SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - September 17, 2009

September 17, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Sept. 10-17, 2009

“Is the World Flat or Not?”
That was a headline question in the New York Times business section, which looked to SFU economist David Jacks for the answer. Explanation below.
Also below, such SFU stories as a novel method of sequencing genomes, to advance knowledge about what causes mountain pine beetle infestations—and cancer.
And the largest undergraduate class in SFU’s history.


  • The CTV network continued a series on the economy, and looked at a proposed national industrial-emissions plan. It featured SFU’s energy guru and prof, Mark Jaccard.
    "I tell politicians that they have to price carbon if they are serious about reducing GHG emissions. We can make substantial reductions, at least over a 10-year timeframe, without a huge cost to the Canadian economy. You don't have to reduce output, per se."
    But, CTV added: “Jaccard doubts that the federal government's climate-change policy will keep pace with that of its southern neighbour. ‘I myself speculated that Canada would move fairly quickly to harmonize with the U.S., or perhaps even anticipate where it's going. Now I'm not convinced. They could just as easily drag their feet some more.’"
    The New York Times business section looked at the question: “Is the World Flat or Not?” As in, the supposed “flattening” of the world through lower transportation costs and faster communications technology. But, the story continued:
    “David Jacks, an assistant professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in Canada, has taken a look at abundant evidence on the commodities trade in the 19th century and concludes that dramatically lower transportation costs arrived long ago. That suggests that our own era might be less pathbreaking than we would like to believe.
    “‘International trade costs may have not declined nearly as dramatically in the late 20th century as has been supposed, especially in light of the 19th century experience, a time of well-documented and large trade-cost declines,’ Mr. Jacks writes.”
    The NYT carried links to a summary of Jacks’ findings and to his full paper.
  • Early in the week, GlobalTV’s national news looked at federal election prospects, and quoted public policy prof Doug McArthur:
    “Now, there always can be something dramatic and unexpected happen, so we have to, always have to, be careful with these predictions, but I feel pretty certain about this one: It's more of the same—even if we do have this election.”
    Later, as election prospects faded for a while, political scientist Patrick Smith told 24Hours: “It's pretty likely [the government] will get through next spring. There will be a lull because no one wants to be campaigning during the Olympics." But "there could very well be more votes of non-confidence.” The story also ran on
  • The Globe and Mail looked at the plans of Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts to create a downtown core in the Central City area, which is also home to SFU’s Surrey campus. The story noted how Surrey’s past growth led to “ghastly design”, and quoted Gordon Price, head of the city program at SFU:
    "Surrey is a very big place, and people would see it mainly as post-war suburban sprawl, which is largely what it is. But it breaks out into these very distinct character areas if you live within Surrey," such as South Surrey, Fleetwood, Newton, Guilford and other communities.
  • Switzerland-based was first to pick up an SFU news release on how a research team co-led by prof Steven Jones of SFU Molecular Biology and Biochemistry has developed a new way of sequencing genomes.
    The researchers are using their novel method to advance knowledge about what causes mountain pine beetle infestations—and cancer. Jones is head of bioinformatics at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre. The journal Genome Biology has published an article about the researchers’ development and application of their new approach to genome sequencing.
    CBC Radio in Prince George interviewed Jones. United Press International also did a story. The story also ran on a batch of science blogs and websites.
  • SFU also sent out a news release on three SFU recipients of graduate fellowships from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS).
    The Manitoba Cooperator, a journal for farmers, ran a story noting PhD candidates Rupananda Widanage and Rose Elise Murphy will research policy decisions that could be made to address climate change's impacts on farming and ranching. The Chilliwack Progress interviewed master’s candidate Elizabeth Sutton. (The three are all in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management.) Stories also ran in the Alberta Express, Canadian Cattlemen, Grainews, and the western edition of Country Guide.
  • Moody's Investors Service told media that SFU’s “Aa1” debt rating reflects a strong market position. “The high investment-grade rating also reflects a low and declining debt burden as well as a track record of consistent, stable operating performance. . . . Given the university's track record in managing operating budget pressures, Moody's expects that over the medium term, the university will continue to post positive operating results.”
  • The news and commentary website carried an article by Shauna Sylvester, Fellow at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and director of the Canada's World project: “Given that Canadians are focused more globally than their government, perhaps it’s time for federal political parties to wake up and see the world. It takes courage to go against the grain and present a vision of Canada during an election that is global.”


