May 22, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: May 15-22, 2009

The death in Vancouver May 20 of renowned architect Arthur Erickson generated scores of media stories that included mentions of his trailblazing design of SFU’s Burnaby campus.
The Canadian Press, for example, noted in a national story: “He first achieved international acclaim  . . . for his award-winning design for Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.”
Others included the Toronto Star: “Rejecting tradition, Erickson set a reworked Acropolis in the ruggedly beautiful terrain of  . . . a Vancouver suburb.”  More on this below.


  • Burnaby Now ran a story on SFU’s announcement last week that it will spend more than $1 million to protect Stoney Creek by moving the Burnaby campus road-salt storage shed.
    It quoted Lee Gavel, SFU’s chief facilities officer and university architect. And Jennifer Atchison of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee said: “I'm very excited about the fact that there's this support finally.” The Epoch Times also carried a story.
  • FairchildTV came up to the Burnaby campus to shoot a story on how SFU has joined the community contributor program for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The university will provide parking spaces Feb. 12-28 at the Burnaby campus to serve as a park-n-ride location for ticketed spectators. FairchildTV interviewed David Agosti, SFU’s manager of parking services.
  • The Vancouver Sun raised the question of whether money can buy happiness. Well, sort of, at least for those who lack money for the essentials, according to SFU social psychologist Michael Schmitt.
    “It’s going to be more important if you need money to get access to those things that meet our basic needs. Beyond that, the effect of having more money seems to be weaker. And it seems when people do increase their income and have access to more material wealth, you don’t see corresponding increases in happiness.”
    The story stemmed from Schmitt’s presentation to SFU’s Psych in the City series at the Surrey campus April 29.
  • The Epoch Times gave prominent coverage to last week’s SFU conference that explored how Chinese immigrants are coping with maintaining historical legacies while trying to integrate into Canadian society, and how Chinatowns here and elsewhere have evolved.
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader carried a big feature about “Mommy brain”—the tendency for pregnant women to be more forgetful than usual—and SFU research into it. Psychology PhD student Jaime Palmer is conducting such research on a team working with SFU neuroscientist Neil Watson.
  • CKWX News1130 interviewed research associate Heather Stewart for a story on how SFU gerontology researchers are taking part in a new 20-year study of 50,000 Canadians aged 45 to 85, to learn how they cope with health, social and economic changes as they age.
  • The Chilliwack Progress ran a story sparked by last week’s SFU news release on how Steven Jones, SFU prof of molecular biology and biochemistry and head of bioinformatics at the BC Cancer Agency's Genome Sciences Centre, is part of an international team that has identified a single molecular compound that could, eventually, be developed into an antiviral drug to combat H1N1 (swine flu) and H5N1 (avian flu).
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader picked up last week’s news release from SFU Business on how business undergrads have reaped top awards at home and abroad. Ashish Gurung and Milun Tesovic won the top business awards at the Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE) and the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) national championships in Toronto. Earlier, Tim Coleman, Helen Lu and Jessica Wang took first place in the international L'Oreal E-strat online business competition. The Burnaby NewsLeader also ran an item on Tesovic.
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader also carried a story promoting summer camps for kids at SFU. “SFU offers everything from sport to recreational and educational camps . . . and include activities that use SFU facilities, plus academic labs and classrooms.”


In the wake of the May 12 provincial election:

