SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - July 10, 2009

July 10, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: July 3-10, 2009

In a release to sports and news media July 10, SFU announced it has become the first non-U.S. member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the world’s largest college sports organization.
David Murphy, senior director of SFU Athletics, told reporters that beginning with the 2011-12 season, all of SFU’s 19 Clan varsity teams will compete in the NCAA’s Division II in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).
The move was hailed by ex-SFU greats Lorne Davies and Jay Triano.
More on this below.


  • reported that a new type of colour-screen for cellphones could reduce power demand and lengthen their battery life. It cited research by MSc student Johnson Chuang of SFU and colleagues.
    They designed sets of colours that slash power consumption by up to 40 per cent, with minimal effect on how people perceive an image. “Colours with equal perceived brightness don't necessarily use the same amount of energy."
    The ANI (Asian News International) news agency sent the story to South Asian media. We thus saw it in the Times of India and the Hindustan Times, and on in Bangkok. We saw it in several tech blogs, too.
    SFU put out a news release: “Three Simon Fraser University computing scientists have developed colour-screen technology that promises to slash the power usage of battery-driven mobile devices by up to 40 per cent. Johnson Chuang, Torsten Möller and Daniel Weiskopf are the first scientists worldwide to develop a set of energy-saving screen colours for devices (such as cell phones) that use organic light-emitting diode screens (OLEDs).
  • The Weather Network’s news crew talked to SFU experts Tim Takaro (SFU Health Sciences) and Diana Allen (SFU Earth Sciences) about the potential impact of global warming on regions like BC, with heavily populated coastal cities and environmentally compromised rural and remote communities. The two, with Health Sciences researcher Kate Bassil, co-authored a new white paper commissioned by the BC government.
    (Closer to home, the Chilliwack Progress carried a column citing the white paper. The Progress said: “The problem . . .  is that little has been done to quantify the impact of weather patterns on health and the researchers are urging a made-in-B.C. health policy to get ahead of the curve in the road ahead, especially for vulnerable and aboriginal communities.”)
  • The New York Times explored the theory that the ravages of the Mountain Pine Beetle are “normal biological processes that have happened for millennia” and nothing should be done to halt the spread of the beetle.  The Times used photos taken by Ron Long, a photographer for SFU Biosciences and then for SFU’s Learning and Instructional Development Centre before retiring in 2004.
  • The Guardian in the UK carried a tribute to architect Arthur Erickson from Canadian journalist Hadani Ditmars. She attended his memorial service at SFU’s Burnaby campus on June 14, and “I came away with a renewed sense of what his work was all about.”


  • The Vancouver Sun looked at plans for the visit to BC (beginning in Vancouver July 10) of Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. Among those quoted was Tsuyoshi Kawasaki, director of the Asia-Canada program at SFU. “It is considered a very extraordinary gesture on the part of the government and the people of Japan."
    Meanwhile, Toshimi Ono, director of Project JAPAN in SFU Continuing Studies, attended a special event in Ottawa this week to honour the royal couple, and mark this year as the 80th anniversary of Canadian representation in Japan. Only 200 people across Canada were invited.
  • Last week, it was Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, saying the Golden Ears Bridge is a mistake. This week it was Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program, dismissing Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s proposal for a cycling and pedestrian bridge across False Creek. Price, a former city councillor and a cyclist himself, told the Vancouver Courier: "It is too big, too complicated and too expensive."
  • Biology student Janie Dubman wrote another weekly report in The Vancouver Sun on her work at the orangutan care centre in Borneo. This time, she wrote about the threat of palm oil companies that buy up tracts of land and convert the jungle to plantations. “Such a fate dooms all the jungle's biodiversity, plant and animal, to annihilation.”
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader caught up to a study that found 30 per cent of BC employees work in an environment that is not psychologically safe and healthy. The study was from SFU’s Consortium for Organizational Mental Healthcare (COMH), a national research centre in the Faculty of Health Sciences. SFU had sent out a news release on May 22.


  • Forensic psychologist Stephen Hart and criminologist Eric Beauregard were in a GlobalTV story about a sexual attack on a six-year-old Surrey girl.
    Beauregard, a crime-geography profiler, said rapists like this “don’t travel far from their home base” to commit such crimes—so the criminal likely lives and/or works close to where the crime was committed.
    Hart noted that such a sexual attack by a stranger is “somewhat unusual”—in that most sexual offences against children are by someone known to the victim.
    Earlier, the Vancouver Sun quoted criminologist Rob Gordon on the delay in reporting the crime. (The girl was assaulted on the evening of July 3.  The crime wasn’t reported to police until around 4 p.m. July 4, and the victim was not interviewed until around 2 p.m. July 5.)
    “As a general rule, the longer time passes between the particular offence being committed and the person being interviewed, the worse the situation becomes,” said Gordon. “The longer the time between the offence and the reporting, the longer this fellow has to get away.”
  • On another subject, Gordon—who is theoretically on leave—also spoke to BBC Radio, CNN Seattle and an Australian TV station about gangs and gang wars in BC.
  • CBC-TV and GlobalTV’s stories on the beating of a black man by three whites on Vancouver Island featured on criminologist David MacAlister.
    Police said the attack was clearly racial, but was it, legalistically speaking, a “hate crime”—which could mean a tougher sentence? MacAlister said treating the attack as a hate crime depends on being able to establish the accused’s motives: “The key aspect is motivation.” And determining motivation is difficult—even seeing and hearing isn't good enough. "It would take something more than that. Exactly what it would require I think is going to vary depending on each individual case."
    The Criminal Code doesn’t spell out how much a sentence can be enhanced for a hate crime, but "Individuals convicted of assault who were sentenced to provincial time had that sentence elevated to a penitentiary period due to the finding that it was a hate crime."
  • A Jon Ferry column in The Province lauded people who stand up to (and fight off) criminals, and lambasted employers who discipline them for doing it. But he quoted criminologist Neil Boyd as saying that corporate non-intervention policies make sense and that caution is often the better option.
  • Kicking off a series on drugs and drug treatment in the Lower Mainland, The Province noted:  “According to a 2003 Simon Fraser University/Vancouver Police Department study of 100 users, Treadmill of Addiction, almost half (of addicts) said they spent more than $100 a day on illegal drugs. Sixty-one per cent said they regularly committed crimes to buy drugs.”