  • The Vancouver Sun turned an SFU news release into a story: “Simon Fraser University welcomed this week the largest undergraduate class in the university's history—24,114 as of Sept. 4. The total number of registered students on all campuses also jumped to 28,275, an increase of seven per cent over last year's record enrolment. And the Surrey campus welcomed its largest first-year class since opening in 2002.”
    The Burnaby NewsLeader also did a story from the release. So did the Epoch Times.
    Then the Surrey-North Delta Leader did a story on record enrolment at the Surrey campus. Farther from home, SFU economist David Andolfatto was in The Manitoban (University of Manitoba) in a story on enrolment: “College [and] university enrolment rates have always been highly countercyclical. During bad times, wages and job opportunities are low. So the opportunity cost of retraining is low. The reverse happens during a boom period. Why go to school when you could be making big money at work?”
  • For someone who is on sabbatical, Marjorie Griffin Cohen put in a lot of voluntary airtime this week—talking about the federal government’s plan to enhance employment insurance benefits for people who have lost their jobs after spending years in the workforce. The economist and political scientist was on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio, and did interviews with Fairchild News and CFAX Victoria.
  • Public policy prof Jon Kesselman wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun on the reversal by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal of its 2007 decision upholding mandatory retirement for Air Canada pilots at age 60.
    “No one need fear taking a flight with an older, unsafe pilot, since the (new) decision extends their working age only to 65, and all pilots are subject to frequent, demanding tests of health and competence. But until the Canadian Human Rights Act is amended, one in 10 (federal) workers might legitimately fear that their rights to continue working as long as they are willing and able remain at risk.
    Kesselman was an expert economic witness for the Canadian Human Rights Commission in the original Air Canada case.
  • The Province featured Julian Somers, associate prof in SFU Health Sciences, as principal investigator for the Vancouver site of a new $110-million five-city Canadian research demonstration project in mental health and homelessness.
    “Somers, a drug addictions specialist and the son of a homeless man who lived and died in the Downtown Eastside, said the study aims to find solutions on how to better integrate this oft-ignored and vulnerable population into mainstream society.”
  • Criminologist Neil Boyd wrote a mini-column and blog for The Vancouver Sun, blasting the federal government’s anti-crime legislation, which includes mandatory minimum sentences for even minor drug crimes. “These election bills should die on the order paper. The Tories aren't tough on crime; they're stupid on crime. What's disappointing is that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals have been so unwilling to challenge the morally and scientifically bankrupt agenda that the Tories have been advancing.”
  • Political scientist Anil Hira was on CBC Radio talking about the role of biofuels in a sustainable future, and the impact on farmers, food supplies and food prices of harvesting corn to make ethanol to add to gasoline. This stemmed from a forum held Sept. 16 at SFU Vancouver’s Harbour Centre campus.
  • Burnaby Now reported SFU’s plan to move its road-salt storage shed to protect nearby waterways is on hold for a year pending funding from the provincial government. “Lee Gavel, SFU's chief facilities officer, said there has been no formal rejection of the request, it's just been deferred.  . . . ‘(We'll) do whatever we can to minimize damage for this coming winter,’ he added.”
  • The Vancouver Sun wrote an advance story on a Sept. 16 forum from SFU’s David Lam Centre. It quoted SFU Business prof Rosalie Tung as saying that instead of debating and tracking “brain gain or drain”, we need to understand how a new set of executives is bouncing back and forth between here and Asia. “It's a situation that puts the onus on governments, corporations and organizations in Canada to come up with more enticing environments, Tung argued.”
    Canwest News Service sent the story to clients across Canada.
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was on the Fanny Kiefer show on Shaw-TV,ripping into the BC government for the way it announced it would implement the Harmonized Sales Tax, and criticizing the impact of HST on restaurants and small business.
    Meredith also did an interview with a freelancer from Dallas, writing for Women's Health Magazine on female life-style pill-poppers.
  • Terry Lavender, communications manager at SFU’s Surrey campus, continued his series in The latest story is on using videogames to alleviate chronic pain and to help autistic children communicate. The story features the work of profs Diane Gromala and Steve DiPaola.
    Lavender also wrote for about the videogame he built as a graduate student at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology.
    Homeless: It’s No Game (playable on the Web at puts the player in the position of a homeless woman trying to survive on the street for 24 hours. She has to find food, shelter, water and rest—and a place to go to the bathroom; all the while dodging police, vigilantes, drug dealers, nasty dogs and muggers.”
  • Janie Dubman, an SFU student who wrote for The Vancouver Sun about her summer at the Orangutan care centre in Borneo, wrote in the Sun a special appeal: “You can adopt one of the hundreds of orphans at the (Orangutan Foundation International) Care Centre and Quarantine. The adventurous can apply for our hands-on volunteer program. . . . You can join OFI by visiting to join our mailing list, make a donation, adopt an infant, or receive information and updates."
  • The Vancouver Sun featured SFU’s Punjabi language camp, and the progress of 11-year-old Aanikh Kler and brother Amaan, 8. The Sun noted such classes also offer students an advantage in the global marketplace.  "’There are so many more organizations now that have a global reach,’ said Tony Botelho, SFU's manager of career services, which advises students on job-hunting tips.”
  • The Province did a story on the investiture of 13 new members of the Order of BC. They include Roy Miki, award-winning poet, SFU prof emeritus, and advocate for social justice; SFU chancellor Brandt Louie, president and CEO of HY Louie Company Limited, and chairman of London Drugs; Peter Dhillon of Richmond, head of the Richberry Group of Companies (cranberries), and a member of the SFU Board of Governors; and Samuel Belzberg, a leader in banking, real estate and investment who led SFU’s first fundraising campaign (which raised $68 million in three years).
  • Grad student Heather Ritzer was in a Georgia Straight survey that asked how Metro’s transit system could be improved. Her answer: “I would say more transit, more often. . . . Expanding the SkyTrain might help a lot out to UBC and really high-traffic areas.”
  • Speaking of transit and traffic: Burnaby Now covered Burnaby council debate on whether 2010 Olympic Games park-and-ride sites would create traffic woes. The paper noted the Burnaby campus will be one of the hubs, with people parking cars there and taking buses to the Cypress Mountain venues.


