SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Nov. 6-13, 2009

Sadly, the biggest story of the week—from the perspective of the media—was the tragic death on Nov. 11 of Bernd Dittrich, quarterback of the Clan football team.
Media across the country and down into the U.S. carried the story. And, despite media outlets being short-staffed on the Remembrance Day holiday, a dozen reporters and cameras came up to SFU’s Burnaby campus.
On a happier note, the visit of Prince Charles to the Vancouver campus the preceding Saturday (Nov. 7) made it into media all around the world.


  • Prince Charles was followed by a phalanx of reporters as he made a brief visit to the Vancouver campus on Nov. 7. He was greeted by SFU President Michael Stevenson, and spent some time at a seminar on sustainable urbanism (one of his long-time interests) at SFU’s Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue.
    The Province reported: “The event, which brought together developers, planners, politicians and financiers, was organized to cement a partnership between the prince's Foundation for Built Environment and SFU's Urban Studies program. ‘I'm so pleased this seminar is possible, and there will be a collaboration with this august university,’ Prince Charles said.”
    The Canadian Press noted at the seminar:He told delegates he believes it's crucial to consider the story about the way people live.  “(It) seems to me that we could do with rediscovering our intimate connection with nature, at a time when the world is facing so many enormous challenges over climate change and environmental crises of one kind or another.”
    And Canwest News Service said in its story: “The seminar is a partnership with the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment. Together, the foundation and SFU will develop a new curriculum for advanced education on ‘sustainable urbanism.’”
    On TV, the prince sat next to his seminar host at SFU, Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies. As well, Perl was on CBC Radio’s On the Coast show, and Hank Dittmar, chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation, was on the Early Edition show on CBC.
  • The Vancouver Sun gave the bottom half of Page 1 on Nov. 13 to a story sparked by a news release from SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations (PAMR) on a study that finds longer toes may give sprinters a leg up on other runners. Sabrina Lee, a post-doctoral fellow at SFU and Penn State researcher Stephen Piazza found that longer toes and a unique ankle structure give sprinters a “burst of acceleration” over others.
    By way of Canwest News Service the story went across the country. CBC Radio and CBC-TV also pursued Lee. The Province and the national Metro group of newspapers did stories from the news release. The release also finished up on The original study from Lee and Piazza is in the current Journal of Experimental Biology.
  • The New Yorker (circulation 55 million in print alone) told readers: “Researchers at Canada’s Simon Fraser University in Vancouver have launched a new research blog on Pakistan called the Pakistan Conflict Monitor. It’s only a few days old, but if its founders can maintain the level of quality they have started with, it will be very useful to journalists, analysts, and other Pakistan watchers . . .”
    (SFU had sent out a news release saying the SFU-based Human Security Report Project had launched its first issue of the Pakistan Conflict Monitor, modelled on its highly successful Afghanistan Conflict Monitor.
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was in a Globe and Mail story on how Roots Canada and MasterCard plugged a new line of outerwear—“as Canada prepares to welcome the world” (to the 2010 Winter Olympics). It was, said the Globe, “ambush marketing . . . using the nation's unprecedented interest in the Winter Games to sell products and services without paying the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the privilege.”
    Said Meredith: “An awful lot of people will connect Roots and the Olympics. VANOC can gnash their teeth, but as much as VANOC might think, they don't own the word Canada."
  • The San Francisco Chronicle and Environmental Health News reported that “Balsamic and other red wine vinegars often contain lead, a potent neurotoxin, and could pose a risk to children who consume it regularly.” Bruce Lanphear of SFU Health Sciences, a world expert on lead poisoning, was quoted as saying even tiny increases in consumption of lead can have a “substantial” impact.
    “Increasing lead levels in U.S. children by just 1 microgram per deciliter ‘would result in a large increase in the number of children with learning problems or behavioral problems,’ Lanphear said.”
    Meanwhile, Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente challenged studies concluding that Bisphenol A (BPA), a common chemical found in plastic water bottles and tin cans, is “bad stuff.” Among her targets, “a study from Simon Fraser University (that) suggested that women exposed to higher levels of BPA in pregnancy are more likely to have daughters with aggressive and hyperactive behaviours.”  (The study was carried out at the University of North Carolina by a team of researchers, including SFU’s Lanphear. It was the first to examine the link between prenatal Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure and behavioral problems in children.)
  • The Canadian Press carried a national story on the acquisition by Vancouver police of a long-range acoustic device—which can be used as a public-address loudhailer, or as a powerful “sonic weapon” for crowd control. “David MacAlister, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University, said the public should be concerned whenever the police get new powers or new devices that don't contain strict policy guidelines. ‘It’s yet another tool in the hands of the police and we're seeing ever-increasing tools, weapons . . . in the months leading up to the Olympics.’"
  • Canwest News Service carried a story beginning: “Simon Fraser University business professor Rosalie Tung has, for the past 30 years, systematically studied international assignments: That is, how do companies select candidates for overseas postings, train them and assess their impact in a foreign setting?”  Among her comments: “Currently, a lot of (North American) engineering programs enroll many students from India and China. If they find opportunities there that are better for themselves and their children, they will go back and work in these countries."
  • Gwyn Morgan, retired CEO of EnCana Corp., wrote a guest column in the Globe and Mail, slamming a report from the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute report on ways Canada could try to meet its Kyoto targets for reduction of greenhouse gases. Among other things, he wrote:
    “The Suzuki/Pembina study relies heavily on econometric modelling by consultant Mark Jaccard, a professor of resource management at Simon Fraser University. The Jaccard models attempt to predict the response of Canada's 33 million people to the massive business and personal disruptions proposed in the study. My business experience tells me that, as frightening as the Jaccard predictions are, the real effects on our already challenged economy would be far worse.”
  • Epoch Times carried a story on the use of the “Mr. Big” ploy—the undercover police technique in which officers posing as criminals trick suspects into confessions. It quoted masters grad Kouri Keenan of SFU Criminology, who has examined 63 Canadian criminal trials involving Mr. Big confessions and says: “No criminal prosecution should proceed on the basis of a suspect’s uncorroborated self-incriminating statement alone.


