SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - November 20, 2009

November 20, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Nov. 13-20, 2009

World media learned today (Nov. 20) that SFU Business student Milun Tesovic topped 1,500 competitors to win the 2009 Global Student Entrepreneur Award—and $150,000 in prizes.
Earlier, fish stories and worms put SFU into international news outlets. SFU experts were quoted on losses of sockeye salmon and skate populations. And there were dozens of stories on experiments at SFU on tiny worms, using light and light-sensitive dye, that could lead to better medical light-therapy. More on these stories below.


  • Word spread quickly today to international media that SFU Business student Milun Tesovic won first place in the 2009 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. That brought him $150,000 in cash and services that will help support his company ( and his development as an entrepreneur.
    Tesovic thus capped a long string of awards, including national and provincial Student Entrepreneur of the Year. Media inquiries began locally with CITY-TV, CKNW and the On the Coast show on CBC Radio. SFU also used Twitter and Facebook to spread the news. The Canadian Press sent out a national story and passed it on to other world news agencies. CTV was also quick to carry a story.
    (The official news release:
  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation interviewed visitor Bruce Lanphear of SFU Health Sciences, a world expert on lead contamination and poisoning. He told ABC’s national audience: “The best evidence says there's no safe level.”
    And, he added: “I think the key though is recognizing that over the next five, 10 or 15 years we need to take steps so that what we do today will bring about much lower levels of exposure across the board for all children, and in particular, focus on children who have especially high levels, and how do we reduce their exposures.”
    A transcript of the interview is at:
  • The Economist (circulation: more than 1.3 million a week) carried a story sparked by a news release last week from SFU 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 other athletes. The story appeared on Page 1 of The Vancouver Sun. Lee was also interviewed by CBC Radio and by the Richmond News (she lives there.)
    Then The Canadian Press moved a national story on it to newspaper, radio, TV and magazine clients across Canada. Between last week and this, we saw the story in and on more than 70 media outlets. And then it went around the world by way of the Agence France Presse news agency.
  • The Diplomat, a Tokyo-based current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region, examined whether the reality of death by terrorists is on the rise. “Not so, according to a new report, the annual Human Security Brief compiled by a Canadian team led by an Australian, Andrew Mack. The brief, published by Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, suggests the exact opposite is true.”
  • Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program, was in a story in the Portland (OR) Daily Journal of Commerce that noted a new bridge over the Columbia River is in the works for Portland, but no new construction is planned for Vancouver. Said Price: “Once it became clear that wouldn’t change (and) we wouldn’t be overruled by the provincial and federal governments, then we took the other options seriously and started to design cities to be walkable, to have more transit, and to be more bicycle friendly.”


  • How the worms turned this week:  First, the United Press International news agencysent worldwide media clients a story on how SFU scientists experimenting with tiny lab worms have inched closer to improving how biological processes can be controlled.
    SFU had sent out a news release on Oct. 19 saying a team led by Neil Branda—SFU chemist, Canada Research Chair and executive director of 4D LABS—has fused biochemistry and photochemistry to paralyze and unparalyze the worms, known as C. elegans, by using light and a light-sensitive dye.
    Later, BBC News and the UK’s Daily Telegraph also did a story on this research, from its publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. So did,,,, and
    Then the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency did a story and sent it to clients around the world. And, in full geographic circle, the AFP story finished up in The Vancouver Sun.
    Then Canwest News Service sent a story to clients across Canada, and we saw it in (among others) National Post: “Scientists narrowing in on Capt. Kirk's fabled phaser.”
    Branda told BBC News: "I'm not convinced there's a legitimate use of turning organisms on and off in terms of paralysis, but until somebody tells me otherwise, I'm not going to say that there isn't an application. Right now, [photodynamic therapy] tends not to have as much control as the clinicians would like, so we have the potential opportunity to be able to turn the therapy off and on."
    All in all, we saw the story or references to it in 63 media outlets.


