SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - June 12, 2009

June 12, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: June 4-12, 2009

It’s a fish story that got away—away around the world.
Research involving SFU scientists Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip, Nick Dulvy and Isabelle Côté showed that climate change has helped collapse Caribbean coral reefs—threatening fish stocks and more.

We saw the story in media with audiences of many millions, from Singapore to Spain to South Africa, from the Glasgow Herald to the Globe and Mail, and from a Royal Society journal to Reuters worldwide news agency.


  • Headlines around the world followed the publication of research by SFU and the UK's University of East Anglia showing that climate change has helped flatten Caribbean coral reefs—damaging fish nurseries, reducing the region’s biodiversity and increasing its susceptibility to coastal erosion and flooding.

    The analysis of 500 surveys of 200 reefs, showing the most complex types of reef had been virtually wiped out, was published online by the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London-B. The U of East Anglia and SFU's office of Public Affairs and Media Relations sent out news releases.

    From London, Reuters news agency sent the story around the world. We saw it on Reuters India, for example, and in the Straits Times in Singapore and the Hindustan Times, plus other media outlets in South Africa, Haiti, India, the Caribbean, Malta, and Thailand.

    To say nothing of The Sun (the UK’s #1 tabloid with a circulation of some 3 million), the Daily Telegraph (Britain’s biggest-selling broadsheet paper, circulation 850,000)and Metro (the free UK newspaper read by more than 3 million).Plus the Scottish TV network STV and the websites of the Scottish newspapers The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald.

    The story was also distributed by the European Union’s CORDIS news service, plus Eureka Science News, EurekaAlert and Yahoo!News.

    Reuters quoted lead researcher Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip of SFU. British researcher Jenny Gill got calls from the New Scientist and the Times.

    The news was also run by such websites as, ScienceDaily, Discover Magazine, and,, Spain's, Switzerland-based, and plusU.S.-based and, andCondé Nast’s

    Closer to home, the Globe and Mail was the first major Canadian outlet to use the story. It quoted team member Nick Dulvy of SFU, Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
    “Probably the most stark finding of our result is that this isn't just a flattening in one patch, one area the size of Vancouver, or even an area the size of British Columbia. . . . The whole Caribbean has been flattened in the past decade, mainly as a result of climate change. There are no detectable complex reefs [left].”

    The Globe's story also named Isabelle Côté of SFU as one of the researchers.

    CFAX Radio in Victoria quickly called Côté for an interview. CBC Radio pursued Côté and Dulvy. Burnaby Now asked SFU for pictures, since Alvarez-Filip lived in Burnaby during a stint at SFU. The Tri-City News focused on Côté and Dulvy; the two are Tri-Cities residents.
  • The UK-based medical journal The Lancet carried an article co-authored by Alexis Palmer, Global Health Program masters grad, and others from SFU Health Sciences, saying a country's ratification of a UN human-rights treaty does not necessarily mean improved health for its citizens. The authors from SFU were Palmer, Jocelyn Tomkinson, Charlene Phung, Nathan Ford, Michel Joffres and LeiLei Zeng. also ran an item.
  • Columnist Thomas P. M. Barnett, on, cited the miniAtlas of Human Security, produced by SFU's Human Security Report Project and the World Bank. So did a Czech website. Both, for different purposes, cited the atlas on the extent of current wars and war casualties.


  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was in the Globe and Mail in a story about Coca-Cola’s plans to paint itself green for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and to promote its PlantBottle, its new eco-friendlier container made in part from sugar cane and molasses.

    Said Meredith: “Taking advantage of the Olympic spotlight to highlight the company's eco-friendly moves makes good sense. Anything you can wrap in green is going to sell. The Olympics is an ideal venue to play this card. The trick is to showcase something—just saying 'We're Coca-Cola' doesn't cut it."