  • Jay Solman, SFU’s ombudsperson and extraordinary ultramarathon runner, was on the On the Coast show on CBC Radio and the Christy Clark show on CKNW, talking about his ultragruelling 250km ultramarathon in the Sahara desert. “Temperatures hit 51 or 52 degrees C (around 125 degrees F).  . . . Some of the checkpoints were like M.A.S.H. stations, with people collapsed and dehydrated.”
    There’s a slideshow of Solman, his team, and the run, at:
  • John Reynolds, Tom Buell BC Leadership Chair in Salmon Conservation in SFU Biological Sciences, did a lengthy interview on CFAX Radio, Victoria. This on the federal government’s appointment of Justice Bruce Cohen of BC Supreme Court to conduct a judicial inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye salmon run.  There had been years of calls for such an inquiry into fisheries management; Larry Dill, prof emeritus of biological sciences at SFU, was among those who had argued for an investigation.
  • The Vancouver Sun reported on Vancouver’s decision to pull out of the Metro Vancouver Labour Relations Bureau in 2011. "I'm not surprised,” public policy prof Doug McArthur told the paper. “There was so much unhappiness with the bargaining parties in the last round of negotiations. . . . That's kind of pretty much the end of it as a strong, effective force in bargaining."
  • Anthony Gurr was on the On the Coast show on CBC Radio, talking about the woes of the videogame industry. “Competition from games offered on Apple’s I-Tunes Store for the I-Pod Touch and iPhone” have contributed to huge layoffs, he says. “There are 16,320 games available on iTunes vs. 3,629 titles available for the Nintendo DS”. Gurr isa videogame developer who is studying educational technology at SFU.
  • The Vancouver Sun’s book pages featured Lillian Zimmerman, 85 and a research associate at SFU’s Gerontology Research Centre. Zimmerman is author of the book Bag Lady or Powerhouse? A Roadmap for Midlife (Boomer) Women.  “Lillian Zimmerman's accumulated knowledge, her zest for life and her unflagging activism—one section is headed "Things you can do as a boomer woman change agent"—make this book, despite its flaws, worth your time.”
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader reported Glen Chua, SFU student and founder of MoonLiTE Productions, won the 2009 Student Entrepreneur award from the Surrey Board of Trade.  “MoonLiTE Productions was launched by Chua while he was still in high school, and has produced films which have been screened at film festivals across the country. The company includes young artists in make-up, special effects, music and sound.”
  • Terry Lavender, communications manager at the Surrey campus, writes regularly in the Vancouver Observer. In his latest piece, Lavender features Milun Tesovic, SFU Business student and co-founder of the most popular lyrics site on the web, “Metrolyrics gets more than 32 million unique monthly visitors and is the sixth-most-popular music site on the web.”
  • 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 piece for The Vancouver Sun on the first year in office of the current Vancouver council. And he promoted a forum on community development (Saturday Nov. 14, 8:30am-2:30pm) at SFU’s Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue.


