SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - Jan. 15, 2009

January 15, 2009

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Jan. 9-15, 2009              


  • Reader’s Digest is running a February feature on “10 Reasons to be Thankful”. One of the 10 reads:
    “Wars and terrorist attacks will always make headlines, but it's remarkable how many of the world's 6.7 billion people now live in peace. In recent decades, despite the growth in population, the number of war casualties around the world has declined, according to the Human Security Report Project from Canada's Simon Fraser University. And despite a new fear of terrorism following 9/11, terrorist casualties have been declining in recent years.”
    The magazine’s readership is in the range of 38 million people, with 10 million hard copies circulating in the USA alone.
    The item is to appear in the February edition, but is already online at Reader’s Digest.
    The Human Security brief generated headlines around the world in 2008. It, too, is online at:


  • The Vancouver Sun and the Richmond Review featured the Balding For Dollars campaign of the Clan women’s basketball team, a fundraising effort with the B.C. Cancer Foundation. Players Katie Miyazaki, Anna Carolsfeld and Laurelle Weigl will have their heads shaved by donors following their home game Saturday against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades.
    Wrote the Sun: “Hardly a day goes by when basketball player Katie Miyazaki of Richmond doesn't think about her sister Stephanie, who died of cancer at the age of eight. . . . ‘I just hope more people don't have to go through with that. It affects me pretty much every day’."
    (The game is at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, in the Burnaby campus West Gym.)
  • Province columnist Joey Thompson reported mounting debts and funeral expenses are threatening to ruin a Maple Ridge family whose daughter, SFU student Maija-Liisa Corbett, was killed Aug. 28 when a truck plowed into a Maple Ridge sushi restaurant.
    A trust fund for the Corbett family accepts donations at any HSBC branch, Account No. 700-184058080.
    A second woman killed in the tragedy was Hyeshim Oh, mother of SFU student Jessica Han. The truck driver, Brian Craig Irving, 51, faces two counts of second-degree murder and six of attempted murder.


  • The Canadian Press did a story on the Nortel bankruptcy that quoted Peter Tingling, assistant prof in SFU Business. He said Nortel would not likely pull out of sponsorships of the 2010 Winter Olympics here and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. But the Olympic committees might seek a way out:
    “This isn’t the kind of thing that’s going to reflect well on the Olympic brand. You can’t talk about competing and winning and be talking about bankruptcy in the same sentence.”
    We saw the story in and on more than 20 media outlets.
  • The Globe and Mail did its own story on Nortel’s Olympic role. It quoted marketing prof Lindsay Meredith, who also said the bankruptcy could tarnish the Olympic brand. "Whenever you get into sponsorships, it's a marriage. It's the old-fashioned thing: You don't want to marry down. Your reputation is affected by the partner you're married to."
  • Communication prof Richard Smith was on CBC Radio, speaking on. He reviewed the up-and-down history of the company that was once Canada’s largest tech firm and a stock-market darling, and said it still has some value. He spoke on the Early Edition show on CBC Vancouver, which then sent the item to other CBC regions.