    Meredith was also in Business in Vancouver, talking about the bankruptcy of General Motors, a key sponsor of the 2010 games. And he wondered aloud how long General Motors Place will continue to be called that. The name is covered by an $18.5-million deal through 2015. “If bankruptcy creditors come in and say I want that cash, then just watch how quickly that name will fly off.”
  • The Globe and Mail Round Table, which includes public policy prof Doug McArthur, discussed “Raitt-gate”, the political ruckus around Lisa Raitt, federal natural resources minister. McArthur held that gaffes by Raitt and her communications aide had rightly become a media-worthy event. “But I think they’ve got the wrong issue for demanding her resignation. I don’t think this one justifies a resignation.”
  • The Globe and Mail also wrote that the Canadian dollar’s recent bull run threatened to snuff out a nascent economic recovery, and create a two-speed economy (with Alberta faring well in the oil market but manufacturing elsewhere being hurt by a high dollar). Among those quoted was SFU economist Richard Harris:

    “It is clearly going to set off a firestorm of debate about the economic structure of Canada. The country can clearly generate wealth through commodity exports. But you still have a huge manufacturing sector in the most populous parts of the country that could be viable at an 80-cent dollar but would not be viable at parity on a sustained basis.”
  • Niels Veldhuis, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute, wrote a guest column in National Post in response to a column in the Globe and Mail last week by SFU profs emeriti James Dean and Richard Lipsey. They defended government spending to stimulate the economy. Countered Veldhuis: “Ultimately, Dean and Lipsey forgot the old saying, there is no free lunch.  . . . The money has to come from somewhere. Real-world evidence shows that stimulus spending does not work.”
  • Also in the Globe and Mail, Eric Hershberg, director of Latin American Studies at SFU, co-authored a guest column on the visit to Canada of Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. “If Canadian tax dollars are going to be spent on a middle-income country, they should aid Colombian civil society organizations in their efforts to foster conditions for the free and safe exercise of citizenship rights.”
  • Canadian Architect magazine reported that the memorial service for renowned architect Arthur Erickson will be held at SFU Burnaby on Sunday (June 14). The service in Convocation Mall, followed by a reception, will be at 2:30 p.m. Both service and reception are open to all. There will be free parking in B Lot.


  • The Vancouver Sun, The Province and other BC media did stories on this week’s conference on “Decoding Carbon Tax Pricing.” It was staged by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, a collaboration of SFU, UVic, UBC and UNBC.

    Nancy Olewiler, director of SFU Public Policy, was one of the key speakers—and spent almost half an hour on the BC Almanac show on CBC Radio, talking about the conference and carbon pricing, and taking calls from the public. Then she did interviews on CTV News, FairchildTV, and the On the Island show out of CBC Radio in Victoria.
  • Andrey Pavlov of SFU Business did interviews on two radio stations, CKNW and News1130, on Vancouver’s plans to limit parking spots in new downtown developments, to encourage alternate transportation methods. Pavlov called it “central planning at its absolute worst.
  • The Vancouver Courier looked at Vancouver Mayor Greg Robertson’s first six months in office. The story quoted political science prof Patrick Smith. For the most part, Robertson has done a fairly good job, Smith said, but his priority to end homelessness has in practice been more talk than action.

    “To be fair to him, mayors don't generally go out and build buildings but many of the signs of urban poverty are still vividly displayed on our streets.” Smith also noted that the provincial and federal governments have to be on board to build housing.
  • The Province looked at the green light the BC election May 12 gave to Gordon Campbell’s BC government for run-of-river power projects. The story quoted John Nyboer of SFU’S School of Resource and Environmental Management. "It's hard to keep track of how many IPPs (independent power producers) there are in B.C. You can put a single solar-power cell on the roof and register [as an IPP]."

    The price British Columbians will pay for the power is an issue. Nyboer pointed to Germany, a world leader in IPP development that also tops Europe for electricity prices. "Going renewable is an investment. It may serve Germany well, depending on what you see happening with tomorrow's energy supply." But IPPs also have tradeoffs and "pros and cons on all environmental sides."
  • The Canadian Press quoted Ken Lertzman, director of the School of Resource and Environmental Management, in a story on BC’s already problematic forest-fire season.

