SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - February 12, 2010

February 12, 2010

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Several media outlets followed the Olympic torch relay leg on the Burnaby campus Feb. 11, begun by the winner of SFU’s torchbearer contest, student Borvonan (Obi) Vattanawong of SFU Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT).
Cheered by hundreds of students, staff and faculty, he carried the torch for 300 metres down University Drive West. Then he handed it off to another SFU student, Michael Tchao, fifth-year kinesiology.
More on SFU and the Olympics below.

A selection of Olympic stories that featured people from SFU during the week:

  • The Associated Press captured a great photo of Tchao doing a spread-eagle jump with the Olympic torch—a photo that made it instantly into the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
    Vattanawong, incidentally, will donate his Olympic torch to SIAT, where he is a third-year student, in gratitude for what he has learned in the program.  (The team that designed the unique torch, incidentally, included a SIAT grad, Ben Hulse.)
    Historian André Gerolymatos, chair of SFU Hellenic Studies, took a turn with the torch in Vancouver Feb. 12. So did Lui Passaglia, former Clan and BC Lions football player.
  • As an Olympic-period demonstration of sustainability, SFU’s West House opened in Yaletown. And was described by The Province as “a prototype tiny, perfect ‘laneway house’ (that) will demonstrate Vancouver's ‘Greenest City’ goals to 250,000 Olympic visitors.”
    The paper added: “Fitted with photovoltaic roofing, the house will share power with the electricity grid. Its kitchen backsplash sparkles with lights that show how much energy the house is saving and a cool hallway ‘cockpit’ allows a homeowner to control heat or lighting in the hall, or remotely from a smart phone.
    “It will be moved to a new site after the Games, with tentative plans to let someone live in it and blog about it for six months.
    SFU sent out a news release with more info, and noting:
    “The 56.7-square-metre (610 sq. ft.) prototype ‘laneway house’ is the inspiration of Lyn Bartram and Rob Woodbury, both professors in SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT).
    “The energy-efficient house, which produces more energy than it uses, features a combined living/dining/kitchen area, bathroom and loft bedroom with small balcony. The attached 21-square-metre (226 sq. ft.) garage comes complete with an electric-car charging outlet.”
    The federal government also put out a release, noting (as did SFU’s) that its Western Diversification Program provided $347,000.
  • The Associated Press sent to news clients around the world a story that, in part, noted the installation of hundreds of security cameras at game venues and elsewhere.
    "Richard Smith, a communications professor at Simon Fraser University in suburban Burnaby, has helped lead a campaign to ensure that all the cameras—whether operated by the city or the Olympic security team—are dismantled after the games.
    "‘I'm concerned that in the enthusiasm to provide security, people go way over the top,’ Smith said. ‘Canadians are fairly anti-surveillance—they like their privacy.’"
    We saw this story on the ESPN network—and as far from SFU as The Peninsula, an English-language daily in Quatar, and in the Brownsville Herald in Texas.
  • Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency reported to worldwide clients: “The threat of a terror attack on the Vancouver Olympics is considered low but Canada is still spending far more to protect the event than it did to build the venues where athletes will compete.”
    But Reuters quoted Gerolymatos, who has studied terrorism issues and monitored preparations for the games: "If something happens (C$900 million) wasn't enough. If nothing happens, it was too much. They are damned if they do, damned if they don't."
    The story ran in the New York Times.
    After a disruptive bomb scare at the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal, Gerolymatos was on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio, saying, among other things: “The greatest danger to the games now is lack of snow.”
