SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - January 23, 2009

January 23, 2009

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Jan. 16-23, 2009              

Political scientist Alex Moens put in some media overtime on Jan. 20, the day U.S. President Barack Obama was sworn in.
Moens spent the morning on CKNW, talking with hosts Bill Good and John McComb about what Obama’s presidency could mean to Canada and the world. Then at lunchtime Moens shot over to CBC Radio, to do the same with host Mark Forsythe on the B.C. Almanac show. And next day Moens put in another half an hour on the air on CFAX Radio in Victoria.
CBC's audience in BC: 589,000 listeners. CKNW: 390,000. CFAX: 75,000.


  • Physician-prof Tim Takaro of SFU Health Sciences was among health experts who sent a strongly worded open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him to stop funding the Chrysotile Institute (formerly the Asbestos Institute). The scientists accuse the Institute of censoring and distorting information from health authorities.
    "It is a slur on the reputation of the scientific community and people of Canada for the government to be funding such distortion of scientific information,” said Takaro. "But, more importantly, this misinformation puts people's lives at risk. This is completely unethical and must stop."
  • Political scientists Duncan Cameron and Andrew Heard were among Canadian profs who submitted a guest column in the Toronto Star saying that “in the event of a non-confidence vote or a request for dissolution of Parliament after only 13 sitting days of the House of Commons, the governor general would be well-advised to call on the leader of the opposition to attempt to form a government.” (The federal budget will be submitted to the Commons Tuesday Jan. 27.)
  • Andrew von Nordenflycht, assistant prof in SFU Business, wrote a guest column in the Financial Post pages of National Post on the possibility of law firms becoming publicly traded corporations. "Professional regulations around the world prohibit non-lawyers from sharing ownership in law firms. But these prohibitions were recently lifted in Australia and in the United Kingdom, and an Australian law firm went public last year. This has renewed debates within the Canadian and U. S. legal professions about following suit."
  • carried an article on biomedical physiologist Max Donelan, and his SFU Kinesiology team’s invention of the Bionic Energy Harvester, that “knee-brace” device that generates electricity as you walk.
  • The Globe and Mail carried a story on the arrest of three off-duty officers from three Lower Mainland police departments on allegations of assault and robbery of a newspaper delivery driver. The story quoted Robert Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, as saying Victoria police, or another municipal department not involved, would be “the first and obvious choice” to lead an investigation.
  • The Montreal Gazette ran an editorial headlined “Too many immigrants, not too few.” It noted: “ . . . a study published this year by Prof. Herbert Grubel of Simon Fraser University revealed that the 2.5 million immigrants who came to Canada between 1990 and 2002 received $18.3 billion more in government services and benefits in 2002 than they paid in taxes. Isn’t it time our party leaders were made aware of this study?”
  • Prof emeritus John Chant of SFU Economics wrote a guest column in National Post proposing regulatory changes to protect investors from “flawed investments” in asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP).


  • More than 120 media outlets around the world picked up a Canadian Press story from Indonesia featuring Birute Mary Galdikas, SFU archaeology prof and leader of the Orangutan Foundation International. Galdikas 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."
  • Foreign Policy Online noted: “According to the Human Security Project at Simon Fraser University, the number of armed conflicts dropped dramatically from 1993 to 2006, and the average lethality of both state-based and non-state based conflicts (measured as number of fatalities per year) has also decreased steadily in recent decades.”
    Meanwhile, the Human Security Project’s Afghan Conflict Monitor has earned weblinks on the New York Times' “Room for Debate” blog, The Economist,, and CBC-Radio Canada.


