SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - October 30, 2009

October 30, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Oct. 23-30, 2009

A report on how Canada is losing Canadians, a row over Olympic bear-bells, and a ruckus over whether butterflies and caterpillars descended from different ancestors.
All put SFU profs in the news this week. So did stories on the seventh “floating foot” that washed up in BC, and a string of articles featuring criminologist Neil Boyd.
SFU students were also in the news, talking about police tactics to get confessions, volunteering, virtual studies of crime, overuse of the word “sustainability”, and a strike by HandiDART bus drivers.


  • The Globe and Mail carried a story saying more Canadians than ever before have moved out of the country, according to a new report that says 2.8 million live permanently overseas. It’s from SFU economist Don DeVoretz, research director of the Canadians Abroad Project and a senior fellow of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.
    "You have to really ask yourself, are we sort of a revolving door here?" said DeVoretz. "We bring people in, we have one of the most aggressive immigration recruitments in the world. ... We've always lost a substantial number, but now we're losing more. And so I think that's something to be concerned about."
    On the As it Happens show on CBC Radio, DeVoretz noted substantial return to their native homes of Canadian citizens who were born in Hong Kong and the U.S. “One quarter of the people who were here in 1996, who are Canadian citizens but were born in Hong Kong, have returned. . . . Americans who came here and became citizens returned at a rate of 10% over the period.”
    The DeVoretz report is at:
  • Scientific American and reported on a ruckus among researchers, in which a contentious paper suggesting that butterflies and caterpillars descended from different ancestors has been formally rebutted. A co-author of the rebuttal (in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA) is Michael Hart, SFU evolutionary biologist.
    "It's a nutbar idea," Hart told “There's just nothing to it." But he expects the original author to stick to it: “I expect he'll continue to advocate for the idea. I don't suppose this will be the end of it."
  • CBC Radio was quick to call forensic scientist Gail Anderson when yet another floating foot (the seventh) washed up on a Richmond beach.
    The story mentioned her research on underwater decomposition of bodies (using pig carcasses sunk in Saanich inlet). She said a foot could separate from a body in 40 days or less, and the running shoe would act as a flotation device, “like a balloon.”
  • National Post and Canwest News Service carried a feature on “shockvertising”, edgy, in-your-face ads that are sometimes quirky—but also sometimes truly shocking and offensive. The story quoted SFU marketing prof Lindsay Meredith:
    "If I throw you a really annoying ad, studies show you may remember my product but forget why you remember it. Marketers have essentially cut through the clutter by pissing you off.” But they can be overdone: “Edge may be the modus operandi of a potentially successful ad, but it's also the modus operandi of a knife. Knives hurt if you get clumsy."
    The story also ran in The Vancouver Sun, Victoria Times Colonist and Nanaimo Daily News.
  • Meredith was also in a national Canadian Press story on a protest by the official supplier of bear-bells (yes, really) to the 2010 Winter Games. He’s protesting because one of the host First Nations for the games has unveiled a similar and competing item.
    Meredith: “Our Olympic friends are between a rock and a hard spot. I'm the first guy to say there's a lot of money involved and somebody who pays that kind of money to be a sponsor deserves to have some right of protection and deserves to be treated as a partner in it."
  • Public policy prof John Richards wrote a guest column in the Globe and Mail, relating to his new report on school dropouts, done for the C.D. Howe Institute. Focusing on aboriginal education, Richards made some broad recommendations, and concluded: “When Shawn Atleo was elected president of the Assembly of First Nations last summer, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl congratulated him as a leader who has ‘articulated a real passion for education’. Unfortunately, there is a history of Canadian leaders—aboriginal and non-aboriginal—starting a conversation about education but quickly losing interest."
  • Meanwhile, the Regina Leader-Post ran an editorial on Richards’ findings on the high proportion of aboriginal dropouts:
    “Richards has some good ideas for improvement, starting with early childhood education which all aboriginal children should have access to, on or off-reserve. He also calls for more ‘aggressive affirmative action’ to encourage aboriginal post-secondary students to become teachers and cultural role models.”
  • reported on a study showing South Asians may have higher fat mass and lower lean mass than some other ethnic groups, and are thus at increased risk for insulin resistance and diabetes. “Scott A. Lear, Ph.D., of the Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 828 individuals of Chinese, European, South Asian, and Aboriginal Canadian origin residing in Canada for more than three years. Researchers took measurements of total body fat, fat and lean mass, fasting glucose and insulin levels, as well as insulin resistance. . . . ”
  • The Canadian Press ran a national feature on how “sustainable” has become an overused buzzword. “Emilia Kennedy, a Simon Fraser University master's candidate, is currently doing her thesis on this subject. The 28-year-old said it's ‘urgently necessary’ to start raising concerns about a word that is so important, yet so broadly used.”
  • National Post ran an editorial on the economic impact of reducing greenhouse gases. “According to economic modelling by Simon Fraser University economist Mark Jaccard, the costs of reducing emissions by 20% between now and (2020) are pretty simple to summarize: We just have to bash the hell out of Alberta. . . . And we are glad Mr. Harper refuses to go down this road.”
  • The Economist (circulation 1.3 million a week) featured two SFU MBA grads who “have come up with an ingenious way of using the heat of the sun” to produce fresh water from seawater. “Ben Sparrow and Joshua Zoshi met at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, while completing their MBAs. Their company, Saltworks Technologies, has set up a test plant beside the sea in Vancouver and will open for business in November.”
  • Herb Grubel, prof emeritus (SFU Economics) and senior fellow of The Fraser Institute, wrote a guest article in National Post: “The Liberals in Ottawa have retreated in their demands that the country's unemployment insurance be made more generous. . . Increasing the generosity of the UI system may seem to be good politics to some but it certainly is bad for the economy and Canadians. The Liberals did well to avoid repeating their historical mistake.”
  • The McLatchy-Tribune News Service reported that U.S. lawmakers would look into a dispute between U.S. Virgin Islands fishermen and the U.S. agency charged with regulating commercial fisheries. The news service said witnesses before a Congressional subcommittee would include Andrew B. Cooper, associate prof in SFU Resource and Environmental Management.
  • AMS Quarterly, from the Academy of Marketing Science (based at Louisiana Tech) kicked off a new series of interviews. The interviewer: Colin Campbell, instructor and PhD candidate in marketing, SFU Business. One of his first interviewees: Anjali Bal, another PhD student in marketing at SFU and holder of an MBA from the Rotterdam School of Management.