  • Public policy prof John Richards wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun on the defeat of the BC-STV voting system. Richards said he’d voted no himself, saying STV is “far too complicated” to be credible, and “denies any value to majority governments.” As an alternative, he proposed a mixed system aired 30 years ago by the Pepin-Robarts Task Force on Canadian Unity.
    Richards’ column, incidentally, noted something that we missed in this report last week: “Pierre Martineau, long-time CBC journalist, and I spent election night providing ‘colour commentary’ for the French CBC television coverage of British Columbia's provincial election.”
  • Robert Hackett, president of the SFU Faculty Association, was one of six BC faculty association leaders who wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun: “With its renewed mandate, the B.C. Liberal government has a real opportunity to lead the province out of the current economic morass and into a sustainable and prosperous future. Taking full advantage of this opportunity requires a renewed emphasis on the value of our universities.”
  • Resource and energy prof Mark Jaccard also wrote a guest piece in The Vancouver Sun, saying: “I think (Premier Gordon) Campbell won the election in spite of the carbon tax, not because of it, and that (NDP leader Carole) James almost rode a brilliant strategy to an upset victory in an election that would otherwise not have been close.” The Edmonton Journal also ran the column.
  • Burnaby Now attempted to figure out how the Green Party affected BC election results in the Burnaby ridings. But prof emeritus Gary Mauser said: “They did not have an effect on the election. Campbell bled off enough votes so that they helped him as much as they did the NDP."


  • The death of architect Arthur Erickson sent The Canadian Press, GlobalTV, FairchildTV and Burnaby Now pursuing Lee Gavel, SFU’s chief facilities officer and university architect, for interviews. GlobalTV used two clips of him in its story.
    Media stories on the death of architect Arthur Erickson also included such notes as these:
    • The Vancouver Sun: “Erickson said he reached a landmark moment in his career in 1963, when he and (Geoff) Massey won a competition to design a new Burnaby Mountain campus for the then-non-existent Simon Fraser University. Unlike other North American universities that gave departments their own buildings, they designed a campus of linked buildings.” (The Sun story was distributed nationally by Canwest News Service and ran in the Victoria Times Colonist, among others.)
    • The Toronto Star: “It was Simon Fraser University in the 1960s that first put Erickson on the international map. With this enormously ambitious project, he attempted nothing less than the reinvention of the North American campus. Rejecting tradition, Erickson set a reworked Acropolis in the ruggedly beautiful terrain of  . . . a Vancouver suburb.”
    • National Post: “All the various faculties that are in separate buildings in the usual campus arrangement are clustered into continuous buildings. It was a [revolutionary] concept that you could make a [university on a model other than] a traditional English campus. It really speaks of entering a new era—a new future in a building that looks futuristic.”
    • The Province: “The (SFU) project would garner him international acclaim and launch his career that would see him design buildings around the world. They include the Canadian embassy in Washington, California Plaza in Los Angeles, Kuwait Oil Sector Complex in Kuwait City, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, the Provincial Law Courts in downtown Vancouver and Robson Square.”
  • The Globe and Mail Roundtable, of which public policy prof Doug McArthur is a member, looked at the Tory attack ads blasting Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Said McArthur: "I think they will have an effect. I think they will help the Conservatives. . . . Many, many people who don't have any understanding of Mr. Ignatieff's people will not have fully appreciated the amount of time had just spent away from the country, in fact, I found myself surprised that it's 30-some years—that is a very long time. So, I think this is a vulnerability and some of his statements that he made while he was away do seem to suggest that his connection with Canada had become a bit tenuous. So, whether you like it or not, this is fair game."
  • The federal department of fisheries and oceans announced to media funding for research projects that include two at SFU. Fisheries scientist Sean Cox will study how the seafloor reacts to disturbances caused by fishing gear. And geneticist Willie Davidson will work on breeding Arctic char that are better able to cope with changes in water temperature.
  • AUTO21, Canada's national automotive research network, announced to news media new funding of $10 million for 20 projects. Farid Golnaraghi, associate director of SFU’s School of Engineering Science at the Surrey campus, heads one.
  • Surrey Now carried an item on how SFU’s Mechatronics engineering program is co-hosting a second Hands-on Diesel 101 class this summer for girls entering Grades 10-12 who are interested in engineering or trades careers and want to learn more about engines. The first class filled quickly following initial publicity about the course.
  • As people lined up to buy more and more tickets for Wednesday’s $49-million Lotto6/49 draw, Mark Wexler of SFU Business was on CTV’s national news: “When times are tough, people indulge themselves in a bit of wishful thinking.”
  • CBC News reported how the Western Arctic’s Inuvialuit people will soon be able to access Inuvialuit cultural items that for 150 years have been in Washington DC’s Smithsonian Institute. The reunion is part of an international project based at SFU’s Department of Archaeology.
  • The Globe and Mail reported that a Haida totem pole that stood for almost 100 years at the railroad station in Jasper AB could be heading home to Haida Gwaii. “George MacDonald, a Haida art expert and director of the Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Art Studies at Simon Fraser University, calls the Jasper Raven Pole a ‘national treasure’ and he's hopeful it will return to the Haida to be restored, studied and prized.”
  • Criminologist Eric Beauregard was in a Globe and Mail story about a woman who was given a $100 ticket for failing to hold the handrail on a metro escalator when advised to do so by a police officer in Laval PQ. Police said they often enforce minor rules in order to prevent some other crime happening. In this case, asked Beauregard: "Just what other criminal behaviour are the police trying to prevent?"
  • The Toronto Star reported the launch of Guarding Minds @ Work—a tool to help Canadian employers assess and deal with the psychological safety and health of workplaces. It was developed by the Consortium for Organizational Mental Healthcare (COMH), a national research centre in SFU Health Sciences, and the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace.
  • NaiKun Wind Energy Group Inc. told media the public comment phase for its offshore wind energy project on the northwest coast of BC will begin May 28. The news release mentioned (although with no details) that SFU is conducting a seabird study as part of the project’s environmental assessment.
  • Farther afield, Arizona-based reported scientists at SFU have identified a plant source of an enzyme that is missing in people with PKU (Phenylketonuria). That could lead to a supplement to treat PKU, a genetic disorder in which the body can’t utilize the essential amino acid phenylalanine. Untreated PKU can cause significant brain problems, including retarded mental development. The website did not name the SFU researchers.