    “It's interesting to see that we've got such a big and early start to the fire season" but it’s too early to tell if we face another 2003 Season of Fire. "To create the kind of conditions we had in 2003, you need an extended drying period to get all those fuels drying out and then combine that with high winds to create the firestorm scenario and ignition sources. . . . I think a lot is going to depend on what kind of weather we have over the next month or so."

    We saw the story in several papers, and the Globe and Mail did its own version.
  • The Vancouver Sun ran another weekly report from SFU student Janie Dubman, who is spending the summer at the orangutan care centre in Borneo, founded by SFU primatologist Birute Galdikas.

    “Be careful what you wish for. I am in Kalimantan Tengah (Borneo), one of Earth's loveliest corners, playing with orangutans to my heart's content, and I was wishing for more to do. More responsibility. Just volunteering wasn't enough. And lo and behold! A fluffy baby red leaf monkey arrives one morning . . . and I automatically became her foster mommy.”

    The Regina Leader-Post picked up the report.
  • Coverage of the visit to Vancouver of Prince Edward included the ceremony for Duke of Edinburgh Awards for youth. Recipients included SFU student Jennifer Wong, who volunteers as a youth leader during her studies. As a result of pursuing the physical recreation requirement of the Duke of Edinburgh program, she is also about to gain her black belt in kickboxing.
  • And just over the border the Bellingham Herald covered the prize-winning appearance of the SFU Pipe Band at the Bellingham Highland Games. The Tacoma News Tribune picked up the story. (The band posted some video from the games at


  • There were more stories this week on new SFU grads, following Convocation last week. Among them:
    • The World Journal and Sing Tao Daily featured Mark Chua, software developer and first graduate of the dual-degree program in computing science offered by SFU and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. Canadian Immigrant magazine also ran a story.
    • The World Journal and Richmond News featured new SFU Business grad Charles Chou, who earned six scholarships, several awards, mentored other students, and co-founded the SFU Social Innovation Platform ( and the Surrey Business Student Association. He was also founder/CEO of the Volunteer Consulting Group, which matches top student with local non-profits to help improve their operations.
    • OMNI-TV featured Chenghsin Hsu, software and networking engineer and author of 16 published research papers. And then CTV News set up a visit to the Surrey campus to interview him. His thesis on video streaming for mobile receivers and his award-winning prototypes of mobile TV base stations and receivers earned him a SFU doctorate in computing sciences.
  • National Post collected a sampling of convocation speeches from across the country. Two excerpts were from honorary degree recipients at SFU last week:
    • Rafe Mair: “Mere mortals pass on but institutions like SFU are with us for the long haul. That will ensure that it will always do what universities are supposed to do: learn as well as teach, be unafraid of today, as it speaks out about lessons of the past for the future, ‘doing its thing’ utterly unhobbled by political correctness—always remembering the difference between instructing and teaching.”
    • Mark Angelo: “Over the years, I've also come to see a lot of parallels between the characteristics of a river and the stages we go through in our own lives.  . . . As a paddler, just as in life, you'll run into problems at times—you'll hit big rapids and your boat will no doubt flip on occasion. When that happens, you have to right your raft, you get back in and carry on. ... So remain positive and optimistic, and keep that spark you now have. Times will get better, and you'll achieve great things.”

      And the Post illustrated the story with a photo from an SFU Convocation ceremony.
  • A Globe and Mail supplement on Western schools included a story on the Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT) at SFU. It quoted executive director Deborah Harford: “We need to reduce our emissions and show other nations how that can be done—but also plan for the inevitable effects of warming. . . . It’s about increasing resilience and learning how to think about everything in new ways.”