  • The Globe and Mail looked at how Canadian universities have begun to “rush to harness the power of social networking sites to raise their profile in an increasingly competitive post-secondary marketplace.” Quoted were SFU’s director of enrolment, Mehran Kiai, and Don MacLachlan, director of PAMR.
  • The Georgia Straight featured kinesiology as a career, and SFU master’s student Aaron Van Slyke (with picture) as an exemplar: “He never imagined he’d be working in a lab studying one of the heart’s potassium channels and a rare congenital heart condition called long QT syndrome. But the 24-year-old Simon Fraser University student finds himself not only immersed in such a research project but also enamoured with it.  ‘It’s so easy to get attached to a project,’ Van Slyke says in a Commercial Drive café during a study break. ‘It’s challenging and inspiring.’”
  • The Georgia Straight also told readers how universities and colleges across the Lower Mainland will have extended reading breaks starting Feb. 12, the day the 2010 Winter Olympics start. “Students at . . . SFU will have their reading break from February 15 to 26. Spokesperson Susan Jamieson-McLarnon told the Georgia Straight that the main floor of the downtown campus will be used by the German Olympic delegation.”


  • The Globe and Mail featured Judy Radul’s theatrical World Rehearsal Court at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at UBC.  It includes a taped compilation of excerpts from trials in The Hague of former presidents Charles Taylor (Liberia) and Slobodan Milosevic (Serbia). The Globe noted that Radul teaches at SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts.


  • The sudden death of Clan quarterback Bernd Dittrich generated more than 90 news stories that we know of, in print alone).
    Head football coach Dave Johnson gave a moving interview to a group of reporters on the Burnaby campus. “The word I heard at the hospital was that his heart was too big, and I said ‘Well, heck, I knew that.’”
    The Province focused almost two pages on: “An undetected heart condition may be to blame for the mysterious death of a star Simon Fraser University quarterback.” The Vancouver Sun’s focus was “Austrian quarterback lived his dream playing football at SFU”.
    Meanwhile, coach Johnson was supported by other media interviews, done by Shawn Olson, offensive coordinator for the football team (and the man who led Dittrich to SFU); David Murphy, senior director of athletics; Jon Driver, vice-president academic and the acting president on Nov. 11; Scott McLean, media, broadcast and sports information director in SFU Athletics; and PAMR’s Don MacLachlan.


SFU Athletics kept media up to speed as:

  • Four members of the Clan football team were selected as 2009 Canada West All-Stars. Safety Anthony DesLauriers was selected for the third straight year. First-time All-Stars are wide receiver Victor Marshall, halfback Nigel Palma and linebacker Chris Folk.
  • The Clan swim team reclaimed the Clan Cup, winning the 2009 title in the pool at the Burnaby campus with 546 points. The University of Victoria’s Pacific Coast swim team finished second with 329 while the West Vancouver Otters swim club finished third with 206.
  • The Clan women’s basketball team crushed the visiting Trinity Western Spartans 99-39 in Canada West action, but had much tougher battle against UBC the next day. A last-quarter recovery against a tough UBC defence finally gave the Clan a 67-59 win.
  • The SFU men's basketball team, taking the week off from conference play, dropped an 82-59 decision on the road against Seattle Pacific, one of the schools it will meet in league play next season when it joins the NCAA Div. 2's Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
  • The SFU's men's and women's cross-country teams each finished second at the NAIA Association of Independent Institutions conference championship in San Marcos CA. SFU's Kevin Friesen was second in the men's race, and was later named SFU Athlete of the Week. The teams next compete in the 2009 NAIA national championships on Nov. 21.
  • The Clan men’s soccer team defeated Ohio Dominican University 1-0 in the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) championships in Phoenix. Senior Colin Streckmann scored the goal on a penalty kick, and thus put the Clan into the A.I.I. final Nov. 14 against Cal State San Marcos or St. Thomas University. The winner receives an automatic berth in the NAIA national championships. The Clan women’s soccer team was also in Phoenix for the AII tournament.

As well:

  • SFU Athletics posted a Clan video on the SFU men's and women's wrestling teams and last week’s annual Guru Hargobind Invitational Tournament. It includes interviews with outstanding SFU wrestlers such as 2008 Olympic Gold Medallist Carol Huynh, at:
  • The Province reported that offensive coordinator Shawn Olson of the Clan football team, a former winning quarterback for UBC, would be “a leading candidate” to replace Ted Goveia as head coach at UBC. Goveia was fired Nov. 9 after a four-year win-loss record of 8-16.
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader noted that Gina Carpenter, a grad of the Guildford Park Secondary School wrestling program, was honoured by Wrestling B.C. with its Top Juvenile Girl award. Carpenter—now wrestling at SFU—won while in Grade 12 a second consecutive provincial championship and earned a bronze medal at the Junior Nationals.
  • The New Westminster Record reported that SFU improved its record to 8-1-0 in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League with a 7-1 victory over Trinity Western University and a 4-3 win over the expansion Okanagan Crusaders.
  • The lacrosse website carried an interview with captain Adam Foss of the SFU lacrosse team. "I was recruited by a handful of NCAA schools, like a lot of the guys on our team. But looking at all the schools, I couldn’t find one that compared to the experience the SFU lacrosse program offered. Not to mention SFU was head and shoulders above most of the schools academically."


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