunct prof in SFU Criminology, in his regular column in the Globe and Mail’s business section, wrote a primer for business on copyright laws, regulations and issues.


  • Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, was on the air as GlobalTV featured rankings by the international human resources consultancy, Mercer, that named Vancouver as the fourth-best city in the world to live in.
    “They’re looking at clean, green, safe, and lots of outdoor recreational activities, plenty of restaurants, services, shops, good schools, good health care,” he said.
    Noting the annual survey is aimed at executives, Perl added: “Housing in Vancouver is great if you have the money, and the people that they’re presenting these rankings to can afford to live in the city and not have to commute for an hour in gridlock.”
    Mercer also named Calgary as the top eco-city in the world. Noted Perl: “Calgary has one of Canada’s largest urban bike trail systems. You can really get around town easily on a bicycle, and that’s something we’re just starting to figure out how to do here.”
    (The Mercer survey named Vienna as the best city in which to live, followed by Zurich and Geneva. Vancouver was tied with Auckland, New Zealand, in fourth place. Vancouver placed 13th in the eco-city rankings.)

  • Speaking of initiatives green: The Burnaby NewsLeader picked up an SFU news release on how the City of Burnaby has recognized SFU’s sustainability ambassador program with its 2010 environment award in the business stewardship category.
    “The program, which began at the Burnaby campus in 2008, has expanded to the Surrey and Vancouver campuses and now includes more than 50 sustainability ambassadors comprised of volunteer staff and faculty. The ambassadors encourage employees and students to work and live in a more sustainable manner, providing helpful tips on how to change old habits and ways of thinking.”

  • The Vancouver Sun reported on Statistics Canada projections that BC’s population could top seven million by 2036. The story also noted BC’s attraction for retirees, and wondered if immigration would counter an aging population.
    “But Don DeVoretz, an immigration expert at Simon Fraser University, said immigrants are, on average, just as old as native-born Canadians because so many older immigrants come here through family reunification.
    ‘They're as old as we are,’ he said.”

  • CBC Radio­—on the news and on the On the Coast show­—carried the first advance items on an SFU-hosted conference that brought more than 400 of the world’s leading experts in geriatric health, housing and assistive technology to Vancouver this week.
    CBC and The Vancouver Sun interviewed Gloria Gutman, prof emerita and a research associate in SFU Gerontology.

  • The Vancouver Sun had a story on another conference at SFU: the International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics at the Vancouver campus. “The conference attracted about 100 experts and practitioners from 17 countries, SFU computing science professor Uwe Glaesser said. ‘It is a very international event with people from various backgrounds, including law enforcement, counter-terrorism, spy agencies, computer sciences people and criminologists,’ he said.”
    (It included discussion of the Dark Web project at the University of Arizona, which has identified 10,000 extremist Internet sites and developed technology that allows for the automated "mining" of conversations and content.)

  • The Georgia Straight ran a lengthy feature on two SFU students and a grad who have posted 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 first came out in other media two weeks ago.
    The Straight spoke with the three, Brent Seal, Joe Roback, and Taylor Kagel. And with SFU Health Sciences prof Elliot Goldner, a psychiatrist who’s also the chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s science advisory committee.
    Goldner said using YouTube is an innovative way to raise awareness of mental disorders. “YouTube allows many people to provide their perspectives and conveys a realism that makes information credible and engaging. YouTube has become a constantly evolving living encyclopedia…. I often use YouTube videos to convey information in the classes I teach, as do many other professors.”

  • The Tri-City News looked at calls to give businesses a vote in municipal elections. And it quoted political scientist Patrick Smith: "It is a silly idea. Are we going to say that anyone that lives and pays for local services is eligible to vote? Business has a reasonably large voice. They do have ways to have their interests represented."


  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was on the CTV national news, in a story about RCMP identifying teenage suspects in the murder near Victoria of 18-year-old Kimberly Proctor. Gordon recalled the 1997 slaying of Reena Virk, 14, of Victoria, who was swarmed by teenage acquaintances and then held under water until she drowned.
    “It took a fair bit of effort to actually get those teenagers to come forward,” said Gordon. “So they're facing the same kind of difficulties this time, I think.”