    In a sidebar story, Harford said she was inspired to create the organization partly by her participation in the inaugural cohort of the Semester in Dialogue at SFU. “Suddenly, although I was still a student, I was in a position of peer-to-peer equality with highly respected and qualified decision-makers. I realized that all of these important people are ordinary people who followed a passion, and I could be one of them.”
  • The Nanaimo Daily News looked at the state and fate of on-reserve schools for aboriginal kids. It found they are bogged down by a large government bureaucracy that isn't designed to handle education issues. The story included this: “‘The problem is the federal government has no jurisdiction over education in any other aspect of Canadian life. It's only First Nations education and only on-reserve First Nations education the federal government has a say in,’ said Mark Fettes, an education instructor at Simon Fraser University.”
  • The Province reported the appointment of Daniel Shapiro as dean of SFU’s faculty of business administration. “Shapiro has been a passionate teacher and active researcher for more than 30 years, including 17 years at SFU. He has served in various administrative roles, including director of executive programs, associate dean and director of the CIBC Centre for Corporate Governance and Risk Management.”


  • The many BC media covering opening arrangements for the Golden Ears Bridge linking Langley and Maple Ridge reported that the RCMP will partner with SFU Criminology to research what impact on crime, if any, follows the opening of the bridge this weekend. The study will be done by SFU’s Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies (ICURS) through RCMP Insp. Richard Konarski, who teaches, and is working on his PhD, at SFU.

    The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times, for one, noted: “Members of ICURS have already done research on patterns of crime in the Maple Ridge area, and with information from the RCMP, they'll work to predict how patterns will change.”
  • Robert Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was in a Vancouver Sun story on the reluctance of witnesses to testify in cases that involve gangs and organized crime. Gordon said the chances of a gangster pursuing an innocent bystander who witnessed a crime are “negligible.” He added: “I think the police and Crown are correct in saying in reality, there aren't the kind of repercussions that people think there might be.”

    Canwest News Service circulated the story, and we saw it in nine Canwest papers in addition to the Sun.
  • Gordon was also in a Vancouver Sun story saying the recent public outcry about gangsters being released on bail has had an impact on the courts. “Since January, public pressure and political pressure has come to bear on the judiciary, although they may deny it. . . . The last few months, they (judges) have been a lot more effective.” Canwest News Service sent the story to clients across the country.
  • And Gordon was in a Vancouver Sun story on an unprecedented warning issued to Richmond parents by RCMP, following a threat that a child would be kidnapped. By alerting the community and the media, he said, police will likely lose their chance of making an arrest, but have a better chance of saving a child. "It's a really tricky one, I've never seen anything like this one. I guess they're giving the priority to the children in Richmond over law enforcement needs."

    This one also ran on GlobalTV.
  • The Toronto Star ran a story about Florida State University research that found young men who carry a particular variation of the gene Monoamine oxidase A, or MAOA, are almost twice as likely as others to join gangs and use a weapon in a fight. SFU criminologist Gail Anderson told the Star that knowing the biological basis of behaviour is key to solving why some people turn to crime.

    "It doesn't mean that biology acts on its own, but it means that it is one small part of the puzzle. And if you are ignoring one small part of the puzzle, you are never going to finish the puzzle." The Hamilton Spectator also ran the story.
  • Criminologist Neil Boyd was on News1130 Radio and on news website following an SFU news release on a study co-authored by him and Benedikt Fischer of SFU Health Sciences. The researchers found experimental medical heroin-prescription programs in Vancouver and Montreal had no negative impact on their surrounding communities, and did not attract drug-related crime or disorder., in Switzerland, picked up the SFU release.