  • Burnaby Now turned an SFU news release into an advance story about SFU’s Halloween-themed science show tomorrow (Saturday Oct. 31). “Organizers are promising that phantom physicists and cackling chemists will cook up crazy concoctions for the audience.”
    (Details of the show:
  • Michael Geller, former president and CEO of SFU Community Trust and an adjunct prof at SFU’s Centre for Sustainable Community Development, wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun on small homes. “He mentioned a visit to a small-cottage project on Whidbey Island.
    “The Third Street Cottages  . . .  are approximately 650 square feet, with lofts up to 200 square feet. . . . Nine-foot ceilings, large windows and skylights add to the sense of space. . . . As I look around our region, I cannot help but think that many people would like to buy smaller detached cottage-style houses such as these, especially if they were developed close to their existing neighbourhoods.”
  • The Vancouver Sun carried a story about last week’s event from SFU Urban Studies: “How the Olympic Games Changed Calgary and Turin.”
    • Former Calgary mayor Al Duerr: “I really feel the most important legacy is the social legacy, and cities are about people. . . . My advice to Vancouverites would be the world will be looking at you and how you handle it will be defining for what you are as a community."
    • Former Turin mayor Valentino Castellani: "The temporary construction jobs were very important in the transition [to a new economy] and the transportation improvements would have taken 20 or 30 years to be implemented without the Olympics. The Games were a real catalyst."
  • The Province began a story on the strike by HandiDART bus drivers with a quote from SFU student Dustin Paul. As a quadriplegic, he uses HandiDART to get to classes. “People with disabilities face challenges that make it hard enough to go on without worrying about little things that are supposed to be taken care of. That's where it gets quite frustrating.”
  • The Richmond Review featured SFU Criminology student Denise Wong, and her volunteer stint at the Geneskool program that's part of Science World's new Geee! in Genome exhibition. She said of her volunteer work:
    “It started as just to finish my high school requirements for the 40 hours of community service, but then I got into volunteering at Thompson (community centre) at first, and then I found out that I really liked it. I really like helping people and I kind of want to give back to the community, so I started to volunteer for other events, like the Winter Festival and the Salmon Festival and other festivals."
  • Ted Cohn, prof emeritus (SFU Political Science) had a letter in The Vancouver Sun. It noted that while it’s true Canada’s exports to the U.S. now have been surpassed by exports from China, Canada continues to be the largest customer for goods from the U.S.