  • Gordon was also in the national edition of Epoch Times in a story on a three-year-old girl who was left unattended by her mother overnight and was found wandering in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Gordon said that if a parent abandons a young child, they could face criminal charges. But there could be other explanations, and charges might not necessarily be laid. “If the little girl has suffered no harm, that would reduce the possibility of the mother being charged.”

  • And Gordon was in National Post, in a story about a dismembered corpse, of which parts were found 100 kilometres apart in rural central Ontario, and other body parts are still missing.
    “Robert Gordon, director of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University, said it is possible the killing is linked to organized crime. The fact that the body parts were left in plain sight suggests the perpetrators wanted to send a message to the victim's associates, he said.  And that message? ‘This is what we do if you don't do what we want you to do,' he said. ‘It's pretty dramatic, I have to say.’"


  • The Vancouver Sun told readers that critics say the appointment of 19 men—and not a single woman—to new Canada Excellence Research Chair positions “is more evidence that women are overlooked for top positions.” Among those quoted was prof Lynne Quarmby of SFU Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MBB):
    "That this sort of thing can still happen is an embarrassment for Canada and profoundly demoralizing for the women scientists in this country. It's still very much a man's world."
    Also quoted: Bruce Brandhorst, chair of MBB: "A focus on technology is going to find fewer women because those fields don't have as many women."
    Hesaid the program might have had a better gender balance if it had targeted "the very best" researchers rather than restricting applicants to four areas: environmental sciences and technologies, natural resources and energy, health and related life sciences and technologies, and information and communications technologies.
    The Sun added: ”Brandhorst said the state of gender equality varies among schools and disciplines. Overall, he said much has been accomplished ‘but in some fields there has been very little progress, and some of that is because not many women are interested in doing degree programs. If only five per cent of the PhDs are women, the number hired into faculty positions is going to be very restricted.’"

  • The commentary-and-advice website carried a story on SFU’s new graduate certificate in neuroscience. “The ‘drivers’ of this new SFU program have their eyes on several destinations. ‘One will be to raise our profile, to tell the world that we do this research—and that we’re pretty good at it,’ said Dr. Michael Silverman, one of three faculty members on the program’s steering committee.”

  • CBC-TV carried a story on students who used Twitter and Facebook skills to nail summer jobs. Among those quoted was employer Milun Tesovic, co-founder of the website and an SFU Business student. The story didn’t identify him as being from SFU, but did say of Sam Chan: “He found his summer job, web-marketing at SFU, through Twitter, and he’s already onto his next gig, with an online sports publication based in Ohio.”

  • The South Delta Leader featured Dianne Turner, new superintendent of the Delta school district. The newspaper noted:  “Turner has been pursuing a doctoral degree at Simon Fraser University with a focus on educational leadership . . . a degree she hopes to complete this fall. ‘I think what I will bring back then to the district from that study is realization about how adults learn, and that's important because how our adults learn is going translate into better student learning down the road.’"

  • Province columnist Jon Ferry looked at the planned closure of Fromme Elementary in North Vancouver. Among his points:” Besides, aren't small schools better than big ones? Common sense would suggest they are, at least for young kids. . . . Moreover, a 2007 Simon Fraser University study confirmed that, when it comes to schools, size matters. It found small schools (generally under 300 students) foster ‘a cohesive sense of community,’ are safer and have lower dropout rates. They may even be more cost-effective.”


  • The Clan women’s softball team beat the Oklahoma City University Stars 4-3 to win the 2010 NAIA softball national championship final in Decatur AL. SFU thus collected its fourth NAIA title, adding to wins in 1999, 2003, and 2005.
    Pinch runner Rosie Murphy scored the winning run on a wild pitch, and leftfielder Jessie Harris got the final out by gunning down the tying run with a throw to Clan catcher Nicola Collicutt at home plate. The winning pitcher: Myriam Poirier, who took over from Jennifer Van Egdom after four innings.
    Harris was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, finishing the championship hitting .420 (11-for-26) with nine runs scored.
    SFU entered the conference tournament having lost six of its last eight regular season games. But in Decatur SFU went 3-0 in early pool play, and then won four straight championship bracket games to claim the 2010 title.
     “We are opening a brand new field at home next year, we are transitioning into the GNAC next season, and we are hosting our 20th year reunion as a program in the fall, and this certainly makes for a nice transition for all of those upcoming events,” said SFU head coach Mike Renney following the win.
    “I think, in comparison to the other three championship teams, that this team epitomized the team concept. Those other championship teams featured Olympians and All-American pitchers. There wasn’t a superstar on this (SFU) roster; it was a scrappy team effort.”

