SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - July 31, 2009

July 31, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: July 24-31, 2009

The week’s heat wave in BC put some SFU experts into the news: geographer Owen Hertzman, energy researcher John Nyboer, and health scientist Tim Takaro.
Another element of the environment, marine pollution, was a factor in stories that featured archaeologists Dana Lepofsky and John Welch, and biologist Nick Dulvy.
And the impact of air pollution on children led to a story that quoted Bruce Lanphear of SFU Health Sciences.
More on these below.


  • The week’s lightning storms across southern BC led to geographer Owen Hertzman doing an illuminating (pardon the pun) interview on GlobalTV. This he happily volunteered to do despite a medical issue that would have kept most others at home.
  • The Nanaimo Daily News wondered in a story if the week’s heat wave could be linked to climate change and global warming. John Nyboer of SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management said it's impossible to say. "That we've seen harsher conditions, I don't deny. That they are a direct consequence of climate change is beyond science."
    But physician-prof Tim Takaro of SFU Health Sciences said he thinks unchecked climate change will lead to prolonged heat waves and other extreme weather events. "So you are, in a way, worse off than Atlanta, Georgia or Mobile, Alabama because there people have adapted and everybody, or just about, has air conditioning or access to it."
  • The Vancouver Sun carried a story on how three SFU 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. (They are Johnson Chuang, Torsten Möller and Daniel Weiskopf.)
  • The Vancouver Sun visited the Tla’Amin nation on the Sunshine Coast, and reported on a community day that was planned by SFU archaeologists Dana Lepofsky and John Welch and their students.
    “The archeology project at Sliammon is a collaboration between SFU and the Tla’Amin people. For Lepofsky and Welch it is a chance to study a first nation that academia has largely ignored. For the Tla’Amin it is a chance to recover some of what has been lost.”
    Said Lepofsky: “The memory of the place is of incredibly rich, diverse ecosystems and with that a deep ecological knowledge.” But now, the Sun told readers, “The herring are all gone. Most of the chum, too. Clams and oysters lie uneaten on the beach, made poisonous by the industrial encroachment a few miles up the beach in Powell River.”
    By way of Canwest News Service, we also saw the feature in the Victoria Times Colonist, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Windsor Star, Ottawa Citizen, and Montreal Gazette.
  • Meanwhile, the work of Lepofsky and Welch was mentioned on, online journal of the Archaeological Institute of America. It quoted Lepofsky on the historical marine economy of the Tla’Amin people:
    “When you look, there are herring bones everywhere and they supported people for thousands of years and created an elaborate fishing technology and now there’s none of it left.”
  • Speaking of marine pollution, Maclean’s magazine reported: “B.C.'s majestic killer whales are dying as their ocean home surrenders to the stress of pollution, global warming and carbonic acid.” In the story, Maclean’s quoted biologist Nick Dulvy on damage to coral reefs:
    “Battered by so many stressors, coral reefs, which are home to 25 per cent of all marine life, will almost certainly disappear, robbing fish of the crevasses and critical refuge from the awaiting ‘wall of mouths’, says Simon Fraser University biologist Nick Dulvy. Some 20 per cent of all coral reefs have already been destroyed, including a full 80 per cent of all Caribbean reefs, while another 50 per cent teeter on the brink.”
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith did interviews on CTV, CBC-TV and Fairchild-TV on BC’s plan to harmonize provincial and federal sales taxes next July 1. Meredith also spoke on AM1040 Radio on that subject, and on the Bank of Canada’s declaration last week that Canada is emerging from the recession.
  • Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, last week won Province headlines with a call for a pedestrian advocate for Vancouver. This week he took to the air on CKNW to discuss the idea further, and to take calls from listeners.
    At the same time, Terry Lavender, communications manager at SFU Surrey, had an article on the issue on the news and commentary website of Among his recommendations: “City Council should appoint both a pedestrian adviser (as Perl recommends) and a pedestrian advisory council.” As well, Vancouver could easily make things safer for pedestrians at street crossings and intersections.
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader reported the selection of designers and architects for Surrey's new Civic Centre project. “The project, having a total floor area of 400,000-sq.-ft., includes a new city hall, a Science and Innovation Centre that in cooperation with SFU Surrey will generate new business growth, as well as commercial floor space.”
    In the Leader, and in the Peace Arch News, columnist Frank Bucholtz wrote: "The SFU connection has been very important for Surrey, not only to help turn Whalley into a downtown, but also to offer a much-needed service to a large and growing city, which has a high population of young people."
  • The Early Edition show on CBC Radio picked up from The Peak a story on a photo contest organized by a grad student to protest the “squalor” of Louis Riel and Hamilton Hall residences. Chris Rogerson, associate director of residence life, appeared on the Early Edition (and later on CBC-TV) to talk about SFU’s renovation and maintenance plans, and to point out that some of the photos in The Peak are outdated and misleading. Protesting grad student Mark Weiler was also on the shows. The CBC website and CJSF (SFU student radio) pursued the story, too. So did some blogs.