Veteran criminologist Neil Boyd was all over the media this week:

  • The Vancouver Sun ran the first of three excerpts from the new book A Thousand Dreams: Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the Fight for Its Future. Boyd is a co-author, along with Senator (and former Vancouver mayor) Larry Campbell, and Sun reporter Lori Culbert. The excerpt was on the founding of Insite, the supervised drug-injection clinic in Vancouver.
  • Boyd wrote a guest piece for The Vancouver Sun on white-collar crime. “As one prosecutor told me not long ago, he can take a violent rapist off the street for six years with about 10 days work; it would take him two years just to get into court against a white-collar fraud of significant proportion.  . . .
    “It's certainly fair to note that the penalties for white-collar crime are relatively light, when one considers the extent of the harms done in many of these cases. (But) perhaps a better fix than mandatory minimum terms is a change to parole eligibility for those who have defrauded others of more than $1 million—not as good a sound-bite as a two-year minimum jail term, but probably somewhat more effective.
    Later, in a Globe and Mail story about Ottawa’s plans for longer jail terms for white-collar criminals, Boyd declared: “This is just costly stupidity. The irony is that this is a fiscally conservative government, yet it's spending money without providing evidence that it's of value to Canadian taxpayers. If we've got non-violent offenders, why do we want to keep them in jail longer? Who are we protecting? It has no practical benefits."
  • Boyd was also in The Province in a story that said gang-related violence in B.C. and Alberta has nudged the national homicide rate to 611 from 594. “Insignificant,” said Boyd of the 2% increase.What's different about these homicides as opposed to 30 years ago is that they're committed with handguns by people involved in a criminal lifestyle. We've got kind of a situation that isn't dissimilar to what American cities have been facing in terms of violence."
  • Boyd also had a letter to the editor in The Province, objecting to a police union comment that positive claims about Insite have been “very much exaggerated."  Wrote Boyd:
    “As we concluded in our 2008 report to Health Canada, ‘there is no evidence to suggest that Insite has had any significant impact on either the rate or spatial distribution of criminal activity within the neighbourhood.’ Further, and perhaps more important, while we found that many (though not most) police officers were critical of Insite, residents who live in the neighbourhood, social service providers who work there, and those who operate businesses, were overwhelmingly supportive of Insite's continuing presence and support.”
  • And then Boyd was videotaped by SFU’s Learning and Instructional Development Centre (LIDC) at Harbour Centre, presenting a special lecture on Canada’s Legal Landscape: More than just Mounties on ice?  Boyd is one of a number of leading Canadian academics who were invited to participate in "Intellectual Muscle: University dialogues for Vancouver 2010."


  • Criminology student Kouri Keenan was on the Bill Good show on CKNW, talking about the “Mr. Big” ploy used by police to trick confessions out of criminals. After studying 63 cases, Keenan found the sting may generate not true confessions but exaggerations and lies about criminal activity.The Abbotsford News also carried a story on Keenan’s research.
  • The Vancouver Courier featured the work of Andrew Park, criminology research associate at SFU's Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies, who uses virtual environments to test the perceptions of Vancouverites about crime in their neighbourhood.
    “(Park) invited volunteers to the Grandview-Woodland Community Policing Office to take a virtual walk along several blocks of Commercial Drive. Standing alone in a darkened room, using a Nintendo Wii handheld controller, volunteers navigated their way along a digitally rendered version of Commercial Drive presented on a large screen.  . . . Following the virtual experience, participants were taken to another room where they completed a survey about their feelings and perceptions of the neighbourhood from a pedestrian's perspective.”
    With Park was detective Valerie Spicer of the Vancouver police, who is involved in the project as part of her PhD studies in criminology at SFU.