  • After a string of avalanche deaths in BC backcountry, The Canadian Press carried a story on how avalanche scientist Pascal Haegeli of SFU is trying to profile the thrill-seekers who duck under ski-resort ropes and head out into the risky wild country.
    “We've observed the characteristics of the out-of-bounds skiers is quite different between different resorts. And we think that we might be able to help ski resorts more specifically target their out-of-bounds crowd.''
    We spotted the story in and on more than 60 media outlets. 
    With the death of two more snowmobilers last weekend, Haegeli and earth sciences prof John Clague volunteered to take media calls on the issue. SFU’s office of Public Affairs and Media Relations (PAMR) passed that word to media.
  • The Canadian Press alsolooked at nanomedicine, and the possibility of infinitesimally minute robots moving throughout the human body to repair and rejuvenate aging or damaged tissues.
    Wrote CP: “For most mainstream researchers, the idea of nanorobots ‘knocking out the nasties’ inside the body is still the stuff of Star Trek, suggests Neil Branda, a professor of organic materials at Simon Fraser University in B.C. and a founding director of the Nanomed Canada Research Network. ‘You say they're conceptual. I say they're delusional. I'm not convinced that they're ever going to be around."
  • The Canadian Press distributed to media story from Indonesia featuring Birute Mary Galdikas, SFU archaeology prof and leader of the Orangutan Foundation International. She said the red apes she studies in Indonesia are on the verge of extinction because forests are being massively clear-cut and burned to make way for lucrative palm oil plantations.
    "I am not an alarmist, but I would say, if nothing is done, orangutan populations outside of national parks have less than 10 years left."
    The Associated Press then passed the story on to newspapers and broadcast media around the world.
  • A guest column in the Toronto Star featured the starlings that treat Southern Ontario as “a winter Mecca”. The story listed some “positive contributions” of starlings, and noted: “A recent report indicates that the beloved American robin is about twice as destructive of grapes and cherries as are starlings. There are similar recent findings by Simon Fraser University biologist Oliver Love.”


  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was in the Surrey-North Delta Leader saying the signs of people dialing down purchases are becoming more evident. He pointed to a decrease in car sales and a slump in high-end Christmas retail spending.
    “If consumers stick their hands in their pockets, nothing's going to happen. They're the demand engine that drives everything. . . . The question is when are consumers going to stick their heads out of the gopher hole and say 'I might not get shot on sight. Life will go on."
    The story led to an editorial in the Leader urging: “While not suggesting everyone should spend their last dime, or worse, increase debt, neither should people panic and stop all discretionary spending.”
    The Langley Times also ran the story, and the Tri-City News ran a short version of the editorial.
  • The Globe and Mail talked to Richard Lipsey, professor emeritus of economics, about Canada’s economic future.
    “Prof. Lipsey sees the dramatic decline in Canadian manufacturing as the onset of a potential 10-year restructuring similar to what hit Britain in the 1980s. ‘All the old manufacturing industries disappeared and it probably will happen in Ontario. It will be a profound change for the whole country. . . . That is the trouble with shoring up the auto industry - you're shoring up the sunset instead of pushing for the sunrise’."
  • James W. Dean, another prof emeritus of economics, wrote a guest column in National Post proposing that the Canadian dollar be tied to the U.S. dollar, rather than having a floating exchange rate. “The benefits to our resource and manufacturing sectors from fixing to the U. S. dollar now outweigh the costs.”


  • Gordon Price, director of SFU’s City Program and a former Vancouver city councillor, was on GlobalTV talking about the city’s dilemma with the financially troubled Olympic Athletes Village project.
  • Warren Gill, vice-president, geographer, and “keen cyclist” was in a Georgia Straight story about a proposed trial of new bike lanes on Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge. “We should at least look at the experiment and say, ‘At least give it six months or a year’.”
  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was in a story on GlobalTV’s national news, on a number of wrongful criminal convictions in Canada. “DNA has helped immensely” in clearing the innocent in such cases, he said.
  • The Nanaimo Daily News had an editorial about a Nanaimo website that “outs” men who pick up prostitutes in that city. The News noted: “As Richard Smith, a communications professor at Simon Fraser University, points out, if someone is accused online, and their reputation damaged, that individual has the same right to sue for libel as they would have if their names were published in a newspaper.”
  • The Prince Rupert Daily News reported on a study calling on the province to improve significantly safety in the construction industry. The study was done for the BC Building Trades Council and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and a co-author was associate prof John Calvert of SFU Health Sciences.
  • Tom Fletcher, BC legislative columnist for Black Press newspapers, asked SFU resource economist Mark Jaccard if the U.S. could use continental emissions trading to clobber Canada’s energy industry.  “Jaccard tells me he's not concerned about that. Cap-and-trade systems involve ‘grandfathering’ existing greenhouse gas emissions and setting caps.” The column ran in 13 BC papers.
  • Gerontologist Gloria Gutman was on CBC Radio talking about the role of today’s grandparents: Grandma no longer (if she ever did) stays home baking cookies; she is active, interactive and on the web.
  • Dietitian Rosie Dhaliwal of SFU Health and Counselling was in a Georgia Straight story on New Year diet resolutions. Watch what you eat, eat less of it, and “make sure you have a balanced lunch.”