    And marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was on the Christy Clark show on CKNW, talking about the role of “the fear factor” in justifying and selling to the public the security precautions put in place at airports, and used for the Olympics.
  • Meredith was also in a Toronto Sun story that wondered if the games are as green as portrayed. "You can plaster green on anything you want to, that's called paint. You'd better have something solid underneath that. . . . A proper audit says: 'What did you do that's green? What did that cost you in evil carbon?' Let's subtract the negative numbers from positive numbers and see if you're green or not."
  • SFU sports psychologist David Cox was in a story in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. He’s been trying to teach the Canadian snowboard team to focus not on the outcome of an event but on their own performance goals.
    “Outcome goals are brutal goals because they're based on winning and losing, whereas what I would say to the snowboarders is ‘You don't have to win, what you have to do is perform to the best of your ability.’”
  • Two SFU profs spoke with media about traffic-pattern changes in Vancouver to accommodate the 2010 Winter Olympics.
    • Warren Gill, SFU’s vice-president of university relations and a transportation geographer, was on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio. Among other things, he said people could adjust because, despite road closures, Vancouver’s road layout means there are always alternative routes.
    • Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, told the Globe and Mail he’s itching to see if the Olympic changes will increase the use of transit in the longer run. "It's a living experiment.”
  • Perl was also in a hefty feature in California’s Orange County Register (daily circulation: 234,000) talking about the character of Vancouver: “World-class city, there's a certain hubris that comes with it. It comes with a belief that you need to make grandiose plans and create megaprojects that usually catch up with you over a period of time. . . .
    "Vancouver's success has been not doing the wrong thing, not doing the thing that destroyed the natural attractiveness that made this city so appealing. Unlike (Southern California) we haven't paved over paradise. But we could be getting ready to."
    In the same story, Perl said that "Vancouver is the drug capital of Canada”, and SFU economist Krishna Pendakur added: "We've got a Third World County stuck in the middle of downtown."
  • The Vancouver Sun looked at the prominent public relations role of Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson around the Games. And it quoted Lindsay Meredith: “Everyone has had to put up with challenges over the past two years. But the Games are close now and when the torch arrives, I think it will transform the city.”
  • Another marketing prof from SFU Business, Judy Zaichkowsky, was on Radio Canada talking about the marketing power of the games:
    “This is fair play, this has a lot of integrity, prestige, positive values  . . . that good, big brands want to be associated with. . . . In terms of the opening ceremonies and what is the TV audience, it’s huge, there’s nothing bigger, nothing bigger.”
  • SFU Business told media about a new SFU study that shows ambush marketing can cost sponsors of Olympics and other major sporting events both money and customers. The study is from profs Leyland Pitt and Michael Parent from SFU’s Segal Graduate School of Business.
  • Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program, was in a Toronto Star story on the much-criticized, tent-like Canada pavilion. “I can understand the idea behind thinking the Games are expensive enough, it's better not to do anything too flashy. But the impact of that is it looks like it was done on the cheap. It's competent and has reached a high level of mediocrity."
  • Labor historian Mark Leier was in the Georgia Straight in a story about Olympic protest groups. "One of the things that the Olympics does is it gives people a focus. They're angry about the HST. They're angry about the job losses. They're angry at the complete inability of governments to articulate the demands of people."