  • Re$earch Infosource told media that SFU placed #19 in its 2008 rankings of Canadian universities, with $86.7 million in research funding. That’s up from #20 and $77.6 million in 2007. (Toronto was #1 with $845 million, UBC #3 with $470 million.).
    SFU was No. 7, though, in “publication impact”— a measure of the perceived impact of research through a calculation of citations received by journals. Among comprehensive universities, SFU was second in growth of the number of publications between fiscal 2002-2007, with an increase of 61.9%. (New Brunswick was first at 68.9%.)
  • Paul Shaker, SFU Education prof emeritus, co-authored a guest column for The Vancouver Sun saying: “British Columbia's policymakers have ground to make up in education. We have been living off our past investments and priorities, while wasting resources on feuding and false science. Through consensual allocation of resources, an honest commitment to democratic decision-making, and a new appreciation of our historical values, we can restore our position of educational leadership for the benefit of all our children and youth.”
  • The Canadian edition of Greek featured the Odysseas Greek Language Tutor. “Developed by the Hellenic Studies Media Group at Simon Fraser University (this) is an interactive learning program designed to teach the Greek language on the Internet using the latest e-learning principles and advanced user interface technology.”
  • And SFU announced to media how Peter Ladner, former Vancouver councillor and mayoralty candidate, has been appointed a Fellow in SFU’s Centre for Dialogue. He’ll be teaching in the spring 2010 Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue, on Finding Space, Understanding Place: Redesigning our Region for Resilience.


  • The Globe and Mail reviewed the new book Savage Gods, Silver Ghosts: in the Wild with Ted Hughes, by Ehor Boyanowsky, SFU criminologist and fly-fishing connoisseur. (Douglas & McIntyre, 196 pages, $28.95).
    “Toward the end of the book, Hughes opens up, quite wonderfully, about fishing and its rewards. He gives us large dollops of wisdom, in particular this sentence: ‘Any form of fishing provides that connection with the whole living world.’"
  • CBC News took a new look at an old (2007) book: Have a Nice Doomsday: Why Millions of Americans are Looking Forward to the End of the World. “It was written by a Nicholas Guyatt while he was a professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.  . . . It's a jaunty book, full of information and conversational contractions as befits an academic aiming for a popular audience.” (Guyatt, now at York University, was an associate prof in SFU History.)


  • The Province featured members of the Clan women’s basketball team in a front-page photo, and a story that said the team could repeat as national champions: ”The Clan's strength for the 2009-10 lies in the team's amazing group of four talented seniors—Laurelle Weigl, Matteke Hutzler, Kate Hole and Robyn Buna—who all came into the program together in the fall of 2006.”
    The paper also looked at the Clan’s rookies, and quoted coach Bruce Langford as saying newcomers Carla Wyman, Kristina Collins and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe “are the best-skilled rookies we have had since I got here." (Langford has won four national titles in his eight seasons here and last season led his team to a 31-1 record.)
  • The Province also assessed the Clan men’s soccer team: “A victory in its regular-season finale, next Tuesday versus Concordia University, would likely ensure the Clan a spot in the national tournament, which begins its opening rounds on Nov. 15.”
  • The North Shore News featured Clan basketball star Sean Burke of North Vancouver, who has tied the team record for career assists with 503 and hopes to set a new mark when the Clan play the University of Victoria, in Victoria, on Saturday (Oct. 31).
    "I'm pretty happy with a personal level of achievement but . . . the best thing about an assist is that you make everyone on your team look better. It's not about being the flashy person coming down and making the bucket or making the great play or great pass."
  • The North Shore News also wrote about another SFU star from North Van, wrestler Ashley McKilligan. "Argyle grad Ashley McKilligan took home first place at the Sunkist International Wrestling tournament held on the weekend in Phoenix, Ariz.  . . . ‘First tournament of the year you're always a little bit rusty, you're working on getting your offence going and sharpening stuff, so I was pretty happy.’”