  • Gordon Price, director of SFU’s City Program, was on the On the Coast show on CBC Radio, discussing the impact of the closure of the Patullo Bridge, and of Lower Mainland traffic plans. He said the BC government’s plans for roads and bridges are “building on a vision of the 1960s.”  He added: “If you just build more infrastructure you’re going to finish up . . . being stuck in the traffic—only you’ll have more of it.”
  • Price was also in a Burnaby NewsLeader story that called Burnabyone of the most financially successful municipalities in the country.” So was public policy prof Kennedy Stewart, who branded Burnaby "one of the best managed municipalities in the country."
    Price, though, questioned Burnaby's financial strategy of setting money aside for the future. “Why should the current taxpayer pay today for advantages that will be given to the future taxpayer?"
  • Burnaby Now reported McFogg the Dog is back at SFU. “Most dogs can't pull off a plaid kilt and jaunty tam—but then, McFogg the Dog is no ordinary canine. . . . The feisty one-time mascot for SFU is back on the mountain and ready to roll.”
  • The Province carried a storyona fund-raising effort to help the poor in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. SFU student Marina Kamalov is co-organizing an art show and auction of photos. It’s at 6 p.m. tonight (Jan. 23) at the Centre A Gallery at 2 West Hastings Street, Vancouver. "‘Rather than giving humanitarian handouts,’ said Kamalov, ‘this project hopes to break the cycle of poverty and help initiate sustainable businesses run by locals.’”
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader carried a feature on Michel Laberge, a local scientist who is privately pursuing the goal of nuclear fusion—creating a reaction that produces more energy than is put into the process. The story quoted SFU Resource economist Mark Jaccard. He figured Laberge's odds of finding his holy grail are about 100,000 to 1. But “I love this combination of scientific inquiry with a focus on the big breakthrough that might save humanity from itself—if only temporarily."


  • Alex Moens was one of seven SFU profs who volunteered to be available to media to help them with coverage as Obama took office—and CKNW and CBC quickly took up his offer, with CFAX following.
    Among other things on air, Moens said of Obama:
    • "Initially, the world is responding very favourably. . . But then comes the substance; the rubber hits the road. He will not be able to be very different from George W. Bush in Afghanistan, in Iraq."
    • "The U.S. is a vibrant democracy . . . but we will soon hear the cynics, the critics. His approval ratings will go down."
    • "He is a centrist. He is as much white as he is black. He has a good chance to capture the centre."
  • Moens is also a senior fellow of the Fraser Institute, for whom he has written or co-written several recent articles on Obama’s policies and presidency.
    He’ll also be a featured speaker next month at the Conference of Defence Associations in Ottawa.


  • Australian Life Scientist featured research by a Canadian team—which includes SFU physiologist Andrew Blaber—that is investigating fainting or dizzy spells among astronauts on their return to Earth.
  • New York-based Natural History Magazine has in its February edition an illustrated story on the research in which biologist Stephen Takács discovered how infrared radiation helps the western conifer seed bug locate its only food—western conifer cones. It could help stop the bugs from devouring millions of dollars worth of cones in BC.
    Northwest Science and Technology magazine also interviewed Takács.
  • The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions—a Victoria-based partnership of SFU, UVic, UBC and UNBC—issued a set of climate-change discussion papers. One paper on the impact of climate change on health in BC was written by physician Tim Takaro and epidemiologist Kate Bassil of SFU Health Sciences.
  • The Richmond News had a story exploring why “suffering sadness in silence is a peculiarly Chinese trait.” Among others, the paper interviewed Alice Chen, SFU Health Sciences researcher, who finds Chinese-speaking doctors may be under-diagnosing mental disorders among Chinese patients. The story stemmed from an SFU news release.
  • The federal government announced to media a $17-million loan to Norsat International Inc. for R&D on portable ground-satellite telecommunications technologies. The federal release noted Norsat will work with SFU graduate students. It quoted engineering science prof Rodney Vaughan.