  • A Jeffrey Simpson column in the Globe and Mail noted that Shawn Atleo, the new head of the Assembly of First Nations, made improvement in Indian education one of his campaign priorities. Simpson went on to cite research by public policy prof John Richards: “He has found that a) off-reserve Indian youngsters have better educational outcomes, b) the higher the concentration of Indian youths in a school, the poorer the educational outcome.”
  • As VIA Rail headed for what proved to be a brief strike by engineers, The Canadian Press spoke with business prof Aidan Vining. He said that while the federal government has reportedly considered VIA for privatization, that's unlikely to take place unless the Tories want to see rail service fold. “The chances that VIA Rail would be profit making even under some form of private ownership are zilch.” We saw the story in and on 13 media outlets as far afield as the Halifax Chronicle-Herald.
  • Tax guru Jon Kesselman of SFU Public Policy was in the Wealthy Boomer column in the Financial Post section of National Post. The column noted public calls for Ottawa to allow retroactive contributions to tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs). Kesselman questioned how this could be managed. The Financial Post continued: “In a forthcoming paper for Canadian Tax Journal, Kesselman makes a different, but related, proposal for differentially larger TFSA contribution room for older individuals. This would be a transitional measure to reflect the fact older people have fewer years to save and invest than younger folk, and therefore much less total lifetime contribution room for their TFSAs.”
  • reported: “Here’s a dirty little secret about polluted urban air: It can shave almost 5 points off of a young child’s IQ.” It quoted Bruce Lanphear of SFU Health Sciences, an international expert on lead pollution.
    “‘For any individual child, unless it’s your own, you might consider a 5-point drop in IQ as no big deal,’ he acknowledges. But extrapolate that across a population the size of the United States, ‘and a downward shift in IQ by 5 points will increase by 3.5 million the number of children who meet the criteria for mental retardation.’ It also increases the number of children needing more, costlier help in school.”
  • PlanetEarth Online reported on a paper co-authored by biologist John Reynolds, finding that birds that migrate over long distances have a shorter breeding season than species that don't travel far. And far-travelling males tend to care less for their offspring, leaving the tasks of raising the chicks to the females.
  • Human Resource Executive Online looked at how few companies help employees cope with overseas assignments. Among those quoted was Mila Lazarova, assistant prof in SFU Business: “It's very stressful to be taken out of your normal circumstances and put into an entirely different environment and be expected to function normally, as if nothing has changed. It's really quite unrealistic to expect that."