  • The SFU Clan football team walloped the university of Manitoba Bisons 41-7 in a home game before a full house on SFU’s Terry Fox Field. SFU touchdowns were carded by receiver Victor Marshall (two), quarterback Bernd Dittrich, Owen Geier, and Brandon Halverson. Clan kicker Jason Cook finished the game with five converts, a field goal and a rouge, and SFU had a team safety to complete their scorecard.  There’s a video recap at:
    The Clan (2-0) moved up to #7 from #10 in the national rankings of the University Football Reporters of Canada/Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
    The men are back in action Friday night (Sept. 18)  when they host the University of Alberta (7pm, Terry Fox Field, Burnaby campus. And on CLAN TV at:
  • Six goals by newcomer Alex Hanne propelled the Clan men’s soccer team to a 9-1 win over the Menlo College Oaks at Atherton CA. Hanne thus tied Rob Cirjak’s 1988 record of six goals in a game.  Sang Hwang, Geoff Kosub and John Hodnett scored SFU’s other three goals. With the win the Clan moved to 6-2 on the season.
    Hanne was named male athlete of the week and offensive player of the week by the NAIA Association of Independent Institutions. At home, he was named Clan Athlete of the Week. And the team climbed a rung, to #12 from #13, in the NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 rankings.
    Earlier, the men defeated Notre Dame de Namur University 2-1 in Belmont CA. Scoring for the Clan were Farhad Abdulgani and Roman Doutkevitch. The men are back in action this Saturday (Sept. 19) when they face Western Washington, in Bellingham at 7 pm.
  • The Clan women’s soccer team lost 2-1 to Central Washington University Wildcats (NCAA) on a contested goal in the 67th minute. Freshman SFU keeper Lesley McDonnell appeared to have stopped the ball at the goal line but the head official ruled it a goal. The team stayed in the #10 spot, though, in the NAIA Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25.
    The Clan women (4-2) now travel to Portland to face California Baptist (tonight, Thursday Sept. 17) and then Corban College (Saturday Sept. 19). And they come home to host Capilano University Sunday (Sept. 20).
    Earlier, the team shut out Northwest University 2-0 in Kirkland WA. Marti Dumas and Chanelle Bradshaw scored for the Clan. Cassie Newbrook had the shutout in goal for SFU.
  • The Clan women’s cross-country team was selected as No. 1 in the NAIA preseason top-25 coaches poll. The Clan are shooting for their 11th NAIA national title. Canwest News Service said Clan stars Jessica Smith and Helen Crofts are two of the main reasons for the school's lofty rankings.
    The women’s and men’s cross-country teams head to Seattle on Saturday (Sept. 19) to compete in the Sundodger Invitational.
  • The Canada West University Athletics Association told media it has approved SFU Athletics to compete in 2009-10, and deferred its vote on 2010-11. SFU joins the NCAA for 2011-12.  For 2009-10, SFU has “probationary” status in Canada West. “Probationary status means Simon Fraser will not be eligible to vote in conference matters. The move does not affect Simon Fraser's ability to fully compete in the 2009-10 season, including post-season play and coach and athlete recognition.”
    But The Vancouver Sun reported: “Indications from Canada West sources are that all Clan sports teams will be kicked out of the conference at the end of the current campaign. That leaves the SFU administration in a bit of a bind with nowhere to play in 2010-11. One possibility is to have all Clan sports play a season of exhibition games, including some against GNAC (NCAA division) schools. Another is that SFU could appeal to the NCAA to allow them membership a year earlier than planned. Also up in the air is the future of the annual Shrum Bowl football game against UBC with the real possibility this year's Oct. 17 clash could be the last of the long and historic series, which is tied at 15-15-1.”
  • The North Shore News featured Clan running back Gabe Ephard, a grad of Windsor Secondary on the North Shore.  SFU head coach Dave Johnson said: "Gabe is a special player. The combination of his size and speed and his agility is really uncommon. And then on top of that: a great character kid, a great attitude.” picked up the story.
  • The Province sports pages carried a note that SFU Athletics is looking for volunteers to assist them in their newest online initiative: CLAN TV.  “In 2009, SFU will begin streaming all home events live via video webcasts. CLAN TV is looking for volunteers interested in assisting with producing and directing broadcasts, operating cameras, running the video replay console, or even doing play-by-play or colour commentary on select broadcasts.”