  • The Province featured SFU track stars Jessica Smith and Helen Crofts, who are at the NAIA outdoor track and field championships at Edwardsville IL. Smith is the defending 800m outdoor champ; Crofts is the reigning 800 indoor champion. Said coach Brit Townsend: “For sure they want to beat each other on the track, and that is totally normal. But they also realize the advantage of having each other to train with and how that can help inspire them and move them along to the next level."
  • Meanwhile, on the first day of competition, five Clan athletes and one relay team advanced through their opening round heats, while Priye Iworima posted SFU’s first podium visit with a third-place finish in the long jump.
  • The Province also reviewed the outlook for the Clan men’s basketball team in the wake of the departure of superstar Greg Wallis.
    “The Clan's deep rotation of guards carried the day Saturday afternoon, combining for 64 points  . . . to defeat the touring Ateneo Blue Eagles of Manila 85-77 before a sold-out crowd at the West Gym.
    “Seniors-to-be Sean Burke (24 points), Kevin Shaw (13) and Matt Kuzminski (12), along with rising sophomore Kevin Pribilsky (10), showed that backcourt scoring is going to be the team's strength. The forwards? As head coach Scott Clark said afterwards, there is plenty of opportunity for a core of players led by Greg Gillies and Eric Burrell to step up and establish themselves as frontline CIS players.”
  • The run of the Clan women’s softball team at the 2009 NAIA National Championships in Decatur AL continued with a 6-2 win over Bethel College (TN) Wildcats. Junior Haley Cicchetti nailed a triple to score three runs in the top of the eighth inning, and subsequently scored on a wild throw.
    But in the next round, longtime rival Oklahoma City University eliminated the Clan 7-3. The Clan closed the tournament with a 2-1 record, and were 20-13 overall.
    "It’s always a sad moment when the season ends because it means the departure of three seniors,” added Clan coach Mike Renney. “We lose three outstanding contributors: Meaghan Cumpstone, Christine Barr and Marcie Bruder."
  • Coquitlam Now noted that men’s and women’s golf programs return to varsity status for the 2009-10 season. Former SFU golf coach John Buchanan will run the program.
  • The Vancouver Sun (among others) previewed the new season of the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer teams. The Whitecaps women have a new head coach: Alan Koch, who is also the head coach of the SFU men's team. “(Koch) has assembled a mix of youth and experience and is excited to see the players in a competitive environment after three weeks of training.”
  • The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reported the appointment of Lance Cansdale as the Nova Scotia provincial swimming coach. He’s a former All-American swimmer with SFU and former executive director of Swim B.C.