  • Criminologist Ray Corrado was on The National on CBC-TV in a story on Melissa Todorovic, 17, sentenced to life for using her boyfriend to murder a 14-year-old girl “rival” in Toronto. Corrado said the case was puzzling, in that Todorovic came from a good home. “Many of the traditional risk factors weren't there. She was otherwise polite with her family, that she was studious, that she was disciplined.”
  • The Vancouver Sun carried a feature on the use by RCMP of two helicopters in the Lower Mainland. Despite their success stories, Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, said many people have concerns about noise, air pollution and the invasion of privacy.  “And there are the civil libertarian concerns about police being able to peer over every garden fence.”
  • The Province reported DNA evidence shows the same yet-unidentified man has committed three violent sexual attacks on little girls across Metro Vancouver in the last 14 years. SFU criminologist Eric Beauregard said it’s likely there are more victims out there. “With most sex offenders a big part of their criminality is that it’s hidden. If people don’t report the sex crimes then there’s no way we’re going to know about it.” The Victoria Times Colonist also ran the story.
    And talking to CTV, Beauregard added that the manis likely to offend again. “I don't see why he would stop, unless he's apprehended."
  • Burnaby Now was first to pick up a news release from coach Mike Renney and Virginia Hasselfield, director of leadership giving, on how SFU’s women’s softball team will soon have a field to call home, thanks to a gift—and challenge—from the Keith and Betty Beedie Foundation.
    The foundation has given SFU a $500,000 gift, and has launched a challenge to match dollar-for-dollar any further donations, up to another $250,000. The field will occupy the site of the team’s current practice field at the west end of the Burnaby campus.
  • carried an advance story on the training camp for the Canadian national women's basketball team, which opens in Abbotsford Saturday Aug. 1.  It listed among those attending Laurelle Weigl, who helped the Clan to a national title this year, and Teresa Gabriele, who also played for SFU before joining the national squad 11 years ago.
  • Surrey Now featured Shelley Morris, a Surrey firefighter with Surrey fire department and a competitor in the Toughest Competitor Alive event at the World Police and Fire Games. The paper noted Morris, 37, is a former track star at SFU.


  • The Burnaby NewsLeader and 24Hours were quick to run a news release on how the SFU Pipe Band, five times world champion, offers a free concert this Sunday, August 2, on the Burnaby campus.
    (The concert begins at 2 p.m. on the AQ Lawn. For the band, it’s a warm-up for a concert in the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall on Aug. 12—and then the world championship on Glasgow Green on Aug. 15.)
    Grace note: The SFU band won both Grade 1 events at the Pacific Northwest Highland Games last weekend at Enumclaw WA.
  • The Vancouver Sun’s book pages covered Symposium on the Book, a day-long literary discussion at SFU’s annual Summer Publishing Workshops.  Among other things, the story mentioned that Dal Richards, 91-year-old big band leader and saxophonist, will tell the story of his life in a memoir called One More Time.
  • The Oak Bay News featured a five-day jazz appreciation workshop given by Neil Ritchie, former jazz show producer for CBC Radio.  “Now retired from CBC, Ritchie also teaches at Simon Fraser University in downtown Vancouver. His approach with his students (at Oak Bay) will be much the same as at SFU.  ‘I don't like to talk too much because I'd prefer people listen (to the music) and form their own opinions.’”


  • The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) and BMO Capital Markets announced to media winners of the 2009 NEADS Equity Through Education awards. They include Quyen Le, who is about to start the third year of an MA counselling psychology program at SFU.


  • The Abbotsford News, Nanaimo Daily News and Clearwater (BC) Times ran items by prof emeritus Gary Mauser, following his article that appeared last week in the Alberni Valley Times: His message: “It is time to pull the plug on the long-gun registry. The present Canadian firearms program was misdirected from the beginning. It focused exclusively on normal law abiding people who happened to own firearms rather than violent criminals. It should come as no surprise that it hasn't been effective in either saving lives or in combating criminal violence.”
  • Sixteen more newspapers and websites, from Taiwan to Tennessee, picked up an Associated Press newsfeature from last week on efforts to combat drug smuggling across the Canada-U.S. border. Criminologist Rob Gordon was quoted as saying production of export marijuana and its economic spinoffs have made it BC’s third largest industry behind tourism and logging. "It's a major component of our gross provincial product."

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Business in Vancouver told readers: “Anyone who’s enjoyed funicular transit in Europe or the gondolas in mountain resorts such as Whistler should pay attention to Gordon Harris’ vision for UniverCity at SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus. Harris has approached TransLink with the idea of a gondola system that could ferry students from the Production Way-University SkyTrain station to SFU by next year. . . .”


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