  • SFU’s news release on the university’s admission to the NCAA included hoorays from Lorne Davies, SFU's legendary first athletics director, and Jay Triano, head coach of the NBA Toronto Raptors and a former Clan basketball star and coach,
    Davies: “It is the most important step in SFU athletic history. The athletics department is keeping in step with the university's commitment to provide excellence in education and athletics and to challenge our students and student athletes to be the best."
    Triano: “To be the best, athletes need to compete against the best and I believe that by joining the NCAA, Simon Fraser University is putting themselves in a position to do just that. . . . As a proud alumnus, I couldn’t be happier for everyone involved.”
  • Earlier in the week, The Vancouver Sun (and National Post, by way of Canwest News Service) carried an advance story saying, “Simon Fraser University sits on the brink of making North American collegiate sports history.” The story added:
    “With its roots firmly grounded in competition against American institutions it's not surprising Simon Fraser would be the first Canadian school to consider making the leap to the NCAA level. The first Canadian school to offer athletic scholarships, SFU sports spent its first four decades competing against Pacific Northwest competition in the U. S. small-college NAIA system. Only in the past 10 years, when the number of accessible rivals at the NAIA level dwindled, did SFU begin moving many of its sports to the Canadian sphere.”
  • SFU Athletics sent out news releases on how Clan alumnae Ruky Abdulai and Rebecca Johnstone won bronze medals at the international Summer Universiade games in Belgrade, Serbia.
    Olympian Abdulai took third place in the long jump. She slipped on the rain-slicked course and jumping board on her third jump, was hurt, and withdrew. But she was able to hang on to her bronze medal with a distance of 6.44 metres.
    Johnstone took bronze in the 800m with a time of 2:03.67. “I was in second for most of it but faded in the last 100 metres and just ran to keep my position in third.”
    Two other Clan alumnae are on the Canadian track and field team: Julia Howard and Meredith MacGregor.
  • Burnaby Now and the New Westminster Record featured SFU student Kelsey Haberl, who was named to the senior women's national softball team for the 2009 Canada Cup, which began this week in Surrey. “Not bad for a Clan rookie who started just three games with the SFU varsity team last season. With the Clan, Haberl had a third-best .400 batting average, including 16 hits and 10 runs batted in 40 at-bats. She also struck out just once all season.”
  • The Vernon Morning Star featured local footballer Ray Wladichuk, who has quit the Hamilton Tiger-Cats so he can come back to SFU to finish his education—and play for the Clan. Wladichuk, an Earth Sciences student, recently switched majors, and said a course scheduling conflict made it impossible for him to stay in Hamilton.


  • SFU Contemporary Arts announced to media that three arts-savvy staffers have joined the team moving the school to the downtown Woodward’s project: Sabine Bitter, curator of the Audain Gallery; Michael Boucher, director of cultural development and programming; and Vanessa Richards, director of community engagement.
    CBC and Fairchild-TV quickly called to arrange interviews with the cultural team, and the Georgia Straight picked up the SFU news release.
  • The Kamloops Daily News and Kamloops This Week promoted the third Kamloops Highland Games (tomorrow, Saturday July 11) and its star attraction: the world champion SFU Pipe Band. And the Vernon Morning Star again promoted a concert by the band tonight at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, and the band’s piping and drumming schools at Silver Star Mountain through July 17. SFU had spread the word.


  • The Vancouver Sun carried a plug for a July 16 workshop on Self-Publishing in Canada—one of SFU’s Summer Publishing Workshops. It’s hosted by Suzanne Anderson, author of Self-Publishing in Canada: A complete guide to designing, printing and selling your book.


In addition to news releases mentioned above:

  • SFU Dialogue told media about SFU’s new certificate program in dialogue and civic engagement. The inaugural series of courses and workshops begins in September.
  • SFU Education profs Kieran Egan and Mark Fettes let media know about the international conference of the Imaginative Research Education Group, July 15-18 at SFU’s Vancouver campus.

 ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Richmond News reported Richmond Grade 12 teacher Sandra Gin has been selected Miss B.C. 2009, beating out 28 other beauty contestants... “Meanwhile, the bright young woman is studying at Simon Fraser University to earn her Masters of English, in her spare time.”
  • The Province featured James Chi Ming Pau, retired practitioner of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine and “a Downtown Eastside tour de force who's been on the cutting edge of drug activism for 30 years.” The paper noted that in 2007, he won an SFU Gandhi Peace Award and Thakore Visiting Scholar Award.


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