  • Scientific American carried a story on how low runs of salmon in BC rivers raise questions about the long-term welfare of coastal grizzlies that feast on them. Among others, it quoted SFU’s John Reynolds.
    The story said in part:  “And things are starting to look up for grizzlies and at least one of their major food sources in the area. John Reynolds, a conservation biologist at Simon Fraser University near Vancouver, reports that the pink salmon have come back with a vengeance this year, on the heels of record lows in 2007 and 2008: ‘The grizzlies, of course, can eat the pinks, so it's not all doom and gloom right now.’"
  • BBC News reported that a French team of scientists says a species of skate could become the first marine fish driven to extinction by commercial fishing. The story quoted SFU marine biologist Nicholas Dulvy as saying the skate is now "the most precarious marine species on Earth". He added: “As far as we can tell, [humans have] not yet driven anything fully to extinction by over-fishing."
  • Closer to home, Burnaby Now reported that three people from SFU are members of “a new think-tank investigating the decline of the Fraser River's sockeye.” John Reynolds, Patricia Gallaugher and Richard Routledge are among some 20 scientists who will meet next month to discuss how best to manage declining Fraser sockeye stocks. Gallaugher is director of the SFU Centre for Coastal Studies, Routledge a statistics and actuarial sciences prof, and Reynolds the Tom Buell B.C. Leadership Chair in Salmon Conservation.


  • Media across Canada carried news of SFU’s planned memorial service for Bernd Dittrich, SFU student and quarterback of the SFU Clan football team, who died Nov. 11.
    The service will be held at 4pm Monday, Nov. 23, in the West Gym, Burnaby campus. For those unable to attend, there will be a webcast at: A memorial scholarship fund for international student-athletes at SFU is being set up in Dittrich's name. See
  • Resource and energy prof Mark Jaccard was quoted in a Globe and Mail article that noted that no “momentous climate treaty” would come out of the UN climate-change summit in Copenhagen. Jaccard said that even if the U.S. can pass climate legislation next year, a single world-changing treaty is unlikely.
    “Politicians want to have a press conference at which they say, ‘We just made the deal that will save the planet.' But in reality, I think we're in for a couple decades of annual re-negotiations of this thing that we're trying to do.”
  • The Globe and Mail featured SFU math student Gursimran Kaur in a story about the election of a new management committee at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara temple in Surrey, one of the largest Sikh temples in North America.
    Wrote the Globe: “Nineteen-year-old Gursimran Kaur puts gender equality and fighting domestic violence at the top of her agenda. . . . But she is no liberal in religious matters. She and two other women in a youth slate of 18 won a decisive victory in their election . . .  promising to re-introduce traditional customs. The slate defeated community leaders who have run the institution since the mid-1990s.”
    She said her stand on behalf of women's rights is grounded in the centuries-old traditions. "In our religion, the first guru told us equality for women is very important because she is the one who creates the whole world, she is the creator."
    Meanwhile, The Vancouver Sun noted another member of the winning youth slate is Sukhminder Singh Virk, “a graduate of Simon Fraser University who recently completed a law degree in Britain.”
  • Also in the Globe and Mail: SFU earth scientist John Clague, in a story about this week’s 6.5-magnitude earthquake that shook Haida Gwaii. He said that if such an earthquake happened near a populated and built-up area it would have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage.
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was another SFU expert in the Globe and Mail, in a story on Coca-Cola’s “PlantBottle," a plastic bottle in which 30 per cent of the material comes from sugar cane and molasses, instead of from petroleum-based plastic.
    “The combination of a straightforward line—a bottle ‘made from plants’—and additional information to demonstrate the thing is real and not just image-peddling is a smart combination, said Lindsay Meredith, a marketing professor at Simon Fraser University.
    "’There can be a detailed explanation attached, on a website or something, but first you've got to nail it down to a sound bite,’ Prof. Meredith said.”
  • Canwest News Service covered a Senate hearing on Ottawa’s plan to jail more people for drug offences. It quoted criminologist Neil Boyd as saying Bill C-15 would imprison people who do not pose an immediate threat to the public, and would cost almost $30 million annually for additional jail-time for people who grow marijuana, in any quantity.


  • Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, was on the BC Almanac show on CBC Radio, talking about the tough choices that municipalities are making for fiscal restraint.
  • Communication prof Richard Smith reported live via Twitter:Lots of media (Radio Canada, Van Sun, 24 Hrs) here for Surveillance Games workshop.” It was part of an SFU-sponsored art exhibit that is asking the question: What are the social, political and economic implications of all these surveillance cameras that are popping up around the city in the pre-Olympic period?
  • In a big weekend colour-feature on Vancouver’s neon signs, past and present, The Vancouver Sun noted: “Craig Neelands has some classic shots from the 1980s on his website ( That’s Craig Neelands, as in SFU’s information and privacy officer.
  • The Nanaimo Daily News looked at how provincial inspections of seniors homes and other facilities vary according to where they're located.  “Dr. Gloria Gutman, a gerontology expert at the Simon Fraser University, said where a person lives shouldn't determine how often the care they receive is scrutinized. ‘It's fairness, to the operator as well as to the client,’ she said.” The Nanaimo Harbour City Star ran the story, too.
  • The Vancouver edition of 24Hours covered a forum at which Bruce Alexander, prof emeritus of psychology, said the medical definition of addiction—“a brain disease”— is too narrow and has led to flawed drug strategies the world over.  "It's not a very good doctrine. It rules out effective prevention and it really rules out most of the addictions out there. The ultimate problem is that there are a lot of people that just don't have much to live for, so they latch onto things."
    The Kamloops Daily News covered Alexander’s appearance at a forum there on addictions to technology and the internet.
  • The Victoria Times Colonist looked at whether Canada could/should establish a basic guaranteed income scheme for the disabled. The paper quoted SFU economist Jon Kesselman, Canada Research Chair in Public Finance: “Any country can afford to do what it wants to do (but) the federal budget is in massive deficit.” He suggested, instead, a top-up to provincial plans by the federal government.
  • The Kelowna Daily Courier carried a column noting unusually heavy advance-poll turnout of voters for a civic byelection. Among other things, it quoted SFU political scientist Andrew Heard: “In old-style elections up until the late 20th century, election day 'treating' was commonplace in many areas of the country. Folding money, a mickey of rum, or a box of chocolates were widely dished out to voters on election day. In short, modern day elections may just not be as much fun."
  • Commentator Rafe Mair, on, said two people from SFU Public Policy have written “scathing critiques” of the Campbell government's energy policy to encourage private production of electricity.  Mair quoted:
    • Prof. Doug McArthur: “The private hydro producers will make a lot of money, Hydro will lose huge amounts of money on the whole complicated deal, and BC Hydro customers will make up the difference in higher rates. . . .”
    • Adjunct prof Marvin Shaffer: “(The BC government’s plans) force BC Hydro to look only to the private sector to develop new sources of energy, no matter how costly and low in value many of these sources are, or what cumulative environmental impacts they have."
  • The Castlegar (BC) Source carried a column quoting prof emeritus Gary Mauser on plans to scrap the national long-run registry. “While some police associations claim the registry works, it should be noted that these organizations are partially funded by groups that advocate greater gun control. Front-line police officers do not trust the registry as an anti-crime tool.”
  • Social psychologist Michael Schmitt was in (a Vancouver-based website for cyclists) in a story about the Critical Mass rides. Schmitt said many—even some who have taken part—don't understand why it's done the way it is. He was also in a Texas-based gay rights blog ( in a podcast on "Same-Sex Marriage’s Threat to Heterosexual Identity."


SFU Athletics fed media with info and statistics as:

  • The Clan men’s and women’s soccer teams prepared for opening-round games tomorrow (Saturday Nov. 21) in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championships.
    The women host the Point Loma Nazarene University Sea Lions at 12:30pm on the Whatcom Community College field in Bellingham WA. The winner advances to the NAIA women’s Sweet Sixteen in Decatur AL.
    The men play the Warner Pacific College Knights at 4pm on the same field. The winner goes on to the NAIA men’s Sweet Sixteen at Fresno CA.
    The SFU men got to the nationals by edging the Cal State San Marcos Cougars 1-0 in Phoenix, to win the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Conference Championship. Farhad Abdulgani scored the winner for the Clan. It was the first A.I.I. Championship for the Clan in their two-year history in the league.
    Meanwhile, the Clan women fell 1-0 to Cal State San Marcos in their A.I.I. soccer semifinal in Phoenix, but got an at-large berth in the NAIA women’s national championship.
  • The Vancouver Sun noted that Saturday’s games listed above are supposed to be “home” games at SFU—but due to passport issues for their opponents, SFU has agreed to play in Bellingham. "You play all season for the right to be at home, but I guess this is a sign of the times," says Clan women's coach Shelley Howieson. "Last year, we played an American team up here in the playoffs. But at that time there wasn't a passport issue for land entries."
  • The Clan men’s basketball team nailed 18 three-pointers in a 91-76 win over the U of Regina Cougars. Kevin Shaw led SFU with 20 points—18 of them from triple territory.
    The same night, the Clan women, national varsity champions, beat Regina 85-61 for their 39th straight win. Katie Miyazaki had 17 points for the Clan, plus five assists and five steals.
  • The Clan volleyball team lost 3-2 to the U of Alberta Pandas, and fell to 0-5 for the season.