  • The Vancouver Sun generated a story that quickly went across the country: “Researchers at Simon Fraser University have fashioned a device that can detect who will be most at risk of death during heat waves associated with global warming, a potential boon to elderly people and heart patients.”
    And international media calls began coming in to environmental physiologist Matthew White after SFU told media how the End-Tidal Forcing system allows White and colleagues to measure a person's ability to withstand periods of extreme heat or rising carbon dioxide levels.
    "Global warming may only raise the temperature by a few degrees on average, but it is increasing the frequency of heat waves," said White. "There is a substantial risk of death among the elderly during heat waves. The elderly have a lower chemo-sensitivity in the heat, a lower ability to adapt."
    The UK-based science website of (1.75 million readers a month) carried her news release.
  • The Rick Mercer Report on CBC-TV announced that 140 schools have signed up for his fund-raising challenge to provide insecticide-treated bed nets to African children.
    “In the West, Simon Fraser University is in the lead, and in the East it's Queen’s University in Kingston, but there's lots of time to catch them.  The Mercer Report will visit the winning school from each region and feature them on the show this March.”
    (As of Feb. 12, SFU had raised $15,111 and Queen’s $4,710. The challenge ends Feb. 26—and you can still donate online.)
  • Maclean’s magazine (2.8 million readers) picked up a quote from an SFU English prof, which first appeared in a national Canadian Press story last week on the poor quality of student’s written English. Maclean’s used this:
    • "‘Students seem to have absolutely no idea what an apostrophe is for. None. Absolutely none. I get their essays and I go, “You obviously don't know what a sentence fragment is. You think commas are sort of like Parmesan cheese that you sprinkle on your words."’— Paul Budra, associate dean of arts and science at Simon Fraser University, on the effect texting and tweeting has had on his students' English skills.”
  • Then the Hamilton Spectator worked Budra’s words into its weekly news quiz: “Paul Budra, a professor at Simon Fraser University, says students seem to sprinkle these randomly like Parmesan cheese:  a. Apostrophes; b. Emoticons; c. Commas; d. Drugs.”
  • The Globe and Mail told its 1.3 million readers: “A controversial new Canadian study, suggesting death rates usually decline when wars erupt, is sparking furious debate among scholars and activists around the world.”
    That’s a study from the SFU-based Human Security Report Project. The Globe story noted that the report also questions the long-accepted estimate that 5.4 million people have died in Congo's civil war, and concludes the real number is much smaller.
    “Critics have lashed out at the study . . . and activists worry the new study could be an excuse to slash (foreign) aid.” But, the Globe continued: “The study's director, Andrew Mack  . . . strongly defended his research and insisted it will not undermine the international campaign to help the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been ravaged by war for the past 12 years.”
  • Communication profs Richard Smith and Peter Chow-White were on CBC Radio, nationally, talking about the competition long-distance phone companies face from Skype and other mobile 3G internet tools.
    • Smith:  “This not yet ready to use as a regular phone, but it’s getting there.” (He did the interview from his home on Bowen Island, using Skype.)
    • Chow-White: “The internet, if anything, has showed us that information moves quickly and cheaply.  So why do we need to be under an old telecommunications model that is very expensive?”
  • Doctoral candidate Kate Milberry (SFU Communication) was a guest on The Lab with Leo Laporte show, on Citytv, talking about the use of online collaborative wikis by social activists. Wikis, she said, offer “a virtual space where they can all come together . . . and work together in real time.”
    The feature ran on Citytv stations in Calgary and Edmonton.
  • SFU political scientist Alex Moens wrote a guest column in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, saying the exemption of Canadian firms from the "Buy American" restrictions on U.S. government procurement projects “is a much-needed success in a relationship that has been very positive in words but short on deeds.”
    He added: “The next steps should be to seek a comprehensive bilateral accord on government procurement to avoid this problem in the future, and to remove exemptions such as those in place for green energy projects and education.”
  • A Green Living blog on the website of KABC-TV Los Angeles reported that U.S. President Barack Obama’s commitment to high-speed rail development “is music to the ears of longtime train advocate Anthony Perl”, a fellow with the Post Carbon Institute and director of SFU Urban Studies.
    “‘The Obama administration’s launch of a high-speed rail program is the most important transportation initiative that the U.S. has seen in my 47-year lifetime,’ says Perl. ‘The program opens the door to a post-carbon mobility future in ways that tinkering with fuel efficiency, auto emissions and “intelligent” vehicle and high designs can never accomplish.’”
    (The full interview with Perl:
  • CBC News reported that troubled Intrawest has reached a deal to sell its interests in Florida's Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. SFU’s Lindsay Meredith said he doubts Intrawest got much. "That Florida real estate market, as you know, is about as bottom of the barrel as you're going to get."
  • Walmart Canada announced to media the launch of, a website to share sustainable business practices. Case studies include a report on SFU’s Sustainability Ambassadors program: “Staff Ambassadors play a unique role as sustainability educators and advocates within their own academic and administrative units to assist with office culture and behavior change.” (See:
  • The CBC-TV News Now channel, in a story about anti-government protests in Iran, told viewers: "Here at home we have some video to show you, posted on YouTube by students at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. They put together a montage of protesters, people who have died in Iran, as well as  . . . demonstrations at Simon Fraser University." The video is at