  • President Michael Stevenson co-authored a guest column in The Vancouver Sun saying that as the world faces an unprecedented economic crisis, it has never been more important to develop an educated populace and an innovation-based economy.
    “B.C.'s research universities are key strategic partners for governments, communities and businesses as we address the challenges of the next few years.”
    (The other authors: UBC president Stephen J. Toope, UVic president David H. Turpin, and interim president Charles Jago of UNBC.)
  • The Vancouver Sun looked at changes in the way math is taught in BC public schools. It began the story this way:
    Arvind Gupta, a leading mathematical researcher, points to his three daughters as examples of what is wrong with math education in British Columbia. Although his girls do well in the subject, they have no interest in pursuing it as a career. And that, unfortunately, is typical, says Gupta, chief executive officer and scientific director at a Simon Fraser University centre of excellence known as MITACS—Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems.”
    Also quoted in the story: Peter Liljedahl, assistant education prof, who said research into the teaching of math is driving curriculum revisions around the world. "If you look at curriculum revisions that happened years and year ago, they were not as informed by research as they are nowadays."
  • The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times wrote about some action-oriented student projects at Pitt Meadows Secondary School. “Through a course in political communication, two SFU students, Jennifer Hine and Jessica Dohert, have been working with the students at PMSS. ‘Our goal is to get them some agency in the world . . .  so they don't feel so powerless,’ said Jennifer Hine.’”
  • The Vancouver Sun alsofeatured theAccelerate national internship programpowered by the SFU-based MITACS network, and quoted Gupta: "’Canada really needs to wake up to the fact that we're falling behind in building a knowledge economy. We need to convince companies that doing research makes business sense for their operation, and we need to convince young people that it's worthwhile taking jobs in Canada." Canwest News Service sent the story to its members across Canada.
    The Province and Business in Vancouver reported that, under the Accelerate program, some SFU grads will be interning at Boeing's Richmond-based AeroInfo Systems Inc.
  • Burnaby Now reported that “Burnaby's aboriginal students are faring worse than expected” in the public schools. The story stemmed from a report from the C.D. Howe Institute, co-authored by public policy prof John Richards. “According to Richards, improving aboriginal achievement requires a long-term commitment. ‘There's no magic bullet here,’ he said.”


  • SFU Athletics and CKNW announced the remaining Clan men’s and women’s basketball broadcasts will be available online for the remainder of the season. They will be on SFU’s Athletics website and The play-by-play team is Scott McLean of SFU Athletics and Howard Tsumura of The Province. The next broadcast is Friday Jan. 16, when the Clan women (6:15 pm) and men (8:15 pm) take on the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades in a doubleheader.
  • The Province featured Clan basketball player Sean Burke—“He is playing his most effective and efficient basketball ever”—and gave prominence to his off-the-court commitment.
    “Burke not only leads the Clan's men's summer camp basketball program, he started a fundraiser called Cards on the Court which has helped raise $21,000 for the school's men's and women's teams and he is the first president of the SFU Student Athletes Council which he helped form to give student-athletes a stronger voice on campus. . . . Burke is (also) helping to start what he calls a buddy mentorship program at SFU, where aspiring grade-school students will be able to gain motivation for the future by observing a day in the life of a university student athlete.”
  • The Kamloops Daily News reported John Bantock of the South Kamloops Titans is joining the Clan basketball team. "He is a really hard-working kid, who might just be the best pure shooter in the province," said Clan head coach Scott Clark.
  • Meanwhile, SFU Athletics kept media up to speed as:
    • The No.1 ranked Clan women’s basketball team last weekend defeated the University of Victoria Vikes 63-56 and the UBC Thunderbirds 74-65. Now 14-1, they host University of the Fraser Valley Friday and Saturday in SFU’s West Gym.
    • Meanwhile, the Clan men’s basketball team lost 78-53 to the Vikes and 79-67 to UBC. The men (now 8-7) are also at home to Fraser Valley Friday and Saturday.
    • The SFU women’s volleyball team’s dropped to 3-11 as they fell to the University of Regina Cougars in two games. They play this weekend in Winnipeg, against the University of Manitoba Bisons.
    • The SFU men’s and women’s track teams prepared to kick off their indoor season this weekend in Seattle, at the University of Washington Indoor Preview.
    • The Clan men’s and women’s wrestling teams both took team titles at the University of Alberta’s Varsity Invitational last weekend. Their next competition is Jan. 23.