Also in the media:

  • The North Shore News carried a feature on SFU wrestler Ashley McKilligan of North Vancouver, who “overthrew an icon last week, beating Canadian Olympic gold medalist Carol Huyhn in the 48-kilogram final at the Hargobind International tournament hosted by Simon Fraser University.” McKilligan took home a $1,000 prize and was named the tournament's outstanding female wrestler. Huynh used to wrestle for SFU, too.
  • The Prince George Citizen covered a presentation to schools there by SFU athlete Ruky Abdulai. “All of you, if you have a goal or a dream, go for it. Don't let anybody tell you that you can't do it." Her dream has brought her 17 national titles, 25th spot in the long jump at the Beijing Olympics, and plans to be on Team Canada for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
  • The SFU hockey team beat the University of the Fraser Valley 5-2, bringing its season record to 11-1.
  • The New Westminster Record reported the induction of two SFU alumni into the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame: record-setting basketball player Jay Triano, now coach of the NBA Toronto Raptors, and Stu Ballantyne, who spearheaded events including the 2009 World Police and Fire Games, the 2007 Memorial Cup hockey tournament, the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championship and from 1997-2003, the Molson Indy Vancouver.


  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader published a special section on health education. It included SFU-related stories on "A bridge to health care" (about SFU's aboriginal health care program), an item about an international cardiovascular health conference taking place at SFU Surrey next June, and a round-up of health-related courses offered at the Surrey campus.
    The Library Journal looked at how universities are using Drupal, an open-source web content management system, to pioneer new tools and services. It said in part:
    “Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia is facilitating the submission of electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) with an interface powered by Drupal.  . . . Students are able to log in to the system to submit their theses using their regular library account information.  . . . The centralized system is now in place to handle the works generated by students this semester and stands to streamline the submissions process like never before.”
  • The Tri-City News featured SFU student Ramsay Malange of Anmore, who is headed for a year at Australia’s Monash University, thanks to a Premier’s One World Scholarship worth $20,000. “I’m looking at the psychology of how people choose their food and the environmental and ethical impacts of how they choose their food.”
  • The School of Management of University of Texas at Dallas gave to media its list of the top 100 business school rankings—based on the number of faculty members' papers published in 24 business journals. SFU stood at #85 in the world, and #8 in Canada. UBC was #31 in the world and #1 in Canada. Toronto was #34 in the world, Western Ontario #45, McGill #62, York #64, Alberta #67, Calgary #78, Montreal #92, and Queen's #94.


  • Emily Ross, a student in the semester in SFU’s dialogue undergraduate program, wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun: “By having art available at IKEA, customers who were once unable to afford a painting now have the ability to bring art, although mass-produced and common, into their space.  . . . Art is no longer reserved for the rich. Accessibility is key, inspiring communities to support the arts. Perhaps our apartment looks just like every other student's, but every morning I wake up to (a picture of) Paris.”


  • The Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times Colonist reported that the late Jack Diamond will be inducted next May into the Junior Achievement Business Laureates of BC Hall of Fame.  Wrote the Times Colonist: “His university, business and community associates viewed him as a true builder of Simon Fraser University.  . . . He served three years as chancellor.”
    (Diamond built Pacific Meat Co. into the largest packinghouse in Western Canada, and, among other things, owned the race track at Exhibition Park in Vancouver.)


  • GlobalTV pursued Anthony Gurr for an interview. He’d been on CBC Radio last week, talking about the woes of the videogame business and layoffs in the industry in Vancouver. Gurr was also featured in a story in the Vancouver Observer. Gurr is a videogame developer who is studying educational technology at SFU.
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader ran a story on how, for the third straight year, SFU has been ranked one of Canada’s Top 100 employers, and also named one of the Top Employers in B.C.
  • The Victoria Times Colonist ran a Vancouver Sun feature on Lillian Zimmerman, a research associate at SFU’s Gerontology Research Centre and 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 Nanaimo Daily News picked up a Canwest News Service feature from two weeks ago that looked at the new generation of 2010 wall calendars. “Richard Smith, a professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., doesn't expect the practical use of calendars to last. Nonetheless, Smith believes we'll continue to buy calendars for reasons that span nostalgia, charity (in the case of fundraising calendars), and identity signalling, with the industry's new emphasis on niche-offering a calendar for every character.”
  • The Calgary Herald ran a guest column written for The Vancouver Sun by Michael Geller, former president and CEO of SFU Community Trust and an adjunct prof at SFU’s Centre for Sustainable Community Development. He wrote about the first year in office of the current Vancouver council.
  • Burnaby Now featured a team of SFU students who are helping clean up the environment by recycling nylon street banners into reusable shopping bags.
    Kristen Ryan and her classmates May Yu, Salina Siu and Farah Saad—students in the SFU business program—have partnered with Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) to work on the Banner Bag project.” The story first appeared in a sister paper, the Surrey Now, in July.


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