  • Canwest News Service wrote a feature about the growing interest in gerontology studies at Canadian universities. Chair Andrew Wister of SFU Gerontology was quoted:
    "With the aging of the baby boomers, I think it's clear that this is a growth area. It's going to build rather rapidly, the need that is, for this kind of training across Canada."
    The story noted SFU’s PhD program in gerontology is taking applications for the fall. Said Wister: “I think these degrees are being more and more recognized and that's really making them very attractive now so I think it's a new age with respect to training in gerontology.”
    We first saw the story in the Regina Leader-Post.
  • The Globe and Mail ran a story sayingStudents frightened by the economic downslide are diving for shelter into the foxholes of graduate school until the labour market blooms again.” As well, the story quoted Muriel Klemetski, director of SFU’s Work Integrated Learning program, as saying students are also thinking more about their transition from the classroom to the workplace: The number of student applicants for co-op programs increased from 472 in 2007 to 772 in 2008.
  • Meanwhile, Canwest News Service distributed its own newsfeature saying grad schools and community colleges are getting more student applications because of a generally unfriendly job market. Among those quoted was Kirk Hill, executive director of the career management centre in SFU Business. He estimates job offers have fallen by 25 per cent in the last month or two. We saw this story in the Ottawa Citizen, Regina Leader-Post and Edmonton Journal.
  • The Tri-City News wrote about the current argument over Foundation Skills Assessment tests in BC public schools. The story quoted education prof Paul Shaker as saying education is a complex topic that the media tends to trivialize. The News also steered readers to Shaker’s TV program: Your Education Matters.
  • The Ottawa Citizen featured the use of “restorative justice” in the Ottawa school system. (Students responsible for prank 911 calls were part of "restorative circles" at their schools and faced teachers, fellow students, parents and police who were affected by the pranks.) Among those quoted was psychologist Brenda Morrison of SFU Criminology.


  • USA Today reported that "Two years after the NCAA opened its doors to Canadian schools, at least one—Simon Fraser in Burnaby, British Columbia—is poised to walk in." It continued: "Simon Fraser administrators have signed off on its move, athletics director David Murphy said, and the university is pursuing U.S. academic accreditation as required by the NCAA. Final clearance still must come from the school's board of governors, which meets March 5."
  • Burnaby Now (and covered the four Clan women basketball players who gave up their long locks to raise funds for cancer: Katie Miyazaki, Anna Carolsfeld, Laurelle Weigl and Courtney Gerwing had their hair cut off, raised $18,000-plus to fight cancer, and donated their tresses to be made into wigs for children battling the disease. Their team won their 15th straight game, too: 88-64 over University of the Fraser Valley Cascades, giving the Clan a 16-1 record.
    You can watch the “Balding for Dollars” video feature at:
  • The Vancouver Sun and The Province featured SFU figure skater Jeremy Ten, who reached the podium in just his second season at the senior level. He won a bronze at the Canadian nationals in Saskatoon. He also earned a spot on Canada's team to this year's world championships March 23-29 in Los Angeles as well as a berth in the Feb. 3-8 Four Continents event at the Pacific Coliseum. Canwest News Service sent the story across the country, and we saw it in the Victoria Times Colonist, the Regina Leader-Post, and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

SFU Athletics kept media up to speed with releases and details on how:

  • The No.1 ranked Clan women’s basketball team won both home games last weekend against University of the Fraser Valley: 87-50 and 88-64. That moved their Canada West record to 15-1. The men’s basketball team (10-7) also earned two home victories against UFV: 76-50 and 95-86. Both teams play away against U of Calgary tonight and U of Lethbridge on Saturday.
  • The SFU men’s and women’s track and field teams kicked off their season in Seattle last weekend at the U of Washington Indoor Preview.
    • Jessica Smith won the 800m, and beat the qualification standard to compete at the NAIA national championships. Also qualifying was Brianna Kane who won the 600m race. The women’s 4x400m relay team finished second overall, and also earned a spot at the nationals.
    • For the men, Kevin Friesen and Ryan Brockerville qualified for the nationals in the 3000m event.
  • The women’s volleyball team fell to the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, 3-0 and 3-1. Now 3-13 in Canada West, SFU has this weekend off.
  • The Clan men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams fell in a dual meet to the Seattle University Redhawks. On the men’s side, Seattle defeated SFU 120-76, while on the women’s side SFU fell 122-80.
  • SFU’s wrestling teams, men and women, will compete at three different competitions this weekend, in including tournaments in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.
  • The Clan men’s soccer program announced the addition for the 2009 season of Alex Hanne (top scorer for the U of Calgary Dinos) and Gustavo Argueta (Western Michigan University).