  • The Globe and Mail reported that Judith Marcuse, Vancouver artistic director, producer, choreographer and arts advocate, has been awarded the 2009 Jacqueline Lemieux Prize by the Canada Council for the Arts. The Globe noted: “She is also the founder and co-director of the International Centre of Art for Social Change, a partnership with Simon Fraser University.”
    The Province also carried a story.
  • The Vancouver Courier featured filmmaker Dan Pierce and a documentary he is making about Stanley Park’s Hollow Tree and efforts to preserve what is left of it. "It's a really cool piece of wood that stands for something really important.” Pierce graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from SFU last year.
    Added the Courier: “He's also busy making a short documentary about local band Maria in the Shower and has been hired by Westbank, developer of the Woodward's project, to create a film about the heritage conservation of the old building, which will play in the new building's atrium.”
  • History prof emeritus Michael Fellman reviewed in The Vancouver Sun a new biography of musician Leonard Bernstein (Leonard Bernstein: the political life of an American musician by Barry Seldes; University of California Press.)  “Where others have downplayed or even ridiculed Bernstein's political engagement, Seldes makes a compelling case for its centrality in both Bernstein's triumphs and his sense of ultimate failure.”
  • The Pique magazine at Whistler featured political science student Jordan Manley, a senior photographer for Powder magazine.  “Last year, his work was featured on the covers of both Powder and Skiing magazines, and was seen as far away as Japan and Europe.”


  • The visit to the Burnaby campus last week of CBC-TV’s Rick Mercer (he launched the Spread the Net campaign to raise funds to buy bed nets for Africa, to combat the spread of malaria) generated more media coverage. Among papers carrying stories were the Toronto Sun and the Burnaby NewsLeader.


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