  • Business in Vancouver noted the appointment of Daniel Shapiro as dean of SFU Business Administration. “Shapiro has been a teacher and researcher at SFU for 17 years. He has also been director of executive programs, associate dean and, most recently, director of the CIBC Centre for Corporate Governance and Risk Management.”
  • Gerri Sinclair, executive director of the Masters of Digital Media Program and CEO of the Centre for Digital Media, and Yosef Wosk, director of interdisciplinary programs in SFU Continuing Studies, announced the Dianne Sinclair Memorial Fellowship Fund. It’s to be offered to the most outstanding female student entering the Masters of Digital Media program. The $1,000 annual award was established by Wosk and is named for Sinclair's mother. The MDM degree is jointly awarded by SFU, UBC, Emily Carr University of Art + Design and BCIT, partners in the Great Northern Way Campus, Vancouver.
  • The News & Review in Chico CA featured forensic anthropologist Amy Zelson Mundorff, who now is working on her PhD at SFU. She helped identify victims in the 9/11 slaughter in New York (and other tragedies) and has been honoured as distinguished alumna at Chico State University.


  • SFU told media that forensic anthropologist Lynne Bell was one of a team of researchers who have found that the infamous Mad Trapper was not Canadian, but rather American or Scandinavian. The finding was highlighted in a documentary on the Discovery Channel on May 21.  (Albert Johnson, the Mad Trapper, shot and killed an RCMP officer in 1932 and set off a six-week police chase through the Arctic. He was eventually tracked down and killed. No one knows who he really was.)
  • SFU also announced it has joined the Vancouver 2010 Olympics community contributor program, and will provide parking spaces February 12-28 at its Burnaby campus to serve as a park-n-ride location for ticketed spectators.
  • Physician-prof Tim Takaro of SFU Health Sciences gave media details of a workshop May 29 that will focus on research ideas on the health and environmental impact of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and lessons learned from Olympics in Beijing and Atlanta.
  • Brenda Morrison, assistant professor at SFU’s Centre for Restorative Justice, let media know that experts in restorative justice will be at the second annual International Conference on Restorative Practices, being held in partnership with SFU May 31-June 5.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Vancouver Sun carried an en-route report from SFU student Janie Dubman, as she headed to a small village in Borneo to volunteer at the orangutan care centre founded there by SFU primatologist Birute Galdikas. “During the flight to Jakarta, I catch a brief bird's eye view of Borneo, green, immense and mysterious. In a heartbeat, my eagerness for that jungle and its orangutans drive all other thoughts from my head, and I feel I can't get there fast enough.”
  • Media reported at length that the promotion of Justice Elizabeth Bennett to the BC Appeal Court threw yet another twist into the long-running Basi-Virk trial (related to the controversial $1-billion privatization sale of BC Rail to CN Rail in 2003). Some stories (such as one in The Vancouver Sun) mentioned that Bennett is an SFU grad.
  • The Globe and Mail featured Anne Giardini, lawyer, novelist, journalist, daughter of author Carol Shields, and president of Weyerhaeuser Co. Ltd., the Canadian subsidiary of the U.S. forestry giant. Giardini recently published her second novel, Advice for Italian Boys. The Globe mentioned that her degrees include a BA in economics from SFU.


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