  • The Kelowna Daily Courier featured Kelowna’s Robyn Buna, SFU Clan basketball star and one of two Clan members of the Team Canada women's basketball team at the 25th Summer Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia. (The other is Laurelle Weigl.)  The Courier noted Buna this year recorded highest cumulative GPA of any SFU athlete, and won the Lorne Davies female athlete of the year award as voted by coaches and captains.
  • In Ontario, the North Bay Nugget featured North Bay's Adam Newton of SFU’s track and field team, and his hopes of earning a national team spot as a 400m runner. Once called “Canada’s fastest kid” in the 100m, Newton now says: “There are so many people in the 100 and so much competition. You have to come to the realization that I, Adam Newton, will never run 9.6, so it's time to move up."
  • The Province reported goalkeeper Ariel Anderson of the Jugglers soccer team at East Vancouver's Notre Dame High School will join SFU Athletics in the fall.
  • The 100 Mile House Free Press featuredCourtney Knight, a legally blind Paralympian (with only 10 per cent of normal vision) who is gearing up for cross-country skiing in the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games. The paper noted she has a degree in communication and human kinetics from SFU.


  • The Globe and Mail ran a feature on ex-broadcaster David Wisdom, and his collection of images of Vancouver that are being featured in an exhibition at SFU’s Teck Gallery in Vancouver, through Aug. 29.  The North Shore News also promoted the exhibition.
  • The North Shore Outlook reported one of the newspaper’s Women of Excellence Awards went to Judith Marcuse, dancer, choreographer, director, teacher, producer and co-founder of the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC). That’s a partnership between SFU and her production company Judith Marcuse Projects. “It’s . . . people using the arts in social context from HIV education to working with street involved youth to human rights work, environmental work."


In addition to releases mentioned above:

  • SFU gave media advance word that the Zoological Society of London will honour two SFU biologists on June 16 for their commitments to conservation research. Isabelle Côté wins the Marsh Award for Conservation Biology and Nicholas Dulvy, a Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, will receive the Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. The awards seek to recognize “unsung heroes who aim to improve the world we live in.”
  • SFU also let media know that the world champion SFU Pipe Band will join the New Westminster Police Pipe Band at the Massey Theatre, New Westminster on Thursday, June 25 at 7:30 pm. It’s a fund-raiser to help both bands to compete in this year’s World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland. Partial proceeds will go to the New Westminster Police “Cops for Cancer” campaign.  (To purchase tickets, contact Paul Archibald at 604-291-1595 or, or the Massey Box Office 604-521-5050.)


  • A BBC-TV documentary series continues in the UK on Sunday (June 14) with an episode that features SFU forensic botanist Rolf Mathewes. The Incredible Human Journey (Episode 5, The Americas) features his research on the glacial and environmental history of the west coast, and its implications for the “peopling of the Americas".

    He talks about his research and that of students, using pollen and plant remains from cores taken on and around the Queen Charlotte Islands, and the likelihood that migrants from Asia would have found the "Coastal migration route" more livable than the so-called "Ice-free corridor" east of the Rockies. The show will be online at

    (In addition, National Geographic has filmed Mathewes and his work on forensic botany, and that show should air later this year.)
  • A camera crew from CTV in Toronto came to the Burnaby campus to shoot a feature on Olympic speedskater Jeremy Weatherspoon. No actual SFU connection, but the crew looked to SFU to provide a more interesting backdrop than a downtown TV studio.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Simon Fraser Student Society officials Ada Nadison, Alysia MacGrotty and Joseph Zelezny wrote a guest column in the Georgia Straight, urging the city of Vancouver to preserve planned space allocation for students in the W2 Community Media Arts Centre at the Woodward’s development. The three seek a student-controlled “student lounge, meeting space, as well as other services for students who will soon be attending the new SFU School for the Contemporary Arts.”


  • Simon Fraser University news releases can be found online at:

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The price British Columbians will pay for the power is an issue. Nyboer pointed to Germany, a world leader in IPP development that also tops Europe for electricity prices. "Going renewable is an investment. It may serve Germany well, depending on what you see happening with tomorrow's energy supply." But IPPs also have tradeoffs and "pros and cons on all environmental sides."


Read Professor Clavert's report and response to the IPP report. I am surprised that SFU students are not responding to the government to cease and desist on these IPPs. THEY are the ones that will be paying the price for Campbell's folly while the corporate world will make megabucks.

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