  • Vancouver Sun columnist Barbara Yaffe quoted Alex Moens in a column in which she asked: “Has the Harper government surrendered Canadian authority for climate change policy to the Americans?”
    Moens supported Ottawa’s approach, “warning that a protectionist Congress, to safeguard U.S. industry, could impose tariffs on Canadian goods if this country has different rules for greenhouse-gas emissions. He added that “Canada will be ‘in a pickle’ if its hand is forced by ‘radical carbon folks and Canadian nationalists, a scary and unholy alliance that is very possible in Canada.’"
    The Calgary Herald picked up the column.
  • A guest column in The Vancouver Sun’s real estate section looked at the new wave of “micro-apartments” (270 square feet) coming to Vancouver, and quoted Gordon Price, former Vancouver councillor and director of the SFU City Program. "In 1990, Gordon Price lived for a month in a 290-square-foot apartment at Drake and Seymour in downtown Vancouver because he wanted to see if such a small space was livable. Turns out it was.
    "’The apartment was absolutely livable for me. If the space is designed and proportioned to both day and night uses, it will be perfectly fine for all functions. In my case, the apartment's Murphy bed tilted up in the morning, replaced by a dining room table for the rest of the day.”
  • A guest column in the Burnaby Now by Richard Lee, Liberal MLA for Burnaby North, included this: “A completely new school, SFU Elementary, is under construction and is expected to be finished in August. This project responds to a need for student space in UniverCity at Simon Fraser University, and it will have capacity for 40 kindergarten students and 275 elementary students from grades 1 through 7.”
  • Xtra West newspaper (“Where Queers Conspire”) did a story on an SFU study released a month ago: Johns' Voice, an unprecedented study of how sex buyers relate to prostitutes, by sociologist Chris Atchison.  “The SFU study indicates eight percent of those who buy sex are gay, while 13 percent identify as bisexual. And, of those people who buy sex, 65.7 percent say they never use a condom with their partner or regular sex partner.”
  • UBC announced the development of the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, with a  $37-million building that will be greenhouse gas-positive and a net energy producer. “Other research partners at CIRS include Simon Fraser University, the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.”