In earlier games:

  • The Clan exploded for 11 hits—and got help from five OCU errors—to outscore Oklahoma City 7-6 to advance to the final. The Clan finished the game 11-for-28, with Chrissy Caviglia leading the hitters at 3-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI. Leadoff hitter Jessie Harris finished 2-for-3, with three runs scored, while Stefani Durrant (2-for-4) scored the game-winning run on a single by Caviglia down the leftfield line in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Relief pitcher Jennifer Van Egdom, a Clan senior, closed out the game to earn the 7-6 victory.
    (This win meant the Clan needed to beat OCU only once to take the final NAIA crown. Oklahoma would have needed to beat SFU twice to take the final.)

  • A 1-0 shutout by pitchers Van Egdom and Myriam Poirier put the Clan softball team one win away from the finals. Leah Riske provided the winning hit for the Clan against the Shorter College Lady Hawks of Rome GA, connecting on a bases-loaded single in the top of seventh inning to score Harris. Then Poirier shut the door on Shorter. Poirier pitched four innings in relief of Van Egdom, allowing two hits and striking out two, while Van Egdom registered two strikeouts and four hits over three innings.

  • The Clan defeated Belhaven College (Jackson MS) 4-2. Freshman pitcher Cara Lukawesky earned the victory for SFU, pitching a complete game, while Kelsey Haberl finished the night 3-for-4 at with two RBI. Trailing 1-0 entering the top of the third inning, SFU exploded for three runs, starting when Haley Cicchetti brought home fellow senior Nicola Collicutt with a double to deep leftfield. Haberl then singled to centrefield, scoring both Cicchetti and Harris to lead 3-1. That went to 4-1 when Riske hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Harris for the second time. Belhaven got a run back in the bottom of the sixth but Lukawesky then held Belhaven off.

  • The Clan earned the berth against Belhaven with a 7-6 win in 12 innings­—over Concordia University (Portland OR). Carly Moir’s single to centre brought home fellow senior Harris. Then Brittany Mayers brought in both Kelsey Haberl and Moir to give the Clan a 7-4 cushion. Concordia closed to 7-6, but then Clan pitcher Van Egdom—after throwing three straight balls to a Concordia pinch hitter—fired three straight strikes to squeak out the win.

  • And before the Concordia game, the Clan shut out Bellevue University (Bellevue NE) 4-0. Van Egdom pitched a complete game two-hitter. In the top of the fourth, Moir’s double to deep right centrefield scored Durrant. Mayers then brought in Riske with a sacrifice fly to centre, and Moir scored when Cicchetti crushed a double to deep right.  SFU added an insurance run in the seventh inning when Haberl singled home Harris.

Also in sports:

  • The Clan track and field teams got off to a fast start in sweltering weather on the first day of the 2010 NAIA outdoor championships in Marion IN.
    Women’s captain Jane Channell set a personal best time in her qualification heat of the 100m. Helen Crofts, Jessica Smith, Brianna Kane, Ali Hudson and Olivia Brennan all reached the next stage of the 800m. Crofts, Smith and Angela Shaw advanced to the next round of the 1500m. The Clan women’s 4x800m relay team also advanced.
    On the men’s side, Jeff Thompson, Adam Newton, Andrew Boss and Tyson Unruh combined to post a school record time of 41.35 to advance to the next round in the 4x100m.  And Ryan Brockerville advanced in the 3000m steeplechase.
    McLean posted video highlights of the events, shot by Gareth Madoc-Jones of SFU Athletics, at The meet ends tomorrow (Saturday May 29).