  • An Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for excellence in broadcast journalism has gone to Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? a documentary series on PBS exploring America’s class and racial inequities in health.  Among the stories in the series was a look at a project led by physician-prof Tim Takaro of SFU Health Sciences. It set up 35 environmentally friendly homes in West Seattle. He showed how a healthily designed home may reduce asthmatic children’s suffering as much as or more than medicine.
  • Meanwhile, the National Center for Healthy Housing and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first U.S. scientific review of healthy homes interventions. Takaro was among experts who helped document housing and neighborhood improvements for health and safety. Their report is online as a PDF.


  • The North Shore News promoted the exhibition in the SFU Gallery by sculptor Liz Magor. The Mouth and other storage facilities runs through Feb. 21.
  • Burnaby Now promoted the SFU Pipe Band’s annual Robbie Burns fundraising dinner, which includes performances by the SFU and Robert Malcolm Memorial pipe bands and the Heather Jolly highland dancers. (Info:, or call 604-463-3421 or e-mail
  • Surrey Now, the Surrey-North Delta Leader and the Peace Arch News gave hefty promotion to the first concert of the new Surrey City Orchestra, which aims to “take the stuffing out of classical music." The SCO (a new version of the Canada West Chamber Orchestra) makes its debut in the atrium at SFU’s Surrey campus on Saturday with Mozart and Friends. (Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m. Tickets from 604-599-3315, 604-501-5566 or 604-582-5452.)  The Langley Times also mentioned the concert.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Epoch Times featured Glyn Lewis, SFU grad and founder of Canadians for Obama. Lewis, who worked as a volunteer on Obama’s campaign, is planning to attend Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington Jan. 20.
  • The Vancouver Sun quoted Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, former SFU researcher and Singapore-based economic advisor to MasterCard: “To make up for a five-per-cent drop in U.S. household consumption will require the combined Chinese and Indian household consumption to increase by 150 per cent. An impossibility. That being said, the year 2009 will go down in history as the first time in the modern era that global economic growth will come exclusively from emerging markets, especially from China and India.”
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader and Delta Optimist reported Jeannie Kanakos has been acclaimed as the provincial Liberal candidate in Delta North. The paper noted the former Delta councillor has a master's degree from SFU.
  • The Prince George Citizen spent a day with BC education minister Shirley Bond. It noted her executive assistant is Chris Steinbach. “He graduated from Simon Fraser University with a degree in computer science. But due largely to a stint on SFU's senate, he picked up the public service bug along the way.”



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Lisbeth Calandrino

I am impressed by President Michael Stevenson's comments, " that as the world faces an unprecedented economic crisis, it has never been more important to develop an educated populace and an innovation-based economy." It seems that the more accute the crises the more businesses pull back rather than seek new solutions or invest in their employees. This is the time to take your company and your employees and give them all the skills availble. "it's going to be a long cold winter."

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