  • The New York Times (circulation 1.1 million) got onto the story of the domestication of the wild turkey in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest, which had been covered by other media last week.
    A study by Camilla F. Speller and Dongya Y. Yang of the Ancient DNA Laboratory at Simon Fraser University in Canada and colleagues, including researchers at Washington State University, shows that the Southwest was a second center of domestication. It is not clear which wild variety was domesticated, only that it was different from the one in Mexico.”
    “The researchers analyzed mitochondrial DNA from bones and fossilized feces, or coprolites, found at nearly 40 archeological sites in the Southwest, and compared it with DNA from modern birds. Their study was published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”
  • The science pages in the Toronto Star (average daily readership: 937,800) caught up to the story of the research of SFU scientist Neil Branda and team, who have been using light to switch on and off light-reactive molecules in tiny lab worms, paralyzing and un-paralyzing them.
    The Star wrote: “One goal, he said, is to ‘use the same concept to mask a known drug and introduce it into the body in a form it doesn’t recognize. Then once it gets to the particular site that needs it, we can turn it on.’”


  • The Vancouver Sun reviewed the opening of Robert Lepage’s The Blue Dragon/Le Dragon Bleu at SFU Woodward’s:
    “The Blue Dragon is a small show by Lepage standards, but that still means a mechanical tour de force is on offer at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre. Kudos to both the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad and Simon Fraser University's School for the Contemporary Arts for bringing this jewel box production to full fruition. . . .
    The Georgia Straight was less impressed: "The stagecraft is extraordinary. The storytelling isn't . . . partly because Lepage's flat performance as Pierre is such an energy-sucking black hole that the supposed romantic tensions make no sense."
    “There is so much detail to the script in these barely perceptible ways that, in league with all the broad mechanical effort of the stagecraft, a wholly satisfying experience unfolds.”
    Meanwhile, the Toronto Star listed what’s on in Vancouver during the games: “The Olympiad's gold-medal theatrical offering is Robert Lepage's The Blue Dragon. . . . The show inaugurated the Simon Fraser University Woodward's theatre building when it opened on Feb. 2.”
    The Vancouver Courier called it “fantastic looking” and “an evening of articulate, thoughtful and wry meditations.” The show was mentioned several times on Radio Canada. The Globe and Mail also listed the show—and promoted the opening of First Nations/Second Nature in the Audain Gallery at SFU Woodward's as “ . . . a provocative study of the idea of place and nationhood, with works springing from First Nations concepts of territory. It's a fitting inaugural show, given the importance of location for this gallery (in the heart of the Downtown Eastside), and the intense interest of philanthropist Michael Audain in the artwork of the Northwest Coast.”
  • Meanwhile, The Vancouver Sun also carried a newsfeature on philanthropist Michael Audain, and the opening of two art galleries named for him: one at the UBC Museum of Anthropology and the newer one at the SFU Woodward's complex downtown.
    “Audain's generosity to the arts is renowned; through the Audain Foundation he's donated more than $24 million in recent years, including . . .  $2.15 million to Simon Fraser's School for the Contemporary Arts.”
  • SFU Advancement told media how Fonerus, the North American distributor for the Shanghai Piano Co., is donating nine pianos a year for the next three years to SFU Contemporary Arts at Woodward’s.
  • Faculty member Thecla Schiphorst and grad student Jinsil Seo of the School of Interactive Arts + Technology at the Surrey campus led the development of Tendrils—a new interactive wearable artwork featured at the Code Live exhibition at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Code Live is a part of the Cultural Olympiad International Exhibition of Digital Art. Tendrils is an interactive kinetic garment that responds to collective touch.


  • The Globe and Mail reviewed A Thousand Dreams: Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the Fight for Its Future; one of the three authors being SFU criminologist Neil Boyd: “No one in Vancouver, or the nation, should miss (this) remarkable and valuable work.”  (By Larry Campbell, Neil Boyd and Lori Culbert; GreyStone, 320 pages, $24.95.)
    Reviewer Tom Sandborn, however, found it could have covered more: “ . . . the work of Simon Fraser University researcher (and Neil Boyd colleague) John Lowman, which brilliantly documents the lethal stupidity of Canadian prostitution law, is mentioned only once, and parenthetically at that.”
  • SFU told media how a new book co-authored by health scientist Benedikt Fischer calls for a renewed approach to setting drug policy that is evidence-based, realistic and coordinated. Drug Policy and the Public Good will be launched Feb. 22 in Toronto. “What the book provides,” says Fischer, also co-author of Cannabis Policy: Moving beyond Stalemate, “is not a prescription for what any society or policy maker should do. Instead, it is an analysis of what science indicates will be the likely consequences of exercising particular options.”


  • The Vancouver Sun’s education blog told online visitors: “Funding shortfalls are serious, but they don't threaten the success of schools, SFU education professor Robin Barrow says in the latest BCTF Teacher magazine.”
    "‘. . . Money is not as essential to successful education as we sometimes claim,’ he writes.Half the world . . . is engaging in true education without a tiny part of the wealth we can still draw on. Furthermore, we waste money. The increase in bureaucracy at most levels of schooling has been both costly and of questionable benefit. The increasing demands made upon us all in the name of health and safety, and fears of litigation, have been extremely costly.’"
  • University Affairs featured Milun Tesovic, SFU Business student and co-founder of one of the world’s most popular music websites:
    “Imagine owning a multi-million-dollar company and being named the world’s top student entrepreneur, all before you’re 25. That’s the life of Simon Fraser University business student Milun Tesovic. . . .
    “This past November, Mr. Tesovic was crowned the top student entrepreneur at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in Kansas City. This adds to a long list of honours, including the Canadian Student Entrepreneur National Champion last May, SFU Student Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008, and inclusion in Billboard Magazine’s 2009 “Top 30 Under 30.”