  • SFU Athletics also posted on the Athletics website (at an interview with Jay Triano, coach of the NBA Toronto Raptors and former Clan coach. Triano is returning to SFU to host the 2010 Gathering of the Clan fundraising breakfast on June 29. (For tickets, contact Steve Lewarne, advancement officer in SFU Athletics, at or 778-782-3613.)

  • The Sherwood Park (AB) News reported that forward Colby Kuhanek of the Sherwood Park Crusaders will join in fall the SFU hockey club, of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League.  And Surrey Now reported that North Delta Devils centre Kyle Leung will also join the hockey program for 2010-11.


  • Rapper Shadrach Kabango of SFU, aka Shad K, was featured in National Post as his third album, TSOL, came out this week.
    "‘I'm not 21 anymore and bored and angsty," says the native of London, Ont., completing his liberal studies master's degree at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University next year. ‘I try and give my audience something genuine and unique to me and they appreciate that I'm not just some guy trying to get a buck, but make something that's meaningful.’"
    Kabango was also featured in the Winnipeg Sun, on Citytv in Winnipeg, in Winnipeg’s Uptown magazine, on the music-magazine website and, closer to home, in the Whistler Question.

  • The Montreal Gazette featured James Long and Maiko Bae Yamamoto, who met while in the theatre program in SFU Contemporary Arts, and have made a film about The Greatest Cities in the World—or, in reality, their not-so-great namesakes in Tennessee. "The 'cities' we focus on are actually very tiny towns—London, Paris, Moscow, Rome and Athens," said Long. “There's 15 'famous' cities in Tennessee."


  • In addition to news releases mentioned above, SFU also told media how SFU is building a new winter operations centre at its Burnaby campus to reduce salty road runoff into nearby Stoney Creek, one of the Lower Mainland’s most productive fish streams.
    The $1-million university-funded structure will sit on an impermeable membrane to prevent salt migration. “‘We are having to dig really deep to do this in a time of scarce resources, but we believe it is the right thing to do regardless of the cost,’ says Lee Gavel, SFU’s chief facilities officer and university architect.”

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The automobile section of The Vancouver Sun featured the car-ownership history of Michael Geller, architect, planner, developer, former president and CEO of the SFU community trust, and adjunct prof in the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development.
    "My first car was a Simca Mille. Simca sounds like the Yiddish word 'simcha,' which means happiness. And it wasn't. It was a good day in the Toronto winter if I could drive all the way to university without smelling brake fluid."
    Somewhat later came a 1961 Lincoln Continental. "I spotted it one day in a London Drug's parking lot, and put a note on the window that read simply ‘If you ever want to sell this car, I'll buy it.’  . . .  It had a hole in the gas tank line, something I forgot when filling it up at a gas station in Surrey. . . .”
    Right now he has new Toyota Prius, but a dream-car would be a Bentley convertible. “They are so elegant. Also a bit ostentatious."

  • A feature on pianist Micah Brush, 17, of Comox, a first-time competitor in the Performing Arts BC festival in Duncan BC, ran in the Comox Valley Record. “Brush will go to Simon Fraser University this September to study science. . . . ‘My goal for the last five years after university when I settle down is I will own a grand piano, even before I own a car.’"

  • And the New Westminster Record featured Christine Konrad, 17, of New Westminster, a star of the CirKids circus program, a trapeze artiste and an expert with the "roussiere", which involves rolling around while standing braced inside a large hoop. "Next year I'm going to Simon Fraser and will probably go into science, do something normal for a change.” Burnaby Now picked up the story.

  • The Toronto Star’s wine columnist wrote about product information he’d like to see on wine labels (such as a sugar code, numbers on sulphur content, and a symbol for organic wines.). And he noted: “At the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival, I attended several days of cutting-edge wine seminars, including one at Simon Fraser University tackling modern truth in wine labelling.”

  • The Victoria Times Colonist ran a business-page story on women in welding: “Welder Chics are red hot.” The story noted: “A 2006 study by Simon Fraser University and BCIT noted that of the 641 welding apprentices registered, just 26 were women.”


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