  • Harry McGrath, ambassador for SFU’s Centre For Scottish Studies, was featured in Britain’s TimesOnline for his role in organizing a photo exhibition in Scotland. This is Who We Are is “an attempt to join Scotland and Canada in photographic conversations” over the next 12 months.


PAMR news releases this week included ones on:

  • A Jan. 28 event in which profs Tom Archibald, SFU mathematics department chair, and Greg Bole, a UBC lecturer, will lock brains in a debate over who has influenced modern science more: Charles Darwin or Galileo Galilei?
    This year is the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s observation that Earth is not the centre of the universe, and the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of his publication of The Origin of Species.
    The event is Jan. 28, 6-8 p.m. at SFU’s IRMACS video-conferencing centre and online.
    It’s one of a series of events that make up the inaugural Geek Week, a student-led festival that seeks to engage SFU students and the community as a whole in thinking and learning about science.
  • SFU’s several celebrations of Robbie Burns on the 250th anniversary of his birth. These include this event: On Jan. 25, at 1 p.m. a crowd at the Burns statue in Stanley Park will join gatherings around the world to send greetings and photos to each other via the internet. The organizer: Leith Davis, director of SFU’s Centre for Scottish Studies. (For other events see and
  • The appointment to SFU’s Board of Governors of Lynda Brown-Ganzert, a guru in the digital media world and internationally known for her business acumen and passion for culture. The BC government has named her to the board for a year as an alumni appointee, succeeding Pauline Rafferty, whose term has expired. 24Hours quickly ran an item. So did T-Net, a news service for the high-tech industry in BC.
  • The SFU Outstanding Alumni Awards dinner on Feb. 19 at which awards go to Richard Bruskiewich, Evaleen Jaager Roy, physician Gabor Mate and Jennifer Allen Simons.


  • On CKNW tomorrow (Saturday Jan. 24, 4:18pm - 5pm) a mini-debate and preview of that Jan. 28 SFU event on Darwin and Galileo. Archibald, Bole and organizer Stephen Price, coordinator of student recruitment and retention in SFU Science, will take part with show host Sean Leslie.
    On the day of the event, Rick Cluff will host a mini-debate by Archibald and Bole on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio, 8:20am.


  • The New Westminster NewsLeader picked up a story from last week’s Surrey-North Delta Leader, in which marketing prof Lindsay Meredith pointed to slumping consumer spending. “If consumers stick their hands in their pockets, nothing's going to happen. They're the demand engine that drives everything.”
  • National Post and a couple of other papers ran last week’s Vancouver Sun feature on the Accelerate national internship program powered by the SFU-based MITACS network. In it, MITACS CEO Arvind Gupta said: "Canada really needs to wake up to the fact that we're falling behind in building a knowledge economy.” We saw it in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
  • The Wenatchee (WA) World picked up last week’s story from The Canadian Press 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. FreeSkier Magazine of Boulder CO also did a story.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • When veteran BC cabinet minister Stan Hagen died this week, Premier Gordon Campbell noted: “One of his proudest moments was when he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Simon Fraser University in 1998.”
    Vaughn Palmer in his Vancouver Sun column quoted the university’s tribute to Hagen as it gave him that degree: “He believes deeply in the value of post-secondary education and, to our great good fortune, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the cause.”
    Hagen’s wife Judy was a charter student of SFU, and Hagen was a solid supporter of SFU’s downtown campus and the move of the School for the Contemporary Arts to the Woodwards project.
    By way of Canwest News Service, the Sun’s initial story ran in more than a dozen papers across Canada.
  • The Globe and Mail carried a long tribute to Jim Fulton, SFU grad, former MP and executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation. He died Dec. 21. The paper noted he majored in communication and behavioural sciences at SFU, graduated in 1971 and won that year's Outstanding Graduate award.
  • SFU grad Anne Mack has been given the chieftainship of the Toquaht First Nation on Vancouver Island. The Westerly News in Tofino and the Alberni Valley Times noted Chief Mack earned a degree in sociology through the SFU Kamloops program.



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