SFU Athletics fed media facts and figures as:

  • The Clan women’s basketball team beat Thompson Rivers University 88-49 and 81-47, for the Clan’s 53rd and 54th straight victories and a season record of 16-0. Laurelle Weigl scored 20 for the Clan in Game 1 and Robyn Buna 16 in Game 2.
  • SFU’s men's basketball team defeated Thompson Rivers 79-73 and 91-74, and moved to 14-3 on the season.  Matt Kuzminski netted 16 points in Game 1, and Kuzminski and Sean Burke 21 each in Game 2. The win in Game 1 secured a playoff spot for SFU, and a first-round home playoff series.
    After being SFU's leading scorer for two straight nights, and helping clinch the Clan's first home playoff series in over five seasons, Kuzminski was named SFU Clan Athlete of the Week.
    Both basketball teams now play University of Victoria at UVic on Saturday Feb. 13.
  • The Clan volleyball women split two games with Thompson Rivers, winning 3-0 and losing 3-2. The Clan now stands 3-15 on the season. SFU tackles UBC in an away game on Saturday Feb. 13, to close the season.
  • The Clan women’s softball team kicked off its season in Sydney, Australia at the Australia Club Teams tournament, Feb. 9-16.
  • SFU’s men and women track and field athletes compete at the UW Husky Classic in Seattle today and Saturday, and at the UW Indoor Open on Sunday Feb. 14.
  • Meanwhile, SFU Athletics student assistants Ramesh Ranjan and Olivia Brennan took the time to catch up with some Clan athletes—and get a behind-the-scenes look in the series What's in Your Locker? You can watch the videos on the Clan's Facebook page at
  • Athletics also announced to media that the Clan track and field program has recruited Lindsay Butterworth, from North Vancouver’s Handsworth Secondary School, for the 2010-11 season. She is the current BC high school champion in the 1500m.
    Meanwhile, the Clan men’s soccer program attracted forward Carlo Basso, of Port Coquitlam’s Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School, for 2010-11 season.
    And SFU Athletics announced three other Clan basketball recruits this week: Marie-Line Petit (Quebec City), Chelsea Reist (Mission BC) and Amonda Francis (Burnaby). They’re all part of SFU’s first NCAA recruiting class under coach Langford, as SFU makes the move to NCAA Division II next season.

    Also in sports:
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader featured the Clan women’s basketball coach: “Bruce Langford was the proverbial 98-pound weakling when he attended the old McPherson Park Junior High School in Burnaby.  . . . Now that his Simon Fraser University Clan women's basketball team, which he's coached for nine years, has won 52 straight games spanning almost two full seasons, nobody's kicking sand in his face.”
    The story added: “Langford's basketball knowledge must have imprinted on his DNA, as his daughter Dani won Basketball BC's award as the high school female Athlete of the Year in 2000, when she played for her father at Heritage Park.” She is also an assistant coach for the Clan now.
  • The Province reported Basketball BC has named Dan Nayebzadeh, another assistant coach with the Clan women’s basketball team, as 2010-11 coach of the provincial Under-16 team. (And the Under-15 'B' team will be coached by former SFU star Morgan McLaughlin, now head girls coach at Collingwood Secondary in West Vancouver.)
  • The St. John’s (NL) Telegram featured basketball player Rebecca Langmead: “The Gonzaga Vikings high school star post from Torbay is headed to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., next season. . . .
    "‘It's not something I'm nervous about, but lately when I'm practising or going for a run, I feel I need to go that extra mile because I'm am going to be that type of player. It's pushing me. The last time I was on a run, all I could think about was imagining I'm going to SFU and I've got to work way harder.’"


  • The Belleville (ON) Intelligencer turned to Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, with questions about police practices in the investigation that led to the commander of CFB Trenton being charged with two murders and two sexual attacks.
    "It's really for the police chief and investigators to engage in that balancing act: Is it likely they're going to be able to track this person down or should they now be announcing to the population that there is a person loose who is doing this and to be doubly careful? . . . There's no policy any police manager can use with any accuracy to determine when they can tip one way or the other.”
  • GlobalTV Toronto picked up a Canwest News Service story from last week in which Gordon advised people not to put on Facebook too much information about crimes. He added that posting words of support for a victim or family is fine, but posting any information about the case will do more harm than good. "Do not post it on the Internet because it may confuse rather than assist—and it may inform the person responsible." The Vancouver Sun also picked up the story.


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