SFU Athletics sent a steady flow of info to media as:

  • The Clan women’s basketball team won their 33rd and 34th straight victories, defeating the University of Windsor Lancers 81-78 and 69-50. Laurelle Weigl was the Clan’s top scorer in both games, with 21 points and five rebounds in the first game and 17 points in the second.
    “No question who's No. 1 in Canada,” was the headline in Burnaby Now.
  • In Calgary, the Clan men’s and women’s wrestling teams began their 2009-10 season at the 2009 University of Calgary Invitational. The men’s team won the overall title at the meet, while the women’s team finished third.
  • The Clan men’s and women’s swimming teams started their 2009-10 varsity season in style in Tacoma, defeating Puget Sound University 125-79 on the men’s side and 122-79 on the women’s.
  • The Clan men’s and women’s cross-country teams finished strongly in the 2009 Biola Invitational hosted by Biola University, La Mirada CA. The men placed second and the women third overall. The teams compete Saturday (Oct. 31) in the BC championships in Stanley Park.
  • The Trinity Western University Spartans defeated the Clan women’s volleyball team 3-0 and 3-1 in games in the Burnaby campus West Gym.
  • The Association of Independent Institutions named Clan soccer star Colin Streckmann as male athlete of the week, after a five-point week.  More at:
  • SFU Athletics also sent to sports media season previews of the Clan 2009-10 seasons for the Clan women's basketball team (, men's basketball (, swimming and diving teams ( and the Clan volleyball crew (

In addition to news releases mentioned above, SFU also told media that:

  • The National Angel Capital Organization has named Mike Volker, executive director of SFU’s University/Industry Liaison Office (UILO), as its 2009 Canadian “Angel of the Year”. At UILO, says Volker, “We do everything from creating companies and recruiting people for spin-off ventures to finding investors, raising money, assessing the commercial viability of new technologies, marketing, and finding businesses to which we can license university-developed research.”
  • Biomedical physiologist Andy Hoffer was one of six SFU winners at the B.C. Innovation Council (BCIC) Connect ’09 awards honouring the year’s top technology innovators. His Lungpacer diaphragm-pacing device reduces recovery time for patients on mechanical ventilators.
  • Research by Larry Albright, a marine microbiologist and SFU professor emeritus, is behind the launching of a China’s first commercial salmonid fish tank farm. It uses a unique, floating, closed-containment system that prevents fish and their waste from escaping into the ocean.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Vancouver Suns “Moves” section reported: “SFU Alumni Association board of directors are Bernie Maroney, president (Telus), Julie Saito, executive director (SFU), Lien Yeung, treasurer (Rogers), and Chris Hilliard, vice-president (Peak Producers). New members include Jason Wong (Burnaby Board of Trade), Marisa Beraldin (RBC Royal Bank), Larry Hayes (BC Borstal Assoc), and John Grant (SFU) joins the SFU Alumni Relations staff as manager.”
  • The Planning Institute of BC told media that Gordon Harris, president and CEO of the SFU Community Trust, has been selected as a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP). The same news release announced that Brook Land-Murphy, a policy and planning student in SFU Resource and Environmental Management, has won the CIP President's Scholarship.
  • The Tri-City News reported that local resident Stacy Ashton has joined the board of Volunteer BC.  She is executive director of Community Volunteer Connections, a volunteer centre serving the Coquitlam and New Westminster area, and “She holds a masters degree in counselling from Simon Fraser University.”


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K Campbell

It was not the First Nations that launched the North Shore bear bells but the North Shore Spirit of BC Committee. The idea was to generate enthusiasm for the games in the community with a logical signature item that is well used on North Shore mountain trails by was not to become a major commercial venture.

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